The Stylebook to Help PR Pros Create Their Own Writing Style

If PR pros want to improve their writing skills, perhaps they need to carve out some time to read Charles Dickens, Vladimir Nabokov, F. Scott Fitzgerald and other literary lions whose writing talents have transcended the generations. It’s one piece of advice for how PR pros can improve their writing skills, compliments of Beth Haiken, VP of corporate citizenship and communications at WayPoint Homes. Barring that, however, Haiken recommends that PR pros carry around “The Elements of Style,” by William Strunk and E.B. White, which never goes out of style when it comes to solid writing.

Haiken will be a featured speaker at PR News' Aug. 5 Writing Boot Camp in San Francisco on August 5, and provided us with a sample of what she will discuss at the conference.

PR News: Regardless of the medium, what should be the top priorities for PR people who need to improve their writing skills?

Beth Haiken: Reading good writers is always inspirational but nothing beats practice. That and buy a copy of Strunk and White's “The Elements of Style.”

PR News: In the content of media relations and cultivating sources, what are some of the areas that PR pros need to avoid when it comes to effective writing?

Haiken: Adverbs, adjectives, jargon and passive voice.

PR News: How has the advent of social channels affected PR pros' ability to write well, for better and for worse?

Haiken: For better, if writing means putting down letters, many people actually write more and more frequently than they used to. For worse, it's led to a blurring of channels in that sometimes people forget that the tone that's appropriate for texting a friend may not be appropriate for emailing a client or posting a company blog.

Beth Haiken will be a featured speaker at the "Writing Do’s and Don’ts for Communicators" session at PR News' Aug. 5 Writing Boot Camp Conference in San Francisco.

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About Matthew Schwartz

Group Editor, PR News: Matthew Schwartz is group editor of PR News, the leading source of trends, how-to content and best practices for PR professionals. Matthew leads the editorial strategy for PR News’ premium content products—including its weekly newsletter—and for its digital presence. Matthew was editor of PR News from 2003-2005. Prior to returning to PR News, Matthew was a reporter for Crain’s BtoB and Media Business magazines, where he covered business marketers and media companies. He was also editor of BMA Buzz, a biweekly email newsletter covering B2B marketing, advertising and social media, and contributing writer to Advertising Age Custom. Matthew has helped to launch blogs on behalf of ZoomInfo and direct marketing agency The Kern Organization. He also spent a few years in cable-news precincts, working as a writer/producer at CNN and Fox News Channel.

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  • John Bentz

    I am sure Ms Haiken is a fine and accomplished writer, but I am sure she is seeing what I see coming out of major PR firms now. Incredible grammar lapses, bad spelling and poor, immature writing. More to the point,it seems that the senior level just lets it go. What has gone wrong in our industry? I am old enough…but not that old…to still believe that standards must be demanded.