“Easy reading is damn hard writing,” said Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of “The Scarlet Letter.” Nearly 160 years later the quote is as relevant as ever, particularly for aspiring PR professionals.
Half the battle is to keep the message simple. To get your point across you probably need to get back to basics, according to Lynne Farber, assistant professor at Florida International University, who teaches public relations and advertising at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.
Farber, who will speak on the “Becoming a Much Better PR Writer” session at PR News’ One-Day Boot Camp for Emerging PR Stars March 18 at The Westin Diplomat Resort in Miami, shares some of her insights about solid PR writing.
PR News: What do you see as the most common mistakes in PR writing and what are some of the most effective ways to remedy such mistakes?
Lynne Farber: The most glaring errors are poor grammar, overuse of capital letters, using passive voice rather than active voice and style errors. For example, anything going to media must be in AP style. No professional should ever be more than an arm’s length from a style guide and an AP manual.
PR News: What are some relatively quick writing exercises that PR pros can adopt in order to improve their writing?
Farber: Anything that makes you write. Interview someone you know and write a short bio on him or her. Listen to the news, take notes on a story then write a press release. Also read as much as you can, the more variety the better.
PR News: What are the most important lessons about writing that you want to share with Boot Camp attendees on March 18?
Farber: First plan your piece. Begin by identifying your audience. Some people find it helpful to outline. Personally, I don’t outline but I first write in my head. Proof, proof and proof again.
Read your work out loud to yourself—it sounds different when it’s not just in your head. Have a colleague proof your work. It’s hard to catch your own errors.
If you’re a rising PR star seeking a one-day immersion in the key subject areas in PR, register now for PR News’ March 18 One-Day Boot Camp for Emerging PR Stars.
Follow Matthew Schwartz: mpsjourno1