How to Use Great Writing to Draw Stakeholders In, Not Scare Them Away

Let’s just acknowledge this from the beginning: Great communicators are usually great writers, and great writers create great PR. Between the dozens of daily emails and limitless press releases and bylines, the ability to craft a compelling sentence is crucial. Don Bates -- NYU instructor, writing consultant, and a speaker at our upcoming Writing Bootcamp -- has some tips for PR professionals looking to step up their written game.

Headlines and subjects

According to Bates, articles like "a, an, the” should be avoided, as should “to be” verb forms. In general, write out the headline and then trim out the non-essentials. For example:

Don't do this: “A national CBS poll says the presidential election is too close to call at this time because of a surge in late West Coast voting.”

Do this: “CBS poll says election still too close to call.”


"Be brief," says Bates. "Readers want to know why story matters to them and won’t wait long for answer. Leads are typically one sentence, often two, and 25-30 words. They're rarely more than 40."

In addition, Bates stresses how important it is to consider the audience's knowledge. "In today’s media culture," he says, "most readers don’t need lot of background. Context is key."


"When spoken, most quotes sound free and easy," Bates says, "When they're written, they often sound stiff, even false." A PR professional's job is to breathe life back into the quotes. One method Bates suggested was to "use conversational expressions, not read-only jargon."

Nothing turns off clients and consumers like bad writing. Incorporate these tips to ensure you're drawing them in, not scaring them away.

Follow Lucia Davis: @LKCDavis.

Comments Off


About Lucia Davis

Lucia Davis is community editor for PR News. Prior to returning to NYC, she was associate editor at iMedia Connection in Culver City, CA. In addition to PR News and iMedia, Lucia's writing has appeared in minonline, "The Minetta Review," "EQUITIES Magazine," and "The Foothills Paper."

Deals of the Week

Get $150 Off PR News' Measurement Conference 

Media Relations ConferenceJoin PR News at the National Press Club on Dec. 11 for the Media Relations Conference, where you'll learn how to tie your media relations initiatives to business goals, use the right metrics to prove the success of your efforts, incorporate social media in a brand crisis and more.

Use code “150” at checkout to save $150 on the regular rate.

Get $50 off PR News' Crisis Management Guidebook


Crisis management is an art, not a science. In this edition of PR News’ Book of Crisis Management Strategies & Tactics, you will discover many different views on this art, and you are certain to find takeaways that will transform the way your organization handles crises. 

Use code “50off” at checkout.

Save $100 on a PR News Subscription



Let PR News become your weekly, go-to resource for the latest PR trends, case studies and tip sheets. Topics covered include visual storytelling, social media, measurement, crisis management and media relations.

Use code “SUBDEAL” at checkout.

Comments are closed.