Writing Pointers Every Communications Pro Should Memorize — Today

PR News' Writing Bootcamp kicked off this morning with a discussion focusing on some of the key writing tools for PR and marketing professionals. Howard Sholkin, director of communications and marketing programs at IDG, and Dan Ronan, senior director of communications at the American Bus Association, shared a list of crucial writing tips that PR professionals need to apply to all of their written material, regardless of the medium.

  • Break things up: When sending out an email newsletter to subscribers, “divide a longer story into a multipart series,” Sholkin says. Readers will appreciate more bite-sized content.


  • Keep it moving: During his tenure at CNN, Ronan came up with his 10-second goal. “I read everything I write out loud with a stopwatch, and try to keep every sentence under 10 seconds,” Ronan says. “At about eight or nine seconds, I start to get nervous. That's an awful long time to say in one continuous sentence.” Never go more than 20 seconds.


  • Write for the eyes and ears: Sholkin stresses that audiences expect video and images in communications. “Think visually,” he says. Infographics and video will ensure that your readers don't tune out.


  • Edit, edit, edit: “Anything major I do has two to four sets of eyes, and we still don't catch everything,” Sholkin says. Ronan echoed that sentiment. "Every piece of copy needs to be checked and rechecked,” he says. “Great writers need editors.”

PR News’ Writing Bootcamp is being held at the National Press Club in Washington D.C.

Follow Lucia Davis: @LKCDavis