You have a crucial pitch to write, but you’re sitting in front of a blank screen, wracking your brain about how to make it interesting enough to really grab a reporter’s attention. The client is important. The stakes are high. Your time is running out.
In that sort of situation, try what I just did in the paragraph above. Did you notice it? I made you a hero. I established you as a character who is facing a challenge, and now you as a reader are invested in this character’s success.
This was a valuable tip shared by Lewis Goldberg of KCSA Strategies at the recent PR News Writing Workshop in New York City. He urged the PR pros in attendance to learn from Joseph Campbell, whose concept of “The Hero’s Journey” helps us realize what makes a great story so engaging.
Think of some iconic stories that have captured the minds of millions: the Odyssey. Beowulf. The Hobbit. Even Batman. What do they all have in common? A hero, yes, but to be more exact, the three essential elements of The Hero’s Journey:
- A hero. That is, someone who has had something taken from him or is attempting to address a wrong in the world.
- A challenge.
- A resolution, and what it means to the reader.
This applies to PR writing just as it applies to literature. As Goldberg noted, you can take a look at any local newspaper or news website of choice and select a story. See if you can identify the hero, the challenge and the resolution (or the expected or hoped-for resolution). Then, work backwards and imagine the pitch that might have inspired the reporter to write this story.
Goldberg also emphasized that you need to write with verve, using the breadth of the English language to choose words that elicit interest, excitement and even a giggle here and there.