I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to listen to two PR experts discuss the importance of writing at the Public Relations Student Society of America National Conference this afternoon. Ron Culp, former corporate PR pro and current graduate professor at DePaul University, and Ryan McShane, Account Supervisor at Tattoo Projects, shared great insight on how your writing skills will take you a long way when working in communications.
In an interactive session called “Writing Right: The No. 1 Skill Employers Want,” students were able to correct your typical writing issues (your vs. you’re, effect vs. affect, its vs. it’s, me vs. I, they are vs. it is). Impressed by how many PRSSA members answered these questions right, Ron and Ryan jumped into additional tips for maintaining and improving our writing skills.
According to PR Council, the top three wishes of agency leaders are that their entry level employees know 1) how to write well 2) general business and 3) the business of PR firms. As storytelling becomes more and more prevalent in PR, marketing and branding, writing remains one of the most important (and my personal favorite) part of public relations.
Ron Culp and Ryan McShane shared 10 critical tips for quality writing during the PRSSA National Conference session:
- K.I.S.S: Keep it short and simple.
- Trim the fat: Ryan’s former boss once told him to write as if he had to pay for every word he used. You would not want to pay for the words you do not need, would you?
- Answer the 5 Ws (& the H): Who? What? When? Where? Why? & How?
- Design your draft: Create an outline before jumping into the first draft of your piece, including your specific message(s).
- Call to action: Make sure there’s a reason you want your audience to read your piece.
- Use real, everyday words: Do not make it hard for your reader to understand your material.
- Mind your grammar: Ron suggested being conscious of active verbs and plural noun/pronoun agreement, two of the more common writing mistakes. “A typo is better than improper grammar.”
- Know your audience: Think about who you are and who you are writing to.
- Find your focus: Do not get distracted with the subject and message of your piece.
- Proof, Proof, Proof: Review your own work!
“Writing Right” was a fantastic session. Thanks to PRSSA, Ryan McShane, and Ron Culp, PRowl was able to share all of these helpful tips with you! You must have a passion for writing if you are interested in pursuing a career in writing. Create practice prompts for yourself or start your own blog!
Use your voice – by putting it into words!