Michael Smart

Beautiful PR Writing that Stinks at Achieving Anything

By: Michael Smart | November 13, 2017 | 
4

pr writingPR writing is no simple challenge.

You might think writing a novel is harder, but I’d argue it’s not.

In this article I will:

  • Highlight the unique ways PR writing is different from every other kind (including at least one you’re probably overlooking).
  • Show you the four steps of PR writing you can gradually refine that will put you among the top 10 percent of writers I’ve seen.

How PR Writing is Different

When a novelist sits down to write, she has only one audience who will read her work.

When a PR pro sits down to write, she has triple that.

The PR pro has to master addressing the priorities of THREE audiences at the same time:

  • The journalist or influencer
  • That gatekeeper’s audience
  • The company/cause/organization/client

If you miss the mark on any one of these three, you end up with beautiful writing that stinks at achieving anything.

Maybe you don’t write for the media.

But you still have external gatekeepers—those key social influencers you’re counting on to share your stuff.

If you don’t hit it right, they’re not sharing your piece, and it’s not getting the eyeballs you need.

These are the plights of most average PR pros.

Maybe you’re “pitch-perfect” for the journalist but completely dilute the message your boss wants out there.

Oops.

Maybe you’re right on with your boss’s message but end up with something completely boring to any journalist.

Eek.

The pitfalls are rather endless.

The secret is to strike a balance, on a consistent basis, and meet the priorities of all three audiences.

And while you’re doing that, you have to achieve the right tone.

It’s not business writing.

It’s not the “corporate speak” type of writing where it takes six paragraphs to say almost nothing.

And it’s certainly not hyped-up writing that makes you sound like a used car salesperson.

PR writing requires a strategic use of words and ideas to motivate and change.

It’s about training your brain to think in effective ways and then taking those thoughts and carefully communicating them to create ACTION.

So how do you start?

There are four steps to beautiful PR writing.

Beautiful PR Writing Means Clean Copy

The foundation of great PR writing (and the step most often overlooked) is clean copy.

One spelling or grammar “misteak” gives your audience an excuse to discount everything else in your piece.

You’re probably thinking, “Ah, I know that already.”

But, do you want to be like the guy I know who had to call the client CEO and apologize for spelling his name wrong in a news release?

And you know better than to rely on spell check!

Spell check didn’t catch this error (ouch!): 

It’s the perfect way to show your love and infection for your significant other. 

Beautiful PR Writing Means Informing Without Clutter

After you master clean copy, move on to the challenge of informing without clutter.

You get your point across in as few words as possible.

This is a huge weakness of most PR writing.

We aren’t guilty of bad writing, just a horrible lack of re-writing.

After your next first draft, take the challenge of cutting 25 percent of the words.

You’ll be surprised at how much meaning is preserved, and how much faster it reads.

If you’re like most, you can achieve this simply by deleting redundancies, needless words, and other fluff. After trimming the fat, you won’t need to cut meat.

Another metric you can track that will speed up comprehension of your copy is average sentence length.

You can check this by running the grammar and spell check in Word.

Other word processors offer it, too.

By no means should your average exceed 25 words.

A great standard to strive for is 20 words per sentence.

(Yes, I just checked, and this post averages 15.1.)

Beautiful PR Writing Means Tackling Persuasion

Once you’re confident you can write clearly and concisely, then you tackle that persuasion challenge.

Because much of our writing ends up in front of journalists or cynical social media users, we don’t get to resort to the salesmanship of other internet copywriters.

We need to persuade using the same language of objectivity that journalists use.

And that’s great because this type of writing is more successful in the long run.

You delete all the hype and buzzwords.

You limit adjectives and adverbs, and instead, seek out the nouns and verbs that validate or prove the claims you’re making.

Which of the following two sentences is more convincing?

Michael Smart’s renowned PR writing course has delighted PR pros around the world. 

OR

Organizations such as Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and the Wounded Warrior Project have engaged Michael Smart twice each to train their PR teams to improve their writing.

Beautiful PR Writing Means Mastery First

After you’ve mastered the previous steps–and ONLY after that–then you can start striving for wit, flair, and color in your PR writing.

Most people try this too soon, and it falls flat because they don’t have the foundation of the first three steps to hold it up.

But when you do, you can use humor, surprise plays on words and more to breathe life into otherwise snooze-worthy content.

You’ll grab and hold the attention of readers who otherwise would ignore the lame subject matter your client gave you to work with.

Only a rare few PR writers achieve this.

It’s okay to focus on the first three steps until you’ve nailed them.

Your Success is Not About Luck

Understand that doing all this does not come down to luck.

Your future success is not about luck.

It is about you acquiring the strategies and systems to produce results consistently, with as little difficulty as possible.

The point is that there is a systematic way to do this.

It takes a little work to learn, but once you get it, you’ll notice.

And so will everyone who is reading what you write.

In The Definitive Guide to PR Writing, I walk you through exactly how to strike this balance in a way that you can repeat over and over again.

In celebration of this new course, you can enroll for a sizable discount…provided you do it quickly.

I guarantee your PR writing will never be the same after going through this.

Get the details and enroll here while the discount is still available. 

About Michael Smart


Michael Smart is the PR writing trainer that organizations such as Four Seasons Hotels and the Wounded Warrior Project turn to when they want to beef up their PR writing skills. He’s trained hundreds of PR pros around the world to increase their reach and results with a repeatable formula for writing that grabs the attention of today’s time-starved audiences. Michael is the creator of the only online writing course specifically targeted for PR professionals.

  • This should be required for every PR pro! Sooo often you see people trying to use “wit, flair, and color” AS the pitch vs. to support an already solid pitch.

    Your gif, emojis, and stupid jokes get you no where until I know why I should care.

  • Did you notice some of the snarky comments on Twitter about this? Is it rude of me to respond, “After you read the article, come back and comment”? #people

    My favorite thing about this—and what I’ve repeated to the PR Dream Team—is you are writing for three audiences with one piece of copy. Right there is why our jobs can be so challenging, but I have no doubt you are the person to make it less so for communicators.

    • Michael Smart

      I hadn’t noticed that yet . . . maybe it’s better not to? But I’m too curious, now going to check.

  • “Your success is not about luck.” – Truth!

    So may great tips, Michael. Thank you for sharing them with us!

114 Shares
Buffer23
Tweet53
Share14
Share24
+1