Write Like You Talk — and 5 Other Unorthodox Writing Tips
Clients hire PR firms to tell their stories. Accurately. Interestingly. Powerfully.
It’s not easy work, so that’s why they pay someone else to do it. To be successful, PR professionals can’t just go through the motions. With each project, we must tell stories in a compelling enough way to attract the attention of key audiences, particularly the news media. Here are a few tips accumulated over my 40 years of writing for mass audiences:
- Try to write more like you talk. The goal is to make the topic as interesting and accessible as possible to readers. Colleges teach us to try to sound intelligent by using big words in complicated sentences. Don’t.
- Imagine your aunt or uncle. If they were to ask you what you are writing, you should be able to explain it clearly. Write it that way.
- Tell a story. Don’t write a report. Reports are usually boring. Sometimes boredom is inevitable because of the topic. But it doesn’t always have to be that way.
- Avoid “Stop Signs.” The goal is to attract the reader’s attention, and then reward them by having them sail through the content and easily absorb the message. Lo-o-ong sentences with complicated structure, multiple clauses and unfamiliar words can all break the flow.
- Mix up your word choices. One Stop Sign for readers is excessive repetition. If you use the word disease 10 times in a 300-word medical news release, readers get annoyed and distracted. Use illness, ailment, infection or whatever else accurately substitutes.
- Proofread–and proofread. The biggest mistake is failing to do this. Read it to yourself. Read it one more time. (Maybe even read it aloud, somewhere privately.) See whether you have unwittingly created Stop Signs!