Monday, 10 August 2015

Writing for public relations

“Writing good English must be one of the most difficult jobs in the world,” says the foreword to Effective Writing Skills for Public Relations by John Foster, a journalist and public relations veteran. This is one of two books on public relations I'm reading. The other is Public Relations Writing: Form & Style by Doug Newsom and Jim Haynes. Both are university professors with experience in PR industry.

This is outside my comfort zone though I'm not unfamiliar with reference and how-to books. I'm reading these books as a self-motivating exercise, to learn how to write clearly, cleverly, and effectively for clients of the public relations firm I now work for.

Three decades of serious news writing is no qualification for a wannabe PR writer. It’s a new ballgame and I'm a rookie who has just stepped on the field to play my first game. I'm going 
to have plenty of misses before I hit anything. While journalistic writing can teach you to write good English, it doesn’t necessarily prepare you to write good public relations copy. It merely puts you on the other side of the Media-PR fence, where I find myself today.

In spite of my initial apprehension and writer’s block, I'm keen to acquire new writing skills that will eventually help me in my other writing cause. I'm hoping my experience in both styles of writing and editing will push me along the way.

Writing is not just difficult, it can be a real struggle. Sometimes the thoughts, words, and lines are all there in my head, but they refuse to come out and leave their narrative impressions on paper, denying me the chance to tell my story. It’s frustrating when you lose the plot. Fortunately, writing gives you plenty of opportunity and room to improve. It is this exciting and word-splitting challenge that makes you want to keep writing.

13 comments:

  1. It is a real skill, no question - there is such a difference between writing because you want to and writing because you HAVE to - and of course one good things about blogs is that you can do whatever you like, but writing to order is hard work - hope it all goes well Prashant!

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  2. So happy to hear that you have found a new position, Prashant! I know you'll do well. The truth is, writing well is all about writing for different contexts. That is, the real skill in writing is adapting so that one can write for different purposes and different audiences. It's a bit like the academician who also writes, say, a novel about history. You can't use the same sort of writing in a novel that you do in a scholarly article. But you can learn to adjust your style.

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  3. Good luck mate - I'm sure you'll prosper and it will become a lot easier over time,

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  4. Others might make these same recommendations, but here are two: (1) read and trust Strunk and White: Elements of Style; (2) read great writers because they will be important models worth imitating (and one of the best is George Orwell).

    Writing well is a life-long learning exercise. Hang in there! Never give up!

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  5. Definitely a huge struggle. To find the right words and put them in a row. And then to try it in different genres or areas of writing, each with their own demands. Luck with the struggle, of course!

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  6. Change is always difficult, but it sounds like you are on the right track. I would even say you are well ahead of the game. You know how to work under pressure, make deadlines, and put words down no matter what, summer or winter, rain or shine.

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  7. I never thought about the different skills you have to bring to different types of writing. Glad you are honing your skills, Prashant, and I am sure you will become comfortable and proficient at your job.

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  8. Wishing you well in your new job, Prashant. I'm with R.T.'s recommendation of Strunk and White's book, ELEMENTS OF STYLE. In my view, good writing is good writing. But I understand that there are different types of good writing. At any rate, I'm convinced you'll adapt and do very well.

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  9. P.S. I also recommend: Jacques Barzun's SIMPLE AND DIRECT.

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  10. I have the greatest respect for all those who write for a living, and I have no doubt it's a constant challenge. Anyway, my best wishes for your new career path.

    Colin

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  11. Thank you — Sergio, Margot, Col, R.T., Charles, Elgin, Tracy, Yvette, and Colin — for your kind advice and encouragement. I'm beginning to get the hang of PR writing but I still have a long way to go.

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  12. That's a very interesting take on the differences in different styles of writing. Tell us more as you go along!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Moira. I didn't realise it, myself, till I joined the PR firm.

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