Tips for Tight Writing

As poetic as your prose may be, few people want to take the time to read it. Here are a few tips to tighten your writing and get more eyes on your work.

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Give yourself time

You already know writing takes a long time. It seems like writing concisely would be a quick process, but you’d be surprised. Frequently when you write something quickly you end up with a rambling piece of nonsense.

Short is sweet, but it takes time.

 

Outline

Before you start, know where the finish line is and all the stops along the way. That means taking a minute to draft your path. Do your research, figure out your subheads and have your quotes picked out. If you can, get your visuals ready too.

Outlining takes almost no time, but it can save you precious minutes closer to deadline.

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Write fast

Put your fingers on the keyboard and bang out a quick draft any way you can. My biggest piece of advice to anyone struggling with writer’s block is “type it how you talk it.” Use slang, swear words and don’t be afraid to caps lock.

It may sound like a waste of time, but this is the most fun way to write. Let your voice out!

 

erinblog3Take a break

Go ahead, it can wait.

If you followed step one, this won’t be a problem. If you didn’t, don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be a long break. If you don’t have time to walk away and do something, just take a few minutes to work on something else, check your social media or send a quick email.

Don’t forget to come back to the piece after your break!

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Revise with fresh eyes

Once you come back, read your work like someone else wrote it. (Someone who would love to catch making a mistake, and I know you have a person in mind.) Look at your content: Are you getting your point across? Does the tone match the message? Will it resonate with your audience?

You should have a solid piece of work at this point. Now hack it down.

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Focus on your verbs

Now that you’re happy with the content it’s time to tighten it up. Remember to write in active voice. Put the reader in the moment and let the story speak. Cut out unnecessary words and phrases, having verbs as the focus makes this easier.

Think of this as simplifying an equation. Unless math stresses you out, then just get to work.

Have someone else read it over

Sometimes cutting and condensing can go too far and confuse the story. Give the piece to a friend, a co-worker or an editor to make sure your message is still strong and you haven’t lost a comma along the way.

Written by Erin Wylder, Account Executive/Editor

5 common misconceptions about PR

As an aspiring public relations professional working in a student-owned PR agency for a year, I have received several questions from people such as “Is PR like advertising? Marketing?” or “So, do you meet celebrities a lot?” I don’t know where people get these ideas, but I am here to set the record straight. In reality, I spend most of my time at the office writing, pitching, managing social media, building websites, and editing photos behind the computer.

According to PR Daily, there are 10 common misconceptions about PR. The following are my top five myths about public relations.

  1. PR and advertising are identical.

While there are definitely crossovers between PR and advertising, they are not the same thing. Advertising is focused on consumers while public relations focuses on building relationships with publics. Take a look at the following infographic or read this article for more differences between PR and advertising.

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  1. PR pros distort the truth.

People often think PR pros spin information toward the sunny side of things. However, I’ve learned that one of the most important things to remember while working in the PR field is “Don’t lie and be honest.” PR crises happen when a company starts to lie and to cover up the truth.PR pros are dedicated to telling the truth and building trust with clients and their publics.

  1. PR pros only care about media placement.

People often say PR is all about writing press releases. While writing and media coverage are still a huge part of public relations, PR pros nowadays use plenty of platforms such as social media, blogging, content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) for storytelling.

  1. PR pros work 9-to-5 and spend most of that time at parties.

When you see PR pros on TV shows or movies, they spend quite a lot of time partying, shopping and drinking. But in reality most practitioners go in early and go home late at the end of day in order to complete tons of deadlines and meetings. PR is a lot of hard work that can’t be done at parties.

  1. PR pros get a lot of attention

I think this misconception is related to budding PR practitioners. Don’t get too excited about media coverage. What is being covered by the media is not you, but your clients. If you like the idea of helping your clients’ message be heard,which will get your clients paid and continue the working relationship you have with them, you’re fit to be in PR. It’s not about being seen; it’s about getting others seen.

by Jihyun Shin, online communications director

8 interviewing tips for writers

To craft the perfect press release, newsletter article or blog post, PR pros must know how to effectively interview insiders. The following eight tips will help you get the most out of your sources, from business executives to eccentric chefs.

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1. Don’t limit your notes to a Q&A format.

It may seem logical to write down all of your must-ask questions with three or four lines in between for responses, but this format can limit the flow of conversation. It’s easy to forget about follow-up questions if you’re focused on making your way down a list.

Instead try writing your most important questions at the top of the page for reference. As you interview, note which questions you still need to ask, and work them in when the conversation slows.

2. Be personable.

It can be very awkward if an interviewer asks question after question and never looks their source in the eye. Ask follow-up questions, show interest and if you’re meeting face-to-face, remember to look up often.

3. Establish purpose.

Make sure your source understands the purpose of the piece you are writing. If you hope to capture the personality of a business owner for a feature story, don’t let your source talk finance for 20 minutes.

4. Limit initial research.

PR pros sometimes serve as translators between industry experts and the public. It’s important to have a basic understanding of the topic before an interview, but don’t do too much research.

It will be much easier to decide what information is important and what information needs to be simplified if you come to the interview knowing just enough to formulate effective questions.

5. Hunt down direct quotes.

Direct quotes establish credibility, express personality and add color to written work. Being mindful of possible quotes during an interview will save you a lot of time in the writing process.

When your source says something particularly helpful, interesting or entertaining, glance at your recorder and jot down the time elapsed. This way it’ll be easy to replay that part of the conversation and get a strong, accurate quote for your piece.

6. Get personal-ity.

When writing a piece in which a person is the subject, remember to capture the individual’s personality.

Ask personal questions, get your source’s opinion and, when possible, observe your source’s nonverbal behavior. What are they wearing? Do they have an interesting smile, laugh or habit? Some of the best feature story leads are drawn from personality.

7. Ask for help eliminating jargon.

Save a lot of time translating terms by asking your source to explain industry jargon in common language. Don’t worry about sounding uninformed, and ask a few questions that focus on the general public’s understanding.

8. Observe your subject in action.

When time allows, witness your subject at work. Whether you’re in the kitchen with a local chef or exploring the features of a new tech item, it’s easier to report on what you’ve seen firsthand.

Keep in mind that as you interview, your sources are observing you in action. Consider these tips to improve your interview conduct and impress the people who supply you with interesting content.

By Jessica Barber, Account Executive