The importance of writing for public relations
By Phyllis B
May 28, 2018
Writing skills are critical for public relations practitioners to communicate with their publics, my friends. You need to use them to get your message across in a clear and logical way. As a PR practitioner, you are an expert. You are relied upon to connect with publics and communicate an organizations’ goals or predetermined objectives. PR practitioners are responsible for creating continuity in the messaging of their organization.
As PR practitioners, we communicate with a public. This can be on social media and traditional media. Don’t dismiss traditional media. People still get their information from newspapers and TV, so you need to be able to reach them through those formats too. At any rate, your writing must be understandable by everyone. Write at a grade eight level and use plain language. When I was in the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs, the Ontario government asked every ministry to re-write the information on all their websites. They tested the comprehension level of the writing before the overhaul, and it was at a grade 23 level. The general public couldn’t be expected to understand the content. It took months, but we re-wrote everything in plain language.
Once you know your audience, gear your message by writing in a voice they recognize. For instance, if you’re writing a blog for Lululemon, your expression might be casual and possibly contain jargon that Lulu’s customers identify with. No matter what, clear and concise writing should be the goal of any communication.
Part of communicating is being able to persuade a public. For example, persuading a target audience to vote for a political candidate or convincing consumers to buy a new chocolate chip cookie. We are also conveying organizational messages or objectives. When I joined the Ontario government, Premier Mike Harris wanted us to include “Ontario is a great place to work, live and raise a family” on every single communication that we sent out. That was the key message during his tenure as Premier and he didn’t want anyone to forget it.
Lastly, PR practitioners are responsible for creating continuity in the messaging of their organization. Your writing may differ in terms of the words used across various media, but the messages will remain the same.
As communicators, writing is our foundation. We need to be able to clearly articulate ideas. That hasn’t changed since back in the old days when I started in public relations. It’s as important now, as it was back then. You know, before you guys were even born.