PR comes in many forms. If you love writing, you may find that this profession is ‘write’ for you (sorry, that pun just would not go away).
Not all PR practitioners specialise in writing, of course, or even enjoy it. Some specialise in strategies, crisis management, event planning, relationship management and more. Yet many practitioners find they’re earning their bread ‘n butter through the written word. They’re writing columns for clients, blogs, letters, newsletters, reports, social media stories, speeches and more.
If you think writing is one of your key skills – and you’d like to spend the majority of your days at a keyboard – then this profession can offer a long term career.
Of course, writing is not always easy. It’s not magical. It takes time, writing and rewriting, editing and editing again.
I adore this (alleged) quote from Ernest Hemingway which I read recently:
“The first draft of anything is shit”.
To make it “less shit”, you need to develop your writing muscles. It’s important to practice, and it’s important to read widely and frequently. Read all sorts of sources, styles and formats.
When teaching this subject at the University of South Australia, we touch on the process of ‘free writing’. Students are encouraged to write (on a relatively straightforward topic) without worrying too much about the words. It’s a stream-of-consciousness, if you will. The point is to get 200-300 words down without dwelling on the quality or structure.
There’s a lot to be learned from free writing. It’s a warm up method you can use as often as you like. It can remind us that perfectionism is inertia.
If you become comfortable with free writing, it can be highly useful in PR writing, which often has strict deadlines; it doesn’t pay to ruminate or procrastinate. The free writing philosophy can help you begin that client work.
Here’s how I approach it:
- type out the phrases and points that you need to get across (they don’t need to be full sentences)
- don’t pause and re-read: just get it all out!
- on the second round, plug in additional words, fill in the gaps, correct a few errors
- then, with that fodder in front of you, you might improve the phrases, add adjectives, hone your messages and so on
- polish, improve, proofread
Above all, don’t let a blank page scare you. Don’t let it exist for too long!
[Behind all this, of course, is a good writing brief and an understanding of your client and what they need. What are you trying to achieve with your writing? What does your client exist to do? And so on. Research, and an understanding of your subject, always comes first].