PR lessons that could help us all
Posted by: Arc7Admin | 15.12.15

By Esme Davies

Being totally new to the world of PR it was clear I had a lot to learn; my first blog attempt was a novel-essay hybrid, not exactly qualifying as an engaging, snappy read. Since that first month, a two-year A-level in English Lit became only a minor achievement in a world of fast-paced news and very precise messages. Now, after three months of learning the tricks of the trade, here are a few things I’ve learnt about PR.

Making your point and communicating your key message in as few words as humanly possible is a lot harder than it seems! At first I thought this was impossible. I was frustrated, wanting to sprinkle every sentence with fancy language and my ‘original’ sarcastic yet humorous tone. But do you know how boring that is to read? Long sentences that leave you slightly confused are really not worth the hour you spend agonising over the plethora of words you use…(ahem). The first line of a press release is your business or client’s time to shine and you’ve got roughly 25 words to sell your story as newsworthy material.

This may seem obvious, but it’s not easy, and there are many features of great writing that soon came to my attention. For example, never repeat the same word in a sentence if you can avoid it; exploring new phrases and synonyms allows your writing to flow and makes for an interesting read, rather than just repeating yourself, which in my experience will soon send the brain into some reading induced trance.

All this writing business seems strange when you are then asked to tweet using only 140 characters. At first you think, how dare Twitter restrict my views to this modest number, yet I soon realised that my first tweet was the start of my training for writing press releases. There is an art to getting it right so that people enjoy reading it and want to share your content with all their followers.

So this is not the industry to be a technophobe. It’s all about online presence, gathering a following on social media and sharing up-to-the-minute news, photos and compelling content can really help businesses build their brand and engage their audiences. This still applies even if the focus of the PR is local or regional rather than national, because it shows willingness to play an active part in a community, online and offline, and get your message out there.

But despite all the support working online offers us i.e. spell check, Google searches etc. we still make mistakes, and I guarantee that if you don’t spot them, your client or colleagues will. This at its core is proofreading, the comms ritual of checking spelling, punctuation, grammar and factual accuracy. To do your own proofreading, you need a fine-toothed comb and a pair of wide-awake eyes. Read your work word by word, then backwards, then normally, then start to panic if you can’t find anything wrong with it! This was my method of proofreading. You must then pass the job onto someone else to do the same. And while this may seem like a long and tedious process, remember that the finished product needs to be perfect, as after all you represent not only your own business but your clients too.

This is the most important lesson I have learnt from my PR education. Yes, it’s easy to be lazy and neglect reading work that you have just spent the last two hours writing, but it is important that you are a confident and reliable proofreader, so that you’re trusted finalising documents. I know that I will use this skill throughout my life, regardless of my career, and I think it would be wise, especially for people of my age, to understand this and pay a little more attention to how we present ourselves and our ideas on social media platforms and through our written work.