October 24, 2011

Getting Back to the Basics

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:47 pm by KColeman

Effective written communication is essential to the PR field.  However, people and times have changed; thus, the ways we go about reaching our audiences are not only different, they’re constantly changing as well.

Brian Solis, principal of FutureWorks and co-author of “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations” describes the evolution of writing in public relations as reflecting the ability to connect a story to the people who could benefit from it.  He writes, “We shift from the inward writing process where executives and clients are our audience to writing for the very people we’re hoping to reach — in the language, style and spirit that resonates with them.”

Brian Solis is highly regarded in the world of PR for his innovative ideas and creations, and his writing tactics are just as impressive.  His advice to reach our audience in a way that resonates with them is brilliantly simple, yet it’s an invaluable tactic that really defines the new model of PR.

The new model of PR suggests that rather than PR professionals using traditional media to reach consumers, consumers are now using any means necessary to reach out to PR professionals first.  Again, times are changing, and as PR practitioners it’s our job to stay informed, to stay ahead, and to satisfy our publics in a quick and honest manner.

Barb Sawyers, author of “Write Like You Talk – Only Better”, also promotes and encourages the use of conversational language.  In addition to reiterating the importance of eliminating jargon and producing written work that your readers will enjoy and understand, Sawyers offers a tip that has not yet been mentioned but that is easy and wholly effective.

What is this amazing tip, you ask?  Well, we want to write as we speak, so Sawyers suggests reading your writing aloud.  Listen to what it sounds like when it’s spoken, and if it flows conversationally out loud, then it will flow conversationally on paper (or, you know, on whichever social media platform you post it on).

So, to sum up the tips, tactics and great advice offered today, keep in mind the essentials – write in a way that captures the attention of whom you’re writing for, and read it aloud to make sure it flows conversationally.  So what does this all equate to?  Well, I guess it all ties back to the title of my blog – “Reaching Your Audience with Conversational Language.”

October 17, 2011

The Write Way

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:13 pm by KColeman

Although writing is essential to everyday life, there’s a huge difference between someone who simply writes and someone who is a writer.  As an aspiring public relations practitioner, I’d like to classify myself as the latter.  Although we don’t write for ourselves as PR practitioners, the passion we have for the art of writing is obvious in what we produce.  It’s my personal belief that one cannot be successful in the world of PR without possessing at least a slight zeal for writing.  After all, it’s our job to communicate effectively, and that includes writing…a lot.

In this week’s post, I’d like to share what I have found to be most helpful when writing.  The following list contains my version of five of the most essential writing basics:

Develop and maintain focus

♦ When you’re writing for others, you need to produce writing that is effective and easy to read.  This can be achieved by managing your time wisely, concentrating on the mission at hand and eliminating distractions.

Respect the reader’s time

♦ In today’s world of 140-character tweets and multitasking while multitasking, time is more important than ever.  In order to reach your target audience, you need to produce information that’s readily available, easy to read and to the point.

Use your own, unique voice and be yourself

♦ We all have our own styles and the same is true when we communicate.  When you write, you need to find your own voice and remain true to who you are.

Write a message that readers will remember

♦ What’s the point of writing something if no one reads it or if it’s read but not remembered?  One way to make your reading memorable is if it follows the five “C’s”, a concept I learned in one of my early PR classes.  You must focus on the content, be clear and concise with what you release, write in a compelling manner, and always remain consistent, especially when it comes to spelling and grammar.

Know your topic

♦ Do research before you begin writing and contact subject-matter experts if necessary.  If you’re not knowledgeable about your writing topic, readers will know and you’ll lose credibility as a writer.

 The most important lesson that can be taken away from this post is that writing serves a purpose and is a skill that takes time, effort and an earnest desire to improve.

October 3, 2011

wRamble wRite

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:20 pm by KColeman

The next big tip that I can offer you on how to write conversationally is not necessarily what to do but what not to do.

Rambling is an unfortunate part of our speaking habits, but let’s face it; we tend to tune out the people who just keep going when they talk, right?  So tell me why we are so inclined to be so wordy and repetitive in our writing!?

Just a few reasons we should avoid the Ramble Monster:  

♦ Rambling is a quick way to lose the interest of current and future audiences.

♦ Rambling is uncreative, uninspiring and unorganized.

♦ Rambling can very quickly make an easy read almost impossible.

♦ Rambling just creates clutter and causes confusion within the reader’s mind.

There are a lot of effects that rambling can achieve in your writing; unfortunately, none of them are going to gain the positive attention that you crave.  Victoria Neely elaborates in her post Conversational Writing vs. Formal Writing.

But enough of me rambling on about rambling!  What’s another writing faux pas in the world of PR?

Using jargon or really big words that
nobody else knows the meaning of
!

I mentioned in my first post that jargon and difficult vocabulary can take away from the appeal of your writing; nevertheless, it is something that I see all the time.  People love to show off what they know and they view writing as an outlet to do so.

Using jargon can be very counterproductive in your writing.  The whole point is to get a message across, but if you’re trying to educate someone on a matter that they are unfamiliar with, then using words specific to that subject area will only render your readers confused, not better educated.

Furthermore, using uncommon words or difficult vocabulary will not increase your readers’ faith in you as a subject-matter expert; rather, they will just become unreceptive to your message altogether.

Still not convinced that using jargon is a bad thing?  Just check out what Penelope Trunk, co-founder of Brazen Careerist, has to say about it in her post: What the jargon you use reveals about you.

Basically, the entire point of writing for PR is reaching your audience.  Therefore, you shouldn’t be concerned about showing off your intelligence; rather, you should focus on getting your message across.  So remember,

Write for your readers, not for yourself!

September 26, 2011

Reaching Your Audience with Conversational Language

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:49 pm by KColeman

Welcome to my blog!  Want to learn how to write effectively in the public relations field?  Well, that begins with using conversational language to reach your audience(s).  The good news?  This blog will help you learn just that!

Learning how to communicate with conversational language is essential to the PR field.  Whether writing a press release, constructing a blog, preparing a speech or simply exchanging dialogue, your primary goal is to speak to your audience.

Having poor grammar or using technical jargon or difficult vocabulary can deter from your credibility as a PR professional as well as your overall appeal.

Just a few tips to get us started and to get you thinking:

  • Begin with what’s most important and include the five Ws
    • Using the inverted pyramid style of writing is important whether writing a press release or a news story.
    • Many readers only read the first few lines or paragraphs of an article, so it’s essential to begin with what’s most important in case that’s all they read.
    • Typically, the five Ws (who, what, where, when and why) will answer the most important questions.
  • News flash: We’re no longer writing for our teachers; we’re writing for our audiences!
    • Using fragments and ending sentences with prepositions is okay!  Trust me; your readers will thank you.
    • Sometimes our writing just needs to be short and simple.  When used appropriately, these two tactics can help us achieve this.
  • It’s okay to use contractions
    • Part of using conversational language is writing as we speak.
    • In the course of normal conversation we tend to condense our words; i.e. contractions.  So, it’s only natural to sprinkle them into our writing.
  • Use short paragraphs if at all possible
    • Part of reaching your audience is keeping their attention.  Lengthy paragraphs and excessive wordiness are huge turnoffs for many readers.
    • Having a lot of information is not a bad thing – but we need to learn how to structure it in the most appealing and reader-friendly way possible.

There are several quick tricks and simple tips that can help simplify your writing and enable you to effectively reach your audience.  But for now I’ll leave you with just one more quick tip that pretty much sums it all up:

It’s all about matching your voice
to your target audience.