One thing that good PR writing shares with good journalism is starting with a bold statement that grabs the reader’s attention long enough to convey the guts of the message.
By chance I came across a blog stressing the importance of issuing a good picture with every media release. Sadly, this excellent piece of advice from a fairly prominent PR firm is kept until the final paragraph – after a mish-mash of clichés and irrelevancies that must deter even the most stoic of readers. It is clearly not a good advertisement for the firm’s writing skills, or its understanding of how to convey a client’s message.
The only reason I read the blog all the way was to find out if it actually contained a worthwhile nugget.
A well-constructed news report should start with an intro that encapsulates the main points of the news item, leading into further paragraphs which contain explanations, comment and useful, but less important, background information. Any good news story should be cuttable from the bottom up – and if only the intro remains, it should still be worth reading.
The same applies to most PR writing.
Of course there are some exceptions, in both journalism and PR, where the rigid ‘inverted pyramid’ presentation may be varied for effect – or to suit a design. But whether it is a media release, article, brochure, newsletter or blog, it’s essential to say something that makes the reader want to find out more.
School may teach us to write with a beginning, a middle and an ending – but in news and PR the ending is the least important. Except if there’s a call to action, such as: ‘You’ve read all this – now call me for your writing!’
David Goddin was born in the UK and educated in South Africa. He began his career on daily newspapers and trade journals, before moving into public relations consulting. He produced award-winning writing and became an Accredited PR Practitioner, the highest qualification of the Public Relations Institute of South Africa. Since his return to the UK 17 years ago he has also contributed to a number of highly successful PR and marketing communications campaigns for major national and multinational clients. He is currently also President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce.