Persuasive writing is an art form, and as PR professionals, it’s one we practice on a daily basis. Not being able to articulate a client’s message in a clear, cohesive manner that resonates with how it needs to with each intended audience could be quite problematic.
So what makes a good writer? And how can you become an even better one? We have four tips to help you hone your skills so you can tell your story (or your clients’) in the best way possible.
1. Know your audience
A critical starting point to being a good writer is knowing who you’re writing for. This affects everything from your tone, vocabulary, sentence structure – everything. In agency life, you continuously have to switch between writing for different clients – and different platforms – so it’s important to be able to quickly switch between varying styles. A bylined article for a cybersecurity client is going to sound inherently different than a press release announcing a new consumer product, so heed the differences to save yourself the trouble of major copy rewrites and client revisions later on. To take it a step further, make sure you’re writing in a way that fits the intended medium. A conversational tone might be appropriate on social media, but would hardly be appropriate in a letter to investors.
2. Be authentic
The great idea about writing is that it is an extension of ourselves, it shows our personality and our voice. Just like there are a million characteristics which make all of us unique, the same applies to our writing. Some people are naturally funny and sarcastic, others can turn a pun at the drop of a hat, and yet others are more poetic in their prose. Whatever your style of writing is, be authentic. If puns don’t come easily to you, don’t spend an exuberant amount of time trying to think of a clever one. Not only will this waste your valuable time (and probably leave you with some dissatisfactory feelings), but it could also make your writing feel forced. If you’d like to sprinkle your copy with some humor, ask a comical friend or colleague to look it over (and maybe continue practicing your puns in circumstances that are more lax).
3. Proofread Every. Single. Thing. TWICE.
This might be the single most important tip. For everyone. Proofreading is key and doing so will save you from many embarrassing and unfortunate blunders. This is especially important if you don’t consider writing one of your strengths. Having spelling or grammatical mistakes in your writing not only makes you look sloppy and underqualified, but it also undermines your authority. If you’re trying to establish yourself (or your client) as a thought leader, even something like having minor spelling or usage errors in your emails could undermine your efforts. Make sure to proofread every single piece of content you produce. And do so multiples times.
4. When you think your masterpiece is finished, send it to someone else
You could be the best writer in the world, but you’re still human, and humans make mistakes. It doesn’t matter how good of a writer you are, you should always, always, always have someone else proofread your work before you consider it final. Remember being in school and having professors tell you to spread out writing that 15-page research paper over the course of a month rather than attempting to do it all in one night? The rationale here is that taking time away from what you’ve written and come back to it, later on, gives you a fresh perspective, so you can more easily notice if there are any mistakes. The same rationale applies when writing as a professional. While you may not have the luxury of working on a single piece for a month, giving it to a colleague to review will help provide a fresh perspective to critically review the work.
If your writing could use a bit of refreshing (or just another set of eyes) contact us and our word nerds will help you take your writing to the next level.