Many skills are required when it comes to a successful career in PR – but being a strong writer is a good place to start. Former senior journalist Jemma Page shares her timeless tips for becoming a more efficient writer.
Anyone who writes is a writer, but that doesn’t automatically make them good at it.
Becoming a great writer isn’t something that happens overnight – it takes years of hard work to sharpen the skillset.
When I was in school, I used to spend the majority of my literacy lessons filling textbooks with stories.
Back then, my writing wasn’t half as good as it is now but I had a passion for it and the endless practicing paid off in the end.
When it comes to streamlining the writing process, there are plenty of time-tested techniques, which I’ve shared below.
If you get an idea, write it down
There have been many times at 2am when I’ve thought of a top line for a press release but fallen asleep thinking; “I’ll just remember it in the morning”.
I never do.
And instead, I end up spending an extra half an hour staring at a blank word document, wishing I’d have just written the idea down when it popped into my head.
Actively capture ideas when they emerge – you’ll thank yourself later.
Do your research first
Never start writing with a completely blank slate – the writing process is a lot easier when research has been done.
What I tend to do is type up my notes before building a framework around them.
Details can be added later
Momentum is the most important thing, so I use a lot of placeholders throughout my copy during the first draft.
Try not to be concerned with exact dates, facts or figures – you can always fill in the details later.
Just get the sentences written down first.
Don’t edit while you write
You're likely to make more errors if you're constantly switching between the creative and critical sides of your brain.
So, although difficult for perfectionists, cleaning up copy once it has been drafted makes the process much quicker.
Just write, let the words flow, and edit it later.
Keep it simple and short
Speaking of editing; shorten, delete and rewrite anything that doesn’t add any meaning to the piece you’re penning.
Never inject extra words without good reason – even if you’re trying to hit a wordcount.
Our brains take in information better when it’s broken into small chunks.
Always keep your audience in mind and make sure your sentences and paragraphs are short – they’re easier to read and understand.
It’s important to remember that the majority of the time, you’re not writing an academic essay.
And finally, when it comes to getting rid of mistakes…
• Print your work – I find it much easier to proofread on paper than on a screen
• Get someone else to proofread it – it’s harder than you think to spot your own mistakes
• Take a break – unless it’s urgent, I’ll often write something, have my lunch and read through it for errors later.
With its roots in journalism, Cartwright Communications creates compelling content for any communication channel. Find out more about our media relations service here.
Jemma spent more than three years as an NCTJ-qualified journalist before moving into PR. She has extensive training in media law, public affairs and court reporting. Jemma’s journalistic approach to PR means she fully understands what makes a newsroom tick, allowing her to secure strong regional and national coverage for clients. Send Jemma an email or call her on 0115 853 2110.