2015 March

Winning Writing Strategies

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By Lauren Tran, Senior Writer, Associate Vice President

During my time in the communications industry, I have found that the vast majority of public relations practitioners will identify their verbal skills as trumping their written abilities. This comes as no surprise, since these professionals spend most of their time developing relationships with the media over the phone, in-person at briefing sessions and during interviews with their clients.

Writing is still a vital skill that should not be overlooked. PR professionals should continue to refine and perfect their writing abilities, as we now have even fewer words to use to ensure our clients’ messages stand out and accurately reflects their brands.

My suggestions for improving your writing skills include the following:

Identify and articulate the true essence of the brand

When working with a client on a regular basis, you may need to step outside the brand to ensure you are identifying the most compelling media message that will guarantee that your client’s narrative and call to action is easily understood.

When creating a new press release or email pitch, remember that your audience will likely only read a couple of sentences to decide if they are interested. Do not discredit the importance of the headline and the first three sentences, and make sure your message is clearly stated at the top. Of course, you can also connect your message or offering to current events and trends to keep it topical and immediate.

Keep it concise

Maintain your reader’s interest by ensuring your messaging is concise and easy to understand. Don’t make them search through your email to learn who the client is, what they are announcing and, most importantly, why this is relevant for their audience.

Additionally, make sure your writing is not repetitive or long-winded by avoiding clichéd phrases, dry details and very technical language.

Don’t rely on spell check

While most practitioners have multiple clients with a constantly evolving set of deadlines, it is crucial to take the time to proofread all of your written materials. With the ability to check spelling and grammar instantly online, there is no excuse for typos in an email, press release or client document sent to a journalist.

Take a few minutes to review your written work before sending. Try printing out your document or even reading it out loud. You can also find a trusted coworker who can review your work and let you know if any language seems out of place or unclear.

Producing excellent writing takes practice and time, but making an effort to create compelling leads, concise language and error-free documents may be the difference between losing the interest of a media contact and developing a new long-term relationship.

Meaningful Client Service

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By Donna Fontana

Managing Director, Rubenstein Public Relations

The field of public relations encompasses more than navigating the dialogue between clients and the media. It is a complex, detail-oriented communications discipline that builds relationships and reputation, resulting in a measurable impact on the achievement of strategic goals.

Providing meaningful client service in a service-based business that’s filled with intangibles requires dedication and a commitment to excellence to ensure a client never has to wonder, “What is my PR agency actually doing for my brand?”

Consistent structure is essential, using procedure and document templates as the building blocks of effective service. Phone calls and meetings are somewhat fluid, so creating productive agendas, recaps, and weekly/monthly reports helps provide clients with assurance that the agency is effectively and consistently moving towards completing key tasks that will ultimately achieve business objectives and goals.

Three things that are imperative in a successful client/agency relationship are: Values, Trustworthiness and Clear Communication.

Values

Relationships are about understanding one another’s core values, and in turn, these values stand at the very core of decision-making.

According to a study by Barrett Values, which researched more than 2,000 private and public organizations over 10 years in more than 60 countries, value-driven organizations are the most successful because they adhere to a very simple algorithm:

  • Values and behaviors drive culture.
  • Culture drives employee fulfillment.
  • Employee fulfillment drives customer satisfaction.
  • Customer satisfaction drives shareholder value.

Clients want a PR agency that takes a genuine interest in them, so make sure you clearly understand the values that drive the brand and/or client and ensure you guide them towards achieving their goals while aligning with their values.

By understanding how your role aligns with their day-to-day activities and accomplishments, you will strengthen the relationship and trust factor.

Trustworthiness

Have you ever played the “trust fall” game, where you tip backwards and hope the person assigned to catch you actually follows through so that you don’t hit the ground? A PR agency is like the catcher and the client is the one falling backwards, trusting that you will catch them before they tumble over. Clients need to believe you are going to provide a safety net and come through for them at all times.

This trust is ultimately about integrity and transparency in your activities, which is just as vital as tangible results because clients will sense if you are just telling them what you think they want to hear. Honest feedback as to why something succeeds or fails is important so that clients trust that you have their best interests in mind. After all, trust is the most important aspect of any relationship.

Clear Communication

Regular status updates and consistent communication has always been a necessary component in establishing strong partnerships with your clients, and it is also critical that you are engaged on their behalf on any relevant communication via social media that may have an impact on their brand, their service or their company.

Applying the trifecta of Values, Trustworthiness and Clear Communication will help cultivate a dynamic relationship with clients that support a long-term business relationship. By incorporating a disciplined approach into your practice that includes message development, strategic planning and media relations outreach, while maintaining sight of a company’s value proposition and branding goals, your agency will be synonymous with high-visibility coverage and meaningful client service.