My name is Mike Blight. I am a P.R. student at Illinois State University going into my fourth and final year of my undergrad. I’m addicted to social networking, marketing and P.R. campaigns, writing and contributing to the greater good of society. Outside of that, I am a young and aspiring P.R. professional with an insatiable hunger for competition. From sports to politics and on to other controversial points of discussion, I am always ready to contribute to a conversation. I love my family, friends, two dogs and life. You can read my blog by following this link: The Blight Experience. You can find me on Twitter here: MichaelBlight
Around a week back I was contacted by the one-and-only Ashley Funderburk in regards to writing a blog to be featured, well, here. The thought was heartwarming and I wanted to make the post both informative and applicable to the P.R. world. Listed below are a few tips-and-tricks for anyone that falls within the spectrum of up-and-coming P.R. professional and super star.
Know YOUR basics
There is nothing in the world more frustrating than the misuse of words. If you want to persuade someone, the first step in the opposite direction would be to misspell their name, company’s name or any words along the way. A P.R. professional’s greatest skill is his or her writing. The mantra that was imparted onto me was “Revise and rewrite.” If you have checked your document or email five times for grammatical or structural errors and you think it looks great, check it again. Don’t be afraid to admit that you’re wrong! Also, know the differences between “your” and “you’re” and other contractions meeting the same rule. Understand the rules of singular and plural possessive terms and all other guidelines of the English language.
AP Knows Best
Despite popular belief, the AP Stylebook that all of your P.R. professors make you buy is definitely worth it. Not only is it an excellent resource, but it makes you a better writer. As nerdy or embarrassing as this example is, the Executive Board of PRSSA and I were SO excited when AP made the change from “Web site” to “website.” If you are only recently joining the P.R. movement, this probably sounds confusing or down-right foolish. The fact of the matter is that there are a number of benefits that come from owning a copy of the AP Stylebook and utilizing it each opportunity you have.
Stick with one descriptor
This point ties into the one above, but I feel as though it is crucial to writing for success. When you are talking about terms of financial security, stick with the word “financial” for the duration of the paper or piece you are writing. While fiduciary, fiscal, monetary, economic and pecuniary sound fantastic, they will often confuse the reader if used interchangeably. Nothing turns heads away from your work like the sense of an overused thesaurus to prove your point. If someone has to use a dictionary to get through your writing, chances are that individual will stop dead in his or her tracks at the first speed bump along the way.
Check validity and coherence
Make sure that everything you write is logically sound and make sense to the point you are trying to convey. By checking validity, you are inadvertently saving face for yourself. If a reader thinks something sounds incorrect and finds out you are wrong, your credibility is immediately shot. Sure people understand mistakes, but you should never use that as a crutch. By ensuring coherence, you are making sure everything fits together well. Most people do not have the patience nor time to reread your piece because part “A” does not match up with part “B” or vice versa. Those two simple steps can make the world of difference when trying to promote a point or idea.
Every word is worth a thousand dollars.
Short, sweet and to the point. Those are the three goals when you are writing. Imagine that each word you write is $1,000 out of your pocket and you are not being reimbursed. Scary, right? Each word should tell its own story and speak volumes for the topic at hand. There is no reason why you should sacrifice clarity because you wanted to make something sound whimsical. Get to the point!
Say what you mean, mean what you say.
One of the fastest growing problems in the world of communication is a lack of sincerity. Companies are trying to convince their audience, or public, that they genuinely care about those in need and those invested in their product. Credibility is one of the toughest qualities to build and conversely the easiest to lose. Bad news is still bad news no matter how you present it. People appreciate honesty and straightforwardness from others. Deception and a shroud of dishonesty? Not quite. Every word that you speak as a P.R. professional should be a reflection of you, the company you represent and the true meaning you are trying to convey. If you’re thinking about telling a lie to safe face: Don’t. Show a sense of conviction when you are talking and people will soon recognize that you are someone that they can trust and soon after your credibility will blossom.