Sounding smart while writing is a gift that few people possess. Seriously, if you can incorporate words like “cornucopia” into your writing outside the month of November, you’re bound to impress a few people.
Well, on second thought, no you’re not. If you’re a technical writer, this skill might be seen as an asset; however, in the world of PR, nobody really cares how intelligent you are.
Whether it’s producing web copy, sending an email pitch or even drafting a social post or two, your job is to be relatable, not to come off as one of those arrogant PR tools.
Want to really take your PR writing to the next level? If so, focus on one key skill: writing like you talk. Seems easy enough, right? Wrong.
In reality, few are the PR pros who can consistently do this. To the surprise of nobody, the very publicity gurus who’ve tapped into the powers of the aforementioned are also those who see staggering levels of success.
Why This Works
Regardless of the specifics of a writing project, it’s extremely important that an audience be kept in mind right from the beginning. By so doing, the likelihood of boring content coming about is greatly minimized.
Why? Roles are reversed and you’re in a different set of shoes. Knowing what an audience wants, you’re much more inclined to properly deliver.
Think about it—how much more excited are you to read an interesting email or witty text message from a buddy than an entry in one of Harvard’s many medical journals? It’s not that the information isn’t accurate in an academic publication, it’s just that it can’t be consumed.
Save the killer vocabulary and editorial genius for the journalists you’re pitching. It’s their job to sound like a robot, not yours. The more digitally approachable you are, the less the stereotypical stench of PR annoyance will be present.
Learning to Write Like You Talk
There’s a two-part secret to this. The first part is to do the necessary research to actually know what you’re writing or pitching about. If you understand the subtle ins and outs of what you’re covering, your voice is going to make itself known without you even realizing it.
It’s when your totally BS-ing an audience or reporter that Thesaurus.com is used in abundance. You’re trying to sound like you know what you’re talking about because you literally have no idea what you’re talking about.
Fortunately, in the end, if you bypass doing any research, nobody will know the difference. Unfortunately, it’s because they will have stopped reading your writing and moved onto something more interesting.
Now for the second part—stop thinking. That’s right. Don’t think. The more you think, the more you question. Go back to the last time you had a conversation with your best friend or significant other.
Didn’t have to think much before making a point, did you? Therein lies the beauty of writing like you talk. When the pitching or posting ceases to become about sales and focuses solely on developing long-lasting relationships, real PR genius can happen.
Be real. Be yourself. Write like you talk.
Let’s hear what you have to say—how do you keep your writing from coming off as overly advertorial or promotional? Jump on down to the comments section below and have your voice heard by Echelon’s loyal body of readers.
Lucas Miller is the Founder of Echelon Copy. When not writing, editing or running, he's working tirelessly to perfect what he claims is the "World's Greatest Pompadour." Additionally, for what it's worth, his editorial works have been featured on Social Media Today, Business2Community, Ragan's PR Daily, Spin Sucks and many other top-tier PR publications.