Date: 9 March 2018

Subject: Writing for PR: Summary of Tips from a Journalistic Perspective

MLA Citation: Sam Dyer, Missouri State University


Research Assessment #8

This lecture caught my attention because it connects public relations and journalism through writing. It assesses how to use language effectively in public relations from a journalists’ eye; it wasn’t the most informative about public relations strategy, but I found it engaging and educational. English has always been my favorite subject, so seeing how the rules I learned in school and at D Magazine apply to public relations writing is something I can certainly take into my future PR writing.

The prominent tips that Mr. Dyer described were a good mix of old and new information for me. For instance, he suggested using parallel structure (being consistent in verb tenses, pronouns, and other grammatical tools) and not introducing symbols into PR writing (spelling everything out instead, with no bulleted lists). While I already knew the importance of these devices in editorial and narrative styles of writing, I did not know that their impact transferred into public relations writing. It is easy to get caught up in trying to be objective and informative and resultantly lose the conversational piece of a PR or journalistic piece, but it is important to remember to make the piece flow while still providing relevant information. That being said, Mr. Dyer also said that the first paragraph in a news piece should not be, to quote him directly, “some big, long, honkin’ paragraph.” One sentence leads attract more readers. Readers also tend to stick around longer with frequently paragraphed stories; every paragraph should be 1-2 sentences long in the journalistic style, easily separated with distinct ideas. These contrasting ideas helped me to remember that, like in journalism, there is a harmonious blend of near-scientific objectivity and human-like structure within a PR piece of writing. The challenge, of course, is figuring out how to take relevant facts and ideas and present them in a way that an ordinary person could easily understand. On this note, Mr. Dyer continued on to say that the writer should remember who their readership is; use your words efficiently and utilize simplistic, yet not dumb, language to ensure that anybody who wants to inform themselves on your topic doesn’t have to be a college professor to understand your diction. Last but not least, I noted the idea that the writer should have a sense of perspective about how their subject fits into larger issues. While I thought about global and social implications a lot in journalism, I didn’t realize that this applied as much to PR as it does to journalism. When writing about significant happenings within an organization, the way that organization chooses to respond could say a lot about their stance on polarizing issues, their values, and their beliefs. This really convicted me to, when writing PR pieces in the future, think about how my piece fits into larger topics and how it could prove beneficial in creating a more informed tomorrow.

Some of the most interesting points in the lecture included when Mr. Dyer compared the English and writing style of Americans and say Canadians or Brits; English writing style varies from country to country, and the way PR professionals communicate their message through writing could be improved by being adaptable and knowledgeable about how their audience communicates. Overall, this lecture was greatly educational and helped clarify some aspects of PR writing for me.