If there was one thing, one thing that I could change about the PR industry, it would be the poor writing skills that are rampant in PR. It must be something about the people who are attracted to PR as a profession, because nothing else explains it. For an industry in which good writing should be a core, deal-breaking skill, the mediocrity of PR writing skills is, frankly, baffling.
I'll let you in on a semi-secret: one of the reasons I moved over from mainstream media to PR 15 years ago was that I knew that with my above-average writing skills, I would always be able to find work. I'm sorry to say that 15 years later, there's still plenty of demand for my writing skills in the PR industry.
If this sounds like a harsh critique, you're right -- it is. Good writers aren't born, they're made. And they are made with tough, no-nonsense criticism of their writing.
As we head into a downturn, this may be a skill you'll want to improve. It could be one of the wisest investments you make in your career.
I got the idea for this item because next Wednesday Nov. 19 I'm moderating a PR University audio conference called, "Write Like a Journalist: Media Wordsmiths Share Proven Copywriting Secrets for Earning More Ink." I'll be joined on the 90-minute conference by:
- Sandra Allen, Director, Public Relations Studies, Columbia College Chicago
- Evan Cooper, Senior Managing Editor/Online Editorial Director, Investment News; Author, "The Ultimate Press Release: How to Create Breakthrough Press Materials for the Digital Age"
- Joe Grimm, Visiting Editor in Residence, Michigan State University; Writer, Poynter Institute Career Center
- John McIntyre, Assistant Managing Editor, Copy Desk, Baltimore Sun (circ. 372,970)
- Joan Stewart, President, Editor, The Publicity Hound