PR Writing Lessons from Great Authors

Since the beginning of the year, two literary giants passed away just weeks of each other — Harper Lee and Pat Conroy. Both of these talented authors drew upon their Southern heritage in a such a way that was both unique and universal to the human condition. Their words rippled across the South and impacted readers around the world.

We look to brilliant authors to inspire and move us through their writing. In public relations, we’re writers too. None of us are even close to the same level as a Lee or Conroy but we’re still called upon to provide information and make it worthwhile reading. We are in the business of writing feature articles, blogs, press releases, speeches, videos, and other content for our companies and clients. What can we learn from the legacies left behind by these greats?

  • Be authentic. Lee and Conroy gave us characters that were real. We might not like all of them but they represent the good and bad of society. When writing for PR, we should always be truthful and remain true to the company brand.
  • Be creative. Both authors were experts at describing a setting in such detail that you felt like you were actually there. Now, PR writers usually don’t have the opportunity to fill an unlimited number of pages but we should make what we write interesting. Look for new twists and fresh ways of telling a story.
  • Be generous. These authors gave of themselves in their writing by drawing upon their real-life experiences. For PR writers, we need to be generous to those who will read our material. Keep in mind the readers/listeners/viewers and what they are interested in and don’t just provide dull corporate announcements that don’t impact them.

Finally, PR people should read a lot. Of course, we should follow any company or client news and the media just to be aware of anything that could impact stakeholders. But being a well-read person also improves our writing, provides a sense of the broader community, and allows us to experience excellent writing. And, maybe just a little bit of that will rub off …