How to Tighten Up Your Writing for PR

A public relations practitioner has many duties, but a huge part of the job is writing. I’ll admit, I am a flowery writer. I love adjectives, alliteration, metaphors—essentially all the literary devices you can think of. However, one of the goals of public relations writing is to spread the client’s message in a clear and concise way, a method that usually doesn’t involve similes and metaphors.

That said, below are some tips to help you tighten up your writing:

  • Get rid of “that.” You may think it helps explain a message better, but “that” is an unnecessary word.
    • Wrong: I told my friend that I liked her shoes.
    • Better: I told my friend I liked her shoes.
      • In addition, when you’re talking about a person, don’t refer to them as “that,” use “who.”
        • Wrong: Sarah was the friend that had pretty shoes.
        • Better: Sarah was the friend who had pretty shoes.
  • Be strong with verbs. Did you meet with a client, or did you collaborate with them? In PR, we often have a tight limit to express many ideas. Using strong verbs helps get the message across.
  • When in doubt, split a long sentence into two separate ones. Most PR copy is short and sweet. While long sentences can be grammatically correct, it’s easy for the reader to lose track of the main idea.
  • Use one word instead of multiple. If you write, “The company looked into different strategies,” you can also write, “The company researched strategies.”
  • Nix passive voice. Active versus passive voice is still confusing for many writers, but by changing all sentences with passive voice to active voice, the writing will be more powerful and clear.
    • Wrong: The chess match was won by the underdog.
    • Better: The underdog won the chess match.

What tips and tricks have you learned to tighten up your writing?