Back then, way back in 2005, we called them flacks. They called us hacks. I’ll chalk it up to a friendly rivalry between the MNO (magazine, newspaper, online) kids and the PR crew.
Then, when I finished my masters degree in print journalism and landed a job at a PR firm back in Philly, my peers [jokingly?] said I crossed over to the dark side.
Six years later, I’m at the same PR firm and still holding true to the principles and ethics of good journalism. Anomaly? Maybe. But funny as it seems, journalism school was my perfect preparation for a career in PR. I pitch only story ideas that I’d write myself, and I write press releases in a story-like tone/voice/style, because I can relate.
Truth be told, good writing translates to any field. Here are some of my favorite lessons from J-school. Read ‘em and weep write!
“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” – Mark Twain
The greats know that it can be time-consuming to write concisely, but it’s worth it. Editing is a process. Embrace it. Enough said.
Adjectives Can Be a Crutch
Everyone should give this a go: draft a short, descriptive story sans adjectives, and without sounding like a kindergartener [a la ‘See Spot Run’]. Hint: the magic is in the verbs. You’ll never lose adjectives all together, but you can perk up your writing with word choice and action verbs.
One Mistake Means Total Fail
More and more in this digital age, proofing and fact-checking seem to be falling by the wayside, which saddens me. As a journalist in training, it was drilled into me. I felt the urge to fact-check with every fiber of my being. That’s because, in my first-ever grad school class, there was a very simple grading policy for all reporting. One error = F. No matter how well-crafted the story, or how compelling the interviews, a single error ruins the content and the credibility. Moral of the story: proof, and proof well.
Feel the Rhythm
I grew up singing. I love to dance. And I’ve carved out a career in communications. The common thread, for me, is cadence. Your writing should flow. Sometimes, staccato works. Other times, it’s about stretching out your phrasing and softly layering in details to set a scene, trigger a memory or evoke emotion. But always, always connect your thoughts on paper, so that you can best connect with your reader.
Drop me a line to let me know how these tips work out for you. Or, should you be feeling more overwhelmed than inspired, feel free to send writing projects this way!
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