26 Oct Tackling the Unknown
Writing in public relations can be overwhelming. We are expected to become mini-experts on different topics across various industries.
All of this can be even more challenging when you’re fresh out of college, like me. Being new to the writing game in an agency can make it feel nerve-wracking to ask the right questions or difficult to figure out where to begin. In the past 6 months, I’ve learned several new terms and topics and wrote pitches or blogs on many of them. While challenging, I have found some steps that make it a little easier, and I wanted to take this opportunity to share my learnings with fellow recent graduates who may be entering into the world of PR.
We have all been there: you start writing about a topic and you feel like you have it all figured out, only to realize you really have no idea what you’re supposed to be writing. When this occurs, it’s a good idea to simply start asking questions.
Asking questions can feel intimidating, but in PR it’s important to leave your ego behind and ask for structured guidance. Seek out experts and ask them for a few minutes to help you figure out where to start. Step out of the topic and ask them for some general advice on how they tackle their own writing. One of the best pieces of writing advice I’ve received recently is to start with an outline, and that has made a world of a difference for me. This type of insight and knowledge from peers can be invaluable and help provide a clearer idea of what you should be writing about.
Research (Then Research Again)
Understanding a topic is key to tackling any pitch, blog or article. So, after you’ve sought out the experts, but before you start writing, try to get more background. Google is your friend. Research the topic, including its history and why it is relevant. Find out what is currently being written about this particular topic and what outlets are covering it. If your client has white papers or past blogs, read them. Arm yourself with all possible information, then connect the dots. Ask, how does this tie into what your co-worker told you and your research? Then, form your own opinions and thoughts on the topic.
Take a Step Back; Breathe
While I enjoy writing, covering new topics can be spookier than Halloween, and writing on technology topics can make writing even more challenging. Once you draft an outline, take a step back and breathe. You’re halfway there!
Next, begin writing your first draft. Use your outline and research as a guide. After you’ve made some progress, look at what you have written so far and compare it to your research and notes. Do you have everything you want to include, or do you need more information? Either is okay. If you need more information, go back and search for it. Finish up the draft, and, when you feel it’s in a good place, read it again with fresher eyes. Try to make the writing tighter before asking someone to review it.
The truth is the best writers didn’t get anywhere alone. Writing is not just about putting words on a screen; it’s about research and process. The formula to perfect writing is different for everyone. Start by asking questions and educating yourself. Make sure to give yourself credit for tackling the subject. And remember that no one is perfect and even the most seasoned PR pros still ask for help – there’s no reason why you shouldn’t either!