Ad and marketing creatives

Learning the PR Writing Ropes

When Erin Caldwell was a senior at Auburn University in Alabama she wanted to learn more about public relations, her major, than what she got from the classroom. So she launched a website called Forward-Moving that brings together PR novices with the salty veterans of the trade. The website was a hit, popular with students and young PR professionals who use it to gain practical, real-world advice on all sides of the business -- including writing for public relations. Which, naturally, is what we discussed with Erin, who now works at a major public relations firm in Washington, DC:

VT: Let's talk about your new career. What has been your real-world experience writing for public relations?

Erin: The practice group that I'm part of is a new area of PR writing that deals with blogs. I fell into it rather naturally from running the web site. It's been interesting to see how writing styles change. For example, there's a distinct writing style for doing pitches, but it varies very much if you are pitching traditional media or if you're pitching a blogger.

VT: In what way?

Erin: Bloggers expect you to be much more personal. In both arenas, of course, it's always important to know your audience, who you're writing for and who you're sending the pitch to -- and making sure that it's relevant. With traditional media you have to make sure the pitch is going to be relevant to both the journalist -- so they read it -- and the ultimate audience. Bloggers expect you to read their blog and know specifically what they write about, too. But you have to approach them with a very personal, much more casual tone. I think the online space in general has a tendency to be more casual.

We have a lot of conversations in our community where we share best practices as far as approaching bloggers. There are PR practitioners who are now starting to venture out and find bloggers that would be interested in their pitches. While mainstream media is still very much the key player as far as PR strategy goes, blogs are becoming another tool in the toolbox, so to speak.

VT: Why did you launch this site?

Erin: I had many unanswered questions when I was in school, there was a lot of stuff that just wasn't covered. I know there were others in the same situation that I was. Our site's a unique community that brings together the young people who are asking the questions and experienced professionals with years of experience who can answer them. The answers are, you know, what works, the way it really operates.

VT: What resources are available on Forward-Moving for people looking to write better PR material?

Erin: I've pulled together a short list of some of the posts that cover writing topics. Please check out these posts:

Write or Wrong

All Style and Substance Too

Where's Your Grammar

And a podcast on writing with Matthew Stibbe [Visual Thesaurus columnist, too, of course --ed.]

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