The Bradford Group requires job applicants to undergo the most rigorous testing of any company I’ve encountered. The No. 1 skill we test for is writing because we know that words are the most powerful tools at a PR professional’s disposal. Just because you’re a strong writer, though, doesn’t automatically make you a strong writer for your specific clients. This is particularly the case if your clients’ companies are in highly technical, esoteric industries.
Your clients are likely doing great work, and they’ve engaged your services because they don’t have the time or expertise to best promote their work to the world. Your writing will often serve as the make-or-break nexus between your clients and that world, so you need to get it right. And, be committed to its ongoing improvement. Here, then, are four tips for becoming a better writer for your PR clients.
1. Study hard
New writers are often told, “Write what you know,” and as a PR writer, that’s difficult to do unless you actually know your client. So, for however long you’re in partnership with that client, you should be a student of their company and its competitive landscape. Devour your client’s website and whatever other company materials you can find, read industry news and trade publications, and set up Google alerts for industry keywords, including the names of your client’s main competitors. As you begin to demonstrate your growing knowledge, your client will be impressed (and reassured) that you “get” their company and their industry, and when you write for them, you’ll be doing so with greater confidence and authority.
By immersing yourself in your client’s world, ultimately you’ll also become a true PR partner, proactively identifying not only additional PR opportunities, but sometimes business opportunities as well. At the Bradford Group, for example, we often help connect our clients with other businesses and government officials, not just media.
2. Meet before writing
Meeting with the client in person or via phone before you start a writing assignment gives you a chance to discuss the message and content they want to get across, and to outline your suggested approach. If you can get this clarification at the outset, you’ll be far more likely to deliver writing that’s on target from your client’s perspective while still ticking all the boxes you need it to tick for your PR purposes. Minimizing the possibility of excessive edits or a rewrite will also save you and your client valuable time. Your writing will often serve as the make-or-break nexus between your clients and the world
Your writing will often serve as the make-or-break nexus between your clients and the world
3. Remember past feedback
If your client does request edits to correct inaccuracies or to adjust language and tone, make a note of that feedback to incorporate into your future writing for the client. Sometimes it helps to refer back to previous assignments when working on a new one. Also, if you’re not the only person in your agency who’s writing for that client, be sure to share lessons learned with your colleagues so your client doesn’t find themselves having to make the same edits every time.
4. Remember your audience
Part of being a good writer is having the ability to carefully tailor your message and approach to suit different audiences. The content and tone of an article for a trade publication, for example, might need to be significantly different to one pitched at a consumer-facing outlet. On occasion, you may need to explain this to clients, who sometimes forget that people outside their company don’t necessarily share the same knowledge and priorities.
If you’re a talented PR writer whose powerful words could help build our clients’ brands, why not check out the Bradford Group’s career opportunities?