Writing is an essential part of our jobs as public relations practitioners, so we recently enlisted the help of Journalism Hall of Fame recipient, Dr. Terry Clark, to keep us at the top of our writing game.
Take your pick of titles – the local legend, accomplished artist, renowned writer and former professor at the University of Central Oklahoma. Dr. Clark is all of these things, and we were honored he was willing to lead us through a comprehensive course to refine our writing skills.
While we can’t give away all of our secrets, we’re about to let you in on three tips that are sure to refresh your writing.
Take me to your lead(er).
Lede or lead – spell it how you like. It’s the most important sentence you will write. An effectively written lead will catch your readers’ attention, set the topic and tone of the story and entice readers to keep reading. No longer than 25 words, a lead can be written by asking who or what the story is about and why that matters to your readers.
Ditch over-used verbs for more descriptive, punch-packing alternatives. It seems obvious, but strong verbs are a crucial part of successful story telling. When chosen wisely, verbs can move your readers to action and distinguish your story from its competition. Once you’ve selected a strong verb, try to place it as close to the subject as possible in the sentence where it lives.
Look me in the eyes.
“Quotes are the eye contact of good writing,” Dr. Terry Clark said. “Nothing gets to the essence of a person or subject quicker than a strong quote.”
You wouldn’t engage in an important conversation without eye contact; neither should you write without creating eye contact with your readers. Start by identifying the best quote – one that is factual and helps propel your story – and use it within the first few paragraphs. When dealing with attribution, we give you permission to break Rule #2. Don’t get fancy, stick with ‘said.’
Our team gained so much from this experience. It has refreshed our entire writing process from concept to completion. If you would like to employ the expertise of Dr. Terry Clark for continuing education for you or your team, you can reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like our team to do the writing for you, we can help with that too.
Just email Emily at email@example.com.