June 11, 2019
How to Change Writing Styles Like a PR Pro
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: No two public relations agencies have the same writing style. Nor do they strictly adhere to the AP Style rules you probably had to memorize during undergrad. So, at some point or another in your career, you’re going to have to change your writing style. It’s unavoidable. And trust me, I get it. Once you’ve mastered a writing style, it’s almost impossible to adjust to a new one. Keyword being almost. Luckily, after becoming a writing chameleon of sorts, I’ve devised a foolproof method to nailing that new writing style in no time.
1. Ask to see samples.
If you read my last post about switching industries, you know I’m a big fan of asking colleagues for samples. I’m a visual learner, so seeing the tone, punctuation, framing, and jargon that the agency uses on a daily basis, and having those materials to reference on the reg is extremely helpful. Especially since no two agencies draft pitches or write press releases the same. Ask for a variety of pitches, press releases, and other writing samples, and make a folder in your inbox to have easy access whenever you need it.
2. Think about your audience.
Who are you pitching? That should be the first thing you ask yourself anytime you compose a new email. First and foremost you’re pitching the editor, not their audience. Because of that, there’s a leveled playing field and a shared knowledge of the industry, so you can use jargon, or language that is standard within that field. If you’re new to the industry, I highly recommend reading some of the magazines you’re pitching. Get a feel for the writing style, tone, and structure of the stories, and mirror that in your own writing.
3. Take advantage of the review process.
Having a colleague review and edit your work is extremely helpful, especially when you’re just starting out at an agency. But definitely do not take this process for granted! Make sure when you receive your edited copy that you cross reference with the original draft so you can see each and every change that has been made, and why. If you don’t understand why something was changed, ask!
4. Take (literal) note of new style rules.
When I first started at ACPR, I repeatedly got the same notes on my writing style during feedback and editing. I really struggled breaking habits that I picked up at my previous agency. So, knowing that I’m a visual learner, I wrote down every single style rule I needed to adopt on a sticky note that I placed on my screen. Having that checklist to reference whenever I was drafting totally helped. And being able to toss the sticky note after the new writing style was well engrained was a little victory all on its own.
Did I miss anything? How do you adapt to writing style switches? Let us know in the comments below, we’re always looking for new ways to step up our PR game.
Ashley Hoffbeck is ACPR’s Junior Publicist, sticky note enthusiast, and writing addict. She swears by ‘brain dump’ journaling, rap music, and caffeine whenever she has a case of writers’ block.