By Tiarra Lowery

Communicators are constantly trying to convey an idea or message in the fewest words. The challenge is how to make audiences understand the meaning an organization is trying to convey, while keeping it to the point. At the Dec. 12 PRSA-NCC session, instructor Don Bates shared tips to help both public relations and public affairs writers convey their messages effectively.

More than 80 professionals attended the event, “Write More Powerfully & Strategically for Public Relations and Public Affairs Purposes in Traditional Media & Social Media”, at George Washington University.  The core lesson that Bates shared was to avoid the FYI writing style which, he said, is when information is being given to the audience, but the audience is not engaging with the information. Bates stated that writing should be focused on its intended audience and not the organization releasing it. Bates recommended telling a story that provides a larger context and that helps audience members see a different side of an organization.  He stated:

  1. Focus on “big picture” meaning
  2. Create social media headlines
  3. Use condensed leads
  4. Write direct and to the point
  5. Link to related action, but judiciously
  6. Aim for concrete action
  7. Enhance with images to multiply readership
  8. Disseminate via multi-media
  9. Repurpose and republish

In addition to suggestions for crafting messages, attendees also received advice on storytelling from guest speaker Roy Abdo. Abdo is the founder of Digital Revamp and he provided additional clarification on storytelling with the organization as the focus. Abdo shared that the best way to connect with audiences is to tell them how the organization fits into their lives. The reason audiences do not give certain content any attention is because it provides no personal value.

Abdo said, “You’re in the business of attention. It’s an attention game.” Abdo elaborated that writing professionals need to connect with their audiences by telling a story with the organization as hero to their audiences. Abdo revealed that the hero is the guide in the audience’s lives that helps them in some way.

Attendees also learned various ideas on how to connect with their audiences and focus on connecting the organization’s role in the audience’s experiences. To do this, an organization needs to be specific with word choices, avoid any abstract meanings and tell a story that provides a larger context about the organization that may be foreign to some in their audience.

Tiarra Lowery is a student at George Mason University


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