It Is About Building Relationships

by Jim Haynes, APR, Fellow PRSA,

Make your copy clear and concise.
Write with the audience in mind.
Know your purpose:
* Inform/educate
* Motivate
* Entertain
Write short sentences.
Use active verbs.
Use simple words.
Get to the point quickly.
Check your facts.
Proof. Proof. Proof. (Spell checker results are not reliable. Check this: “Its letter perfect awl the weigh; my checker tolled me sew.”)
Know your audience.
* Write what they know and understand.

* Don’t assume that they know the meaning of acronyms and jargon.
* Use terms they use.
* Ask one of them to check your work.
If you use an abbreviation or acronym, explain it.
Use the style appropriate for the medium.
Use the styles prescribed by the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook for print media and the AP Broadcast News Handbook for broadcast media.
Play the hand you’re dealt
Be sure your writing advances the organization’s objectives.
Get the level of management’s approval that’s needed.iWriting:

Write in “chunks”—headline, then a “brief” or lead, then text (More).
Understand that the user gets to decide how deep to read or scan.
Make each “chunk” useful.
iButtons and iLinks:
Limit each to 1-3 words.
Make them clear and precise.
Break your text into chunks.
Limit paragraphs to 2-3 short sentences.
Provide a link option for the full-text version.
Writing the effective iHeadline:
Make it short, and stand-alone.
Include both a subject and a verb.
Make the tense present or future.
Limit it to 10 words.

Finally: Let it rest!
Leave it overnight.
Take another look the next day.
You’ll probably find ways to improve it.

Mr Haynes is a partner and director for QuickSilver Interactive Group, Inc. of Dallas, and is a member of PRSA’s national Board of Directors. He has taught PR at four universities and served as assistant dean at The University of Texas at Austin. He also is the co-author of the textbook Public Relations Writing: Form & Style.

It’s a Question of Ethics

I was very happy to see PRSA finally respond to the recent controversy involving Scott McClellan–the former White House press secretary who just released his book that includes, among other controversial acknowledgments, his confessions about knowingly lying to the press corps on behalf of the president on more than one occasion.

First of all, with all the political mumbo-jumbo ongoing right now, my personal opinion is that once a liar always a liar. I’m not saying you can’t change if you lied in the past, but I am saying that we don’t have to believe you ever again. Think of it as the “fool me once” principle.

How can McClellan expect anyone to know he is telling the truth now, and not just trying to capitalize on the current animosity towards Bush and politicians in general? As a student of public relations (PR), he knows that playing on trends makes for a much more compelling story than if he launched his book a year after being asked to resign. Oh, did I just say he was (allegedly) asked to resign? If he was indeed asked to resign his credibility is even less than moot. But I digress.

His actions and those of other questionable PR professionals inspired me to write a little about the ethics of PR work, especially as it relates to Web 2.0.

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