Monthly Archives: March 2010

Be a PR Perfectionist! – Writing Resource from Ragan

Hope everyone is having a fantastic March!  As PR professionals, writing is our life, but it can also be our greatest detriment if we’re not sharp.  Even a writing or journalism Bachelor’s degree doesn’t guarantee that our writing is as crisp and concise as it should be—it can always be improved upon.  So, no matter how long you’ve been in the field, please take a look through this article from Ragan on “Ten Fundamentals of Good Writing.”  Here’s a sample:

1. Push for specificity. Corporate writing is generally too vague, so you should invoke E.B. White’s Rule No. 16 from The Elements of Style: “Prefer the specific to the general, the definite to the vague, the concrete to the abstract.” (And while you’re at it, buy your writers the book.)

Instead of the abstract, demand writing that is about something we can grasp. Don’t tell us we have special challenges to confront; share with us the specific problems we face and how we’re thinking of solving them. Don’t praise people for their extraordinary contributions to the general welfare of the company or their untiring determination to go the extra mile.

Those words are flat and stale. Tell us some stories about people who have done something to push the company forward. Focus on the interesting, not the mundane.

2. Use more words. There’s a bunch out there waiting to be plucked from obscurity and entered into the corporate lexicon. Companies use the same words over and over, and many of them have lost their meaning. How often can you talk about quality before it loses its panache? If everything is strategic, then what isn’t? Are some decisions “key,” while others ignored?

We are stuck in the language of corporate life. English gives us anywhere from 250,000 to 1 million words to express ourselves, but it feels like most companies keep using the same 12. It’s time to stretch our vocabularies; reward any kind of corporate communication that breaks away from the everyday.

3. Find better verbs. This is where the language really fails most corporations. Companies talk to each other, and their customers, in stilted, dry language; and verbs are the biggest culprit. Strong verbs drive sentences; dull verbs slow them to a crawl.

The problem is that companies are using the same verbs to explain everything. We’re leveraging our synergies. We’re implementing core competencies. We’re facilitating strategic processes to focus on our key deliverables. What does that mean? Turn your writers loose; order them to use action-oriented verbs that paint a picture. Make everyone read the front page of the Wall Street Journal, collect the verbs that power those terrific sentences.

Read full article…

What did you think?  Feel free to post comments, suggestions or questions for us.  Also, if you have more resources for improving writing, send them along!  As a young professional, the day-to-day concerns you have are probably shared by a number of us, so let’s collaborate.

Have a great rest of your week, YP-ers! We look forward to seeing you soon—our next event is our Spring Mixer on April 21st. Details coming soon!

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YP Board Profile: Kristin Wood – Vice President

At Kristin Wood’s office, every day is a reason to celebrate.  She is the Communication Specialist for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide Public Affairs where some of her current projects include launching and updating the WDPR Web site, drafting remarks for executives and spearheading a new press kit.

Kristin’s most memorable experiences at her dream job with Disney include attending special events such as the opening of the Toy Story Mania! attraction and seeing Johnny Depp during the announcement of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, viewing renderings and models at Walt Disney Imagineering of WDPR’s upcoming projects around the world.

Prior to joining Disney, Kristin worked for Cook & Schmid, a San Diego-based public relations, marketing and advertising firm where she developed an informational calendar for which Cook & Schmid received a 2008 PRSA Silver Anvil Award of Excellence.

Kristin is a second-generation San Diego State University graduate, and worked in the marketing and public relations department at Loews Coronado Bay Resort & Spa during school. There she promoted Loews’ Surf Dog Small Wave Competition, a charity event for Coronado, Calif. animal shelters for which Loews gained worldwide attention. She also worked for 944 Magazine where she assisted with coordinating the magazine’s special events at some of San Diego’s hottest night spots.

As the 2010 Vice President and former 2009 President of The Young Professionals of PRSA-LA, Kristin encourages young PR professionals to take full advantage of the fun and educational, real-life networking opportunities YP provides. Despite having grown up in a family full of educators, Kristin likes to remind her fellow young professionals of a quote from Paul Newman to Lee Iacocca after his car caught fire: “You can get straight A’s in marketing, and still flunk ordinary life.”

When Kristin isn’t working at the happiest place on earth, the San Diego native enjoys exploring the Los Angeles area with friends and family, kickboxing and volunteering with the Volunteers of the Burbank Animal Shelter.

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