Tips for Thursday- Common Writing Fumbles to Avoid

PR professionals need to know how to write well.

This is an obvious statement.

The problem is not always the writer. The issue is whether or not the person behind the keyboard is writing effectively. With pressure to meet deadlines and surpass competition, many of us end up composing press releases that look like inter-office emails that don’t deserve signatures.

In this Ragan.com article, Roula Amire reveals what writing mistakes annoy communicators the most. Hint: Affect vs. Effect.

Tips for avoiding these mistakes:

1. Read your work backwards before submitting and/or posting it anywhere.

If you have read any of those paragraphs, sprinkled with words where the surrounding letters of a single word remains the same while those on the inside are scrambled (especially crucial to MySpace bulletins circa 2006), you recognize that it is easy to overlook spelling errors when reading in a linear fashion. Our brains are wired to somewhat disregard minor spelling errors as long as all of the original letters from a word are present. By reading your text backwards, word-by-word, it is easy to pick out spelling mistakes because reading is not fluid (or enjoyable) when done in reverse.

2. Inanimate objects cannot complete actions

Your book cannot reveal details about breakthrough scientific evidence as much as your car cannot drive you to work. Identify a subject when possible throughout your written pieces to create active statements.

3. AP Style

The AP Style book is not just for journalists. If anything, PR professionals should always have one on hand since working with journalists is an integral part of the job. From standards concerning common abbreviations to rules about capitalization, PR pros should always have an AP Style book nearby.

4. Have, has, had

Circle all of the verbs in your piece. Are you using the correct tense(s) throughout? Make sure you adjust the wording according to any changes to preexisting verbs.

5. Flowery Language – Adjective Overload

PR writing should be crisp, concise, and powerful. Writers don’t create strong pieces with the aid of a thesaurus. Determine whether or not your piece is cluttered with unnecessary adjectives by crossing them out. If your message is unclear, vague, or weak without these adjectives, it’s time to modify your content.

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