PR, perfecting the balancing act

PR really is a delicate operation; picture a tightrope walker balancing precariously above the sawdust and you’ll have a better understanding. Striking the right balance between keeping your clients happy and giving your press contacts what they need isn’t the easiest of jobs. But honestly, it’s all in the approach. That’s why it’s critical for a PR company to: continuously work on its relationships, becoming both an extension of its client’s marketing team as well as building a reputation with journalists as a reliable source of information; pitch a story in the right way to the press, based on what each particular publication’s audience wants to read; provide consistently good, strong content; not be driven purely to make up monthly target numbers – this way, the media knows that they’ll never receive a piece of puffery, written just for the sake of it; and be honest and remain steadfast when it comes to training up spokespeople or disagreeing over a weak story angle. Part-journalist, part-brand advocate, THIS is a PR force to be reckoned...

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I am a writer. Who am I?

It’s tricky. Explaining to people what I do. When I answer “writer” their eyes often glaze over and an “oh wow” escapes their mouths, and I can almost see their romantic visions of me sitting in billowing wind composing the next great novel. This delusion becomes ever more apparent in doctors’ rooms when you are handed a form and just about have an anxiety attack when faced with one all too short line to fill in your occupation: Writer… Yes, I add the ellipsis, as the word just seems too short to capture the reality of what it is that writers for PR agencies actually do.   Here’s the reality. We spend a lot, and I mean A LOT of time fine tuning messages. There is no wind billowing as we sit day after day hunched over our beloved laptops ignoring articles stating that sitting will shorten our lifespan and that eight hours of sleep are ideal, which we always tend to come across during our research.   There are always deadlines. It is the nature of the job. But I believe we owe it to our clients and their products, as much as to ourselves, to take precious care of every piece. Successful writers therefore have the skill to look at every press release, column, corporate brochure and more, from a strategic, content and language point of view. An effective writer knows what will add value, what will entice and what will offend.   Everything we write is deliberate. It has been added to, edited, rewritten and polished. It is well-researched and viewed from our target audience point of view. There is no ego involved, as it is not about us. We are chameleon writers who become the voice and the tone of a vast array of products and clients. One day you might write about surge protectors, the next day about make-up. We might work for “us” as an agency, but we do in fact stand wordlessly behind our clients, listening and planning, all the time thinking until the words that are spot-on tumble out of us.   We therefore sit in the wings much of the time, and could perhaps even be seen as ghost writers, sometimes friendly, sometimes grumpy, as we passionately put together the perfect and most powerful nucleus of the piece.   Our role is to do this. To add great value to the content through research and words that tickle interest without distracting a diverse set of audiences through various channels, from publications to social media.   Yes! We are writers. We love grammar and laugh hysterically when memes on the subject of language, puns or the like cross our desk. But,...

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Everyone loves a stickler for good grammar (or not)

Let’s face it, we all know one…one of those people who loves to point out grammatical errors in newspapers, on billboards, and on your social media posts <waves hand>. Jokes aside though, have you ever considered the impact that poor grammar might have on your reputation, both as a company and as an individual? Regardless of where you’re from or what language you might speak, the very basis of communication is grammar. Unfortunately though, the “txtspk” epidemic in particular, as well as the fact that many people are more likely to be found watching TV rather than reading a book, is causing the gradual erosion of the well-spoken word. Why then should people be reminded of the importance of upholding strict grammatical standards? It’s simple, the better your grammar, the clearer and less open to misinterpretation your message. For an individual, this could make or break that job application. Within the business world, where fast, effective communication can give you the edge over competitors, it is critical. Good grammar makes good business sense at the end of the day. Will grammar rules always remain as they are today? It’s hard to guess; with the pace at which the digital world is changing the way in which we communicate, it’s not far-fetched to say that this will happen at some stage. Until then though, it’s safer to learn the correct use of apostrophes, and the rules around the Oxford...

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