By Natalie Rohman
On Monday, January 28, DePaul PRSSA had the pleasure of welcoming Jill O’Mahony Stewart, along with DePaul PRAD alumni and staff Maggie Orchard, Aray Rivera, Lynn Hazan, Marla Krause and Richie Roesner to discuss the importance of writing throughout the PR industry and give students tips on acing the writing tests.
DePaul Alum, Stewart, is currently a professor at DePaul in the College of Communication and has been teaching for 10 years. Some of the classes students might be familiar with include: Intro to Public Relations, Acing the Writing Test, and Improving Interpersonal Dynamics. Before teaching at DePaul, Stewart was very active in multiple public relations firms; for nearly 25 years she owned and managed, Stewart Communications, a full-service PR firm. She continues to inspire all Blue Demons passionate about public relations.
“Why does writing matter?” Stewart asked. DePaul PRSSA Members were eager to hear Stewart and the panel members’ advice and experiences with writing in the PR field.
Collectively, Stewart and the panel members answered that in the PR industry, you are constantly writing: writing press releases, answering to emails from clients, or drafting media posts.
When writing in public relations, being a brand’s storyteller is very important. While it may seem tempting to insert your own voice of opinion into press releases, people aren’t going to want to be swayed into your personal beliefs—you are representing the company’s reputation and voice. And with that said, knowing your audience is vital.
In order to become a better writer, practice makes for improvement and insight. Reading other press releases and related works will inspire new forms of writing you may never have thought of. Jill Stewart refers to Danny Rubin’s helpful, professional writing book, Wait, How Do I Write This Email?, that highlights what makes professional writing effective and, well, professional: resumes, cover letters, speeches and presentations, and especially emails are broken down into easy sections. For a preview of the book you can look at our blog post. You will never have trouble drafting your next job email ever again.
Writing creates relationships, especially in the PR industry. It connects the reader and starts a conversation. To establish these relationships with readers and prospective clients, Stewart urges that you “have to get out of your comfort zone,” especially in everyday life. Make efforts to talk to strangers, carry conversations with professionals at networking events, share genuine interest, and don’t be afraid to say hello. You never know who might remember you in the future.
Professional writing in public relations is a very essential and critical communications skill to have. It takes time and practice, but with the right teaching and constant production of PR materials and experience, you will ultimately understand the reasons why writing matters so much.
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Here are some helpful writing resources to get you on track:
Wait, How Do I Write This Email? By Danny Rubin, on Amazon.
PRNewswire, for more press release examples.
The Purdue Owl Writing Lab, for all of your AP writing style needs.
For further help on anything writing related, take advantage of The DePaul Writing Center, and make an appointment to meet with their highly skilled tutors.