Challenge yourself to write better copy says Gresham PR’s Neil Boom

I don’t understand it. Why do people want to go into PR these days? Long gone are the boozy lunches that lasted all afternoon, the chance of foreign press trips and the rather more generous bonuses compared to today’s meagre fare. It’s all work now.

Let’s face it, those louche days are gone for good. Sadly. But there are other attractions to the work. One of the big attractions for me – who hailed from a local authority background (I was a council committee clerk) – was the chance to write expressively and not churn out unreadable prose fit only for a “report“.

So when I sat in a room with some younger PR colleagues the other day, I was struck by how little feeling most of them had for language. Instead, they reached for dead expressions and the usual ghastly clichés, wheeling out “going forward” and “engaging content” as if they were newly-coined phrases that weren’t completely emptied of meaning.

Surely one of the challenges of PR is to use language expressively, to mint some new expressions, and most of all be interesting? Isn’t it our duty, as communicators, to not trot out the same boring words and phrases that make you sound just like everyone else?

I don’t just mean avoiding business jargon – although that is a decent start. I mean trying to find new ways of expressing yourself, of extending your vocabulary. That’s not using long words for the sake of it, or trying to bamboozle your listener. What I mean is finding new and different words so you don’t sound like an “I speak your weight” machine.

The same applies to your writing. Rather than cut and paste the same old words and phrases that turn up in every press release and PR proposal, why not challenge yourself to write it new each time? Why not find new ways to improve on your last written effort? That is the thing about writing, you can always make it better, clearer, livelier and less dull.

It will give you the chance, perhaps, of bringing a dull subject to life. And more importantly, it will also bring yourself to life, offering time to be creative rather than tick tocking your way to the bell and home time. Worth a try, no?

Neil Boom, managing director, Gresham PR

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