A top public relations agency is a busy, demanding workplace. The day-to-day schedule can include a number of discussions with clients or new business prospects, proactive pitching to media and fielding follow-up questions, managing projects with vendors, overseeing media monitoring and anticipating possible impact for clients, and more. And that’s just the morning!
Clearly it can be challenging to find the focused time for longer pieces of writing. Yet quality writing is vital in PR. Written content says much about a company or brand’s value proposition in a competitive market, and strong writing skills remain a top desired quality for PR talent. Op-ed and contributed pieces must have a fresh, convincing message that provides real value. Press releases must be clear, informative, and void of double speak lest they become meaningless or mocked.
Challenging though it is, there are ways to balance hectic schedules with creating space for good writing. Here are some tips.
Keep an ongoing “notes file.” Much of the different aspects of PR work bleed into one another, and certainly everything feeds into written content. For example, monitoring a media interview with an exec can be a gold mine for developing new material for bylines or op-eds or an upcoming speech. Be sure to take notes. Use whatever organization system works for you — some swear by Google docs, others prefer a cloud-based file storage, and some still love paper and file folders — but be sure to keep them in a “writing” file. Organize by topic, so you know exactly where to reach for source material when it’s time to write content.
Tackle longer writing assignments in pieces. If you’re pressed for time and the thought of cranking out 750 words is a bit daunting, start by setting aside just 15 minutes. Set a timer and write as much as you can within that time. Knowing you have a limited time to spend on writing helps relieve anxiety about shirking other tasks. Everyone can find 15 minutes in a day, right? It’s the equivalent of a coffee run, a catch-up chat with a colleague, or an unplanned call from a client. String together a few 15-minute sessions and soon you have a critical mass of writing to work with, which is a huge step forward.
Be smart about timing. This could mean getting in 15 minutes earlier or staying 15 minutes later to have some uninterrupted time devoted to writing. If the mornings are when you think best, tackle writing tasks then. We all have different times of day when we’re at our best, the key is to choose the time well.
Know edits will follow. Don’t let quibbles over punctuation or word choice get in the way of getting content down for a first draft. Write the first pass knowing it’ll be cleaned up and sharpened later. Use placeholders (like X’s or jibberish) if you don’t have precise numbers and facts handy. The point is to keep the flow going until you have something solid to work with.
Don’t procrastinate. This is probably the hardest. The tyranny of urgent business always seems to outweigh more labor intensive, thoughtful work. But putting off a writing task because you don’t think you have the time only makes the task seem bigger in your mind than it really is — and that leads to more dread, and more procrastination. The snowball effect is a recipe for disaster. Commit to the writing — like an exercise regimen! — until it becomes habit.