Assignments, Olivet Nazarene University, PR Writing

Crafting the Message

with guest speaker Dr. Mike Searcy

“Can you say it in 10 words or less?”

In an era of short attention spans, getting to the point may be more important than the point itself.

“Choose the language that will best persuade to teach the people you are trying to communicate with.”

These ideals are both reminiscent of journalism’s inverted-pyramid style of writing and the way you connect with your audience when giving a speech. In journalism, a strong lede is 25 words or less. And although we’re moving away from the more traditional writing that gives the who, what, when and where in your first paragraph, if your audience doesn’t know why they should care in the first sentence, you’ve lost them.

In public speaking, your first sentence or first few sentences serve as your attention getter. It’s an audition our audience gives us. Lede’s and attention getters should also be the driving force behind crafting your public relations message. There should be power behind each word you choose when developing a PR strategy.

“The mind will process action more quickly than it will process negation.”

Positive phrases create more engagement from your audience. Instead of trying to persuade a crowd “Don’t get a dog,” create a positive statement. “Reasons to remain pet-less.” When you articulate fears, even when saying the word “don’t,” you create an obstacle between you and your audience.

“I hear what you’re saying.”

“I see what you mean.”

“That makes sense to me.”

Additionally, vary your persuasive tactics to appeal to the learning style of your audience. Phrase such as those above can give you insight to whether your listener is an auditory, visual, or tactile learner. During common discourse, these learning styles are often revealed to us.

Be a proactive persuader. Keep your audience by learning what they are interested in and observing their learning style. It is your job as a public relations professional to appeal to your audience on a level that meets their needs–all while serving your client.

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