Tools to Make You a Better PR Writer

Being a better writer takes time and practice. It’s elementary to do your very best to avoid spelling and grammar mistakes, as well as industry jargon, in press releases, email media pitches and other content.

But to increase the chances of your press release or email pitch getting picked up, it’s vital to tell your client’s story well, and with language that’s both engaging and easy to understand.

Below, we outline some essential tools that can help you improve your PR writing and make your media materials clear, concise and compelling to journalists and other readers.

Read News
The best PR writers are usually the ones who love to read and write. By immersing yourself in the written word, you can quickly improve the way you write. 

Whether you prefer books, magazines, newspapers or online articles, any type of reading is a great way to study different writing styles and enhance your overall writing skills.

Study AP Style
The journalists you pitch write in AP Style – and so should you. In addition to duct-taping your Stylebook to your hip and keeping a spare in the trunk of your car, you can brush up on your AP Style by following @APStylebook on Twitter for daily tips.

Common AP Style mistakes for PR professionals avoid include:

  • Capitalizing job titles
  • Using acronyms before spelling them out
  • Double-spacing after a sentence
  • Using numbers 1-9 incorrectly

Explore New Tools
If you’re stuck in a writing rut, you may find checking out new resources to improve your writing helpful. Examples include:

  • Hemingway App, which encourages you to put down the thesaurus and write in plain English. The tool helps you simplify lengthy, complex sentences and eliminate common errors. It even grades readability and gives you hints on alternative words and phrases to improve your sentences.
  • Quickly improve your writing and communication skills by using Cliché Finder to identify and eliminate words, expressions and phrases that are trite, stale and frankly overused. After you copy/paste your writing, the cliche checker uses a unique algorithm and overused phrases dictionary to find results.
  • Grammarly is a free writing app and browser extension that can make your emails, documents and posts clear, mistake-free and effective. The app can give you corrections on Gmail, LinkedIn, Twitter, Word and many other sites.
  • Headline Analyzer can put you on the same level as journalists by scoring your overall headline quality and rating its ability to result in social shares, increased traffic and SEO value. This tool is key for blog post titles, byline headlines and other PR content that lives online.
  • Make every word count with Wordcounter, a free online editor that counts your texts’ words and characters, checks keyword density, corrects writing mistakes and estimates reading and speaking time.
  • Read your writing aloud or use a text-to-speech tool to catch mistakes and clean up lengthy or repetitive sentences. Many computers have built-in text-to-speech tools readily available under accessibility settings.

The last tip to help better your PR writing is an obvious one that’s often forgotten: practice. No matter how much editing feedback you get, repetition and writing a variety of PR materials is the best and most efficient way to improve your copy.

Already an all-star PR writer? We’re always accepting applications for consideration. Click here to inquire about open positions and submit your materials.

What cuts in journalism jobs mean for PR

There are six public relations professionals for every journalist.

In 1980, the ratio was 1.2 to 1.

These ratios, pulled from recent U.S. Department of Labor statistics, illustrate just how dramatically the media relations landscape has fluctuated in the last 40 years. Especially in 2019, it’s clear that the media industry – and by extension public relations and media relations – is shifting as a result of waves of layoffs, changes in business models and the rise of influencers and citizen journalists in the internet age.

Below, we explore the evolution of journalism, what it means for the PR industry and the role of PR pros during the transformation.

What’s the reality?
Earlier this year, local and national news organizations announced waves of layoffs as a result of traditional newsroom downsizing and budget cuts. The latest reports show more than 2,200 people lost their jobs in this latest round of layoffs, setting a dark tone for 2019.

The print industry in particular is seeing an increase in layoffs as a result of recent transitions. Between January 2017 and April 2018, at least 36 percent of the largest newspapers across the U.S. – as well as at least 23 percent of the highest-traffic digital-native news outlets – experienced layoffs, according to a PEW Research study. Additionally, buyouts and mergers have clouded the landscape in a fight to find the right business models to bring monetization and higher profitability to online media in particular.

This news is negative for all of us — journalists, media outlets, PR people, citizens and democracy.

In this landscape, it’s also important to realize the pay gap that exists between PR professionals. Back in 2000, the pay gap between the PR pros and reporters was a little more than $6,000 annually. In 2017, the difference in salary increased $16,000. With a figure like that, it’s clear why many reporters are leaving their roles and transitioning into related fields such as PR, marketing and advertising.

What does it mean?
As the audience of journalists shrinks and number of PR pros grows, it’s harder than ever to get media coverage. Because journalists are heavily outnumbered, they are constantly bombarded with pitches.

To combat the clutter, PR pros must tailor each message to specific reporters and think like a journalist by following some basic journalistic principles such as:

  • Avoid selling and start storytelling, as journalists and as PR professionals, our first goal is storytelling, not selling.
  • Know what’s newsworthy by following five key elements to newsworthiness: timing, significance, proximity, prominence and human interest.
  • Understand your audience by asking: Who are your customers? Who are your clients? And, who are the ideal readers of the story you’re hoping to tell?
  • Verify and research your content, from media pitch, a white paper or a thought leadership article.
  • Strategically structure your writing by following the traditional pyramid model. Your most important and most interesting content belongs at the very top of the pyramid.


What can we do about it?
Despite the many changes brought on by the digital revolution, there continues to be an ongoing need for a new, yet free and honest, press that can be supported by PR pros.

The PR industry should be dedicated to supporting the growth of traditional and non-traditional journalism, and PR pros can have a profound impact on the evolution of journalism by engaging in activities such as:

  • Read news to learn more about the topics impacting your clients, the community and the world at large. This can also help you learn the names and styles of key journalists that you’re wanting to build a relationship with.
  • To directly fund journalism, you should individually support or encourage your agency or company to subscribe to news outlets locally, as well as publications in client verticals.
  • Develop new skills that can make the jobs of journalists easier, such as learning how to use a DSLR camera or write a concise headline to increase the odds of a story being picked up.
  • Consider working with non-traditional media, such as influencers and citizen journalists to spread client stories.
  • Hire journalists looking for a career change to the PR profession, as their skills and inside know-how are invaluable for storytelling and pitching efforts.


No matter how much the media industry shifts, one fact remains: Both professions will continue to work together and rely on one another for many decades to come.

Is your business looking for a way to cut through the clutter and reach key journalists? Contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com to schedule a consultation today!






Our Favorite DPR Moments of 2018

The new year is a great time to reset, reflect and set new goals — and that’s exactly what we’re going to do here.

 

From landing our clients in national media outlets and key industry publications to hiring six new full-time team members, Dittoe Public Relations has had an incredible 19th year driving results for our clients and growing our team. Relive our best moments of 2018 below.

 

Securing big media hits

At Dittoe PR, we don’t wait for news to happen. We make news happen. We’re all about securing consistent media coverage for clients in top tier media – national, local, trade and influencer outlets – by proactively brainstorming new story ideas.

 

Here are some of the biggest headlines we secured for our clients this year:

 

Bringing on new accounts, upsells

We pride ourselves on expanding our client roster and client scope with a variety of projects in the media relations, social media, event planning, content marketing and thought leadership spaces.

 

In 2018, Dittoe PR brought on multiple client wins in a variety of industries including Lonely Whale, Hoffmaster, Merchants Capital, Scooch and Massage Heights. Additionally, the company earned increases in scope for Aardvark and Medxcel. PSI, also new client in 2018, recently increased their desired scope of work with our team, as well.

 

Growing our team

Dittoe PR added six new full-time account coordinators and account executives to the team this year, each of whom are bringing exceptional results to clients day in and day out.

 

Shelby Kaiser joined the team in February and brought her experience of managing a sorority’s quarterly publication, assisting with email marketing and overseeing social media for individual chapters. Haley Williams brought her six years of industry experience in branding, storytelling and communication to the team in April.

 

Ashley Shuler (me!), a previous intern who started full time in June as an account coordinator, was promoted to the account executive role in October. Ashlea Alley, another former intern, also joined the team as an account coordinator after after graduating from the University of Indianapolis with a dual focus degree on public relations and journalism.

 

Jillian Thomas brought her eight years of TV reporting and anchoring experience to the team when she joined Dittoe PR in September as an account executive.

 

Kaitlyn Beck, who graduated from the Indiana University Media School with a B.A. in journalism and specializations in public relations and advertising, and Natalie Weber, a previous intern who started full time in October after graduating from Purdue University with a public relations and strategic communication degree, also joined as full-time account coordinators.

 

Developing our skills

Dittoe PR has always held personal and professional growth in high regard. We firmly believe that our premier PR agency can only grow if our people continue to grow, too.

 

This year, Dittoe PR introduced a professional development budget for all employees, and our team members took advantage of those dollars by attending conferences across the nation. Megan Custodio, Ashley Eggert and Greta Snell attended INBOUND 2018 in Boston; Kaiser, Vanessa Staublin and Sophie Maccagnone attended Digital Summit in Dallas; and Mallory Sturgeon and Kasie Pieri attended PR News’ Media Relations Conference in Washington, D.C.

 

Defining our values

This year, we embarked on a six-month journey toward building a stronger company culture through unified personal and professional development with the help of organizational coach, speaker and author, Katara McCarty.

 

After crowdsourcing responses to a select set of questions about Dittoe PR’s culture, the team collectively crafted four core values that we firmly believe in and practice daily to support each other, our clients and Dittoe PR as a system.

 

  • Cultivate Happy: At Dittoe PR, we have fun, work with passion and purpose, and value work-life balance.
  • We’ve Got Your Back: Because our team is always there for each other. Similarly, this value speaks volumes to how we treat our clients, because we’ve got their backs too.
  • Here We Grow: Because we believe we can go farther, together, by investing in our employees through professional development opportunities, mentorship programs, new client opportunities and more.
  • Exceed Expectations: Our team doesn’t just aim to meet client expectations. We strive to exceed them in any way possible.

 

From securing top tier media hits to cultivating our values, we can’t wait to see where 2019 takes us! Want your business on our 2019 list? Contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com to set up a consultation and learn more about our services.