Getting it Write: The Unwritten Rules of PR

The world of PR advances rapidly.  Every day, new technologies, forms of social media, and ways of connecting with both clients and audiences break the surface, and it’s our job to keep up, and use these tools to leverage success for business.

However, alongside the heights of connectivity and cool new quirks, it’s easy to lose sight of the basic tools at our disposal. Language is the bread and butter of PR and corporate communications; ultimately, we’re out to communicate our message clearly and concisely, to a highly targeted and relevant audience.

With language, comes writing, and with writing comes not only words, but spelling, punctuation and grammar.  Whilst it’s easy to dismiss these things as unimportant in an industry as fast-paced and content driven as PR, basic errors in the press releases, tweets and news pitches that make up our daily produce can have more of an impact than you might think. They are crucial to that all-important first impression – often the difference between success and failure in an increasingly instantaneous world.

A survey carried out by communications and PR experts Disruptive Communications found that inaccuracies in written content were top of the list of what was most likely to put consumers off a particular brand. 42% of those questioned said that poor spelling and grammar was most likely to damage their opinion of a brand in the media.

Language is what everything in the PR toolbox boils down to, and getting it wrong can make a brand look unprofessional. Mistakes can cloud the meaning of that all-important message, and forever blemish the name of a brand or a writer with the ugly marks of misplaced apostrophes (in this internet-focused age, we are never safe from the hauntings of past grammar mistakes).

Getting the basics right is about building up knowledge, insight and skill from the foundations. As a brand consultancy, there are aspects of what Propaganda does that allow for a bit more creative license. When crafting content for unique clients, a little rule-bending is often necessary to achieve the perfect tone, look or message, and to convey it in the best way.

With writing, however, you have to know the rules before you break them (literary legend James Joyce knew this only too well, but that’s another story). Playing with language and taking creative risks is as much a part of branding as hitting the spelling-and-grammar nail on the head, and with language, mastery comes before experimentation.

So yes, we can play with words, we can be creative and spread the message, but as long as first impressions make all the difference, it’s never been more important to get it right, before getting it wrong.