PR Training

8 Writing Tips I’m Thankful for This Year

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At Wylie Communications, we’re getting ready for our 2021 Master Classes. With that in mind, I wanted to share some of my favorite slides from our workshops:

  1. Make sound bites sound better. One-quarter of journalists rank quotes as the least important element in a news release — after the boilerplate and the dateline. Make yours short, rare and memorable, and also sound like a real person said them.
  2. Cut through the clutter. In a world of information overload, how do you get readers to pay attention to, understand, remember and act on your message? Focus on the reader and make messages interesting and easy to understand.
  3. Think outside the pyramid. The 5-note structure has been proven in the lab to increase readership by 300 percent and reading by 520 percent. Plus, once you nail it, you can repurpose it for tip sheets, case studies, survey stories and more. Make this the year that you finally drop the inverted pyramid.
  4. Reach readers where they are, not where you wish they were. Most Americans have basic or below-basic reading skills. That means that if you write at the 11th-grade reading level, then you’ll miss 97 percent of Americans. So cut the long words and long sentences and dramatically increase readability.
  5. Reach readers where their eyes are. Even highly educated European scientists read only 20 percent of the words on a web page. But which words are they reading? The display copy. So tell your story through the headlines, subheads and links — and stop expecting “readers” to read the paragraphs.
  6. Put your effort up top. Most writers spend very little time getting ready to write, more time writing and the most time fixing what they’ve written. But comma-jockeying ain’t writing, and the result is some pretty tepid prose. So spend more time planning your message — focusing on the audience, researching and organizing.
  7. Go beyond the subject line. Email recipients consider four elements — aka “the envelope” — when deciding whether to open or delete your message. If you’re not writing them, then MailChimp is, and not too well. So make sure that you’re drawing recipients in through the from line, pre-header and preview pane, as well as the subject line.
  8. Stop boring them. Reach more readers — and sell more products, services, programs and ideas — with storytelling, metaphor and other creative elements. The boss thinks that’s fluff? Pull out the data to prove that it’s not.

Want more tips for reaching readers and getting the word out? Join PRSA and Ann Wylie at one of our 2021 writing Master Classes. You’ll leave with tips, tricks and techniques for writing messages that draw readers in and move them to act. Save $200 when you book by Dec. 31!


Ann Wylie works with communicators who want to reach more readers and with organizations that want to get the word out. To learn more about her training, consulting or writing and editing services, contact her at ann@WylieComm.com. Get FREE writing tips here. Get more than 2,000 writing tip sheets at RevUpReadership.com.

Copyright © 2020 Ann Wylie. All rights reserved.

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Ann Wylie

1 Comment

  • A very helpful article with creative techniques! As a student writer for an online publication, it is very important to understand that people want you to cut to the chase and do so in an entertaining manner. The biggest takeaway is to really know your audience and frame your messaging to fit their needs.

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