Public Relations Writing: Memos


The subject is Planning Memos, Backgrounders, and Other Written Communications -- some of the most important public relations writing you're likely to do.

Public Relations writers are moving into the executive suite. Their work used to be mainly publicity, including press relations. Today they're playing a role in making policy, helping their firms or clients not only communicate what they're already doing, but figure out what to do next. It used to be that the CEO track ran through the finance department -- from CFO to CEO. Today the career track now often runs from PR Writer to Director of Communications, to Senior V.P. for Corporate Communications to CEO.

The PR Writer is often in a position to "sum it all up" in ways that no one other person in the firm is able to accomplish. That's a position of considerable influence.

  • The PR Writer is one of the most knowledgeable people about all aspects of the business -- few other people in the firm have regular, friendly, open access to every area of activity.

  • The PR Writer therefore is widely known throughout the firm, and has friends and personal resources at every level.

  • The PR Writer is well-known in the industry, outside the firm. PR writers maintain close relationships with their peers -- the PR writers for other firms. Their work is also highly visible to the executives of other firms. That visibility means they are more independent (it's easier for them to switch jobs if necessary, or to land new clients) -- and that in turn affects their self-confidence and respect within their own firm.

  • The PR Writer works closely with the board of directors and the executive leadership. Even at entry level, it's not unheard of for a young PR Writer to be asked to join the attorneys and top executives as they work out the final wording of a crucial press release, or collaborate to shape press conferences and interviews.

  • The PR Writer often comes to represent the firm. Eventually, after an amount of media exposure, even the general public may come to regard an accomplished PR Writer as the spokesperson for the organization.

  • The PR Writer is the one in touch with the media, making friendships that not only make the job of public relations easier to do, but add real value to a firm's total assets.

  • The PR Writer can often bring varied external resources into a firm. An active, connected PR Writer is going to network with others from very different walks of life, staying in touch with the wider culture outside the firm. Since a PR Writer is essentially a person who's paid to stay creative 24/7, he or she is one of the firm's most valuable source of new ideas.

  • Above all, it is the PR Writer's own voice that tends to become the voice of the organization. From company newsletters to major speeches and public announcements, the mood or spirit or tone of a PR Writer can put a human face on an organization -- one that is not only calculated to advantage, but also spontaneous and genuine.

Organizational memos are where our creative -- and executive -- talents begin to shine. Today's lesson is all about how to make the most of it all.

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