If you’re in public relations, chances are you write. A lot. Yet, I’d bet many of us try to check out from one of our most common daily activities once we leave the office. If you were a biologist, it’s probably unlikely you’d be doing lab work on your weekend, so why would (should) PR folks be expected to take pen to paper – or finger to keyboard – when they don’t really have to? Well, included below are some of my own rationalizations for spending three-to-four extra hours per night writing… about college football:
- Entering the minds of the reporters you’re pitching – If you’re wondering what the reporter on the other end of the phone could potentially find interesting, blogging’s one good way (of many) to get additional insight. Whether you post just once per week, or every day, blogging puts you into the editorial mindset and allows you to see the news you’re pitching much differently.
- Gaining valuable editing experience – If you’re just starting out in your career, it’s unlikely you’ve done a lot of copy editing. But if you run a blog, you become your own editor and develop a more critical eye toward your own writing. Say you happen to join (or start) a blog staff, now you get to develop editing skills for other styles of writing beyond your own, too.
- Become more accustomed to urgent deadlines – Writing at night, the deadline is usually when I’m too exhausted to think anymore, but by placing sleep as a deadline, I’ve increased the speed at which I write things so more posts get done. This also applies to point number-two.
- Building a portfolio – Junior-level staffers may not have the most extensive experience writing client materials, so the best way to grow your portfolio early-on is blogging. Coming out of college a few years ago, nearly every interviewer asked if I had writing samples or a blog. Rather than some senior class projects (or as younger professionals, a pitch or two), I had a URL full of work to hand over. The fact that you enjoy the subject you’re writing about will also shine through, and allow readers (be they managers, clients or prospective employers) to see your best work.
- Crafting a voice – An important part of writing for yourself, or your clients, is creating an appropriate voice. By setting the tone on your blog early, it establishes a personality and brand which visitors will start to associate with both the site and you. Sounds an awful lot like our jobs, doesn’t it?
- Developing relationships through social channels – Clients are pushing more and more for active, respected social channels, so why not develop your own experiences in this regard, with relation to your blog? Take a look at what space your blog inhabits (sports, music, food – whatever it may be) and build relationships with influencers through blog commentary, Twitter, Facebook and other platforms. Knowing the ins and outs of how to get content and opinions shared around the web makes you look great to your clients and managers, and allows for better results for your team.
If you already have a blog, congrats! You’re probably doing most of these things naturally. If not, there are plenty of easy ways to get started. Just think up a topic you like, and post as little as once every week-or-so to an aptly-named Tumblr, WordPress or Blogger site (of course there are other services as well). This all may seem daunting at first, but in the long-run, your quality-of-writing and future-self will thank you.