Writing for Different Mediums

02.12.2010 | Colleen Moffitt

Today’s communicators are called on to write for an increasing number of mediums including print and broadcast media, social networks, and online media such as blogs and Web sites. Some of us are also writing scripts for podcasts or YouTube videos.

So how do you – as a communicator – effectively write for these different mediums and ensure your communication rises above the noise? Yesterday, I outlined some tips with the South Sound chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). Here is a recap of the tips I shared.

  • Possess clarity of thought – If, as a writer, you are not clear on what you want to communicate, then chances are your writing will not be clear, concise or compelling.
  • Know your audience – This will enable you to tailor your style, message and story to the audience and its needs.

For example, consider Motrin’s 2008 campaign targeting moms, which backfired by upsetting its intended target audience. Moms found the company’s message – that “baby-wearing” is a fashionable accessory – offensive. This caused Motrin to pull the ad and led disgruntled moms to create the Facebook group, “Babywearing isn’t painful. Boycott Motrin for saying it is.”

  • Craft a compelling story – Effective storytelling arouses the emotions of the listener/reader. It draws readers into the drama and has the power to shift perceptions. Some guidelines to follow when crafting a story:
    • Show don’t tell
    • Make it interesting
    • Use analogies
    • Provide the point
  • Stay true to your brand – Communicators have increasing opportunities to share information and engage with others. However, it is important not to stray from the core values of your brand, what your brand represents and your business objectives. Make sure you are consistent across all forms of communication.

Nora Doyle, community relations specialist with Tacoma Public Utilities, provided wonderful examples of how her team has integrated the Tacoma Public Utilities brand and messages into a variety of mediums, including transit ads, billboards, brochures, and on its Web site and Facebook fan page in a consistent and thoughtful manner.

  • Understand the medium –What works for a blog will not necessarily work for a press release, a pitch or a YouTube video. Do your research; investigate successes and flops with the specific medium. Also, think about how you can leverage communication across multiple mediums and include these in your overarching communication plan.
  • Keep communication concise – Consider the attention span of your audience. Researchers in Britain carried out a study and found an average person’s attention span today is just five minutes and seven seconds compared to 12 minutes ten years ago. As communicators we get limited opportunities to grab our readers attention. Headlines matter. Make sure each word counts.
  • Broadcast less and listen, engage more – This may not seem to be a writing tip; however, to be an effective writer in today’s media climate it is important to build respect and trust. If you are not listening and responding to your audience(s) you will not be able to communicate in a way that builds a relationship.

So the next time you have a case of writer’s block or are preparing to write for a new medium, I hope you’ll review this list of suggestions. I find when I am stuck, taking a few minutes to identify my issue helps me solve it and complete my writing assignment in no time.


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Filed under: News, PR trends, Social media


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