The write stuff: facilitating a writing course in PR

Overview


School of Communication and Reputation (SCoRe) is an institute dedicated to the development of education & research in reputation management. SCoRe is the only institute endorsed by The Public Relations Consultants Association of India (PRCAI) - a group of India's top PR firms. With a view to becoming a source of talent for the Indian PR community and a center of excellence, it is the first dedicated school set up by practicing professionals to nurture talent in the industry.


Educators and practitioners seem to agree that writing is fundamental to a public relations curriculum (Hardin and Pompper, 2004). Practitioners believe both writing and industry practices should be mandatory for public relations students; they offer slightly stronger support for writing.


This is because writing skills provide a useful guide to writing effective brand stories (and press releases) for practitioners and students working in the fields of public relations and corporate communications.


A writing-intensive coursework that encourages students to seek writing experience – print or digital – hence becomes an invariable aspect of being a public relations practitioner.


The Challenge


According to the REPORT ON PRCAI STATE OF THE INDUSTRY (SOI) published in 2018, the INR 1490 Cr-PR & Communications industry spends about INR 17 crore on training talent.


There are at least 60 UGC recognized institutes offering various courses in communications, advocacy and reputation management, and many more students making it into its fold from other educational backgrounds, but the quality of their writing prowess has come under scrutiny in recent times.


Written communication is a cost center. There are three ways it may be sourced:

  1. by employing a writer

  2. by hiring an agency

  3. by hiring a freelancer

While large corporate communication departments and agencies can hire writers, most mid and small-scale set-ups depend upon their brand managers to also be resourceful and possess efficient written communication skills.


This is also the reason most PR hires end up having at least a few years’ experience before making it to the bigger firms or to the “client side”, as it were.


Writing skills thus become foundational for young PR professionals to be able to succeed and leap-frog competition. The ability to communicate messages clearly and concisely makes for a differentiating skill.


The Solution


We devised The Writing Lab (TWL or The Lab) to go beyond the basics and teach students how to write incisively, with brevity, and communicate in writing effectively.


Writing is an interdisciplinary learning activity (Fulwiler, 1981), and TWL was conceived keeping in mind the importance of explicit and incidental writing instruction combined with instructional practices.


As founders of Content Conspiracy, we have higher levels of writing efficiency that comes with years of writing experience and our greatest strength lies in the variety and depth of our industry experience. We, therefore, enjoy conducting TWL ourselves.


TWL engages students further in their disciplines - in this case, aspiring PR professionals - and shows (not tells!) relevant examples of writing across formats and audiences to help them communicate better, correctly, succinctly.


In our personal capacities, we have conducted various workshops and training programs for for various audiences and learning abilities – and this helped us strengthen the pedagogy underlying TWL.


TWL combines classroom exercises, real anecdotes, videos, and home assignments to orient students and trainees towards better writing - whether communicating within, or outside the organization.


It is a mixed methodology design with an interactive approach to teaching writing as students learn and practice the importance of narratives, drafting/revising, and editing their pieces of writing.


Why We Love It


One of the primary goals of Content Conspiracy is to #MakeGoodWritingPrevail especially in the organizational context and personal growth as a writer too.


With SCoRe, conducting TWL was like being in a sandbox. Not only did it help us refine the structure of the program, but also gain insights on how to empower participants with better writing skills.


TWL also holds us accountable - after all, if we’re teaching, we ought to know!

We helped SCoRe students sharpen their writing skills and give them more confidence in creating quality content that erases the discord between intent and implication.


The Writing Lab is also in its own way, a medium to democratize the process of crafting well-written communication.




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