Last Friday, three members of our PPR team were given the opportunity to attend a writing conference sponsored by PR News in Washington, D.C.. The conference was at the National Press Room, and it lasted all morning. As a public relations professional, writing is a critical skill that ultimately needs to be perfect if you want to progress in the field.

After Friday’s conference was over, my coworkers and I recapped the day. Our notebooks were full of tips and tricks, and we had a lot to digest. So, here are the top three takeaways from our day with PR News.

Writing is not for everyone.

I knew writing wasn’t for everyone before I entered this profession. After spending an entire morning analyzing the right and wrong way to write pitches and press releases though; I realized if you’re not a fan of writing, public relations probably isn’t for you. We spend so much of our day typing on keyboards, and most of what we write is sent to the public or for public release. With that said, you can’t be a lazy writer, and you most certainly have to have a passion for the process behind it. Writing conferences are for those who love the written word and know the importance behind it.

Cheat sheets are actually allowed on your desk.

There is a “right” and “wrong” way of doing things. When it comes to grammar, formatting, and AP style, it’s okay to make yourself a cheat sheet. A tip one of the speakers offered was writing down your personal writing mistakes/habits then creating your own cheat sheet to hang on your desk. Before sending out a press release or pitch, double check your work against your cheat sheet. Noticing the common mistakes you make and correcting them by adding an extra step to the process will help you in the long run.

Strategy is King.

A strategy is vital when it comes to all things business. Even in writing, you have to strategize who the target audience is and what your message will be. As publicists, we often send multiple pitches out but sometimes a smaller, more narrow outreach will work in our favor. A wide-reaching pitch will pop up in the mailboxes of a hundred producers, but a tailored note to a journalist you have a connection with already can go ten times farther. It’s important to know the people you’re pitching and the previous work they’ve done. Personalization over generalization every time!

All in all, PPR’s trip to Washington, D.C. was a fantastic opportunity, and we learned a lot from industry professionals. Events like these are crucial for growth and a deeper understanding of what it takes to be a PR pro.