Writing Boot Camp


Learn the essential skills of PR writing and become a better communicator

Effective PR writing is the foundation of successful messaging. Carefully crafted writing can communicate the strengths of a brand or an idea to virtually any targeted audience. It can convert skeptics into evangelists, and make any blog post, social media campaign, press release, email or story pitch resonate with even the harshest of critics.

View the Full Agenda

Join PR News on November 19, 2014 for the Writing Boot Camp at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, where you will learn and practice the skills you need to be a good PR writer and create appealing content for a variety of channels. You’ll also learn how to avoid bad writing habits and using clichéd language that can dull the impact of your content.

You can also register for the PR News Measurement Conference, taking place on November 20, also at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

Join PR News at the Hyatt Regency Chicago for a day of intensive work with expert trainers who will share tips on developing effective content for social media, crafting email pitches that get noticed, writing SEO-optimized and shareable press releases, applying storytelling concepts to your messaging and much more. Effective PR writing is essential for a successful career in communications. Our sessions are carefully crafted to help you cut through the clutter with sharp must-read written content. So bring your laptop or tablet for a day of interactive learning. We’ll see you on November 19!


You’ll become an expert in:

Criteria for Message Development

Five Key Message Techniques for Storytelling

Targeting and Pitching the Media

Tips for SEO-Friendly Web Content

How to Write and Syndicate an SEO-Friendly Press Release

What we’ll cover:

  • How to avoid getting deleted and write successful email pitches to journalists
  • How to drive the agenda with powerful internal memos and emails
  • The essential elements for compelling client pitches
  • Establishing a voice and personality on social media
  • Top techniques for becoming not just a presence but an influencer through your blog
  • Why that old standby—the press release—still works, and how it’s changed.
  • Strategies for ensuring your team is writing SEO-effective content
  • Drawing ideas for great PR writing from diverse sources, including literature and media

Detailed Schedule

8:00 a.m. 8:25 a.m.

Registration & Networking Breakfast

8:25 a.m. 8:30 a.m.

Opening Remarks

8:30 a.m. 9:00 a.m.

11 Steps to Razor-Sharp Writing Habits

Your written content needs to be concise, compelling and complete if you’re going to grab the attention of journalists, influencers and customers. They have no time for writing that’s riddled with jargon and clichés, or suffers from a lack of understanding of your product or service. This session give you a fast-paced rundown of rules you can write by, habits to employ and the traps to avoid at all costs. You’ll learn to:

  • Establish the business reason for a document before typing a single word
  • Simplify your language and avoid the use of complex or vague industry jargon
  • Avoid “padding” your content with needless adjectives and hyperbole and embrace an economy of words
  • Write with a specific person in mind—it always adds clarity
  • Adhere to basic rules of grammar
  • Manage edits from clients and colleagues without compromising the quality and effectiveness of your writing


Cindy Bertram
Positive Impact Communicators, LLC
9:00 a.m. 10:00 a.m.

The Press Release: Creating Content that Reporters Will Actually Read

Well-written, useful news releases remain an essential PR tactic for delivering information to journalists, bloggers and other media outlets. They provide shareable content that spreads your brand message online. Reporters and editors are increasingly forced to do more with less, and your well-crafted release can make their lives easier—and advance your communication strategy. Our trainers will show you how to craft search-optimized and shareable news release for the media-savvy consumers and downsized newsrooms. You’ll learn to:

  • Craft releases that go beyond “what, where and when” to “why” and “why now”
  • Use quotes that can become powerful brand messaging tools
  • Write potent, search optimized news release headlines and leads that grab readers’ attention
  • Communicate to the reporter’s audience from the reporter’s perspective
  • Communicate with your audience from their perspective
  • Write for your audience by focusing on the benefits to the reader of your product or service
  • Include key supporting materials that helps do the journalists’ jobs for them

Bonus: How to Write and Syndicate an SEO-Friendly Press Release


Lincoln_Ben copy
Ben Lincoln
Writing Director
Santow_Dan copy
Dan Santow
Executive Vice President/Director, Editorial Services
10:00 a.m. 10:15 a.m.

Networking Break

10:15 a.m. 11:15 a.m.

Writing Clinic I: The News Release and the Craft of Constructive Revision

Our trainers will assist you and your fellow attendees as you work together to revise a sample release selected from those sent in advance by Boot Camp participants (all participants will need to bring a laptop or tablet). Our media experts will evaluate your final product.


Lincoln_Ben copy
Ben Lincoln
Writing Director
Santow_Dan copy
Dan Santow
Executive Vice President/Director, Editorial Services
11:15 a.m. 12:00 p.m.

Surfacing Your Content: Writing That’s Findable on the Web

Landing at the top of search results is the key to success for brands. It can generate new customers, raise brand awareness and drive the bottom line. This session will explore how you can implement an SEO strategy in your PR writing without jeopardizing the quality of your work. You’ll learn to:

  • Research and implement target keywords to gain visibility and increase brand exposure on search engines
  • Format written content to increase its SEO potential
  • Identify and emphasize the shareability of all your written content

Bonus: Tips for SEO-Friendly Web Content


Samec_Mike copy
Mike Samec
Director of Digital Strategy
Gibbs & Soell Business Communications
12:00 p.m. 12:15 p.m.

Networking Break

12:15 p.m. 1:00 p.m.

Luncheon & Keynote Presentation: Getting Past “Why Should I Care?” – Relevant Storytelling in an Age of Distraction

As children at bedtime, we pleaded with our parents and grandparents: “Tell me a story!” In his keynote presentation, GM’s Alan Adler will talk about how telling a story can wake up a zoned-out audience with the attention span of a gnat.


Alan Adler
Media Relations Strategist
General Motors
1:00 p.m. 1:15 p.m.

Networking Break

1:15 p.m. 2:00 p.m.

Communicating Brand Values, and Your Brand’s Voice, on Social Media

Each social network has its own set of limitations and user expectations. This session shows you how to use those limitations and expectations to your advantage to create concise, influential, engaging, fun and ultimately, shareable, messaging. Through case study examples and smart tips, you’ll learn how to write tweets, Facebook posts and even Pinterest descriptions and Instagram comments that make an impact with your target audience. You’ll learn to:

  • Write short Facebook posts that are likely to stimulate engagement
  • Write tweets that grab attention and are likely to be retweeted
  • Get creative in your use of hashtags
  • Tailor your content to specific demographics
  • Create fun content such as lists and news briefs that gets shared on social media

Bonus Checklist: Criteria for Message Development


Jennifer Mesenbrink
Senior Manager of Digital and Social Content Strategy
Motorola Solutions
Tony Balasandiran
Account Supervisor
Flowers Communications Group
2:00 p.m. 2:30 p.m.

Stop, Open, Read: The Secrets to Crafting Emails for Media Relations Success

You have about five seconds to grab a reporter’s attention with your email pitch, and that’s on a good day. Journalists who have spoken at PR News events admit to deleting email pitches in batches of 20 with barely a glance at the subject lines. Learn what it takes to craft pitches that begin with strong subject lines and continue with concise descriptions that will get a journalist’s attention—in that five seconds—and also help you develop relationships in the media. You’ll learn to:

  • Write compelling and concise email subject lines
  • Avoid subject lines that tease but aren’t backed up by the email’s content
  • Determine prime times for sending email pitches
  • Confine your entire email pitch to one paragraph
  • Provide specific information and insights to journalists who are pressed for time and resources
  • Think like the journalists and bloggers you are pitching

Bonus: Targeting and Pitching the Media


Larsen_Angie copy
Angie Larsen
Senior Manager of Corporate Relations
USANA Health Sciences
2:30 p.m. 2:45 p.m.

Networking Break

2:45 p.m. 3:45 p.m.

Writing Clinic II: Craft an Email Subject Line and Pitch

This interactive session will give you the chance to test your expertise in crafting great email pitches. Our email pitch writing trainer will lead you in an exercise where you’ll develop a winning subject line and pitch and present it to our panel of journalists, who will give you their real-time (and frank, but good-natured) on-site feedback.


Larsen_Angie copy
Angie Larsen
Senior Manager of Corporate Relations
USANA Health Sciences
01 Robert K. Elder, photo by Esther Kang
Robert K. Elder
Chicago Tribune
huff40under40 copy
Andrew Huff
Editor and Publisher
Gapers Block
3:45 p.m. 3:50 p.m.

Closing Remarks

PR News Privacy Policy