PeRsuasive PeRspectives

Iyna Bort Caruso, a dear friend and one of the many accomplished panelists at the PRSSA Regional Conference at Hofstra on March 31st, began her presentation by quoting author Truman Capote: “Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade, just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself.” She told the attendees, “Rearranging the rules elevates boring writing and helps makes your message more persuasive. An effective way to do this is to borrow devices from different literary genres and incorporate them into your communications toolkit.”

Iyna’s three insightful examples:

THE SCREENWRITER’S CRAFT — Wide shot, medium shot, close-up. The sequence is what gives a story its rhythm and pacing. Wide shots give you the broad, establishing picture; the close-up draws you in with its intimacy. With each shot something new is revealed. Consider applying this approach when writing press corporate backgrounders or client bios. Instead of an information dump of statistics, dates, honors and degrees, sequence your writing by rotating “broad establishing” information with “close-up” anecdotes that personalize the narrative and help a reader understand not just the whats but the whys and hows.

THE NOVELIST’S SHORTHAND — Metaphors (and similes) are multitasking figures of speech. A good metaphor is like eloquent shorthand. It takes a long, rambling paragraph and reduces it to its essential point. It can also take a complicated concept and make it instantly understandable. On complex topics like technology, health or science, metaphors help you make the information accessible.

THE TRAVEL WRITER’S TOOLS — Good travel writing lifts its subject off the page by using the senses. This full-sensory assault method can help distinguish a client’s product or service. Descriptions should not just about what a product looks like or what a service does but how it makes the end-user feel. What is the experience and how might approaching it from the perspective of the five senses provide a deeper and more lasting impression.

Fabulously instructive ideas, Iyna! Even the best writers can become better writers. Great writing makes great public relations, and we PR people should embrace these and other helpful approaches to never become complacent with our own writing. Your thoughts?

P.S.  Visit Iyna Bort Caruso’s web site at

24 thoughts on “PeRsuasive PeRspectives

  1. Kimberly Caro

    Unfortunately, I did not get to hear Iyna speak at the regional conference so I am glad I get to hear a bit of what she spoke about! I think it is essential for us as young pr professionals to take the time to learn different writing styles and techniques. I have had a few internships within various fields of pr and have seen just how different writing can be depending on the client you are working for. For example, my first internship was for a small beauty and fashion pr firm, our pitches were fun and light hearted then when I interned for a cold and flu medicine and some pitches were more technical. Now, I intern at a travel agency and I am always trying to write using my senses so that journalists can really imagine being at the resort or spa I am writing about.

  2. jenniferbrackman

    The post from edusocmedia is from me. That username was linked to my email from a previous class that i took last year… Anyway I just changed my username.

    This is very helpful advice. I believe it is important to incorporate different styles of writing because readers can become bored easily. Writing in ways that are out of the ordinary can enhance creativity and make something that might be a little ‘dry’ more interesting to the readers. Grabbing the readers attention is crucial, and Inya provides very intelligent and exciting ways to capture an audience.

  3. edusocmedia

    This is very helpful advice. I believe it is important to incorporate different styles of writing because readers can become bored easily. Writing in ways that are out of the ordinary can enhance creativity and make something that might be a little ‘dry’ more interesting to the readers. Grabbing the readers attention is crucial, and Inya provides very intelligent and exciting ways to capture an audience.

  4. Jackie Zupo

    I think all of iyna’s points are extremely helping in writing for public relations. It’s very important to be able to grab the public’s attention but doing it in an understanding matter. In PR you always want to be fresh and to the point. My favorite is the screenwriters craft because often I have a hard time getting a good rhythm in what I am writing. I think following that method helps you stay focus and organized. I never thought of writing this way and I think these tips are very helpful.

  5. Natalie Conboy

    Iyna frees up the constraints of public relations writing. I feel as though writing for PR can be so structured, rigid, and cold. These writing techniques like incorporating similes, metaphors, and the screenwriter’s craft make PR writing not only more enjoyable to write but better for the public and client to read. Great tips!!

  6. Lindsey

    I like that Iyna described other craft’s writing styles to explain her point of borrowing other techniques for PR writing. She;s absolutely right, this method can make a backgrounder that would have otherwise put you to sleep more exciting with descriptive words and varying information. I think this idea of pulling from other’s techniques is important for all types of writing, not just PR.

  7. janeth gonda

    i think that this is an interesting way to approach writing. I had never thought of using these techniques and applying them to my writing styles. However, it will be interesting to try and use these tips in my further pieces of literature. I also like this because it involves creativity and i like to think of myself as a creative mind.

  8. wyoung8

    This was fascinating! My favorite example is the novelist’s shorthand, specifically when she mentioned that “a good metaphor is like eloquent shorthand”. I completely agree to this because it drives me crazy when someone writes novels on a topic that they could have easily explained in a few lines. I think this is a very good skill to have, especially in the field of public relations because in an age where pretty much everyone has technologic ADD, it’s fairly hard to keep someone’s attention for a long period of time. When someone is succinct in their use of words and adds their own personality into their writing, it comes across as witty and clever which makes an audience more likely to actually listen to what you’re trying to say.

  9. Marilyn Oliver

    This is really helpful! I like being able to look at PR writing more creatively because I know that type of approach always affects me more as a reader. I also think it would be interesting to try and incorporate similes and metaphors in bios or backgrounders.

  10. Laura Finkelstein

    After reading this post, I wish I had come to this session. Her first method of writing like a screenwriter really jumped out to me as an interesting new way to think about writing. As I am writing this am am working on a TV script and doing the exact thing she is discussing; setting my audience up with the scene and drawing them closer and back out again. It seems so simplistic to put this same idea into PR writing as well, yet also quite innovative.

  11. Sinead McDonnell

    I really like the idea of the wide shot and the close-up. It can really take the corporate press release to a more personal level and relatable. I also love the idea of metaphors. I use them all the time because it’s sometimes easier to explain something with a metaphor than a lengthy explanation. I think these tips are great because not everyone knows these different styles, especially if they majored in something other than English or creative writing.

  12. Madalyn Tundis

    I attended the workshop Caruso spoke at. At the time, I thought she made excellent points and was very insightful on ways write better. Taking perspectives from different types of writing and incorporating them in everyday writing or writing for PR is a help tip and tool to use. I love to use colorful vocabulary and ideas in my writing, and she opened the door to these ideas that I had never really thought about before. After reading this post, I remember how she hit the nail on the head. Reading this reenforced the way that I felt at the conference. Her tips are very valuable and will be used (at least by me)!

  13. Brie Schachtel

    I really like how she started her presentation with “Rearranging the rules elevates boring writing and helps makes your message more persuasive…”
    I also really liked her example of The Screenwriters Craft because I took an Intro to TV & Film class and she is dead-on about the different shots and representations. If you look closely into a film the emotions and drama are defined by which camera shot is used. It is not just about the what but the why and how when it comes to film.
    As soon as I read “Good travel writing lifts its subject off the page by using the senses”I immediately flashed through past trips I’ve gone on and how I have explained them. Using the senses really helps lift it and explain it better; all of which is needed in travel writing. The five senses really do provide a deeper impression.

  14. Christina Deecken

    I really enjoyed listening to Iyna’s presentation at the PRSSA conference and am further impressed after reading her valuable tips for creative writing in PR. Like some of my classmates pointed out, I was beginning to think that such writing didn’t exist in this field. However, I am happy to hear creative tips that can be applied to PR writing and give it a little something extra. I love the idea of approaching a writing piece with the screenwriter’s craft and using it to provide readers with an appropriate balance of “broad establishing” information as well as “close-up” anecdotes. I’m definitely going to try to apply this to my future assignments for PR and writing in general.

  15. Jenny Zheng

    I never really thought that I could be creative with public relations writing. Iyna’s tips really give me a good foundation for spicing up writing for public relations. After reading this, I’ve looked back to projects that I’m currently doing for my journalism and PR classes. They are far from being perfect so I’ll definitely be using some of these tips to strengthen my writing.

  16. Annik Spencer

    I had the pleasure of hearing Inya speak at the “Writing for PR” Break Session at the Back to Basics Conference a few weekends ago! Inya’s presentation was honestly one of my favorites of the conference. I went to this breakout session because I know how important good writing is in the PR world. Inya had some fabulous tips that you outlined above. My favorite technique she mentioned was the “Screenwriter’s Craft.” I love that advice because it is very easy to envision your writing being organized like the different shots in a movie!

  17. Alecia Detka

    This post was some what of a breath of fresh air, simply because I do enjoy creative writing and felt like I was losing the oportunity to use it with choosing public relations as a career. Now I see that I can include some creativity and that it is perfectly okay to do so. I believe I may have missed this speaker so I am glad that you posted this information!

  18. aluisi2

    This is good advice. You have to write according to your audience in order to gain their attention, otherwise they may not look at anything you have to say if they are not interested. I think the the one that is most interesting to me is the travel writers tools. This is a good tip to remember especially for Travel PR. How do you sell a place without being able to see it? It is up to how you write a certain piece for someone to look at it. I think many of us don’t realize how powerful writing can be.

  19. juliachappell

    Wow, I really like Iyna’s writing tips. I consider myself a strong writer, but these creative approaches give me different ideas incorporate into my writing. Nobody wants to be a boring writer, and these tips would definitely give my writing an extra boost. Maybe I will rewrite my company backgrounder using the screenwriter’s craft ideas.

  20. Rachel Tallon

    I loved this presentation. I loved how she referenced art and literature. Her words were inspiring. The screenwriter’s craft is the one I was drawn to the most. When explained like that makes it so much easier to begin writing and visualize how you want your piece to be read. “Personalizing the narrative” is the most important aspect, I think. I know the kind of writing I am attracted to and I feel that when pitching or getting your message out to specific outlets, boring stats or numbers aren’t going to hook the reader. Especially as PR professionals I think personalizing the narrative/message is one of the most important tools of writing we can take with us. The metaphors is something that will definitely help me in the future. I tend to have a little trouble getting out exactly what I want to see without rambling on, using metaphors and similes will help me simplify my message while still keeping the reader tuned in.

  21. Sam Bancroft

    Iyna came to my PR class a few weeks ago when we watched a movie about ethics in writing. She had some great things to share with our class about reporters and writing, and inturn, how it connected to PR. We did not discuss the three techniques above, but those, too, would benefit our campaigns and other PR uses. For example, the novelist’s shorthand discusses how “metaphors help you make…information accessible,” which could be detrimental when attempting to reach audiences in regards to complex topics, such as technology and science. As PR practicioners, we should keep these techniques in mind when communicating through writing.


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