One of the aspects which every tutor, practitioner and employer emphasize is ‘Writing Skills’ which is a key aspect in PR. In every job advertisement, one of the most common skills which is asked for is “Writing Skills.” You have to know how to write effectively in order to make it in PR.
In the Public Relations world, writing is emphasized to such an extent that many students and practitioners get into this paradigm of using fancy language and hence neglect their target audience and the target audiences idioms. While you should have journalistic writing skills, your message should be simple and clear to your target audience.
There was a great point made by Mr. Narinder (former information advisor to the former Indian Prime Minister) last week. In summary he said, advertisers are not necessarily good communicators, often the language used is incomprehensible to the masses due to the high standard of vocabulary used, even Journalism is guilty of the same. The language and communication skills needed for PR are somewhat different from advertising and Journalism. In PR often we are required to be advocates without appearing to be so. We must have the skill to communicate in the idioms of the target audience.
I have personally experienced this in giving a lecture on Activism. Having lived all over the world, I have picked up a lot of jargon from the world which is really good as it helps me communicate with a wide variety of people from different cultural backgrounds, but sometimes I sound like an alien as well. In my last year of university I gave a lecture to the masters students on Activism. I named it “Activism 101” only to find out that I had to explain what 101 means to British Students. 101 is American Education lingo which means starting/basic. In American universities, every subject in the first year (freshmen year) will have 101 after the name, e.g. Persuasive Communication 101, Mass Media 101 etc… )
While the bright side was that everyone did learn what 101 means, in reality most of the time you might not get a chance to explain what you mean, hence keep your target audience in mind when any communication is drafted.
Therefore, PR writing as said above is more about communicating effectively keeping your target audience in mind than sounding like a journalist or an advertiser.
Remember this is our (read Public Relations) way to be more effective than Journalism and Advertising.