The Oregon Chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA) partnered with Allen Hall PR in 2009 to write two award nomination packets. Our 4-person team just started research for the Top Ten Leaders award, and I needed to know what the final packet should look like. So on Friday, our firm director arranged a meeting with the immediate past president; the nominee, Stephanie (who I’d be interviewing); two members of the APWA Awards Committee; and me.

During the meeting, we discussed the purposes of the packet. Mark, the past president, wanted to showcase the great work Stephanie has done for APWA, while Stephanie herself wanted to win the award for Oregon pride—two goals that I fully support!

Here are some takeaways from our conversation that can be applied to any public relations professional’s extensive copy, like a nomination packet:

Visuals catch the eye. Mark talked about the success of visual elements in previous packets and asked me to include pictures of Stephanie, projects she’s worked on and slides she’s presented. Visuals give readers’ eyes a break and create interest in longer written pieces. Try to incorporate these in nomination packets, blog posts, articles, and even news releases.

Interview questions make or break you. Stephanie shies away from talking about her accomplishments unless I prompt her. That is why I need to dig into her past, write specific questions based on my research, and persuade her to open up about each experience. If I ask the right questions, my team is enabled to present the right answers in the packet. Whenever you interview someone for a PR campaign, make sure to research the person thoroughly and base your questions off of that research. That way, you can capture the most interesting details from the interviewee.

Unique aspects stand out. Our client discussed something that will help to write an outstanding nomination packet: featuring Stephanie’s unique qualities. She has worked on many projects specific to the West Coast, and we will add that experience to our writing because of its distinctiveness. Find something unique about the subject and your audience will be engaged.

Our team will focus on these three things over the next four weeks when we write the nomination packet. Those weeks will fly by, but we’re excited to work with APWA for the sixth year and we hope they win for Oregon!

What else should writers focus on to make their copy heard?

Post by Jaimi Riedi, the editorial services director at Allen Hall Public Relations and the account supervisor of the American Public Works Association account.

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