Mark Ragan Discusses Human-interest Stories, Crisp Writing, and Speechwriting Among the Top Comms Skills


The Ragan Communications owner offers guidance on career advancement, crisp writing, and how communicators can claim a more influential seat at the table during an interview with The Museum of PR


Robby Brumberg

Much has changed since Larry Ragan started producing a newsletter for corporate communicators in 1968.

However, the ability to whip up clear, concise writing remains an essential skill for communicators of all stripes.

“No matter how much tech you’ve mastered, it still comes back to simple, clear writing,” Mark Ragan says in a recent interview with The Museum of Public Relations. In the interview, Ragan shares a lifetime’s worth of expertise—much of which boils down to the power of brevity.

“Writing is now more concise, but it puts more emphasis on being able to write well,” Ragan says, referring to William Zinsser’s classic “On Writing Well” as the “Bible” for writers.

Clear communication also entails avoiding jargon and writing in a manner that reflects how a human being might speak. “Good writing is edited conversation,” Ragan says.

Of course, the job is not quite the same as it was when LBJ was in the Oval Office. Ragan says communicators today must become comfortable on both sides of the camera, be social media savvy and understand analytics. “The more of those things you know, the more marketable you’ll be,” Ragan says, noting that higher you rise, the more diverse a skill set you’ll need to master.

As you ascend, communicators should get a firmer grasp on bottom-line business strategy, financial literacy and speechwriting. And, if you want to truly shine, it’s about becoming more of an advisor rather than a mere messenger or order-taker.

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