Songwriters Write Lyrics as Conversations with Listeners
Professional communicators who churn out press releases, backgrounders and op-eds could tune up their prose by studying lyrics written by professional songwriters.
Matthew Royse, a top corporate marketer, says songs become popular because of “memorable and easy-to-digest lyrics”. “The lyrics are relatable, influential and emotional. They simplify the complex,” Royse wrote in a 2020 blog. “They are written as conversations with listeners.”
Too often, press releases, backgrounders and op-eds are stiff and don’t come across as relatable conversations with readers. Royse offers suggestions on how to make every-day professional writing more relatable and readable.
His first suggestion is to identify emotive elements in your subject. Most traditional PR doesn’t deal with romance or broken dreams, but topics can still touch emotions by addressing hopes and fears of families, consumers and communities. “It’s important to put emotions into your writing so you win people’s attention,” Royse advises.
Looking at topics from different perspectives can produce human dimension and generate listener and reader interest. “A song can be told from many perspectives, and it’s up to the songwriter to decide which point of view works best for the message,” Royse says. “The same goes for general writing. What perspective works best for the story?”
Writing a Clear Path for the Audience
Songs follow structure to “create a clear path” for listeners to follow along. “Developing this structure is important to make sure your key points are covered in your writing,” Royse says. “The structure is critical to making sure your story flows and ideas are linked.”
Songwriters are observant and put what they see and experience into their songs. “Songwriters are attentive to everyday details because that’s what their listeners will gravitate to in the song,” Royse explains. “Great writers are observant as well.” Curiosity and openness to different perspectives also informs and animates songs and good writing, he adds.
In writing a song, songwriters must keep sight of the big picture they are trying to paint in words and melodies. “Great songwriters know the bottom line: create a song that meets the views, needs and concerns of the listener,” Royse says. “Daily writing tasks can pull you into the inertia of the grind, and it’s important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.” And don’t forget your writing is like a painting, not a bulletin board.
Writing Like It’s a Conversation
Royse urges writers and PR professionals to write conversationally. “Great songwriters and great general writers know they need to have the song written for one person, not everyone,” he explains. “Conversational writing is powerful because it is short, and each word lingers in your mind. A conversational tone uses the words of your audience.”
Writing can become stale. Branching out and trying different approaches can reignite creativity. There is no rule that press releases or fact sheets have to be dull or formulaic. “Don’t be afraid to try new things with your writing,” Royse encourages. “To make sure you don’t hit a creative wall, try new things. When you switch it up, you’ll realize that new experiences are good for us and our readers.”
A good way to keep your writing fresh is to refresh your own outlook and skills. Continually learning stokes the fire of creativity. “By continuing to learn, you’ll be able to step out of your comfort zone and take on new writing projects,” Royse counsels. “Learning helps you better understand an idea, increases your efficiency and helps you improve how you write.”
In a separate blog, Royse offers ideas for breaking out of a writing rut that include tweaking routines, yielding control, starting conversations and taking selfie videos of yourself talking. He also advises that writers take nothing for granted – in their own life and in the stories they tell.
Managing Issues has offered other recent posts that deal with improved writing. Check them out: