PAS for PR Writers

Saving the solution for the end is fine, adding filler content isn't.

PAS in PR writing is a double-edged sword.

We all hate reading unnecessary text to get to whatever solution we’re looking for. “Get to the point already,” we think to ourselves. Wading waist-deep through anecdotes, analogies, context, and disclaimers is tiring.

Getting to the point sometimes seems to be a lost art.

It’s the PAS-ification of content marketing, it seems. PAS is a widely popular acronym for writing content — Pain, Agitate, Solve. We make a point of delaying the solution to ensure reader engagement. According to both theory and online analytics, this seems to be the right path to take.

According to Copybot:

“Here’s how simple it is to understand:

  • Problem: Identify your reader’s pain point
  • Agitate: Stir it up so it hurts to the point of discomfort
  • Solve: Deliver a solution”

The first third of the content connects via a shared pain point. The second third of the content amplifies these mutual frustrations. And the last third offers the solution.

Still, it gets old real quick.

“Getting to point” quickly isn’t without its own set of drawbacks, either. Throughout my PR career, I’ve collaborated with many engineers and they typically get straight to the actual solution in their writing. To straight-up just offer the solution, without any fuss whatsoever, typically makes for rather dull reading, too.

A reader would never consciously ask for it, but they need anecdotes, analogies, context, and disclaimers.

PAS is a powerful tool, yes. But it’s not filler content.

A good rule of thumb is to ponder this adage:

If it’s tedious to write, it’s tedious to read.

The straightforward approach to delaying premature solutions is to put more energy into the first two-thirds of your written content.

Think about it: The solution part could be trite and stale, but it still carries lots of value by being the actual answer to someone’s question. The initial parts of your content have no such value and, therefore, they need the most of your attention.

If you’re using PAS, don’t just race through the PA part. Put your heart and soul into making these passages worthy of your reader’s attention.

Make these parts fun to read, by making them fun to write.

Cover photo by Jerry Silfwer (Prints/Instagram)


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Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, aka Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Communication Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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