Virtual Workshop: Public Affairs Writing

08 Apr, 2020

November 19, 2020
10 a.m.−4:15 p.m. ET

Public affairs writers wear many hats: promoter, defender, explainer and more. Without consistent practice and an ever-expanding toolkit, writers may find themselves falling short in their quest to advance their coalition or cause. Our public affairs writing workshop will teach you how to improve your prose and burnish your thought leadership credentials.

This program is eligible for 3 elective credits toward the Certificate in PAC & Grassroots Management and 3 elective credits toward the Certificate in Public Affairs Management.


10:00 a.m.  The Principles of Writing for Public Affairs

Persuading and engaging audiences are key components for advocacy and public affairs professionals. But different messages work for different audiences, and finding the right message can be difficult. Our writing workshop will cover:

  • The principles and tools for persuasive writing
  • Strategies for engaging (and disengaging) audiences
  • Tactics for aligning your message with your audience and ensuring your message has single-word equity: building your message around a single word
  • Message development and perfecting your organization’s public policy “elevator speech”

Nicholas DeSarno
Director, Digital & Policy Communications
Public Affairs Council

11:30 Writing Exercise

Our writing workshop expert will lead you through your first exercise based on message development and engaging language.

12:00 p.m. Lunch and Work Break

1:00 p.m.  Methods of Political and Advocacy Writing

Public affairs professionals write frequently, but they are rarely trained as professional writers. This session will cover the tactical elements of successfully writing op-eds, blogs, testimonials and emails. Our workshop leader will discuss:

  • Strategies for clarity and brevity with your content
  • Properly structuring your argument to maximize effectiveness
  • Developing chapters, cliffhangers and connecting the dots with your writing
  • Applying rhetoric to ensure a strong start and a memorable finish

1:45 p.m  Writing Exercise

Our writing workshop expert will lead you through your second exercise based on brevity and clarity.

Jean Card

Jean Card
Writer, Coach, Podcaster
Jean Card Ink

2:15 p.m.  Break

2:30 p.m. Writing to Influence Policymakers – Developing Compelling Arguments and Stories

Every aspect of public affairs involves writing and content development. Our communications expert will share examples of strong policy and political writing and discuss:

  • The role of stories in political/advocacy communications
  • Finding and creating the “compelling narrative” through a discussion of these elements:
    • Infusing a story with conflict and drama
    • The use of heroes and villains
    • The dangers of good news
  • Identifying what is and isn’t a good story – and why
  • Understanding the importance of communicating feeling – and how to do it
  • Applying rhetoric to ensure a strong start and a memorable finish

3:00  p.m. Writing Exercise

Our writing workshop expert will lead you through your third exercise based on storytelling.

David White

David White
Chief Operating Officer
Keybridge Communications

3:30 p.m. Writing Practice and Critique

In this session, our writing expert will lead attendees through short writing drills and provide advice on improving their writing technique. Attendees will have the opportunity to provide feedback on popular writing pieces and bring in their own outside written content for a quick critique.

4:15 p.m. Adjourn

Event Location

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*Participants joining the program virtually will receive an email one week beforehand with instructions for logging on to our web-based platform. On the platform, they will be able to listen and participate through any computer or internet-enabled device, see a video of the speakers, and ask questions and participate in the discussion via a chat box.


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Register Online 

  • Members: $595
  • Non-Members: $799

Can’t attend live? All registrants will receive access to the workshop recording for 14 days following an event.

Additional discounts may apply to this meeting. These discounts may include:

For multiple registrants: A discount will apply to the standard member/non-member rate for organizations that register two or more participants for the same meeting. The first registrant will pay full price, the second participant will receive a 10% discount and each additional registrant will receive a 15% discount. To register multiple participants, you may either register online or download the print and fax registration form.

Member discounts: Discounts for members are applied to all Public Affairs Council meetings.

Non-members: Join the Council today, and save by registering at the member rate and using the $200 new-member coupon you will receive. Contact our membership team for information about joining the Council.

Questions? Contact us at 202.787.5950.


Nick Desarno
Director of Digital and Policy Communications
202.787.5971 | email