The actor and the stagehand


I keep meaning to write this post, and a conversation the other day reminded me to do so. It occurred to me that being a writer in the PR field is very much like being an actor – as well as being a backstage crew hand.

I’ll explain.

No two clients are the same. Nobody who works in the same company is the same.

Therefore, when writing copy, the tone can change and the language be different. I wrote an article for one client once and it was, well, not right.

True, the subject was spot on. True, the aims and messages were in there. But something wasn’t quite right.

Then it dawned on me. I’d written it without putting myself in the client’s shoes. I hadn’t written as though I were that client. That’s why it did not fit (just like I know his actual shoes would not fit me).

So, when writing for PR, I find its best to stop, get your mind thinking as though you are that person and, like an actor, put on a mask. So, the PR person as an actor.

But the PR person is also the stagehand. You’re there, in the background, while the actor is on stage, playing to the audience, delivering the lines. It might be that you have written those lines, but you’re in the background.

Like the stagehand, you’re helping to make things work. For some, I think, the glow of the limelight proves too much, and, like a moth, they get out on stage and strut their stuff. But I’ll continue being the actor when it comes to PR, and the stagehand too.


(Reminds me of a story does this post. When I was a stagehand at a theatre in my hometown of Stockport, the lead stagehand realised that one of the protagonists was not wearing glasses. Not enough time to find a pair – so he almost ripped mine from my face. I tried to warn him, but to no avail. After the actor had placed my specs on their face, they got a headache, and then tripped up, nearly pulling the curtain down as they tried to steady themselves. I had tried to tell them my glasses have a very strong prescription but hey, they didn’t listen. They did after this episode though).