5 reasons you should become a speechwriter

Better pay, enhanced job satisfaction and prestige, increased executive access and more—what’s not to like?

Ya say you’re sick of getting no respect in that Rodney Dangerfield employee relations function?

Ya say you’ve had it tweeting out to twits in that dead end social media position?

Ya say you’re frustrated with that media relations job when there’s no more media to which to relate?

Is that what’s bothering you, Bunkie?

Well, relax, take a deep breath, and consider speechwriting—which, even in the era of monosyllabic Donald Trump, holds the key to public relations renewal.

Here’s why you should think about becoming a speechwriter:

1. Speechwriters get access.

In public relations, as in life, access is power.

Most public relations writers remain behind the curtain, anonymously churning out an endless stream of news releases and pitch letters, Facebook postings and tweets. They rarely venture outside their cubicle, their lot in life consisting almost entirely of responding to requests for copy.

Speechwriters are different.

If the boss wants to look good in front of an audience—and believe me, she does—then meeting with the writer responsible for her presentation is imperative. That speech is important to the boss. So speechwriters command immediate access and face time with the chief, often leaving more senior executives cooling their heels in the anteroom.

There are few more powerful positions than the “CEO’s speechwriter,” who is provided unlimited access to the corporate inner sanctum.

2. Speechwriters make more money.

As befits a position important to the CEO, speechwriters make more money than other public relations professionals.

Anyone, so the prevailing wisdom goes, can talk to the press or communicate with employees or navigate social media. But it requires a professional of consummate skill to compose a 10- to 12-page opus worthy of delivery by the CEO. So speechwriting jobs, therefore, merit higher price tags than the more “mundane” functions of public relations.

As a consequence, the median annual salary for a corporate speechwriter today is $120,000, with top speechwriters pulling in well in excess of $200,000 a year, plus bonuses. Not bad for putting words on a page.

3. Speechwriters are in demand.

The irony of speechwriting is that despite the higher pay and greater access, relatively few public relations writers can work up the chutzpah even to attempt speechwriting. Evidently the thought of filling 12 empty pages with words is too terrifying for the average public relations professional. So, most avoid the challenge.

Although the supply of competent speechwriters is limited, the demand for talented speechwriters among CEOs, political office seekers and leaders of every stripe remains constant. One needn’t be an Adam Smith, therefore, to recognize that in a public relations field where competition for most jobs is intense, experienced speechwriters are harder to find than good manners at a Republican presidential debate.

Stated another way, speechwriting is a seller’s market.

4. Speechwriters are more fulfilled in their work.

Remember the last time you glowed rereading that news release you had authored? Me, neither. Rare is the writer—with the exception perhaps of Donald Trump or Kanye West—who prides himself on the sagacity of his tweets.

Speechwriting is an entirely different kettle of creativity.

Whereas most public relations writers are restrained by straitjacketed “just the facts” formats, speechwriters are encouraged to wax poetic, summon up figures of speech, express emotion, display passion. Speechwriting allows practitioners to spread their creative wings beyond any other form of public relations writing.

Ergo, speechwriters feel eminently more fulfilled in their work than do their colleagues.

5. Speechwriting is easier than it looks.

Despite the reluctance of most practitioners to try writing speeches, speechwriting really ain’t that difficult. If you can talk, you can write a speech.

Just remember the basics: Begin powerfully, cite your thesis early, back up your central idea with three or four main points, bolster those points with analytical proofs and illustrations and end strong—et voilà, you’re a speechwriter!

As with any other public relations assignment, the more speeches you write, the better you’ll be. But taking that first plunge into the speechwriting’ pool—for these five reasons and many more—is well worth the effort.

Try it. You might just love it.

Fraser Seitel has been a communications counselor, lecturer, TV commentator and teacher for 40 years, and is a prominent public relations author. He can be reached at yusake@aol.com.

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