The PR BlogCreativityStorytelling & WritingThe Problem-Agitate-Solve (PAS) Formula for PR Writers

The Problem-Agitate-Solve (PAS) Formula for PR Writers

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

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

PAS in PR writ­ing is a double-edged sword.

We all hate read­ing unne­ces­sary text to get to whatever solu­tion we want. “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 the­ory and online ana­lyt­ics, this seems to be the right path.

The Problem-Agitate-Solve Formula

  • Problem: Outline your read­er­’s pain point.
  • Agitate: Amplify and drive home the pain point.
  • Solve: Offer an action­able 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.

Getting to the point” quickly isn’t without its own set of draw­backs, either.

I’ve col­lab­or­ated with many engin­eers through­out my PR career, and they typ­ic­ally get straight to the real solu­tion in their writ­ing. Presenting the solu­tion straight-up, without any fuss what­so­ever, can also make for rather dull reading.

Readers nev­er con­sciously ask for it but need stor­ies, ana­lo­gies, con­text, and disclaimers.

But beware, Problem-Agitate-Solve can get old real quick.

For me, this is a help­ful rule of thumb:

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

The straight­for­ward approach to delay­ing pre­ma­ture solu­tions is put­ting more energy into your writ­ten content’s first two-thirds.

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; there­fore, they need the most of your attention.

Don’t just race through the PA part if you’re using PAS. 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.

Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing it with oth­er PR- and com­mu­nic­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als. For ques­tions or PR sup­port, con­tact me via jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

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

The Cover Photo


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