Your PR agency is only as good as the content it writes. If you can’t get the right messages across in the right way, you might as well not invest in PR at all. Editors don’t publish badly written articles and press releases. And even if they did, your audience wouldn’t have the patience to read them.
Whether you’re writing content for PR, or looking for an agency to do it for you, we hope you will find these pointers useful.
You have just a few precious seconds to persuade the reader that your article is worth his time and attention. So keep your headline short, sharp and compelling. And then use your opening to maintain the reader’s attention. Be creative. Capture your audience’s imagination.
If you’re making a news announcement, do it in the first two sentences – answer the ‘six Ws’ (who, what, when, where, why and how). The same principle applies to other articles: nobody enjoys lengthy preambles, so spill your juicy beans as soon as you can.
There is no excuse for submitting an overtly promotional sales pitch disguised as an article. There are other, more credible ways to build your reputation and elicit sales enquiries. Editors reject superlatives and puffery, especially when it is irrelevant to the topic of your article. It isn’t what their readers are looking for.
Your spelling, punctuation and grammar should be flawless if they are to appear in reputable media, but embarrassingly few PRs use a style guide or remember how to use an apostrophe. Someone will have to proof your article once you have submitted it. You can make that task easy for them.
Don’t use jargon unless you explain what you mean by it or are certain that your audience is familiar with it. There’s nothing clever about confusing the people you want to do business with. Plain English is mostly about making things easy to understand. You can read more about it in our article, ‘Plain English? Checkmate!’
Many of your readers will just glance at your article, or scan it, rather than reading it in full, so you need to say what you want to say in as few words as possible (this is why we love to use subheadings). Try to keep sentences and paragraphs short, and remove any words or sentences that you don’t strictly need. We often find that we can cut a word count by 50% without compromising any of the points we want to make.
If the article you are writing is going to be published online, remember that you’re writing it for search engines, and not just for humans. It takes time, patience and skill to work your keywords into an article while keeping the content natural and easy to read.
The advice in this article will stand you in good stead, but you could take all of it on board and still fail to engage your audience in the right way. This is because the things you say are as important as the way you say them. Make sure you spend some time getting your messages right when you are planning your communications.
For more advice, or to talk to us about writing content for PR campaigns, please contact us.