In public relations, we rely so heavily on email that breaking through the noise in an inbox is a constant challenge. Whether reaching out to an editor, influencer or consumer audience, everyone wants hyper-relevant content and products that serve their specific needs, wants, and desires. As communication experts, our challenge is to combine the messaging and branding of our client’s businesses with a compelling, relevant writing that captures interest and makes it easy for our intended recipient to take the next step.
These days, a successful publicist must not only write exceptional pitches and press releases, but various forms of marketing content intended for consumers. At BLND, we believe this skill comes down being a great writer; someone who can write business communication and creative copy with ease.
Here are 6 tips and tricks to becoming an even better writer.
1. Pretend you are the intended recipient
It’s no secret that sending out the same standard pitch to 100 media contacts will get you pretty much nowhere. Instead, it’s up to you to really delve deep into understanding the challenges, interests, and motivators of your intended audience. Get underneath their skin, try on their perspective, and modify your writing to appeal directly to your recipient
In practical terms, make sure that your media list is filled only with reporters or editors that are the perfect fit for the news you are sending to them. You cannot rely solely on media databases or other programs to ensure information is updated, so do a double check on personal social accounts, review recently written articles, and confirm your pitch angle meets their needs.
For consumer content like social media posts or a marketing newsletter, pay attention to the language your target audience is using on their own accounts, hold a virtual focus group or have a brand ambassador program you can rely on to get instant feedback on your language before putting it out to your mass audience.
2. Master the Business Personal voice
While the information in your writing needs to be informative, resist the urge to be overly formal. Instead, use the background reconnaissance you did for your media list and set a personal yet professional tone in your opening paragraph.
You may start with the fact that you took the time to read their last article, noting specifically what you enjoyed about it. And then mention that your client has a similar story and/ or product that you wanted to run by them for a potential new story. Don’t simply re-write the title of the article – that makes it obvious that you simply copied and pasted to make it seem like you read it. Take the time to summarize and use a nugget of information from their article that points out the connection of why you’re reaching out to begin with.
3. Concise and Clear, Always
Time is of the essence, especially when a reporter or editor is on a deadline. The only thing that separates us from salesmen are the authentic relationships we build with the media for mutual beneficial purposes.
You may be an incredible creative writer, but now is not the time to showcase your comfort with metaphors and adjectives. Make the pitch brief. Use clear language and focus on the key messages and brand information that express exactly how and why your client is a fit for their beat.
Before you press send, do a once-over and eliminate any especially long sentences, confusing structures or unnecessary fluff.
4. Add A Visual
Our attention spans have sunk with the rise of technology and impact of information overload. This means that even the best worded pitches cannot compete with a stunning product photo.
5. Ask For Feedback
We are not mind readers, so don’t feel bad if you get a negative response back, even if you’ve done your due diligence to find the best person to pitch. This is not a defeat, it is a conversation opener. Send that person an email back asking them what they are currently working on and if they need any help on that piece — you never know if you might have another client that could fit perfectly. Be sure to update your notes, so the next time you reach out, you can use it in your introduction to create continuity.
6. Schedule A Meet Up
Reporters and editors are people too! Ask them out for coffee or to grab drinks after work one night and learn a little bit about them, what they enjoy writing about, what they are currently writing about. Authentic interest and in-person time will help you build a relationship with them for future conversations because you’ll no longer be pitching them, but asking them if they have room or time to include your client in their story.