There are countless marketing and PR professionals who are terrific
writers. Their grammar is impeccable. Their phrases are inventive.
Their words sing. But does that mean their press release, brochure,
backgrounder, feature article or Web page will meet objectives?
The answer is no.
Good writing alone is not enough to engage the hearts and minds
of your targeted audience. Media editors, especially, frown on submissions
that fail to be relevant.
So how do you ensure that your marketing and PR piece isn't just
pretty prose? Here are three questions that can help keep your writing
Ask: "What is the goal?"
Exactly what is it that you want to accomplish? Do you want your
press release to get ink in publications read by cookbook enthusiasts?
Do you want your backgrounder to help explain new product features?
Be as specific as you can.
It's amazing how many press releases, brochures and web pages seem
to have no clear reason d'etre. Don't risk producing something that
merely contributes to the clutter. Have a goal, and keep it front-and-center
as you write. You might even want to sticky-note the goal to your
computer (as I sometimes do.)
Ask: "What's in it for the reader?"
Perhaps the biggest mistake that marketing and PR writers make
is focusing too heavily on the product. This admonition may come
as a surprise to those who write press releases, brochures and other
materials featuring products. After all, isn't the product the subject?
Actually no. The subject is the targeted audience. Or more specifically,
the target's needs, desires and interests. That means your marketing
or PR piece must clearly answer the question every reader asks:
"What's in it for me?"
If you focus purely on the product - no matter how revolutionary
or newsworthy it is -you risk producing nothing more than a "brag
and boast" document, ignored by editors and customers alike.
Ask: "What do I want the reader to do?"
Do you want editors to feature your boss in an upcoming feature?
Do you want customers to call a toll-free number and order your
product? Do you want readers to gain a greater awareness of your
Marketing and PR writing is essentially an exercise in persuasion.
Whether it's an obvious "Call Now!" or a message conveyed
in the subtext, you must communicate what it is you want the reader
to do. If you don't, your writing will be like a ship without a
rudder. It may look good, but it's going nowhere.
Steve Slaunwhite speaks, writes and consults on strategic copywriting
for marketing communications. He can be reached at www.steveslaunwhite.com
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