In a situation where the reader automatically deletes messages from unknown senders, then nothing will help you get read. In other scenarios, well-crafted subject lines are crucial to get readers to at least open your message. At that point “the key,” says Sheri Johnson, president of Morningstar Communications, “lies in creating personalized, relevant content delivered at the right time to fit your prospects’ needs.”
Perhaps you’ve sent a pitch to Ms. Senior Editor only to remember that it’s Mr. Senior Editor. Or you’ve invited a reporter to a press conference on Monday the 3rd and received a message back saying, “The 3rd is a Tuesday. What day is your event?” So you know great content doesn’t mean anything if a document is poorly written or contains typos. Focusing on a process for writing can set you up for success. A thorough process means you have time for planning, drafting, reviewing, quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC). Juggling multiple projects and deadlines can make it hard to set aside time for all of these steps, and the planning step often gets sacrificed. Still, taking a few minutes to plan your writing before you begin will make editing much easier.
Great stories—about medical breakthroughs, heroic acts by children, emerging infectious diseases—are relegated to the trash bin, while “Grumpy Cat” is featured on national evening news. There are plenty of reasons this happens. Newsrooms are shrinking. Reporters are more harried since they are asked to write, blog, tweet, appear on video, among other duties. Brand priorities change and resources are limited. But most likely the problem lies in the execution of the pitch.
For months you’ve been painstakingly pulling together interviews from senior leadership, creating graphics to showcase financial data and weaving a compelling story to give a picture of a company for an annual report. The hard copy version is on its way to the printers. And the digital version has been passed along to the developers to be posted online.
Sure, celebrate the end of a well-executed project. But what can you do after that? The material you’ve compiled need not stay bound within the annual report’s pages.
How many times today did you click “send,” “post,” “tweet” or “publish” without submitting your work to a thorough read-through? Perhaps as many times as you clicked those buttons. You know you’re playing a dangerous game. You might as well be walking across a city street blindfolded. Try printing out and using this quality-control checklist for PR writing, and be sure to add your own writing peccadilloes to the list.
The trick for PR pros is to keep in mind that because of the current state of the news industry, the competition is fierce among communicators. Because PR can help journalists deliver the stories their publications need, it’s more important than ever to craft press releases that stand out and succinctly satisfy the needs of the newsroom.
Keyword-based SEO is a trap. Most of us know that keyword stuffing is a bad idea, but many aren’t aware that most of the effort put into keywords is of low consequence.
Google’s search algorithm rewards websites that are focused on improving the user experience and that publish quality content, and punishes those sites that do neither. You know what kind of punishment this entails—your content will be buried under your competitors’ content in Google searches that use the keywords tied thematically to whatever product or service you sell. That’s the strategic side of SEO—here are some tactical tips.
In my experience, it’s often helpful to save writing the opening of the speech for later in the process, rather than trying to start with some engaging anecdote or shocking fact and then trying to build your speech around your opening.
Media relations experts often tell PR pros to “think like a reporter” when pitching story ideas or news. Perhaps a more useful and specific recommendation would be to take great care with each word, sentence and paragraph. This checklist of questions to ask before sending email pitches should help you do just that.