Today, PR encompasses much more than writing press releases and pitching reporters. However, securing earned media wins is still incredibly important and powerful when it comes to reaching consumers. In fact, according to Nielson’s latest Global Trust and Advertising Report, 92 percent of consumers trust earned media over sponsored or paid media. And, oftentimes the way we craft media materials can have a big influence on a reporter’s interest in our stories. Smart PR writing can help journalists trust our facts and understand how a story can benefit their readers or viewers.
From the recent Michael Smart Master Class webinar “PR Writing Hacks – Write Faster, Clearer, More Persuasive Pitches and Releases With Less Effort,” here are five ways to secure media results through more effective writing:
1. Replace claim with fact – Think “show don’t tell,” a technique many of our grade school teachers probably repeated several times when we were first developing our writing skills, which holds immense value in PR. It’s better to give an example or fact to illustrate a point, e.g., instead of saying “Jenny is beautiful” try noting that “Jenny is a Revlon model.” or “Jenny has striking blue eyes and model-like bone structure.” Through both of these sentence, the reader can conclude that Jenny is beautiful.
2. Write shorter pitches – There are an estimated 25 PR pros per reporter, which means that the more concisely you get your point across, the better. For example, there’s no need to introduce yourself at the beginning of an email because all of that information is in your signature. Get to what is in it for the reader or viewer as quickly as you can.
3. Inform without clutter – This is all about reducing meaningless words and phrases. For example: Omit proper nouns unless they add news value, cut pointless modifiers (e.g., words that end in “–ly”: basically, essentially, definitely), avoid general adjectives and adverbs (great, bad, really, very), and combine phrases into single nouns.
4. Choose concrete words – Its better to engage your reader by selecting fewer and more precise words. For example, instead of “management reviewed and rewrote the report over and over,” think “management honed the report.”
5. Proofread vs. spellcheck – It’s especially important to proof the names of people, places and companies since spellcheck won’t always catch these. It’s also helpful to click the web addresses to make sure they are active, double-check cell phone numbers and email addresses, and ensure any referenced dates and days of the week match up. You can also avoid common PR grammar errors, like subject-verb agreement, by reading everything backwards and out loud (starting with the last sentence first).