Copywriting is tough in general, but PR writing requires a special kind of panache. With thousands of news items competing for attention at any given point, PR writing of any kind needs to be versatile, engaging and memorable to stand out. When the average person thinks of PR copy, it’s likely the press release that comes to mind. However, there are in fact several types of PR copy a writer needs to master. These include:
- Press releases – This is perhaps the most well-known form of PR writing, and one that every PR writer needs to be adept at. A press release announces a piece of significant news, such as the launch of a product or an award received, and generally includes an introduction to the company as well as quotes from company personnel.
- Social media copy – This is the Twitter version of the press release, and involves summing up the central message in a single, shareable line. People’s attention spans are even shorter on social media, so this copy needs to be truly unmissable.
- Profiles of leaders – These are crisp one-paragraph summaries of a leader’s career and experience that can be inserted into media coverage of or articles by the leader.
- Pitches – PR writers need to know how to pitch a topic creatively and compellingly enough to attract the attention of a journalist at a major publication. This includes understanding the topic, as well as knowing what the publication is looking for, so as to make the pitch as newsworthy as possible.
- Campaigns – This is a plan for how a PR program will be carried out, including the schedule of content and the overall brand messaging that’s needed. These are usually internal documents, but they need to be written concisely and clearly enough that everyone on the team knows what’s expected of them.
- Speech writing – When addressing a press conference or consumer audience, a leader needs a speech that hits all the right notes in under five minutes. As busy executives with other calls on their time, they may well ask a PR writer to handle the task.
- Quotes for leaders – When an entire speech is unnecessary, an executive may recruit a PR writer to craft a few pithy quotes that can be shared in media articles and that adequately sum up the venture or endeavour in question.
In short, PR copy is the medium through which your message is conveyed to the public. Even the most exciting piece of news can be rendered dull and lifeless with poor writing – which, as any good PR agency will tell you, will make it much harder for your audience to trust you. As such, it’s essential that your copy be as compelling as possible. Here we share some fail-safe tips to bring your PR content to life.
- Read incessantly – It is said, and with good reason, that the only real way to become a good writer is to become a good reader. Immerse yourself in writing of all kinds, be it newspapers, magazines, biographies or novels. Note elements like language, tone, rhythm and pacing and how they enhance the writing. Try and understand exactly what makes one piece work and what makes another piece fall short. Then, bring those observations and lessons into your own writing.
- Get straight to the point – Journalists are unlikely to wait around long enough for a preamble. Your writing should talk about the core subject from the first sentence. At the same time, avoid adding ‘shock value’ for the mere sake of it. Couch your point in simple, direct sentences that convey the facts in easily digestible form.
- Craft a story – Merely informing your readers about an event is not enough. You need to draw them into the how and why of the event in a manner that makes them care about it as much as you do. This calls for storytelling – the use of a beginning, a challenge and a hero moment that everyone can rejoice at. Even the driest details can be turned into engaging stories if you go about it the right way. Here, again, reading examples of successful storytelling in PR will be useful.
- Use the right tone – Is your PR copy targeting the entertainment industry, or will it be shared with potential government investors? Adjusting tone and language are essential to forming a connection with the audience and evoking a response. Here again, reading extensively will teach you about the nuances of tone and style in PR writing.
- Read your copy out loud – Reading a piece out loud alerts you to awkward turns of phrase, overly long sentences and grammatical mistakes that might be hard to spot otherwise. While many writers skip this step, take out the time to read your copy aloud before you submit the piece to the editor – you’ll be glad you did.
- Let it rest overnight – If you spend too much time staring at the same piece of copy, you’re likely to become ‘blinded’ to it and miss little errors. Instead, step away from the copy for at least a few hours, if not an entire day, and come back to it with fresh eyes. You’ll find it much easier to spot what’s missing and to correct mistakes.
- Remove all fluff – Particularly when a word count is assigned, writers tend to bulk their pieces up with fluff such as convoluted sentences and wordy phrases. Avoid this like the plague and focus on tightening up your copy so that it gets the point across while being pleasant to read. Clean up anything that seems extraneous, even if it means going below the word count. The end goal, after all, is to have the best possible copy – and when it comes to PR copy, less is usually more.
PR writing, like any other type of copywriting, requires concerted effort and regular practice to nail. Simply put, the more you write, the better you will be at it. If you’d rather get the experts to do it for you, consider working with Star Squared PR. Our team of experienced copywriters will give your press release the flair and polish it deserves, ensuring that your audience responds to you in exactly the way you want them to.