If you’re undertaking your own PR and marketing campaigns one thing you will end up having to do is a lot of writing. That might not faze you on the face of it – after all, writing about your own business isn’t that hard, is it? But I beg to differ.
Writing engaging and informative copy does require careful planning and execution, and it you can nail it then you’ll find yourself developing a useful new skill. You will not only need to be able to write clearly in a tone of voice that suits your brand, you will also need to adjust your style and approach for different channels.
This article will help you to write well and find out what you need to include – and not include – in copy for different channels.
See also: Do you want to do your own PR?
How to write copy for business
Here are the four steps I take every time I need to write a piece of long-form copy (so anything longer than a social media post) to ensure that once I’m finished, I have something that conveys my message clearly and accurately.
- Think about your angle
The very first thing you need to do is decide what you want to say. Are you talking about the impact of health and safety legislation on riding schools, or the increase in farm shops in rural areas? Decide what your angle is and what you want someone to do once they have read it. Bear in mind the audience and how much they might know about your subject or your business before you start so that you can adjust the detail accordingly.
- Carry out plenty of research
If you’re going to put something out in the public domain, make sure that anything you are presenting as a fact is true and not simply someone else’s opinion. There is nothing wrong with including your own or another person’s opinion, just ensure you make it clear that that is what it is.
- Pull together a draft outline
I would always advise you to make sure you reach this step at least one working day before you intend to use the copy – so before you will upload it to your blog or send it to a magazine for publication. Write some bullet points with the key points of your piece in them and rejig if needed so that it flows well. Expand around them with any of those statistics from your research that support your point or help you argue against something else.
- Edit it until you are happy with it
I would really encourage you to take a break between writing your draft outline and editing it to create the final version. It is remarkable how many little errors you will notice if you’ve slept on it or at the very least done something else. Bear in mind your original angle or point of view when you edit and try to avoid reworking it too much. It must be clear, engaging and easy to understand.
Different styles of writing
I touched on this a little at the beginning, but it’s well worth looking at the different styles of writing needed for the different marketing channels out there. These are just a few examples of the types of writing you might need to do:
- Social media: Writing well for social media can take some time to master - you need to be able to write in short, punchy copy with catchy words and a conversational tone. Bear in mind the restrictions on post length and how to craft a call to action – for example Twitter limits users to 280 characters.
- Press releases: These should always be clear, factual and in the third person. Journalists are incredibly busy, so get the key message in the first paragraph, if not the first sentence. Think about including the 5 ‘W’s – who, what, why, when and where, and make sure you don’t just write it like a sales piece.
See also: How to write a press release
- Blogs: If you are blogging to help drive traffic to your website then bear in mind the key words you need to include to ensure it does a good SEO job for you. Remember to think about what you’re trying to say and stick to it – yes, it sounds obvious, but people can so easily go off on a tangent in their blogs.
- Articles: Magazine or newspaper articles should be entertaining and/or factual, so it is worth reading around the subject so that you understand a range of perspectives and opinions on your chosen subject. See if you can have the style sheet or guidelines for the publication your piece is going to before you start.
Top and tail it
A punchy headline is critical for blogs, press releases and articles. David Ogilvy, an advertising mogul in the heyday of Madison Avenue, once said:
“On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
It’s well worth spending some time on a strong headline – but don’t forget the other end either. Finish your piece with a compelling call to action, encouraging your reader to seek more information, visit your website or sign up for your newsletter.
Struggling a little?
If you find writing a little tricky when you start out then here’s one final tip that might make you feel a little better – the more you write, the easier it becomes. You will start to find that you automatically start to brainstorm the angle of a piece before you start and understand the structure that works best for you. You’ll find a voice that suits your business and the ability to adjust your style depending on the channel. Just write, write and write a little more.
Tara is our traditional PR and digital marketing partner, keep checking back here for more.