Here are a few tips and cautions about writing articles, press releases and other works.
- Avoid sounding like a circus announcer.
Most companies spend a fortune trying to convince the media about the wonders of their products. Few succeed. Why? They sound too much like circus announcers in their press releases and articles.
“Ladies and Gentlemen! Presenting the one and only ABC 24, the industry leading widget from ABC Inc. When you install this device, your equipment will become five times more powerful and potential customers partners will shower you with affection.” This is not the way to win editors and influence reporters.
- Be real
Instead, try to hit the reality of your audience. Find a way to engage their attention by discussing actual issues and real solutions. A case application story with action-oriented quotes is a great way to highlight the benefits of a product. It’s also far more likely to be picked up.
Example: Once upon a time, I was writing a story for a magazine. I flicked through 100 press releases and placed all but seven in the trash. Each of the discarded ones confused the reader with corporate tag lines and either had little to say or said it in too vague a manner.
- Customer case studies
What do editors want? Some of the time, they want customer stories with usable quotes. That’s why I kept a couple of those press releases. They laid out the application of the technology with some facts about the problems that existed, their solutions, and quotes that highlighted value. I contacted the companies concerned for a more in-depth interview. Result: a page or two of good coverage in a national magazine for each of the vendors involved. Try to tell a story and provide a valuable service to the editors you are trying to impress. Go easy on the corporate propaganda in your announcements.
- Correct Sequence
I’ve spent a lot of time educating others on how to write. What’s the biggest mistake? Organization of data in logical sequence. Just as most people ramble as they talk, with only the gifted few being able to explain things clearly, so it is in writing. Typically, individuals start talking about A, move on to B and C, then backtrack to A and so on. And the worse part – most of them don’t realize they are doing it. In fact, some become defensive and argue that it isn’t true. This is akin to a music composer mixing up parts of the first, second and third act of a composition. The result is a jumble of discordance that nobody wants to suffer through.
- Good transitions
All it takes is a couple of jarring transitions and non-sequitur paragraphs and the readers move on to the next article. You have to lay out an orderly flow to retain attention. This is helped by transitioning smoothly from one concept to the next. When you end Concept One, introduce Concept Two by relating it to the previous section. For example:
“But not everyone agrees that Concept One holds true on every occasion. Advocates of Concept Two …” or
“While Concept One dominates, Concept Two is growing in popularity.”
There are many ways to do it. Have some fun with it.