Using copywriting services to make the most of PR

Apr 07, 2016
Most people think using copywriting services to handle their PR will be too expensive and involve high-priced agencies and beautiful people with posh London addresses. Of course, in some cases it does, but usually PR works at a much more prosaic level. After all, the job is basically simple - to get stories published in the press for free.

Stories appear in magazines, newspapers and on the Internet because people put them there. It requires a little effort but, if you do it right, the rewards can be much greater than simple advertising. 

Subjects for stories can include: new personnel, new facilities, new contracts, new ideas, letters to editors, technical stories, customer advice, charitable events, and much more.  Virtually anything new that happens at a company could be turned into a press story. However, it is important to remember that a press release should be a genuine news story, not an advertisement. Stories that are too self-congratulatory or are really just a sales pitch will end up in the editor’s bin. If you give editors what they want, they will use it; if you don’t, you’re wasting your time.

The trick is to make the editor’s job as easy as possible. Give them a story that is interesting to their readers, not too long, with a good photo and presented in a form that they can ‘cut and paste’ into their magazines and websites. The harder you make it, the less chance you have of seeing your story in print.

The editor wants you to use as few words as possible to answer the following questions: What happened? When did it happen? Why did it happen? How did it happen? Who was involved, and what is the message for everyone else? Preferably all that should be included in paragraph one with the story expanding as it progresses. If you’re using a copywriting service the agency should be familiar with this technique.

Make sure quotes are believable and actually sound like someone has said them. Make it too long or unbelievable and the editor won’t use it. Use simple, straightforward language. Don’t write your press release in industry jargon. Keep it simple so that those not familiar with your industry will still be able to understand it.

A good picture is often as important as the story itself, so don’t send out your PR stories without a good quality, relevant photo with a caption to say what’s going on. Pictures should always be sent as JPG or TIFF images and never embedded in a Word or PDF document.  

Make the editor’s life easy.  Just e-mail a concise, relevant story, written in Word and attach a good quality, high resolution JPG image that helps illustrate the story. Whether you use a copywriting service, or choose to do the work yourself, you will have the best chance of getting your stories published for free and making your PR programme work effectively as part of your company’s communication mix. 

Steve Jordan
Managing Director, The Words Workshop