August 2017

Monthly Archives

  • Keep Advertising Copy Short and Focus on Solving Problems

    Advertising copy must be compelling enough to inspire people to act, but not so annoying that it turns them off. It’s a delicate balance. (In case you’re unfamiliar with the term “copy,” it refers to the main text of an advertisement.)

    The first rule of advertising is to make sure you know who you’re trying to reach. The second rule is to make sure you leave no doubt as to how you solve their problem.

    In an era when attention spans are short and distractions are ever-present, it’s challenging to write a headline that engages people enough to keep them reading through to the fine print. That’s why it’s so important to write with your audience’s perspective in mind. 

    Let’s say you represent a health center that just recruited a new pediatrician, and you want to attract more patients. Your target audience is parents, of course, because kids don’t choose their own doctors. So, how can you help parents meet their goals? Since most parents want to keep their children as healthy as possible, effective ad copy will demonstrate how your pediatrician helps them do so.

    An ad that says, “We have a new pediatrician” or “Now accepting new patients” doesn’t tell parents what they want to know: is the pediatrician well-trained, caring, and dedicated? Does he or she share their values? Will that pediatrician be available to answer questions outside office hours? Does he or she have experience with children like theirs (toddlers, chronically ill, behaviorally challenging, etc.)?

    While you may not be able to answer all those questions in one headline, you can begin to assuage parents’ concerns by addressing a core frustration: feeling rushed. Parents want to know their clinician will listen carefully and give their child’s problem the consideration it deserves. A far more effective ad might say, “Welcoming Dr. Jones, a board-certified pediatrician who takes time with every patient.” This may not seem dramatically different from the headlines above, because you have to distill your message to so few words in an ad, but this one helps reassure parents that Dr. Jones will take the time required to help your child feel better.

    Every time you advertise, consider how you solve your customers’ problems. How are their lives better, easier, healthier, more fun, more stylish, or less stressful as a result of your product or service? Don’t make people figure it out on their own. Spell it out for them.

    Want help? Get in touch.

  • Why Won’t They Publish My Press Release?!

    When you spend time to write a press release, it’s really frustrating when it doesn’t get published. Here are common reasons press releases don’t get published.

    1. The press release isn’t timely.
    2. It isn’t significant.
    3. It isn’t relevant to the readers (geographically or via some affiliation).
    4. There’s no one famous or prominent involved.
    5. There’s no appeal to human interest.

    Here’s how you can avoid these mistakes.

    Make sure the lede (opening sentence) includes elements that make a press release newsworthy (i.e., timely, significant, relevant, linked to a prominent person, or human-interest related). Then do your best to predict the questions people are likely to ask, and use the press release to answer them. A press release is different from promotional writing–save that for brochures and advertisements. In a press release, if you want to include an opinion, be sure to attribute it to someone. Otherwise, stick to the facts.

    Let’s consider a couple examples.

    In a press release about a high school student garnering a prestigious award, here’s a press-worthy opener:

    Eureka, California – On March 29, Raya Mahony became one of only two South Fork High School seniors ever to receive a coveted “Stellar Student” award from the Rising Stars Foundation.

    In the Southern Humboldt County region of Northern California where the press release was published as a news story, the press release highlighted a remarkable accomplishment by a local student, a verifiable fact. The word “coveted” is a little risky, but if you can prove that many people apply and few people win, it’s a legitimate claim.

    Here’s a lede that would be rejected immediately:

    Eureka, California – On March 29, the Rising Stars Foundation recognized Raya Mahony for her amazing accomplishments; Mahony is the kind of student and human being who makes students around her become better themselves, both academically and personally.

    In fact, Raya is just this type of student and deserves these accolades; but to include them, they must be attributed to the person who said them. As most writing does, press releases benefit from the old adage, “Show, don’t tell.” It’s best to use the student’s accomplishments to demonstrate her exceptional nature, rather than simply saying she’s exceptional. Like this:

    Mahony has maintained an unweighted GPA of 4.0 while serving in several leadership positions. She is the Associated Student Body (ASB) president, and has been an ASB member for three years. She is the president of 4-H, where she has participated in leadership for three years and has shown animals since she was seven years old. For the past two years, Mahony has served as president of the local chapter of the California Scholarship Federation.

    She has served the global community through the local chapter of Interact, holding the position of International Foreign Affairs Director and chairing the Tanzania Solar Energy project, which raised funds to purchase solar panels for a school in Africa.

    Then let someone who knows her bring it all home with a quote. Like this:

    “Academically and personally, Raya Mahony is genuine and committed; she is an impressive young woman. Insightful and diligent, interactive but not demonstrative, Raya is the kind of student and human being who will make students around her become better themselves, both academically and personally,” said English teacher William Richards.

    As long as you stick to the facts and write in the classic inverted pyramid style (putting the most important information first), you should be fine. For more information about how to write a press release that will get published, click here.

    If you would rather have someone write your press releases for you, feel free to get in touch.