Chances are at some point in your PR career you will need to pitch a story to a reporter you do not have a relationship with.
You follow the best practices of media relations and identify a reporter who covers your niche industry. It could be one who has never written about your product or service before. Maybe you find a creative angle to your otherwise not-so-exciting story and would like to pitch it to a different industry publication.
At this point, you are not alone in your efforts to compete for a reporter’s attention. Think of a reporter sitting at his or her desk one morning going through hundreds of pitches and press releases, continuously hitting the delete button and cringing at corporate jargon and the sameness of the language.
What will make your pitch stand out and compel a reporter to read on and give you the benefit of a doubt? Yes, at this point it’s all about your PR writing skills and how well you understand your target audience. Producing content that is attention-grabbing and newsworthy will continue to be the vital skill in the PR industry.
Regardless of where you are in your career, it’s never a bad idea to refresh the basics of PR writing that can be applied across most of the writing formats.
1. Tell a story
Announcing new leadership changes in your company, signing a contract with a new supplier or celebrating an anniversary of launching your product or service are some things that you have to communicate to external audiences. However, learn to search for stories beyond standard press release submissions full of corporate lingo. Every organization has some great stories. You just need to know where to look.
To keep and grow their readership, journalists need to offer compelling stories told from a unique angle. Knowing what publication readers will find significant from their perspective is the key to grabbing attention of a reporter you are pitching.
“If there’s a narrative – if there’s a sense of progress, or change, or surprise, or accomplishment – that’s what will get the attention of a reporter,” advises Tony Silber, General Manager, Media/PR Group at Access Intelligence in PR News Blog.
2. Make a map
When you have a lot to say, it might be easy to fall into the trap of trying to cram all the information into one piece. Staying on topic and maintaining focus will make your writing stand out.
Before you start your writing, create a map or list of points you want to cover. Use a logical, structured approach, building on the previous point and avoiding large jumps in sequence. If you feel lost while working on your piece, just look at your map and remember to stay on topic.
Becky Gaylord of Gaylord LLC, journalist turned PR pro, shares her tips for how to make a map-like list for your next written task on Ragan`s PR Daily.
3. Avoid lazy writing
Even a somewhat dull topic can be turned into a more interesting story with a creative PR approach in mind. Rather than using a standard press release template again, develop a well-crafted story that shows the brand personality and your points of differentiation.
Do not use vague words and corporate jargon that make your piece of writing sound exactly like those other hundreds of press releases in a reporter’s email. Ask yourself why your target audience cares and what matters to them, and validate your story with intriguing insights. Want to know what words the media hates? Check this article from PRSA Tactics for a compilation of lexicon choices to avoid.
Familiar with basics, but need to fine-tune your PR writing efforts? Don’t miss this article on Forbes about turbocharging your writing for public relations.