What? You didn’t know that? Well, you should have. Today’s growing company demands call for greater visibility and increased retention of customers. Which means the public relations professionals who serve these clients need to know what they don’t know. Whether we’re learning more social media strategies (Really? Who has time?) or sharpening our writing to reel in key audiences, these improvements often require a juggling act while delivering on other tasks. If we’re successfully delivering in 95 percent of what we do, will the 5 percent we don’t know actually derail or disable our efforts? Possibly. So, we’ve gathered a few tips to help shore up the gaps.
- Common mistakes in writing: Not putting yourself in the reader’s shoes. People don’t want to read something that doesn’t apply, interest or help them. Speak to what the reader should know. If you’re writing for a consumer, your piece should describe how the product or service will benefit them—not simply focusing on past achievements or that’s product’s features. If writing for journalists, tell them something they don’t know.
- Picture it now: Great photo captions should tell the reader what’s happening—in the present tense. For example: Bob Doe presented the award to Suzy Q, a grant recipient at XYZ fundraiser at the Svengali Gallery, Saturday, March 3, in San Diego, Calif. Though the event occurred last Saturday, write the event as if we’re living that moment: Bob Doe presents the award to Suzy Q, a grant recipient at XYZ fundraiser at the Svengali Gallery, Saturday, March 3, in San Diego, Calif.
- Your link is too long: To use a blog post or page link that stretches across the web browser is sooo OUT. For easier sharing, shorten those links by using a link shortener like Bit.ly or TinyURL.
- Headlines that sprawl: No more press release headlines that sprawl across an entire page. This doesn’t make your headline “pop” nor does it make for easier tweeting or sharing on social media spaces. Keep headlines tight, provocative with keywords to improve your search rate among readers. Some experts suggest eight words and no more than 53 characters as social media-friendly headlines.
- Loosen up: Engage your readers quickly, creatively and conversationally. Get to the point faster, break your message up into shorter sentences. Write with a conversational tone as opposed to a stiff, corporate, didactic style.
- Nothing, and we mean NOTHING ever dies on the Internet. Understand copyright rules when borrowing text from other sources, or even in using someone else’s words. If ever in doubt, ask permission of the copyright holder to use their text or wording. This even relates to videos. Scenario: A video is posted on YouTube that you believe is a great addition to your presentation or promotion video. Is it a copyright infringement to: A) Save the video in your personal files? B) Show the video during your presentation? C) Make a copy of the video and email to your friends or post on your web site? D) Integrate a portion of the video into your own video for public display, consumption? Legal/Cover Yourself Approach: “A” is not a copyright infringement. “B” and “D” are borderline (unless you are using your presentation to give analysis of original video) and “C” is a definite copyright infringement , although forwarding the link would not be. By law, reproducing, distributing or displaying any work, video, song, poem, etc., usually infringes on the rights of the copyright owner.
Wow, surprised what you maybe didn’t know? No worries. This journey is filled with constant learning. You’re still doing a great job.
By: Nicole Hayes
Nicole brings a strong background in consumer outreach, partnership development and media relations to McKinney & Associates. Many of her communications strategies were cultivated during her work with international public relations agency Fleishman Hillard Inc., where she developed and implemented strategies and media relations outreach for large consumer and government clients. With her skilled foundation, Nicole sought a career to support her core belief that people make the best investments and launched her own D.C.-based media relations consultancy, Pieces of Life, to serve small businesses and non-profit organizations.