Tag Archives: web content

Use Storytelling Skills to Transform Your Web Content

Courtesy of PR NEWS.

By Stephen Terlizzi

Traditional PR approaches relied mostly on a well-defined network of contacts to whom you pitched news or an idea and some facts, and the reporter created a story. However, like that famous book about the moving cheese, many PR professionals are asking lately, “Who moved my reporter?”

As the economics of the information age have taken their full toll on the publishing industry, the “well-defined network of contacts” is looking more like a ghost town than a thriving metropolis. What’s key to remember is that these folks didn’t just disappear into thin air. Instead, many of the old school journalists have shifted and are now independent consultants who are writing for their own blogs and the Web sites of others.

The tables also have turned on traditional publications during the past 10 years, and they are now syndicating more content from major online sites. In today’s new ecosystem, a well-placed story in TechCrunch or GigaOM can have significantly more impact than any single article in a major local paper.

This means that if your company isn’t a major industry player, you shouldn’t expect to get much share of mind in a fast-paced digital world where everyone is competing for eyeballs—unless you have an exceptional story to tell.

Becoming the person who knows how to mesh “what will be published” with “writing what will be published” puts you in the perfect position to develop ready-to-go stories that will stand out from the digital noise bombarding online reporters, editors and bloggers. Let’s examine what makes a compelling story and how it translates to digital public relations.

Meet Both Needs
Regardless of the type of story, there are always two people in every story: the author and the reader. The author, or client, has a point to make while the reader wants to learn, be informed, entertained, amused, etc. An effective story meets the desires of both parties, whether it is written for an online audience or traditional media.

In the book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell, the author talks about three types of people that are critical to the success of any word-of-mouth initiative: connectors, mavens and salesmen. As you can image, the connectors connect, the mavens inform and the salesmen convince. I think it is an excellent analogy for the purpose of writing a PR story for a client—a story to promote, a story to envision or a story to validate.

Note the use of the word “or” in the last paragraph. You must write stories that have a single, simple objective and have simple elements, as online writing must be more direct and shorter. So focus on doing one of the three points well as opposed to doing none of them well. In today’s time crunched society, deliver the point succinctly and close the story. We are not writing Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment.

Stephen Terlizzi is the managing partner and head of the social media practice for Tanis Communications.

This article was adapted from PR News’ Digital PR Guidebook, Volume 4. This and other guidebooks can be ordered at the PR News Press online store.

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How to Write “Killer Copy”

sticky1Do you want to discover how to write web copy that makes your visitors reach out for their wallets and buy your products? These tips will teach you how to write for the web.

Use Short Sentences
Don’t try to use fancy words. Get right to the point and make it simple. If a sentence looks too long, it probably is. Most of the times, long sentences could easily be broken up in two, three, or even four short sentences. Mix sentence lengths to make the text easier to read.

Avoid Text Cluttering
Text cluttering refers to those boring and long paragraphs that seem impossible to read. Some tips that might help you:

– Don’t go over 6-7 lines per paragraph.
– Don’t use the whole screen width, stay within 550-600 pixels wide.
– Use bold, italics, underlined text, and highlighting to make some sentences stand out.
– Use bullets, they are very easy to read.
– Use subheads to break down long text.

Get Your Reader to Say Yes!
Ask questions that your readers will say yes to. By saying yes they are identifying themselves with the problem you are presenting and they are qualifying themselves as people who could benefit from reading your copy. An example: “Do your feet itch? Do you wake up at night scratching them?”

Your Goal is to Get Your Readers to Read the First Sentence
Getting people to read your first sentence is 80% of the battle. Use graphics, captions, and headlines to make them feel like they HAVE to read the first sentence. Do you know what the goal of the first sentence is? To get people to read your second sentence.

Do Your Homework
Before you start writing your copy you need to find out what your prospects buttons are. There is usually one main reason people buy and usually three to five secondary reasons. Find out what are the “reasons behind the reason”. Your prospect might want to make more money, but her ultimate reason might be financial freedom or to spend more time with her family.

Courtesy of The Outsourcing Company.