Selling Without Sleaze: How To Write A Press Release That’s Not A Pitch Fest

If you’re looking to submit a press release, you know all the reasons why they’re important. However, before you can get your PR published and into the hands of journalists, bloggers and customers, you have to know how to write a press release. The goal of a PR is to ‘sell’ your ideas, but there’s a fine line between selling effectively and sounding like a sleazy used car salesman.

Stick To The Facts

A blatant sales pitch in a PR can instantly turn off readers. Readers want to know the facts and they don’t want to be told what to think. By providing readers with the facts of your announcement, you’ll let them come to their own conclusions. This will help maintain your credibility, while allowing readers to judge the newsworthiness of your PR for themselves.

Don’t Just Tell Your Readers You’re The Best, Prove It!

When writing a release, the easiest way to prove you’re the best is to use attribution to back up any claims. For example, instead of writing that your business is the best in the industry, use proof. If you’ve been named the best bakery in your city by a local publication, consider which of these sentences proves it:

“Cupcakes By Karen Named The Best Bakery In Chicago By Taste Of Chicago Magazine”

Vs.

“Come To Cupcakes By Karen And Taste The Best Cupcakes In Chicago”

See how the second one seems like an advertisement and not a news announcement? While there is news in there (Cupcakes By Karen has been named Chicago’s favorite bakery), readers can’t instantly determine what it is. Readers shouldn’t ever need to read more than just the headline to find the news nugget of your PR. Determining whether you need to back up your claims is easy. If your claims leave readers asking, ‘says who?’ afterwards, you need to add the proof.

Use Quotes To Inject Opinion

Even though you have news to announce, the goal of many PRs is to sell! The place to sell your products and services is within the quotes. A quote doesn’t follow the same rules as the rest of the PR. Because you’re attributing the comments to a real person within your company, you’re welcome to say whatever you want! However, even in the quote, it’s a good idea to let readers know the why or the how. Consider these two quotes:

“We work hard to take care of our customers.”

Vs.

“Every day we have customers who stop and tell us how we’ve helped make their birthday party or other event a success. Whether you’re looking for a simple, delicious birthday cake or an elaborate, one-of-a-kind wedding cake, we’d love to show you what we can do. We consider our cakes works of art and there’s no better feeling than when a customer sees their cake for the first time and tells us how it’s exactly what they envisioned.”

See the difference? Each one says that Cupcakes By Karen is focused on their customers, but the second really sells their business and lets clients know what they can expect when they work with the bakery.

Learning how to write a press release is an important business tool and it’s one that many businesses don’t understand. When you submit a press release to traditional media outlets or an online press release distribution site, you want to make sure that you’re putting your best efforts forward. Don’t fall into the trap of sounding like a sleazy salesman. Your clients, journalists and bloggers can easily spot the sleaze so learn how to write a press release and put your best foot forward.

How to Write a Fund Raising Letter That Pulls a Gift

Ok, I’m going to say this only once: “Before you send a fund raising letter, know what you’re doing. Make it a science if you must.” A couple of weeks ago, I received a direct mail appeal. Nothing about that upset me; after all, many not-for-profit organizations rely heavily on the charitable goodness of persons receiving the appeals. May their kind increase! Here’s what bothered me.

1. They got my name wrong. It’s Russel, not Russell. Not a big deal, but it is a first impression and we all know how first impressions matter. When you ask for money, start by getting the name right.

2. The appeal I received from this charity was nearly word-for-word the appeal they sent me last year. They invested absolutely no creativity in the new ask. It was like, “We’ve got to do this direct mail thing. What can we write that will take us away from our important work for the least amount of time?” The only substantive change was different statistics. How do I know? I had actually kept the prior year’s appeal from this organization and compared the two side by side.

3. They assumed I would be impressed with numbers. Did you notice that I used the word “statistics” in my 2nd point? Fortunately, the appeal didn’t slam me with lots of analytics, e.g., cost per hour per person served, net change in cost per hour per person served this year versus last year, and the like. Just principally number of units served. Here’s how it could have been strengthened.

Numbers without comparative parameters are merely snapshots, nothing more. At least, tell me whether number of persons served is more or less than the year prior, and why. I may be interested.

Give me a perspective on how number of persons assisted is impacted by agency resources, e.g., staffing. For example, if you tell me that you served 300 persons during the year, what does that mean? Does this imply multiple contacts per month, or a single contact in a year? Is the contact brief, e.g., referral, or is it extended as with counseling?

Tell me why my donation matters. This particular letter started by stating that I could make a difference but never said specifically how I could do that. It can be as simple as “We recently lost a critical grant we counted on to provide homecare services and are faced with the real possibility of having to discontinue care to the elderly of our area. With your help, however, we won’t have to.”

4. They assumed numbers would move me to donate. Admittedly, stats have value but they will never elicit a donation from me–or from very many others. They’re just too cold. You may impress your banker with statistics but they’ll almost never get a donor to fork over a gift. Use pictures if you can! Numbers alone do not activate our moral emotions. People and victims are lost in numbers. As Mother Teresa said perhaps best of all, “If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.”

5. The appeal I received was ultimately just a listing of the services the agency provided. Missed entirely was the heartbreak in the lives the agency served. The appeal was too much about the organization’s services (which obviously impressed the writer) and almost nothing about how those served by the organization saw it as a rescuer. Too bad. It’s really a great organization and the service it provides is quite valuable–a point entirely lost in its end of year mail appeal.

Oh well, you get the picture. Right? Direct mail is a great funding method. Done properly, it has pull and it is quantifiable. Do it wrong, however, and you might as well kiss that donor you’ve wanted to reach goodbye. If you send direct mail appeals, make the process an art and a science. If that’s asking too much, by all means sell restaurant subscriptions. Or something.

Over the past several years, Rus served as CEO for two nonprofit organizations. It was during this time that he started several small businesses and consulted with more than a hundred executives on numerous issues ranging from start-up to complex growth strategies. His substantial creativity and relentless pursuit of the exceptional helped him develop a unique expertise in the fledgling field of nonprofit business. Rus has guest lectured at Illinois Central College, Illinois Wesleyan University, Illinois State University, and Northern Illinois University. While working on a doctorate degree at the University of Florida (UF), Rus was an adjunct professor of management, sales, advertising, and personnel at Florida Community College – Jacksonville. In 2002 Rus was a candidate for the Illinois State Senate and has an MPA from Northern Illinois University (NIU).

4 Easy Steps on How to Write a Good Article

Millions of companies these days are using keyword articles to increase their SEO ranking and also gain free exposure on the internet. Everything is done in the internet nowadays from purchasing the latest trends in fashion to playing online games for recreational purposes. Whether you are promoting your business or a freelance writer seeking for income generating opportunities, you can benefit a lot from these keyword articles.

Here are ways to help you write a good article:

1. Research about a specific subject to write about. The key to good writing is simplicity with a touch of interesting points. Study the buzzwords. Each industry has its own set of terms. If you are well-versed with the medical field, you can go ahead and specialized in health articles. Know your strengths and weaknesses as a writer. Try to focus on your strong qualities and start improving your weaknesses. If you are assigned a new topic, do extra research. Start reading several articles concerning that genre and learn the catch phrases and terminologies.

2. Write an article without the keywords. Don’t worry about keywords when you are writing for the first time. The keywords can wait later. Keep the pen going and craft your sentences naturally.

3. If you already have a set of keywords with you, now is the time to incorporate them in the article. If you don’t, try to come up with your own keywords. Think of the common words that people type in Google, yahoo or bing when they want to learn more about a certain topic. For example, if you wrote an article about ‘how to find a house for rent in Las Vegas’, you may as well include keywords such as house for rent in Las Vegas, Las Vegas rental homes & etc. Notice that keywords should be more specific. Check out the popularity of your keywords or keyword phrases through the use of google keywords.

4. Proofread and edit. Go over your article and try to make the necessary changes. Assess for spelling and grammar errors, repeated words and etc. Use your stored vocabulary. Try to avoid word repetition.

Tips:
• Formulate an attention-grabbing headline. Most people browsing over the internet click on catchy and inviting lines in the article. A good keyword-rich title is also a must.
• Try to avoid the use of highfalutin words. Remember that you are trying to reach a crowd of professionals, students, housewives, and etc. Simply your words and make sure that anybody can understand it and get a good grasp of the message that you are trying to relay.
• Come up with short sentences and paragraphs. Studies have shown that the average attention span for a person surfing the web is only 9 seconds. A good way to keep your readers’ attention is by using bulleted points and sub headings.
• Make it as conversational as much as possible.
• Imbue a little of your personality in your write-ups. You would want to let your reader know that you a real person has written this article. Nothing is wrong with a light joke or a personal experience in your blogs.