The complete A-Z of winning PR

Companies need to embrace winning PR and seek out every opportunity to get their stories in the news.

But if you’ve ever looked for an easy-to-understand guide to successful PR then you may well have ended up even more confused because there are just so many different ideas and opinions.

This handy A – Z guide to effective PR will help you focus on writing better news stories, and avoid the seven deadly PR sins.

Follow these steps to more successful writing.

AUDIENCE. It’s a no-brainer really, but before you start writing your brilliant piece of prose decide who your target audience is. Who will be reading your story? Once you have decided that, then tailor your words to suit them.

BEGINNING. Every story needs a strong start, a “hook” to get people reading on. Explain what your story is about succinctly and in the opening line, so readers don’t get frustrated with long-winded, rambling introductions.

COPY. It’s what you are writing – but don’t ever call it a press release. Journalists talk about “copy”, and you will often hear them talking about copy deadlines, which is just another way of saying story deadline. Find out why we banned  press releases!

DISTRIBUTION. Keep your distribution list up to date. There’s a high staff turnover in most newspapers and magazines, so your best-friend journalist might well have moved on and not let you know. A quick call before you send out your copy will ensure it’s not lost forever in the black hole of defunct email addresses.

Good contacts essential for successful PR

Keep your distribution list up to date

There’s more to successful PR than just stringing a few lines together.

EASY TO READ. Don’t fall into the basic mistake of thinking your writing has to include big words and lengthy explanations. Keep it simple, with short sentences and everyday language.

FORMAT. Make it easy for the journalist to use your copy, don’t use tons of different fonts, sizes and colours. And definitely no capitals, italics or underlining for emphasis. Although it goes against everything you were taught at school it’s generally one sentence per paragraph.

GOAL. What do you want to achieve with your story? Have a clear idea of what you want to get out of your PR, whether it’s a better business reputation, more orders or just a greater awareness of your product.

HEADLINE. You need an inviting headline to catch your reader’s eye but don’t waste hours stressing over it because you can bet your bottom dollar the sub-editor will change it to a different one. It’s their job to come up with cracking headlines and they are good at it.

INFORMATION.  Have you included everything you need to in your copy? An easy checklist is the standard who, what, where, why, when, how. If you answer all those in your story then you probably have covered all the information needed. Don’t forget to add a line somewhere in your copy with contact details.

How to win at PR

Remember this rhyme

More tips on writing winning newspaper stories

JARGON. Avoid it. No acronyms, no jargon. Remember NEKWYFAM. (Not everyone knows what your acronym means!)

KEEP TRYING. Don’t lose hope if you don’t get instant success. You could have the most interesting, newsworthy, ticks-all-the-boxes story ever – but sometimes the timing is just not good. Image this. The paper is about to go to press, all the pages are complete, your story is on the second page and suddenly aliens land in your town. Guess what? Your story will probably be pulled to cover the little green man landing and there is nothing you can do to prevent that. It’s just the way it is.

LEAD. The main story on a newspaper’s page and what you probably hope your copy will become.

MISTAKES. We all make them, but double check, even triple check, your facts and figures to make sure they are absolutely correct. No editor wants to print corrections in the next edition.

And that’s it folks, for this week anyway. I’ll have part two of the A – Z of winning PR next week so don’t forget to look out for it.