How to write press release - Copify

How to write a press release

Press releases are a great way of communicating your latest news or updates with members of the news media, who will then relate this information to their wider audience if they think it will be of interest. It can sometimes go by the name of either a ‘press release’, ‘media release’, ‘news release’, ‘press statement’ or ‘video release’. It is typically a written document, which needs to have some level of newsworthiness. It is usually between one or two pages in length.

Although lots of people require a press release, not everyone recognises or understands what it takes to write an effective one. So if you’re wondering how to write a press release, read on…

Make it newsworthy

For The Guardian, one of the most important aspects is that your release actually contains news. They suggest asking yourself questions such as what is ‘new’ about your story, whether there is anything unexpected or unusual about what you have to say, whether it would be of interest to anyone else outside of your business, and whether anyone will actually care about the news.

Although the latter may seem harsh, they suggest this is one of the most important questions as you need your story to resonate with people. Otherwise, it will simply flop. In essence, you need to try and find a new angle to your story, product or company, or link it to a current trend.

The headline matters

When considering what might be of interest in your headline or structure, imagine whether it would capture your reader’s attention while scrolling through Facebook or Twitter. HubSpot suggests your headline should be ‘irresistible’.

How to write press release

At Forbes, they note that the headline is the most important feature given the vast quantity of e-mails that reporters will receive. They suggest getting to your point quickly, noting what the story is, why they should care and why now. With an effective headline, it will make it easier to organise your thoughts.

The subject line of your email should feel personal, without being all capitals or either super formal/super casual. Often it helps to show you are specifically trying to contact the journalist of that specific publication, rather than just sending out generic news blasts.

Write in the third person

When writing a press release, it needs to sound impartial and as though someone else is talking about your company, rather than like a personal message or e-mail from your business. It should refer to your business name when talking about your company, rather than using words such as ‘we’ and ‘our’. It should almost feel as though a stranger or journalist is reporting your news – in the same tone you would expect to read it when reported on.

If you want to add a personal face to your company, it’s recommended you include a quote from either a key figure in the organisation or from the company spokesperson. Quotes add depth to a story which is why they are usually favoured by journalists and can help get your release featured.

Consider the structure

HubSpot have a very clear structure and layout for how an effective press release should be written. It is an official announcement so should be laid out in a formal structure. They suggest that the heading should include action verbs, while the first paragraph shouldHow to write press release specifically answer four key questions – who, what, where and why. Along with these, Marketing Donut suggests adding the questions of ‘when’ and ‘how’ to this list as well, to include the timing and significance of when it came about.

For the structure, HubSpot also reiterate the use of a quote and highlight the value of using easy to grasp language. They also point out that audiences are not the same as they were 10 or so years ago – therefore, you’re no longer feeding the traditional news cycle. Your press release needs to appeal to an attention-starved, busy audience used to getting their news in soundbite nuggets from social media.

Don’t shy away from data

It is important that your press release is interesting, and this comes through being concise and to the point. However, it is also important for your news release to contain all the necessary information for a journalist to write a story without needing to contact you for further details (although many may want to).

It can be very beneficial to add key data, which the Huffington Post also notes, as this may help the journalist find the hook needed to want to produce a write-up based on the press release. It may help them identify trends with other similar stories to then group it all together. Adding hard numbers will help to verify everything you’re saying, improve its credibility and establish a colourful narrative. Make sure you have evidence for everything you’re saying in case you need to verify it and try to keep it compelling.

Include your contact details

In the eventHow to write press release that the journalist writing about your press release does want to contact you for further information or an interview, it can be very helpful for them if the contact information is added at the end for the person in question.

Whether your own company or another’s, this should include an e-mail address, phone number and full name – plus the person’s job title. Typically it will be someone in the marketing or press team, or the CEO or communications manager in smaller companies.

Add context, background and flavour

Through putting your story into the wider context, it helps to show your audience why it matters and what is going on within your industry that they may not already be aware of. This includes quotes from other sources or data that previous research may have found. It may include linking to relevant news reports or even quoting an article that the journalist has previously written. It helps to show that you understand exactly why it matters.

Short, sweet and to the point

With any news release, it is important that you don’t waffle. It can be tempting to add lots of descriptive and flowery language and repeat the same point in various ways. However, that’s not your job to do this. It’s for the journalist to add their own spin on the news. All you need to do is report the facts in the clearest, most concise and comprehensive way possible.

Try to keep what you’re writing to a few paragraphs, and no longer than two pages. Adding pictures, sub-headings and sending appropriate images (in a variety of resolutions) through email attachment can greatly improve the chances of getting your press release published.

The first paragraph is most important, so get all your key information in there. The second paragraph should then expand on this, with a third paragraph for the quote, and a fourth paragraph for final information and any insight into what else is coming up next.

The quotes included should be interesting and great sound-bites that a journalist may actually want to use. When it comes to how to write press release, Marketing Donut suggest keeping your sentences to 25 words in length to ensure they have punch, without any lengthy explanations.

And if you want to include any extra information about your company or about opportunities for a photo shoot, for example, include these in a ‘Notes to Editor’ section at the end.

 

Main image credit: Rob Sinclair
Image credits: Robert Couse-Bakerbhavya999Jason Bagley

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10 best blogs about writing - Copify

10 of the best blogs about writing

Writing is a special skill that requires a lot of practice. Some people have a natural flair and talent for writing and some are able to make a career out of it.

As well as having a passion for writing, making a career out of it also requires a lot of patience and dedication. Even if you are a talented writer, it always helps to have some advice and support. According to The Write Life, great writing “takes a village. They may be your words, but the words you write are a culmination of years of practice, learning from mentors, emulating your favourite authors, workshopping with peers and supporting fellow writers.”

If you are a writer – or you aspire to turn writing into a viable career – then it’s important to find a community of like-minded individuals and explore various resources and use them to your advantage. By reading writing blogs, you can find plenty of ideas and inspiration to help you progress as a freelance writer.

Here are some of the best blogs about writing to start reading today.

1. The Bloglancer

The Bloglancer is a blog run by Jenna Farmer, a freelance writer and blogger from the West Midlands in the UK. She’s been blogging for seven years and she managed to turn it into a job last year. The Bloglancer is aimed at those who already blog but want to take their blogs to the next level.

She gives a lot of advice about gaining clients, working with PRs, effective marketing strategies, surviving (and making the most out of) freelancer life, monetizing your blog and establishing passive income streams. It’s definitely the go-to website for bloggers who want to turn their blogs into a viable source of income.

2. Problogger

Problogger is the website for bloggers who want to go down the professional route and turn their passion into a career, such as copywriting and content creation. The site was set up in 2004 by Darren Rowse and since then it has been the “home for bloggers wanting to create and grow their blogs, and then go professional to make money blogging.”

The site offers blogging advice for those who want to make money from their blogs, as well giving access to valuable resources and providing hints and tips on content creation and insight into the latest blogging trends. It’s also a popular website for finding blogging jobs.

3. Alexandria Ingham

Alexandria Ingham is a freelance writing and blogging mentor from Ontario who makes a full-time living from writing online. She offers in-depth advice on making money from digital writing. She provides marketing tips and detailed reviews on publications she’s written for. She also sends each a freelancer a writing checklist so that they can make sure they are achieving their writing goals.

10 of the best blogs about writing

4. Be a Freelance Blogger

This website is a useful resource for bloggers who want to make “real” money. Be a Freelance Blogger offers lots of useful tips on how to be a better blogger and provides advice for those who freelance. Topics include dealing with rejection, how to land the best clients, surviving the freelance life and ways to become a better freelance blogger.

5. Copyblogger

Copyblogger is one of the leading sources of professional blogging, digital marketing and SEO. It’s a great site for those who want to find free resources, including free e-books and tutorials on these topics. An established authority in the world of content marketing, Copyblogger demonstrates the ways to get the best out of copy and content writing.

6. Beyond Your Blog

Beyond Your Blog provides practical tips for aspiring writers who want to take their skills to the next level and are interested in writing for digital publications. These hints and tips include how to find the best-paid publications and how to write an excellent pitch. From time to time, the website will list publications that pay and provide information on how to pitch to each of them.

10 of the best blogs about writing

7. See Jane Write

Javacia Harris Bowser set up the blog See Jane Write to help empower female writers and establish an online writing community for women. It’s a great place for women who are looking to take their blogs to the next level and turn their blogs into businesses.

8. Positive Writer

Being a professional writer is not a walk in the park. There will be times when a writer will experience a mental block, a sense of fear, feelings of wanting to give up, negative thoughts of self-doubt and imposter syndrome.

Positive Writer aims to help challenge these negative thoughts and help all writers to find positivity and inspiration within themselves to prosper, progress and persevere. The underlying message from this website is that once the negativity is tackled then it is highly possible to succeed as a positive and successful writer.

9. The Write Life

The Write Life offers a plethora of advice, tips, sources and tricks on everything to do with writing, including guest posting, freelancing, pitching ideas, creative writing, managing your finances, working from home and much more. The posts on writing are extremely detailed so you can learn a lot from this website, and they also accept paid submissions from readers.

10. Elna Cain

Elna Cain is a writer from Canada who makes a full-time income as a part-time writer. She decided to become a freelance writer after giving birth to her twins and realizing that she didn’t want to return to the 9-5 lifestyle.

Elna believes that as long as you have the passion, dedication, and determination, you can succeed in becoming a successful freelance writer – regardless of how much experience you have – and she shares tips and strategies on how to achieve this.

 

Main image credit: James Baker
Image credits: Screenshots from Alexandria Ingham and Beyond Your Blog

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How to be a better copywriter - copify blog

How to be a better copywriter

There is a certain amount of natural skill involved in being an excellent copywriter, but the skills for writing well can be learned, and this really is a case where practice makes perfect.

If you’re just starting out, our guide to becoming a copywriter will be helpful, and if you’d like to learn how to be a better copywriter, read on:

Why copywriting?

Here are a couple of statistics that might give you an idea why people need good copywriters:

The Demand Gen Report states that “47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep.”

HubSpot, on the other hand, reported that “B2B companies that blogged 11+ times per month had almost 3X more traffic than those blogging 0-1 times per month.”

That’s a whole lot of content that needs writing, and somebody’s got to write it. And get paid for it.

Why not you?

Know your audience

One of the most basic mistakes new copywriters make is to ignore the audience they are writing for.

When a company asks you to write copy for them, they will probably give you a brief, describing what they want, in terms of word count, tone of voice, keywords to include, subject matter, aims for the piece and audience.How to be a better copywriter - copify blog

Take the time to read and understand the brief, and write for the audience listed on the brief, in the tone of voice you are asked to use.

There’s a massive difference in approach, language and tone between writing for retirees and writing directly to another business to sell a product. If you’re clear on who you are writing for, you can target your copy to better suit your audience and the goals for the copy.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

We’ve seen some extremely poor briefs that pretty much consist of ‘Here is a topic. Write about it.’

While you could indeed pick an angle and an approach and write something from that, what you can’t do is get out your crystal ball and see what the client really wants.

The only way to find out is to ask clear questions, and don’t be too shy to do that. You’ll benefit from far less editing and rewriting, and the client will get what they actually want the first time.

Great questions to ask your copywriting client include:

  • What are the goals for this piece?
  • What call to action do you want to include?
  • Who is the target audience?
  • Can you send me a copy of your target market personas?
  • What tone of voice would you like me to use?
  • Are you aiming to target particular keywords, and what are they?

All of those will get you far closer to delivering an excellent article that the client can practically use than writing blindly, without asking.

Productivity and getting the work done

Being an excellent copywriter isn’t just about the writing. You also need to be able to organise yourself and ensure you hit those all-important deadlines.

When you work from home on your own schedule, it can be hard to avoid procrastinating, and watching just one more cat video on YouTube.

Here are some practical tools that can get you moving:

Planning

How to be a better copywriter

Trello is wonderful for planning out your deadlines and listing tasks that you need to complete to get your copy done.

If that one doesn’t work for you, try Asana, which is brilliant if you work with a team, or even Google Calendar.

All of them are free, but they’ll enable you to plan things out more clearly and get more done.

Productivity

If you’re prone to editing too much when you’re simply trying to get a first draft out, try the fabulous Write or Die tool, which allows you to set how many words you are going to write, with a timer counting down to make sure you keep adding words rather than going back and editing what you’ve got.

Back to those cat videos – if you really can’t make yourself leave Facebook alone while you’re writing, try Cold Turkey, which will block access to your social media and eliminate distractions while you get your work done.

The Pomodoro Method is well-known for allowing people to improve productivity, by working in bursts of so many minutes and then taking a break. Try the Tomato Timer and see if it works for you.

Improving your writing

Every word you write adds to your experience, and the more you write, the better you get over time. If you don’t believe that, try looking at the way you wrote ten years ago compared to now. We’ll wait until you’ve finished cringing!

One of the best ways to get better at writing is to read. And by that, we mean fiction, non-fiction, blogs on writing – the lot. As you read, you unconsciously absorb new ways of expressing yourself and different points of view, gain access to new ideas and increase your vocabulary.

Recommended blogs

• Sophie Lizard’s Be a Freelance Blogger is excellent for the practical side of blogging. You’ll learn the nitty-gritty of starting up as a freelance blogger, from how to write to what to charge. (Disclaimer: The language may not be to your taste, but you will learn a lot.)

• We can’t produce a list like this and not mention Copyblogger. Here’s a blog from them on different styles of writing, but seriously, read everything they produce. Sign up to the free My Copyblogger and benefit from amazing lessons that will bring your writing on in leaps and bounds.

• Jon Morrow is a very smart man and an amazing copywriter. Try his free Headline Hacks, to help you write viral blog posts.

The Write Life also has everything from posts on improving your writing, to marketing your work and getting clients. It’s an invaluable source.

Proofread and proofread again!

Nobody writes an immaculate piece of copy on the first draft. Nobody.

If you have the time before your deadline, put your finished writing away at least overnight and then look at it with fresh eyes the morning after before you send it off. You’ll probably spot typos that you missed on your first read through.How to be a better copywriter

Read your copy aloud. You’ll spot awkward sentences, unfinished thoughts and more errors than you will by reading to yourself.

Run a spell check within your writing software. You might think you’ve caught everything, but one last spell check is never a bad idea.

If you know your grammar isn’t the best, download the free app from Grammarly to check your work.

With writing, you’ll never reach perfection. That can sound incredibly daunting, but it’s not. What it means is that you’ll never stop learning, improving, and finding new and better ways to produce copy. And that’s the fascination with a writing life. You’re not competing with other writers; you’re competing with who you were as a writer yesterday.

 

Main image credit: ‘Woman Working’, Thoroughly Reviewed
Image credits: dotismJonas Bengtsson; Mark Hunter

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What does a copywriter do? Copify blog

We finally answer: just what does a copywriter do?

If you’ve ever heard someone describe themselves as being a ‘copywriter’, you have probably established for yourself that their job must involve some kind of writing. But just exactly what does a copywriter do? Can anyone who puts pen to paper determine themselves as a copy writer? Do they just write legal ‘copy’ that is then copyrighted?

What is a copywriter?

Essentially, a copywriter will typically produce content that is considered to be either advertorial or promotional. That’s not to say they don’t write on any other subject, but often they will be responsible for producing the ‘copy’ (or content) that is used on websites, e-mails, advertisements, brochures, billboards, press releases, company memos, leaflets, and promo video scripts.

This is only a loose description though, and there are many types of copywriting out there. Typically, copywriters are becoming increasingly responsible for producing a lot of digital content including blogs and social media copy. As the influence of the written word continues to show itself, the copywriter role is becoming ever-more important in business. Articulate Marketing adds to this, remarking: “Not all copywriters are advertising copywriters. This in itself causes some confusion as the latter is the more famous (especially after the phenomenon that was Mad Men)… Medical copywriters have their own special niche… To be a copywriter is beyond definition, but it’s fair to say that one thing binds us together: we all work with words on a daily basis.”

As the American Writers & Artists Inc note, “Copy is everywhere — it’s part of a $2.3 trillion industry worldwide… Unlike news or editorial writing, copywriting is all about getting the reader to take action. That action might be to purchase, opt-in, or engage with a product, service, or company. That’s why a copywriter is often referred to as ‘a salesman in print’.”

What does a copywriter do?

No matter who you are working for or what type of work you are doing, there are some key responsibilities that a copywriter will take on. These are not exclusive, nor applicable to all, but typically you can expect to be responsible for:

  • Writing (obviously!)
  • Rewriting/repurposing content
  • Research
  • Transcribing or conducting interviews
  • Turning interviews into articles
  • Editing
  • Proof-reading
  • Creating a social media schedule or blog schedule
  • Sourcing images
  • Planning and implementing a marketing campaign
  • Establishing a brand ‘voice’

Direct Creative go into this in more detail on their website, with a useful overview of all the types of writing you could be doing.

What does a copywriter do? Copify blog
Perzon SEO (www.perzonseo.com)

As Articulate Marketing note, “What’s important to understand is that while words are the main output of a copywriter, writing isn’t necessarily what we spend most of our time doing. We have to do a lot of research and thinking, tweaking and formatting, and a bunch of other seemingly peripheral tasks.”

They continue, “In fact, we often say here at Articulate that for a writing project you should spend half your time researching, a third editing and only a sixth actually writing the thing. Despite what some people think, copywriting is a lot more than just ‘wordsmithing’.”

Copywriting vs copyright

It’s important to note that the copywriter role does not have anything to do with copyright, although these two areas are commonly muddled up by those who don’t realize the difference. Copyright is where a company or individual has got the legal rights to either publish, sell, distribute or reproduce a piece of work – either visual, musical, artistic or written.

Copyright is about protecting a piece of material from illegal use. The right to any copy will be determined either by the person who has produced it, or whoever holds the legal right to a piece of work. Often, copy that is produced by a copywriter for a business will be owned by the person who paid for it, rather than the writer, which means that it should always be unique (both to avoid infringing the intellectual property of other writers and as SEO best practice). However, this should not be mistaken for copyright as the copywriter does not create ‘copyright’ content as part of their job.

Becoming a copywriter

One of the greatest bonuses to being a copywriter is that you don’t actually need any formal qualifications in order to be able to do this role. Some people will have a variety of degrees in a range of subjects, and others will have left school with no qualifications.

Copywriting is open to all age groups from 18 to 80. Whether you’re still studying, employed by a business, self-employed or retired – there are no restrictions on who can become a copywriter. The only thing you absolutely need is a computer, access to the Internet and a love of words – or a natural ability to produce articulate, well-formed copy.

Often people hiring copywriters will look for examples of previous work, so having a portfolio can be particularly helpful. It’s always good to be able to show a range of work so people can see the full range of your abilities. Typically, when it comes to must-have copywriting skills, clients will want to see that you are versatile, a quick learner, a great writer, and consistent with meeting deadlines and quality of work.

Where does a copywriter work?

You may find yourself writing copy for a single business, who could hire you full-time to produce all of their marketing and advertorial materials. The type of client you end up working for could range dramatically from their requirements with copy to the industry they’re operating within. Typically they will be looking to push a product or service and will be expecting you to help them sell it.

What does a copywriter do? Copify blog
James Baker (Flickr)

 

Along with full-time options, you may find yourself able to work on a part-time or freelance basis. Some businesses will want to have you in the office so they can work alongside you, while others won’t mind if you are working remotely. This often suits parents with young children who have taken time off work but still want to be able to earn an income flexibly.

Alternatively, you may be interested in writing copy for an agency or a copywriting website such as Copify. The benefits of this are that you don’t need to have the stresses or hassle of finding the work yourself and building relationships. This work is all done for you, and you are instead presented with a list of articles that need completing.

You can select jobs as and when your schedule allows without any full-time commitments and can see how much you will earn at the time of writing. The money you make is guaranteed income, and you don’t have any of the hassle of having to send out invoices, chase money and wait for it to be sent over. Instead, you’ll get your earnings – often within a month – straight into your bank account. It couldn’t be easier and is a great way to dip your toe into the copywriting water.

A fantastic career choice

As the American Writers & Artists Inc. notes, “The rumours are true. A career as a freelance copywriter is a pretty cushy ‘job.’ You can work at home, take naps in the middle of the day, vacation a lot, and get paid really well… For example, one copywriter I know works decent hours, not only on copywriting, but also on the growth and development of her freelance business. She makes over $120,000 a year.”

Ultimately, with copywriting you can make it fit in around your life, or make it the sole focus of your life. It is flexible, dynamic and no two days are the same. It can be as profitable as you like, with a work flow that suits whatever you’re seeking to achieve. It’s an enviable career path to take!

 

Image credit: Giuseppe Milo, ‘Issues’

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