Learn to get the word out in this PR-writing workshop
“Since I attended Ann’s PR writing class and started implementing her tips, every press release I’ve written has been picked up by the media – with stories, interviews and sometimes photos. That’s what I call ROI!”
— Stephanie Sobotik, senior manager, global marketing communications at Freescale Semiconductor
PR professionals have been married to the traditional news release format since Ivy Lee created the release more than 100 years ago. Why, then, do we need a new approach?
With 2,500 releases going out each day — that’s one every 35 seconds — the impact of your traditional news release ain’t what it used to be. In fact, fewer than 50% of all traditional news releases ever get covered, according to PR Newswire’s own research.
Fewer than 50% of all traditional news releases ever get covered, according to PR Newswire’s own research.
But in this in-house PR writing workshop, your team members will learn current best practices from the Public Relations Society of America’s “national writing coach.” They’ll find out how to go beyond PR 101 approaches to write media relations pieces that get posted and published and reach stakeholders directly.
Specifically, they’ll learn how to:
- Think Like a Reporter: Develop stories that media outlets want to run.
- Write Hot Releases: Tap current best practices, from lead to boilerplate.
- Cut Through the Clutter in PR: Measurably boost readability with our targets, tips & tools.
- Write Killer Bites: Turn lame-ass quotes into snappy sound bites.
- Lift Your Ideas Off the Release: Reach nonreaders with display copy.
- Optimize for Google and Humans: Master SEO for releases.
- Get a PR-writing Workout With Wylie: Make over your release.
Think Like a Reporter
Develop stories that media outlets want to run
Some 55% to 97% of all releases sent to media outlets are never used, according to Dennis L. Wilcox and Lawrence W. Nolte’s Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques.
So how can you create PR pieces that are among the 3% to 45% of those that actually get the word out?
Put your PR pieces among the 3% to 45% that actually get the word out. 1
In this session, your team members will learn how to think like a reporter to develop story angles that readers want to read (and that journalists and bloggers want to run). Specifically, you’ll learn how to:
- Fill in the blanks to a great benefits lead: Get formulas for leads that sell the story and stand out from the crowd.
- Move from event to impact: Learn simple steps for transforming your event, speech or meeting coverage into news readers can use to live their lives better.
- Create two types of stories media outlets want more of (and avoid one they wish they’d never see again!)
- Go beyond “new and improved” to information readers really want to know about your product.
- Steal secrets from Silver Anvil winners: What do nationally award-winning PR writers do that you don’t do?
“Ann’s approach helped me showcase the story angle our readers want to read. Best of all, senior management was thrilled with the new style.”
— Loren LeVasseur, public relations supervisor, Coverys
Write Hot Releases
Tap current best practices, from lead to boilerplate
Prose is architecture, Ernest Hemingway famously said. It’s not interior design.
Are you building a compelling foundation for your PR pieces? Or are you still using structural techniques you learned when you were 19?
Organize PR pieces to grab reader attention, keep it for the long haul and leave a lasting impression.
In this session, your team members will learn how to organize PR pieces to grab reader attention, keep it for the long haul and leave a lasting impression. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:
- Decide between triangles, boxes or lists: Choose a structure that increases readership, engagement and sharing. (Hint: The structure you’re using now is probably doing the opposite.)
- Steal a trick from The New York Times: Trade in your bloated fact packs for snappy synthesis leads.
- Build a better benefits lead with our fill-in-the-blanks approach.
- Avoid PR 101 leads: Still stuffing all those W’s and the H into the first paragraph? Still writing “XYZ Company today announces that …”? It’s time to move on to a more effective approach.
- Beat the boilerplate blues: What’s really supposed to go into these things?
“Every press release I’ve ever written needs to be completely rewritten!”
— Jennifer Cole, public affairs specialist, USDA NRCS
Cut Through the Clutter in PR
Measurably boost readability with our targets, tips & tools
Regardless of what you’re writing, Cutting Through the Clutter is the No. 1 way to keep readers reading.
But the stakes are even higher when it comes to PR pieces. That’s because, say, if your lead is too long, Google News might reject it. If it’s too short, Google News will reject it.
Leave this session with “the numbers” you need to measurably improve your readability.
Fortunately, academics have tested and quantified what makes copy easy to read. Unfortunately, that research virtually never makes it out of the ivory tower and into the hands of PR writers who could actually apply it.
But your team members will leave this session with “the numbers” you need to measurably improve your readability. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:
- Pass the Goldilocks test: Write a headline that’s not too long or too short, but just right. (Google News ignores one in five releases because the headline is too long!)
- Write a one-minute release: Journalists rarely spend longer reviewing releases, according to a Greentarget survey.
- Stop using the most overused PR buzzwords: Journalists and bloggers — not to mention readers — will love you for it.
- Write by number: What’s the right length for your release? Your paragraphs? Your quotes? Your sentences? Your words?
- Use a cool tool (to quantifiably improve your copy’s readability. PR pros in our Master Classes have improved readability by up to 300% with this resource.
“This is the best writing class I’ve attended in my 25-year PR career.”
— Mark Alden, PR manager, National Semiconductor
Write Killer Bites
Turn lame-ass quotes into scintillating sound bites
Half of reporters complain that quotes in releases don’t sound natural, according to a 2014 Greentarget survey. Maybe that’s why 78% of them don’t regularly use quotes from releases.
No wonder! As one of my clients says, “Quotes in news releases sound like the teacher in a Charlie Brown cartoon: ‘Wah wah wah wah.’”
Transform your quotations from bleh to brilliant.
So how can you get the wah-wah out to write quotes that reporters will actually use? In this session, your team members will learn how to transform your quotations from bleh to brilliant. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:
- Write tight bites. Even a lame quote will sound better when you use our quote length targets.
- Put a quota on quotes. Steal a trick from The New York Times to avoid overquoting.
- Write quotes that sound human — not like a computer spit them out.
- Avoid the worst PR clichés. PR Newswire sees 1,284 of these in a single month.
- Steal techniques from Silver Anvil winners. Make your sound bites sound better.
“Without question, the best workshop I’ve ever taken.”
— Sarah Julian, director of communications, Oklahoma Public School Resource Center
Lift Ideas Off the Release
Reach nonreaders with display copy
Sixty percent of your audience members aren’t reading your release, pitch or bylined article, according to estimates by professors at the University of Missouri.
So how can you craft PR pieces that reach nonreaders?
Pull readers into your PR pieces, make them more inviting and even communicate to flippers and skimmers.
In this session, your team members will learn how to use your display copy — subject lines, headlines and links, for instance — to pull readers into your PR pieces, make them more inviting and even communicate to flippers and skimmers. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:
- Reach the 67% of “readers” who skim the news, according to Harris Interactive Poll. (Just 19% read news word-by-word.)
- Write links that don’t get lost on portals. Plus, avoid the wrath of Google News by adding one essential element to your links.
- Make the most of the first 11 characters of your headline. Otherwise, potential readers might skip instead of click.
- Make your release, pitch or other PR piece 47% more usable by adding a few simple elements.
- And more … Learn other PR writing best practices from the author of PRSA Tactics’ “Writing With Wylie.”
“Every PR pro should take this!”
— Najeema Holas-Huggins, communications manager, Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation
Optimize for Google and Humans
Master SEO for releases
Optimizing your release can increase the audience for your news by 538%, website visits by 1,900% and tweets by 800%, according to five side-by-side case studies by SEO-PR and Rutgers CMD.
The good news is, news release optimization takes only a few simple steps. The bad news is, few PR pros know what those steps are. Even some of the best-intentioned pros use SEO techniques that get penalized — not rewarded — by Google.
Learn the latest best practices for optimizing your release.
In this session, your team members will learn the latest best practices for optimizing your release. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:
- Avoid Google’s wrath. Avoid best practices from last year that Google now treats as gaming the system. The penalty: lower rankings.
- Link for SEO. Learn where to link, how often to link, how to write a release link (it’s different from every other kind) and what you must add to your links to avoid being penalized by Google.
- Optimize for semantic search. Now that Google’s gotten smarter, as well as tougher, keyword stuffing can’t help, might hurt. So what’s a writer to do?
- Write for search engine results pages. Help readers click on, as well as find, your release.
“Ann has shaken up my perceptions about what PR writing should look like.”
— Deb Stenberg, communication director, Federal Way Public Schools
Get a PR-Writing Workout With Wylie
Take your story from ‘meh’ to masterpiece
In the crunch of writing headlines and meeting deadlines, it sometimes seems as if there’s not enough time to pause and consider how you’re doing. But in our practice sessions, you’ll get a great opportunity for reflection and improvement.
Have your team members bring a laptop and a story to work on. You’ll get a chance to write and rewrite, get and give feedback, and leave with a totally rewritten piece.
Get a chance to write and rewrite, get and give feedback, and leave with a totally rewritten piece.
In these practice sessions, you’ll:
- Master the techniques you learn in the workshop by applying them immediately. (That’s how we put the “Master” in the Master Class!)
- Gain valuable insights on your work from your peers and from Ann.
- Learn to analyze and improve others’ writing — the best skill you can develop for editing others or improving your own work.
“The release I worked on in Ann’s Master Class got 68.5% more page views and 19% more coverage vs. our top competitors than average. It got picked up by two targeted industry publications and resulted in a follow-up interview with our metro daily.”
— Loren LeVasseur, public relations supervisor, Coverys