Articles Tagged with blog

What can a press release do for me?

When something happens in a business, a press release is often used to tell the world about it.

Fine.

Does the world listen?

Not everyone: perhaps 10, 100, 1,000 or a million, depending on how interesting the news is, how well the story is told and what else is happening that is newsworthy.

So what’s the point of a press release?

To tell an interesting story that people will want to hear.

Is that all?

To be of any use it should link back to you so that people make a note of your name and awareness of your business grows. Depending on the strength of the story, the press release could attract actual business through visits to a web site or real shop, telephone or mail orders, attendance at events or other responses.

But it’s too much to rely on a single press release to drive continuing sales. It’s a good idea to plan a whole public relations programme over a period of time, based on a number of press releases, articles, events and other activities and tied in to the rest of your marketing communications. Identifying an objective (eg getting a new product name known by your customers) and planning your press release can make the difference between it reaching hundreds or thousands of people or just reaching a couple of journalists on its way to the bin. And so can the way you tell your story: bare facts are likely to be as exciting as reading a tax return, while a real story, such as how you turned a near disaster into a success, can capture your target audience’s imagination.

Like everything else we do in business, we’re more likely to get the best out of a press release if we understand what we want from it and how it can achieve this for us.

After Friday’s blog, have you thought about your writing or blogging style and how you appear to others?

z2zine tomorrow: Does anyone know what you do?

Follow us on twitter @z2zine

What can I say about my business?

When everyone else already seems to be saying everything that could possibly be said about business, there are times when the choice of going outside and enjoying the sunshine can appear preferable to thinking about something original to say about your own business.

However, no business survives without customers and most of us have to promote or advertise our products and services to attract those customers.

So what can you say that hasn’t already been said a million times before?

Ideas rarely come out of thin air, so it’s good to start with your business plan and objectives, as all communications should be based on these. If you’ve got a communications plan, this should also give some ideas of what you want to achieve.

Start by listing topics based around products, services, launches, events, achievements, changes or industry developments. If your business is seasonal, do you change your products every quarter? If your business is linked to events triggered within your industry, list key changes about to occur or important dates. If you have product launches or events, list these too.

When you’ve made your list, start to fit these to dates when you need to blog about them, issue a press release, update your web site or produce a new brochure. If you don’t already have a communications plan, this could be the basis of one.

Announcements don’t need to be major, although the appointment of a junior employee is unlikely to hit the broadsheet newspapers and you should have realistic expectations of what each piece of news is capable of achieving. That doesn’t stop you aiming as high as possible, especially when you do have a really good story.

Also, you may have a great story without knowing it. Ask colleagues or contacts what they think about specific issues. If they’re excited about them, will your audience also be interested in them? What appears uninteresting to you could be exciting to your audience.

By creating a store of ideas, which you can add to regularly, you’ll never be short of an interesting topic to write or talk about.

After yesterday’s blog, have you thought about how well you check your written material?

z2zine tomorrow: Think before engaging typing finger!

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Finding your voice

One of the biggest challenges when writing for business is in selecting the right tone of voice, both for you and your readers. There used to be a tendency to write in a very cold, formal, unwelcoming style, while now some people write very informally and can be too familiar. Depending on your target audience, the best style is probably somewhere in between these extremes.

What’s important is to develop a style that feels comfortable for you and your business and which your audience likes too. It’s no good developing a highly individual style of writing which your audience can’t understand, as business text has to be practical. If your main objective is to persuade people that your product is worth buying, they have to be able to understand that easily.

Style develops over time, so don’t agonise over your writing: you can only develop your style through practice. Also, most business materials have a very short shelf life these days, so focus on improving your writing every time you write a new brochure, report or blog.

While it’s important to be aware of the rules of grammar, punctuation and spelling, any piece of writing has to be interesting for people to read it all the way through. Finding the balance between a style that is easy to read and which also reflects the character of your business can take some practice, but it is worth it. There is so much boring text printed and published online that most people welcome the opportunity to read something interesting. This gives you the chance to shine through with an effective writing style.

So think about this every time you write something for your business, whether it’s a report, a letter or promotional material. It will also help you to measure what works as you see the effects of your developing style in terms of increased responses. If responses drop, you’ll know your style isn’t suitable for your readers and can work to change it.

We’ll talk more about this in the future, but bear it in mind for now.

After our last blog, have you thought about what interests your customers?

z2zine tomorrow: Know why you’re communicating

Follow us on twitter @z2zine

If your web presence is your shop window, keep it fresh!

When we go into a greengrocer’s shop (or a supermarket) and see tired, dried-up fruit and vegetables, we usually pass by and go in search of a store with fresh produce. Well, if your web sites, blogs or other forms of online presence serve as shop windows for your business, it’s important to make sure they’re as freshly dressed as any food shop.

That’s not to say it’s always easy when you’ve got a million other things to do, but it’s good practice to remove or alter out-of-date information or offers and to correct anything that is wrong, such as prices.

The more we change our ‘shop windows’, the more passers-by are likely to take notice, not to mention search engines and the non-human agents at work on the internet.

It needn’t take long and is more a discipline than anything else to note down everywhere you have a presence – not just your own site and blogs, but profiles and other information on networking and other sites.

And just to prove that we’re practising what we preach, that’s what we’re doing at the moment.

Robert Zarywacz

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