Overcome fear to tell your story

All businesses need to create a presence so that customers know that they are there. Whether this is through marketing and advertising or from word-of-mouth recommendations, awareness is essential for getting work.

I find that many people are still wary of trying out many of the marketing tools that are available to them. In my role as a business writer for a local newspaper, I often receive phone calls starting with a business owner saying gingerly “I don’t know if you’ll be interested in this . . . ” and then going on to tell a cracker of a story. Of course, the opposite of this is the business owner who sends in press releases regularly with ‘news’ that is only of interest to them. I believe many businesses have good stories to tell and need the confidence to tell them.

While an effective PR consultant can help, businesses without a budget can . . . and do . . . achieve media exposure through their own efforts. With thought and planning, a clear idea of what you want to achieve and a focus on what you will and what you won’t talk about, public relations can be a very cost effective tool.

This applies not only to PR but also to blogging, social media and more. Perhaps you see your competitors getting exposure and feel that you offer a better service than they do, but how will people find that out? Often a voice can tell us that “no one wants to hear about that”, but it’s probably that we’re afraid of standing up and telling our story, a bit like the fear of public speaking.

I’m often encouraging people to talk about their businesses because so many are fascinating and deserve wider exposure. With social media, colleagues and associates can help to share your stories and support you.

There really are many opportunities to tell your stories and people who want to hear them.

Robert Zarywacz is a copywriter and journalist who has written thousands of magazine and newspaper articles. He also researches and writes press releases, case studies and newsletters for clients as well as managing social media and PR campaigns at z2z.com. Robert is the business writer for the North Devon Journal, chairman of COMBEbusiness and courtesy consultant for the National Campaign for Courtesy. Follow @robertz on Twitter.

Pondering, planning and persevering

What is the point of communicating?

It’s all right, we’re not in a huff, but are asking a serious question: why communicate?

Just like any other business activity, the purpose is to achieve an objective.

At the moment, we’re considering the business objectives of a number of clients. How does a new travel company reach a mass audience in its area on a regular basis without bankrupting itself on adverts? How does an established manufacturer strengthen its position when newcomers claim to offer a fresher, more innovative and responsive service? How does an IT company market a product that is so easy-to-use and effective that many target users just can’t believe how it answers all their dreams?

It’s not just a case of writing down what each business does, how committed their people are and what great service they give, but about trying to think like each of their target audiences, what they need and what will make them respond.

Sometimes the act of writing is quick and easy, because all the necessary preparation – the thinking and planning – has been done before.  Whether we’re copywriting for a brochure or web site or putting together a public relations programme with press releases and case studies, the business objective has to remain the focus at all times.

And doing it thoroughly takes time: thinking through the issues; considering readers’ potential objections; identifying what will attract their interest; developing the drivers that will lead them to take the desired action.

The result we aim for is interesting, lively copy that grabs readers’ attention and steers them towards actions that will achieve each client’s specific business objectives.

As well as aiming to write well, we work to understand our clients as businesses and what they aim to achieve.

And that is why and how we know the point of any communication we produce for our clients.

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