Speak to journalists

If you are unsure whether your press release is relevant or of interest, call a journalist you want to send it to and ask them.

Some will appreciate being asked rather than being bombarded with irrelevant press releases. Some might not be helpful or appreciate your call as, just like any profession, everyone is different. As long as you don’t hassle journalists and they’re not nearing a deadline, many will be accessible. After all, talking to people to get news is a big part of their job.

When preparing my own weekly news pages for our local newspaper, I am quite happy for people to call me. Some are very timid when they have really interesting stories, while others are sometimes over-enthusiastic about a story that is more interesting to them than anyone else. I try to be helpful and give a realistic view on the merits of each story. I’ll help to tease out a good story to make it into an interesting article.

What if you get an abrupt ‘no’? Don’t give up. If you think they’ll answer you, ask why a journalist does not think your story is interesting or suitable for their publication. Use this to improve your next press release.

If you show you have interesting or relevant news, you could become a useful source for journalists: the person they call when they want comment.

Building relationships with journalists is an important part of public relations. See it as an essential part of business similar to talking to your accountant.

It’s not what you want to hear

I started my career at British Airways in the days when it was the ‘world’s favourite airline’. I loved working there and loved talking about how great it was. How I must have bored people!

If we’re not careful, it can be the same with business. We love what we’re doing and want to tell people about it, but other people don’t always want to hear. Perhaps they have different interests and needs.

That’s why, when producing promotional material, it’s best to consider what customers find exciting rather than what interests us. Something which appears mundane to us, such as a way of reducing costs, could excite our customers considerably and that’s what we should focus on.

We can only find out what our customers are interested in by building relationships and developing conversations. We can do this through activities such as web site forums, printed and online newsletters, questionnaires, surveys and, of course, speaking directly on the phone or face-to-face.

Perhaps our interests are the same as our customers, perhaps not, but we have to find out. Once we know, we can tailor our communications to meet what they want.

After yesterday’s blog, have you started or reviewed  your communications plan?

z2zine next week: Finding your voice

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The key to good copy is in relationships

Last week I travelled From Devon to London and met up with Simon to see a new client. Because of the complexity of the copywriting project, we felt that a face-to-face meeting would help us to understand fully the client’s objectives.

Yet there is not always the luxury of time for face-to-face meetings. Recently, another new client needed an article written in several days. I interviewed her over the phone, wrote the article and emailed it to her. She changed one word – out of 800.

The secret to success in copywriting is to establish a good working relationship between the copywriter and the client. Our approach is that we like to work with people we get on with and also to enjoy producing good copy. We also like to share a client’s enthusiasm for their subject matter. These are all important when building relationships.

Face-to-face meetings are very good for this, but where they are not possible contact by phone and email can be very effective in building an effective working relationship. This also enables copywriters to work with clients wherever they are based. The test is whether the copywriter produces good copy that meets the clients’ requirements.

As we invariably receive requests to write more copy, our approach appears to be succeeding.

Robert Zarywacz

email: hello@z2z.com
Telephone: 0333 0444 354