Fine Tune Your Online Marketing with Content Analysis

Posted by Rachel Terry

shutterstock_231869443.jpgThere's no question that quality content drives traffic and improves SEO. As you write for clients and help them to publish a steady stream of quality content, their websites take on a maturity and fullness that gives them credibility and plenty of material for sharing on social media.

Every now and then, however, it's important to do a sort of "audit" of a website's content. This is important because your clients' content needs to include the right keywords for their current marketing goals, and it needs to increase customer engagement. As market conditions, customer needs, and marketing campaigns change, content also needs to change. The best way to find out whether or not changes need to be made is to conduct a content analysis. Here's how:

Find a Content Analysis Tool

Fortunately, there are plenty of content analysis tools out there, so it's easy to find one that fits your budget and your needs. Some content analysis tools, like WooRank, offer both a free version and a paid version. Google Analytics is one of the oldest content analysis tools, and it's still great for getting insights into how visitors find and use websites. Do a simple search for these tools, and you'll find that you have many great choices.

Run an Analysis on the Website

Once you've downloaded your content analysis tool of choice, run an analysis. Make sure that you get information about page titles, page visits, bounce rates, conversion data, how much time users spend on each page, the number of social media shares, and page "scores."

The data you receive from these metrics will help you to know whether or not site content is relevant. If you see a high bounce rate, you may want to make some adjustments. There are many reasons for a high bounce rate, and some of them have nothing to do with your content. For example, if a page takes more than 4 seconds to load, many visitors give up and go find another site to explore. Also, too many advertisements on a page can make people feel bombarded and overwhelmed. But if these issues don't seem to be a problem, you'll want to analyze your content.

Common Problems

One common problem is that the content of a page doesn't match visitors' expectations. For example, if they click on a link promising cooking tips and arrive at a page selling cookware, they're likely to leave right away since they didn't get what they expected.

Too much text on a page can also be a problem. If your paragraphs are long and your word counts are high, some visitors will feel intimidated and leave quickly. You can solve this problem by adding subtitles and increasing the white space around your content.

If the social media share rate is low (or non-existent), it's possible that the content simply doesn't invite engagement. People share links on social media when they perceive the content to be valuable and insightful. What they share is a reflection of themselves, so you want to give them content that follows high standards and offers value. You can also increase social shares by making sharing easier. Add social sharing buttons to content, and don't forget to write catchy headlines. Compelling images also help to encourage sharing.

Create a Plan of Action

After you've analyzed the data, create a plan of action that will help you to overcome the problems you've detected. You may need to rewrite some pages or remove some entirely. You may also need to redirect links to other pages, add video content, change keywords, or update titles.

Remember that content analysis shouldn't be a one-time event. In order to keep a website relevant and dynamic, analyze content on a regular basis, maybe semi-annually or quarterly. Don't forget to frequently test the availability of URLs, and keep up with Google's indexing rules.

Whether you're directly involved with content analysis for a client or you simply write new content after your client has created a plan of action, try to keep the big picture in mind. With the fine tuning that comes with content analysis, you can help your clients to reach their content marketing goals.

5 Tips for Staying Organized and Keeping Your Clients Happy

Posted by Julie Bruns

shutterstock_342979073.jpgKeeping yourself organized is vital to maintain an optimized workflow and best meet your clients' needs. But it's easy to fall into bad habits without a plan and preparation. Here are five steps you can take now to help streamline your working process so you can focus on creating content that thrills clients.

Maintain a Calendar

Keeping track of appointments and deadlines is vital for writers. An online calendar program can be ideal for this, as it is accessible from anywhere, can be synced to your phone and devices, easily edited and color-coded for further organization. With your days laid out in front of you, it can be easier to block off free days when you need them and regulate your workflow to ensure there are fewer spikes and dry spells. Keeping a constant eye on deadlines also helps you to make sure that things are done in time and without rushing and causing quality to suffer.

Make Use of Lists

Whether you use a physical notebook or a note-taking program on your computer, creating lists can help you to think through the steps of your projects, keep track of your progress, and stave off procrastination. By breaking tasks into specific steps, you'll not only prevent feeling intimidated by larger tasks and procrastinating, but it gives you the chance to take a moment to mentally craft a strategy for projects. Keeping track of what you've accomplished on the list can also help you stay on course to hit deadlines and notice when you're spending too much time on certain steps. Crossing items off the list and being able to visualize what you've already done also can be motivating.

Prioritize the Time-Sensitive Tasks

It can be all too easy to shrug off projects until the last minute, however, working under pressure can cause the end product to suffer. Organizing your projects by order of priority is a vital skill in order to continually meet deadlines without feeling the stressful crunch. This becomes even more important when you're working on several articles and projects simultaneously, and need to juggle your time carefully to bring high quality results on each. It can also be tempting to start out your day with checking email, social networks and various blogs and websites, but these can become time vacuums. Identifying the day's priorities can prevent you from falling down the Internet rabbit hole when you have pressing work.

Create a System for Basic Emails, Forms and Invoices

How much time do you spend each day creating invoices and writing basic emails that seem like you've written them dozens of times before? Organize and streamline this menial but necessary process as much as possible to save yourself time. Craft simple boilerplate examples for basic emails and invoices and organize them in your computer, ready to be copied and pasted into an email and quickly adjusted for each client.

Keep Your Work Space Clean

A clean work space lets you flow efficiently through your tasks. Take the time to create a space for your work that contains everything that you need to complete your tasks and designate a place for each of your tools. If you know where everything you need is, and keep it within reach, this prevents your work flow from being interrupted, and procrastination from setting in. Do this for your physical work space, as well as your work computer. A clean desktop with folders clearly labeled and organized will help you keep your focus on the task at hand.

Organization is a habit that can take some work to get into, but once you get established in it, it allows you to do your best work without getting dragged down in petty details. By making a few adjustments now, you'll optimize your efforts in a way that will pay off for years down the road.

Long-Form Content: Preparation is Everything

shutterstock_235790725.jpgLong-form content is an excellent promotional tool that offers an excuse to communicate directly with target audiences, an opportunity to rank higher in the search engines, and the ability increase social media success. But whether creating long-form content for clients or your own business, the process can be stressful and tedious. Here's a four-step plan you can use to make creating long-form content more enjoyable and efficient overall:

Make a List and Check it Twice

The first step that should always be taken before starting a long-form content project is to make a list and go back to it several times so you can flesh it out. At this point, the idea is to list as many topics, ideas, and insights that could be used to develop the content you need. If you're working on an e-Book or white paper that involves business automation, think outside of the box and list ideas about employee retention and customer relations. These points may later provide you with ideas that can be tied into your initial topic to provide additional insight.

Once you've brainstormed a list, put it in a safe spot overnight and go back to it the next day. Spend a minute or two considering each point on your list to decide whether you can further develop them or if they're simply too far off topic and flesh out your list accordingly. Then put the list away for another day and go back to it once more to further refine your ideas until you have a solid base that you feel comfortable working from.

Organize into Sections

Now that you have a base list of ideas to work with, you can start organizing the ideas and information into sections. Start by creating headlines for your sections based on the information you plan to provide to your audience overall. Each new topic that expands on the specific idea of your piece should be given its own section.

For example, if you're writing about marketing options for blog owners you can create a different section for where to find the best marketing services, how to weed the bad ones out, how to use these services effectively, and when to expand on marketing techniques. You can then organize your information underneath these topics, making sure that all of your talking points get covered. If any points aren't assigned to a section by the time you're done organizing, consider creating a miscellaneous section for them at the end of your long-form piece.

Focus on Sections One at a Time

After you have organized your information into sections, it's important to go back to the beginning and go through each section one at a time to create a structure for them. Under each section, list your topics as you'd like them to be utilized within the content when it is created and round out each topic with corresponding points, insight, ideas, statistics, and other pertinent information that shouldn't be overlooked during content production. You'll find that this process makes it really easy to actually write the content overall, and will help ensure that nothing your audience needs or wants to know is left out.

Think About Resources and Visuals

Finally, it's a good idea to think about resources and visuals before you starts writing your content so you can keep those aspects in mind as you write. If you want to provide your audience with statistics and industry specific information, make a running list of links that you can include in the content as you produce it. Think about the kinds of visuals you'd like to add into your content. Will you be sticking with logos and icons, or do you want to include vibrant professional photos throughout? With this question answered you can keep the general size and design in mind when writing to ensure that your paragraphs and visuals complement each other as opposed to distract from one another.

This four step plan is sure to make creating your long-form content easy, and help ensure that you're providing your readers with quality content that will make them want to keep coming back for more.

Formatting Matters: How to Structure Your Articles for the Highest Reader Impact

Posted by Don Musacchio

shutterstock_301366778.jpgThere are two approaches that readers take to online content. The first is skimming, and the second is reading closely to absorb the content. On the web, most people are scanning content for the main points in order to decide whether or not they will save it and read it more closely later. The key question for a writer is how to structure content so that it has the highest impact and makes the reader want to return for a closer look.

Here are a few formatting tips to accomplish this and keep readers coming back:

Use White Space Effectively
The last thing that some want to see when they land on your content is a dense block of text. You may have the best ideas in the world, but they will not have any impact if you just have longs paragraphs with little white space. Your paragraphs should be shorter in order to create more white space on the page. This is much less intimidating for the reader and easier to skim than a long block of text.

Headings Invite the Reader Forward
Just like the purpose of the title is to invite readers to click on the content, good headings invite readers to continue scanning the text for information. Ideally, you should be able to catch the main points of the content by simply scanning the title and headings. Make sure you try this when you check over your content.

Use Bullets and Lists
Bullets and lists allow you to package content in bite-size chunks that are easy to follow and digest. If possible provide a summary of your content using a bulleted list to help people get the point.

Bold Key Sentences
When skimming people are looking quickly for the main ideas. You can help them out by making your main points easy to find. Put your main claims in the first sentence of each paragraph and then provide supporting details. You might also try bolding the text of these important sentences so that they stand out and attract the eye of your reader.

Include Images
Images help break up the text so that people can follow the key points. An image that helps illustrate your main point is also very helpful. If you can provide an infographic, table or flowchart, that can speak volumes to someone skimming your content.

Other Formatting Aides
There are many other ways to format your document for high impact. The first is line length. People have a hard time taking in long lines of text, so make sure that when you post your content the line length is short. Experts suggest that 50-60 characters is optimal for line length.

The font you chose is also important. A sans-serif font, one without the small projections on the type, is easier to read on the screen. You want to pick one font for the body text and one font for the headlines. Too many fonts can be distracting, but having a different font for headings makes them easier to follow. You can contrast a plain easy-to-read sans-serif body font with a creative and stunning heading font.

Color is another important factor. You want a high contrast between your text and background colors. You may also want to change the background and text colors to highlight important parts of your text. You don’t want to have too many colors in your content, but a change in color to highlight a key point can be helpful.

Converting Skimmers to Readers
Obviously, if you’ve done the hard work of creating insightful and valuable content, then you want to make sure that people read it. The problem is that the people you are hoping will read your content will first skim it to see if it worth their time. Using these formatting tips to structure your text for easy skimming will show off your great content. People will save it and return to it later for a more careful examination.

4 Common Mistakes That Even the Best Writers Make

shutterstock_314104490.jpgContent marketing in all its forms – blogs, sales pages, product descriptions, white papers, and email newsletters for example – is so effective that even the most profitable corporations like Coca-Cola implement it on a daily basis. But even with all their success, even the “big guys'” best writers tend to make a few common mistakes that hold them back in one way or another. Here are four common mistakes even the great writers make, and how you can avoid making those mistakes yourself:

Making Assumptions

It's easy to assume what your audience does and doesn't already know when writing a piece, whether for your blog or a sales page. But it's important to keep in mind that your readers likely don't spend as much time as you do learning about the subject matter of your content, so you may need to provide a little background before getting to the meat of the information that you'd like to share. By making sure that your content is written without any assumptions in mind, you'll increase interest among those who are just learning about your industry for one reason or another.

You don't have to dumb-down your content to ensure that it's far reaching – consider including links that provide readers with more in-depth information about a subject, offering quick tips and tricks that readers can apply to their own lives, or simply writing a line or two about the context of your piece.

Underestimating Workloads

Whether working as a freelancers, marketer, or full-time employee, almost all writers have underestimated their workloads at one time or another, which can be a serious problem come publication time. When a deadline is looming, and the workload is backed up, there are typically only a couple of choices you can make:

  • Miss the Deadline – This can cost you readers and future work depending on your field.

  • Gloss over the Subject for a Quick Turnaround– This can affect your ability to maintain an authoritative stance within your industry.

Neither of these scenarios is ideal, so it's best to stay on top of your deadlines and ensure that you never underestimate your workload. To be safe, it's a good idea to add an hour's worth of time commitment to every five hours of work you think you have on your plate.

Missing Promotional Opportunities

No matter what kind of writing you do, there are likely promotional opportunities that you're missing out on. You should be promoting your professional writing services, your company's product offerings, or your marketing chops every chance you get, so take the time to find an opportunity every time you sit down to write a piece. Consider one or more of the following options:

  • Create a call-to-action at the end of your article by asking for comments or reminding readers to check out a sale.

  • Include a couple of links to your website throughout the content where it's applicable.

  • Incorporate a logo into your writer's bio so your brand can be instantly recognized.

  • Recommend further reading somewhere within your content that will take readers to other pieces or sales pages you've written.

The idea is to come up with a unique and unobtrusive method for promoting yourself, your products, or other pieces of content that you've previously published.

Complicating Content

While it's important to go in-depth as often as possible when writing any style of content, it's also essential to make sure that your words aren't too complicated for the average reader. If people find themselves having to read a sentence more than once to comprehend it's meaning, it can throw the entire paragraph off course and result in lost reader interest. To make sure that everyone from the novice to the expert can follow your writing, keep things as simple as possible and provide links or references if necessary so readers who are interested in learning more know where to go.

By keeping these basic tips and tricks in mind, you should be able to create comprehensive, intelligent content that is intriguing to readers and makes them want to keep coming back for more.

Is Your Writing Too Formulaic? Breaking Bad Writing Habits

Posted by Don Musacchio

shutterstock_392339971.jpgIs your writing becoming a bit predictable? You could be stuck in the rut of formulaic writing. This is when the language conventions and popular writing structures drive your writing process instead of engaging content.

The Problem with Formula
This formulaic writing is worst in what we call clickbait. Someone writes an unoriginal post, usually in the form of a list, then composes a sensational headline to induce people to click through. Headlines that make big promises and then adds something like, “You won’t believe No. 2,” are good examples. Clickbait type articles work to get clicks, but this is not great content writing.

The problem with clickbait is that it relies purely on a formula to drive interest and generate clicks. There is nothing about the content that is ultimately interesting, valuable or even entertaining. The reader’s interest is induced by the formulas that do all the work.

Formulaic writing is essentially a shortcut that allows writers to generate interest without the hard work of writing engaging, informative and valuable content. The answer is to focus on the content and show your audience that you have something of value to offer.

That does not mean to avoid all writing conventions and formulas. These are helpful to organize your content, but you can’t rely on them to drive reader interest. For example, in marketing, it is usually a good idea to start with a pain point that you know your readers struggle with to create an emotional bond with your audience. Conventions like discussing benefits rather than features are important to keep your reader interested. But these formulas cannot substitute for offering valuable content to your audience.

Here are some tips for avoiding formulaic writing:

Do Your Homework
There is no substitute for good old-fashioned research to offer real value to your audience. You have to do your homework to understand your audience’s needs, problems and desires. This will help you to target your writing, so your audience feels like you really get them. When you do this, then you can offer content that your audience will truly be interested in.

Get Specific
Formulaic writing tends to paint with broad strokes. This is why there is so much repetitive and duplicable content out there on the Internet. The more specific you can get with your writing the better it will be. This means using case studies, statistics, expert interviews and testimonials to make your points.

If you are writing about best practices for social media marketing, then you need to do more than offer some generic advice about using social media. You want to offer a case study, testimonial or expert interview that shows how one business implemented best practices to improve their social media marketing. Your audience will find these kinds of content very engaging and informative.

Tell a Good Story
People like stories. They want to see the hero save the day. This is why testimonials are so effective. They want to see how Dan got back into shape with the help of a personal trainer, or how the Jones family improved the quality of their lives with a kitchen remodel. Think about how you could narrate a story about your topic. Even if it is a fictional story, it will still be engaging with your audience.

Offer a Fresh Perspective
People want to get your perspective on the issue you are discussing. You want to inject your writing into a more general discussion of the topic and offer something unique in the context of this discussion. If your audience is following the discussion, then they will be interested in your perspective.

A little while ago, there was a discussion in the content marketing community about whether long blog posts were better than short ones. This was a great opportunity for writers to weigh in one side of the issue and offer their perspective on it. Readers following the conversation were immediately interested in what people had to say.

Using formula and writing conventions can be helpful, but you should not develop an overreliance on them. Make sure you do your homework, tell a good story and offer something valuable to engage your audience. That is what good content writing is about.

The Difference Between Creating Good and Great Content

Posted by Chloe West

shutterstock_93416164.jpgIs your content good? Well, that's good. But you probably want to kick it up a notch and learn how to consistently pump out content that's not just good, but great. And in a world with so much content put in front of our eyes, it's so important for yours to always be great. Here are a few tips to help get your content from good to great.

1. Find the perfect topics.

Are you answering the exact questions that your audience is asking? The best way to understand what your audience wants is to do some digging. What are your audience's FAQs? What are they searching for online?

By continually working hard to find great blog post topics, you're always assured that you're writing articles that your audience wants to learn about. This ensures that your articles have the traffic-driving potential that you want to get out of them.

2. Create attention-grabbing headlines.

How do you get your blog post read? Its headline. In fact, one study states that 8 out of every 10 people read your article headline. On average, only 2 of those 10 actually go on to read the article. Your job is to make sure that your headline gets more than the average 20% to read your article.

You can do this by always including quantifiable information, be ultra-specific, include adjectives, and convey a sense of urgency. What you do not want to do is fall victim to the clickbait headline. Create strong headlines that people want to click through, but only because the headline is so good, and tells them what the article is about so well, that users can't help but want to read the article as well.

3. Make your content actionable.

Great content doesn't only explain something to its readers, it also teaches them how to apply it. Write your content in a way that makes it easy for your readers to understand it and complete the actions you're teaching them on their own.

When you're discussing different aspects of your articles, include tips, infographics, screenshots, etc., that illustrates your point and helps your audience to complete an action on their own. Don't allow readers to leave your content with unanswered questions.

4. Include images in your content.

Articles that include images get on average 94% more views than articles that don't include images. Internet users have short attention spans, and they will navigate away from your article if they're met with a giant wall of text. You need to break your content up with images that further explain your point.

Include screenshots, infographics, designed/branded graphics, or more that help to illustrate what you're talking about. Even including a "Click to Tweet" or a quote graphic that brings focus to certain parts of your article is a great idea.

5. Write long form content.

Studies show that the perfect blog post is about a 7-minute read. This translates into about 1,500 words per blog post. When you write on a topic, you want to commit to that topic and dig into every part of it that you can.

The perfect blog post should start out with a story in the intro. Give your readers some insight into why you're sharing this story with them and how it relates to your article. Break off into subheadings for easy skimmability. Include images and even further subheadings if needed. Offer full explanations and don't leave any rock uncovered.

You want your blog to be the source that users go to when looking for information about your industry. The only way to do that is by consistently pumping out nothing less than great content every time. You can do this by following these five tips.

Key Stages in Content Development

Posted by Laura Holton

shutterstock_326872526.jpgTo ensure your content leads to conversions, you need to go beyond researching a topic and writing a piece for publication. Content development enables you to organize and create content according to the objectives of the overall marketing strategy, taking full advantage of every individual piece. By working with your clients in content development tasks, you will find the greatest success.

Identifying the Best Keywords

Whenever you create content for SEO purposes, you need to utilize keywords. The best performing keywords tend to be phrases of several words for three reasons:

  • Single words and very short phrases are too general, which makes them highly competitive.
  • It's hard to be descriptive in less than four words.
  • Long-tail keywords tend to lead to more conversions, as they attract visitors who are interested in exactly what the business has to offer.

Determine the right keywords to use by utilizing a tool like Keyword Planner, which allows you to search for potential keywords and predicts the performance of terms in Google searches. This is ideal both for the beginning a new campaign or for expanding a current one. Bear in mind that Keyword Planner is designed for AdWords meaning the information relates to the performance of pay-per-click ads more than organic content, such as blog posts.

Brainstorming Ideas

Armed with a list of keywords, brainstorming new ideas becomes much easier. Develop a list of potential topics to use over the upcoming weeks or months (you can tweak headlines later), sharing your thoughts with your client. Together, you can rule out any ideas that are unsuitable for your audience and topics too similar to content your client has already covered. Take the remaining titles and discuss the best format for each — for instance, how-to, list, case study, or Q&A.

Defining Goals

It is critical you understand the purpose of each piece of content you write. With content targeting new readers, you will likely aim for social media engagement, shares, and blog comments. Further down the funnel, you’ll be pushing for an initial conversion, such as the download of premium content. If you’re writing pieces targeted at prospects who are ready to convert, you’ll need to ensure the content encourages a sale.

Measuring Analytics

Ask clients to share their findings of each piece of content for a better picture about which areas of the content development strategy are working and which need changing. Make sure you cover all four categories of metrics named by Ceros: consumption, sharing, lead generation, and sales.

To gain more than just page views from your content, talk to your clients about becoming more involved in content development strategies. Find out how you can play an active role to ensure your content converts.

Optimize Your Content Using These Quick Tips

shutterstock_253394386.jpgIn today’s world, quality content is the driving force behind all successful Internet businesses no matter what industry or niche they happen to be structured within. Whether on a blog, in weekly digital newsletters, or on a branded product website, the best way to grow your client base and optimize your profit margins is to provide your internet visitors with useful content featuring interesting insights and helpful information that relates to the products or services you have to offer.

Once you have custom quality content ready to publish, it’s important to do a little legwork and make sure that it stands out from the crowd. Here’s how you can easily optimize your quality content so that it shines among the best of what is already out there, as well as what’s sure to still come:

Embellish With Images

Content featuring images tend to attract at least 90 percent more traffic than articles that don’t include any visuals. Additionally, consumers will be more likely to contact you or buy from you if images are features alongside your content when it shows up in search engines. So to ensure that your quality content attracts even the most discerning of web surfers, it’s important to include at least one high quality image within the body of your finished piece somewhere. Professionally created stock photos, high definition graphics, quality user-submitted images, and even public domain photographs and graphics are effective content enhancement tools to consider utilizing.

Establish Your Authority

It’s crucial to establish yourself as an expert in your industry and to create some authority for your brand so people know that they can trust what you have to share with them. Displaying experience and expertise within your content will give readers the insight they need to know that you’re a trustworthy source of information and advice, which in turn is sure to result in more interest and lead captures overall.

Establishing authority within your content can be done by simply digging deep into your topics and providing fresh concepts to your readers that encourage them to think outside of the box. Including statistics, expanding on basic knowledge, sharing industry secrets, and providing company insights are all awesome authority building techniques to incorporate into your own quality content.

Provide Access to Extras

Another effective way to make sure that your quality content stays ahead of the competition is to provide your readers with access to “extras” throughout each piece. Include links to back up your statistics, give readers a heads up when there are freebies to be found online, provide recommendations for good reads and do-it-yourself projects, and offer discounts to those who engage with your content in some form or fashion. All of these options are sure to increase the authority of your content and enhance each readers’ experience in a way that will make them want to share it with their friends and family, as well as come back to learn more (and buy more!) in the future.

Include Calls-to-Action

Including a call-to-action within your content whenever possible is a great way to keep readers engaged and to optimize your profit margins long term. Your calls-to-action don’t always have to be about buying something – in fact, it’s a good idea to minimize sales tactics and instead focus on content enhancement when creating a call-to-action. For instance you can ask readers to follow a simple set of do-it-yourself instructions at home to test a theory featured within the content.

Alternatively, you can ask them to leave a comment or question for your perusal, or request that they sign up for your free newsletter so they can stay up-to-date with the latest happenings within your business. The idea is to get readers involved so they feel that they’re the most important part of your business, as they should.

By taking each of these ideas into consideration before introducing newly created quality content to your online publications, you’ll help to keep yourself one step ahead of the competition and ensure that your work has a long shelf life in popular search engines.

Everything you Need to Know to Write Attention-Getting Press Releases

Posted by Nancy M Ruff

shutterstock_302536883.jpgThis just in: if you want good coverage for your product or service, you’re going to have to master the art of press release content writing. Today, a great press release is not one that inspires an article, but one that is an article. Look at it from the recipient’s point of view and you’ll quickly understand why. Most reporters or news agencies receive hundreds, if not thousands, of press releases a week. It stands to reason that the articles they’ll run are those that practically write themselves.

This is good news for you, because if you spend a considerable amount of time carefully crafting content that presents your brand in an engaging way, it’s nice to know little to nothing will get watered down or lost in translation.

How Would a Reporter Cover Your Story?

Before you even get started, jot down what comes to mind about stories in the media that grab your attention. Chances are they’re things you haven’t heard before or help solve a problem you’ve been experiencing. Then take a look at the topic you want to present to the world and ask, how would a reporter sum this up in a 10-second spot? Voila! You have your angle, and your headline.

Where to Begin

Prior to drafting your press release, ask yourself these simple questions to determine just how newsworthy your story is:

  • What’s so “new” about my story?
  • Are there unusual or unexpected angles I can capitalize on?
  • Will people actually care about and benefit from this topic?
  • Is this a topic that’s also interesting to those outside my industry?

If you’re unsure as to whether your story is worth putting out there, take a look at other stories in the publications you’d like coverage in to determine if there might be interest.

Attention Grabbing Headlines

Writing killer headlines doesn’t mean you need to be clever. Journalists don’t tend to base their story decisions on your witty delivery. Instead, based on their knowledge and experience, they’re looking for something that they believe their audience will find interesting. The most important role your headline plays is making sure someone understands what your story is about. A good rule of thumb in press release content writing is to tell it like it is, but with an interesting twist.

Think Like a Journalist

If it pays to think of your press release as a news article, ask yourself the reporter’s five W's (and How) to get started:

  1. Who are the key players, who does your news benefit, and who does it affect?
  2. What is new and exciting about your product or service?
  3. Where is your launch or event taking place?
  4. When will it happen?
  5. Why is this story important and what new information is it bringing to the party?
  6. How is the story going to help the people who read it?

All good journalists know the power of quoted sources, so any you include that provide insight into your news can be helpful. Quotes in a press release are not to provide information or jargon-filled data; rather, they should add depth and insightful opinion to your topic.

Short and Sweet

Keep your press release about the same length as a short news story – about 400 words, and use subheadings and bulleted points for easy digestion. There are free templates you can find online that will help you get started. Include a short paragraph in your email that outlines your topic and explains why it’s a good fit for the publication you’re pitching to. Pay attention to what is and isn’t working and tailor future press releases to what you’ve learned.

Remember that journalists are besieged with press releases every day, so it may take some trying to land the coverage you seek. Ultimately, everything you need to know about great press release content writing is this: have a product or service that is of true value, and produce meaningful content that conveys its worth to a waiting audience.