I have been to a lot…a lot of networking events/workshops in the DC area, but on June 30th I was a part of the most beneficial event yet: Robust, Readable and Riveting: Writing that Compels in the Age of Now! The event featured Ann Wylie , PR and communications maven, and was presented by the DC Metro chapter  of the International Association of Business Communicators, with the help of Johns Hopkins University  and Marketwire .
This event was a fantastic learning opportunity and gave me a wealth of knowledge to share with my clients with regards to writing effective press releases. Ann split the conversation into two sections: How to Think Like a Reader and Cut Through the Clutter.
During Think Like a Reader, Ann explained something that seems so obvious, yet so many people fail when it comes to making the reading experience beneficial for the reader. So, put yourself in the reader’s shoes: What’s In It for Me? Ann touched on this, and other, strategies that will help you get noticed:
- When you are writing a release, keep the WIIFM strategy in mind, especially for your headline and subhead, for better results.
- Readership and media want to know how your news is going to affect them so focus on that rather than pumping up your own brand. Give the people what they want and your brand will get the recognition it deserves.
The second part of the event was focused on how to Cut Through the Clutter. The main point of this section was, again, to make the reading experience more beneficial for the reader by writing content that is easy to digest. The easier your copy is to read, the more likely it will be read, picked up, blogged about, retweeted, etc…
Ann provided a ton of other useful tips which you can find at www.revupreadership.com . Here are a few more that I liked:
- Get publicity from publications by presenting them with key benefits
- Quantify and specify to get people involved — People must understand exactly how your message will impact them personally.
- Narrow the focus – find what is truly important and focus on that. As Ann said, “No need to write 400 words about grade school. Write about the sandwich.”
- People will read sites that have smaller paragraphs (Pointer Institute)
- 14 words is the average word count for a sentence to be fully understood
- 8 words for a news headline
Special thanks go to Shonali Burke for getting myself and Marketwire involved in such a fantastic event.
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