1) Avoid sloppy copy
If you are sharing any copy with the public, ensure you edit your work, proofread it, edit it some more and send it off to a friend, colleague or editor for a final round of proofreading and editing before you use that copy. Ensure that you have checked for grammar mistakes and spelling errors and that you have spelled the names of individuals, organisations, or programmes correctly. While Google is your friend in this case, it is only true if you are checking the correct platforms. Do not assume a news article contains the correct spelling of the names of individuals, organisations and programmes. Instead, visit the websites or social media accounts of those specific individuals, organisations or programmes to find the correct spelling and if in doubt, contact the particular individual or organisation directly.
2) Don’t offend your customers
In 2015 BIC South Africa ran a Facebook post in celebration of Women Day’s in South Africa, however, the post ended up offending the very people they wanted to honour. The offence was caused because the post implied that women could make a success of their careers in the business world if they just remembered to look and act like a girl or woman but think and work like a man. It smacked of sexism. While BIC offered an apology and deleted the post after being publicly chastised for releasing such a sexist post in the first place, the damage had been done. The post caused an international uproar and generated news articles and a few opinion articles dedicated to BIC’s complete lack of social awareness.
3) Use eye-catching visuals with your copy that tell a story
Make sure that the visuals you use with your copy are a visual summary of what your copy says in more detail. The first thing that most people notice when deciding on whether to read an article, are the visuals (and maybe a catchy headline). Powerful visuals will help you tell a great story that will also allow you to cut down on the amount of copy you use. This is particularly true when it comes to eye-catching advertisements that get their message across with minimal copy and draw their target markets to engage with them beyond their advertisements.
4) Your tone and style must be suited to your audience
There’s a big difference between the manner in which you would speak to the CEO of a company and the manner in which you would speak to his teenage son. So get your communications and PR right by also tailoring each piece of communication you send out to the right audience. Decide on the style of your brand by deciding the language you will use when communicating about it. Do you want your brand to have a more formal or informal tone or a mix of the two? If you want your brand to be perceived as fun, ensure the language and writing style you use when you pen your copy creates that feeling too.
5) Tell a good story
A good story will always make the cut. But not everything you do as a business owner is newsworthy, so make sure whatever you share with the media will be of interest to THEIR target market. If you are only looking for free publicity, pay for an advertisement instead. Journalists will see through “cheap” publicity and frankly that, along with recent revelations that unscrupulous PR companies like the Bell Pottingers of the world do exist, are why PR has developed such a bad name. However, if you want to offer the media a good story, tell them a compelling one that will inform, educate or even just inspire their target markets.
For example, if your business provides internship opportunities to unskilled youth who have not completed their schooling and trains them in a skill they can use to find permanent employment in future, this is a story worth sharing with the media. It not only celebrates a business trying to make a difference in a country with a high youth unemployment rate, but acts as an example for other businesses to mimic and provides unemployed youth with information about skills development programmes they can access. If you happen to own a perfume boutique and are quite knowledgeable about the perfume industry, why not sure your contact details with magazine writers and offer to share that knowledge with them should they ever decide to write a perfume-focused article in future. You could also offer to do the same when submitting press releases to magazines for consideration.
6) Leave people wanting more
Media drop-offs and giveaways are great ways to engage with the media and their target market, however, you have to be creative to grab people’s attention and make sure you target the right media. So if you’re planning on opening a new bakery in town, doing a cupcake drop-off during a radio show focused on politics to announce the shop opening would not be a good idea. Instead target a presenter that tends to focus more on good places to eat or interesting happenings in town for a drop-off or giveaway. You are more likely to get a positive response in that instance.
7) Remember the filler?
Many print sub-editors know how frustrating it can be to make copy fit in those awkward spaces that are often left on a page after all the news stories and advertisements for that page have been placed. It’s usually not big enough for a detailed news item, but perfect for a snippet or a photo and caption. It’s what news and sub-editors call fillers. So if you happen to win a business award, remember to take a picture of the winners (yourself included), write a short caption and get it to the editor of your local newspaper soon after the event. Again, it has to be newsworthy!
With much appreciation, gratitude and love