PR writing is a unique form of writing. Your goal is to persuade journalists and influencers that your client’s product or service stands head over heels above the rest.
Yet despite its special nature, PR writing follows some basic building blocks that create a helpful writing framework. (Spoiler alert: most steps involve lots of planning before you even start writing).
Here are ten essential steps of writing effective PR pieces for your client or company campaigns:
- How to improve your PR writing
How to improve your PR writing
Consider your campaign objectives
The first step is to consider your overarching campaign objectives because if you don’t have a target, you can’t hit the aim!
Ask yourself, what is the outcome I want from this email pitch or press release? It may be to have editors accept product samples, agree to exclusives, or interview your client.
Being fully aware of PR campaign objectives like these will help you hone in on your key messages.
Set specific goals & measurements
As Marie Fincher, Head of Content at Trust My Paper said, you need to know what success will look like and what exactly you want to achieve. So, get specific and determine your desired goals and measurements.
While objectives are general concepts, goals, and measurements are concrete and specific, like the number of articles you want to see published from your PR campaign launch, or how many media guests you want to attend a client announcement.
PR measurements need to be defined at the get-go and used during the entire process to track the performance of a campaign.
Define your audience
Clearly define your audience and understand who they are.
Who is the target audience (customer) you want to influence? The answer will depend on several factors like behavior, demographics, and location. Once you segment your audience, you’ll be able to deliver more targeted, effective, and relevant messages that speak directly to them.
Actually, if you’re looking to find relevant media contacts, build effective media lists and send targeted pitches, you might want to give Prowly PR software a try.
Determine your channels
Modern PR campaigns are designed to utilize several platforms and channels to achieve their goals, and each one of these channels requires a very different type of writing style. While a white paper will need to include detailed industry analysis, a social media caption needs to be short, lively, and conversational.
Determine which channels will best reach your target audience (hint: there may be more than one for your campaign). Then, plan to write multiple versions of your campaign message in different formats that match each channel.
Set creative guidelines
If you’re including visuals like product images or headshots, creative guidelines will help you and your team better understand how they will fit into the piece of writing. In fact, it’s a good idea to first check out some tips on including visuals in your press release.
Ultimately, it’s all about what your audience is looking for. If you were able to successfully determine your target audience, you’ll know what they need and want and what kind of visual content will be most enticing and relevant to them.
Craft your calendar
You finally have a full picture of what your writing will need to achieve! Crafting a comprehensive PR calendar will help you make a plan and stay on track. You can either create a digital calendar with all the notes you could possibly think of, or write down the dates in your planner.
Your content calendar must match all the schedules for your campaigns, channels, and timelines. Include reminders for your deadlines, so you finish everything on time.
Confirm your resources
Now that you’re looking at the master plan for the writing needs of your campaign, you need to confirm your resources.
Bringing your ideas to life requires investment in the form of time and effort. Review the writing plan with your team and divvy up writing assignments if necessary.
In some agencies, this may be as easy as having an account lead write the press lead and the social media coordinator extracting and re-formatting social post captions from that piece.
Do your research
With defined objectives, goals, measurements, and target audience in hand, you must conduct thorough research. As writer Melanie Sovann said, doing your homework is essential: if you don’t have the information required, you can’t possibly write a great PR piece. It’s a simple rule that many, unfortunately, forget about.
Research takes place on two levels. First, with your client or company’s product. Before you can genuinely persuade a potential customer of its features and benefits, you need to understand it like the back of your hand. This may mean working with the sales team to learn the product’s most compelling selling points.
Second, you want to research your media contacts and fully understand their industry focus, reporting style, and latest articles or blog posts. You’ll want your pitches to sound like they were written just for them.
A journalist or influencer needs more than just an exciting claim to write about your client. You need to provide valuable insights into your piece of PR writing.
Insights can take shape in many forms: think client reviews (“5-star rating on Amazon”), reported results (“90% of customers report smoother skin”), and in-house survey results (“7 out of 10 people surveyed plan to invest in organic products this year”).
Editors start their days with overflowing inboxes. You have only seconds to grab their attention, provide supporting evidence, and sell them on your story’s value.
To stand the best chance of a reply, be crystal clear about your pitch in the subject heading, and get to the point of your pitch in the first few sentences of your email. Use bold text, short paragraphs, and bullet points for easy skimming. For example, an opening paragraph could look like this:
I follow your monthly beauty column religiously and wonder if you’d be interested in trying my client’s fabulous new eyelash curler, Doe Eyes. In initial studies, 94% of users claim they can skip mascara entirely by using it! Imagine never having to hassle with mascara application and smudging again.
You can also find many different writing tools to help you craft your pieces. Such tools include Grammarly (proofreading and grammar-checking software), Hemingway Editor (highlights passive voice, adverbs, and complicated sentences), Semrush Marketplace (an online service that will write your piece for you), and BidForWriting (another great online writing service).
All in all, effective PR writing is not that different from traditional writing and follows straightforward steps and considerations that guide you towards the best messaging in the best style with the best tone and voice.
As you’ll see from the list above, more than half of the work is planning. That upfront planning investment will ensure your writing meets the campaign goals you’ve set for yourself. Happy writing!