Killer Copy: The Key to Getting Your Business Noticed
According to research recently published in The Daily Telegraph, the human attention span has dropped to a feeble 8 seconds in 2016, down from 12 seconds in 2000. And it seems our smartphones are to blame. Even the humble goldfish’s attention span, the butt of so many jokes, beats us at nine seconds.
So what does this mean for you and your business? Well it means you have less time than ever to grab the attention of your customers, the press and media. It also means your PR copy needs to pack a punch if it’s going to stand out.
Using compelling copy
Finding the right words can be difficult. So here are five sure-fire ways to liven up your PR copy and keep your reader engaged.
1. Make headlines interesting
It’s important to have an engaging headline for any piece of writing, whether it’s a blog post, media release, or email subject line. It’s the first thing an editor will see. If you don’t capture their interest in your first line, most won’t read any further, and you’ve lost your chance to pitch your idea.
If you can make your point in fewer words, do so. With our terrible attention spans, shorter is always better, plus social media users are looking for quick tidbits they can tweet and share.
2. Avoid jargon
Groundbreaking. Revolutionary. Targetable Scale. Ideation…have I lost you yet?
When writers struggle to convey what is truly special about their company, product, or service, they often fall back on jargon or hyperbole to highlight their point. But good copy doesn’t need dressing up.
Write plainly, and avoid company-insider phrases, clichés or industry jargon. Unless you’re writing for the trade press, it’ll have no meaning outside of your company, and your reader will lose interest.
3. Edit and edit again
Journalists and editors are bombarded with wordy emails and pitches every day, so to get noticed, you need to get to the point – quickly. This means cutting out excessive phrases and rewording your sentences to be more direct.
Reduce verb phrases: E.g. turn ‘the results are suggestive of the fact that’ to ‘the results suggest’.
Reduce wordy phrases to single words. E.g. ‘in order to’ can be condensed to ‘to’ ‘due to the fact that’ can be shortened to ‘because
Avoid vague nouns: Phrases formed around general nouns like ‘in the area of’ or ‘on the topic of’ clutter sentences.
If you can afford to cut a word without losing the meaning of a sentence, do so. Push yourself to strip down your word count to make your copy punchier and clearer.
4. Speak like your audience
It’s easy to presume that writing for a serious audience (financial, political, academic, scientific etc.) requires you to write in a serious tone of voice. Yes, you need to treat both the subject and audience with respect. But it’s worth remembering that even astrophysicists and cabinet ministers are people first and foremost. The same goes for journalists in these niche sectors. Stop thinking of them as stakeholders and try to connect with them on a personal level. It’ll get you much further.
5. Use more verbs, fewer adjectives
Journalists receive press releases every day from businesses and PR agencies who like to stick the word ‘exciting’ in front of every noun. They never launch new products; they’re always ‘exciting’ or ‘revolutionary’ new products. But something doesn’t become ‘exciting’, ‘revolutionary’ or ‘amazing’ just because you put an adjective in front of it.
Verbs, on the other hand, tell you what something DOES. And telling your reader what that something can do for them is far more persuasive than a list of adjectives. A ‘faster’ service, or ‘quieter’ product is always more interesting.