Whether writing for PR or for business the universal truths we use when writing professional PR copy can be applied to emails, letters, business proposals, speeches and pretty much any written word in business.
We all want writing that’s compelling, interesting, and unique. We need writing that’s magnetic. In short – killer copy. Luckily a few simple techniques can make any piece of writing more compelling.
Here are NettResults’ top ten ways to help you write copy that draws the reader closer:
1. Don’t hedge
“Hedging” is when you go out of your way to cover every contingency in an argument. Example: “Nowadays almost all tech-adapt travelers have at least some sort if electronic book reader.” The hedges are “almost all” and “at least some sort.” These may be strictly true, but it’s soft, flabby wording that lacks impact. Instead: “Tech-adapt travelers love electronic book readers.”
2. Repeat a phrase
Repetition establishes structure and rhythm. Repetition taps into the part of our brain that loves rhyme and meter. Repetition pulls the reader into the flow of your writing. Repetition isn’t difficult to use. Repetition is annoying if overused.
3. No passive voice
Passive voice is when you switch the positions of the subject and object of a sentence. For example: “The man hit the computer” is in active voice; passive voice is: “The computer was hit by the man.” Notice how passive voice uses more words without adding information — usually a warning sign of flabby writing.
The wrongness of passive voice isn’t universal, but wouldn’t it have been killer if I had said that passive voice isn’t always wrong?
I don’t care how good your writing is, most people won’t read more than a few sentences. Today’s society affiliates with 140 characters. The best policy is to just write less.
5. Use short sentences
Short sentences are easy to read. They’re easy to digest. It’s easier to follow each point of an argument. Sometimes longer sentences — especially if divided up with dashes — are an appropriate tool, especially mixed in with shorter sentences to break things up. If you think short sentences are incompatible with excellent writing, read Stephen King. Or Hemingway.
6. Provoke, don’t solve
If you’re writing a report that is supposed to cover all the bases, this tip doesn’t apply. But if you’re trying to be persuasive, don’t try to handle every objection in one sitting. Your goal is to get the other person to respond: To ask you about a feature of your product, to challenge your assumptions about a competitor. Don’t solve every problem, leaving no stone unturned; leave them wanting more.
7. Eliminate trash adjectives
Most adjectives and adverbs don’t add information; they just take up space and dull your message. Example: “I’m very interested in quickly assessing all suitable software options.” Remove the adjectives and you get the same message, but sharper: “I’m interested in assessing all software.”
8. Be direct
Pardon me, dear reader, but if it wouldn’t be too much of an inconvenience, could I trouble you to do me the favor of applying your obvious considerable facility with the English language to just get to the damn point?
Flowery, respectful and qualified wording is appropriate when you’re asking a waiter to do you a favor without spitting in your food. But it has no place in killer copy.
9. Tell a story
I knew a girl named Sophie who couldn’t figure out why people couldn’t understand the benefits of her software. She had feature and benefit bullet points but they just weren’t sinking in. One day Sophie changed her tactics completely. She wrote up a one-paragraph story about how one of her customers saved $125k by using her software. After that, sales were a lot easier.
10. Write informally
Sure, informal writing isn’t “professional.” And yeah, using phrases like and yeah violates the brevity rule. But it’s usually smart to write like you talk. Being informal helps you come off as a real person.
‘course, it can git to be too durned much, s’don’t go ’round makin’ it hard to just plain understand what in blazes yur talking ’bout.
They say first impressions are most important, and often your written word will be the first impression someone has of you! So take the time and care to make it killer copy.
Do you have any suggestions?