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3 Keys to Keeping Your Marketing
and PR Writing on Strategy

By Steve Slaunwhite

There are countless marketing and PR professionals who are terrific writers. Their grammar is impeccable. Their phrases are inventive. Their words sing. But does that mean their press release, brochure, backgrounder, feature article or Web page will meet objectives?

The answer is no.

Good writing alone is not enough to engage the hearts and minds of your targeted audience. Media editors, especially, frown on submissions that fail to be relevant.

So how do you ensure that your marketing and PR piece isn't just pretty prose? Here are three questions that can help keep your writing on strategy:

Ask: "What is the goal?"

Exactly what is it that you want to accomplish? Do you want your press release to get ink in publications read by cookbook enthusiasts? Do you want your backgrounder to help explain new product features? Be as specific as you can.

It's amazing how many press releases, brochures and web pages seem to have no clear reason d'etre. Don't risk producing something that merely contributes to the clutter. Have a goal, and keep it front-and-center as you write. You might even want to sticky-note the goal to your computer (as I sometimes do.)

Ask: "What's in it for the reader?"

Perhaps the biggest mistake that marketing and PR writers make is focusing too heavily on the product. This admonition may come as a surprise to those who write press releases, brochures and other materials featuring products. After all, isn't the product the subject?

Actually no. The subject is the targeted audience. Or more specifically, the target's needs, desires and interests. That means your marketing or PR piece must clearly answer the question every reader asks: "What's in it for me?"

If you focus purely on the product - no matter how revolutionary or newsworthy it is -you risk producing nothing more than a "brag and boast" document, ignored by editors and customers alike.

Ask: "What do I want the reader to do?"

Do you want editors to feature your boss in an upcoming feature? Do you want customers to call a toll-free number and order your product? Do you want readers to gain a greater awareness of your brand?

Marketing and PR writing is essentially an exercise in persuasion. Whether it's an obvious "Call Now!" or a message conveyed in the subtext, you must communicate what it is you want the reader to do. If you don't, your writing will be like a ship without a rudder. It may look good, but it's going nowhere.


Steve Slaunwhite speaks, writes and consults on strategic copywriting for marketing communications. He can be reached at

See also:
How Media Relations Helps the Marketing Plan
7 Ways to Get More Mileage from a Case Study
Public Relations Strategy a Valuable Fundraising Tool
Writing a Successful Case Study
Getting Ink for Your New Product
Managing the Media