Pam Lontos Column: Writing That Sells!
Q&A on Creating Articles for Publicity
Q. Will writing articles help bring in new clients or sell more products?
Yes, articles are a great way to get information to consumers about a product, book, service or company. However, you have to write the "right"kind of articles - those that are not self-promotional but instead focus on how-to tips for the readers. These will help you establish more credibility and reach a targeted audience. Articles help because you can target magazines from your existing customer base, and also reach new markets with different magazines.
Q. What is the best way to decide what to write about? Do you have any tips on great article ideas? What is a bad article?
The best way to write is to write about what you know. If you are an expert on etiquette, write advice about that. If your focus is on regional cooking,write articles on that. If you know the best way to climb the corporate ladder, then by all means, share your advice. The only bad articles are the ones that provide no "real" content or fail to provide the readers with interesting, how-to tips. Bad articles are self-promotional; after all, no one wants to hear about how great you are or how great your product is.Readers DO want to know how you can help solve their problems or how your product can resolve their issues.
Q. What market would be best for your article? How do you decide who to target?
Well, it depends on what you are trying to promote and who would be interested in your product or service. If you are an etiquette expert who helps executives or business professionals polish their manners, you should target business publications. If you are an etiquette expert with a program for teaching children, you probably want to reach mothers with children. For that, you would target your article towards women's and parenting magazines.
Q. Which editors should you target within those markets and how do you get in touch with them?
Read up on the magazines in your target market. If you want women's magazines, stop by the library or newsstand and pick up some of the top publications. Get familiar with their writing style and how frequently they publish articles. There is usually a masthead in each magazine that features the editors' information. Of course, you can also find this information online, as most magazines have their own websites. You may want to see what stories they plan to work on, too, so try to find their editorial calendar.
Q. Is it smart to pitch your idea in a query letter? Or should you write the full article and send it in?
It depends on how much time you have! There are many books out there that talk about what to include in a query letter. Having some solid idea or a written outline may help you get your article into the publication you desire. Not everyone has the time to write a complete article without knowing if or when the publication will use it.
Q. I don't feel like my writing is as strong as it could be. Would I be better off hiring a professional writer?
If you're a great writer and you know how to write in a "magazine style"then you should write the article. If you don't have the time, energy or knowledge to write like a professional, consider hiring a ghostwriter. This ghostwriter can be used to help you write or edit the articles. Some ghostwriters charge by the hour; others charge per word. Ask your friends and colleagues for references, if they have any, or check out the Internet for ghostwriters.
Q. What are some tips for writing great articles?
Know your audience when you write, and provide them with helpful tips and insightful information. Many topics have been written about, but think of how you can update that topic or add a unique perspective. Provide your readers with something that they can take away, whether it is knowledge about their industry, tips on how to do something better or insights on a unique product or book. Articles with more 'meat' and how-to tips are the ones that will bring you more business.
Pam Lontos is the president of PR/PR, a public relations firm that specializes in professional speakers, authors and experts. An author,speaker and former VP of Disney's Shamrock Broadcasting, Pam knows the ropes of getting you good publicity and how to use it to boost your bookings or book sales. Call for a free consultation: 407-299-6128 or visit:www.prpr.net.
Reprinted from 'PR/PR Pulse,' a free e-zine featuring tips and techniques for gaining publicity. To receive this e-zine, please send an email firstname.lastname@example.org with 'Add Me' in the subject line.