PR and copywriting: Do’s and Don’ts

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Many think that creating content, especially in the age of social media, is a walk in the park. Well, it’s far from that.

Great work goes into even the simplest Instagram captions, Facebook posts, tweets, blogs and website content to make them look effortless while generating substantial engagement andpersuading the reader on the message or to buy a product or avail of a service. Knowing the formula, however, can help a lot in developing effective copy. Here is a list of dos and don’ts to get you started.

Dos

Research, research, research

You can’t write about something you have no knowledge about. Copy that is backed by solid information looks confident and reliable, thus, powerful. But research for the sake of saying research was done is not a good way to kick-start any writing task. One common mistake most people do when writing is not gathering enough data, better yet, not gathering enough solid and accurate data relevant to the topic at hand.

Research extensively about your topic until you know more than you think you need. The more information you have, the more wiggle room you have to approach your writing  and formulate the perfect copy.

Write powerful headlines

David Ogilvy, the Father of Advertising, said, “When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents of your dollar.” Long before society was run by social media, the average person would read only the headline and move on. Even more so now, so the stronger, punchier your headline is, the greater the chances of it capturing the interest of your target reader.

Hook your audience’s attention with well-crafted headlines that are urgent, unique, useful and ultra-specific. This is not the time to show your wordplay prowess off. Opt for simple, straightforward phrasing that will tell the reader what they need to know and make them want to know more.

Speak your audience’s language

A copy should appeal to its readers by addressing their needs, desires and fears. To do that, you must know how to speak your audience’s language.

This is what makes Angkas’ Twitter account such a hit among its readers. Instead of following the footsteps of other brands that use vague, impersonal voice online, the ride-sharing service has taken on the persona of a 20-something professional trying to navigate life and the hellish traffic in the metro –exactly who its target market is. By talking directly to its audience and posting witty tweets that reflect their plight, Angkas has built a connection with them like no other brand has.

Keep it in a positive light

While the number one goal in copywriting is to persuade consumers to engage with your brand or product, avoid pointing out what they are lacking and highlight what they could gain instead.

A controversial ad about a skin care product drew flak online for promoting, or as some netizens pointed out, “normalizing” colorism. In a bid to prod its target market to buy the product, the copy seems to place the burden of “earning” equal treatment on dark-skinned people, not just bluntly telling consumers that they lacked something but also urging them to conform to societal standards.

Don’ts

Steal copy

This should go without saying: DO NOT steal copy. Instead, steal your client’s words.

Listen carefully to clients when they state what their goals and problems are, and spin their words into something you could use for your copy. Most of the time, they simply do not know how to convey what they want to say in a way that consumers would find appealing. This is where you come in.

Overuse adverbs and adjectives

Do not pepper your copy with adverbs and adjectives to make up for an insufficient word. Take your time finding the best word that taps into the emotion that you want your readers to feel so that the copy feels more like a personal message.

Talk about the company too much

No one wants to stay in a conversation with someone who talks only about themselves. As with any real-life interaction, you win people over by paying attention to them, their wants and needs.

When writing copy, address your readers directly by using the word “you” about twice as much as “we,” “us,” “our” and the brand name.

Instead of “We serve the best coffee,” write something along the lines of “You deserve only the best coffee.”

Try to appeal to 100% of consumers

Most importantly, forget trying to appeal to 100 percent of readers. While the goal of every copy is to reach as many potential consumers as possible, it’s a simple fact that not everyone is going to resonate with it.

This is why identifying your target audience is always the first step to crafting top-notch copy. Trying to appeal to a general audience forces you to dilute your message, making it harder to hold the attention of the readers who are most likely to turn into customers.

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