It has long been said that to succeed in business you have to walk the walk and talk the talk – now you have to tweet the Tweet too.
Recent research suggests growing numbers of firms are using social networking in a bid to reach their customers and boost sales.
Judging from many of the Tweets that flow down my screen, people understand the need for Twitter – but they fall short in their technique.
So, in 10 tweetably short paragraphs, let’s consider some dos and don’ts to turn Twitter from fun accessory to powerful PR tool.
DO encourage customers, suppliers and others to follow you on Twitter so that they will receive the news that you issue by Tweet.
DO follow other Twitter users you’d like to receive information from – including your competitors.
DON’T Tweet for the sake of it – your followers won’t thank you for wasting their time with trivialities.
DON’T Tweet about what’s happening outside your window unless it is an event of profound importance.
DO ensure correctness of fact, grammar and spelling – a poorly written Tweet can negatively impact your corporate image.
DON’T (except in rare circumstances) leave readers with unanswered questions: they want information, not a quiz.
DO make your Tweets information rich: 140 well-composed characters can convey a considerable quantity of fact and comment.
DO use your 140 characters carefully – don’t waste space on unnecessary words or needless information.
DON’T Tweet about controversial issues or company secrets: remember, your Tweets are very public!
DO remember to include a call to action: get the reader to do something – click a shortened url, retweet or ring us now.
David Goddin Communications now offers cost-effective Tweet support for clients. Let us write or edit your Tweets. Contact us for details.
Five simple words – inextricably linked to memories of pedalling ice cream pedlars – create arguably the coolest call to action ever seen. They also provide a yardstick for all forms of business communication, especially PR, marketing communication and advertising.
With its inversion ‘Buy me and stop one’ – often unofficially added to vending machines in public lavatories – ‘Stop me and buy one’ is a clear and concise invitation for customers to engage with the vendor. It has precisely the same fundamental purpose as, for example, a glitzy TV commercial for a soft drink, a holiday travel brochure or a business-to-business media release: encouraging sales.
Some people might argue that advertising drives sales while PR merely provides informative support to the process (and sometimes at high cost). However, there’s been talk in specialist online groups recently suggesting that the return on investment (ROI) in PR may now be more readily trackable because PR has a more direct role in sales than was previously acknowledged. This is why ‘Stop me and buy one’ is a good lesson for PR practitioners and their clients.
The advertising copywriter, constrained by a fraction of a minute’s airtime – or the sides of a tricycle ice box – has to produce words that are both compelling and concise. In PR, we have the luxury of a much broader canvas that allows explanation, greater detail and interesting quotes – but that does not mean carte blanche for waffle, puffery or spin.
As I said in the previous post, PR writing of whatever length should make the reader want to find out more – effectively it is an implied call to action. PR certainly does inform, and I would argue that it enables customers to make well-informed buying decisions. I know it works: I once wrote a page of advertorial for an institutional landlord which quickly resulted in a significant new tenancy in a long-vacant large industrial property.
If the product is good, and its pricing and availability are appropriate, then professional PR can make a significant contribution to the sales effort. Consider the economics of it: A brief article in a trade magazine, for example, can reach thousands of potential customers at a fraction of cost of putting additional salespeople on the road. Let the sales staff follow up all the leads generated by the article – conversion rates will the far more impressive.
So if you want to boost your sales, you could probably benefit from starting (or overhauling) a PR campaign. Remember: Stop me and buy one!
One thing that good PR writing shares with good journalism is starting with a bold statement that grabs the reader’s attention long enough to convey the guts of the message.
By chance I came across a blog stressing the importance of issuing a good picture with every media release. Sadly, this excellent piece of advice from a fairly prominent PR firm is kept until the final paragraph – after a mish-mash of clichés and irrelevancies that must deter even the most stoic of readers. It is clearly not a good advertisement for the firm’s writing skills, or its understanding of how to convey a client’s message.
The only reason I read the blog all the way was to find out if it actually contained a worthwhile nugget.
A well-constructed news report should start with an intro that encapsulates the main points of the news item, leading into further paragraphs which contain explanations, comment and useful, but less important, background information. Any good news story should be cuttable from the bottom up – and if only the intro remains, it should still be worth reading.
The same applies to most PR writing.
Of course there are some exceptions, in both journalism and PR, where the rigid ‘inverted pyramid’ presentation may be varied for effect – or to suit a design. But whether it is a media release, article, brochure, newsletter or blog, it’s essential to say something that makes the reader want to find out more.
School may teach us to write with a beginning, a middle and an ending – but in news and PR the ending is the least important. Except if there’s a call to action, such as: ‘You’ve read all this – now call me for your writing!’
David Goddin was born in the UK and educated in South Africa. He began his career on daily newspapers and trade journals, before moving into public relations consulting. He produced award-winning writing and became an Accredited PR Practitioner, the highest qualification of the Public Relations Institute of South Africa. Since his return to the UK 16 years ago he has also contributed to a number of highly successful PR and marketing communications campaigns for major national and multinational clients. He is currently also President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce.