When businesses need a special service, managers hire in professionals to deliver the best solution – because running a machine requires different skills from fixing it. Some managers, however, may prefer a DIY fix – it’s often cheaper in the short term, but may not be the ideal long term answer.
PR – especially copywriting – is a case in point. To use an old expression, good cobblers stick to their lasts and call on specialists to write their news releases, brochures, web pages, blogs, and so on. Others try it themselves … which gives rise to the plethora of bad releases that land on editors’ desks.
“I know how to write,” is the DIY writer’s defence.
I know how to fly an airliner … but that does not make me a pilot. I could drive a train … but I’m no train driver. On the other hand, I do know how to write – balancing the needs of a client company with those of editors and their readers.
I’ve been on the receiving end, too, so I speak with some authority: One of the biggest problems with DIY PR copy is that writers don’t know when to stop. They seldom grab the reader’s attention … and if they bother to insert direct speech, the quotes they use are low in value.
DIY writers tend to make errors and fail to spot them before sending their copy out, which can undermine the credibility of the written article. Many DIY PR productions are spoiled by bad grammar, poor spelling and sheer ignorance. Professionals (self included) are not immune from faults … but we are more conscious of them, so we tend to check everything as carefully as possible.
Good PR does not have to be expensive. But at whatever cost you agree with your PR consultant, it’s surely better to know that you are improving the chances of impressing readers.
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 17 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.