Professional writer and press manager

Pitching a press release (by a freelance writer)

As a freelance writer, there are many projects I write for. From Robotics to Speech and Language Therapy, and from food and health to climate change and coppicing. However, having worked my way up from pot washer to head chef, head waitress and many other food related positions, I am happy to say I am also a freelancer who specialises in food and drink in Cornwall.

Last week was a great week for being a food writing freelancer because I visited loads of places, including Quicke’s farm in Devon. Mary Quicke is one of the most inspirational people I have met. Her face lit up when I asked whether looking after her staff was important to her and she replied that she wanted to give people wings. This is one of the reasons I started working with small businesses. I know the passion that people put in and you’re putting all the effort into creating amazing products, I want other people to know about how great they are.

freelance writer for food and drink in Cornwall

Freelance press release writing gets results

 

One of the best ways to do this is by writing press releases and conducting press campaigns and establishing good press relationships. At the start I didn’t understand the importance of this, and cringe-ably used a kind of say and spray technique.

Often blasting news at over 1000 poor journalists and bloggers, I can assure you, does not make you popular.

So before you even send the thing, spend time creating a bespoke list of press contacts. People who are genuinely interested in what you might have to stay. It takes time, but this is the beauty of enlisting an expert press release writer. They’ll know who might publish, and how to get the results you want. Otherwise a good place to start is by finding reporters who have previously written about your subject, and approaching them.

But here’s the secret to that…

Ascertain a budget prior to contacting. Know what your budget is and how much, if any, you’re going to spend on advertising. Many publications will offer you space for advertising. If you aren’t going to consider this, you’d be well advised to make it clear in your pitch.

Copywriter in Cornwall specialises in press release

Putting a bit of personality in a pitch helps

 

And the pitch.

That terrifying moment that could make all the difference between your release being read or deleted.

For what it’s worth, there are ways to make the pitch work for you. It’s predominantly dependent on understanding how your news is going to benefit that publication, or even particular journalist. Wherever you can, refer to a related story or angle previously covered, to put your idea into context.

Don’t be afraid to be friendly!

You’re pitching to another human, so write as such. I often report what I can see from my window. I’m sure this isn’t thrilling, but rather it makes the connection of being a real person, experiencing real life. Which is priceless through so much digital, clinical, impersonal fluff.

Freelance writer in Cornwall

Then again some of our views are amazing in Cornwall

Don’t use any hyperbole either. Just chat like you would to a friend, outlining why you think the release might be useful to them.

Offer to help if they need anything more, and then sign off.

So ultimately the key is to be personal, be friendly and be helpful. And that’s all. If you’d rather pass it over to someone who’s been there before, give me a call or drop me a line.

Cheers!

 

Lx

Professional writer and press manager

Can your brand afford not to have a professional handling social media?

Clearly intended to invite controversy, the title of Steve Farnsworth’s article Is Social Media Beyond A Public Relations Professional’s Skill Set is pretty effective at producing clickbait.  And that’s its intention. Any article’s intention is to inform people of its angle, but more importantly to incite a reaction: igniting enquiry. I was no rebel for resistance when I saw this little gem early this morning.

Having actually read his article, and the article that incited him to write it, it transpires that I agree entirely with both articles’ premise, and wish now to contribute my own opinion on the relationship between being a PR professional and managing clients’ social media accounts.

Weaving together a raft of skills gained, from marketing to content creation, from social media to journalism and everything in between; it’s the job of a PR professional to create brand messages that are seen by the public. Be that in 140 characters via twitter or an extended blog post about the latest news, and company developments; everything counts as content, and everything creates a dialogue between your brand and the public.

By opting to choose a professional in modern PR, you should find someone who is able to strategise your social media usage, ensuring they:

  • create targeted, insightful content to appeal to a wide audience of prospects
  • educate and inspire both existing customers and prospects to engender trust and build a culture of respect for the brand’s authority
  • generate targeted leads and new sources for lead generation through engaging relevant prospects
Expert content creation is linked with social media

PR Professionals need to wear the hats of experts in marketing and social media today

PR, like SEO, content creation and arguably sales and marketing in general, is a movable feast. Particularly in the digital area. It’s a long lasting relationship that incorporates all kinds of skills and knowledge, which change daily.

Like mighty oaks on a still night, the principles are unbending: you want to increase exposure, focusing on targeted prospects, present a positive public image of the company and build trust relationships. But where PR has changed is that it’s interlinked with content creation. And it’s essential now to offer value to prospects and existing clients. This often happens in the form of linking content marketing to social media. And to being available on social media channels to answer questions and develop dialogue.

For example, embedded into my work with Chocolarder and The Cornish Seaweed Company, is recipe creation to engage prospects. This is giving people who are interested in the product something for free. They don’t have to use Chocolarder chocolate or Cornish Seaweed to create the recipe. It’s personal choice. However, since many people have also read the copy in the About Us section, and interacted via social media, the majority have a vested interest in the ethos of the company and will choose their product.

Giving prospects something valuable to take away

Content creation includes recipes

The result is that by giving people a valuable product, albeit free recipes or advice, you strengthen your position as an authority on the subject, whilst also creating desire through subtle marketing. Gone are the days of the hard sell, with individuals preferring to invest in companies who create a feeling.

It stands to reason then, that the same person who is creating the tone of voice across all channels –  blogs to brochures, and pins to tweets – ought to be responsible for managing PR campaigns. So in retort to Farnsworth’s question: A PR professional is more than qualified to manage social media. So long as they’re forward thinking, modern professionals who understand the evolutionary and fluid nature of all things digital. Preferably with an online portfolio demonstrating a varied toolkit to draw from.

I can offer content management and brand development across all channels, including PR campaigns or management.

Some of my clients choose to outsource my services, and for others I have an in-house role. How much or little involvement you wish me to have depends entirely on your business, your budget and your preference. If you want me to suggest ideas; I’m full of them. However, I’m also pretty well qualified at just converting words into stories.

To have a chat about any of this, please feel free to call 07729263818 or email me laura[at]palavermaven.co.uk.

Professional writer and press manager

How did I get onto the front page of Google for ‘Copywriter in Cornwall’?

Carving ornate oceanic clefts to beguile his mistress, the pufferfish seeks to let the world know humans aren’t the only ones impressed by ‘culture’. Today, we walk the landscape of a world where we’ve never had such an easy way to be powerful communicators ever before. As whistling and clicking languages evolved into complex grammatical systems, we now saturate the fibres of the internet with these snippets of culture.

Investing in crafted content yields a high ROI

Primarily focusing on high quality content, SEO’s landscape is changing

Proving that the landscape of SEO has really changed; in just 2 months I have managed to use expert communications and copywriting alone to secure a spot on the front page of Google. In saying secure, I mean ‘hesitantly hover’ and in saying communication and copywriting, I am not denying that I have acquired some SEO skills. I just mean: if I can do it, then so can you. My seaweed harvesting, cutting and drying clients are enjoying similar exposure. So I’m going to share with you some of the ways I’ve done things, to help your brand too.

Start local

Purely focusing on high value content will help your brand get recognised

If you type copywriter Cornwall into Google, you will see my name!

Having grown up in Cornwall, and spent over 25 of my 34 years here, I am aware that the place is small when compared with other counties up and down our island. My work is not limited to Cornwall. I liaise daily with people from Penzance to Aberdeenshire and Narbeth to Norfolk; plus many overseas folk too. However, the population density of Cornwall has made hitting the top spot here easier than when I lived in Bristol.  Once clients start recommending you to others, you’ll soon acquire wider connections.

Care about your content, and make readers care too

Expertly written and high value content is the most valuable thing you can invest in. I don’t mean financially. Although, by all means hire me to write for you, or have someone in-house do it; but, be it in time or money, this expenditure will have the most impressive ROI. Patiently tending to the science and flavour notes of roasting, winnowing and making his own chocolate, Mike from Chocolarder and I have some lengthy conversations to ensure we get his message right across his communications. Mike cares about his content, I care about words and it makes his followers care about his brand. His sales have recently quadrupled, due to implementing an integrative strategy in his marketing.

Harness the behemoth that is the media

Whether it’s announcing a new product or partnership, giving an expert opinion on a news piece, or publicising a forthcoming event: use the media to get your name out there. I met a guy through the amazing internet lift-sharing phenomenon blablacar who gave me this bit of advice: drench the media. He had met a DJ who loved Lana Del Rey, decided he wanted to work with her and managed it; through soaking social media sites with links to his stuff. This collaboration, of course,catapulted his career. When used correctly, the media and the press release act as validations of your authenticity. Particularly when they come from high quality sources, such as authority newspapers.

Understand linking

In saying this, I have not spent any money on backlinks, nor have I really traded them. I have guest posted, and asked others to guest post for me: to give a different perspective, or talk about a different theme. This still prioritises content, as I have only asked people whose writing I know is of a high quality, and interest to give value to my readers. However, something I only learnt this summer is how to use linking effectively.

If you look at the anchor phrases (the words in red) used in any of the links in this article, you’ll see they generally explain what something is, or does, as opposed to just stating its name. What this does is links the keywords to the site: strengthening their potency.

Using pictures breaks up the text

Pictures offer high value content to readers

Picture tags

Another thing I have figured out only recently is that Google likes pictures. That’s probably because my friend, editor, and expert writer Jack ‘Koukouvaya’ Oughton said that exact phrase to me when giving me editorial guidelines for my Tasting Britain submissions. When you add pictures to your posts: not only do they look better, but actually you get to give descriptions, which usually naturally emphasise your key words.

In both my life and my writing, I like everything to be as natural and organic as possible. And somehow following these steps has helped me reap the rewards. I deplore bragging, but am telling the truth when I say if I can do it, so can you.

If you do want some advice or consultancy on getting your brand noticed, call me for a chat or drop me an email. But be warned: I love chatting! It’s what Palaver Maven means!

pa·lav·er: Idle chatter. Talk intended to charm or beguile.
ma·ven : A person who has special knowledge or experience; an expert

07729263818 or laura(at)palavermaven.co.uk.

Professional writer and press manager

Developing character: the multiple personalities of a content writer

This post may debunk the magic. Read on at your discretion…

“you’re looking for the secret. But you won’t find it because of course, you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.”

Excellent branding, as I’ve often said before, starts with excellent planning, and also entering into and maintaining a dialogue with your audience. We’ve always been told, in any industry, that customer service is the most important factor. Which it always will be. Essentially, great customer service is about communication. All good relationships are about communication, and excellent branding is making a commitment to a long relationship.

What it also involves is an element of magic. And what I mean by that is not some terrifying display á la The Great Danton or Houdini. It’s the element of magic that Michael Caine, aka Cutter, in the film The Prestige refers to when he says “you’re looking for the secret. But you won’t find it because of course, you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.” And creating amazing stories across all brand communication channels is much the same kind of magic.

People must realise there is a lot more to a brand than the lovely pictures that get shown on social media and the crafted stories spun to engage and inspire readers. Behind every business is accounts and finances; admin; bills; payroll; training; outsourcing; and whole host of less-than-exciting menial tasks that a small business simply cannot function without. And yet, what they buy into are the snippets of stories, the development of character: the suspension of disbelief.

we know it's not really magic, but we don't want to know the truth

Storytelling in branding is like magic

Coming up with a strong and believable branding story requires creativity and strategy and excellent storytelling. It also requires the attributes of a professional writer. You need to sound like the protagonist. Your brand is leading the story, by becoming an authority voice. Kathi Kruse wrote an excellent post about the techniques used within a good content strategy, and essentially boiled hem down to the literacy points I would have taught my kids when I was teaching: show don’t tell, build drama, write about the stuff you like. All of this is advice that excellent writers such as Marquez, Atwood and Murukami would give.

It’s no surprise that with this level of detail, professionalism, strategy and time, many people choose to employ a professional writer to create tone of voice.

Part of my job as a content writer and branding consultant is to help craft these stories for my clients.  And to do this well, first I need to spend some time with them, really getting to know their character, the character of their brand and start to shape a direction for the story of this character to go in. The peaks and troughs. Ups and downs. How would they react to current affairs?

In any one week, I might be an American business man imparting his marketing secrets; a food expert reviewing restaurants and products, a young fashionista describing the newest makeup on the market; or a yoga expert evaluating the effectiveness of different anyasas. I also have my regular posts, where I review food and drink products and restaurants, write for The National Curriculum.com website and give marketing and content writing advice right here.

I imagine long running soap stars must have the same problem!

At times, I  have focused so sharply on this array of characters that I almost feel I have multiple personalities. I write only for brands I care about, and so immersing myself in their worlds is no hardship. But once a project is complete; which can happen for any number of reasons; I find myself missing hanging out with my friends. I imagine long running soap stars must have the same problem!

Just as we do for a good story, a movie or book; we need to suspend disbelief when ‘buying into’ (in the psychological, time investment sense) a brand. And if you can ignite that same sense of curiosity, excitement and empathy, you will build a successful brand and see sales increase.

To find out more about my services, stay tuned via my e newsletter once a month. Sign up by popping your email in the box below, but please feel free to contact me by phone or email too.

 

7 Deadly sins of press release creation

When articulated well and containing useful, relevant information, the humble press release can still achieve excellent results in promoting your event or company news. I’ve been handling press releases for Bristol businesses and many others reaching the length and breadth of the UK and US now. Whilst unable to guarantee publishing, avoiding committing the seven sins of bad PR should put you in good stead for consideration by journalists, bloggers and media types.

#1 Your title is not striking

As the opener, the title is the first thing a journalist will see. If it’s clunky, badly written or too long, it may well be the only thing they’ll see. With this in mind: make it punchy and a good condensed version of the key newsworthy angle of your release. Opting to use puns or wordplay is only really successful if it’s actually funny.

#2 You’ve written it in the first person

Many companies make the mistake of more or less lifting the content of their press release from their ‘About Us’ page. A press release is never written in the first person. It should never say “we’ve achieved” this or “I believe” that. It’s always written as though someone else is presenting your story: hopefully the myriad journalists who see it as newsworthy. Of course, quotes from the CEO or MD are kept in the first person.

#3 You’ve not exploited quotes

Touched upon above, it’s really important to emphasise the importance of quotes. Once you’ve decided on an angle for your story, include quotes from yourself or a company spokesperson. As well as being the only part of a release that is acceptable in the first person, quotes are the only thing journalists can’t change. As such these are an opportunity to really sell your idea, event or news.

#4 Punctuation sucks

Anything from a rogue apostrophe to overuse of CAPS will make the decision to delete you release for good, easy for potential journalists. Editors, reporters and journalists are busy people with tight deadlines to consider. Think of this when creating your press release. It needs to be as ‘ready to use’ as possible to, ultimately, save time. If you’re not sure on the rules of English, ask someone to proof your news who is. Or employ a writer to create your press release for you.

#5 Where’s that?

No stone should be left unturned when it comes to exactly who your company are and where to find them. As a subheading, include a summary before your first paragraph including who and where you are and the angle. Part of my service includes undertaking this research for clients, but many journalists won’t be this patient and if you don’t include all information, they may well reject your press release.

#6 It reads too much like an advert

This is a tricky balance to create. Essentially, you do want the release to act as a form of free advertising for your company. However, you can’t make it too promotional. Foremost, a press release should be a presentation of facts, so keep it factual and use objective copy as opposed to using too much hyperbole or making unrealistic claims about your company.

#7 Irrelevant content

Again, a really common mistake companies make when creating their press releases for submission is forgetting to find a newsworthy angle. Although you may wish to promote a 30% sale, which is great news to existing customers, how is it relevant to the readership of your target press? You need to relate the benefits to the journalist’s readers in order to maximise their chances of publishing. Read news in that sector and relate your release to an angle.

These are just some examples of mistakes I have seen when companies send me their ‘sketched out’ press releases. Of course, if you’re sending it to a professional writer to create, then an outline of what the news is and who you want to attract with it should be satisfactory. Please see pdf. examples of my releases on Cision to look at structure and word count. Or contact me today to see what I can produce for you.

Website content

Confessions of an accidental business woman #1

I say accidental because I naively envisaged sitting behind my computer all day typing creative articles and being paid for it.  For a time this was an accurate depiction of life as an original creative copywriter. But to sustain it, I have had to learn about databases, marketing, PR, SEO, web design and many other cogs in the smooth(ening) running of my pepperetically* (well oiled would be a lie) oiled machine. This was not always the plan. And I say businesswoman, which still makes me laugh, as it does with so many of my clients from SMBs and sole trading ventures. I’m still little me sitting in my office tapping away at the keyboard and trying to juggle all sorts of additional tasks.

I’ve decided to launch Confessions of an accidental businesswoman as an aside to the regular blog, which will feature once a week and tell readers about my mistakes in business, so you can avoid making them yourself!

My Confession

I confess that when I first started I didn’t really know who my target audience were. I didn’t have my invented character sitting beside me to ‘chat through things’ and the posts were clunkier with no real direction. Being a professional writer is one thing and being a businesswoman is another.

Avoid doing the same thing

Having a strategy in place will ensure you avoid making the same mistake. Get to know who your target audience are and build content tailored to them. My top tip for a solution to this problem is outlined below. I make mistakes, so you don’t have to.

The Solution: Invent a character

No, not as in who you should be. You should be you. I’m not a fan of impossible statistics but you should 110% be you, as this is who your prospects and customers want to buy from. But you should invent a character who is your consumer. They need to fit the demographic and be a friend; a confidant and a sounding board.  Imagine that everything you write is essentially having a conversation with that person. This achieves two things: you build a relationship with the character in quite the same way as you would with a ‘real’ person. You show your thoughts and feelings and speak in a language that is easy to understand. Symbiotically, whilst you are revealing your true self to them, they will believe in you; which is more likely to convert them into a customer.

Of course, with all the best will in the world, we all make mistakes and every person in a small business will have their own confessions to make. I’d love to hear yours. Please comment below if you have some words of wisdom to impart for other people in SMEs and SMBs.

*my own portmanteau of peppered and sporadically. Meaning my machine could be oiled more frequently. It’s s sort of a homonym of peripatetic which has left my mind with images of a lazy, migratory pepper pot!