How the best writers sharpen every piece of PR content
I’ve seen it hundreds of times.
In articles. In blog posts. On websites. In press releases.
It’s often a first sentence, or maybe the start of a quote, that tries to make the case for a new technology or a new service, but ends up saying nothing at all:
Of course it comes in variations unique to each industry.
Wearables are rapidly disrupting mobile technology.
Mobile technology is quickly transforming the tech industry landscape.
The tech industry landscape is altering as swiftly as the rapidly changing global economy.
It makes sense. This is what’s happening. But there’s one thing wrong with this kind of line.
That an industry is rapidly changing isn’t news.
Everything is always changing, and it always feels fast, whether you grew up in the passenger seat of the first horseless carriage or will ride in the first autonomous car.
These kinds of lines are much too abstract, too vague to truly make the case you’re trying to make. “Rapidly changing” could mean something different to everyone who reads it, making it a lot harder to deliver your message.
Whether in a story idea sent to a reporter, a press release announcing why your company was funded, or the opening of a blog post, every sentence is a chance to lift your message above the maelstrom to earn media coverage and attract customers.
Here’s one way to make it happen.
How the best writers craft a story with every line
Every time you type the “rapidly changing” kind of line, stop and break it down. That an industry is rapidly changing isn’t news, but how and why it’s changing might be.
- What is actually changing?
- How fast is it actually changing?
- What effect is that change actually having? What does it mean?
- How does the change relate to the message you’re trying to convey?
So instead of saying:
The auto industry is rapidly changing.
You could say something like:
The electric and autonomous cars peeling out of Silicon Valley over the next five years will give Detroit a run for its money.
In the second line, we have specific changes, we have a timeline, we even have a story developing. The original sentence, on the other hand, is so abstract, it’s hard to know who’s doing what, the consequences of those actions, or what must be done about them.
Look to the media for examples of how reporters dig deeper into the changes they’re covering and what those changes mean.
The writer of a Businessweek article on airplane wi-fi could have said:
The in-flight wi-fi space is rapidly changing.
But instead, he wrote:
Soon there may be fewer f-bombs dropped at 35,000 feet. Gogo is maturing into the world of broadband satellite coverage in a technology shift that will offer fliers greater bandwidth and vastly broader geographic coverage.
A Wired review of the Samsung Gear VR might have said:
The virtual reality market is rapidly accelerating.
But instead, the writer noted:
In the space of three and a half years, virtual reality has matured from a long-dead relic of ’90s futurism to a platform that’s received billions of dollars of funding and attracted the best and brightest minds in the tech world.
If, like these writers, you can capture the specific challenges and changes that prompted your company to develop your latest product or service, you can make your next pitch, blog post, or press release more engaging, more incisive, and more memorable.
Often the “rapidly changing” line is what writers call “throat clearing,” the words you type to figure out what you’re saying. They can be a useful tool in developing your message. Just make sure to get more concrete or trim them out before the draft is finalized.
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