you selfish? Do you tend to think your problems are more important than
those of other people? In conversation, do you often try to turn the topic
back to yourself?
I ask not to help you channel your inner Cosmo girl or Esquire guy, but to
help you improve your PR writing. That's because if you answered yes to
one or more of these questions, you probably also write press releases
that don't work. Why?
Because you don't see things from your reader's point of view. Lost in the
fog of your own concerns you write from your own perspective. When you
pitch a media outlet, you approach it from the view: "I need to get
some publicity for this, and it's your job to help me." When you
write an article or press release you think: "This is the idea I need
to get across."
It's all I-I-I, me-me-me.
But I know you're not really and truly a selfish person. You just need
your head turned around (gently!) So let me do that by reminding you of a
very simple math concept you probably learned back when you were in short
pants or pig tails.
Think back, think waaaaaaaaay back, to grade 5. Do you remember sitting at
your desk for arithmetic? Perhaps on a day much like today, your teacher
Ms Jones or Miss Francis or Mr. Brown walked to the blackboard and drew
two circles on it. You may even have nudged the kid sitting next to you.
"Hey," you said. "Teacher made a mistake. Those circles are
on top of each other."
Then your teacher turned to the class and said "Children, this is a
Venn Diagram. Can you say Venn Diagram??"
In case you've lost Venn Diagrams to the recesses of time, let me remind
you that they show the intersection between two groups or ideas. For
circle A may represent all the food that human beings eat. And circle B
may represent all the food that horses eat. And the part where the two
circles come together (called AB) represents all the food that BOTH eat --
you know, stuff like corn, oats and apples.
When I teach people to write, I often ask them to think of a Venn diagram.
Part A is what THEY want to write about, part B is what the READER wants
to read about, and part AB is where those two interests overlap.
But let's make it simpler with a real-life example or two. Let's say
you're a book publicist and you have chef who's just written a cookbook
featuring fabulous vegetable recipes. You, of course, want to promote
vegetables (circle A).
Trouble is, that's probably snoresville to most media outlets. How can you
possibly make vegetables interesting? But wait! What about the recent E
coli outbreak relating to spinach? That's a hot story these days. So,
there you have circle B.
But how do you find AB? Well, maybe that's where your author-chef
provides the newspaper with a group of recipes in which he or she replaces
the spinach with other vegetables. (Kale salad anyone?)
Or here's another example. You want to write about a new type of backpack
your company has just launched (circle A). What do media outlets want? If
it's September, they want back-to-school stories (circle B). So
"AB" is how your backpack helps kids keep their schoolbooks
better organized. Or maybe it's that your pack has special straps that
help prevent back problems.
The main thing to remember is that AB is about satisfying both needs. It's
When you write, think Venn Diagram, think AB, and no one will ever call
you selfish again. (And media outlets will clamor to return your calls.)
daily newspaper editor, Daphne Gray-Grant is a writing and
with an international practice. Her website offers a
free newsletter that
will teach you how to write better, faster.
Sign up at www.publicationcoach.com
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