We’ve got in-house copywriters. Why would we need a journalist to write our PR stories?
It’s a question numerous clients have asked us, often at the start of our relationship, and one we’re always happy to answer.
When creating copy for owned media, it clearly makes sense to turn to in-house copywriters. They know the business inside out, they’re intimate with your marketing messaging and house style (or at least they should be, they came up with it), and even better, they’re already on the payroll. You hired them for their experience and skill in crafting copy, so it makes perfect sense to assign all your writing to them…including authoring PR output. Right?
A golden value exchange
Well, not exactly. Writing for earned media is a very different beast to copywriting. Creating thought leadership that people want to read, and top-tier trade and business press editors want to publish, is a very specific challenge. Strong articles that effectively draw out thinking and expertise require planning and deep digging. And every piece generated must align with your specific PR objectives, otherwise – well, why are you saying it?
Your audience is time poor, generally racing at a million miles an hour to service clients (you know this, because you’re doing the same for yours). A clear value exchange is the only way to earn their precious time and attention. In a TL;DR* era, and in fact in every era, everything you put out should offer your reader a gift. That might be a bold new opinion, or valuable learnings from recent work with a killer brand – always being mindful that even the punchiest advice can fail to land if it isn’t also a joy to read.
The perfect synergy
There is great value in having your PR story ideas generated, written, and presented to the media by one multi-skilled, collaborative team. This alchemy generates stories that strike gold both with editors at top-tier titles and the audiences that read them.
Relationship curation is a big part of this: the synergy between editorial consultants, account teams, and their key journalist contacts grows over time, like a well-nurtured house plant. (To continue the metaphor, the occasional burst of watering doesn’t work. Effective relationships grow from a consistent drip feed of all the right ingredients, including spontaneous sharing of ideas across desks).
There’s a reason why so many writers make the move to the dark side, otherwise known as transitioning from journalism to PR, and in my case to an Editorial Consultant role at a proudly specialist brand design-focused agency. Yes, PR generally pays better, but much more importantly for anyone who wants long-term career satisfaction, it scratches the itch that every journalist worth their press card has. We love to unearth stories. It’s because we have unquenchable curiosity. We’re genuinely very, very interested in people and what they do and want to reflect what we discover back to the world in ways that inform, provoke, and entertain.
This – coupled with media-side experience – helps journalists ask the incisive questions that draw out the golden nuggets in people’s thinking, then shape them into well-structured stories.
A craft and a science
At Red Setter, our story development process has been painstakingly developed and refined over the best part of a decade, paying close attention to what does (and doesn’t) land well with audiences and media.
When I joined the agency in October, I was struck by the level of care and detail that has gone into constructing every stage of this well-structured process. From the strategic alignment of stories with PR messages at the initial strategy and immersion phase and the carefully considered questions we ask clients at monthly story scoping sessions, to the continuous collaboration between the writers and account experts who make up our teams – there’s a craft and a science behind getting the right stories published in the right creative titles and gold standard business media.
An eagle-eye view
Working with a journalist-turned-editorial consultant brings all-important objectivity to your media output. Your time, and that of your team, is quite rightly spent servicing clients and honing your own business brand. Turning to external writers helps you tap into the wider zeitgeist and stay attuned to cultural trends. They’ll bring an eagle-eye view of your industry and experience in how to differentiate your voice from competitors’, particularly if they specialise in the niche vertical you work in.
But the only way you’ll know if it’s worth investing in a PR agency for writing is by monitoring the results of coverage. The right PR agency will also help you consistently measure and amplify your placements so every piece of writing delivered creates the desired impact at your business.
(Ed: *Too long, didn't read 😉)