Digital Marketing

Press Releases: Making the Most of Every Word

So much of writing marketing copy is about making decisions. Every word we choose and every expression that we wield says something about our brand. It reflects on us as much as our products do. So it stands to reason that we should put a comparable amount of effort into perfecting it.
One problem that writers often encounter is in employing too-common terms. If the language we select is grossly overused, its impact is probably being diminished. Consider, for example, the corporate press release that’s written to convey a message of strength and innovation, or reliability and trust. Then ask yourself how the reader might perceive it if it includes an expression like “industry leader.” The term seems harmless enough, but in fact it has become so clichéd that it instantly sends off a warning bell about the brand to which it’s being applied. Instead of delivering that message of strength and trust the writing actually suggests the company is too weak and unoriginal to come up with a better term…while simultaneously inviting the reader to question its validity.
It isn’t a good combination.
That said there’s plenty that you can do to create a new language for your brand that relays its story and ideology in an original way. I can’t overstate the value of original marketing copy and what it can do for brand recall, affinity, and loyalty. Think of the personal feeling you get from brands like JetBlue (“Loading route map. Oh, the places you can go!”) or Enlighten client Jimmy John’s (“Free smells”). How does one go about reproducing this magic? Here are a few tips.

  1. Expand your lexicon. A thesaurus can be a marketing writer’s best friend, particularly when it presents the alternatives in a stimulating way. Employ a tool like the Visual Thesaurus to unearth new options suited to your brand’s needs – just be sure not to let its plethora of possibilities lead you off the mark. Like the Visual Thesaurus, Google’s AdWords Keyword tool is useful for finding related words and phrases. Of course, words with the highest volume searches are typically the most over-used and clichéd. But if you look through the list of suggestions—not top performers but words with relatively high volume—you may find language that’s not only fresh but helps to drive search traffic to your content.
  2.  Keep a language list. You’ve probably heard novelists report that they keep a journal of ideas in order to inspire future works. The same approach can work wonders for marketing writers. As you come across fresh and interested terms, jot them down for future reference, even if you aren’t yet sure how you’ll be able to use them. They may prove invaluable when you’re faced with copy that’s falling a little flat.
  3.  Vet your vocabulary options. Before making a decision about a term or expression you’re considering using in association with your brand, take to the Web to conduct a miniature background check. A quick search will reveal a lot about the context in which it has been used in the past and the types of purposes it has served. You may discover it comes with a reputation that you don’t at all want to associate with.

In addition to her role as Communications Director at Enlighten (now Perficient Digital), Tessa writes a syndicated weekly column on Internet media buying for ClickZ.com, the world’s largest interactive marketing resource, and is a regular contributor to The Globe and Mail‘s marketing site, GlobeLink.ca.

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