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How much money do organizations invest in external trainers and educational seminars a year? Actually, U.S. companies will spend $156 billion a year on employee training alone, according to the American Society for Training and Development. But recently at W2 Communications, it only cost the price of three pizzas and an hour of everyone’s time: Throughout the year, our firm’s senior-level employees tap into their expertise and bestow valuable knowledge, not only to junior level employees, but to the entire staff. At our high-tech PR agency, we like to constantly improve and hone our skills so we can continue providing the best services to our clients.
During the first “W2 University” session, Principal and Co-Founder, Evan Weisel led the team in an informal seminar about media interview planning and coordination.
Most recently our Director of Content, Dennis McCafferty, ordered the pizzas for lunch and invited the entire team to join him in the conference room for a few handouts and an open discussion on client writing and best practices. Written communications remains a critical skill for all firms, especially ours. On a day-to-day basis, we strive to produce press releases, award nominations, speaking submissions, blogs, etc., that set our clients apart from the competition. Here are a few tips we learned from Dennis:
Clarity is king.
B2B content must be relatable and clear. Whether you’re describing IT or another industry, if you have any doubt about what you’re reading in a draft, give it the “Aunt Sarah” test: Would your Aunt Sarah understand what it’s about? If not, simplify so the message is clear for the intended audience.
Use concrete details.
It’s essential to go beyond “insider” jargon when conveying what the company does and why it’s interesting. Use “real” examples of how it is solving customers’ problems. Illustrate impact with meaningful metrics.
Get to know your client’s story.
What turns a basic, run-of-the-mill PR pitch into a real story? When you relay interesting, anecdotal information and truly “sell” your client’s story. Every client has a function, for example, but does every one have a CEO that was a former Airborne Ranger? And what if nine of every ten employees in that company are current or former members of the military? How does this unique “story” help the client better serve customers? Such details can turn a pitch from an “I’ll pass” to a legitimate story.
Your subject header/headline is often your sole shot at a ‘sell.’
Busy reporters will not take the time to read your email or pitch if the subject line doesn’t grab their attention. Think of the person you are sending the email to, and create an interesting subject line that would make YOU want to open this email. Meaning a pitch with a subject header such as, “Acme Corp. Awarded $40 Million Extension of DHS Contract,” MIGHT prompt a journalist to read the pitch. But one that better illustrates the client’s value statement – such as “Tech Solution that Cut Cyber Incidents in Half for DHS to Expand under New Agreement” – will inspire better results.
It’s great to work at an agency where we are constantly learning and taking advantage of each other’s expertise. I look forward to each W2 University session when we get to sit down and discover new skills and grow professionally… while enjoying good pizza!
Christine Blake is a senior account coordinator at W2 Communications.