What not to do! Mistakes that PROs make when writing articles
7th July 2014
I love most of the copy I get from PROs, I would be lost without it. For a start I would have to do a lot more writing myself, and as much as I love working, occasionally I like to do other stuff.
It is extremely rare that I have had to send copy back for a complete rewrite, but usually there are tweaks that have to be made.
So if you want your next piece of copy to appear without having been torn apart, destroyed or generally messed about with by some upstart of an editor (not me of course, I am far too old to be called an upstart), then here are a few tips:
1. Don’t bother with an introduction. All the boring background stuff can be fitted in later on in the article. Find a juicy nugget of information and use it in the first line.
2. Don’t plug. Magazines and newspapers have advertising pages for running advertorials. If you want to write an advert, you need to pay. Only mention the company you’re PR-ing once, if at all.
3. Don’t spend ages on a headline. Publications usually won’t use your headline anyway. Obviously, write something pithy and interesting, but don’t expect to see it appear unadulterated.
4. Don’t spell names wrong. It is surprising how often I double check the names of people and companies to find they have been spelt wrong – even really famous names. This makes the writer look sloppy. Worse, if I’m having a lazy day and forget to do all the checking, it makes me look stupid!
5. Don’t be dull. Tell a story – we editors have to wade through a hell of a lot of copy, so it makes our job much more fun if you are entertaining.
6. Dare to be funny. Copy that makes readers laugh really stands out. No matter how serious the subject, there are still opportunities to use humour. In fact, it is probably more important to take a light-hearted approach if the subject matter is intrinsically serious.
7. Don’t overwrite. If the editor wants 500 words, don’t provide 1,000. It takes more time to cut an article in half than it does to write a completely new one.