How to Write Copy for Publicity Material

A few well-chosen words can stir the emotions and even persuade people to adopt a different viewpoint. The art lies in choosing the right words. Effective copy remembers the reader, uses straightforward language, and employs meticulous planning.

Understanding Copy

Publicity material should be written in a totally new and different language. It is neither business writing nor traditional composition but a style that is creative and rule-breaking. Certain grammatical strictures can be abandoned in the language of copy. As long as communication is not being impeded, it is acceptable to adopt a more relaxed style of writing, something more akin perhaps to the spoken word.

Using Plain English

Organizational jargon is an extremely useful shorthand when confined to communication in-house or with fellow professionals who, as it were, speak the language. However, publicity materials are generally produced for an external audience and so should avoid jargon. Jargon-free writing is known as “plain English”. It features short, everyday words and brief sentences; unnecessary technical terms and officialese are avoided. Plain English follows a clear and logical order that takes into account the needs and interests of the reader. It is a straightforward and transparent style, not a pompous, self-important, and opaque way of writing. Replace cumbersome and cliched phrases with succinct words: “now” rather than “at this point in time”, for example.

Applying Copywriting Techniques

Professional copywriters use a number of techniques to add interest and life to their prose. Rhyme is a much-used technique, as is alliteration (where two or more neighbouring words begin with the same sound”). Puns (witty plays on words), too. are a popular technique. Good copy has rhythm. A mix of short and longer sentences can help your copy flow. An occasional one-word sentence will provide interest and unexpectedly alter the rhythm in a way that holds a readers interest. Avoid monotony by inverting sentences and creating a new word order. For example, rather than writing “This year’s catalogue features a wider range of products than ever and is unmissable”, try “With a wider than ever range of products, this year’s catalogue is unmissable”.

Finding Inspiration

When you are under pressure to produce a piece of publicity, it can be difficult to come up with a good idea. The harder you try, the more elusive the idea becomes. Look out for other people’s good ideas and build up a collection of inspirational publicity material. When inspiration is lacking, look through your collection to see if it can spark a few ideas. Analyze effective copy and try to identify the techniques the writer has used. See if those techniques can be re-interpreted and re-deployed in your own work. Sometimes inspiration can be found in unexpected places: children’s books, giftwrap, greetings cards, and magazines have all served to stimulate creativity. If inspiration still eludes you. try a brainstorming session with colleagues. This may free your mind and help release a good idea.

Revising Your Work

Produce a first draft of your publicity material, then put it aside for a day or two. Return to it fresh and your chances of spotting its shortcomings will be increased. Identify areas for improvement, then redraft as necessary. Repeat this process until you are happy with the result. When revising your work, look out for: cliches; repetition of words or phrases; jargon; and redundancy (unnecessary words). Check for lack of consistency. Avoid verbosity, ambiguity, and pomposity. Aim for clarity and brevity. Having reached a version that you feel content with, test your text on a small number of people representative of your target audience. Ask for feedback and amend your copy as necessary.

Dealing with Writer’s Block

All writers experience writer’s block occasionally, but it is an affliction that strikes inexperienced writers particularly frequently. The main symptom is an inexplicable inability to concentrate or to write. If you do suffer from writer’s block, try one of the many techniques guaranteed to help you get started – or finished. Take a break, get some fresh air, or try a change of scene. Find a quiet place to work, or take your writing home with you. Boost your energy levels by running around the block or eating a snack. You will probably be more alert earlier in the working day, so timetable your copywriting for the morning if writer’s block remains a problem.

Filed Under: Work & Careers


About the Author: Vanessa Page works a career counselor in one of the leading firms in Los Angeles. She is also a blogger and gives tips on how people can tackle their work and career issues. She has 8 years of experience in this field.

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