PR & Communications opinion
Five ways to write PR tailored for web
A PR agency asked me to create buzz about a rubber-like chemical, called ADA, used by Sasko to make their flour whiter. They already had a seasoned journalist working the case and roped me in for a more, let's call it, online approach.
As someone who's still not clear on the difference between 'on the record' and 'off the record', I immediately decided to steer clear of any scenario involving a dictaphone. After that I sat down to write an online protest following five simple guidelines.
1. Don't write a headline - write a tweet
If it worked on Twitter, it would work anywhere. Food puns were in. Sugar-coating was out. I went with Flour Foul Play: Sasko Substance Shocker. My friend in journalism wrote Sasko Bows To Pressure On Yoga Mat Chemical. Each to his own.
2. Open with a smile
Since we were already in the kitchen, I opened with a mini recipe for disaster: Be careful next time you mix flour, yeast and water. You might just pull a yoga mat from the oven. My learned colleague opened with a summary of the situation outlining both sides of the story.
Much more serious, but something you'd expect next to an article on the Griekwastad murder trial. I was squeezed in between the latest Miley Cyrus meltdown and a 'Most Read' newsfeed.
3. Air an opinion
My learned colleague built his article on hard facts. I built mine on opinion with a sprinkling of facts. In my opinion adding plastic to flour is bad.
To add spice, I delivered my opinion in a slightly fed-up, sarcastic tone. Think Debora Patta reading copy written by the Entertainment Now team.
4. Write sensational sub-headers
Sub-headers can make or break a blog. Public health was at stake so, for my sub-headers, I used words like 'outcry' and 'can hurt you'. Surprisingly, my friend in journalism also used sub-headers but banked on words like 'explained' and 'should be removed'. Here's a play-by-play in order of appearance.
Me: An International Outcry!
My colleague: "Flour should be removed" - activists
Me: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You
My colleague: The "yoga mat chemical" explained
Me: Too Little Too Late
My colleague: Continued improvement necessary
Me: A Good Outcome For Who?
My colleague: Fast-tracking the removal of ADA
5. End with a sting
I ended with a critical look at two quotes lifted from my colleague's dictaphone (thanks buddy). First I questioned Sasko's "fast-tracking" of the removal of ADA when flour containing ADA was still on the shelves.
Then I lambasted Pick n Pay for saying removing ADA from their bakeries' pre-mixes was a "good outcome for everyone". Clearly it wasn't since ADA could still be found in flour on Pick n Pay's shelves. With those two flour bombs the piece was wrapped and ready for the web.
About Hansie SmitHansie Smit is a self-employed writer who answers to no one (except his clients). He spends a lot of time in coffee shops tapping into free wi-fi making sure he buys a bran muffin every time to ease the inevitable guilt he feels getting something for free. Hansie received a Diploma in Copywriting from the prestigious AAA School of Advertising in Cape Town.