i Can Haz Gud Writing?

“Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up.” – Stephen King, On Writing

When you think about PR, do you immediately think about writing? How about storytelling?

Both of these elements are critical to the practice, and you’d be amazed at how few PR practitioners are competent writers. We’re not even talking great writers, because if you were a great writer, you’d probably either be writing exclusively or be a copywriter at some fancy advertising agency. Merely possessing basic writing skills and old-fashioned storytelling abilities is a rarity in PR professionals.

What is good writing? Well, we don’t mean the fundamentals, like spell-checking and knowing when to use a verb (or avoiding adverbs). We’re also not even talking about butchering the English language or peppering your pitches with “amazeballs” (a word we wish would die a quick and painful death).

We mean compelling writing that would make someone want to open up an email pitch, or a press release that isn’t drenched in jargon and technical terms that would put anyone to sleep.

Press releases are maligned not because of what it is – after all, a press release is meant to be a useful document that outlines the news in a factual manner – but because of how they’re written. Whether saturated with marketing-speak, technical jargon, or false claims, press releases these days are entirely too long, entirely too hyperbolic and entirely too poorly written for any journalist to take seriously.

We don’t blame the media for loathing press releases. It was a grave that we PR practitioners dug ourselves, and maybe it was time to stick a fork in it anyway. But it’s clear that poor writing is to blame for the press release’s loss of relevance.

PR practitioners should be able to write, and write well. Whether you’re the SVP or an AC, you should be able to tell a compelling story in one short paragraph about your client. And if you can’t do that, then go read up on how to tell great stories, grab a copy of Stephen King’s “On Writing,” take an improv class, and brush up on those writing skills.  And please don’t use “amazeballs” in your pitch.

Why Parry Gripp Is Better For Your Brand Than Brad Pitt

You might not know who Parry Gripp is, but millions of YouTube fanatics do. Not only did Parry create the 15 million views+ video, “Baby Monkey Going Backwards on a Pig” (which spawned our client Kihon Gameshit iOS game), he also has more than 97 million combined video views on YouTube (and his animal-themed songs are ridiculously catchy).

With that kind of built-in audience base, anything Parry does has quite an effect on his followers. Content creators like Parry have thousands, sometimes millions, of followers not just on YouTube but across social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Their influence is far-reaching and to call them tech-savvy is an understatement. These content creators, these new “weblebrities” if you will, understand how to market themselves, and conversely, understand how to market other brands in a way that million dollar-fetching celebrities simply don’t.

It would be a great exaggeration to proclaim the death of the celebrity but it would be accurate to say that the term “celebrity” has changed drastically with the social media era that we now live in. YouTube (and other social media platforms) are making regular folks with a camera and an Internet connection famous (and often infamous). Granted, most of these folks are being laughed at, rather than with, but it’s not stopping some of them from collecting impressive paychecks that make us rethink our career path.

Our client, Threshold Interactive, an interactive marketing firm that is often charged by major brands to create these advertising campaigns, recently wrote a great article for MarketingProfs outlining the reasons why a YouTube weblebrity is probably better for your brand than Kim Kardashian (well, anyone would be better for your brand than Kim Kardashian).

What does this all mean in the world of marketing, where brands used to throw millions of dollars to movie stars and television personalities like George Clooney, Brad Pitt and the dashing Mad Men? Are these movie stars in danger of losing a very easy (and sizeable) source of income?

Not exactly, but it does mean that the playing field gets just a bit leveled for brands that can’t afford even one item on Mariah Carey’s rider. Smaller, scrappier brands are enlisting the services of equally scrappy YouTube and social media weblebrities and creating mutually beneficial relationships. For the brand, they get a built-in audience and a seriously influential brand ambassador for just a fraction of the cost of a film star. For weblebrities, they get a paycheck, and better yet, more content, which is really the incentive.