Begin With The End In Mind

For my first blog post on our new website, I thought I’d start at the end, so to speak. If there’s nothing else you ever listen to me say, this is the one thing I want it to be – “Begin with the end in mind.”

To borrow from the world-famous productivity expert Steven Covey, “begin with the end in mind” is my number one piece of advice for employees, clients and anyone else who’ll listen. This is paramount for PR activities, like writing, media pitching, etc., but it also holds true for just about anything else in life. Visualize what you want the outcome to look like and then work back from there to make it happen.

An example: the press release is the workhorse of our industry. Too often, press releases are bloated documents written from the client’s perspective. They completely ignore the media’s point-of-view…or worse, they don’t take into account what the reader/viewer would find most interesting or helpful.

Here’s how to fix that: Rather than starting a release by saying “XYZ Company announced today…”, why not just dive into the problem that the new product or service is aiming to solve? Again, look at it from the reader’s perspective – why should they care? What do you hope they do as a result of reading your news?

One of my favorite ways to start a release is the “Problem gone, thanks to” approach. First, briefly mention the the problem – housewives running out of time to do XYZ; IT professionals unable to update their servers; business owners don’t have enough time to learn about social media. Then highlight what you’re doing to fix that. Here’s a recent example from one of our own press releases:

Companies that either don’t need or can’t afford a full-service PR firm, but still want to engage outside help with media relations and publicity, have two new options, thanks to the flat-rate and performance-based PR services now offered by public relations firm Cooper Smith Agency.

In no way is this earth-shattering or revolutionary. In fact, it’s basic sales. But you’d be shocked at how much push-back we get from some clients when their name isn’t one of the first three words of the press release.

Admittedly, the “problem gone, thanks to” approach doesn’t work for every type of press release, but it (or some variation on it) works for most – particularly if you’re launching a new or improved product/service.

More on this topic later. But in the meantime, repeat after me – It’s not about you. It’s not about you. It’s not about you. It’s about the reader.