Tuesday, February 26, 2013

PR Workshop: Creating Compelling Content

Here's one of the two half-day workshops I often recommend to companies and agencies hiring me for the first time. The other of the two is called "Being Your Own Best Editor."

“Create Compelling Content” 
This class comes in three parts, with each part spiraling up to fuel the next, resulting in a powerful new point of view that makes it easier to find the best content and present it in the most compelling way.

1. How to be newsworthy
Two hours including 15-minute break

What to bring

Bring your own team’s collateral, no matter who wrote it. We’ll use it as source material during the workshop. Each person should bring different information, but it’s also OK if there’s some overlap. Best choices: PR pitches, speaker abstracts, case studies, contributed articles, press releases, executive memos and fact sheets.

Biggest takeaway

What’s the internal landscape of a journalist’s mind when he or she is assessing a situation and choosing which information to lead with? How does that same framework apply to an executive's decision-making process?Participants will learn to package information for greater usefulness and higher appeal, even when a first glance suggests it might be bit of a yawner.

In this session, we'll:

· Process information the way an experienced journalist does on deadline
· Make faster decisions about what nuggets to move up and which to bump down or leave out altogether
· Recognize hidden opportunities 

2. How to be compelling
90 minutes including a 10-minute break

What to bring

Similar to the recommendations above in that you don't have to be the author (though that's often best, when possible). But in this case, it's best to bring somewhat longer, more complex PR documents. Best choices: award entriescontributed articles, NAPS releases, blog posts, op-eds and pitches.

Biggest Takeaway

What are the seven elements that glue a reader’s eyes to the page? How can they help you radically reduce word count while boosting appeal?

In this session, we'll:

· Objectively identify the seven elements
· Discover what’s missing and how to go get it
· Rearrange information for higher impact

3. How to be relevant
Half hour

What five questions will keep you on track and help you gain traction?

In this session, we'll discuss:

· Turning excessive background into as-needed backstory
· Balancing your agenda with readers’ “north star”
· Breaking old habits and using new tools in future work

Workshop: Being Your Own Best Editor

Here's one of the two half-day workshops I often recommend to companies and agencies hiring me for the first time. The other of the two is called "Creating Compelling Content."

"Be Your Own Best Editor"

Writers learn to clean, tighten and brighten their own copy and reduce the need for further editing. They develop the self-awareness needed to diagnose their own challenges and make their own choices about how to improve. 

The emphasis is on process. Participants find out why they sometimes write for an hour and still have nothing on the page, why proofreading is even harder than they realized, and ways to prevent those and other problems in the future.

Best to bring: early drafts of contributed articles, speaker abstracts, award submissions, media pitches, press releases, blog posts and case studies.

Part 1: Self-diagnosis – 2 hours, includes 10-minute break

Rewrites with feedback are part of the self-discovery process.

Assessment covers: 
construction (verb quality, sentence shape, etc.)
energy (news value, subtle tension, relevance) – See also CCC class
structure (skimmers v. listeners, use of best “real estate”) – See also CCC class

voice (tone, vocabulary, gatekeeper preferences) 

Part 2: Mechanics – 1 hour, includes 5-minute break

Find out the most common grammar and usage mistakes unknowingly committed by experienced business professionals, with emphasis on clearing up confusion.

Topics include: Commas are not pauses The two – Count ‘em! Only two! – rules of capitalization Semicolons: Don’t use them unless you have a license issued by Lauren ;-) Home v. hone, flesh v. flush, pique v. peak, which v. that, etc. British v. American English

Part 3: Process – 1 hour, includes 5-minute break

Learn to be both messy and tidy, as needed, in the right places at the right times. For best results, writers and editors need a keen awareness of “who’s driving” during specific phases of the process – their inner creator or their inner censor.

Topics include:

Why humans are bad proofreaders and what to do about it 
When to apply voice preferences 
Tightening tips 
How to bust through writer’s block 
What steps to emphasize when the deadline is near