When I started writing novels, every class and conference I attended offered that same encouragement. Read, read, read, they said. Don’t stick to your genre, read as much fiction as you can find. Why? Because you’ll start to recognize what works, what doesn’t, and how to apply it to your own writing.
The same goes for promotional writing.
The worst thing you can do as a promotional writer is to try to write something you’ve never read. Before you start writing your next press release, mailer, or blog post, do your research. Here are a few tips for finding good reading material.
- Newspaper: Check your local paper’s community events section. Do you see articles without author bylines? Those are probably press releases. Read those, because they were written well enough that they earned a spot in the newspaper.
- Mailbox: Have you ever wondered why you get so much junk mail? Because it works! Companies wouldn’t pay to send out so many generic mailers if they didn’t get a few customers. So walk past your recycle bin and hold on to that junk mail.
- Spamfolder: Like the junk mail that arrives in your mail box, your spam folder is full of promotions and announcements. Watch out for viruses (of course), but pick a few pieces of spam to see what other people are writing.
If you’re anything like me, however, you receive DOZENS of spam emails and junk mailers each week, so how do you know which ones to read? How about a few more tips…
- Pick promos from similar markets.If you’re in the financial industry, read credit card offers. Are you in the non-profit world? Read the letter from the Boys and Girls Club of America.
- Read promos that grab your attention.There are several techniques for writing attention-grabbing copy. Read a variety of styles until you find one that appeals to you. Study the format – it will be easier to replicate the style if it’s something that captures your attention.
This is, of course, a very basic approach to copy writing, but it’s a start. Don’t just write something and hope it works. Do your homework, and read, read, read.