Content Writing, Copywriting, PR: What’s the Difference?

The PR, advertising and marketing fields have seen a completely different landscape from the last decade. And as writers in these fields it’s sometimes hard to tell what type of writing we are doing.

For content writers who write mainly to engage, for example, it’s not the same to write a landing page. Writing a banner ad is definitely not the same as writing a press release.

If you are a writer that understands the difference and you do all three, you don’t have to keep reading.

But if you’re a beginning freelancer writer, or you’ve started but you still get confused at times, read on:

PR Pros

According to an article in Forbes, a PR pro’s role is to “protect, enhance or build their client’s reputations through the media.” To do this PR pros stage events, teach interviewing skills, and a big chunk of what a PR pro does involves the written word. They write mainly press releases to the media, but their role is expanding.

Today, you’ll catch PR pros blogging and managing social media campaigns. That’s because they have entered the social media landscape. Whereas before PR pros depended on journalists to communicate their messages, now, PR pros have the access to reach audiences directly using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and so on. Protecting, enhancing and building reputations can also be done using other channels.

Copywriters

I like CopyBlogger’s definition of copywriting: the art and science of strategically delivering words (whether written or spoken) that get people to take some form of action. As a copywriter you’re not trying to protect, enhance or build your client’s reputation as PR pros do. Copywriting can surely lead to that. If so, great. But, that’s not the purpose. As a copywriter, you’re straight up trying to get specific action.

Some “calls to action” can be: selling a product, a service, getting people to sign up for email alerts or to raise money through a donation page. Copywriting can be used in video such as with TV or radio ads. And, although you’re not actually saying, “buy this,” you are using other persuasive language to drive that specific result.

Content Marketing Writers

Content marketers write blogs, email autoresponders, social media, newsletters to connect and engage with audiences. Freelancer.com describes a content writer as someone who “provides relevant information for products and services on a website.”

As a content writer you goal is not the PR writer’s goal which is to “protect, enhance or build their client’s reputation,” nor is it the copywriter’s goal which is to get readers to take some form of action. As a content writer, your goal is to inform, engage, and educate to build the trust necessary between customer and product/service/action. Content marketers know that without value, true connection and a sense of community, you can’t get very far with people.

Mixing It Up

If you can, why not? Do all three types of writing. Why?

It’s all connected.

I see many people who call themselves, “copywriters” do PR work and blogging. What’s important is knowing when to use each type.

There is also no doubt that prospects looking for a writer need a mixture of all three types of writing.

Be curious, ask questions, diversify your skills and know that it’s all connected.

 

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