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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.

 

How to Start a Blog if You’re a Newbie

Blogs are powerful.

It’s ‘s almost a given that businesses, organizations and entrepreneurs in any field wanting to make it in the digital world need a blog. In fact, businesses that have a blog can generate 126% more leads than those who don’t have a blog.

This post will go through eight simple steps that entrepreneurs and businesses can take to start their own blog right to help them with…

  • Selling a product
  • Promoting a product, or service
  • Enhancing a brand
  • Educating and engaging readers

So let’s start:

1.) Go to WordPress.com and choose a blog type.

Before you dive in. Ask yourself: What’s my niche? What’s my industry? Is it fashion, media, education? This will help you choose a blog type in the options. If your blog type is not in the options, don’t worry. Choose something that’s the closest to it. Don’t spend so much time thinking about it. 

2.) Choose a layout (you can change later).

Pick from the three layout options available in the next step.

This gives WordPress an idea of how you want your content to be presented. Based on this, WordPress.com will show you many different themes to choose from.

3.) Choose a theme (or look of your blog). 

Choose a theme. These themes have different layouts, fonts, and color palettes.

4.) Choose a domain.

A domain name is your web address, and what people would type in their browser to find your blog. For example: writinginmyunderwear.com.

So, after you first visit WordPress.com, choose a domain for your blog. This can also and more likely be the name of your blog.

WordPress.com offers a free domain if you let them attach a snippet on your web address, such as: writinginmyunderwear.wordpress.com. If this is a problem for you, you can have them remove it for a small fee. When you type in your desired domain name, WordPress.com will show you those options and fees.  

5.) Select a blogging plan.

Blogging can be free. But, if you’re looking for something fancier – perhaps you want something customized or you want to use your blog to start a business, consider the other plans. Choose a plan here.

Remember, you can stick to the free plan and then change it later (something I did).

6.) Choose a name for your blog.

Choose a name for your blog. Think about something that is easy to remember and that conveys the purpose of your blog.

Your content will be what matters the most to your readers though. So, don’t fret over a name. The name of your blog can be your own name. It can be Writing in My Underwear, really.  Sure, it makes sense that your domain name is the same as your blog name but, that’s not always true or required.

7.) Write, damn it, write!

Content is the meat and potatoes of blogging. 

If you want readers, if you want to make a profit blogging, make sure you’re writing regularly and that your blog posts are long and packed with value for your readers.

8.) Choose quality over quantity.

It’s great if you can blog every day. But, if you can write a  well-written, 1,000-2,000 word blog just once a week, even better.

Why?

Google is doing its best with all their recent algorithm changes to ensure that quality content is valued higher than content that’s stuffed with keywords, that is short (300-500 words) – and is of low quality.

Google likes long form content up to 2,000 words or more.

Advice from someone who’s been there, (me).

Break up big text into bite-sized paragraphs, and offer value in your writing.

Read, The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. If you really want to write, and write well period, buy this short book for $5 bucks. Totally worth the investment.

Sweet bonus tip…

Finding awesome, high resolution images to go along with your blog posts will be frustrating if you don’t know where to look in the first place. I’m here to the rescue. Go to: unplash.com

You’re welcome. 🙂

You can use any photos at Unsplash.com, and do what you please with them. All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick guide. Now, go and start that blog already!

Think you may need help? Feeling stuck? Need a writer? Hit me up. I can totally help you!

“Unapologetically Feminist and Unapologetically Latinx”

Originally published in Gozamos

“Destiny of Desire” Is ‘Unapologetically Feminist and Unapologetically Latinx,’ Playwright Says

Thought I’d share this post I wrote about a cool play happening in Chicago. 🙂

The Goodman Theater will present “Destiny of Desire,” a telenovela-inspired comedy written by Karen Zacarías and directed by José Luis Valenzuela, both award-winning theater mavens.”Destiny of Desire,” which is performed in English with songs in English and Spanish, combines live music and humor to send a subversive political message about women, Latinos, and telenovelas. “Destiny of Desire” is set to run in Chicago from March 11 through April 16.

“’Destiny of Desire’ is about taking the telenovela, deconstructing it, celebrating it, breaking its myths and breaking new territory,” says Zacarías, who has been hailed by the National Endowment for the Arts as the most-produced Latina playwright in the country. “ There is a message underneath. I’m talking about the roles of Latinos in American society and the role of women taking their destinies into their own hands.”

Inspired by Greek drama, the play tells the story of two baby girls—one rich, the other poor–who are secretly switched at birth by a scheming former beauty queen. Eighteen years later, the girls meet.

Zacarías says she wanted to take the telenovela to the stage because telenovelas are often an “overlooked maligned art form.” “Telenovelas are the most popular form of entertainment in the world today. But, very often the word telenovela is used in a denigrating way to describe other pieces of art or theater, or acting done by Latinos.”

“We are trying to demystify what telenovelas are like,” says Valenzuela who has directed critically acclaimed productions at major theaters, both internationally and nationally. Telenovelas have been somewhat diminished in the role that they play in public culture. “Destiny of Desire” will challenge your perception of what American theater is about, [and] what Mexicans are about…”

Playwright, Karen Zacarías and Director, José Luis Valenzuela after Destiny of Desire rehearsal at the Goodman Theater

After the rehearsal that Gozamos was invited to be a part of, conversations led to recent issues faced by Latinos and immigrants in the U.S, such as President Trump’s plan to builda wall along the U.S.-Mexican border. Zacarías stated that she hopes “‘Destiny of Desire’ further changes the narrative of both Latino artists and Latinos in America.”

The play also addresses unrealistic portrayals of women by taking some of the traditional telenovela tropes to an absurd place. Zacarías describes a scene in the play where a woman gives birth while wearing 6-inch heels dripping in jewels rather than sweat. At the end of the play, Zacarías shares that there is also a big monologue about the impossible pressure women face trying to uphold the telenovela image of women.

“I hope people will come and be deeply entertained, but also understand that there are so many messages about gender, class, and race at the same time,” explains Zacarías.

The cast includes Esperanza America, Elisa Bocanegra, Eduardo Enrikez, Evelina Fernández, Fidel Gomez, Cástulo Guerra, Ricardo Gutierrez, Ruth Livier, Mauricio Mendoza, Ella Saldana North and Rosino Serrano.

 

“Destiny of Desire” cast at the Goodman Theater

More information about discounts and special events.

Is Reading Dead?

People are not reading newspapers like before, but they’re still reading; just differently.

What does this mean?

This means that writing matters more than ever.

Writing is more alive than ever.

Today, the written word lives in a much bigger, digital abundant environment.

In this new age of content and social search, writing has has grown to become one of the most powerful tools available for doing business and connecting with targeted customers through the web.

At one point in history, it was letters that allowed families, friends, businesses to communicate with one another. Writing has grown to be so much different. Today, people still read, but they are looking at screens to do it.

People read emails today.

People read e-books today.

People read online news today.

The list goes on.

We don’t live in those letter days where we haven’t heard from folks in ages and we expect 6 pages of content to read. We hear from folks often. We are not hungry for it as much as we used to be because we’re in touch with folks.

In fact, we have so much content in front of us that we’re better off with less of it.

And that’s where we find ourselves today.

How do businesses stand out amid all the noise?

How do organizations get funded with all the other causes today?

How do I get more shares on my post?

When people say things like, “People don’t read.”

People do read.

If anything, people are reading more.

The better question to ask is:

What are you doing to stand out?

Why Dating and Websites are the Same

You’re getting website visits, but no one comments, shares or subscribes to your website.

Why is that?

If visitors stumble upon your site, or are redirected there via let’s say a link on Facebook, and they  don’t dig your super awesome site, they will likely go somewhere else in search of the information they are looking for. First impressions are everything. The first impression is nearly impossible to reverse or undo.

So what do you do?

Date your readers.

Sure, this sounds off. But, if you treat your readers like you would someone you have a mad crush on, then your chances of success are high.

Here’s how to start:

1. Make your Website to Look Good.

Your website should be appealing and make a good first impression. Your website should at first glance be easy to read. It should also be visually enticing. You don’t have to have the best web design for this. You can find many inexpensive WordPress themes or some for free to get your site looking amazing.

2. Be Warm and Friendly. 

Write friendly things and find common ground with readers. The copy of your website needs to flow nicely. Use clear, concise and conversational language so that your readers can easily grasp your overall message.  Use short, strong paragraphs and abstain from jargon.

3. Be Generous. Offer something valuable to your readers. You can give free consultations in exchange for your sign ups to your newsletter. Or simply give for nothing in return.  There are endless things you can give to your readers: a cheat sheet on a topic you’re in expert in,  a free 20-minute phone conversations, a 5-day email course, a 10-page guide.

4. Follow up. 

You have a new subscriber. This person signed up to your newsletter. What’s next?

It’s important that you stay in touch. So keep in touch with a weekly email, or by simply emailing them and asking what made them sign up. From there, you can learn how to help your readers.

What I’ve discovered about growing up in the digital era is that at the end of the day, we are humans behind these machines. You have to show people love. Appreciate them. Be generous to them. Take the time. You will see a difference.