Category Archives for "Copywriting"

How to Write Smart (But Not Too Smart!)

When your prospects read your copy, they don’t want to think. They want copy that’s easy to read.

So that means short sentences and short words.

But how do you do that if you’re not a natural born writer? Great question.

Fortunately Microsoft Word comes with a handy tool call Readability Statistics that will make writing simple, clear copy easy.

When you run this tool after you’ve written your copy, you get some pretty useful information. For example, you’ll learn:

  • Number of words, paragraphs, characters and sentences.
  • Number of sentences per paragraph, words per sentence and characters per words.
  • Percentage of passive sentences, reading ease and grade level.

What you really want to pay attention to is that last bullet. For example:

  • When it comes to passive sentences, shoot for about 10% or below.
  • Reading ease, the percentage should be higher.
  • And grade level, aim for about 5th to 6th grade level.

Bottom line, your readers should be able to skim your copy quickly and understand immediately what you are trying to say. And the best way to do that is write smart–but not too smart!

Got any other great tricks to simplify writing? Go ahead and share them.

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

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Six Guidelines to Make Your Web Writing Even Better

Top 8 Reasons Why Copywriting Is Important to Real Estate

How to Write a Damn Good Email Subject Line

Six Guidelines to Make Your Website Writing Even Better

Last week we talked about gimpy websites and what to do to make them better…

Bottom line: Make it easy. Make it simple.

This includes your message–your core message you want to communicate to people when they land on your website…

Do you want them to subscribe to an email list? Do you want them to ask for a listing presentation? Do you want them to register for a workshop or conference?

It starts, of course, with you: What are you trying to do with your website?

Is it all about lead generation? Nurturing clients? Or simply sharing information?

So, once you do the leg work of figuring out your strategy for your website or blog, your next step is to turn that strategy into a message.

A lean, mean persuasion machine. Here’s how to do that.

1. Give people only what they need.

Steve Krug said it best: Kill happy talk.

What’s happy talk? It’s that fluff on the top of web pages that says things like “Welcome to my site…I hope you find….”

If they’re looking for secrets on how to stage a home…give it to them in as few words as possible [I’ll explain what I mean in a minute.]

If they’re looking for a list of foreclosures…give it to them immediately. You’ve only got four seconds to show people you can help them. Don’t waste those four seconds on a verbose introduction. Get to the point. And get to the point fast.

2. Cut. Cut. Cut. And cut again.

If you can trim a 500-word article down to 250 words…do it, please. And if you can cut that down to 100 words…do it, please.

And if you can trim that down into 50 words…do it.

And yes, if you can say it in 25 words…you must. Not only you must, but you want to: Tight, compressed messages pop off the page.

Remember, Lincoln’s Gettysburg address was only 250 words. The speech before his was 2 hours long. Nobody remembers the 2 hour speech. Coincidence? I think not.

Trim relentlessly.

3. Break up walls of words.

You’ve probably seen it before: A large chunk of copy that looks like a brick wall on your screen. At all costs, break it up.

Keep this in mind when writing for the web: Short paragraphs. Short sentences. Short words. Follow those three simple rules and you’ll never have a wall of words that stops readers cold in their tracks.

4. Give useful, urgent, unique or ultra-specific information.

Online readers are ruthless. They don’t have much time, so they’re not going to read everything on your website. That’s why you need to make your information clear, concise and compelling.

One great way to do this is to use the 4 U’s approach.

When you give readers useful, urgent, unique and ultra-specific information, you are giving them something they need or want. Do that and you can’t go wrong.

5. Write using inverted pyramid style.

Journalism historian Mitchell Stephens: “The inverted pyramid organizes stories not around ideas or chronologies but around facts. It weighs and shuffles the various pieces of information, focusing with remarkable single-mindedness on their relative news value.”

When you write in this style, you put the most newsworthy information at the top. After that comes the information in order of importance, with the least important at the bottom.

6. Layer your copy.

In a nutshell, create leads [short bursts of compelling copy] to draw a user through pages, pop-up windows and information windows.

If you’re sending an email, remember, you’re first task is to get them to open the email. So you must write a compelling subject line.

Second, you must compel them to click the link inside the email that drives them to the supporting web page.

Third, you want them to perform some final action–subscribe or call or join or email. That’s the terminal point in your communication. And because you don’t want to accomplish all those tasks in one place…you layer copy throughout to draw the user in. the point behind the email is to simply get them to click through to you website.

If you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

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Simple Trick to Becoming a Great Writer

Why do so many real estate agents find it difficult to write? Do you find it difficult to write?

Your career–that is, as a real estate agent–demands you write. It demands you write emails. Ads. Descriptions. Letters. Voice mail messages.

You name it and you have to write it.

Unfortunately most of us are a product of an educational system that focuses on facts. And in most cases, the education stuck.

And that’s a problem.

Why is this a problem? If you’re a product of our educational system, then most of what you write is saturated by facts. Let me show you an example:

This house is less than 3 yrs old and has a 2009 appraised value of over $230,000. Nearly $30,000 in up-grades featuring the Waterford floor plan and the Colonial III elevation, hardwood floors, luxury kitchen and luxury master suite options, this house is priced for a quick sale.

Not too bad, right? Sorry, but the ad is limp and inert at best.

The Problem with Facts

Now, there’s nothing wrong with facts. Except that educators refused to let it go at mere memorization of facts. As a society, we plunged into wholesale fact-worship.

What’s at stake? When you glorify one thing, it’s generally at the expense of something else. In this case, the something else is “feeling.”

A feeling is as opposite a fact as you get. You can’t see it or hear it. Measure or weigh it.

Furthermore, feelings differ from person to person. Feelings are unpredictable. And faced with this unpredictability, educators cast a suspicious eye on feelings.

Again, this education–hold all feelings at arms length–stuck. We are, generation after generation, a population trained to reject decisions based on emotions.

In fact, we feel guilty if we make a decision based on an emotion.

Therefore, if you want to become a great writer–or if you merely want to inject more personality and life into your written communication–then you need a new approach to writing. An emotional approach.

The Emotional Approach to Writing

Instead of analyzing ads, deducing rules and then writing to fit these regulations, accept your own ever-so-finite limitations, take facts for granted and place your certainty in feelings.

Feeling is what drives you forward. And it’s what drives your prospects and clients forward. “What if” is your watchwords.

And the rules? They’re incidental.

I re-wrote the above ad based on feelings. See if it sings:

This 3-year old house is like a new build–except without the headaches of unpredictable contractors. Wide open floor plan and tall ceilings make this a big house. Add hardwood floors, professional kitchen and master bath–you’ve got luxury living on a small budget.

Do you see how you can still incorporate facts into your written communication? What did I do differently? I just spelled out the benefits for each feature. All I did was think about why the buyer would care about the facts. That’s really all it boils down to.

Now, let me talk to those of you who are afraid to write.

Communication of your feeling demands skill. But also heart. Yes, you will make mistakes. But to win at the skill of writing–or real estate for that matter–then you have no choice but to begin right where you are.

This very moment.

Remember: Whatever you do in life–writing or real estate or raising kids–you have to start on the bottom rung like the rest of us. That means you have to be willing to be bad–very bad–in this business if you ever want to get good.

In other words, only if you’re willing to make mistakes today can you hope to move ahead tomorrow. So, give it a shot right now: Write a comment below explaining why you thought this post was good or bad. And don’t forget emotion. Feeling.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot: I won’t grade you. I promise.

Real Estate Ads: The 10 Things You Must Know about Creating Killer Ads

Imagine…by the end of this post, you will be a more effective real estate ad writer, all because you learned ten very important concepts.

See, writng clear, concise and compelling real estate ads follows clear, concise and compelling thoughts. Say what you want to say, then write it as simply as possible. So, keep in mind these ten basic tips.

1. Appeal to the audience. Ask yourself: “Is this compelling to them? Do they care?” (In a minute I’ll explain to you why this is so crucial.)

2. Write in a conversational tone, as if you were writing a letter to a friend.

3. Create powerful stories that are simple, unexpected, concrete, credible and emotional. I can’t emphasize this enough.

4. Use gender-neutral language, preferably “you,” because “you” is perhaps the most powerful word in the English language.

5. Use short, simple, easy-to-understand words and sentences. Fragments are okay, especially online.

6. Use the active voice. Passive: The house was sold by Joyce. Active: Joyce sold the house.

7. Use the present tense and imperative mood. “Buy now.” “Do this.”

8. Use crisp, lively verbs. “Joyce climbed the fence.” “Darlene wept.”

9. Avoid weak constructions. There are. It is.

10. Avoid wordy, clever and worn-out phrases.

Naturally, the first one is the most important. That’s why you should never stop learning about your target audience. Know them like the back of your hand .

This will take patience. But it will pay off in the long run when you can skillfully and systematically punch their hot button in each ad.

Give these tips a shot and let me know how you do. Okay?

If you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

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One of the Oldest Web Writing Guidelines

The inverted pyramid. An age-old journalistic trick. And the blogger’s best friend.

Some think it’s worthless. Others alter it. Yet, anyone who writes online–including you–will find it’s the most effective formula in your arsenal.

In fact, it’s critical in any search engine optimization strategy you have.

What Is the Inverted Pyramid?

Essentially, the inverted pyramid style means that you give the most important or interesting details first, and then continue to dribble less important information throughout the body of the content.

Ideally, you’ll want to give the most important content in the first paragraph, and save the least important content for last.

The first sentence should answer the two most important questions about the subject of your content: Who and What.

The Who is who your page is about–be it a person, a resource or a place—and the What is what happened to that person, business or place.

The inverted pyramid can help your SEO copywriting endeavor in two ways:

1. The most important information is mentioned at the very start, thereby helping the readers understand the summary of our webpage.

2. Your most important keywords (which will necessarily correlate with the most important information) get displayed at the top. Thereby increasing the chances that the search engines take notice of our web page.

Why Is SEO Important?

This may seem like a strange characteristic of a real estate website, but it’s actually crucial: Search engines, in addition to page content, look at the number of links pointing into Web pages.

Often, the more inbound links a Website has, all other things being equal, the higher in the search rankings it will appear.

By providing creative, unique and regularly updated content on your website or blog, other people will want to link to your site.

But optimizing your website for both search engines and people needn’t be a trade-off.

Where’s the Balance Between SEO and People?

There’s significant overlap between the tasks required to reach these two objectives, and this overlap can be used to our advantage.

It shouldn’t be too challenging to create a Website that users can find easily via the search engines, and use once they reach it.

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

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What Every Real Estate Agent Should Know about Writing Headlines

Whether you are writing a sales letter, postcard or blog–you need to know how to make it stand out. This is critical to real estate marketing.

No bones about it: Writing is important. Everyone must do it.

Yet, you are competing in a ruthless and combative environment. You need every trick of the trade you can find so that you are not lost in the storm surge of advertisement.

That’s why it’s so important to test everything you do in real estate marketing. You need to experiment. Be bold. Rock your readers. Jilt them out of their slumber. Make them sit up and pay attention to you.

How do you do that? I thought you’d never ask. Here are a few headline writing techniques you may find helpful:

1. Ask a Question

Better yet, make sure it’s a question to which the reader wants to know the answer.

Before: “Do You Know What My Realty Company Accomplished Last Year?”

After: “What Do Successful Real Estate Agents Have That Failing Real Estate Agents Sometimes Lack?”

2. Use the Word “Why”

Adding  the word “why” in front of a factual statement increases the reader’s curiosity.

Before: “95% of For Sale By Owners Fail.”

After: “Why 95% of For Sale By Owners Fail.”

3. Employ the Rule of 3

I’m not sure why this works, but it just does. Seems to do with our attraction to things that are bundled in 3. Father, mother and child. Judicial, legislative and executive branches of government. Body, soul and spirit.

How do you use it in a headline? Simply list three benefits.

Before: “Learn How to Work with More Clients and Make More Money.”

After: “Learn How to Work with More Clients, Sell More Homes and Make More Money.”

4. Write “Ignore It at Your Peril”

This works well when dealing with fear. Write “Ignore It at Your Peril” in a headline to emphasize its important.

Before: “The One Thing You Must Do to Avoid Foreclosure.

After: “The One Thing You Must Do to Avoid Foreclosure. Ignore It at Your Peril.”

5. Add a Question Mark to Your Headline

Making a statement that’s hard to believe? All you have to do to make it easier to swallow is question the claim yourself by adding a question mark to the end of the headline.

Before: 500% Profits from Selling Your Home

After:  500% Profits from Selling Your Home?

6. Mention Current Events and News

A news angle is especially effective when writing about the real estate market.

Why? Topics discussed on a daily basis typically affect the larger population. And people tend to be more in tune to these current events. So they’re receptive.

For example, say you’re searching for pre-foreclosures: “Stay One Step Ahead of Foreclosure Just Like Ed McMahon – But Without the Humiliation.”

7. Use the Words “New,” “Introducing,” or “Announcing”

Why does this work so well? It works because people are interested in what is new.

Example: “Introducing a Painless Way to Sell Your Home in a Weak Economy.”

8. Tell the Reader to Do Something

Example: “Call This Number to See How I Could Sell Your Home Fast.”

This is one of the ways we recommend clients use the 800 response hotline number.

When the reader follows the instructions in the headline–and called the number–they heard an audio tour of their very home.

Result? An instant on-the-spot demonstration proving the product works.

9. Promise the Reader Useful Information

Prospects are more likely to read your ad if they feel they can learn something useful by doing so.

Dale Carnegie sold more books when he said he could teach people “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

Eugene Schwartz sold more course when he promised parents “How to Turn Your Child into a Classroom Wizard.”

10. Ask a “Who Else Wants…?” Question

This is a classic social proof strategy. It implies that a lot of people out there are already on board.

  • Who Else Wants a Bigger, Safer Home?”
  • Who Else Wants More Fun and Less Stress in a Home?

11. Suggest a Fast and Easy Solution

People love quick and easy when it comes to solving a nagging problem.

  • Here’s a Quick Way to Get Out of Debt
  • Here’s a Fast and Easy Way to Avoid Foreclosure

12. Challenge the Reader Through Curiosity

Big curiosity draw with this type of headline, and it acts almost as a challenge to the reader to go ahead and see if they are missing something.

  • What Everybody Ought to Know About Adjustable Rate Mortgages
  • What Everybody Ought to Know About the Housing Market

Did you find this article useful? If so, leave a comment. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

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Do You Use These Bill Jayme Techniques When Writing?

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Do You Use These Bill Jayme Techniques When Writing?

Everyone must write. Whether it’s an email, postcard or blog post, you have to write. It’s one of the most important things you can learn.

Writing overflows to most of what you say or do. And it can make the difference between appearing like a Stanford graduate versus a high school drop out.

But if you want your writing to persuade, compel, encourage or convince everyone, all the time–then you need to write like Bill Jayme.

Who Is Bill Jayme?

The late Bill Jayme was one of the greatest direct mail copywriters of the 20th-century.

He wrote persuasive direct mail letters for magazines like Business Week, Smithsonian and Esquire. Commanded $20,000 to $40,000 per letter he wrote [this is back in the 60s, 70s and 80s]. And had powerful publishers flying to California begging him to write a subscription letter for their magazine.


Jayme had a way of making friends with the reader. Of respecting his intelligence. Of always being fascinating. And selling ever so gently.

Copywriter Gary Bencivenga said “I don’t think anyone could match his record of control packages in the magazine field. He had such an erudite flair for capturing the essence of a magazine and making you want to be part of its magical circle.”

So, how do you write letters, emails or blog posts that make people want to be part of your magical circle? Master these seven techniques Bill Jayme used religiously.

Arouse Curiosity with Mystery and Intrigue

In direct mail, your outer envelope is the place you arouse curiosity. In blogging, it’s your headline. Email, subject line.

Jayme’s teaser copy almost always compelled people to rip open the letter and read the copy inside. He did this by asking questions like the Psychology Today headline:

“Do You Close the Bathroom Door Even When You’re the Only One Home?”

Or leaving a cliff hanger: “The problem was Mrs. Eggers was no bigger than a minute….”

Understand, Jayme’s creative ideas came from tireless research. He studied to learn what worked and didn’t work. He didn’t depend on inspiration, whiskey or cocaine.

In the same way, hard work will help you create a promise or story line that people cannot resist.

Involve the Reader

Getting your reader to think about doing something is a great way to get readers into your blog post, email or letter. Getting them to actually do it will lift response even higher.

Think psychological profile.

Ask questions like: “Do you go to the movies alone?” or “Do you feel awkward when you are talking on the phone naked?”

Include two or three dozen yes or no questions and you’ve got yourself a winner.

Create Urgency

Jayme once said that the concept of urgency should be part of every package. Jayme’s favorite way to create urgency was through scarcity:

“Only so many copies printed each month, no more.” Variations to this theme abound.

•  Only so many hours I can spare in a month, no more.

•  Only so many invitations printed a year, no more.

•  Only so many clients I can juggle a month, no more.

•  Only so many subscriptions I can manage a week, no more.

The point: Create the impression that if someone doesn’t act now, then he’ll be left out in the cold.

Elevate the Status of Your Service to Something Else

This is by far the most intriguing Jayme idea: transubstantiation.

One of Jayme’s greatest examples of transubstantiation came through a letter selling a course on mastery of personal computers.

Instead of talking about drives, RAM, OS, coding or programming, Jayme focused on the deeper benefits of personal computing: Success.

Jayme’s letter begins:

You know it. I know it. Everyone knows it. If you’re planning to succeed in business over the coming decade, you’ve now got just two choices left. You can come to terms with the computer. Or you can marry the boss’s daughter.

He’s not selling features or facts. He’s selling a new life.

Say FREE Six Ways to Sunday

Does the word “free” still work in on our sophisticated society? Undoubtedly. Even among luxury clients.

“When something is free, say it six ways to Sunday,” advised Jayme. “For example: ‘Free gift comes to you with our compliments gratis—on the house. It’s yours to keep as an outright present without cost or charge—not a penny!’”

Don’t ignore this copywriting staple. And if you don’t believe it has the power to persuade, go ahead and test it yourself.

Avoid the Boring

In other words, get provocative. Write stuff that elevates people’s blood pressure. Get’s them dreaming.

Use words like sex, death, naked or free.

Think “Confessions of a Naughty Negotiator.” Or “20 Reasons Why So-and-So Is Dead Wrong about Real Estate.” Or “Why Don’t Home Sellers Know These Facts?” Or “14 Things FSBOs Aren’t Telling You.”

Stir the pot and you’ve got yourself a killer blog post, email or letter.

Target, Target, Target

Know who you are talking to. And make sure you clear the mud from the windshield for them.

Jayme developed a knack for identifying the audience–and the reason why the magazine was ideally suited to them–in his copy, right up front.

For instance, the teaser copy for a promotion for Coastal Living straightforwardly says: “If you love the shore, this new magazine will do you a world of good.”

Five words–“If you love the shore”–told you if the magazine was for you. Do the same for your blog readers. Or email subscribers. Anyone you’re writing to.

More of Jayme’s techniques can be found in The Bill Jayme Collection.

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10 Easy but Essential Tricks to Persuasive Real Estate Blogging

Amazing, isn’t it? How when you listen to one of your favorite bloggers and you say to yourself:

“Why didn’t I think of that? It seems so obvious…so easy.”

The masters of blogging–people like Brian Clark, Leo Babauta, Hanan Levin–always seem to come up with the perfect phrase…a few words…sometimes even just one word…that grabs you by the lapels and drags you into their post.

The perfect words make you want to read whatever they’re writing before they’ve even mentioned what it’s even about.

It’s the art of persuasion. Right?

But let me assure you right now that it’s less of an art and more of a science.

The art of persuasion is something you can learn. And the good news is the fundamental building block to any good persuasive writing–or speaking–is simply rapport.

And to build that rapport, you need to cultivate behaviors that will make people trust you and make them feel it’s in their best interest to follow your lead in what Greg Swann called the larger conversation of the blog sphere.

So, with that in mind, here are some ideas, big and small, for making yourself more persuasive:

1. Before you write a blog post, ask yourself “What do I really want out of this post?”

Ask soul-searching questions to understand your true motivation: money, fame, power. You’re looking for what makes you tick, what drives you. But you’re also looking for the purpose, the plan and the result. This is really a question you need to ask yourself long before you even record your first post so you know the direction you want the blog to go. That’s planning on the micro level. Planning for each post is on the micro level.

2. Develop the knack for making the other person feel like the center of the universe.

You’re blog post is not about you. Period.

3. Be quick to compliment.

If someone leaves you a comment, thank them. Especially if they are a first time visitor. And comment on other people’s blogs. Wait, that’s the next point…

4. Train yourself to visit other people’s blogs. And leave comments.

If you want comments on your blog…you have to leave comments on other blogs. Also, making your daily rounds on the real estate blogging circuit help you to note what people are talking about…which leads into my next point.

5. Listen to anybody with an idea. And see how you can help them.

Follow the maxims of legendary 3M leader William McKnight: “Listen to anybody with an idea. Encourage experimental doodling.”

And get involved. If you come across a blog that is interested in working on joint projects, email them and share your idea. If you don’t have an idea, tell them you be interested in doing some of the legwork.

6. Try to arouse positive emotion.

When writing blog posts, avoid negative emotion. You know what negative emotion is? Just read the Fox News home page and you’ll see what I mean.

People respond better when you give them positive, life-fulfilling information. Stuff that builds on their business, their lifestyle. Granted, always harping on the doom of the housing market will attract a crowd…but it will probably be a crowd of pessimists.

You, my friend, are better off being an optimist.

7. Take a clue from your audience.

Occasionally ask for feedback after your posts. Encourage people to give you thoughts about what they’d like to here. Keep an eye on your analytics, like news feed subscriptions, page visits and posts-to-comment ratio.

Really make an effort to communicate in a manner that matches your message to the receiver.

8. Hone your sense of humor.

It really, really helps if you are witty or clever.

9. Practice being a better questioner.

Follow up all posts by asking, “What do you think? Was this blog useful?”

Better yet, ask more pointed questions at the end of posts to root out opposing thoughts. You might have a good idea, but with the help of someone else arguing for a differnt side of the coin…you might unearth the best idea.

10. Keep your perspective.

Remember: Even though you’re passionate about your point of view, lighten up. Tomorrow’s another day-and another opportunity to persuade.

Well, that’s it. Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add.

If you haven’t already, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

Images Are Powerful Symbols but Not Communicators

At the Visual Ideology site, you can take a visual political test that suggests which images portray political ideas the strongest.

Be prepared to be confused.

The “test” is rather frustrating, and I gave up, clicking through images without thinking because I did not know what I was supposed to do [possibly this is part of the test] just so I could get through the end.

What was most confusing is that there were no instructions. In my mind, this was a good example of something crucial we have to understand about images:

Images are powerful symbols that work on our souls, but images alone are incapable of communicating what we want people to do.

With a simple task we need at least a little coaxing. On the other hand, on a more complex task we need more coaxing. Otherwise we are asking people to interpret images on their own, which can be dangerous [read: they leave the website].

And whether visitors read all of the copy or not is not the point–it’s there if they get confused and need instruction.

Now, an elegant combination of copy and images was done well at the Interface Research survey.

Simple tasks with simple instructions.

Way back when David Olgivy proved repeatedly that long copy always outsold short copy with photo…but–and here’s why we need both copy and design–the right amount of compelling copy with the right photo doubled the previous results.

Political consultant Frank Lutz has made a fortune on a simple idea: it doesn’t matter what you want to tell the public–it’s about what they want to hear.

For a case in point, watch the video “Give Us What We Want” to see how one word increased public opinion from 50% to over 75%…

“Estate tax” versus “death tax.”

This simple change brought a bland, background issue screaming to the front of politics.

Just one word. By itself.

Just curious: Can you think of any images that have revolutionized an issue on its own merit?

If you haven’t already, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

What Should You Know Before You Write a Press Release?

It seems Vivianne did not like my straying from my roots.

I think I was feeling a little weepy on Friday. A little metaphysical. Which is okay. As Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Today then, Monday January 14, I’ll get back to business, and focus on one of the four pillars of real estate success, marketing, by showing you how to generate positive press on a tight-budget with press releases.

Press releases are one of the main ways businesses, organizations and individuals share their news with the local and regional press.

In fact, a Fleischman Hilliard marketing and public relations specialist I know recently confessed [and this was not the first time that I’ve heard this] that they’ve often had to rely on press releases when marketing budgets were tight as a main means of generating press.

Trial, error and desperation have helped them to come up with some surefire tips for writing good press releases. I share those tips with you now.

1. Keep the press release content brief

This isn’t the place to send out an 6-page history of your business. Keep the release brief–to one page, if not, two pages at the very most–and accessible and get all the necessary information as close to the lead paragraph as possible.

It is okay to format the document to single space in the body, but only if there is plenty of white space in the header and the margins. If the page looks cramped and crammed, it won’t entice anyone to scan it over to see what it’s all about. Two space between lines then.

2. Write the press release heading

The heading on a press release should be in the upper left hand corner of the page and should include:

  • Release date or, “For Immediate Release”
  • Contact name, title and contact information. If possible, include two contact people and their phone, FAX and e-mail, as well as their titles and company name
  • Brief preview listing of : who, what, where and when – above the headline and before the copy of the release.

3. Create a compelling headline and sub-headline

Next, give the document a good headline and sub-headline. The headline should be creative and intriguing and the sub-headline should be more factual and fill in some of the specifics.

For example, the headline might say, “Local Realtor Saves the Environment with Unusual Festival” and then the sub-headline would say “Sammy Smith’s Water Festival Shares and Spreads Convservation Agenda.”

The harried reader will get a good, tantalizing idea of what the release is about just by scanning those bolded headlines.

4. Develop intriguing body copy

The copy of a press release should read like an article.

My public relations friend said she cannot count the times she’s had her copy lifted line for line from a press release and put in the newspaper. This is fine with her since she knows she’s getting the story out in her own words. For radio, this is especially helpful. A great release will often just be read aloud on air. All the main information should be easily gleaned and accessible. Use quotes in the copy, if possible, and make sure names and particulars are spelled correctly.

5. Include the essence of who you are

After your 3 or 4 paragraph “article” copy, include a statement about you and your company. Even include a headline such as “About Sammy Smith.”

This is the place to write a brief paragraph saying how long you’ve been a real estate agent, what you do and where, how you can help people and your contact information.

6. Closing the press release properly

Include a final, separated paragraph or sentence letting the reader know who to contact for more information or quotes.

If there are photographs, images, or an interview can be set up–put this at the end and in bold or all caps: “Photographs available in jpg.” or “Sammy Smith Available for Interview.”

The important thing to remember in creating press releases that get results is to make the information as interesting and accessible as possible. Like any other type of marketing or public relations or writing, a press release must compete with dozens, if not hundreds, of other stories.

With effort and practice, you can create press releases that stand out and get noticed. If you are interested, check out these articles on copywriting for tips and advice on how to write compelling copy.

[Enjoy, and I hope this article makes sense. *wink wink, nudge nudge*]