Wylie’s Writing Tips archives

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July 17, 2018

Get to the point faster in PR

Keep news release leads to 25 words or less

“‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.’ The creation of the universe has a 10-word lead!” writes John McIntyre, copy desk chief of the Baltimore Sun.

Tight PR leads: Keep news release leads to 25 words or less.

They snooze, you lose “If the copy doesn’t excite me within 20 words, I won’t read the rest of it,” says one editor. Image by Katarzyna Kos

July 10, 2018

Feature-style story form easy as 1-2-3

Strathcona County masters ‘stack of boxes’ structure

Here’s the good news: You already know how to organize your copy.

Feature-style story form easy as 1-2-3

Feature-style story structure is simple: Just stack three boxes. Image from iStock

July 3, 2018

Why Think Like a Reporter?

‘They chew gum, don’t they?’

A PR pro at Warner-Lambert Company calls an editor at Inc. magazine. When, she asks, is Inc. going to run that story she pitched on W-L’s new flavor of Trident gum?

Why Think Like a Reporter?

Don’t let irrelevant releases blow up in your face Journalists’ biggest pet peeve is releases that aren’t relevant to their audiences. Image by Karina Miranda

June 26, 2018

Coin a word

Create new terms by merging old ones

I was working on a story today when a writerruption occurred: My brother sent me photos of The Cutest Kid In the World — aka my niece. I got distracted and missed my deadline.

Neologisms: Make your copy more creative by coining words

A whole new word Freshly minted words like portmanteaus get more attention than tired coinages. Image by Charles Deluvio

June 19, 2018

The verb is the story

5 ways to activate news release headlines

When it comes to headlines, The New York Times’ leap into action: People, places and things arrest, attack, confront, explode, fight, grow, spread, struggle and work.

The verb is the story

Away we go A story is a verb, not a noun. Something should be happening here. Use dynamic verbs in press release headlines. Image by Sergio Rao

June 12, 2018


Gain color and insight you can’t get any other way

You’ve heard about MBWA, or management by walking around? Try WBHA, or writing by hanging around — going to the scene to observe.

Observational research

Just looking Firsthand observation brings your message to life. Image by Joel Overbeck

June 05, 2018

Creative process: Get to Aha!

Write better, easier & faster with this 5-step system

Have you ever come up with a brilliant idea — on the way home from the brainstorming meeting? Developed a creative theme for the annual report while pulling weeds? Written the perfect headline in the shower?

5 step creative process

Brilliant ideas The 5-step creative process helps you work with — not against — your brain to produce dazzling ideas, brighter pieces. Image by Josh Boot

Cut webpages in half

Shorter webpages nearly 60% more usable

May 29, 2018

Turn populations into people

Help readers see a classroom of children

May 22, 2018

Why scannable web copy?

Because ‘readers’ don’t read

May 15, 2018

Do your sound bites make sense?

Why are PR quotes so much longer than media quotes?

May 08, 2018

Improve your fact-to-fluff ratio

Aim for a 1:1 proportion

May 01, 2018

‘Get the name of the dog’

Name names, number numbers

April 24, 2018

Does the fold still matter?

Visitors spend 84% of their time above the fold

April 17, 2018

‘You’ for all audiences

Use 2nd person in marketing — even PR

April 10, 2018

Information overload by the numbers

Are your readers drowning in the deluge?

April 03, 2018

Grab attention with creative copy

Make readers’ brains light up

March 27, 2018

Why display copy?

Because ‘readers’ don’t read

March 20, 2018

Redefine the way you define terms

5 ways to rethink definitions

March 13, 2018

Mobile makeover

Communicator rewrites message for the small screen

March 06, 2018

Meet your new BFF, Verb

Because nouns are features, not benefits

Feb. 27, 2018

Subheads take the cake

They’re ‘the most important thing you can do’ online

Feb. 20, 2018

Make numbers count

Reframe stats to boost understanding

Feb. 13, 2018

Measure A.R.T.

How long will it take them to read?

Feb. 06, 2018

Reel them in with readability

Yamaha Marine Group communicator makes message 164.57% easier to read

Jan. 23, 2018

Dry as a bone?

Must web heads be dull?

Jan. 16, 2018

Build a better blog post

Content marketing writer takes message from meh to masterpiece

Jan. 09, 2018

Better you than me

Stop tweeting about yourself

Jan. 04, 2018