Litigation PR: Microcontent and online display copy

Nick Augustine is the principal of Augustine Legal Public Relations and he helps law firms and their staffs attract more clients and tell their stories about the legal industry. Nick’s marketing, advertising and media team helps attorneys share their knowledge, skills, and abilities. Nick earned a communications and rhetorical studies degree from Marquette University and a law degree from The John Marshall Law School where he is an active Alumni Board member.

Web copy writing is a specific writing style requiring a keen eye for the right message and the experience to understand what motivates readers to become engaged in your content.

The Public Relations Society of America article, “Lift Your Ideas Off The Screen With Microcontent, Or Online Display Copy,” by Ann Wylie (find it here: http://comprehension.prsa.org/?p=4990&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feed_prsa%2FHDIP) points out a few research results on how most of us read copy on the Internet:

  1. Half of us scan our content;
  2. 80 percent of the words on a page aren’t read;
  3. The 10 second rule applies to people reading website pages; and
  4. 10 percent of your viewers stick around more than two minutes.

When writing microcontent, I start with my call to action. What do I want the reader to do? Do I want them to click a link? Maybe I want someone to “share” a link on their wall … if I want the reader to act, I should make the request clear and concise.

Here’s an easy call to action: “Click here to learn more about…”

Use your 5w’s plus “how and who cares” and earn readers’ respect. The best microcontent quickly tells us who says what about where and when and why you should care about what they have to say. Short “Mother Goose” sentences get the job done. Try writing a paragraph of very short sentences and see how succinctly you can share information and promote your message.

Don’t forget pictures and video

When you post on Facebook, the likelihood people will read stop and look at the title of your link increases when your post contains a picture or video. Images are also useful for many people when they create memories of what they are viewing. Later, if your reader sees the same article, you hope they will remember something about what they read. The more this happens, the more people remember the author.

Be personal and interesting

Nobody wants to read recitations of fact for fun. Make it fun and interesting. Be personal and relate your story to a current event. Think about microcontent writing as telling the shortest story people will remember. If you’re personable in your writing, your readers will get to know, like and trust you and likely what you have to say.

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