Copywriting for Print

Copywriting for brochures, newsletters and more

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Draft Copy

4 steps to successful print copy

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1. Brainstorm

When we talk about “print copy” here, we mean copy written for items like brochures, newsletters etc., not press releases and the like. These we will cover in the section about Online PR.

Similar to the process of drafting a website, any good printed medium – be it a brochure, newsletter etc. – starts with you jotting down some ideas on paper. At a minimum you should figure out the answers to these questions:

  • What is this brochure/newsletter/etc. for?
    • Will this be a brochure given to clients to give them an overview over your services?
    • Will this be a newsletter for your donor base?
    • Will this be a flyer for an event? Will the event be a one-off, seasonal or will it recur?
  • Who will this be given to? (Who is your audience?)
    • Members
    • Donors
    • Volunteers
  • Given both of the first few points, what do you want to get across at a minimum?

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2. Information you should always include

  • Name of your group/organization
  • Logo if you have one; if not make your name stand out by choosing a larger, different font (see also details regarding logo design)
  • Postal address and phone number (set up a Google Voice number for this and route it to another phone number)
  • Website address/URL (if you have one; see also the section on website design and hosting)
  • Email address (preferably your email address; if you don’t have a domain registered or you don’t have an email for your group/organization, you can register a free email address YOURGROUPNAME@… or YOURNAME@… instead)

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3. Carry your message across mediums

So you ask, what IS our main message? If you already have a slogan or something similar you keep using, or if you are the local chapter of a national organization, chances are you already have a main message. Think “Black Lives Matter” (which is coincidentally both the name of the organization AND the main message), “Save the Earth” etc. (or in the case of McDonald’s, “I’m Lovin’ it”). No matter what you publish, always include this. Without going knee-deep into the topic of branding, which we’ll cover in the Marketing section, technically this is a “tagline” flowing out of your mission, which you then expand on.

For example: you are a local garden collective that has made it their goal to reclaim vacant city lots in disenfranchised neighborhoods to put community gardens in. Your name: Seattle Garden Collective. Your mission could be something like, “The Seattle Garden Collective reclaims vacant city lots in disenfranchised urban neighborhoods in the Greater Seattle area in order to provide local residents with healthy food, restoring community and thereby contributing to a stable food supply.” Or whatever you pick. But this is what you tell people regarding what it is you do as well when you craft an elevator pitch/statement. And it’s what needs to resonate through everything you put out in writing. Therefore, if you are unsure, start with an elevator pitch/statement.

This means that in your newsletters, for example, you don’t all of a sudden start talking about something completely different, like the latest election, unless it directly affects what you do somehow, and then you need to draw that parallel.

Consistent Message
Keep your message consistent across all mediums, from newsletters to tri-fold brochures.

4. A few general points

When preparing your text, keep it short and sweet. The reader should be able to grasp the main points by simply glancing through the piece. If you bury your messages in dense text, the reader may simply decide that it will be too much work to read your brochure and just throw it away.

  • Speak directly to your audience.
  • Use headings and subheadings to group ideas and help the reader focused on items that are of interest to him or her.
  • Avoid jargon and acronyms, even if you are sending the piece to people who “should get it”. Use clear language that everyone can understand.

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