How to Make PR (and Your Words) Work for You with Kate Warwick

August 9, 2021
The Recognized Authority Podcast Cover

The podcast that helps independent consultants & subject matter experts to get more clients without having to beg for referrals, or make soul-destroying cold calls!

The world of journalism and PR can feel nebulous to experts and consultants who don’t interface with that world. But it can be a fantastic way to reach new clients and build relationships.

In this episode Kate Warwick and Alastair McDermott discuss how to develop your messaging and positioning to take advantage of PR. 

They also discussed the importance of well-structured executive summaries, and why Kate is writing a book to help experts get their ideas across more clearly.

Show Notes

Guest Bio

A tech PR, Kate has been telling stories for B2B tech companies since the dotcom boom. Today she sharpens her clients’ verbal identities, trains company bloggers and even gets her best pen out for copywriting projects.

Transcript

SUMMARY KEYWORDS
positioning, pr, business, read, people, journalists, client, write, bit, hear, writing, talk, sector, website, story, book, ideas, kate, readers, absolutely

SPEAKERS
Alastair McDermott, Kate Warwick

 

Kate Warwick  00:00

And then we talk about what the client has got to say in those areas, which is new. So you can’t just kind of say, Oh, yes, I agree with that. So you may have done some research, you may have a white paper, you may have a product that solves a problem that is being discussed. That’s what we would then talk about. And then I would suggest, rather than a press release, which are increasingly less effective, I would suggest some sort of opinion lead campaign that includes examples like a mini case studies, or just a paragraph or whatever of work that you’ve done in that sector that demonstrates your knowledge.

 

Voiceover  00:33

Welcome to The Recognized Authority, a podcast that helps specialized consultants and domain experts on your journey to become known as an authority in your field. So you can increase your reach, have more impact, and work with great clients. Here’s your host, Alastair McDermott.

 

Alastair McDermott  00:48

Today, my guest is Kate Warwick. Kate is a tech PR, she has a business called Word Savvy. She’s been telling stories for b2b tech companies since the.com boom. Kate, thank you so much for being with us here today.

 

Kate Warwick  01:00

It’s a pleasure.

 

Alastair McDermott  01:01

So I want to talk to you because I met you through Rob’s writing group. And so I had Rob Fitz on the podcast a couple of weeks ago. And after talking to him, I had to immediately go and join his writing group because I saw how much benefit there would be in that. So the first time kind of support call or kind of writing call that we got on, I was talking to you and you said something that I found really interesting.  So I just mentioned about positioning. And what you said was that a journalist would hang up the phone, if they were talking to somebody, and then they had very poor positioning. So can we dig into that a little bit to start with. So why is positioning so important to PR and to journalists?

 

Kate Warwick  01:37

Because they have limited time. And despite the size of the internet, they have limited space. And people have limited attention spans. So they only read, you know that is the first few sentences aren’t interesting, they won’t continue in a newspaper, let alone online. And so when I was first pitching journalists, as a senior account executive or an account exec in an agency, we really had to know exactly what the most important thing to that journalists would be to say first, and some of them you know, some journalists are lovely, some of them are having a bad day. And they don’t, there were one or two who just used to say you’ve got 20 seconds. And if they weren’t interested, they would put the phone down. So we had to kind of hone the message with our client, so that, you know, it was right for the journalist, we would hone the message with the client, and then we would look at which journalists were right for the story. You know, we were never part of that here’s a list of 300 journalists phoned them and say, Did you get my press release? You know, it was kind of we’re gonna limit it to 10 people, and we’re gonna know that they are the right ones for us. But it was certainly a kind of steep and slightly brutal learning curve.

 

Alastair McDermott  02:42

Yeah, I can imagine. I mean, I can only imagine what would would put somebody in the state where they will they would pick up the phone, or they would answer the phone by saying you’ve got 20 seconds. Because they must be they must be under serious pressure and getting so many, so many bad pitches, I guess.

 

Kate Warwick  02:57

Yeah. These days, the phone doesn’t ring in the same way as it used to. So you know, it was it was the irritation of the noise in offices, I think that put them off to.

 

Alastair McDermott  03:07

Okay, so let’s talk about that positioning and messaging and honing that. Because if you do have 20 seconds to get a message across, you’ve got to be really sharp with it. But can we take a step back from it, because the world of PR is totally alien to me? I’ve never done any PR, I know almost nothing about it. Can you just give me like the cliff notes that the quick background on on how it works, and when you might want to use it. And what you know, just give us a little bit of background about that.

 

Kate Warwick  03:31

So I think there’s two elements of PR that people see one is the traditional PR, and we’ve you know, you’ve probably seen AB fab, you’ve read about Spin Doctors, that’s all those are all elements of PR, but really the aim of PR is the public relations. But how do you get your message out to the public’s that you want to hear it hear your message? And traditionally, that has been through what we now call the mainstream media used to be the print media and the PR team are the kind of conduit between the client and the journalist to secure a news item or an opinion piece or feature or whatever it may be on a subject that both interests both the client and the journalist and the journalist is interested in their readers. So it’s really does the client have something that interests the journalists readers?  So that’s the kind of traditional element of PR is the media relations side? But the fundamentals are always insane. It’s like, Do you have something interesting to say? And how and where are you going to say it? To what effect? You know, what do you want it to do? I’ve spoken to clients who just want to be in the Financial Times. It’s difficult, but it’s not impossible. But we have to work really hard at getting a message and a journalist and a piece of news all you know, in the same space in order to do that, and sometimes it takes time as well. You know, just having the right message isn’t always the answer. Sometimes it has to be the right moment as well.

 

Alastair McDermott  04:55

Yeah, I can imagine if there’s a big story breaking they don’t really want to care about your

 

Kate Warwick  04:58

Oh, I’ve had clients, I had a client in a television studio, and there was some hijack had gone on somewhere, and the hijackers were released, and my client was bumped in the studio waiting there, like, they were livid, you know, and I’m completely left then without any that’s out of my control.

 

Alastair McDermott  05:15

Okay, so so what you can get. So what you’re talking about is getting clients into things like the Financial Times or into a TV studio, where they’re potentially going to go on and talk. When they’re in that scenario, like, what is their I mean, they can’t just talk about their, their company and kind of self promote. So so like, typically, what is the message that that they’re going on with?

 

Kate Warwick  05:36

We always start with four questions, which is, what do you want to achieve? What have you got to say? Who wants to hear it? And then how and where are we going to say it? And so the “what do you want to achieve?” is the most important bit because being in the Financial Times is prestigious. But does it actually get to your clients? Does it make people do something when they read it, and this is where online is so effective, because people can read about you. And whilst they’re sat in front of their computer, or on their phone, they can click, you know, they can search for you and go through to your website and do whatever.  So what is it you want to achieve? Is it just awareness? Are you driving sales? You know, what are the, are you building the kind of profile of your CEO or yourself? And then is the “what have you got to say and who wants to hear it?”, which kind of happened at the same time. So you may have a new product launch, or you might have won an award or you’re a new business, or you’ve signed a massive deal, and you want to use that to promote your company, but nobody wants to hear, hey, we did really well, you know, you can tell your mother that she’ll be pleased. But everybody’s like, well,

 

Alastair McDermott  06:41

I’m just wondering, like, who really cares if a company has won an award?

 

Kate Warwick  06:45

Nobody. Nobody.

 

Alastair McDermott  06:46

It doesn’t really like, it’s nice to put in your lobby. But,

 

Kate Warwick  06:49

Yeah, exactly. You put it on the shelf, and you put it on a bit of your corporate website, and you move along. But if you’ve won an award for the best use of AI in agriculture, or then you might want to run an opinion campaign off the back of that, where you talk about the problems of applying artificial intelligence in practice.

 

Alastair McDermott  06:54

Okay, it was that AI? The other one…

 

Kate Warwick  07:06

Sorry. The problems of applying artificial intelligence in practice, and how you’ve gone about it, and what companies can do to make that happen. So particularly in tech, there’s always some buzz technology that barely functioning, but everybody wants. And you there’s a lot of talk about it. But you know, not many people are actually using it effectively.  So if you’ve got one of those, and you’ve won an award, or you’re doing some work in that sector, and you can talk about how it actually works. And we did this for a client back, and we called it AI in practice, and we went talked through things like you have to have a database, if you don’t have a database, you need to build one. So maybe we start from there, it’s not a tool that you can just plug into your current system and press the AI button, and off it goes.

 

Alastair McDermott  08:01

So there’s almost like training.

 

Kate Warwick  08:03

Yeah, it’s educational. It’s educational. And, you know, if you’re, if you’ve got a product, that’s AI in agriculture, you want to be in farmers weekly, you’re going to have to find something that’s useful for farmers. So you probably want to talk about whether or not drone technology is effective, how that connects at the other end with artificial intelligence, who needs to be monitoring the artificial intelligence, you know, because it’s going to throw stuff out that may or may not be correct. So you’re going to need a human being in there somewhere? And what are you going to do with this information once you have it?  So yeah, you need a kind of proof of concept, almost, this is how it works that the reader can take away. So if you’re trying to get a farmer or a, you know, big farming company to take this technology, you’ve got to explain the benefits to them. That’s the “who wants to hear it?” “what have you got to say?” side of things? It’s, what do they want?

 

Alastair McDermott  08:51

What’s in it for them?

 

Kate Warwick  08:52

Yeah, what’s in it for them?

 

Alastair McDermott  08:53

Yeah.

 

Kate Warwick  08:53

Because you’re basically you’re selling it to them? So what’s in it for them?

 

Alastair McDermott  08:56

Yeah. So can we pull this back to let’s say, somebody is an expert, they’re an expert in some topic, maybe they’ve written a book, or they’re in the process of writing a book, there are consultants of some kind, but nobody really knows about them. And they’re thinking about, okay, I want to get some PR, I want to, I want to kind of become a bit more known in my field. If if that kind of person was to come to you and and ask you about PR, what would you advise them to think about or to do?

 

Kate Warwick  09:19

So in terms of a campaign? I would say, right, we first of all, so we know what we want to achieve. We want to raise the profile of the business, probably to generate sales. What have you got to say and who wants to hear it? Who is the audience? Are we talking about government? Do you want to do you want the government to hear what you’ve got to say about this? You want to sit on committees? Do you want to get sales from a particular sector, let’s look at what that sector is talking about.  Let’s look at what the hot topics are in that area. And we probably, you know, have a session together we have a workshop together where everybody comes prepped with having looked at the sector, the whole load of ideas, we brought them all up on the wall, and then we talk about what the client has got to say in those areas, which is new, so you can’t just kind of say, Oh, yes, I agree with x. So you may have done some research, you may have a white paper, you may have a product that solves a problem that is being discussed. That’s what we would then talk about.  And then I would suggest, rather than a press release, which are increasingly less effective, I would suggest some sort of opinion lead campaign that includes examples, either mini case studies or just a paragraph or whatever of work that you’ve done in that sector that demonstrates your knowledge.

 

Alastair McDermott  10:29

You said opinion, lead campaign? Can you just tell how does that relate?

 

Kate Warwick  10:32

So many publications have what we used to call bylined articles. And in our guest blogs, same thing. So a lot of publications will have somewhere where they take guest material, which is written by somebody, you have written up your research, and you present that you write that up as a guest, blogger, probably five to 700 words. And it’s published by one of the business publications that’s interested in that topic, but your PR acts as a conduit. So your PR says, this is interesting, because these people do want to go back to the office. And they pitch that to various journalists who say, Oh, yes, that we are interested in that. But they won’t all say that. So you might have 10 publications that you’re looking at one of which or two or three of which say yes. And then you write it in three different ways for those publications.

 

Alastair McDermott  11:20

Okay. Right.

 

Kate Warwick  11:22

You can’t publish the same thing three times.

 

Alastair McDermott  11:24

Yeah. Okay. So that’s kind of a quick overview of the approach. So I just want to go back over the key fundamentals, what do you want to achieve with us? Who do you want to hear us? What were the other two?

 

Kate Warwick  11:34

What have you got to say? And then where? And how can you say it? So “what do you want to achieve?” is, you know, drive sales or raise my profile.

 

Alastair McDermott  11:43

Yeah.

 

Kate Warwick  11:43

“What do you got to say?” is your new thing or your new take on a thing. “Who wants to hear it?” is your What is your audience talking about? So you might have a new product, but nobody is talking about that idea. So that makes that’s a different challenge, then. So what does the audience want to talk about, which usually involves reading the press that’s in that sector? And then how aware can we say it? So the Where? Well, they’re both connected how aware they are.  Do we do a PR campaign and get somebody to pitch the press and appear in, you know, whatever, business chief or the Financial Times whatever it is farmers weekly? Or do we do this as a series of blogs for our website? Do we do a series of things that the sales team can publish on LinkedIn? Because that’s a more direct route to our audience? Do we need to have tweets? Do we want to write a white paper? Is this something we want to speak about at an event, in which case we need to pitch the event organizers and see if that’s something we can do there?  So sometimes the kind of traditional we want to be in the Financial Times element of PR doesn’t isn’t effective for small businesses, because it can be quite expensive and time consuming, seeming but the fundamentals, which are what do we want to achieve and what do we got to say still apply. And then you might decide that actually, it’s better for your sales team to have a series of, you know, 300 word pieces that they can publish over a month on LinkedIn, and speak directly to their prospects like that than it is to try and get into the Financial Times or like,

 

Alastair McDermott  13:14

I can imagine how that would actually be more effective than being in the Financial Times?

 

Kate Warwick  13:18

Yeah, especially is first of all business, because he is time consuming. And therefore it can be, you know, the return on investment for small business is hard to measure. But if you can go through that process, and I do think it’s useful to have somebody external work with you on what you want to achieve, and what you’ve got to say, you can do a lot of it yourself. But then you need somebody external to come in and say, I know this is lovely, your new product, but you’ve got to position it differently. Because nobody wants to hear about your new thing, then you can decide.  And so now sometimes we break that into two projects, we say, let’s do the first three, what do you want to achieve? What have you got to say? Who wants to hear it? Let’s do that. And then when we’ve done that, then we can look at where and how we’re going to say it. So do we want to produce content. And sometimes as a as Word Savvy, we might then write the content for you, or train your client or your team to write it themselves, or just add act as a copy editor or whatever.

 

Alastair McDermott  14:13

Yeah, so what you’re really doing there, it sounds to me, like you’re doing the strategic part of positioning upfront, and then you’re taking that that new positioning and messaging and then just applying it to some media channel.

 

Kate Warwick  14:24

Yeah.

 

Alastair McDermott  14:24

At least i think i think that’s that’s what what you’re saying?

 

Kate Warwick  14:27

Yeah, absolutely.

 

Alastair McDermott  14:28

And it just strikes me that there’s, there’s so many parallels, there’s so many different areas where I see in different industries, all with the same expertise. So you’re talking here in the world of PR. I also see it in marketing agencies. And I also see it in web a web agencies where somebody has to build a website for for a business and the business has no positioning. So the first thing they have to do is is go figure out that positioning.

 

Kate Warwick  14:50

This was what one of the reasons that led to the two words happy was that as prs, we would see that we would often work as an agency we often work with in house marketing teams, and they would say we wanted to do the website and they’d go get a design agency. And then they do some positioning, maybe in house, and we’d be sort of waving in the background saying we can help with that positioning, because we’ve been selling you in to various outlets for ages. And but it is creating a website is a positioning project first. And if you get the positioning right, that’s why it’s the kind of fundamentals you get the positioning, right, you can then do your website, your sales deck, your PR campaign, your, you know, brochures, your whatever, all of that stems from there.

 

Alastair McDermott  15:30

Yeah, absolutely. So, I mean, I just think it’s such a key fundamental thing. And I talk to people in the podcast about it all the time. And sometimes like, I’m like a broken, broken record by positioning and particularly specialization and things like that. But I think it’s so important. And it just when you look at how many different industries all kind of require the same strong positioning to be settled before they can do their job.

 

Kate Warwick  15:52

Yeah.

 

Alastair McDermott  15:52

It just, it just strikes me that it’s such a fundamental part of, of the entire business.

 

Kate Warwick  15:57

Absolutely. And it’s hard. But you know, it’s like having an existential crisis, you have to say, Who am I? What are we doing here? What is this business for? Why is it different from everybody else? And that’s why you need somebody else. And I agree, did my while I’m in the process of redoing my website, and you know, I’m a words person in a PR. So I’ve written the words myself, and they didn’t work. I had to get a I’ve worked with a copywriting and branding agency in order to thrash out what it was because you can’t do it on your own. And for yourself, it’s really difficult. You need somebody external, who’s less emotionally involved.

 

Alastair McDermott  16:30

Yeah, I think David C. Baker quotes this, although I don’t think it’s the original. But he says it’s impossible to read the label from inside the jar.

 

Kate Warwick  16:38

Yeah. Absolutely.

 

Alastair McDermott  16:41

Yeah. Yeah, I think I really do. I mean, this may sound a little bit self serving, but I really do think that you need external advice on positioning. And,

 

Kate Warwick  16:49

Yeah.

 

Alastair McDermott  16:49

That part. Yeah.

 

Kate Warwick  16:51

You know, you can color in your own website yourself. But if you get a designer who understands layout and color and position, you know, actual position on the page, it’s an you can tell the difference, even if you don’t know why you can see why it’s better. And I think it’s true for you know, for strategic messaging as well.

 

Alastair McDermott  17:09

Well, you mentioned the word strategic messaging, and you mentioned earlier content strategy. So can we talk about that a little bit? What is content strategy? And how does that apply?

 

Kate Warwick  17:17

Yeah, so well, I think this is a new word for the same thing in that messaging and positioning content, strategy, verbal identity are all parts elements of the same thing. So your content strategy is really once where are you going to put these messages? What is your message? And where are you going to put it? What is your strategy for the content that you’re going to produce? You have to decide which content you need? And then where you’re going to put it. It’s the sort of how and where part of the of the questions of verbal identity, it’s kind of the same? It’s sort of it’s perhaps a bit more along the lines of what words do we use? How do we talk about ourselves? You know, what do we say? What are our it’s the same thing as what’s, you know, what’s our color palette? You know, it’s the same part of that, really.

 

Alastair McDermott  17:57

So let me ask you, then, about storytelling. Because I see this come up all the time now. It’s, it’s, I think, since Donald Donald Miller wrote story brand, it’s, it’s just kind of blown up the last four or five years. So like you say, on your website, you say all of our PR work starts with your story. And so can you just talk a bit about storytelling and how you use it?

 

Kate Warwick  18:18

Yeah. So I don’t think we use it in a maybe in the traditional way. So you know, we learn at school stories have a beginning and a middle and an end. I think in PR, we’re looking for the engagement. And so we want to capture people’s attention really early. So we do want to pull out the client’s story, what is it that they want to say, but then the order in which you say things is not or the order in which you tell that story is perhaps not so traditional.  So we’re not writing a kind of, you know, we’re not writing a novel, we’re not writing a television program, we’re not we’re trying to explain often in tech concepts that are difficult to understand and difficult to understand how they might be applied in real life. So we need to always add, we need to think about the benefit to the person who’s reading what do they want to know.  So that’s kind of where we come in with storytelling is we need the information from the client, but then the order in which we tell the story and the way in which we tell the story may be different. It may not be the way in which they expect it to be told. And that’s that’s kind of the difference, I think, with PR then. And it’s an issue that I have with the word storytelling in that I think it sounds very, you know, being read a bedtime story, it has that sort of image for me, and I’m not sure that that’s, that’s useful in business to business tech PR.

 

Alastair McDermott  19:35

Right. Yeah. So because I see people, you know, using, like, the hero’s journey, you know, the monomyth.

 

Kate Warwick  19:42

Yeah.

 

Alastair McDermott  19:43

And trying to like fit their business story into that all like, it just seems to me to be overused. I’m just wondering, like, is that something that you think about or, or is that

 

Kate Warwick  19:54

It’s always useful to know what is the you know, what is the journey that got you here? But the reader wants to know, especially in business to business, how does this work for me? So here’s my AI client is a good example, this guy had done studied artificial intelligence 20 years ago at university, and it was kind of in its infancy, it worked a bit, but it wasn’t very useful. It’s big data that made AI effective, or, you know, something that would work properly.  So now, he’s in a position to talk about that his credibility is that he studied it 20 years ago. So that part of his story is relevant, and gives him credibility. But it doesn’t have to be first. I think that’s my point. What needs to be first is what is the benefit to the client of this? And then you can say, the reason why I know this is because I studied it in university 20 years ago, or I’ve spent, you know, five years making it happen or whatever. But the benefit to the client of AI is the information they can get out the back of it.

 

Alastair McDermott  20:51

Right. So you don’t have to take what actually happened in a kind of an analyst,

 

Kate Warwick  20:54

It’s not to be chronological.

 

Alastair McDermott  20:56

No magical. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, absolutely.  Okay, let’s shift gears, because something I’m interested in is writing books. So we met through Rob’s group, and I had Rob on the podcast a couple of episodes ago. And his book is called “Write Useful Books”. Were you one of his beta readers for that? How did you find his group?

 

Kate Warwick  21:12

Yeah, I was one of his I’d read the mom test. And then I came across, I was actually ordering it to send to a client. And I discovered on his website that he was writing a “Write Useful Books”. And it’s actually, you know, connected with this idea of storytelling, I wanted to write something about how business writing works. I did an MA in English linguistics A few years ago, and I’m fascinated by structure and meaning, and all of those etymology and all of that sort of stuff.  So but I see a lot of business writing that’s desperately trying to sound professional. And it’s actually really confusing. And to be fair, academic writing is worse, and linguistics is worth still, you know, we’re talking about words, but we actually can’t write a sentence that people can read.  And I think a lot of it, people in business want to project their expertise. And I’m sure this is something that your listeners are looking to do. And one of the ways we do that, in British English is by using kind of long words and complicated sentences, that makes a sound clever, but it doesn’t work if the person at the other end is, is having to process a lot and pay a lot of attention in order to read it twice in order to understand what you’re talking about. And we get stuck with this beginning, middle and end.  So, you know, if we’re trying to say I think we should invest in you know, new markets, we start with, with the beginning, rather than let’s invest a million pounds in investing in the US in, you know, expansion in the US, we start with at the committee meeting on the fourth of September, and the greeter is immediately switched off by that they don’t need all of that they’re waiting to know what it is that you want.  So that’s the kind of background of my book. I also believe that we all know how to do this, because we do it in the pub all the time, we know how to tell a good story, we know how to include people who’ve come in at the last minute, we know how to tell, you know, our grandparents and our children the same story so they can all understand it. So my premise is it’s it’s, it’s much less complicated than we think it is. And if we can only take a step backwards, and imagine we’re telling the story in the pub, everybody will understand it.

 

Alastair McDermott  23:11

Yeah, easily. Well, I can I can feel the resistance, you know, you don’t want to sound like you’re telling a story in a pub when you know, a paper you know, so you’ve got to find that balance.

 

Kate Warwick  23:21

So the tone changes. But there are fundamentals like sentence structure, you know, short first sentence followed by longer ones, helps people to understand the concept, primacy effect of each the first sentences in a section can be read together and make sense, it means that the whole document is likely to be easy to read. So then you can use as many Latinate words or complicated ideas as you like, if your structure is fairly solid, you can do that. It doesn’t have to be and the tone, you know, can be formal, it doesn’t have to be the informality of the pub, but you can use the structure of telling stories in the pub, in your business writing.

 

Alastair McDermott  23:59

So is that going to be the title of your book?

 

Kate Warwick  24:01

Ah, possibly everything you learned about business writing you learned in the pub is its current working title, which is,

 

Alastair McDermott  24:09

Yeah, that’s brilliant. And can I just ask you about writing the book? Is that part of promoting your business? Is that just something? Is that book just something that you you felt like I have to write this book? or How did that come about that decision to write it?

 

Kate Warwick  24:22

It’s a bit of both. It’s what we were talking about earlier about, you know, do I have something new to say, and most people haven’t thought about how they right since they left school, and even if they did a literature at university, they’ve read novels and literature, they’ve not written reports as part of that.  So I felt that there was a slight gap for people who want to get their ideas across more clearly. And from a business point of view for me that would match with the rest of the work that Word Savvy does, but also it’s a kind of is something I feel I have to say and I’m still slightly in the stage of what have I got to say and who wants to hear it and it may just maybe it’ll just be a series of blog posts in the end. But I’m working on it as a short book, at the moment almost as a toolkit, I think here are some things you can do.

 

Alastair McDermott  25:05

I do think that there was a place for helping to untrain people who have gone to classic education in, in some of the bigger universities, a friend of mine, went to St. Andrews, and he’s a very smart guy. But my God, the blog post that he wrote, when he started were just almost unreadable. They were very formal, very academic style. And I had to kind of train him out of that.

 

Kate Warwick  25:30

When I got, I got ticked off in academia for writing essays as if they were blogs, you know, just launching with the most interesting thing first, and they said, No, you have to, you know, acknowledge the people who’ve gone before and talk about your methodology. And that’s fine. Nobody wants to read any of that, you know, so it is, you know, it is about working out your style. But I think there’s a lot of structure that that has got lost, really, that we don’t think about, or we don’t think about why we’re writing, you know, think about our readers, or what they need out of a document.  And we’ve done some work with large org organizations, which will write kind of 90 page recommendation documents with appendices for their non exec directors to read, and you think this is, you know, this is kind of overwhelming, and people are having to read this twice. And they’re making large financial decisions based on content that’s really challenging, you know, if the idea is difficult, don’t make the words difficult as well.

 

Alastair McDermott  26:27

Yeah, yeah. And it is hard sometimes to take those complex ideas and to simplify them down to make it easy to explain to somebody in the poor or explain to a six year old.

 

Kate Warwick  26:39

Yeah.

 

Alastair McDermott  26:39

I think that’s true expertise, if you can do that.

 

Kate Warwick  26:42

And that’s part of the it’s, it’s the connection back with PR, is it’s part of the kind of positioning of the messaging is what do I have to say? And who wants to hear it? And how am I going to say that in a way that they can understand it and act upon it, rather than looking out the window, thinking about what they’re gonna have for lunch, because the paragraph is, so there’s so many clauses in the paragraph that they’ve lost their way halfway through it, they’re still trying to, you know, taxes, their working memory to hold on to these ideas.

 

Alastair McDermott  27:08

So I want to ask you about about the executive summary, because I know you wrote about that on your website. Or maybe it was your brother, but hopefully, that was,

 

Kate Warwick  27:16

Yeah.

 

Alastair McDermott  27:17

So I just want to talk about the executive summary, because I think it’s really important, what’s really important in that part to say, if you’ve got someone who’s gonna make a big decision, or even if you’re writing a proposal, and you’re putting a summary at the start of your proposal for for pitching for business, like what have you got to put in there?

 

Kate Warwick  27:31

So we use the exact summary or when we training people as a kind of mini version of longer documents, and also as a way of structuring your thinking. So we use things like the primary the primacy effect and sentence structure, but as a way of marshalling your ideas.  So you’ve got say, five things you want to say you need to you want to write your five sentences down and make sure that they all they work, you know, they can be read, they don’t have to sound like a paragraph, but they don’t jar they don’t jump around, they move there’s a there’s a flow from one thing to the next. And then you can add your detail and your examples and your proof in under those. So you write a shortage sentence. And a short sentence is kind of an easy to read sentences about 15 to 20 words. So you know, you can write less than that in your first sentence. And then you can write in a slightly longer way and put your examples in.  But you also need to order those things very often in an exec summary, we have what we’ve talked about of the this is the background. And the context, this is how we’ve got to this point of making this decision here is this decision that needs to be made, here are some of the options. And we would suggest that you put those the other way around that your is the decision that needs to be made here with the options and then the background that helps people to so what they want to do is know what you want from them as readers, we want you to make a decision on investing in the US. And then you give them the information on why they should do that. And all the time they’re reading that and that they’re going out there. They’re making their decision as they go along.

 

Alastair McDermott  29:02

They already have the context.

 

Kate Warwick  29:04

Yeah, if you leave that till the end, they’re thinking, Okay, so I’ve now got to take in all of this background and context before I get to the decision. I’ve probably got to go back and read it again.

 

Alastair McDermott  29:13

Yeah.

 

Kate Warwick  29:14

Because I don’t really,

 

Alastair McDermott  29:15

Like Robs stuff so much because,

 

Kate Warwick  29:16

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. It’s the same idea is exactly the same idea. And it’s not really that difficult. I think that’s my other thing is that actually knowing what to say being the subject matter expert is the hardest bit then it’s only how do you say it and remembering to think about your reader and not taxing their memory, their working memory so that you say in a way that’s easier for them to read. And that can be structure as what you do. It can be tonally, it can be quite formal, but structurally it can make it easier for them to understand.

 

Alastair McDermott  29:45

Yeah, so I mean, like to simplify it, like what you’re talking about here is his reordering quite often just reordering things to make it a bit more simpler. And one thing that we think about in marketing is forcing people to make decisions and to process complex information makes them bring us more calories. We want to make it easier for people to process things. So I think that’s what you’re talking about here.

 

Kate Warwick  30:07

Yeah, we have clients who would, you know, you often you want to put the background in at the beginning of the paragraph. So then you might say, and it has been a success. Well, why don’t you start with that, because that’s the most important thing, it has been a success because and here’s the background that gives people a completely different, it doesn’t tax them as much. It’s not as hard work for them.

 

Alastair McDermott  30:28

Yeah, this also sounds a little bit like what journalists do when they’re writing, whereas they put the very, most important thing first, second most important piece of information. Second, and so on.

 

Kate Warwick  30:39

Well is the difference between a news item and a feature. So a news item is designed to be cut from the bottom a feature is obviously it’s harder to do that, because they are writing beginning middle and end a bit more than it is. And I perhaps that’s where it comes from is my experience of writing press releases, where the first line has got to be has got to lead you to read the next line.

 

Alastair McDermott  30:57

Yeah, that makes that makes sense that that’s where that comes from. Yeah. Okay. Very interesting.  Okay, listen, I better start to wrap this up because we’re coming up on time. I like to ask people about failures that they’ve experienced in business. Do you have any, any horror stories of failures that you had?

 

Kate Warwick  31:14

I’ve made so many mistakes. I think my worst mistakes have been, and I hope this is kind of relevant to your listeners is when I have over promised and under delivered, because we want to please, especially in a new business, we want to please people and we want to take our work, we don’t want to say no. And I’ve done it where I have, you know, I’ve said, Yes, we’ll do one press release, which I never do. And yes, I’ll do it in a sector like tech health, which I don’t know very much about.  And so then I find I have to go away and do a massive amount of research into the sector and who the journalists are, and who the publications are, what the stories are. And I end up working for like five pounds an hour, because the amount of effort I have to put into make it work. So those are my biggest mistakes, I think,

 

Alastair McDermott  31:58

Right.

 

Kate Warwick  31:59

Promising to do work, you know, it’s a line between getting out of your comfort zone, and actually not being the best person for the job. So now I have a you know, whole list of people who I can recommend who are much

 

Alastair McDermott  32:10

I was just talking to somebody about this yesterday, it’s close to mine, and she took on a project and it’s not really a great fit. And so she’s she’s now working at a lower hourly rate, because she’s do more work.

 

Kate Warwick  32:20

Exactly.

 

Alastair McDermott  32:21

And she probably should have said no.

 

Kate Warwick  32:22

Yeah.

 

Alastair McDermott  32:22

And what’s really irritating is that she said that that somebody else came along afterwards, and she kind of take on their project, which would have been a better fit.

 

Kate Warwick  32:30

Exactly.

 

Alastair McDermott  32:31

She’s She’s doing this. So it’s, it’s this thing of opportunity cost as well.

 

Kate Warwick  32:36

Yeah.

 

Alastair McDermott  32:36

We forget about a lot of the

 

Kate Warwick  32:38

It’s lose, lose, because the client doesn’t get work, you know, you know that if they were in your sector, you’d be doing a much better job for them. So you know, they’re not getting a good outcome you’re having to work for, you know, peanuts, because you having to do so much work. And then something else comes along and you can’t fit it in. It is it’s hard to do. And it comes with experience. It’s hard to see them. But you know, a good recommendation is as effective as doing your job. Really, if people know that you’ll say that’s not my sector, but I can recommend somebody you can. That’s also good for your profile.

 

Alastair McDermott  33:07

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. I have a couple other questions about books. Do you have a business book that you really liked that you’d recommend people read?

 

Kate Warwick  33:15

I know, this makes me sound like a fan girl. But I would read I would recommend Rob’s first book, “The Mom Test” for new people who are relatively new in business or doing a sales push or whatever. Well, I’ve been in business, you know, for 20 odd years on my own. And yet it was a revelation. And it’s designed for introverted techies. But it’s relevant to all of us. And it’s I had a business mentor who recommended it. And it’s the best thing about it is it’s really short. And there’s, you know, there are takeaways in it that you can use immediately.

 

Alastair McDermott  33:43

I absolutely recommend it as well, for sure.

 

Kate Warwick  33:45

I also like the “Tiny MBA”, which is also tiny. Another short book, you can tell I spent too long at university reading long books. It’s also short book. And it’s one of those things that you can read, you know, when you’re just kind of really fed up with business, or you’re having to do a sector of it, you don’t like very much, it’s really quick to read and it gives you ideas or makes you think about how you could make your business work better. And so I read it kind of every two to three months just to kind of, you know, write little notes in the bottom and stuff. So I will find both of those books that I get back to you.

 

Alastair McDermott  34:18

I’ve got to check that out again, I read that years ago, I think so the other question is, do you have any fiction books that you really love?

 

Kate Warwick  34:25

Yeah, I love “The Alexandria Quartet”, Lawrence Durrell particularly fact almost anything by Durrell, particularly at the moment when we can’t travel and he just conjures up places that I’d like to go to. Yeah, and they’re complicated. And he’s a bit like sided with Rosie Laurie Lee, you know that just the language is beautiful. Even if the stories are wild. It’s just the way in which they’re written.

 

Alastair McDermott  34:47

I’ve heard of them. I haven’t read them. I must check them out.

 

Kate Warwick  34:50

Yeah, amazing.

 

Alastair McDermott  34:51

Kate, where can people find you if they’re interested in talking to you about PR?

 

Kate Warwick  34:55

So you can find us at wordsavvy.co.uk or on twitter @wordsnerd, we’re often hanging out their words. And I’ve cool be very happy to have a call with people or review a page of something if they’re interested.

 

Alastair McDermott  35:10

So excellent. I will put all the details of that in the show notes and hopefully people want to take you up on that because that’s a great offer. Kate, thank you so much for being with us here.

 

Kate Warwick  35:18

Thank you so much. Be wonderful.

 

Voiceover  35:22

Thanks for listening to The Recognized Authority with Alistair McDermott. Subscribe today and don’t miss an episode. Find out more at TheRecognizedAuthority.com