I’ll let you in on a secret: The 5 W’s aren’t just for reporters writing breaking news stories or publicists cranking out press releases. You can use them to strengthen marketing pieces, even advertising. Let me show you how.
Meet the five W’s: Who, What, When, Where, Why.
Oh, them, you say. Inverted pyramid and all that journalism stuff. The five W’s are old-timers, old news.
Well, yes. But there’s a reason they’ve been around a long time.
Plus, I’ll let you in on a secret: They’re not just for reporters writing breaking news stories or publicists cranking out press releases. You can apply the 5 W’s to marketing pieces, even advertising. Let me show you how.
The five W’s have long been the mainstay of PR professionals who must write newsworthy press releases to get media attention for their clients. By effectively using the five W’s, they’re speaking the language of journalists and the news business.
However, marketing, advertising and sales promotion are undisguised selling. How do the five W’s apply? Let’s run through them. Think about an ad, Web site, brochure, or sales letter.
<i>Who</i> – Who is the audience, customer, or prospect? Who are you?<br>
<i>What</i> – What is the product, service, offer?<br>
<i>When</i> – What is the time element? Why is it important or urgent now?<br>
<i>Where</i> – Where is the market(s) or company (yours and/or theirs)?<br>
<i>Why</i> – Why should they respond or buy? What are the reasons or benefits? Why you instead of your competitor?<br>
I’m not suggesting that the five W’s are a marketing cure-all.
You still need to stick to marketing basics: presenting products and services as solutions to problems; showcasing features and benefits; providing proof with testimonials, opinions and statistics; and having a strong call to action.
Simply use the five W’s to help flesh out all aspects of your message.
With a firm grasp of the five W’s, I believe you can adequately steer your way through any interview. The five W’s give you the question-asking framework to approach any person, subject and project.
Ideally, you prepare for an interview, considering the focus of your piece, gathering background information and preparing questions in written form or in your head.
The five W’s are a good starting point, but you’ll find them absolutely indispensable in those instances when you have little or no time to prepare for an interview. The five W’s will help you ask some decent questions and come away with what you need to write the piece.
<b>Don’t Forget ‘How’</b>
Not widely publicized because it doesn’t begin with a “W,” “how” is a frequent sidekick of the 5 W’s.