Should you include a PS (a postscript) as part of your project – and if so, how should you write it?
Way back when people wrote letters without access to Wite Out, erasers, or the Delete key, a postscript was a handy way to add a piece of news or a tidbit at the bottom of the letter without rewriting the whole thing. The origins of the Latin name post scriptum, meaning “written after,” explain it all.
Fast forward to today when the postscript has morphed into more than an afterthought. It is a full-blown, persuasive writing tool you can use to add information or emphasize your point.
Today’s readers are pressed for time, so they conduct a quick skim of a letter before deciding to read the whole thing: the letter’s salutation first (they want to see their name), then the signature (“who is writing to me?”), and then the postscript.
All this before they get to the body of the letter or post or article or email.
In other words, the postscript “is the first paragraph, not the last,” according to direct mail guru Siegfried Vogele. It occupies valuable real estate.
Since such content is a premium, how should you write it? There are two schools of thought.
In this approach, you distill your content to a quick-and-dirty version of your offer. It’s easy, but it’s mere repetition and a missed opportunity with an added danger: you’ll bore your reader if she reads the entire letter.
This approach creates an intriguing first impression (remember, the postscript is “the first paragraph”) with an additional benefit, irresistible fact, fresh detail, compelling testimonial, deadline or time limit, extra deal, or a guarantee to pull in your reader. She may even want to go back and read the entire letter. The strengths to this approach are that you capture the reader’s attention, give her additional information, and respect her time. The danger? I haven’t found any, unless you count that it takes a little bit of effort.
I’m a fan of Option 2. It works better and it shows respect for your reader. But notice what both options have in common: a call to action. Got to have that, regardless.
How long your P.S. should be? As the “first paragraph” that the reader reads, it’s a short one – usually a sentence or two. Let proportionality reign. If your piece is long, your postscript can be longer, too.
And what about using a P.P.S. (“post postscript”)? Sure – if it adds another fresh approach to your call to action.
Because what’s the point of a postscript? To emphasize your point.
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Content by award-winning content writer and author Kathy Widenhouse, who specializes in writing for nonprofits and faith-based organizations.
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