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Sometimes we write like we talk. This is becoming a problem with press releases, articles and how we write emails. Even savvy publicity writers who write for pr clients, or publicity professionals will usually fail once in awhile with grammar in their releases.writing press releases

You may not think it is important, but editors, reporters write and read for a living and they do not tolerate poor grammar, or the use of conjunctions to make long sentences. I read an article in Press-Release-Writing titled “Get a Grip on Grammar“. It has a lot of the tips I give my pr clients. Let me share with you a few of these from the article.

Q: I’ve heard the terms biweekly and semiweekly used interchangeably. Are they really synonyms?
A: A bimonthly appointment occurs once every two months. A semimonthly appointment occurs twice a month. If you’re a gardener, it will be easier to remember the difference between “bi” and “semi” – just think of the term “biennial” and it’ll be a cinch to remember.

Q: When is a comma used before the conjunction “and”?
A: A comma should be used before coordinating conjunctions (e.g., and, but, or) to join closely related sentences. A comma is optional, but recommended, with and before the last item in a series of three or more items. In most of their other roles as joiners (aside from joining independent clauses), coordinating conjunctions can join two sentence elements without the help of a comma…

Q: When are “state” and “federal” capitalized?
A: State and Federal are capitalized when they exist as part of a proper name such as “Federal Reserve Bank”; however, “state law” is not a proper name, so it is not capitalized.

These are just a few common problems that any pr professional, pr client, or novice writer should keep in mind when writing any releases, or articles. If you need further help with your current publicity campaign, give Carson Marketing, Inc a call at 949-477-9400. Ask for George Carson.

It isn’t until after a press release, or an article is published, you then see the results of your pr marketing strategies take place. Well, have you thought about all the publicity in the news these past few months? Such as the financial markets, the autopublicity is everywhere industry and retailers?

Publicity is everywhere! That’s what I have professed for over a decade. As we all read about how bad something is, we tend to shy away from them. So let’s talk about the auto industry. The big three–GM, Chrysler and Ford. The negative pr these companies have had is going to hurt FUTURE sales. Yeah, they are having great deals on cars, trucks and SUV’s. But now people hear about them going broke, or having serious financial trouble. Would you consider buying from any of them? I don’t think so. Why? Because if you need a part in four years, or have trouble with the vehicle, you begin to ask…will they be there to help? Will the dealership I bought from be around anymore? A recent article in Media Post gets deeper into this topic discussing a survey to illustrate this point. Service is a major concern with any product. That too is what causes the slowdown on many retailers. Why buy from them, if they are closing?

What all this negative publicity does is help the competition. Again, look at the auto industry. Sales are going to increase for all the imports. Not just because they build better vehicles, or are price competitive. It’s because there hasn’t been negative publicity about any of the better known imports having financial problems. At least we do not hear about them like we do with the domestic auto companies.

This also applies to the banking industry, and retailers. If your company is in a good position, financially, then consider creating a “positive publicity campaign”. This is when branding should be a major part of your pr marketing strategy. This window of opportunity is now open, take the leap. Just make sure you work with a professional publicity company to help guide you through this timely event.

It is hard to believe that a year ago I made a presentation to the California Community Colleges on  “Job Behavior” as the first soft skills lesson. This year our company produced another lesson onpresnetation on soft skills Power Listening. Although many people, including pr clients, ad agencies, even many publicity professionals think this isn’t that important, or a soft skill. Well it is. In fact listening is the most important soft skill a person can learn.

Check out these facts:

Over 75% of what we learn is from listening. And get this, a person can only speak about 180 words per minute, but we hear over 500 words per minute. That means we get bored when people are talking, and therefore loose interest and miss what is said. So if you are a pr client, publicity professional, start listening, not hearing, but listen to what is being said.

It was a great presentation and many of the professors and other administrators at this conference for the community colleges were very pleased with the presentation. Several people commented that they learned a lot and will begin using this Power Listening lesson in their classes immediately.

My other point why I am telling you about this, it is an excellent publicity vehicle. Our company was well received by the 109 community colleges throughout California. This is one of the many ways a pr client can gain exposure for their company, or themselves. Give lectures; speak on topics that you know, or about trends in your industry. A few helpful hints:

• Contact your local Chamber Of Commerce to give a lecture

• Contact any local, or regional associations in your industry and give a talk

• Send an article to your local newspaper to the business editor and ask them to publish your article. Make sure the article is newsworthy and talks about a specific topic in your industry

These are just a few suggestions. To learn more about making presentations, or “how to listen”, give George Carson a call. He knows how to listen, and can show you how to gain favorable publicity when using this soft skill. Contact George at 949-477-9400.

Writing a press release is much different than writing an article, or a script, or copy for an ad or brochure. A press release should be written to a specific audience, or market. If you are a PR Client, then make sure that your in-house pr department or your publicity agency understands the importance of targeting a specific audience for each press release.

PR Clients need to understand that publicity is an art. It doesn’t just happen in the media. To get a press release published,How to write a press release you need to follow a few points. Besides writing it in the correct format, which you can check out this site to help you understand how to write a press release. What you need to also do, make the press release fit your specific audience. Don’t try to be general and reach the entire market. No matter how generic your product or service might appear to be, you can target specific markets and revise the release to target other markets.

One way to get your press release published is to see what you are saying. If you are opening a new office, or moved to a new location, then the release should be targeted to local media. It is also good to mention how this move, or new office will impact the area. For example, will you be hiring new people, how will your company affect the new area? Think in this manner and you have a good chance of getting published.

If you are a medical company, then ask how it will affect that industry. Does your release explain how your company (or what the release is about) changes anything in the industry? Of course, this release should target medical publications, and local newspapers that have a Health section. A short article on “Reaching the Right Audience” explains more ways of identifying how to understand your market so that your press release targets the right audience in order to get published.

Follow these simple steps and you will have a better chance of the media running your next release. If you need professional pr help, give George Carson a call at 949-477-9400.

Get creative and break out of the publicity box

Whether you are a pr client or a publicity agency looking for a new slant on an article, try re-thinking how you approach a topic or subject.

We all tend to get into this hole of doing the same type od releases, articles for pr clients. Everyone wants publicity people to be creative, think of a new angle or invent a story for the media. Well, that isn’t always the best way to gain favorable publicity.

articles and stories for publicationWe need to think outside of the publicity box. A good article that addresses this issue is called "How to get Free publicity for small businesses". The author has some good tips to help you think outside of that box. For example, ask your customers (in a survey) that include some controversial questions. This can spark a topic of interest for your industry to get your company an article published.

A few other tips include:

  • Create a top 10 list within your industry. If you have a bakery, or food manufacturer, do a "Top 10 of the most wildest food items made"
  • Offer surprising facts about your industry or business. For instance, if you’re a recruitment firm write an article titled, "The Average Starting Salary of An MBA Graduate is 40 percent Higher Than Their Pre-MBA Earnings."
  • Be first to offer something that no one else has in your industry. Such as a 200% double your money back guarantee. Make sure your product or service is really good.
  • Do you participate in any local charities, or events. Try closing your office for the entire day and have everyone work for that charity. This can be a great headline "Local Print Shop Closed Doors to Help the Needy".

Ok, now you try it, get creative, break out of the rut.

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As a PR Client you need to follow the rules

Publicity agencies and pr clients sometimes loose sight of how to write a press release for the media.

Get your pr release noticed by editorsWhen you submit a release to a publisher, editor, or a freelance writer, it is important to follow the basic rules when writing "newsworthy" releases.

All releases should follow these simple rules:
• WHO
• WHY
• WHERE
• CONTACT

Keep in mind WHO the publication’s audience is when writing. Sometimes it is necessary to modify a release if the audience varies even slightly.

Know WHY it is an important release. The product or service may be important to you, but what about the readers and your industry. Make it important to them and the editors will then not toss your release into the trash.

If the press release has a location, such as an event, seminar, or announcement of the unveiling, be sure to mention this. Otherwise, pr clients need to list the location as their main office, or headquarters. Publicity agencies need to also list the pr clients location, not theirs.

Finally, put the contact info for the pr client. The publicity agency should also include their contact info as the focal point. Be sure the person listed is available to respond in a timely manner.

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Aug 292006

How to write for the web


A friend asked me if there is a difference in writing techniques when creating brochures, press releases and web sites. You probably know that my answer was YES. I directed him to my blog a few days ago that addressed this issue. Then today, I saw an article that was describing the writing habits for the web.

I was pleased to see another person realized the need to educate publicity writers how different it is when writing anything that appears on the web.

Let me share with you some of my findings and experience.
First you need to accept that the web is different when it comes to writing anything. Here are a few reasons how it is different:

  • Text is hard to read. Most computers have low resolution, even the higher the resolution, and the smaller the type. This makes it more difficult for people to read on-screen text. They tend to read slower, comprehend less and recall less.
  • The web allows you to link pages and sources. Unlike print, you cannot link to other articles, or resources.

Ok, if you agree with these two points let’s move into "How you should write for the web".

  • Keep your articles down to 1,000 words. Why, because of my point above that says text is hard to read!
  • Use sub-headings and bullet text when possible. This gives the reader a chance to scan the article.
  • Give more info. This is where you want to use the links. Provide links to your sources, or references. It helps to build that link strategy you need for the search engines.
  • Speaking of links, use keywords and phrases when writing. Don’t go wild and pack a lot of them into the article. That will get you negative action from the search engines. Use keywords wisely and the engines will treat you nice.

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Aug 282006

How to keep your brand going strong

Auto brandingWhat makes a brand? It takes more than one sentence to answer this question. As well as it takes more than doing just one press release, or an article to create or build a brand. It takes an entire campaign that can last more than a few years to build a solid brand image.

First you need to understand what it takes to build a brand, as well as how to maintain that brands image. A good thought would be why you are buying a particular car. Why do you prefer a GM brand over an import like Toyota, Nissan, Lexus, etc, or vice versa? Ask yourself, why is a brand important?

Brands are a big part of our daily life. It is how we make decisions on our buying habits. So knowing this much, you should then realize no matter your industry, branding is critical.

Oh, you think that your company is a B2B company, and therefore you don’t sell directly to consumers. Bad thought. All people, even business people are brand conscious. They too are consumers. Take another test. Why do your business customers buy from competitors? It’s the branding. Ok, sometimes cost is a factor. But if your brand was highly respected, one that delivers excellent service with follow up, then your brand will outlast the discount companies.

If you need to read some other thoughts on building a brand, then read a column from Rhonda’s Report. She will address the 5 points that brands are based on. It is time to build your brand before your competitors knock you out of the industry.

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Using the tools can help a publicity campaign

Most public relations service companies use e-mail to disburse the press releases or to send a mass mailing announcing a newsworthy event.

As with all mass mailings, publicity can become a victim of too much mail that it gets trashed. Sending out a mass blast e-mail may not always be the best solution for a publicitye-mail marketing campaign. Sometimes it is best to target the few media reporters that best fit your press release or pitch for an article. e-Mail blast can be good for some news bulletins or to announce an event you might be holding. But I recommend that you are selective in that approach and choose the few media you really want to attend and send them a separate email with a personal invitation, not a generic one.

In our fast pace world of publicity, we need to slow down and target our audience, in this case it is the reporters or publishers. Doing this does require extra time, but it will pay off better than sending a blast and having no reporters attend.

This is true with press releases and press kits for pr clients. Not every release needs to be blasted to hundreds of media. Taking this easy approach only gets bad publicity for you and your company.
Knowing how to use e-mail marketing can be a major benefit to a company. It allows you to measure the response sooner than traditional mailings. And you have a stronger of reaching your prospect, media, than placing the release in an envelope and hope that it isn’t filtered (tossed out by the secretary) before it reaches your chosen destination.

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Make Publicity Work For You

No matter how much you read about optimizing a web site, or how to design it for ease of navigation, we are always asked by clients how to improve their image via the Internet.

Web Marketing and PublicityThe best and most oblivious media is through your web site. Simple, yet companies tend to crowd everything they have about the company into hundreds of pages deep, or they make one page be a couple of thousand words long.

You can talk to a dozen different web-marketing companies, or web designers, and all they know is that small segment. Few understand the power of publicity. Those progressive web companies will work with the pr clients, or the publicity staff, or the pr firm to discuss how to incorporate their areas of expertise into making the web site proactive.

For example, each pr clients website should include a newsroom, or press section. This will have company press releases, articles, white papers, etc that can be viewed by the reporters, publishers, or any media.

Other important pages are:

  • About Us
  • Contact Us
  • Products/Services
  • Blog Site

The Press Room or Publicity section should also be in this list. The above areas are the main sections to a good web site structure. Planning these pages within these sections is also critical. Don’t go wild and have a dozen pages deeper. If you need to, break that heavy copy page into another one or two sections for visitors to view if desired.

Too much information is not as good as you may think. Instead, condense your information with solid content. Your visitors will learn more and come back often.

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