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Jun 30, 2010, 11:03 CDT
- Member Type(s): Content Publisher
Media - Freelancer
Media - Broadcast
Media - Print Journalist
Media - Student Journalist
Media - Web-only/Blogger
Media - Other
- Title:Director, News Operations
- Area of Expertise:ProfNet, ProfNet Connect, media, PR
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Friday, December 3, 2010, 11:27 AM
We saw a bunch of really great blog posts this week on ProfNet Connect. Here are links to some of the most popular:
- Sarah Skerik's post, "Real-Time Search and What it Means for PR," looks at how the social graph is dominating search results -- and what it means for PR.
- In "Surviving the Office Holiday Party," Corinne Gregory shares tips you can use to sail through your next office celebration.
- "New Twitter Search Engine Pinpoints Brands' Niche Audiences, Key Influencers," by Grace Lavigne, looks at Research.ly, a new online tool that helps analyze tweets by demographic breakdown, sentiment analysis, keyword mentions and viral data.
- In my own post, "Just Say No to Cannibalism: Why Writing Well Matters," I offer you my take on why writing is still integral to good communication.
- "Highlights of ConnectChat on How to Increase Visibility and Showcase Expertise" shares key moments from ProfNet's recent #connectchat with Francine McKenna, who used her expertise to launch a career as a writer.
What were some of your favorite blogs this week? Which ones did you find most helpful, interesting?
Wednesday, December 1, 2010, 9:51 AM
I recently read an interesting article on Ragan.com titled, "Does Writing Well Still Matter?" In it, writer Russell Working explores the importance of good writing for communicators.
I think all of us can agree that good writing does still matter, even in this age of Twitter and other social media platforms. Good writing is integral to getting your point across. Without it, you risk the chance of your message being misunderstood – or completely missed.
But what classifies as good writing? Is it making sure all the commas are in the right place, or that sentences don't end in a preposition? Does it really matter whether you write "health care" or "healthcare"? Can you get your message across even without following the AP Stylebook to a T?
To me, good writing is a combination of clear prose and proper grammar. You can't have one without the other. I'm constantly amazed at the number of online articles in which the author uses "your" instead of "you're" or misuses apostrophes (they're not for plurals, people!). In order to properly get your message across, you must follow the proper rules of grammar and punctuation.
Let's take this classic example: "Let's eat, Grandma." Leave out the comma, and you change the meaning of the sentence -- and wind up with one none-too-happy grandma.
"Oh, come on, Maria. Don't be such a stickler. Who cares if a comma is missing? No one is going to notice. People will know I don't actually mean to eat Grandma."
Maybe -- but maybe not. And when you're writing a press release or article that's going to be ready by thousands (or, if you're lucky, hundreds of thousands or even millions), or a blog post that will be cached for virtual posterity, why take that chance?
So here's my suggestion: No matter how good a writer you fashion yourself, keep learning. I try to listen to the Grammar Girl podcast as often as possible. I've read the AP Stylebook cover to cover, and I subscribe to Stylebook updates to hear about changes and new entries. I make time to read grammar books (a personal favorite is "Lapsing Into a Comma") and articles (see theoatmeal.com/comics/misspelling -- they don't have to be boring!).
I know sentence structure is not the most scintillating topic for everyone, and the thought of ampersands and asterisks is enough to put most people to sleep, but you don't have to make it your whole life. Just take some time every day/week/month to learn something new or reinforce a good habit. You'll be thankful in the long run.
What do you think? Is grammar/punctuation integral to getting your message across, or just a way for "word nerds" to feel superior? Any writing resources you can pass along?
Friday, November 19, 2010, 11:47 AM
What do bathrooms, germs and Lindsay Lohan have in common? They all made my list of favorite (or, as I like to call them, "tweet-worthy") queries this week:
- Financial Tips from Celebs. Step 1: Make a gazillion dollars.
- Weird Beauty Treatments Below the Waist. Cool. I'd love to find out about new beauty treatments for my feet. What? That's not what the reporter meant? Ohhhhh… Um, never mind.
- Bathrooms: New York vs. the World. The city's new slogan: "The City That Never Pees," brought to you by Charmin.
- The Five Germiest Things You'll Touch Today. How much would you like to bet at least one of those will be in a New York City bathroom?
- “I Love Dogs Week.” Finally, the dogs vs. cats question is settled. They're not writing about "I Love Cats Week," are they? So there.
- Therapy for Lindsay Lohan’s Parents. Yes, please.
- Holiday Stress. Stress? What stress? Just because we have to bring our families together harmoniously, make the perfect dinner, wear the perfect outfit and buy the perfect present? Nah. No stress there.
- Avoiding Conversational Landmines During Holiday Dinners. That's easy: Don't invite the family to dinner…
- Wine to Go with Christmas Dinner. …but if you do have to invite the family, at least have some liquid reinforcements on-hand.
- Company Holiday Party Horror Stories. Guaranteed to make you feel better about your own holiday parties.
* Publication names have been omitted to protect the innocent.
What were some of your favorite queries this week? Are they on this list?
Wednesday, November 3, 2010, 10:47 AM
When I started tweeting as @profnet a few years ago, it was a brave new world to me. I knew nothing about Twitter or “twetiquette,” so I read as much as I could about how people and companies were interacting on Twitter.
I got lots of great advice: be conversational; use hashtags; make it relevant -- tips most everyone can agree on. However, there was one question for which I got – and continue to get -- conflicting answers: Should you follow everyone that follows you?
According to this article, by Mitch Joel, president of Twist Imagine in Montreal, the answer is no.
In the article, Joel says, “The only people you should follow on Twitter are people who are immediately interesting to you or people who might become interesting to you. Ignore the rest.”
I respectfully disagree.
In the beginning, I followed only people I recognized or whose tweets I thought were most relevant to me and/or ProfNet. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, and I wouldn’t criticize anyone who chooses to do that, it didn’t work for me. Because by limiting the people I follow, I was actually limiting the conversation.
So many of the connections I’ve made on Twitter are with people who weren’t even on my radar. By following them, I’ve read interesting comments I never would have read and seen links I never would have seen. At first glance, we might not have much in common, but sometimes those can be the best connections you make – those unexpected little gems you might have ignored.
Another reason for following everyone: It allows them to send you a direct message. When you’re tweeting on behalf of a company or organization, this can be very helpful. If someone has an issue, concern or any other type of feedback, a DM from them can alert you to a problem and let you address it before it becomes a bigger, more public problem. It also helps them feel connected to you and your company, and lets them know you do truly care about them and their needs.
Lastly, I like to follow everyone because, well, it’s the nice thing to do. Call me antiquated or even naïve, but if someone has taken the interest to follow me, who am I to say they don’t have anything interesting to say? Even if 99 percent of their tweets are not relevant to me, there might be that 1 percent that will spark a conversation or make me think about something in a new way. And isn’t that the whole point of Twitter?
So to all of you who selectively follow, I issue you a challenge: From today until Nov. 30, if someone follows you on Twitter, follow them back. Don’t think twice about it; just do it. I think you’ll find that following more people makes Twitter more interesting. And if you don’t? Well, heck, it was only four weeks anyway. You can always go back and delete them later.
So … are you up for the auto-follow challenge? Let me know below, and make sure to report back with your results!
Thursday, October 28, 2010, 9:52 AM
We hear a lot about what journalists want from PR pros: Get to know them, their beat and their publication. Send timely, relevant pitches. Don’t spam. Don’t call. Those are all great tips every PR person should follow.
But what do PR folks want from journalists (besides a cover article exclusively on their client, of course)?
We posed the question on Twitter: "PR folks: What one thing do you wish reporters did differently/stopped doing/did more of?"
The No. 1 answer? Reply to e-mails.
More than half of the respondents feel as though their e-mails often fall into a black hole.
- @joshsternberg: Respond to a pitch. If they want better relationships/less spam from PR people, respond. A “no” goes a longer way than silence.
- @ASerrate: Answered e-mails even if they're not interested in the story. That way I'll know better for next time. Help me help you.
- @eplastino: Respond to e-mails, even with a "no thanks."
- @TomMcFeeley: Wish they would take the time to tell us why a pitch doesn't fit, so we can be better next time.
- @mjkpr: Respond to e-mails, yes or no. I can take any answer. We know you're busy, but who knows if you even received the e-mail?
- @joeod3: Respond. OK, I get it if it’s an info dump, but if I know you and personalize a pitch, just say no.
- Alyssa Yancey (posted on Facebook): I wish that more reporters would respond, even if it's just a "No, thank you." I know that reporters are very busy and get tons of news releases, pitches, e-mails, phone calls, tweets, etc., but if we PR folks got a response, then we would stop sending them information that they aren’t interested in.
- Alison Raymond (posted on Facebook): I agree with Alyssa!
- @diprofio24: Just say "no" if they're not interested. We won't bug you anymore after that. Otherwise, we'll pester you.
- @jmandelker: Respond to e-mail pitches with a “No, thanks” so we know they got them.
- @MissSuccess: I'd like reporters to follow up even when they AREN'T interested in a story, as that would stop additional e-mails from PR folks.
In other words, responding to a (thoughtful) pitch would go a long way to helping foster better communications between PR and media.
- @mbruschetta: Embrace #socialmedia! E-mail's best for pitching, but SM can facilitate relationship-building! Some journalists still skeptical.
- @san_dyego: Let us know when an article is up. This helps us promote it via social media, etc., and gets their name out there more, too!
- @AerialEllis: Be more transparent about angles. Often get an inquiry for a story, provide sources & facts - then the story comes out way off topic… I'd rather know ahead if there's a deeper angle than what is asked for. Many of us (PR) respect the craft enough to allow honesty.
- @lisaalloca: Remember their professional manners. We all understand that they are "drinking through a fire hose" but we are there to help them.
- @BastilleMktg: I wish reporters would stop interrupting and putting words in the interviewees’ mouths b/c they are impatient.
- @SuperDu: Calling for last-minute quotes from CEOs for stories not based on breaking news (i.e., planned, long-lead).
Journalists: What are your thoughts on this list?