Samantha McGarry

    • Member Type(s): Communications Professional
    • Title:Vice President
    • Organization:InkHouse Media & Marketing
    • Area of Expertise:public relations

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    Words to Retire in 2015: The Millennial Edition

    Thursday, December 11, 2014, 2:29 PM [General]
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    According to the Oxford Dictionaries, the 2014 word of the year is vape. This was a surprise to me as it’s not a word I’ve seen much over here in the States, but in Great Britain, it’s most definitely a thing.

    British/American linguistic differences aside (of which I am a polished connoisseur), when polling my peers, friends, reporters, and social followers for this year’s post, I noticed I barely knew many of the words they wanted retired next year. This collection of mysterious words reminded me that millennial speak and 40-something speak are, well, generations apart.

    Their crimes? These words and expressions are shallow, overused on social networks (often preceded by a hashtag) and have the potential to be here-today-gone-tomorrow. It’s no coincidence that several of these terms also appeared in TIME Magazine’s poll of words to ban in 2015 (note that the publication received much whiplash for its suggestion that the word feminist needed banning.)

    So without further ado, here are ten words that a sampling of in-the-know millennials would like to see retired in 2015: 

    1. Bae
    2. Basic
    3. Break the Internet
    4. Sorry I’m not sorry
    5. I can’t even
    6. Srsly
    7. Blessed
    8. Swoll
    9. Ish
    10. Ratchet 

    In the worlds of PR and content marketing, it’s unlikely that we’ll find much need for “bae” or “ratchet” in press releases, contributed posts or infographics. Phew. But the world of business speak is not without its offenders – words that have been overused or become so generic that they lose their punch. Here are the ones that I’m voting off the island: 

    1. First, there’s “nounification” everywhere – think: “the ask, the solve.” It’s a pet peeve of Julie Wittes-Schlack who discussed her frustration with corporate speak recently on WBUR
    2. Then there’s literally, which is literally used too often.
    3. What about engage? We all want to engage with each other, drive engagement, be engaging.
    4. Let’s not forget disrupt. We are so over the disruption and being disruptive, people. Kevin Roose thinks so too as he opined in this NY Mag piece.
    5. A leading xyz. Either you are or you aren’t and if you are, you should need to state it yourself.
    6. And my pet peeve: leverage. It takes the #1 spot in The Guardian’s PR jargon: the most overused words 

    As we close out 2014, a new expression was recently brought to my attention: on fleek. If you’re not sure whether you are on fleek, BuzzFeed offers this handy quiz. Savvy brands have already caught on. But watch this space, folks, I’ve a feeling that on fleek is already a strong contender for next year’s list of words to retire. Check back here, December 2015.

    How Media Coverage Begets Media Coverage

    Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 5:57 PM [General]
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    They say all media coverage is good coverage. Well that’s a whole other topic for another post. But, just as energy begets energy, the same is often true of media coverage. And there are actually some nifty ways to ensure that it happens, giving extra oomph to your efforts. Think about these when planning out your media strategy:

    • Target publications whose content is widely syndicated. Think Reuters or Associated Press whose stories reach far and wide, spanning other national publications like the New York Times, Huffington Post, major tech sites like Yahoo! News and innumerable regional publications.

    • Focus on publications whose stories are often picked up and covered by other titles in their field. I think of these as “seed” targets. This happens a lot especially in the tech media and blogs where a solid story in, say, TechCrunch or 9to5Mac can find itself re-written, referred to and sourced in many other publications.

    • Target specific reporters who, in addition to writing, often appear as expert guests on national broadcast media. Oftentimes, they are the ones being interviewed to help explain to the masses the impact of a new product or event.

    • Cleverly feed the Google machine. One strategically placed story with the right keyword in the headline can trigger a host of media inquiries and coverage if cleverly timed, especially when reporters are researching a hot topic or trend.

    Of course, securing quality media coverage requires a well-crafted story, the right timing, plus a solid relationship with a reporter. Get these right, and the rest will follow.

    9 Best Practices For Pitching Mommy Bloggers

    Friday, March 7, 2014, 12:51 PM [General]
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    A funny thing happened to me.

    Sometime during the last two years, between working full time in PR at InkHouse and raising a family, I became a Mommy blogger. At first it was just a hobby, but I quickly realized I had found my voice and started nurturing my blog using many of the strategies that we at InkHouse put into practice every day for our clients. I use analytics to gauge the topics that resonate most. I distribute my content to relevant audiences using multiple channels to. I found places to seed and syndicate my blog posts including the local Patch site, a parenting website and even on Huffington Post Parents. I engaged with my readers and the Mommy blog community in general, through Twitter, commenting and so on. Soon enough, my little blog had a decent following and, to me, felt like home. So, as both a PR “veteran” and a “newbie” Mommy blogger, I wanted to offer the following  best practices for pitching Mommy bloggers.

    But before I do, it’s worth taking a moment to consider why there are so many Mommy and Daddy bloggers. Speaking for myself, I blog to share my experiences as a working Mom, examine the daily challenges and frustrations of kids and raise issues - but mostly to laugh at the craziness of this time in my life. In doing so, us Mommy bloggers naturally share and connect with each other. But, for many Mommy bloggers, their blog is also a business venture. Brands know that Moms represent a powerful demographic with influence over purchasing decisions as well as a large voice on social media – and, for many Mommy bloggers, this spells opportunity. While generating revenue is not the mission of my blog, I have huge respect for those who have become respected brand ambassadors and turned their blogs into influential revenue-driving businesses at the same time.

    I spend a large portion of my days here at InkHouse pitching bloggers and reporters on behalf of my clients. So imagine my surprise when, in a strange reversal of roles, people started pitching me! It has been a real eye-opener as, in truth, the large majority of these pitches fail to hit the mark. These tips can you ensure your pitch is a bullseye.

    1. Read: Job number one is to visit the blog you are pitching, read several posts and understand the mission of the blog. Is this the blog written by a mom who is journaling her daily parenting experiences? Is it more of a Mommy confessional? Does it tackle issues like health, education, behavior …etc.?  Does the blog accept guest contributions? Does it review products? This last one is my pet peeve because I'm quite often asked to review products and if you read my blog, you’d realize that it I don’t do this.
    2. Get social: Mommy bloggers are a vocal bunch. We are incredibly active on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and so on. Before pitching, check out what they are doing and saying on each of these channels. Are they hosting Twitter parties? Are they running a brand campaign? Are they pinning recipes and after graphs? Are they commenting on hot issues? Every social action interaction is a clue, if you will, to help you formulate the best approach for each blogger.
    3. Engage: This goes hand-in-hand with the above. Get chatty! Especially on Twitter. Build a relationship on social channels through non-promotional conversation – just be you! It will pay dividends when you finally reach out.
    4. Relate: Don't be impersonal when pitching a Mommy blogger. While you may not be a parent, show that you can relate to them and their universe. Let them know why their audience would care about your pitch topic or offer. Authenticity and relevance go a long way to making a good impression with bloggers.
    5. Mix it up: Don't just push products: Mommy bloggers enjoy many forms of content like videos, photos, and infographics. Provide the content assets that will help ensure that what they publish is visually strong, interesting and entertaining. Because that will make it inherently more shareable.
    6. Get linky: Mommy blogs often create opportunities to link your blog to their blog via link ups or blog hops.. Checkout 5MinutesforMom’s annual ultimate blog party, for example or Scratchy Mommy’s weekly link up. Research which of your target blogs offer these and get linky. It can help drive a great deal of traffic to your content too.

    To read the rest of my tips, please visit:


    Words To Retire in 2014: Why Twerk Must Go But Selfie Can Stay

    Monday, December 23, 2013, 10:34 AM [General]
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    When the Oxford Dictionary pronounced “selfie” the 2013 Word of the Year, I was shocked at first. “It’s such an ugly non-word,” I thought. But then it dawned on me: it completely made sense. This word reflected a cultural shift: the ubiquity of smartphones, and society’s acceptance of our obsession with photographing ourselves and sharing them pretty much everywhere.

    This year, as in the past two years, I invited colleagues, friends and Twitter followers to suggest words that deserve to be retired because they are silly, overused, meaningless or just plain annoying. Several people this year proposed selfie. But I disagree: compared to the others on this year’s list, I think selfie deserves to stay. It’s relevant, concise and means-what-it-says.

    My top vote for the word that most demands a swift and severe dismissal from our vernacular is twerk. In fact, the readers of TIME agree: almost 27 percent voted that twerk be banished in 2014. After all, I think we all need to put those images of Miley Cyrus performing peak twerking at the VMA Awards behind us and move on.

    This year, our list of words to retire also includes these that have fallen prey to being over-colloquial, overused to the point of becoming meaningless or just irrelevant: 

    • FOMO (“Fear of missing out”)
    • Adorbs
    • Cra Cra
    • [Anything]-geddon
    • Whatevs
    • Bitch (Thanks in no small part to Jesse from Breaking Bad)
    • Literally

    When it comes to media reporting, 2013 offered up many words and phrases that were repeated so often that they stung, irritated and confused us. I’m sure we all wish to never have to read or hear them again. They include:

    • Shelter in place
    • Lockdown
    • Shutdown
    • Furlough
    • Sequester
    • Fiscal cliff
    • Debt ceiling
    • Thanksgivukkah (Fear not, we won’t be hearing this one for another 70,000 years!)

    To read the rest of this post, please head on over to:

    No, Google Didn’t Just Kill PR Agencies. It Killed off SEO Press Releases.

    Friday, August 9, 2013, 12:48 PM [General]
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    An article headline yesterday stopped me in my tracks: “Did Google Just Kill PR Agencies?” In this piece, veteran reporter Tom Foremski discusses new rules issued by Google about links and keywords in press releases. These new mandates are intended to limit any “manipulation” of search rankings. You can read Google’s full explanation here.

    Google is not killing off PR agencies though. PR existed before Google and it will exist long after these rules are in place for one important reason. PR is about telling stories, not manipulating search results. Press releases, too, existed before Google. As Foremski wrote, press releases are tools PR people use to interest reporters in writing about the news and we believe that is how they should be used (see our post with nine tips here).

    Aside from the press release, PR has much to thank Google for – measurement is now possible, in part thanks to Google Analytics. Google Analytics lets us directly measure how the media coverage we secure, the content we create and the points of view we seed lead people back to our clients’ websites. Google News is also a huge asset to PR, keeping us abreast in real-time to the latest news.

    With this new mandate, what Google has done is kill off the SEO press release. Google is now requiring that URLs and anchor text within press releases be converted to no follow links. That’s cool with us. We’ll still be able to see where PR content drives referral site traffic. Also, fortunately, the major news wires have already stepped up to the plate and are automatically converting these links.

    And, before we bury it, let’s give the SEO press release some due credit. SEO optimization has actually forced PR to write crisper, shorter headlines. To stick to the facts, avoid the buzzwords, provide links to useful, relevant and timely content. All things we know that reporters value.

    But, the real guts to this story are these: PR is about storytelling, not seeding links and boosting SEO. 

    To continue reading, please visit

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