10 Grammar & Spelling No-No’s for PR Pros

proofreadingIf the number one thing on which PR people are judged is our reporter rolodex, grammar and spelling savvy ranks a close second. Make sure you don’t fall prey to some of these common mistakes:

No. 1: Your & You’re
“Your” is possessive, as in “your client” or “your press release,” when “you’re” is a contraction of “you are.” A handy tip: When in doubt, insert that phrase (you are) into the sentence, and use it if it still makes sense.

No. 2: Its & It’s
Same idea here – “its” is possessive, as in “the early bird got its worm,” whereas “it’s” is a contraction of “it is.” Try the same swap in a sentence – you wouldn’t say, “the early bird got ‘it is’ worm,” right?

No. 3: Numbers
According to AP Style, numbers one through nine should be written out, and figures should be used for 10 and above. (Bonus: When writing percentages, always use numerals with the word “percent,” not “%.”)

No. 4: Fewer & Less, More Than & Over
Use “fewer” with things you can quantify (e.g. fewer than 10 pieces of coverage), whereas “less” is used with hypothetical quantities (e.g. Their launch was less successful than ours). Along those same lines, “more than” is used with numbers, where “over” generally refers to spatial elements (e.g. She sent more than 25 tweets; I positioned the logo over the text in the document).

No. 5: Complement & Compliment
To “complement” something is to add to or supplement it (e.g. That color really complements your complexion), whereas a “compliment” is an expression of praise or admiration (e.g. That color looks great on you!).

No. 6: Into & In To
The word “into” answers the question, “where?” – although it doesn’t necessarily need to be a physical place (e.g. I walked into my office). The words remain separate when they happen to show up next to one another in a sentence (e.g. My boss came in to see me).

No. 7: E.g. & I.e.
The abbreviation e.g. is Latin for “exempli gratia,” meaning “for example.” The abbreviation i.e., on the other hand, stands for the Latin “id est,” meaning “that is to say.” Here’s an example: “We like social media—e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.” Or you might write, “We like social media—i.e., we’ve made a point of connecting with others.”

No. 8: That & Who
Always use “who” when referring to people. Otherwise, if you say something like, “employees that are present today in the office,” you’re referring to them as objects.

No. 9: Affect & Effect
“Affect” means “to influence” (e.g. This heat is affecting my ability to concentrate), whereas “effect” is a result (e.g. The heat has had an effect on productivity levels in the office).

No. 10: Alot & A Lot
Trick question! “Alot” is not a real word, so always be sure you separate the two. And, when in doubt, try to replace it altogether with a number or something like “many” or “ample” to sound more professional.

Persuasive Picks For Week Of 7/1/13

uncovering-true-insightsIt’s undeniable that social networks are embedded in our daily lives. Business2Community contributor Jeff Bullas thinks is worthwhile to put that in some perspective and see what the social media landscape looks like from time to time. In review, he posts 5 Insights Into The Latest Social Media Facts, Figures and Statistics to ponder.

If there’s a bible for the new media world, it’s likely The New Rules of Marketing and PR. MarketingProfs‘ Ann Handley sits down with author David Meerman Scott to talk about the revised and updated edition, What’s New With the New Rules of Marketing and PR, and whether the new rules are still… well, new.

status-update-tipsDo you want to know how to dramatically improve your social media response rates? Write better tweets and status updates. Shea Bennett AllTwitter co-editor explains  more in his post 10 Quick Tips For Better Status Updates On Twitter And Facebook [INFOGRAPHIC], courtesy of The Social Skinny.

Just writing your message online is not enough. In order to effectively persuade your readers, it is essential to understand how people consume content online. Austin-based writer and editor, Laura Hale Brockway summarizes a recent Nielsen Norman Group report, and subsequent Jakob Neilsen Alertbox Post:  “Website Reading: It (Sometimes) Does Happen.The report details how effective page layout and good information architecture can guide users to your content. Laura offers her take on some practical advice from the report in 13 writing tips for the Web via PRDaily.

Got content? 5 tips for great newsletter content

contentNewsletter creation can be remarkably challenging for even the most prolific writer. After all, your newsletter has some lofty goals: get through spam filters, attract readers’ eyes, get opened, get read, get click-thrus, convert to a lead, and if all the stars align – result in a sale. Phew!

Coming up with good content is easier than you might think. Here are some proven tips we’ve picked up over the years to help you get started:

  1. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes – Think about newsletters you like to read and try to mimic that type of content. Is the tone fun and lighthearted; is the content informative and educational? If you enjoy a specific style or type of content, chances are your readers will too.
  2. Don’t try to sell anything – Sure, the ultimate goal with any marketing tactic is to increase sales, but a newsletter should first seek to engage your audience. Your goal should be to capture their attention and provide interesting, compelling content that holds their interest over time. This helps to keep your services top of mind when your prospects are ready to buy them.
  3. Lighten up – Business is serious, but dry and dull is not the kind of content you want to provide your readers. Your content can be both informative and entertaining. Hear a funny customer story? Share it. A Ron Burgundy fan? Include a favorite quote when it makes sense.
  4. Recycle existing content – Old content can be new again. Revisit archived blog posts, customer success stories or past campaigns. Even current content on your blog, website, Pinterest page, or other marketing channel can be repurposed as newsletter content.
  5. Create repeatable content – Create a series such as a customer or campaign of the month, or a tips series where you share one piece of advice to a common challenge in each newsletter. This helps keep your readers engaged and looking forward to your next issue.

When thinking about newsletter content, remember that your audience – whether they’re prospects you’d like to convert to customers, or existing customers you’d like to retain – they opted in to your newsletter for a reason: they’re interested in learning more about your business and what you can do for them. You don’t need to attract their attention; you need to keep it. Cater to their interests with relevant content that offers valuable, entertaining, educational information. Keep this in mind as you develop your newsletter and you won’t disappoint.

What’s your best tip for creating great newsletter content? Please share in the comments.

Persuasive Picks for week of 10/15/12

The key to being a good consultant of any kind is to ask the right questions, writes Michael Teitelbaum in a recent post at Marketing Trenches, and provides a list of 5 Questions Marketers Need to Ask Prospective Clients to get to the heart of a prospect’s challenges and aspirations – via MarketingProfs.

Visual networks are now changing the rules of engagement and agencies and brands need to find the best ways to measure and understand their customers cultures. Laurent Francois of SocialMediaToday explains How Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr are Blasting Social Media Monitoring tools because there’s a fantastic bias supposing that people express themselves only through words, sentences and syntax.

LinkedIn has rapidly become the number one B2B social networking tool with over 175 million users from around the globe. So why would someone in your target audience choose to do business with you in LinkedIn? Online Marketing veteran and ClickZ contributor Jasmine Sandler says it’s not as easy as one-two-three, but provides some helpful tips on Creating Solid Business Relationships Through LinkedIn.

First impressions matter! Blog readers generally pay attention to the title and the first two paragraphs of any given post, and then decide whether to read the rest. Lydia Di Francesco gives content marketing tips to bring more attention to your posts in 6 Easy Ways To Write Headlines That Get More Clicks on Business2Community.

Persuasive Picks for the week of 04/11/11

White HatPR Is Not A White Hat SEO Technique
This post from Nichola Stott on SearchEngineWatch expands on the dangers of using press releases as an SEO strategy that could ultimately “backfire and possibly damage your clients’ reputation.

5 Top Marketing Blogs by Entrepreneurs
I’m always on the look-out for new blogs to add to my newsreader, and this post from ReadWriteWeb‘s Danny Wong provides some noteworthy alternatives to the traditional marketing streams out there.

13 ways to get your clients to think like a blogger
Continuously creating new content for a blog can be a daunting task for some. This post from Arik Hanson provides numerous tips to jumpstart your brain and get the words flowing.

Facebook and Email are NOT distractions, but necessities!
This “energetic” post from Peter Shankman schools readers on how to properly use Facebook and email for business rather than seeing them as distractions.

How to Measure Your Facebook Engagement
This SocialMediaExaminer post from Facebook Diva, Mari Smith provides a wealth of information on measuring your Facebook page’s level of user engagement.