PRTips | The wrong way to shorten a quotation

Especially when it comes to writing op-eds, incorporating quotations from experts can be a great way to bolster your arguments. Unfortunately, an 800-word op-ed doesn’t leave much room for lengthy block quotations. So writers often shorten quotes by using ellipses. However, if you find yourself doing this, be extremely careful. When you chop up a quote, it’s easy to alter the meaning completely. This can be an honest mistake or, worse, a purposeful manipulation.

To see how someone’s words can be misrepresented by an artfully placed ellipsis, look no further than a recent Amazon letter released online at ReadersUnited.com. The letter makes the argument that today’s book publishers are attacking Amazon’s eBooks in the same way that the literary community opposed the introduction of paperbacks, which were much cheaper than the alternative hardcovers at the time.… READ MORE

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PR Tips | Like, um, err, you know what I’m saying?

Nothing weakens a sales pitch or interview more than clogging up your points with “ums,” “errs,” and “you knows.”

Just a few “ums” can make you sound nervous and unsure. Too many “likes” and you’re a gum-popping valley girl or bad SNL skit. Luckily, one simple trick and a few hours of practice can lead to dramatic improvement.

Here’s the trick: Record your next sales call or interview. Then listen to the recording on your ride home. The very act of listening to yourself will go a long way toward solving the problem. Your subconscious speech tics will suddenly rise to the surface of your consciousness where you’ll be able to address them head-on.

I’m no speech therapist or psychiatrist. But I routinely work with people on sales calls and interviews. And this easy trick… READ MORE

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PR Tips | Pitching Magic

When you’re submitting op-eds and news stories to the media, why do some pieces run in top publications, while others slip through the cracks?

Well, it’s all in the pitch.

So what are the keys to a “winning” pitch. And how do you make your story stand out in the crowd? Here are three tips:

1. Give the editor something that’s timely. Just because something was news three months ago doesn’t mean it’s relevant today.  Peg your piece to something that’s in the news right now.

2. Keep your pitch short and sweet. Most editors don’t have 20 minutes to read a 1,000-word pitch letter from a complete stranger. 2-4 paragraphs is all you need.

3. Don’t give up — and make sure to follow up regularly. The trick is to… READ MORE

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PR Tips | LeBron’s PR Tactics

NBA star LeBron James made big, big news this month when he announced he’d be going back to the city he’s always loved and play for the Cleveland Cavaliers once again.

I have very close ties to the city myself, so when LeBron burned Cleveland — yes, the whole city, not just Cavs fans – four years ago by leaving the team, I witnessed the “pain and betrayal” Clevelanders felt first hand. You may recall LeBron’s spectacle, known as “The Decision,” where he announced on TV, after much hype, that he would be leaving Cleveland in the dust to head to the Miami Heat.

LeBron’s display has been widely called a PR disaster – the way in which he told fans he was leaving was what stung the most. Some fans at the time said they… READ MORE

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PR Tips | What’s up with Google+ authorship images?

Google recently announced that it no longer will show Google+ authorship images in its main search results. This was a real setback for many web development firms, digital marketers, and website owners in general. There were a lot of folks who (at the suggestion of Google) set up Google+ accounts for the specific purpose of getting images on the Google search results. Now Google has taken that feature away.

Hubspot did a great write-up of the technical ramifications of this policy change here.

Although this change has upset many users, it sheds light on the importance of diversification when it comes to digital marketing. When promoting and driving traffic to your website, it is imperative not to rely too heavily on one company or piece of technology. Experiment with different technology options such as social media… READ MORE

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Copy Editor’s Corner | The mysterious semicolon

The dreaded semicolon. This little guy can really throw people for a loop. Maybe it’s the look of it – it’s not quite a comma, not quite a colon. What is this punctuation symbol, and why can’t we just use a common or a period instead?

The semicolon comes to the rescue when a comma just won’t do the trick. It helps avoid confusion in a long list:

We’re proud to recognize our vice president of operations, Sam Smith of Chicago; customer service representatives Jim Johnson of Paris, Texas, Ann Anderson of Seattle, and Ben Brown of San Francisco; and CFO Molly Miller of Atlanta.

And it serves as a less abrupt form of separation than a period:

I’m excited for my vacation; I leave tomorrow.

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