Category Archives: Tools & Tactics

Upcoming Webinar: Powering B2B Content Marketing Campaigns Through Multimedia

webinar banner

Due to the wealth of information available online, consumers have taken the buying cycle into their own hands by researching prospective vendors and seeking peer recommendations before making a purchase decision. Content such as white papers, case studies, and blog posts provide critical education around an organization’s solutions, but can be limited in terms of social reach and standing out among competitors. Therefore, communicators must consider more cutting edge alternatives in order to have their messages effectively heard.

The ability of videos to capture and retain viewer interest, fuel engagement across all social channels, and simplify complex messages make them an unparalleled method of connecting with audiences.  Their presence in an organization’s communications strategy makes all the difference in a gain or loss of business, and including multimedia is no longer an option.

Powering B2B

Tomorrow we will be hosting a webinar titled “Powering B2B Marketing Campaigns Through Multimedia” moderated by PR Newswire’s Product Manager of Online Services, Erika Kash and featuring B2B Marketing experts Rachel Foster, CEO at Fresh Perspective Copywriting, and Scott Armstrong, Parter at Brainrider.

“Nowadays there’s so many different tools made available to us that a budget shouldn’t limit you from using video because it helps drive engagement,” says Kash in response to the notion that multimedia puts a strain on marketing and PR resources, “you can put together simple sound bites using everyday tools like cell phones and laptops and increase visibility for your message. The key is to create a story from the content you already have.”

The panel will discuss how to think beyond the brochure and use multimedia content to engage leads and convert them into customers.

Click here to register now.

Grammar Hammer: Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda

the Grammar Hammershould-of-could-have

I grew up in a southern West Virginia and heard phrases like “would of went” and “should of went” all the time. Thanks to my late grammarian grandfather, The Colonel, those phrases never made it into my vernacular. I heard “would of went” as recent as a few weeks ago listening to a group of adults discuss a recent happy hour. I winced and kept walking. There are two major grammatical problems with that phrase.

“Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda” are actually slang for the contractions “should have,” “would have,” and “could have.” I think the confusion starts with how things sound when you’re speaking.

“I shoulda called my sister last night.”

The “uh” sound gets misinterpreted for “of” instead of the contraction for “have.” I have yet to find any grammatical construction that supports “should of,” “would of,” or “could of” (and let’s go ahead and add “must of” to that list).

If we dig a little deeper, “should ___” requires a verb in the blank. “Have” is an auxiliary verb and should be used with should, would, could, might, must, and may. “Of” is a preposition.

What we’re trying to communicate here with our modal verbs (shoulda, woulda, coulda) is the correct from of the verb “go,” which is an irregular verb. Let’s conjugate, because it’s all about the participles.

Indicative

  • Present: I go.
  • Past: I went.
  • Future: I will go.
  • Perfect: I have gone.
  • Pluperfect: I had gone.
  • Future perfect: I will have gone.

Subjunctive

  • Present: I go. / I have gone.
  • Imperfect: I went.
  • Pluperfect: I had gone.

Conditional

  • Present: I would go.
  • Perfect: I would have gone.

Instead of saying, “I would of went,” or even “I would have went,” we now know that the correct phrase is “I would have gone.”

When you decide which modal verb you’re going to use, remember that the modal verb will give you more information about the function of the main verb it governs. “I should have called my sister last night.” “I would have gone to happy hour if you had called me before I fell asleep.”

And, finally, “I could have gone on and on about this topic, but I figure you have the gist of it by now.”

Have a grammar rule you’d like me to explore? Drop me a line at catherine.spicer@prnewswire.com.

Author Catherine Spicer is a manager of customer content services at PR Newswire.

Grammar Hammer: Comma Drama

via Grammar Girl

via Grammar Girl

In the thousands of news releases that cross the desks of the PR Newswire Customer Content Services team on a weekly basis, placing commas outside of quotation marks ranks as one of the most commonly made errors. Though misplaced commas are not a major grammatical offense in comparison to some others we’ve seen, its frequency makes this a topic worth exploring.

What’s fascinating about this topic is really how the U.S. grammar rules vary from the British. In the U.S., the comma (or other punctuation) goes inside the quote marks, regardless of logic. I refer you to English Grammar for Dummies, 2nd Edition, which gives a great recap of the scenarios in which this rule applies. On the other hand, British grammar rules focus on the context and want the punctuation placed “logically” versus “conventionally”. (See what I did there?)

For historical context, good old-fashioned typography is the primary reason Americans place punctuation inside their quote marks. According to the Guide to Grammar and Writing, when printing used raised bits of metal, periods and commas were the most delicate keys and writers risked breaking off or denting the face of the piece of type if they had a quotation mark on one side and a blank space on the other. Hence the convention arose of always using periods and commas inside the quote regardless of logic. In today’s digital age, it seems that we could eliminate this rule as easily as the rule of two spaces following a period.

My advice is to pick a style and stick with it. In 99% of my writing, I’ll follow the American rule of tucking my punctuation marks neatly inside the quotation marks, except for that teeny tiny 1% where context or logic necessitates it being outside (and please know that inconsistency makes an editor’s brain hurt).

In other grammar news, the Associated Press announced they were relaxing their stance even further on “more than” vs. “over.” A part of me has died; I just talked about this topic in February. How do you feel about AP’s new position on this rule?

Have a grammar rule you’d like me to explore? Drop me a line at catherine.spicer@prnewswire.com.

Author Catherine Spicer is a manager of customer content services at PR Newswire.

Content We Love: GoBankingRates.com Goes Off Without a Pitch

ContentWeLove

Click to view the entire press release from GoBankingRates.com

Click to view the entire press release from GoBankingRates.com

The digital age has enabled content creators to become content distributors in their own right by engaging on social platforms. But in the mix of today’s owned, earned, and paid media environment, social channels can be limiting in their ability to reach beyond their followers and garner attention from new audiences. Over the holidays, GoBankingRates.com issued a press release to share the findings of a study they conducted on leading retailers titled “Stores with the Best and Worst Return Policies.” The release- which the company told us they did not pitch in advance- generated excellent media coverage on major outlets such as Good Morning America and ABC News.

Click to view the video of GoBankingRates.com featured on Good Morning America

Click to view the video of GoBankingRates.com featured on Good Morning America

The brand used a PR-savvy combination of engaging, informative content with the power of press releases to raise awareness of their message and build credibility, and the results they experienced are a testament to the fact that press releases are still highly regarded sources of information for both journalists and consumers.  For these reasons, GoBankingRates.com’s story is the subject of this week’s Content We Love.

In addition to a strong story and excellent timing, several notable elements of this press release made it optimal for earning media coverage:

  • Visual assets stop the eye and grab the reader’s attention against a sea of text. Most press releases don’t contain a visual element, which allows this company to differentiate their message against competitors and increase visibility.
  • The copy is stripped of corporate jargon and supplies readers with just the facts. In just 46 characters, the direct and to-the-point headline provides readers with a complete context of what the story is about and encourages them to read on and share on social channels.
  • Bullet points break down the results in an easily digestible format.
  • A call to action links to a blog post that drives traffic back to the company website.
Assets from the GoBankingRates.com press release are republished in a Fox News article

Assets from the GoBankingRates.com press release are republished in a Fox News article

GoBankingRates.com shared a story so valuable to their audience that all it needed was distribution to propel it forward. As evidenced by their impressive media coverage, even though distribution comes in a variety of formats today, journalists still look to press releases as a source of trustworthy information and creative story ideas. But it’s not about what a single platform can do for your message; it’s about how integrating distribution in all its forms to promote truly interesting content can drive an ongoing conversation and maximizes visibility for your brand. The exposure that GoBankingRates.com generated through original media coverage firmly positioned the company as a thought-leader in personal finance. Kudos to GoBankingRates.com on a job well done!

GravatarAuthor Shannon Ramlochan is the Content Marketing Coordinator at PR Newswire. Follow her on Twitter @sramloch

4 Best Practices for Distributing a Global Press Release

Brand Marketer Summit

Your boss comes into your office and says that the major new product release you’ve been working on for the past month now needs to be sent all over the world.  “Global” is what he says before walking out the door and into a meeting, leaving you in a panicked frenzy of where t0 even begin. These four tips can help you reduce your anxiety when distributing a global press release:

Decide on the specific countries or regions you wish to target

The first step is to determine exactly what your boss means by “Global.”  Unless this is truly breaking news and you have a large budget, sending it to every country on the planet isn’t likely what he meant.  You’ll need to pin down the countries that are most important to your company, your client, or your news. If you don’t know which countries to target, check with your marketing department.  Mirroring their efforts is usually a good idea.

If they come back to you with general regions, such as “Europe” or “Asia,” it’s best to try to pin it down a bit more.  Western Europe?  Scandinavia?  The EU? What about Eastern Europe?  Do the same for all regions where you received generalities until you have a target list of countries or mini-regions.  This will help you keep your costs down, and your boss happy.

Modify your release to create localized versions

Sending one release to all markets globally sounds like the easiest way to go – one release to run up the corporate approval chain – but that is not always the best way to get your news to generate quality earned media.  Having tailored versions targeted at specific countries, regions, or mini-regions is your best bet if you’re measuring results by the number of clips your receive. I usually counsel clients to prepare a few different versions of the news release, clearly marked for the destination, and send them up the approval chain at the same time.

You don’t have to make too many changes to see a tangible difference in your results.  Modify the release in the headline, subhead, first paragraph, any bullet points or quotes, and make sure the changes are specific to the target area.  For example, “XYZ Inc. announces a new chip designed to regulate power in ________” as a headline.  Insert country, region or mini-region in the space. The quote can be completely localized in each version, and frankly, works best that way.

If you have a local contact, be sure to list that person first on the release destined for that country or region.  It will increase your chance of getting a journalist call if there are any questions, or if a follow-up interview is requested.

Provide accurate translations

Once you have your list of countries, you will need to translate the copy into those respective languages or adjust certain phrases to accommodate specific markets. Look to see if you have translation capability in your local offices that will help you keep your costs down.   If you don’t have those resources, or your local teams don’t have time, be sure to ask if they want to see the translations you’ll have done to further localize.

Translations take about 1-2 business days per 800 words of your release, so plan accordingly when working on your timeline.  If you have requested to approve the translations prior to sending out, please add time for your internal approval chain to the processing time.

Coordinate your distribution times  

Sending to all regions of the world simultateously isn’t a good idea.  Because of that whole ’round world’ thing, someone important  is going to be asleep and miss your news.   You can target the timing for simultaneous distribution in Europe, Middle East and Africa at the same time as the Americas (if you don’t mind a very early distribution time), but Asia will need to wait until later on in the day, when they get in.  You don’t need to change your dateline for the Asian release if you don’t wish – it should only slightly affect your results, if at all.

Distributing a global press release doesn’t have to be as daunting as it seems. It essentially all comes down to targeting your news specifically to each country and paying close attention to cultural distinctions and time zones of each region.

Interested in learning more about sharing your news around the world? View the on-demand webinar, “Thriving in a Mobile Driven World” and learn how to format your press releases to reach the global audiences who are increasingly relying on mobile devices to consume information.

Register here

Author Colleen Pizarev is PR Newswire’s Vice President of Communications Strategies in International Services. 

Grammar Hammer: Are You Taking Preventative or Preventive Measures?

preventive_maintenanceThis week’s grammar conundrum stems from someone correcting me (ME! The Grammar Hammer) when I made mention of “preventative” measures I needed to take to curtail further water damage from the gutters that are falling off of my house at the moment. Needless to say, I felt somewhat disgruntled by this remark.

I courteously smiled, acknowledged the correction and bolted home to start my research. Preventive has always been one of those words that just sound wrong to me, so I’ve always used preventative instead. Have I been wrong this entire time?

Merriam-Webster says that preventive is used more frequently than preventative and we are free to use either one, but if you use “preventative,” you are more likely to have someone try to correct you.

I tried to persuade myself out of using “preventative” with the same argument I make when I hear the cringe-worthy word “orientated.” You orient things, you don’t orientate things. That means I should stick with “preventive” because I’m trying to prevent something bad from happening. If I say “preventative,” it would be like saying I’m trying to preventate something, right?

Grammar Girl tackled this subject recently and affirms my position on this word. She acknowledges “preventative” as a “troublesome” word – some reference books say preventative is incorrect while others say it’s fine to use.

If I’m being honest, I think I’ve taken sufficient preventive measures to stop using the word preventative. I know that both words are correct and mean the same thing. I also know that “preventive” is more common than “preventative,” but if someone chooses the longer word, they’ll get no corrections from me.

Have a grammar rule you’d like me to explore? Drop me a line at catherine.spicer@prnewswire.com.

Author Catherine Spicer is a manager of customer content services at PR Newswire.

Grammar Hammer: March Forth on March 4th to Speak Well, Write Well, and Help Others Do the Same!

National Grammar Day

For my fellow grammarians and word nerds, March 4th marks what should be a national holiday for us. National Grammar Day was established in 2008 by Martha Brockenbough, founder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar (SPOGG). I started writing posts for Grammar Hammer in late-2012, and March 4th has a permanent place on my calendar as a day to celebrate my obsession with grammar rules.

Why is it so fun to celebrate National Grammar Day? I don’t remember ever having this much fun diagramming sentences in grade school. Now that I’m older, I can take advantage of this day to make myself a Grammartini, read some Grammar Noir, or make up a grammar haiku or two. Last year, Arika Okrent won the National Grammar Day Tweeted Haiku Contest with this brilliant entry:

I am an error

And I will reveal myself

After you press send

Truer words have never been written. The American Copy Editors Society is

My favorite grammatical error found at a local gas station

My favorite grammatical error found at a local gas station

sponsoring the 2014 contest and will announce the winner on March 4th. Okrent is one of the judges for this year’s contest.

In celebration of National Grammar Day, I will be listening to the Grammar Hall of Shame Legacy Playlist and finding all the grammatical mistakes I can in each song. I’m always on the lookout for typos in public places.

I encourage all of you to march forth and celebrate National Grammar Day.

 

Have a grammar rule you’d like me to explore?  Drop me a line at catherine.spicer@prnewswire.com.

Author Catherine Spicer is a manager of customer content services at PR Newswire.