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PR Secrets: Master Digital Press Releases and Get More Journalism Coverage

An example of a release featuring embedded video, cited by Rosetta's Shade Vaughn.

An example of a release featuring embedded video, cited by Rosetta’s Shade Vaughn.

If you tuned in last week to the Bulldog Reporter PR University webinar Mastering Interactive News Releases: 7 PR Secrets of Digital Press Releases That Woo Editors and Wow the Public, you likely came out with more than seven secrets.

The powerhouse panel of social media and PR experts included:

  • Taylor L. Cole (@TravelwithTLC), director of PR and social media with;
  • Melanie Moran (@melaniemoran), executive director of integrated communications for Vanderbilt University News and Communications;
  • Shade Vaughn (@shadevaughn), director of PR and events with Rosetta;
  • Serena Ehrlich (@serena), director of social & evolving media with Business Wire; and
  • Sarah Skerik (@sarahskerik), vice president of social media with PR Newswire/MultiVu

It’s no secret that today’s Internet and media inboxes are overflowing with news releases announcing products and services, financial earnings, changing staff, and more. But with so many of these releases competing for the same eyeballs in newsrooms, standing out from the pack requires finesse and clever packaging, particularly in this digital era.

Some highlights that came out of the webinar (#realworldpr) included Bulldog Reporter PR University training director Brian Pittman’s list:

  • Consider multiple/tailored releases to different audiences and verticals.
  • Always use unique and trackable URLS. (Example:
  • Include a “click to tweet” link within the press release, near the top of the content. 
  • Keep headlines to 100 characters or fewer. This is also good for subject lines when sending out release as a pitch ancillary/support.
  • Write for mobile first. Craft mobile-ready copy. Think short sentences and graphs, punchy quotes, and use micro content principles. (Example: The main facts/5Ws could be listed as bullets so they’re easily scanned on mobile.)
  • Always include a call to action. (Example: “Click here to download app” or “click here for a fact sheet.” This would then tie to the first bullet above and would be trackable.)
  • Make all content portable. When possible, generate your press release content so it can be “broken apart” into pieces of mini content. (Example: Can your pull quote stand alone and be tweeted or shared on Facebook? Can your graphic be shared with a cutline that provides the key facts? Can your video stand alone?)

The panel also stressed the importance of SEO keywords.

The right keywords can improve readership of your release, the group agreed.
Business Wire’s Ehrlich shared some of her favorite keyword tools: SpyFu and Google AdWords.

When it comes to paid distribution, wire services still tend to be the “best place to get your message out there,” Ehrlich said.

PR Newswire’s Skerik agreed, noting that syndication of press releases and other branded content drives discovery of that information by new audiences, which in turn seeds new social interaction and page traffic.

“You really need to look at press releases in the grand scheme of your overall success,” Erlich added. “Understand the real size of your audience. The smaller and more micro you go, the better chance you have of getting coverage. Build your superfans.”

These digital influencers require regular doses of good information to stay engaged. Skerik pointed to the fact that influence is changing.

“There’s constant feedback,” Skerik said. “Communications campaigns need to support this feedback loop. It’s less ‘Ready, aim, fire’ and more about connecting a living and breathing presence for your brand.”

hotels bulldog

This press release from featured an eyecatching visual, as well as relevant links to strongly related information.

Consider also the folks on the receiving end of content might be changing. Skerik mentioned the Chicago Sun-Times newsroom, which recently fired its photography department, Pulitzer Prize winners and all.

It used to be that large, glossy photos on the front of the newspaper would drive newsstand sales. With media moving farther in the digital direction, arming editorial departments with iPhones and simple photography basics appears to be more accepted.

Press releases with a multimedia strategy – photos, video, audio, or infographics – always will trump those without.

Why do these visuals work? Because photographs are worth about 60,000 words.

“Visuals have their own their own distribution networks,” Skerik said.  Shade Vaughn agreed, noting that for Rosetta, including visuals in press releases improves search visibility and brand awareness.

Online newsrooms also need compelling photos, must be easy to search, and have prominent contact information, added Moran, with Vanderbilt University.“A robust cutline describes the story,” Moran said. “That’s your news release in a few lines of text.”

Vaughn, with Rosetta, said the company focuses a lot of time and attention on thought leadership. Rosetta publishes white papers to its site, maintains a blog, and does a great deal of social promotion behind each piece.

Vaughn uses PR Newswire and said the Visibility Reports dashboard is particularly helpful in tracking metrics relating to the story’s online performance, something the company carefully manages as each message is structured.

“For every release, we create a page title and meta description unique to the press release,” he said. “Write [press releases] to communicate the purpose of the announcement, not to sell. Simplify.”

Finally,’s Cole advised working with other brands to extend the life of your news.

“If your release is the hub, you have to get it right. Headline, subhead, call to action,” Cole said. “Communications is a two-way conversation.”

Cole also reminded the audience how important it is to align PR messaging with other marketing and communications objectives, both in terms of how the press release will be used and how the results will be measured.   The links offered within press releases are a great opportunity for measurable collaboration. always includes links within their press releases.

“Link once or twice to useful content that is really relevant to what your reader wants to do,” Cole noted, emphasizing the connection between digital messages and the subsequent actions readers take with the content.  PR messages can bring new people into the company’s sales pipeline, and providing useful links is one way to capture and cultivate audience interest.

Christine Cube is a media relations manager with PR Newswire and freelance writer. Follow her @cpcube.

Customer Security Announcement

There has been a lot of news lately about data intrusions at leading companies around the world. This is a challenging aspect of doing business today, but the privacy and security of our customers’ information are of the utmost importance to us.

We continue to refine our security approach in light of the ever-changing nature of threats, and implement security enhancements on a regular basis. Notwithstanding our efforts, we recently learned that a database, which primarily houses access credentials and business contact information for some of our customers in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India, was compromised. We are conducting an extensive investigation and have notified appropriate law enforcement authorities. Based on our preliminary review, we believe that customer payment data were not compromised.

As a precautionary measure, we have implemented a mandatory password reset for all customers with accounts on this database. As a general practice, we recommend that our customers use strong passwords and regularly update them, not just on PR Newswire but on any website requiring login credentials. From an internal perspective, we continue to implement security improvements and additional protocols to help further protect user portals and customer and proprietary information.

For almost 60 years, PR Newswire has established itself as the premier global provider of multimedia platforms that enable organizations to leverage content to engage with their key audiences. We recognize that the trust and protection of our customers are critical to our success, and we will keep customers apprised of any additional important information.

We regret any disruption this may cause PR Newswire users and will continue to work diligently to prevent these types of events from occurring in the future.

Ninan Chacko

Chief Executive Officer

Content We Love: Uncovering gDiapers


“Content We Love” is a weekly feature written by a team of our content specialists. We’re showcasing some of the great content distributed through our channels, and our content specialists are up for the task: they spend a lot of time with the press releases and other content our customers create, proof reading and formatting it, suggesting targeted distribution strategy and offering content optimization advice. In Content We Love, we’re going to shine the spotlight on the press releases and other messages that stood out to us, and we’ll tell you why. We hope you find the releases enjoyable and the insights gained from discussing them enlightening.

On the cusp of NYFW, the rattlers were sounded when gDiapers released their version of the Fall trends– for babies!

gDiapers Introduces Mix-And-Match Coordinates And Diaper Covers For Fall 2013

The headline, complete with an action verb, covers more than fashion.

The priority with a headline is that it IS the first glimpse of a story. It needs to tell the full story in ideally 65 characters with spaces. Reason being: search engines index the first 65 characters. There isn’t a penalty for going over; simply keep the story in the beginning!

gDiapers’ headline showcases a new product which highlights the prettier side of diapers: fashion! The company makes diapers more eco-friendly by having flushable (or compost-able) inserts in festive covers.

gDiapers: A company dedicated to eliminating conventional disposable diapers from the planet. The new gVeggie gPant pictured here with coordinating gLegs.  (PRNewsFoto/gDiapers)

When introducing a new product, it is paramount to include an image. Images increase your chance of visibility which means more eyes will be potentially seeing your image! Scrolling through releases and seeing an adorable baby wearing a colorful diaper? Yeah. I clicked on that to see the story. gDiapers? #Winning.

Great headlines and powerful imagery deliver directly to readers (like a stork) and just like new baby smell, we can’t help but love it!

Big thanks to gDiapers for bringing beauty to dirty diapers everywhere.

Author Emily Nelson is a Customer Content Specialist for PR Newswire. Follow her adventures on or on twitter

Grammar Hammer: Shall We Dance?

Trying to decide when to use “shall” or “will” in a sentence really comes down to whether or not you’re a stickler for old grammar rules or you’re a grammarian of the people, by the people and for the people. Both words indicate the future tense.

The stickler version: use “shall” to indicate the future when using the first person (I/we) in a sentence.  Example: I shall go to the garden center tomorrow to take advantage of their BOGO deal on hanging baskets. Use “will” when using the second or third person (you/ he/she/they). Example: You will finish raking the yard before you go to the baseball game.

Here’s another way to look at it: “shall” indicates determination or intention; it implies that the action is mandatory.

In American English, “shall” has been replaced by “will” in most scenarios, although it is still found in legal documents. In a legal sense, “shall” indicates an explicit obligation. Go back to any lease you signed for an apartment and there’s probably a sentence that starts with “The terms of this lease shall commence…”

Great orators and speakers will use “shall” to deliver uplifting prose. Everyone had to memorize the Gettysburg Address in school, right? Say it with me, “…that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government  of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

“Shall” is also used in polite conversation, especially when offering an invitation.  “Shall we dance?” for example.

Still confused?  Here’s a joke for you:

A foreign tourist was swimming in an English lake. Taken by cramps, he began to sink. He called out for help:

“Attention! Attention! I will drown and no one shall save me!”

Many people were within earshot, but, being well-brought up Englishmen and women, they honored his wishes and permitted him to drown.

This week’s topic was suggested by a reader from New Zealand (yes, it’s official, Grammar Hammer has a global audience), and I thank you profusely for reading.

Have a grammar rule you’d like me to explore? Drop me a line at

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

Applying Android Design Vision to Communications

Android UXOne of the best things about SxSW is hearing the people behind the products and services,we use today detail their journeys, providing a behind-the-scenes view of the thinking and processes that went into product design.  A session I attended featured two of Android’s leading ladies in UX and design, and they revealed the principles they used to focus their design on people

Speakers Helena Roeber and Rachel Garb are two of the driving forces behind Google’s Android platform. Rober spearheaded Android’s user experience for the last five years, and Garb, who leads leads interaction design for Android apps at Google, summarized their people-oriented design vision simply: Enchant Me. Simplify My Life. Make Me Amazing.

Android UX3

Roeber and Garb found that design affects emotion and we now have an opportunity/responsibility as developers to tap into the emotions of our users in a positive way. When they created the vision, they intentionally created this in the first person so that it reflected the vision of their users, not of themselves. “We wanted to speak more to people’s hearts [with our designs]“, Roeber said.

I found this to be very interesting as this was a new concept for me.  As a product manager we often get caught up in the nuts and bolts of our product that we sometimes forget what the main goal should be: how are users feel when they interact with it.  Garb pointed out that for every interaction that triggers a negative emotion, 3 positive ones must be offered to lift your user back up.  People tend to blame themselves when things go wrong with technology.  So what Garb and Roeber did was look at the negative emotions through a year-long study of observations called the “Android Baseline Study” and asked themselves how they could turn these into positive principles and to use these principles to create beautiful, usable and innovative design.  They realized that little annoyances had the power to destroy all the magic you’ve created.

Example:  Feedback: Users tend to be overwhelmed by too many options and limitless flexibility.

Turned into the principle:  Only show what I need, when I need it.

They went on to contextually explain each principle and how they came to be and it was quite interesting, but in the end, it made sense!  Why wouldn’t positive emotions reflect a better user experience?   It even opened up my eyes to how things are phrased and worded in the user interface.  Android refuses to use the phrase “Are you sure?” in their UI because it invokes a negative emotion by placing doubt or uncertainty on the user.

What I also liked was that it wasn’t just about stimulating positive emotions, but individual emotions based solely on the things that are important to me.  In a world full of so much information being thrown at you from so many different directions, connecting to your user on an individual level is more important than ever!

Google Now, the newest technology launching from the Android team that was announced at SXSW was created using these principles.  It goes beyond any traditional method and applies the “Delight Me in Surprising Ways” principle on a whole new level by automatically pulling information that is important to you only by learning who you are.  What’s the weather like where you are?  What’s the traffic situation for your commute to work? What’s your favorite coffee shop, here’s a coupon. No preferences need to be made, it gets to know you and learns your habits.  This allows it to adjust to you and only shows you what’s important to you. The cool thing is that it reconfigures each time so it won’t remember old habits if things have changed in your life!

So what does this mean?  As a product person, this definitely gives me some guidelines in how to approach the decisions we make on how to make our products better.  So the next time we  are looking at what next new innovative feature should be applied to our product or what next NEW product we should develop, we’ll pose this question as our clients — Are you enchanting us? Are you simplifying our lives? Are you making us amazing? And remember the emotion involved when it comes to our users!

Resource: Design Principles:

Author Erika Kash is an online services product manager with MultiVu, a PR Newswire company.

A look at the future of search with Google’s Amit Singhal at SXSW

Guy Kawasaki interviewing Amit Singhal at SXSW 2013.  Photo: Victoria Harres.

Guy Kawasaki interviewing Amit Singhal at SXSW 2013. Photo: Victoria Harres.

Today, Guy Kawasaki interviewed Amit Singhal, Google’s senior vice president of search.  Billed as a conversation about the future of search in mobile world, the conversation ranged into devices and other future Google projects.

To put the conversation in context, it’s worth repeating a fact Singhal dropped on the crowd in response to Kawasaki’s question “What really is on the internet?”

According to Singhal, everything is on the internet, and it’s sitting on more than 30 trillion web addresses, which in turn reside on some 250 million web domains.

The evolution of search

According to Singhal, who’s been with Google for 20 years and has a PhD in search, at the beginning, people didn’t expect search to work.  That’s changed entirely today – searches are growing increasingly granular and complex.  Additionally, people are searching all the time.  When desktop search volumes go down – at mealtimes, for example, and in the evenings – mobile search volumes increase.

How to gain search rank

Once again, the advice was simple – publish useful content that adds value.  However, Singhal made an interesting point – that search engine optimization is really about marketing your content to search engines – telling them what it’s about, and why it’s important.

When it comes to the mechanics of achieving rank, it’s important to keep something firmly in mind: A perfect search engine should know exactly what you mean, and give you exactly what you want, and that’s Google’s goal.  As Singhal said, search engines need to be comprehensive, relevant and fast.

Inbound links are one signal, but they use more than 200 other signals, including: on-page content, words in the title.

What’s in development now?

Google Now is one project Singhal mentioned, describing it as “… the things you need to know, just coming to you.

“The future of search would be bringing knowledge to the world in a completely multimodal environment,” noted Singhal.

He envisions Google Now as a perfect assistant – it’s by your side, you can talk to it and ask it things.  But it should also tell you things proactively, such as when traffic is bad and you need to leave a bit earlier than anticipated to get to your next meeting.

Other things on the collective minds at Google include the knowledge graph, speech recognition and natural language understanding, brought together, as Singhal says, to create “search magic.”

sarah avatarAuthor Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media, and is the author of the e-book “Unlocking Social Media for PR.”  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.


Media News & Moves for March

MEDIAware, PR Newswire’s Audience Research Department newsletter, features recent media news and job changes in the industry. Here is a sampling of this month’s edition:

Over the past few years Newsweek Global ( has endured several foundational changes including a 50/50 partnership with The Daily Beast in 2008 and the groundbreaking announcement of plans to go digital late last year. With a new year and a new digital Newsweek and Daily Beast on the horizon Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown ( unveiled a new name — NewsBeast.

Beginning in March, readers will notice one notable Editor missing from the Vogue ( masthead. Managing Editor Laurie Jones announced that February 28th would be her last day with the mag. Before beginning her iconic tenure with Vogue, Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour was hired by Laurie Jones at New York Magazine. Later Wintour brought Jones over to Vogue where she would become Managing Editor.

The International Herald Tribune, the New York Times Company’s 125-year-old Paris-based newspaper is getting a name change. This Fall the paper will be known as The International New York Times. In addition, the brand change will combine forces between the New York Times website and the Tribune’s to create one international news site for the rest of the world outside of New York, You can check out the newspaper here: and

Global pharmaceutical company SCRIP Intelligence ( names Brett Chase US Companies Editor. Chase was previously Deputy Managing Editor for Crain’s Chicago Business, Deputy Business Editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, health industry team Assignment Editor for Bloomberg News and Milwaukee Bureau Chief of the American Banker in Chicago. Contact Brett on Twitter at

A rash of television station re-designs have occurred this past month with three in the South being updated. WTVC-TV in Chattanooga, WXIA-TV in Atlanta and duopoly WDRB-TV/WMYO-TV in Louisville have all recently undergone renovations. WTVC-TV in TN now features a high definition set with LED color changing lights, large back-lit graphics and a 1×4 strip of monitors in the Weather Center With a rear projection screen.NBC affiliate WXIA now includes a new Gannett graphics package. Also, the set has color changing, frosted plexiglas and flat screen monitors including a large freestanding 3′ by 4′ monitor array. While construction on the set of the Louisville stations has just begun, it is scheduled to be expanded by 11,000 sq. ft. The existing facility dates back to 1980 and is too small for the station, which has grown considerably in that time.

Being a field reporter has its dangers. Just ask News 14 Carolina Reporter Caroline Vandergriff. Vandergriff was struck by a car while reporting on a story about severe weather in the area. While reporting from a major intersection in Charlotte where the traffic lights were out due to the storm, two cars collided after one lost control and struck Vandergriff. She was immediately taken via ambulance to the local hospital where she ended up staying for a week. She is back at work now.

Entertainment Weekly announced two veteran Contributors would bid farewell to the Time Inc. magazine. Senior Writer and Film Critic Lisa Schwarzbaum was the first to accept a buyout package earlier this month. Shortly after TV Critic Ken Tucker followed suit. Tucker was a member of the founding staff of the magazine in 1989. According to Adweek, the buyouts are a result of a 6% overall cutback set in place by publisher Time Inc.

WSB-TV in Atlanta is just one of the many companies in Georgia donating to the relief of tornado victims.After a tornado struck down in Bartow and Gordon counties, the ABC affiliate donated $50,000 to the Red Cross to help victims of the tornado, which spawned winds of more than 135mph. The epi-center of the storm was in Adairsville, Ga., where three fatalities were reported.

WKYT-TV in Lexington is adding another newscast to its line-up. The CBS affiliate will now air news 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. This makes two early afternoon newscasts in the market with WLEX-TV of NBC being the other. WKYT-TV’s news will be anchored  by DeAnn Stephens. She was re-hired specifically for the show. She can be emailed at Stephens also can be heard on WBUL-FM in the morning. A pioneer in Carolinas television passed away last month.

Reporter Jane Harrington-Smith passed away at the age of 62 from heart failure. Harrington made history as the first black female Reporter/Anchor at Winston-Salem, N.C. station WXII-TV in the turbulent 70s. She also hosted a weekly program called “Shades of Ebony.” She worked there for six years before moving to Indiana. She worked at WTHR-TV in Indianapolis, covering such big stories as the Mike Tyson rape trial in 1992. Harrington was a graduate of Fisk University in Nashville and a member of the Black Professional Journalists Association.

Last month, Reporter Ann Mercogliano ( departed WCBS and sister station WLNY-TV. This month she join joins WPIX-TV ( as a freelancer. She will be reporting both mornings and evenings when needed.

Ken Tonning, the President and General Manager at Tampa’s WTSP-TV announced he will retire in July. Before joining the station in 2008, Tonning worked for stations including KUSA-TV in Denver and WXIA-TV in Atlanta where he was the Sales Manager. Beginning his career in 1974, he was credited for altering traditional journalism and pushing the envelope of newscast reporting.

In a strange twist, Orlando’s WKMG-TV hires the son of an Anchor at a competing news station. Justin Warmoth joined WKMG as a News Reporter with the blessing of his father Greg Warmoth who is the Anchor for Orlando’s WFTV-TV. Surely journalism runs in the genes of this family.

The Web Producer at WFOR-TV, Dave Game has passed away. Dave was only 57 and leaves a long legacy in the industry. Game, a veteran journalist, came to WFOR in 1985 where he served as a General Assignment Reporter, Investigative Producer and Reporter. He is accredited with creating one of the first broadcasting websites in South Florida for WFOR.

WTVT-TV Channel 13’s Andy Johnson has left the Fox TV station after over three decades with the company. Johnson joined the station in 1979. A native of Tampa as well, the low key retired Meteorologist has not spoken on his plans hereafter.

Journalist Mike Guy ( has stepped down as Editor-in-Chief of The He still regularly contributes to Playboy Magazine and Wenner Medias Men’s Journal. He will also continue to be the Editor-in-Chief of Thrillist ( off-the-beaten-path activities, restaurants and products found around the world. The website is easily accessed by each city; a total of 21 are featured, including New York, London and Miami. The site managers are looking to add more cities to explore in the near future.

London’s Daily Mail ( is opening a new Washington, D.C. office and it will be headed by David Martosko ( Martosko was the Executive Editor at The Daily Caller. Martosko’s new title will be U.S. Political Editor.

You can view the whole March issue of MEDIAware here:

And all of the Regional Updates here:

You can also follow all of the latest media moves and news from PR Newswire’s Audience Research Department on Twitter at:

Blog Notes: Life in LA, Fuel, Marketing & Food Trucks

roundup5Blog Notes is a weekly helping of blogs recently reviewed on PR Newswire for Bloggers. Would you like your blog reviewed? Tweet PR Newswire media relations manager Christine Cube at @PRN4Bloggers.

The Daily Truffle is a Los Angeles social diary and has been called “the most knowledgeable blog about life in L.A.,” by the Hollywood Reporter. The site receives more than 100,000 unique visitors monthly and features more than 20 contributors. “The Daily Truffle is known to be the first port of call for anything trending or about to trend in the L.A. tastemaker circuit,” the blog says. The blog speaks frankly about its status: “The site has no office, no phone number, and doesn’t take meetings. Intel is submitted through upwards of 100 friends of the Truffle, loosely known as “Truffle Hunters.” Read the full review from PR Newswire for Bloggers here.

Fuels America is an initiative to demonstrate the value in having renewable fuel in the fuel supply. According to its blog, renewable fuel is “more important than ever – driving economic growth in communities that need it, improving our nation’s energy security and attracting millions in new technology dollars to invest in America’s future.” Put simply, this blog talks about the benefits of consumers pumping renewable fuel into their cars — it saves money, saves the country money, creates jobs, and protects the environment. Read the full review here.

Danny Brown is a blog geared toward social media marketing. It’s written by Brown, chief technologist with ArCompany and an award-winning marketer and blogger. “This blog talks about everything from social media, PR and marketing to making the most of the various online tools and communities,” the blog says. “It’s aimed at everyone.” Brown continues: “The blog also looks at how you can combine marketing, PR, customer service and more with social media, and begin to change the way you and your clients or company does business. It offers suggestions, solutions and idea starters for you to take away and use for your own needs.” Read the full review here.

There’s a movement underway in the food industry. We’re talking actual movement here. Food trucks are all the rage in cities across the country. And Mobile Cuisine delivers “every must-read street food, food truck, food cart and food stand story bubbling up across the web.” Today on Mobile Cuisine, you can read about writing a food truck business plan, 5 Street Food Styles Any Food Truck Can Add to Their Menu, and Vote for the 2013 Food Truck Taco of the Year. There’s even an interactive map where you can search street food carts in your area. There also are resources and articles on how to make food trucks safer and more sustainable. Read the full review here.

Christine Cube is a media relations manager with PR Newswire and freelance writer. You can follow her @cpcube.

Grammar Hammer: Can You Really Beg a Question?

I’m not often willing to admit when I make a mistake (especially a grammatical one), so it begs the question, can a staunch grammarian still make mistakes?

Yes, and I just did.

Many of the articles I read as inspiration for this column talk about the evolution of language. Specifically, how something that was 100% incorrect in 1950 is now so commonplace that it’s no longer viewed as a mistake.  A couple of weeks ago, I debunked the urban grammatical myth of ending sentences with prepositions as a grammatical faux pas.

“Begging the question” is another example of the grammatical mine field we trudge through in our communications. The actual definition of “begging the question” comes from logic. It’s used to indicate that someone has made a conclusion based on a premise that lacks support. It can be a premise that’s independent from the conclusion or in a simpler form, the premise can be just a restatement of the conclusion itself (definition, courtesy of Grammar Girl).

Basically, when you beg the question, the initial assumption of the statement is treated as already proven without any logic to show why the statement is true in the first place.

RIGHT: “I think that sweater is hideous because it’s ugly.”

The proof I’m offering in that sentence (“because it’s ugly”) says the same thing as “the sweater is hideous.” I’ve just begged the question.

WRONG (technically): “If there are so many websites and articles dedicated to writing, it begs the question, why are there so many people who can’t write their way out of a paper bag?”  And thus, we enter the mine field. Using this phrase to raise a question is becoming more commonplace, and you’ll see examples in major media, print, interviews, and around the card table with your friends, discussing the issue du jour.

So, does it matter if we beg the question correctly or incorrectly? I think the website Beg The Question offers the best argument:

“While descriptivists and other such laissez-faire linguists are content to allow the misconception to fall into the vernacular, it cannot be denied that logic and philosophy stand to lose an important conceptual label should the meaning of BTQ become diluted to the point that we must constantly distinguish between the traditional usage and the erroneous ‘modern’ usage. This is why we fight.”

Have a grammar rule you’d like me to explore? Drop me a line at

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

PR Newswire’s customer content services team proof-reads every press release they handle: they find and fix tens of thousands of errors and mistakes each year.   The team checks URLs to ensure correct linking,  in financial releases they cross-check all of the numbers in the release text and tables, and (of course) they spot errors of usage, grammar and punctuation.  Your press releases and other content are in good hands with our eagle-eyed crew of wordsmiths.

Why Your Brand Should Be On Pinterest (& How to Get Started)


I got a real surprise on Monday during the workshop I was leading on using content to attract qualified leads at the Online Marketing Summit.  When I asked the audience, “Have you experienced unexpected results for your brand from a particular social network?”  I wasn’t prepared for the digital strategy head of a top 5 accounting firm who told me that Pinterest is a significant referrer of traffic for their financial services and hedge fund strategy content.

Apparently, among the juggernaut of dream wedding pictures and fantastically decadent fashion and food, a good infographic about the hedge fund business can gain real traction.

With that in mind, I hot-footed it to Danny Maloney’s session about making Pinterest work for your brand.

Danny is the CEO and co-founder of PinLeague, and he has access to a ton of data about Pinterest usage.  This is one interesting social network – even for B2B brands.

Pinterest drives aspiration … and revenue

What makes Pinterest so interesting is user intent.  Pinterest is where people collect and gather ideas.  They discover, they aspire, they plan.   And as they do so, they are telling marketers what they like.

Obviously, Pinterest is about visuals.  Users ‘pin’ pictures, infographics, artworks and all imaginable matter of digital imagery to virtual pinboards, which can be broadly shared.   The primary activity is pinning, and that’s even how users interact – there’s relatively little conversation on Pinterest.  Instead, fellow pinners show their enthusiasm by re-pinning each other’s content.   From that activity, brands can divine loads of intel about their audiences.

If you spend about ten seconds thinking about it, the fact that Pinterst generates more revenue per transaction for brands when compared to Facebook and Twitter shouldn’t be a surprise.  After all, Pinterest is an aspiration engine. Nonetheless, the fact that Pinterest generates significantly more referrals and more than twice the revenue of Facebook is pretty eye-opening.

Tips for getting your brand started on Pinterest

80% of the benefit your brand will probably derive from Pinterest is from users pinning about your brand.  You don’t even know it’s going on.  But that’s okay.   You don’t want all the activity happening on your own profile. You want people to share your content.  That’s how you spread the word.  Err. Image.

Don’t dive into a strategy until you know what’s going on around your brand on Pinterest. What is being shared? What is being said?  What is being pinned and re-pinned?  And who are these people that are pinning your stuff? Get a sense of who the user is before jumping in.

Then, once you’ve done this due diligence, build 12 boards for your brand.  Pick five things your users love, five things they have a hard time finding and two things about your brands.  Build boards according to those twelve themes, and you’ll have a good, solid start on Pinterest.

Want more ideas?  Take a look at our collection of stories about Visual PR trends and tactics.