Grammar Hammer: Then vs. Than

the Grammar HammerThen Vs. ThanI have a tendency to over think certain grammar rules. Then vs. than is one of those grammar rules that I think I’ve nailed down, but always end up double checking after over thinking it for ten minutes. To save you time and confusion, here are a few ways to remember the correct usage:

“Then” is used to describe an element of time and is used mostly as an adverb.

  • Subsequently or afterwards. Example:  “We worked in the yard for a few hours and then went to the movies.”
  • As a consequence or in that case. Example: “If you don’t clean your room, then you can’t go to the movies.”
  • At that time or that time. Example: “We can first take care of mulching the flower beds then we can go to the movies.”

Then is always used in the construction “if … then.” For example, “If he had just listened to me in the first place, then he wouldn’t have tried using that cheap paint on the walls.”

“Than” conveys a comparison and is often used with comparative words and phrases like more, less, and fewer.

Example #1: “He paid more money for his shoes than she did for hers.”

Example #2: “The sunsets in Hawaii are better than sunsets anywhere else in the world.”

Quick tip:

Than = A = Comparison

Then = E = Time

As with any rule, there are exceptions. For example, “I usually need to go to sleep no later than 10 p.m.” I offer this quick tip with its requisite grain of salt.

For other great resources on this grammar rule, I direct you to CM Punk’s Grammar Slam on then vs. than, or my other favorite grammar poster from The Oatmeal, “Ten Words You Need to Stop Misspelling.”

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.

MEDIA News: Media Moves at: Variety, USA Today, Los Angeles Times and More…

http://prnbloggers.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/agility-logo.png?w=127&h=125&h=125PR Newswire’s Audience Research Department makes thousands of updates to the  database of journalists and bloggers that underpins our Agility media targeting and distribution platform.  Below is a sampling of recent media moves and news from the research team.  Learn more about Agility media targeting here.

Variety (Los Angeles, CA): Debra Birnbaum (@debrabirnbaum) is the new TV Executive Editor and Mark David is a new Reporter covering celebrity real estate for @variety.

USA Today (McLean, VA): White House Correspondent Aamer Madhani (@AamerISmad) has moved to the Chicago Bureau to be a National Correspondent @USATODAY.

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ): Beginning mid-July, Editor John Berry (@Withhisown38) will join @Trentonian. Currently, he is the Editor at @Middletownpress and @RegisterCitizen, sister papers of The Trentonian all of which are owned by Digital First Media.

Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, CA): Julie Westfall (@juliewestfall) is the new RealTime News Editor for @latimes.

Orange County Business Journal (Irvine, CA): Paul Hughes joins @OCBizJournal as a Reporter and Web Editor.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA): Former News Journal Assistant Sports Editor Tyler Batiste (@TyBatiste) is the new Digital News Editor @PittsburghPG.

Nylon Magazine (New York, NY): This week Michelle Lee (@MichelleLeeMag) joins @NylonMag and @NYLONGuysMag as Editor-in-Chief.

People StyleWatch (New York, NY): The team @StyleWatchMag welcomes Gena Kaufman (@GenaKaufman) as Social Media Editor.

New York Magazine (New York, NY): Adam Sternbergh (@sternbergh) is returning as a Features Writer and Contributor to @vulture. He was most recently the Culture Editor at The New York Times Magazine.

Chicago Sun-Times.com (Chicago, IL): Zach Finken (@zfinken) has joined Tribune Content Agency as Associate Editor from Executive News Editor @suntimes.

Popular Mechanics (New York, NY): Jacqueline Detwiler (@jacquidetwiler) joins the team @PopMech as Senior Editor.

Financial Times (New York, NY): General Assignment Reporter Shannon Bond (@shannonpareil) has been promoted to US Media and Marketing Correspondent. Ms. Bond has been @FT since 2008 covering consumer goods.

Good Housekeeping (New York, NY): April Franzino rejoins @goodhousemag as Beauty Director. She had previously served as Assistant Beauty Editor there.

SELF (New York, NY): Melissa Ventosa Martin joins @selfmagazine as Fashion Director.

Time (New York, NY): Web Reporter Charlotte Alter (@CharlotteAlter) has been promoted to Writer @TIME. Also moving up the ranks, Daniel Hirschhorn (@DanH_TIME) will now serve as Senior News Editor.

Bethesda Magazine (Bethesda, MD): Former Washingtonian Reporter Cindy Rich joins @Bethesda_Mag as a Senior Editor covering the health scene.

NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA): College Football Reporter Evan Woodbery has left The Knoxville News Sentinel to go pro and become a Football Reporter @NOLAnews. He will be covering the New Orleans Saints.

Tallahassee Democrat (Tallahassee, FL): Assistant Sports Editor Jim Henry (@JimHenryTALLY) has been promoted to Sports Editor @TDOnline.

The Daily Herald (Everett, WA): High School Sports Reporter Aaron Swaney (@swaney_aaron79) is the new Features Editor @EverettHerald.

Stevens Point Journal (Stevens Point, WI): Sari Lesk (@Sari_Lesk) joins @StevensPointJrl as a Reporter covering local government issues.

PR Newswire’s Audience Research Department provides daily updates on Twitter (twitter.com/PRNmedia).

Detailed outlet and contact information is available at agility.prnewswire.com.

Content We Love: Simple Visuals Break Down Big Data

ContentWeLove

Click here to view the press release on PRNewswire.com

Click here to view the press release on PRNewswire.com

Digital technology has given marketers more ways to collect and analyze data than ever before and as a result, glossy infographics have exploded as a favorite content type to make sense of the overabundance of information available. But infographics don’t have to be complex in order to share them with your audience; charts and graphs made with standard computer software are still a highly useful visual representation of data that tells your story in a clear and effective way.

A press release by mobile analytics company Mobidia Technology titled, “King Digital Entertainment Continues to Lead Game Publishers in Most Popular and Most Played Mobile Games,” caught my attention as a prime example.  King Digital is home to the popular Candy Crush app that is fueling procrastination everywhere, but other game developers are quickly on the rise as the next big player on the market. To illustrate this point, the release included photos of two simple graphs depicting highest game usage among the top mobile game publishers, which were subsequently republished in earned media and shared on social.

Other noteworthy aspects of this release that showcase a keen understanding of news distribution as a content marketing tool:

  • Interesting data points are appealing to readers and represented in a visually comprehensible
  • Bullet points break down key information for readers scanning the page, and offer different story angles for media
  • A quote from Mobidia’s Vice President of Marketing promotes the company’s thought-leadership
  • A restrained use of links directs readers to a call to action to download the related white paper

By using these tactics, Mobidia Technology generates more opportunities for raising brand awareness, earning media pickup, and generating leads. Kudos on a job well done!

Author Shannon Ramlochan is the Content Marketing Coordinator at PR Newswire.

The key to press release success: multiple visual elements [Study + infographic]

Press releases with multiple visual assets generate more views, a study by PR Newswire found.

Press releases with multiple visual assets generate more views, a study by PR Newswire found.

How can you get better results with your press releases?  The data is in, and the answer is clear.  Visual illustration of your message is a key driver of success.

PR Newswire’s analytics team recently updated – and significantly expanded – our analysis of press release types, and the results each produces in terms of online views.  For the most recent iteration of this ongoing analysis, we looked at every press release viewed on PRNewswire.com last year, regardless of when it was issued.  Well over one million press releases were measured. 

For the analysis, we broke the release types into the following buckets:

  • Text Only
  • Text + one visual asset, such as a single image or video
  • Text + multiple visuals
  • Fully loaded multimedia press releases and campaign microsites

The results are clear – visuals drive more content views, and adding multiple media assets to your content (press releases, and anything else you publish online, for that matter) generates even better results.

Why visuals improve results:  

One visual is good, more are better.   There are a few reasons why this is the case.

  • Each visual is distributed in its own right, and has its own potential for garnering attention.  In addition to the distribution of visual content the brand either pays for or executes on its own, each visual also has the potential to trigger social sharing, further expanding the audience for the message.
  • Visuals surface story elements that may be overlooked by readers, giving your messages second (and third) chances at connecting with readers.  It’s easy to overlook a theme that’s presented in the middle of the fourth paragraph. However, calling attention to that theme with a visual – a video snippet or image – can help connect that message with readers who care, and who might have glanced over the message initially.
  • Journalists and bloggers are also hunting for visuals to illustrate the digital media they create. While they may not use the visuals your brand provides in their original form,  they will often edit video to fit their stories or derive new works from infographics.  Additionally, including visuals communicates that the story is one that can (and should be) illustrated visually, which will increase the story’s appeal for many digital content creators.

Many communicators note they don’t have ready access to related images when asked why they don’t use more multimedia in their press releases.  Our new Media Studio tool – free for clients using the Online Member Center to upload content for distribution, enables you to store, organize, size, caption and tag images for use in digital content.

If you’d like to speak to someone on our team about adding visuals to your press releases, please contact us here: http://promotions.prnewswire.com/standout2014.html

sarah avatarAuthor Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of strategic communications, and is the author of  the ebook Driving Content DiscoveryFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

Grammar Hammer: Punctuation Saves Lives, Part II

Punctuation infographic

via EducatorsTechnology.com

Part-one of our “Punctuation Saves Lives” series covered the heavy hitters of periods, commas, question marks, exclamation points, colons, semicolons, dashes, and hyphens. Wrapping part-two are brackets, parentheses, braces, ellipses, quotation marks, and apostrophes.

Groups – brackets, parentheses, braces

Use parentheses ( ) to contain additional thoughts or qualifying remarks (I consider these to be my “verbal asides”).

Brackets [ ] are most often seen in technical notations or explanations.

Examples:

“Dogs are better then [sic] cats,” said Shannon.   

Eva took [her colleague] Caitlin out to lunch.

Braces { } are used to contain two or more lines of text to show they are part of a unit. You don’t often see braces in writing, but you will see it used in computer programming.

And finally, ones that aren’t related to each other at all – ellipses, quotation marks, apostrophes

Ellipses ( … ) are used to indicate an omission of unnecessary words (for more on this topic, see my previous post “And the Winner Is…”).

Quotation marks ( “ “ ) are used in pairs and mark the beginning and end of a quotation. They can also be used to indicate a “dubious” status of a word. A single quotation mark pair ( ‘ ‘ ) is to be used for quotes within a quote.

Apostrophes ( ‘ ) indicate possession (“That toy is Pip’s favorite.”) or the omission of some letters from a word (“Austin Powers is also known as the int’l man of mystery”).

Almost all of the source material I read in preparation for this series consistently state that there are fourteen different punctuation marks. Where does that leave the simple underscore (_) or the various directions of the slash ( / or \ )? Are they relegated to web code and email addresses? What are your thoughts?

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.

MEDIA News: Media Moves at: CBS News, International Business Times, Roll Call and More…

http://prnbloggers.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/agility-logo.png?w=127&h=125&h=125PR Newswire’s Audience Research Department makes thousands of updates to the  database of journalists and bloggers that underpins our Agility media targeting and distribution platform.  Below is a sampling of recent media moves and news from the research team.  Learn more about Agility media targeting here.

CBS News – Washington Bureau (Washington, DC): Former Bloomberg Reporter Julianna Goldman (@juliannagoldman) joins @CBSNews as a Washington Correspondent.

International Business Times (New York, NY): Michael Learmonth (@learmonth) begins @IBTimes as Global Technology Editor.

Roll Call (Washington, DC): Tom Curry (@TCurry_Himself) takes over the Transportation Policy duties with a new blog – “The Container”.

The News Journal (Wilmington, DE): Health Reporter Kelly Bothum (@KellyBothum) has left to join the private sector and Business Editor Suzanne Herel (@SuzanneHerel) takes over the Health Reporting news @delawareonline.

New York Magazine (New York, NY): Former New York Times Economic Policy Reporter Annie Lowrey (@AnnieLowrey) joins @NYMag as a Contributing Editor and Online Columnist.

FedScoop (Washington, DC): Dan Verton (@DanielVerton) is the new Editorial Director and Greg Otto (@gregotto) is the new Technology Reporter @fedscoop.

The Washington Post (Washington, DC): Former Buzzfeed-er Hunter Schwarz (@hunterschwarz) tackles the Local and State Government beat @washingtonpost.

The New York Times (New York, NY): Nick Bilton (@nickbilton) changes lanes and joins the Style Section @nytimes as a Columnist. He most recently wrote for the Bits technology blog. Bilton will apply his technology background and pen a column every Thursday based on tech and its impact on lifestyle and society.

MedCity News (Cleveland, OH): Former San Diego Business Journal Medical Reporter Meghana Keshavan (@meghanakeshavan) becomes the Life Sciences Reporter @medcitynews.

The Washington Times (Washington, DC): Fox News Commentator Monica Crowley (@MonicaCrowley) signs on as the Online Opinion Editor @WashTimes.

Bloomberg News – Washington Bureau (Washington, DC): Former Hill Reporter Erik Wasson (@elwasson) is the new man on the Congressional beat @BloombergNews.

Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, CA): Josh Rottenberg (@joshrottenberg) joins @LATimes as a Senior Film Reporter.

Philly.com (Philadelphia, PA): Michael Topel (@mtopel) is the new Interim Executive Editor @phillydotcom.

Playboy Magazine (Beverly Hills, CA): Alyson Sheppard (@amshep) departs from Popular Mechanics magazine to join @playboy as a Contributing Editor.

The Hollywood Reporter (Los Angeles, CA): Lynne Segall has been named Executive Vice President and Group Publisher of @THR and @billboard.

TV Guide (New York, NY): Doug Brod (@DougBrod) has been promoted to Editor-in-Chief @TVGuide. Brod has been with the magazine since 2012 and most recently served as Executive Editor. Also being promoted is Michael Schneider (@franklinavenue). He will take over as Executive Editor.

Time Out New York (New York, NY): Rheanna O’Neil Bellomo (@RheannaBellomo) joins @TimeOutNewYork as Assistant Editor of Food, Drinks and Events.

Sheridan Road Magazine (Chicago, IL): Dustin O’Regan has been named Editor-at-Large @SheridanRdMag. Ann Marie Scheidler has been promoted to Managing Editor of the JWC magazines, which include The Polo Book, Sheridan Road, Forest & Bluff and Hinsdale Living.

Spin.com (New York, NY): Craig Marks (@craigmarks) is back @SPINmagazine after nearly 15 years. He returns as Editor-in-Chief in an effort to increase their digital audience. They became all digital in 2012.

She Knows (@SheKnows): Amy Boshnack (@ABoshnack) is the new Editor-in-Chief.

Vox (@VoxDotCom): Lauren Williams (@LaurenWilliams) is now the Lead Editor.

Tasting Table (@TastingTable): Jim Meehan has joined @TastingTable as its first Drinks Editor.

Parade Magazine (@ParadeMagazine): Cecily McAndrews (@MonPetitFour) will be the Food Editor.

Parents Magazine (New York, NY): Leslie Corona joins @parentsmagazine as a Freelance Assistant Editor.

Marie Claire (New York, NY): Alyssa Mastromonaco (@AlyssaMastro44) is brought on @marieclaire as a Contributing Editor.

NJTV (Montclair, NJ): Beginning July 1st, Anchor Mary Alice Williams will join @NJTVonline to host the evening news. She will replace Anchor & Managing Editor Mike Schneider (@SchneiderNJTV) who will change roles at the station.

Yakima Herald-Republic (Yakima, WA): Rob Blethen has been named General Manager at the paper (@Yakima_Herald), starting in August. He is currently the Publisher of the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin.

Charleston City Paper (Charleston, SC): Editor-in-Chief Stephanie Barna has left the Paper (@chascitypaper) after 17 years. Chris Haire is now Editor.

Newton Daily News (Newton, IA): Abigail Pelzer (@AbigailPelzer) has been named Editor at (@NewtonDNews). Pelzer is set to begin in her new role on July 21.

The West Yellowstone News (West Yellowstone, MT): Jeremy Weber is now the new Managing Editor @WYellowstoneMT.

PR Newswire’s Audience Research Department provides daily updates on Twitter (twitter.com/PRNmedia).

Detailed outlet and contact information is available at agility.prnewswire.com.

Press Releases, PR Newswire and Panda

New copy quality guidelines from PR Newswire to help improve press release content quality.

New copy quality guidelines from PR Newswire are designed to help improve press release content quality.

In late May, Google rolled out an update to its Panda algorithm that targeted low quality content, affecting a variety of content distributors and press release websites, including PR Newswire.   By “low quality content,” we’re referring specifically to press releases that were used in efforts to manipulate search rankings.   These releases were of little-to-no redeeming value for readers.

In an ensuing audit of the content of our site, we identified the spam press  releases which had had been generating inordinately high inbound links and traffic due to the black hat SEO tactics their issuers employed.  Those releases have since been deleted, and we’ll be monitoring our site content for unusual levels of inbound links, traffic and other red flags on an ongoing basis.

Distribution is about more than just one web site

While we’re proud of the fact that our web site attracts millions of unique visitors each month, it’s important to remember that PR Newswire has also spent years building a comprehensive distribution network that reaches a vast global audience, including:

  • Thousands upon thousands of media outlets, via direct news feeds;
  • More than 30,000 credentialed journalists and bloggers, via PR Newswire for Journalists;
  • Information databases like Factiva and LexisNexis;
  • More than 10,000 websites worldwide, who display feeds of relevant news releases designed for their audiences;
  • The social web, via dozens of carefully curated, industry- and topic-specific presences on Twitter and Pinterest.

PR Newswire has cultivated an engaged and high-quality audience for press release content.

Our media relations and content syndication teams work one-on-one with media outlets, individual journalists and bloggers and website operators to create and deliver feeds of press releases germane to their areas of coverage, interest or beats.

New guidelines governing press release copy quality

To improve the content quality we distribute, we’ve started reviewing all press release submitted for distribution over the wire for content quality. As they review releases, our team will be looking at a variety of different message elements, including:

  • Inclusion of insightful analysis, original content (e.g. research, reporting or other interesting and useful information,)
  • The format of the releases, guarding against the repeated use of templated copy (except boilerplate,)
  • The length of the releases,  flagging very short, unsubstantial messages that are mere vehicles for links
  • Overuse of keywords and/or links within the message.

These new guidelines are additions to our already robust press release acceptance guidelines, which include verification of sources, authentication of the sender’s identity and attribution to the source, among other requirements that all messages must meet before distribution by PR Newswire.

Most PR Newswire customers, who write and distribute press releases with the primary intent of building awareness of key messages and earning media, will be unaffected by our new guidelines.

Press releases are about earned media, building awareness and acquiring audience

It has long been our stated position that press releases are chiefly about building awareness, and we don’t promote press releases as link building devices.   (See: Generate Awareness, Not Links, With Press Releases.)

We believe that the distribution of press releases plays a very useful role in driving content discovery, introducing new audiences to brand messages, seeding and encouraging social interaction, and, of course, earning media pick up.

sarah avatarAuthor Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of strategic communications, and is the author of  the ebook Driving Content DiscoveryFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.