Grammar Hammer: Punctuation Saves Lives, Part I

Punctuation Saves LivesIn English grammar, there are fourteen different punctuation marks that I think of as the “primary” punctuation marks – the period, comma, question mark, exclamation point, colon, semicolon, dash, hyphen, parentheses, brackets, braces, ellipses, quotation marks, and apostrophes. These are the marks that help us with sentence structure, help us clarify meaning and distinguish between different sets of ideas.

Putting all of these into smaller groups, we can look at them like this:

The Full Stop – the period, the question mark, the exclamation mark

All three of these punctuation marks indicate the end of the sentence. Periods end declarative sentences. Do I really need to explain when to use a question mark? Exclamation points should be self-explanatory!

The Pause – comma, the semi-colon, the colon

The comma was rated as the punctuation mark you were most grateful for according to Grammarly back in 2012. I covered a few common mistakes people make with commas in this post “A Comment About Commas” and later in this post “Comma Drama.”

My favorite examples:

  • Let’s eat Grandma!
  • Cathy finds inspiration in cooking her family and her cats.

The semicolon continues to be the punctuation mark that befuddles people the most. To put it simply, semicolons separate independent clauses that are related to each other, but could stand on their own if you wanted them to.

You use colons before a list or an explanation. Look forward to a more in depth explanation on colons in a future post.

Connections and breaks – dashes and hyphens

Dashes come in two forms: the endash (-) and the emdash (–). Endashes are used to connect numbers or connect elements of a compound adjective (Abraham Lincoln was president of the United States from 1861-1865). An emdash (so-called because the size of the dash is about the size of the letter M) can be used to separate clauses, introduce a phrase for added emphasis, or what I’m most guilty of – indicate a break in thought or sentence structure.

Hyphens create compound words, particularly modifiers (“She was a well-known cook.”). Hyphens are also used in prefixes (“I wonder if they had any kind of pre-nuptial agreement?”).

Next week, we’ll conclude with a quick overview of brackets, parentheses, braces, ellipses, quotation marks, and apostrophes.

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 and has never been inspired to cook her family or her cats.

MEDIA News: Media Moves at: The New Republic, The Atlantic, NBC News 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.

The New Republic (Washington, DC): Managing Editor Amanda Silverman (@apsilverman) has been promoted to Deputy Editor @tnr. And Reporter Linda Kinstler (@lindakinstler) was promoted to Managing Editor. Rebecca Leber (@rebleber) has joined the team as a Political Reporter.

The Atlantic (Washington, DC): Former Politico Senior Editor Denise Kersten Wills (@denisewills) takes the Senior Editor role @TheAtlantic. Sophie Gilbert (@sophieGG) also joins the team as a Senior Editor.

The New York Times Magazine (New York, NY): Bill Wasik (@billwasik) joins @NYTmag as Deputy Editor.

ESPN The Magazine (Bristol, CT): Boston Magazine’s Jason Schwartz (@jasonSchwartz) is set to join @ESPNMag as a Senior Editor on June 30th.

Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost)(scoop@huffingtonpost.com): Igor Bobic (@IgorBobic) is now an Associate Politics Editor. He is based in Washington D.C.

Boston Business Journal (Boston, MA): Gale Murray (@galemurray) is the new Publisher of the journal.

NBC News (New York, NY): John Mancini (@GetMancini) is set to become the Director of Digital Newsgathering @NBCNews. He spent the last three years with the Associated Press as the Global News Manager.

Tampa Bay Times (Tampa, FL): Jennier Orsi (@JenOrsi) has been named the new Managing Editor @TB_Times.

Popular Mechanics (New York, NY): Ezra Dyer (@EzraDyer) joins the team @PopMech as Automotive Editor.

Redbook (New York, NY): Interim Editor-in-Chief @RedbookMag Meredith Rollins  will now take over the role permanently. Rollins, who was previously Executive Editor, replaces former EIC Jill Herzig who is now the Editor-in-Chief of Dr. Oz’s The Good Life Magazine.

Domino Magazine (New York, NY): Creative Director Robert Leleux (@robertleleux) has been promoted to Editorial Director.

Washingtonian (Washington, DC): Former New Republic Editorial Director Michael Schaffer (@michaelschaffer) is the new Editor @washingtonian.

Quartz (New York, NY): Former Time D.C. Correspondent Bobby Ghosh (@ghoshworld) takes the Managing Editor reins @qz.

The State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL): Angie Muhs (@amuhs) is ready to move into her new position as Executive Editor/Vice President of Editorial @SJRbreaking). Muhs comes from the Portland Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram, where she most recently served as Director of Audience Engagement and Executive Online Editor.

Global Voices (http://globalvoicesonline.org): Deputy Editor Sahar Habib Ghazi (@SaharHGhazi) was promoted to Managing Editor @globalvoices.

The New York Times (New York, NY): Alexandra Alter (@xanalter) joins @nytimes as Publishing Industry Reporter.  She begins in July.

The New York Times – San Francisco Bureau (San Francisco, CA): Conor Dougherty (@ConorDougherty) signs onto the tech team as a Reporter.

DuJour (New York, NY): Eden Univer (@edenuniver) joins @DuJourMedia as Web Editor.

Refinery29 (@Refinery29): Joyce Kong (@JoyceIKong) is now the Korean Beauty Correspondent for @Refinery29.

Epicurious.com (@Epicurious): The new Food Editor is Rhoda Boone.

Rumbo de Houston (Houston, TX) ImpreMedia’s (@impreMedia) weekly publication Rumbo (@RUMBOnet) is now only an online publication.

Eater (@Eater) (tips@eater.com): Daniela Galarza (@SuperDaniela) is joining the outlet as the National Editor.

Courier & Press (Evansville, IN): Preps Sports Reporter Pat Hickey (@patmhickey) has joined the daily (@courierpress) from The Messenger (@MessengerOnline) in Madisonville Kentucky.

Ledger Independent (Maysville, KY): Courtney Smith has joined the @LedgerNewsroom as a Sports Writer. He previously served at the Daily Helmsman, fansided.com and rivals.com.

The Courier-Times (New Castle, IN): Editor Bob Hansen has been named Publisher @TheCourierTimes.

WSIL-TV (Carterville, Illinois): Amy Fox (@AmyFox_KMOT_TV) is set to join @WSILNews as Reporter for the morning newscast from Reporter/Anchor @KMOT_TV in Minot, North Dakota.

Chicago Magazine (Chicago, IL): Chicago Tribune Editor Gerry Kern (@GerryKern) will also be overseeing editorial operations @ChicagoMag. Editor Beth Fenner (@BethFenner) will now report directly to Kern.

Ann Arbor News/MLive (Detroit, MI): Michael Niziolek (@michaelniziolek) now covers sports for Ann Arbor News (@AnnArborNews) (@MLive) and MLive.

Hillsdale Daily News (Hillsdale, MI): David Vantress (@DVantressHDN) has been named Sports Editor at the Hillsdale Daily News (@HillsdaleDaily).

Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, MS): Riley Blevins (@Riley_Blevins) will soon be joining @clarionledger as a Recruiting Reporter.

Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL): Mike DeFabo (@MikeDeFaboTWV) is the new Sports Reporter @nwherald.
The Spectrum (St. George, UT): Timothy R.Olsen (@TheRealTO) has accepted his new role a Sports Editor at (@SpectrumNews).

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: 60 Years of PR Stories

ContentWeLove

60th anniversary ARC

Click here to view the complete ARC

Storytelling has existed since humans first walked the earth, but the ways in which stories are conveyed have continuously advanced. Following the birth of wire distribution 60 years ago, technology, media, and the industry have evolved so rapidly that stories can reach global audiences across multiple channels in an instant.  But with this opportunity also comes a new challenge: communicators must make their stories stand out from the millions of others being shared across traditional, digital, social and mobile channels.

Our latest ARC campaign, “PR Newswire Celebrates 60 Years of Storytelling,” features original content from our clients offering best practices, case studies, and astute observations on the current state of media  and tips on how to prepare for the future. Some highlights include:

  • PR today is measureable. As discussed by Zach Burrus of Shift Communications, measuring campaigns is still a challenge for many, but today’s PR practitioners have a wealth of granular data readily available to them through standard platforms such as social media and Google analytics.
  • Middle America is quickly rising as the new home for top PR talent. In the blog post by Rebecca Lunna of Exponent PR,PR pros are creative individuals, and the rising local art scene in the Midwest as well as the presence of Fortune 500 companies scattered across the region speaks to the great potential of Middle America as central hub for innovation
  • The future of PR lies in human interaction. Allyssa Kennedy of Crossroads makes the case that technology has lessened the need for face-to-face communication. However, great PR is focused on building relationships, which cannot be truly genuine unless we move away from screen based interactions.

As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of PR Newswire, our focus remains on the future of communications and how we can continue to support our industry peers in staying ahead of the curve. Click here to view the ARC and read thought leadership pieces from companies including:

  • 5WPR
  • Bellmont PR
  • Crossroads
  • Exponent
  • McCormick Foundation
  • Inkhouse
  • JCPR
  • J Cutler Media Group
  • Shift Communications
  • Steve Cadigan
  • PSNG

The ARC will continue to be updated throughout the remainder of the year with additional success stories and insights from PR Newswire clients. If you are a PR Newswire client interested in sharing your story, please email Caitlin.Carragee@prnewswire.com

ShannonAuthor Shannon Ramlochan is PR Newswire’s Content Marketing Coordinator. 

The Evolution of Digital Communications

Communications  Roundtable Brian CohenAs content marketing blossoms into a multi-billion dollar industry, the competition for standing out becomes even more of a struggle. Social media, the 24-hour news cycle, and mobile connectivity have all contributed to our shortened attention spans and frustrations with filtering the noise to find the information that is most relevant to us. So how is digital communications evolving to help organizations get their messages effectively heard by the audiences who want to hear them? Brian Cohen, co-founder of Launch.it sat down with PR Newswire’s SVP of Marketing, Ken Wincko, to discuss opportunities for innovation in PR and marketing.

PR journalism and the evolution of press releases

A recent study sponsored by InPowered and conducted by Nielsen, found that earned media provides more benefit to brands than user generated or branded content. Given the shift towards third party content as more credible and trustworthy, Cohen believes that PR is entering a new era which he refers to as, “PR Journalism.”

According to Cohen, while the authenticity and opportunities related to earned media are clear, journalists are simply unable to cover all the news that is available to them.  Therefore, press releases are becoming the trusted third party stories that reach consumers directly.  “The stories that are being read through news releases are written by great writers who are now comprised of roughly 40 percent ex-journalists,” says Cohen, “now PR folks are talking directly to the same people they were talking to before, just through a more direct medium.”

Content creation and the rise of event marketing  

Cohen believes that the greatest opportunities ahead lie within the events industry, which has grown more innovative and tech-savvy thanks to the accessibility of content on mobile devices. Now, events themselves are only the pique of year-long content marketing campaigns. “Event marketers are taking advantage of the lack of publications in their trade markets that have disappeared,” explains Cohen, “now, we’re seeing the event industry say ‘you know what? We’re going to be the publication.We don’t want it just to be January 3 to January 5, we want the event to be about the concept.’” Mobile devices and the content created around the event act as a guide to lead conference attendees to the information that is the most important to them.

The art of discovery

“I can’t boil the ocean, but I can try to do the best that I can to make sure that content is discovered, found, and shared“ says Cohen, “Google search is one thing, but what we’re actually involved in, in our world where there is so much information, is finding things you didn’t even know you were looking for.” Herein lies the importance of distributing content across a variety of channels, as discoverability essentially lays the groundwork for building trust. Cohen predicts that aiding discoverability is one of the strongest opportunities for innovating new products for integrated communications.

PR pros and marketers are admittedly still adapting to changes in technology and public media consumption behaviors, but one thing is certain: communicators should make driving discovery of content by new audiences a priority in order to build relationships for the brands they represent. Simply put, relying on your own blog, web site or social channels to share your messages can limit the audience for your brand’s content. However, ensuring that your messages reach the audiences that they are intended for, and are found by new prospects, is what will lead to measureable outcomes for your business.

ShannonAuthor Shannon Ramlochan is PR Newswire’s Content Marketing Coordinator.  

Grammar Hammer: It’s the Principle of the Thing

the Grammar Hammer“The principal is your PAL!” With apologies to Ferris Bueller, that’s how I learned the difference between “principle” and “principal.” Here again, we have two words that sound the same but have two completely different meanings.

“Principle” refers to a fundamental law, doctrine, or tenet. It can only be used as a noun.

“Principal” actually has a lot of heft as a word. It can be an adjective (meaning “main, or highest rank in importance”); an adverb (meaning “for the most part” – example: “Norman was principally a life studies model.”); or a noun (meaning “the head of a school,” “the non-interest portion of a loan,” along with a bunch of other meanings, which you can see for yourself here).

From a business perspective, the difference between principle and principal gets most confused when talking about someone who is most important in a business or organization. For example, “Jane Doe is the principle/principal designer for XYZ Designs, Inc.” Which is the correct word? I see this mistake pretty often. The correct answer is “principal.”

The old “the principal is your pal” trick does work in helping you determine which word to use. Talking about a person? Principal. Talking about a belief? Principle. If you’re standing on the principal, you’ll probably be arrested. If you’re standing up for something that is a deeply-held, long-standing belief, you are someone who holds strong to your principles.

Just remember, “It is easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.” – Alfred Adler

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: National Journal, The Washington Post, Politico 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.

National Journal (Washington, DC):Emily Schultheis (@emilyrs) signs on as a Political Reporter. Alexia Campbell (@AlexiaCampbell) is the new Investigative Reporter. Rachel Roubein (@rachel_jenn) is a new Reporter. Alex Laughlin (@alexlaughs) is a Social Media Reporter. Zach Cohen (@Zachary_Cohen) joins on as a Web Producer.

CNNMoney.com (New York, NY): Rich Barbieri (@richbarbieri) has been promoted to Managing Editor from Deputy Managing Editor here (@cnnmoney). And former Bloomberg TV Reporter @Cristina Alesci is now a Correspondent.@CNNMoney.

The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA): Co-Owner Lewis Katz passed away recently and we send out our condolences. Ex-Star-Ledger Reporter Jason Grant (@JasonBarrGrant) joins @PhillyInquirer as the City Hall Reporter.

The Washington Post (Washington, DC): Former Salon Editor Kerry Lauerman (@KerryLauerman) is joining in July as a Senior Editor of Mobile Products. Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) is a new Hockey Reporter @PostSports covering the Washington Capitals and the National Hockey League. And Roman Stubbs (@romanstubbs) tackles Maryland’s Sports as the new High School Sports Reporter.

Town & Country (New York, NY): Mary Kaye Schilling (@mks10009) joins @TandCmag as Deputy Editor. Also joining the publication as Architecture and Design Editor is Pilar Viladas. And lastly, the magazine promotes Stellene Volandes (@therealstellene) from Style Director to Executive Style Editor.

Politico (Arlington, VA): Daniel Lippman (@DLippman) has been hired as a Researcher and Reporter @Politico.

POLITICO Pro Politico Pro (Arlington, VA): Arthur Allen (@ArthurAllen202) has been hired as the Editor of the eHealth team (@Morning_eHealth) and Ashley Gold (@ashleyrgold) joins the eHealth team as a Reporter.

Food & Wine (New York, NY): Ben Mims (@benbmims) joins @foodandwine as an Associate Food Editor.

The New York Times (New York, NY): Jenna Wortham (@jennydeluxe) has joined the Sunday Business section full time @nytimes. She will focus on features and more in-depth reporting.

The New York Times – Washington Bureau (Washington, DC): Aaron Kessler (@akesslerdc) joins the D.C. Bureau @nytimes as an Automotive Industry Reporter.

NBC News (New York, NY): Perry Bacon Jr. (@perrybaconjr) is a new Senior Political Reporter @NBCNews.

The Wall Street Journal (New York, NY): Prabha Natarajan (@prabhanatarajan) has replaced Meredith D’Agnolo as Head of the Online Night Crew @WSJ.

Entertainment Weekly (New York, NY): The Atlantic’s Associate Entertainment Editor Ashley Fetters (@AshleyFetters) is joining @EW later this month as a News Editor.

The Detroit News (Detroit, MI): Greg Tasker (@GTasker_dn) has been named the Entertainment Editor @DetroitNews.

Government Executive (Washington, DC): Michael Grass (@mgrass) is a new Senior Editor @GovExec.

Dallas Business Journal (Dallas, TX): Paul O’Donnell has been named Editor @DallasBizNews.

Houston Business Journal (Houston, TX): Joe Martin (@HBJMartin) has joined @HOUBizJournal as a Health Care & Technology Reporter.

Fortune Magazine (New York, NY): Former Editor-at-Large Bethany McLean (@bethanymac12) has returned to @FortuneMagazine as a Columnist.

CNN International (Atlanta, GA): Tom Sater has been promoted to full-time Meteorologist @cnni.

xoVain.com (New York, NY): April Walloga (@AprilWalloga) joins @xoVain as Managing Editor.

PoliticsPA.com (@PoliticsPA): Nick Field (@nick_field90) is the new Managing Editor.

Nextgov (Washington, DC): Camille Tuutti (@camilletuutti) is the new Executive Editor @Nextgov.

On Wall Street (New York, NY): Ralph Ortega (@RalphOrtega) is the new Editor-in-Chief @onwallstreet.

Columbia Daily Tribune (Columbia, MO): Alicia Stice (@AliciaStice) has been hired as a Business Reporter @columbiatribune.

The Marysville Globe (Marysville, WA): Steven Powell is the new Editor @globereporter1.

ProPublica: Cezary Podkul (@Cezary) is a new Finance Reporter @ProPublica.

The Richmond County Daily Journal (Rockingham, NC): Corey Friedman is the new Editor @RC_DailyJournal.

Univision – Noticias 23 – WLTV-TV (Miami, FL): Interim News Director Daniel Morcate (@dmorca) became the News Director @Univision23.

Univision – Noticias 45 – KXLN-TV (Houston, TX): Victoria Acosta Rubio has joined this Univision affiliate (@Univision_45) as a News Reporter.

Refinery29 (http://www.refinery29.com): Bari Lieberman (@BariLieberman) is the new Fitness and Wellness Editor.

Redbook (New York, NY): Marla Horenbein (@MarlaHorenbein) is now the Assistant Fashion Editor at the outlet.

Yahoo! (@Yahoo): Britt Aboutaleb is the new Managing Editor for Yahoo! Beauty.

Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, CA): The Times (@latimes) welcomes Carolina Miranda (@cmonstah) as the head Writer on a new blog called “Culture: High and Low”.

VentureBeat (San Francisco, CA): Mark Sullivan (@thesullivan) joins @Venturebeat as a Writer covering mobile and health technology.

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: Harley Davidson Gears Up for Father’s Day

ContentWeLove

Many people look to their social media newsfeeds as a source for current events, useful lifestyle tips, or amusement, but the thousands of daily visitors to PRNewswire.com  might also agree that perusing the latest press releases is another great way to find interesting and entertaining news. PR pros are naturally creative people and more of them are seeing the value of press releases as stories themselves. Instead of snooze-worthy, dry language, press release writers are utilizing their creative juices to write interesting, informative, and sometimes flat out hysterical stories.

One such story I came across is from a press release by Harley Davidson titled, “Survey Of U.S. Dads Reveals: 32 Percent Forgotten On Father’s Day; 53 Percent Would Return Gifts; And One Even Received A Santa Necktie.” From top to bottom, I came across a handful of new school tactics in this text-only release which immediately convinced me to highlight this piece as the subject of “Content We Love.”

  • A striking headline with interesting stats and a humorous story angle is inviting to read.
  • A timely, seasonal news hook that ties into Father’s Day is a clever way for Harley Davidson to join the conversation. While flowers, balloons, and jewelry are typical choices for making mom happy on Mother’s Day, gift options for dad are far less obvious.
  • Bullet points and bold text break down survey results and highlight key information in an easy-to-read format. Depending on the outlet, these can also serve as different story angles the writer might want to take.
  • Writing that is enjoyable to read. I sat at my desk audibly laughing at the survey responses asking dads about their worst Father’s Day gift experiences. One of my favorites: “a painted rock.” The point is, even though press releases are company generated news and a representation of your brand, they shouldn’t be boring! Every piece of content your company produces should intend to engage your audience and show them that you are the solution to their problem. Data, images, and humor are all ways to accomplish this.
  • Information that is helpful to the audience. This press release caters to the sons and daughters in search of great gift ideas for their dads, as well as the dads who are hoping to upgrade from a disappointment. Harley Davidson puts the focus of the conversation around satisfying the needs of their audience instead of their own brands and products.

Even though I loved the story angle and writing of this release, an accompanying infographic of the survey results or photo of a major gift fail could have elevated it even further for social sharing and media pick up.  Target sites like Motorcycle-USA.com and Motorcycle.com  covered this story and used Harley Davidson’s logo to add a visually stimulating element to the piece. Regardless of this missing component, Harley Davidson did a great job writing this release and making Father’s Day a happy occasion again!

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