Caffeinated ideas and views on marketing communications


Please, don’t tell me more about you

18 Nov
2016
by Deborah Brody, posted in Communication   |  No Comments

Of books and how people just want to talk about themselves

Last night I attended my first meeting of a book group. Around the table were a dozen women. One lady, who had also never attended the group, decided she would take the reins and introduce herself. And so she did–telling us her story, her children’s stories and her grand kid’s stories.

As we went around the table, some women shared their name, occupation and where they live, while some women went into great autobiographical detail, even into the TMI (too much information) territory. We heard about what high school they attended, family secrets, divorce, how their ancestors got to America, angst about the kids (there was a lot of emphasis on their children), and very little about their reading or book interests.

But, let’s get back to me

When we finally got around to discussing the book, one (self-absorbed) woman kept bringing it back to her experiences, her life, her likes, her dislikes. Everything someone else said made her want to share something irrelevant to the book and only relevant to herself. At one point, she digressed into discussing whether her second son (who is probably in his early 30s) had attachment issues because he spent a few weeks in the NICU after being born prematurely. (Yes, this really happened.)

I began to think I had mistakenly attended a group therapy session.

Are you being social?

Imagine that instead of a book group, this was Twitter or Facebook. Among the stuff in your feed is a bunch of self-promoting, self-analyzing, self-absorbed stuff. Do you pay attention? I bet you don’t. Because when you are in a social setting, like a book group or social media, you are there to share and discuss and interact. It is a multi-sided conversation–not a one-sided discourse.

Now, take a look at your marketing materials. How much is about how great you are, and how many awards you’ve won? How much shows you understand and empathize with your readers (customers, donors, etc.)? If the balance is tipped in your favor instead of your reader, then you are talking way too much about yourself.

Who cares?

To be a more successful communicator (or book group participant), start listening more and talking less. And when you do talk, make sure you aren’t being self-absorbed.

Here’s the thing: Nobody cares as much about you as you do.

 

 

 

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Always start with the reader in mind

10 Nov
2016
by Deborah Brody, posted in Communication, Email marketing, Event marketing   |  2 Comments

 

Photo by Kaboompics.com

Photo by Kaboompics.com

It seems obvious that you should always write your marketing and communications materials with your readers in mind. After all, if you are trying to communicate with them, you have to understand what they need to know.

And yet, how many times have you received a letter that doesn’t say anything? Or an email that lacks crucial information? How many times have you had to call up a company because you didn’t understand something it sent you? I bet you’ve had many a moment like this, which left you frustrated.

Missing information

I had such a moment last week. I had signed up for an editing workshop from the American Copy Editors Society (ACES) being given on November 5 in Washington, DC.  Here’s the email I received a few days before the event (note that I blocked out the names of presenters and a phone number for privacy):

This message is to confirm that you are registered for the American Copy Editors Society (ACES) Boot Camp from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday, Nov. 5, at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The workshop will take place in the Funger Hall auditorium, room 103, located on the Foggy Bottom campus.

Lunch will be provided by the local chapter of ACES.

Presenters XX, XX and XX look forward to welcoming you on Saturday.

If you have any questions or find yourself lost on Nov. 5, please feel free to call 571-xxx-xxxx for assistance.

Notice anything missing from this email? How about the address for the building? Or how about directions and parking information (or links to those)? How about an agenda and/or schedule for the day? Is there any information about what you need to bring with you?

Trying again

The next day, ACES sent another email, regarding parking information. It is basically the same email as before, except for the addition of parking and Metro information, which I bolded for you to see more clearly.

We look forward to seeing you at the American Copy Editors Society (ACES) Boot Camp from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The workshop will take place in the Funger Hall auditorium, room 103, located on the Foggy Bottom campus.

Lunch will be provided by the local chapter of ACES.

Parking

The closest garage to Funger Hall is the University Parking Garage/G Street Garage, located at 2028 G Street, NW Washington, DC 20052. There is access from both 20th Street and 21st Street between F and G Streets. The self-service garage is open 24/7, accepting MasterCard, Visa and American Express for payments (no cash). The full day rate is $12.

The closest Metro stop is Foggy Bottom-GWU, with service on the  Blue, Orange and Silver lines.

If you find yourself lost on Nov. 5, please feel free to call 571-XXX-XXXX for assistance.

This attempt was a better than the prior email, but still, no address for Funger Hall. It’s as if ACES thinks that everyone is intimately familiar with GW’s Foggy Bottom Campus. For those of you who aren’t in the DC area, GW’s campus is a city campus. Buildings have street addresses–they are not in quads as in traditional colleges.

I looked up Funger Hall on Google, but  I forgot to note the address, and when I got to the parking garage on Saturday, I didn’t know where to go. I looked it up on my phone and the address I got did not correspond to the building. I called the number on the email, but there was no response.  I was able to get directions from a student I saw on the street, and I then got to the workshop several minutes late.

How helpful are you being to your reader?

If ACES had started with the reader’s needs in mind when writing this email, it would have realized that providing an address and links to maps and directions would have helped recipients of this email.

It’s about the 5 Ws

When you write a press release, you should think like a journalist and answer the five Ws: what, why, where, who and when. You should also answer the how.  This advice is also applicable to most any communications material you create.

If you need help creating effective communications materials, contact me!

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Why you are failing to communicate on social media

03 Nov
2016
by Deborah Brody, posted in Communication, LinkedIn, social media, Twitter   |  No Comments

A few weeks ago an acquaintance was coming to town from the West Coast. She posted on Facebook (along with about another five posts the same day) that she was free on a given afternoon and if people wanted to see her, to please message her. Now, I hadn’t seen this person in a couple of years, and since I was free on the afternoon she mentioned, I would have liked to get together. But, I hadn’t seen her post until it was too late.  By the time I messaged her, she had already made other plans since she said that nobody responded to her post.

In my opinion, she failed to communicate effectively. There are several potential reasons why.

Why #1: Not understanding how social media works.

Chances are good that only a few people in your network will see what you post.  First, social media is a continual flow of information from many sources. Nowhere is this more obvious than on Twitter, which shows you everything from everybody in real time. If you missed it, you missed it (unless someone re-tweeted it and it gained traction). And to make that more complicated, the different networks use algorithms to show you what the network thinks you want to see. On Facebook, the default algorithm is set to show “top posts,” which are the posts that more people have “liked.” LinkedIn has a similar algorithm, also showing what it deems are “top” posts.

Additionally, social media provides controls for people to “hide” or “mute” certain users. It’s quite possible you’ve been hidden and thus your posts won’t be seen at all.

In order to work around social media’s constraints, you have to provide relevant content that gets liked and shared, and therefore becomes “top” content.

Why# 2: Not using the right channel for your message and audience.

In this case, this woman was trying to communicate with a handful of her Facebook friends (the ones who live in this area). She may have had better luck by using a more targeted approach. For example, she could have used Facebook messenger to talk directly to those people. Or she could have (gasp) emailed or texted the people she wanted to see.

Different channels and media have different audiences. You probably wouldn’t put an announcement that you are giving away your kittens on LinkedIn, but you might post on Facebook. LinkedIn is about business opportunities, and Facebook is more personal. You could also try sharing a picture on Instagram of those cute kitties looking for a home.

You have to choose the right channel to make sure you message reaches the right (more receptive) audience.

Why #3: Forgetting that social media is only one communications channel.

If you were trying to, say, promote a new product, chances are good you would use a mix of channels to reach different target audiences. You would also adjust your messaging accordingly. You might choose use an email campaign. Or you could do media outreach. Or you could run some advertising, including Google Ads. Or you could try promotional give-aways. Or sponsorships. You get my drift.

For social media to work, it can’t be your only communication channel. It has to be part of a larger communication plan. Social media is just that–a medium that has social aspects that help amplify your message. It is not a substitute for other media.

You want to get your message to the right people at the right time.

For any communication plan to be effective in this way, you have to use a mix of media depending on who you are trying to reach and when. You need to understand each medium, and what type of audience responds best to that channel. And you will need to adjust your messaging (e.g., length, complexity, benefits you highlight, etc.) for each medium.

 

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On writing: Todd Van Hoosear works magic against ambiguity

27 Oct
2016
by Deborah Brody, posted in On writing interviews, Writing   |  No Comments

Even though it’s hard to believe we are days away from Halloween (and thus two months away from the end of the year, yikes!), here we are, on the last Thursday of October, which means it’s time for the On Writing interview. This month I asked Todd Van Hoosear to share his thoughts. Todd is a professional communicator who focuses on technology and social media. He has spent several semesters teaching students at Boston University all about social media. Read on to learn how Todd uses and hones his writing skills (and you may also learn a new word–I did).

 

Todd Van Hoosear

Todd Van Hoosear

Todd Van Hoosear is a public relations professional with 20 years of experience under his belt – most of it agency work, but with stints in IT and product marketing. He recently moved from Boston to Gainesville, Florida, where he is still working remotely for a few EMA Boston clients, but also contemplating his next move.

Twitter: @vanhoosear

 

 

 

1. What role does writing play in your work and how important a skill is it?

As a PR pro, I regularly vacillate between stressing the importance of writing and that of selling when it comes to putting the right team together to serve my clients. Public relations is, at its essence, a combination of the art of storytelling and the science of influence. Writing plays into both of these. So do interpersonal skills, organizational skills, and yes, even math!

2. Does writing well still matter in a digital/text/emoji world?

To quote Blaise Pascal (and Mark Twain and Lord knows how many more authors it’s also been attributed to), “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” Writing is hard. Writing concisely is even harder. Writing good tweets and texts may be the hardest of all. Except maybe for Donald Trump. He’s got it down. He makes it look easy when it’s not. I’ll give him credit: he writes like he speaks, which is a critical skill in today’s world. For most people, it takes years to forget all their formal writing training.  

3. What’s the best advice you’ve received or would give on how to improve writing skills?

I can’t remember where I heard this, but it’s stuck with me all these years: good writers are like magicians, and the readers are their audience. The readers want to be tricked. They love the mystery, even when they know it isn’t real. Your job as a writer isn’t to fill their heads, it’s to give them what they need to fill their own heads, and then messing with them just a little. Maybe not quite as much as George RR Martin does, though. That’s just cruel. I’m still mourning Ned Stark!

4.What are your top three writing resources or references (digital or paper-based)?

I listen to the Grammar Girl podcast religiously. I also read Copyblogger on a regular basis, as it’s very relevant to my day-to-day. Finally, I’ll go old school and recommend a book: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. It’s my writing bible.

5. Do you follow a style guide, and if so, which one? 

I am AP Stylebook 100%, as are most PR pros I would imagine.

6. What’s your top writing/grammar/usage pet peeve?

To quote Faith No More: “What is it?” Ambiguous pronouns drive me absolutely crazy. Who is he? Who are they? People say? Which people, exactly? This was near the top of the list of pet peeves I shared with my students every semester at Boston University.

7. What’s your favorite word and what’s your least favorite?

Thank you for giving me the excuse to use the word epeolatry in a sentence. Poorly, yes; but it’s there. It’s how I feel about words, especially when I find the right ones. I’m not sure I have a least favorite word. They’re all great. But I do have a least favorite non-word: irregardless.

Just so you know, I had to look up epeolatry and it means “a worship of words.” That’s a good one to know! I love Todd’s view that writing concisely is hard. And even more so, that writing well is like magic. Making concise writing look easy is definitely a trick worth learning. On Writing will be back, but not on the last Thursday of November, since that is Thanksgiving Day and I think you’ll have better things to do than read this blog, instead it will publish on Thursday, December 1. Don’t miss it!

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Why I share political views on Twitter but not on LinkedIn

24 Oct
2016
by Deborah Brody, posted in LinkedIn, Political communication, social media, Twitter   |  No Comments

Lately, I have seen a couple of opinion pieces written by marketing people that state you should never, ever share your political opinion, at the risk of losing clients and alienating your network.

I don’t agree. I think it depends on several factors and there is not a one-size-fits-all approach. You will need to consider at least two issues:

1. Are you an employee or are you representing yourself? Are you sharing a political opinion for a company or for yourself?

2. Where you are sharing your views?

Let’s start with the where.

I don’t think you should ever share political views on LinkedIn, no matter if you are a company, individual or small business owner. But you should (in certain cases) on Twitter.

LinkedIn is a professional, business-oriented social network. Twitter is not.

People go to LinkedIn specifically to network and to research your professional background. They do not go to LinkedIn to find out about  your views on Hillary Clinton.

Twitter is real-time conversation. LinkedIn is more static.

I know that you aren’t supposed to talk about politics or religion in polite company. But Twitter is not polite company. It’s a rapid-fire issue-of-the-minute national and international conversation. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is not that. It’s a staid, share your credentials and network sort of place.

There are millions of tweets every hour. On LinkedIn, your network probably shares a few updates a day.

People go to Twitter to share their opinion and see what others think.

During the presidential debates it was pretty easy to see who doesn’t live in the United States and who uses automated tweets. Those were the folks who didn’t weigh in on the Clinton-Trump stand-off and/or tweeted about non-political matters.

But it matters who you are, too.

On social media, not everyone is treated the same.

If you are tweeting as yourself and you are not claiming a company or organization in your Twitter profile, then you should say what you want.

If you are tweeting in name of the organization, then you need to be very careful what you say.

If you are representing a consumer-oriented organization (like a restaurant or manufacturer), then you should be probably keep quiet. People do not generally follow a product or brand to see what political views it has.

If you work for an organization that works in a political or advocacy space, then you must make your views known.  People follow political/advocacy accounts precisely because of a specific viewpoint.

If you are like me, an individual who owns her own business, then you should make a decision that best fits you. I choose to share my political views on Twitter, not on LinkedIn. Be aware that not all your current or potential clients will share your views, and may choose not to do business with you because of those views. On the other hand, some people will share your viewpoint and will choose to interact with you precisely because of that view.

We are human

In the end, we must remember that on social media, we are not automatons, we are human beings. Sometimes we respond viscerally and in the moment. For example, when people found out about the horrible massacre at Newtown, they shared their horror and some also shared their views on guns.

Human beings have ideas, likes, dislikes and of course, political opinions. While political opinions can incite strong responses, your likes and dislikes can generate controversy too.

You win some, and you lose some

Ultimately, you will need to accept that sharing your opinions (political and otherwise) may create a backlash, or it could result in support.  Your opinions can lose you followers, but they may also gain you a following.

What do you think? Do you share your political views? What is the main reason you do or do not? Let me know in the comments.

P.S. If you care about my political views, follow me on Twitter at @DBMC.

 

 

 

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If a tree falls…

06 Oct
2016
by Deborah Brody, posted in Communication   |  No Comments

You’ve all heard that famous question: if a tree falls in a forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound?

Let’s change that question: if you are telling a story, but nobody can hear you, are you still communicating?

I was considering this second question during Rosh Hashana services this week. The synagogue I was attending does not have microphones, and the rabbi there is not good at projecting his voice. As he was giving his sermon, I was having a hard time hearing what he was saying. I am sure the further back in the synagogue that people were sitting, the less they could hear.

If you couldn’t hear the rabbi, then you would not know what he said, and therefore, it was like he never gave a sermon at all. So, was this rabbi communicating? In short, he wasn’t.

In essence, communication is the exchange of information.  If you can’t hear the information being shared, then you do not know what that information is, therefore information is not being exchanged.

The rabbi may have had some greats insights or inspirational messages to share, but if nobody heard them, then he failed to enlighten or inspire his congregation.

Make sure they can hear

The takeaway from my Rosh Hashana experience is simple: It’s not enough to have good information to share, you have to make sure your intended audience can receive that information.

 

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On writing: Bonnie Friedman is an advocate

29 Sep
2016
by Deborah Brody, posted in On writing interviews, Writing   |  No Comments

I met Bonnie Friedman at an industry networking event several years ago. We’ve stayed in touch, and a couple of years ago Bonnie told me she was starting to write a book about advocating for someone who is ill and in the hospital. The book was published earlier this year, which prompted me to reach out to Bonnie to ask her about her writing.

 

bonnie-head

Bonnie Friedman

 

Bonnie Friedman is a seasoned communications and marketing professional with more than 40 years of experience in the Washington, DC, area, with her own consultancy Bonnie Friedman Strategic Communications, LLC.  She worked for several federal agencies before starting her own consulting business. Her new book, Hospital Warrior: How to Get the Best Care for Your Loved One, combines her passion for health care advocacy with her love of writing.

Twitter: @Bonniecomm

 

 

1. What role does writing play in your work and how important a skill is it?

Writing is the heart of what I do, whether working in government, as a consultant or now as an author. Even as a teenager, I loved to write. For me, it is the most effective way to express thoughts, share information or convey emotion. Of all the things I do professionally, writing is by far the most important skill in my wheelhouse.

2. Does writing well still matter in a digital/text/emoji world?

Yes, I believe it does matter. Whether you want to convey thoughts, information or emotion, you want to do so effectively. Sloppy or inexact language detracts from the message and makes the writer appear lazy or facile. For me, it is extremely satisfying to create a strong, well-crafted statement or document that precisely reflects my point of view.

3.  What’s the best advice you’ve received or would give on how to improve writing skills?

When I first started my career, I was told to write the first draft, warts and all, off the top of my head, then go back and improve upon it later. When I feel stuck now, I still follow that advice. It helps me express my initial thoughts and move forward with my work. There is a freedom in that type of writing that frequently breathes life and light into my work, even if I later edit or revise it.

4. What are your top three writing resources or references (digital or paper-based)?

Depending on what I am writing, the top three are the Associated Press Stylebook, William Strunk’s The Elements of Style and Roget’s Thesaurus. Even though I frequently use online resources for quick references, these three are still my all-time favorites.

5. Do you follow a style guide, and if so, which one? 

I don’t follow a specific style guide as a matter of course. However, if I am writing for the media, I use the AP Stylebook; if writing for a government client, I may use the Government Printing Office Style Manual. When I wrote my book, I did not use one particular style guide but referred to various resources when I needed guidance, particularly on how best to convey complicated medical information for lay readers.

6. What’s your top writing/grammar/usage pet peeve?

I really dislike the use of “impact” as a verb. It grates on me. As far as I’m concerned, the word “impact” should remain a noun. When used as a verb, it strikes me as affected and pretentious. That said, I recognize that language must be fluid and supple. If it weren’t, we might still be speaking Elizabethan English today.   

7. What’s your favorite word and what’s your least favorite?

There are so many great words; it is hard to choose. One that I like a lot is onomatopoeia; it is wonderfully descriptive and rolls around in the mouth quite deliciously. Likewise, there are several words I dislike viscerally, but none are acceptably repeated in a family-friendly interview. All are mean-spirited, hateful references to individuals or groups. Some are four letters; others are longer.  You get the idea.

Hospital Warrior Launch

Hospital Warrior Launch

Given that her book launched this year, I asked Bonnie to share her thoughts about the process of writing a book.

Describe your book:

Hospital Warrior: How to Get the Best Care for Your Loved One is a how-to guide on advocating effectively when someone you love is ill. It is filled with advice, tips and ideas based on my own experience as well interviews with a wide range of medical and legal professionals. It is also a story of love, family and thriving. The website is www.hospitalwarrior.com.

What inspired you to write the book and how long did it take you to write it?

Hospital Warrior draws on my 24 years of advocating for my husband through 14 separate hospitalizations—some routine and some life-threatening. He is now doing well, and I felt I had learned so much over the years that I wanted to share with others. Giving back is an important value in my life. In Judaism, we call it Tikkun Olam. This is my way of giving back. The book took about two years to write.

What were your main challenges in writing and publishing a book? How did it compare to the previous writing you have done?

There are many challenges in writing and publishing a book. To start, as an author, you must be clear in your own mind about your audience, your message and your market.  While you need to remain flexible about options and opportunities, you can’t lose sight of your primary goals. Publishing in today’s market is very difficult, especially for new authors. I feel fortunate to have a small, indie publisher who invests in his authors’ success.

In some ways, writing this book was similar to other forms of non-fiction. It required research, interviews, fact-checking and discipline. But it required all those things in massive doses—more than I had ever done before. Also important were organizational skills, tenacity and belief in what I was doing. It might have been easy to give up or change course, especially when finding the right publisher proved difficult. But I was determined, and that paid off for me.

What tips do you have for others thinking of writing a book?

Be clear about your purpose. Know your market. Stay open-mined and creative. At the same time, bring discipline to your work and apply it to your writing. If you are a new author, find a mentor for guidance and support. I have a wonderful friend who is the author of seven books; she shared advice generously when I needed it. Also be sure to have at least a few readers—people whose opinions you respect and who will provide solid, constructive feedback on your work. Then be willing to listen to them!

 Like Bonnie says, writing a book is just like writing for marketing and PR, except taken to a “massive” degree. It’s a great achievement, and in Bonnie’s case, one that will provide people with needed information to successfully helped loved ones who are ill and in the hospital.

For more writing insight from a communications professional, check back here on Thursday, October 27 for the next On Writing interview.

 

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Two big problems muddling your message

22 Sep
2016
by Deborah Brody, posted in Content marketing, Writing   |  No Comments

When I do any copy editing and/or proofreading, I always come across two problems: wordiness and punctuation mistakes. These problems affect how clear your writing is and muddle your message. That’s because when readers have to read overlong, poorly punctuated sentences, filled with unnecessary words, they don’t understand what you are trying to say.

Problem #1: Wordiness

Wordiness is using too many words to say what you mean.

How do you fix this problem?

  • Eliminate extra words and phrases

When I was in grad school, one of my professors (the wonderful Jack Falla), had us write a press release, and then go back and eliminate ten words. The problem with this approach is that wordy people often think they need all the words they have written. They don’t.

Today’s Nonprofit Marketing Guide has a great post listing wordy phrases and their much more succinct alternatives. Read it here.

  • Ask yourself if  you are being redundant

Phrases such as “basic fundamentals” are redundant.

  • Use active voice

Active voice uses fewer words than passive voice. It’s more direct.

Problem #2: Punctuation mistakes

Punctuation is a tool to make your sentences work better. You use a period to end a sentence and a comma to insert a pause. You use a colon to indicate something is following and a semicolon to separate two big ideas in one sentence. We also use parentheses to add extra information to a sentence and em dashes to set off words or phrases.

How do you fix this problem?

  • Learn how to use the comma properly

The comma seems to trip lots of people up. Either they use it too much or not enough. And then there’s the whole serial or Oxford comma debate. In any case, Grammar Book has some useful rules for comma usage.

  • Learn when to use the em dash

Em dashes are not to be confused with the shorter en dashes and the even shorter dashes or hyphens. The Punctuation Guide has a  good explanation of how to use em dashes.

  • Watch out for improper capitalization and apostrophes

It’s become epidemic lately — people are using capitalization to indicate importance. That’s not how it works. Use caps at the beginning of a sentence, and to indicate proper names. The president may be important, but unless you are expressly referring to President Barack Obama, there’s no need to capitalize the word alone.

Apostrophes are meant to convey possession. They do not make a word plural. Hamilton University calls the misuse of the apostrophe a deadly sin of writing. Check it out.

To be clear, be concise

Sometimes people are wordy because they don’t have anything to say. That’s a lack of message. No amount of removing redundancies will fix it. However, if you’ve written something and you are not sure whether it’s communicating what you want it to say, make sure to eliminate wordiness and correct your punctuation. Chances are that being more concise (and precise with your punctuation) will clarify whatever it is you are trying to say.

If you need some help eliminating wordiness, fixing punctuation, and making your writing clearer, contact me!

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Out of sight, out of mind?

12 Sep
2016
by Deborah Brody, posted in social media   |  No Comments

I’ve been conducting an experiment over on my personal Facebook page. I haven’t posted anything for more than two weeks. As I expected, nobody has commented on my lack of posting. Nobody has gone to my Facebook page and reacted/commented on anything already there. There’s been absolutely no interaction. Perhaps this means I have crappy “friends” or more likely, it means that when you don’t participate in social media, people forget you’re there.

I’ve seen this happen with my blog. If I haven’t posted recently, my site traffic goes down. When I post something, my traffic goes up. (This is why it’s so valuable to have Google Analytics deployed on your site.)

This could never happen “in real life.” Even if you were quietly sitting in a room not talking to anybody, people would notice you were there. Perhaps they wouldn’t speak to you, but they would see you. In social media, to get noticed, you must be active. You have to post regularly.  People will forget your blog if they haven’t seen you post for a while. Ditto if you haven’t posted recently on LinkedIn (and worse if you don’t have even have a picture on your profile).

Many small businesses understand that social media is an important communications channel. However, many don’t understand how to make it really work for them. You’ll see businesses (organizations and nonprofits too) that think all they have to do is create the Facebook page, get some people to “like” it and nothing more.

The only reason somebody would visit your Facebook page (or website or LinkedIn profile) when you haven’t been active is because they are looking for something specific or researching. And then it would have to come up as part of a query. Even well known brands (the CocaColas and McDonald’s of this world) advertise. They want to be top of mind and reinforce their brand promise.

Here’s the bottom line: If you are using social media for business purposes, you must be active, even if it means doing paid advertising.

When you are out of sight on social media, you are out of mind.

 

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The Washington Post needs copy editors

01 Sep
2016
by Deborah Brody, posted in Copy Editing   |  No Comments

It seems a daily occurrence at the Washington Post: a headline typo here, and a factual error there. Sometimes, I have had to read a sentence several times to even start understanding it. This is because the Washington Post has few (if any) copy editors. I suspect reporters are being asked to edit their own work, which is never a good idea, especially with quick turnarounds. You can edit your own work, if you can look at it with “fresh eyes” after a day or so. In the fast-paced, 24/7 news cycle, there is little time to look at writing with fresh eyes.

I could not believe the mistake I found in an article in today’s Post. It’s about the Chesapeake Crab & Beer Festival, which took place on Saturday at National Harbor in Maryland. The story appeared in the Post’s Local Living section  and had the headline “All smiles on a crab-filled festival day in Inner Harbor.”

The Inner Harbor is in Baltimore and the event took place at National Harbor. Then, in the body of the article, the writer says the event took place in Baltimore, except it didn’t. See for yourself here:

Washington Post article

Copy editors don’t just catch grammatical mistakes and typos, they check for accuracy too. Clearly, this article was not checked at all. A cursory search (and plain common sense) would have told anyone reading this article that the event took place at National Harbor and not in Baltimore.

Shame on the Washington Post! These mistakes make the newspaper look sloppy and careless, and makes me question the accuracy of all reporting.

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