Trust with a capital T: a keyword in the copywriting process

Kilkenny castle, fantastic conference venue. That's a 13th century beam in a round tower #ciakk

T-shaped support holding up a 13th Century ceiling in a round tower. T is for trust.

Trust is the keyword in our business.

We know clients often choose to work with us because they don’t have the time or skills to write material for their websites in house.

Indeed many clients don’t even have the time to sign off on what we’ve written for them.

So where does trust come into all of this? Read more

Does ‘brand journalism’ have a part to play in your digital marketing strategy?

We often get approached by clients to write articles or blog posts for them that they can share in ezines or on social media.

Having an original piece of material to share that’s hosted on your blog, resources or news section that’s of interest to your target audience is a great way to bring people back to your site. Read more

Knowing your Osamas from your Obamas

The letters B and S aren’t that close on a keyboard, even writing them, it’s hard to mix them up unlike b and p for example which can cause problems for some people when writing something by hand (as opposed to typing).
However, there has been mix-ups in recent days. A Fox news channel in the US has made the mix-up between b and s by writing Obama instead of Osama, according to the Guardian. It was waiting to happen, and it’s no surprise given the difference of just one letter between the names of the heads of two opposing regimes, that there has been mistakes.
Remember the jokes about Iceland and Ireland when the banking crisis kicked off?
I concur with the Guardian that this happened in a number of newsrooms due to the speediness of breaking news. But if so many people rely on breaking news and so much news is broken via Twitter, how can we rely on it if it’s just going to be the norm for it to be littered with misspellings which in turn results in misinformation eg Obama shot (instead of Osama). Is it any wonder that Obama showed the world his long form birth cert last week – because somewhere along the way this week someone is bound to get Osama and Obama mixed up and think something a bit far fetched.
As an editor I’ve seen many a spelling mistake. Sometimes misspellings are cloaked by the Word document language being set to US English instead of Irish/British for some mysterious technical reason I’ll never understand. Sometimes it seems people are too damn lazy to check over their work or have never been taught that checking back over your written work before pressing send or save is always a really good idea.
If you think you may fall into the loose with written words category, here’s a few tips to get you writing words that are spelled the way they should.
How do you know if you are bad at spelling? Ask someone, I guess, or keep an eye on the squiggly red lines littering the Word document, email or CMS page you are working on.
Know the words you have difficulty spelling and check them in an online dictionary, a real dictionary or by keeping a list taped to your monitor.
Turn on the option on whatever system you’re working on to catch misspellings. Nothing like a squiggly red line underneath a word to give you an idea something is wrong.
Ask someone else to read your work – even your mother or your son. Anyone really, hopefully they don’t have the same problem with misspelling the same words as you do.
If you’re using Twitter or Facebook or some system to update such feeds for work reasons, definitely make sure you read back over what you’re about to broadcast to the world. Don’t have time, well it’s only a measly 140 characters innit?
•Use a sub-editor. Here, most of our work is ‘subbed’ or proofread before it appears on a client’s website. If you have something you’d like checked for spelling, grammar, punctuation, correct use of words, send it on and we’ll give you a quote.
What are your most common misspellings? Is it words with lots of letters or words that can be spelled two different ways?
PS I haven’t looked back over this piece, purposely. Please let me know of any mistakes by commenting below!

The letters B and S aren’t that close on a keyboard, even writing them, it’s hard to mix them up unlike b and p for example which can cause problems for some people when writing something by hand (as opposed to typing).

The New McCain Campaing Ad?

Photo: Ted Curran. "The New McCain Campaing Ad? This was a model for a project I created for my class. I was just having fun with some Republican rhetorical points."

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PR from the journalist’s perspective

Quite often, as a journalist, I get asked about PR. Sometimes people like to know just the basics of getting PR, who to send a press release to, how to structure a press release and so on.

Obviously, having worked as a journalist and having been sent tonnes of press releases from PR companies and individuals over the years, I’m pretty familiar with the structure of a press release.

Today I was asked by a stranger for some feedback on a press release. Instead of looking over it in a Good Samaritan kind of way and providing feedback, I decided to write up some pointers. I wasn’t being mean with my time, it took time to come up with the tips I sent to the individual in question. I hope they are of some help, and if they’re not, that’s exactly why I would recommend businesses work with a professional PR outfit to get their message out.

[Irish spinner and spinning wheel. County Galway, Ireland] (LOC)

You can spin your own press release at home

PR Tips

  • does your press release include something new i.e does it contain newsworthy information?
  • do you have a catchy headline?
  • are the most important details in the first paragraph?
  • do you have who, what, when, where, why, how covered off?
  • so you have some interesting, useful quotes in the press release?
  • have you mentioned the USP of the product/service?
  • have you kept it to one page of a word document?
  • have you included a mobile phone number so radio stations can contact you easily?
  • have you considered doing up a different release for local media – have a look at how a local paper will cover something differently to specialist areas such as music or technology
  • have a look at irishpressreleases.ie to have a look at other press releases, try and seek out ones written by professionals to get a feel for how your release rates in comparison.
  • when sending a release don’t carbon copy (CC) journalists on the one email with their email addresses visible, it’s best to Bcc or send individual mails
  • ensure you’re sending the press release to the right person – you can pick up the phone and check with the relevant publication beforehand
  • journalists really don’t like getting a raft of phone calls ‘did you receive my press release’ or ‘will you be running with this story?’
    • it is quite likely they will have received your press release and they may not honestly know till closer to publication if their editor will run with it.

The above tips are absolute basics and in no way replace the expertise of professional PR people. As with everything, you can DIY it but in many cases that doesn’t mean having the same finish as having a professional in to do the job.

If you’re looking for professional PR help have a look at the PRII website or the PRCA listing of consultants or drop me an email and I can recommend some PR consultants.

What are your tips for getting PR coverage?