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

What does the word ‘style’ mean to you?

What’s betting that when you think of the word style you think of the world of fashion, glossy magazines, cat walks, people’s appearance and clothes?

well arent we just fancy

Is your organisation fancy enough to have a style guide?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but to many people that’s what style is. Style means something different to many people who work with words. From marketing departments to book publishing to the world of journalism, style is about the style of writing that’s adhered to.

Tone, voice, fonts, you may ask. Not really, no. Professionals involved in the world of writing often work with ‘in-house’ style guides. These vary from a few pages to heavy tomes – but the one thing they all have in common is that they tell people what versions of words and phrases to stick to in written communications.

Anyone who has completed a thesis or even a large written report for a college or university will be familiar with certain rules they have to abide by in referencing sources.

It’s all about making a document easier for the reader to get through.

Want to see some adherence to style in action? Pick two newspapers that aren’t published by the same newspaper group and find a story that appears in each. Scan through the text, you’re likely to see differences in how they refer to currencies and numbers, or the titles they give people referred to in the articles, for example. This is a fine example of how different organisations choose one way of writing something and stick with it.

If you have a number of people in your business working on written communications – which can be as varied as emails to clients, to Facebook or Twitter updates, marketing materials or updating your website content or blog – it might be a good idea to start developing your own style guide.

You can start it simply, by adding your preferences to a Word document that everybody can add to. Do you say you’re in Dublin, Co Dublin, Co. Dublin, county Dublin, County Dublin, Greater Dublin, the greater Dublin area or Dublin city? Or, as they say in Home  Away, the Australian soap, are you in ‘the city’? The City (capital c) usually refers to a financial district of London.

If you want some guidance, there’s loads of resources out there to get you started.

For some tongue-in-cheek style guide samples take a look at Fake AP Stylebook on Twitter or on Facebook.

Some real style guides you can check out are:

What are the versions of words you find hard to decide between for your communications?

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 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?

Quote unquote: case studies

What do you think of testimonials? What do you think of recommendations on LinkedIn?

Sometimes you don't get the full message

Sometimes you don't get the full message

When buying a book or a DVD is the few words of praise from a well know writer, journalist or publication enough to make your mind up and hand your money over to the cashier? Or will you have made up your mind based on in-depth reviews or interviews with cast/crew/authors?

When it comes to choosing a service will you rely on testimonials on a company’s website or brochure to make up your mind? If they were available would you make up your mind based on in-depth features, articles or case studies on the company/service?

When it comes to your own business, do you think potential customers or clients might make a positive buying decision if they knew the full story of how you can help, how great your customer service is, etc?

If you think that’s a possibility, have you ever thought about useful and informative articles on your website, written in a journalistic style? Why not just ditch the boring About page and replace it with text written in article style, quotes and all telling readers about the company/organisation/product? How about a profile with quotes and background info from each staff member that would normally have appeared on the ‘Our Team’ page?

And when it comes to testimonials, do you think they give enough of a picture to a potential client about how you provide a solution to their problem? Why not tell a story?Tell a story with details of your client’s business, their problem, your solution and how you used this to solve their problem. Written in a journalistic style, with background information and direct quotes, it’s bound to help them more than a sentence or two on how great and wonderful you are.

Get attention, get content, inform, get more than a pat on the back, get people interested.