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Say, WHAT? 9 Phrases You Are Mispronouncing

Mispronouncing words and phrases in your speech or misspelling them in your writing can be extremely embarrassing. But some mistakes have become so common that you have probably don’t even realize that you are incorrectly phrasing or pronouncing it. Language experts have argued whether you should use the common or proper usage . Advocates for keeping the words and phrases in their incorrect form say that readers will get confused. What do you think?

Take a look at this list of commonly mispronounced and misspelled words and phrases to see what you have been using incorrectly:

1. Incorrect: Chomp at the bit

Correct: Champ at the bit

“Champ at the bit” refers to race horses chewing at their “bit”, a metal mouthpiece used to control them. 

2. Incorrect: doggy-dog world

Correct: dog-eat-dog world

This phrase refers to the world in which people will do anything to be successful, hence the “eat” part.

3. Incorrect: hierarchy (prounced hi-archy)

Correct: hierarchy (prounced \ˈhī-(ə-)ˌrär-kē \)

Remember to pronounce all four syllables of the word, and not just skip over the second one.

4. Incorrect: for all intensive purposes

Correct: for all intents and purposes

“For all intents and purposes” means “in every practical sense”.

5. Incorrect: nip it in the butt

Correct: nip it in the bud

“Nip” refers to pinching something to destroy it, while “bud” refers to the bud of a flower. Thus, creating the meaning of the phrase which is to stop something completely.

6. Incorrect: irregardless

Correct: regardless

“Irregardless” is a made-up word, and a double negative.

7. Incorrect: spitting image

Correct: spit and image

“Spit and image” is a Bible reference, meaning when God used spit and mud to create Adam in His image. The term is commonly used to describe something who looks exactly like another person.

8. Incorrect: try a different tact

Correct: try a different tack

“Try a different tack” refers to trying another approach. A “tack” is a term for an abrupt turn of a boat, while “tact” is a shortened form of the word “tactic”.

9. Incorrect: victual (pronounced vicshual)

Correct: victual (pronounced \ˈvi-təl\)

“Victual” is actually supposed to be pronounced so that it rhymes with “whittle”. It’s a word meaning food that is prepared to eat. 

What Your College Classes Don’t Teach You About PR

Your four (or more) years of college often consist of hours spent in the library doing homework, studying for exams, and working on dreaded group projects. But acing midterms and writing killer papers might not prepare you for the career of your dreams. Professors do their best to pass on their knowledge and prepare you for the “real world” upon graduation, but some things just can’t be taught. Certain skills can only be learned through experience from internships or summer jobs.

Here are some ways to gain the skills necessary for a job in public relations:

  • Be a news junkie: College classes do not emphasize the importance of keeping up to date with current events. It can be easy to get wrapped up in your day-to-day life and events that directly affect you. As a PR professional it is extremely valuable to stay on top of the happenings of the regional, national, and world news.
  • Press releases: Learning how to write a press release is something you probably covered in your public relations or communications classes, but it is also important to know what happens after the release is drafted. Your college doesn’t teach you how to write a quote for the release, how to compile a media list, or how to actually distribute the release. These are skills you would learn in an internship.
  • Proofread: Technology and relying on your own proofreading skills have taken the place of peer review sessions. The ability to proofread your own work is one of the most valuable skills in the industry. Public relations writing must always be concise, timely, and most importantly client and media-ready.
  • Client contact etiquette: College does not instill the confidence needed to contact a client directly. While you probably won’t gain this upon your arrival at an agency, it is important to understand proper email etiquette, timeliness, and how to approach various situations. It may be helpful to ask a friend who works in a professional setting the proper way phones should be answered and emails should be responded to.

College cannot prepare you for everything, which is why internships are a great opportunity. They expose you to your field of study and allow for ample learning opportunities. Internships also build your resume, which will make you a more viable candidate for future jobs.

Spring Cleaning for Your PR Life

After a long, cold, snowy San Diego winter (…yeah right!), hooray! Spring has arrived. And you know what that means – flowers blooming, warm weather, longer days, etc. One of the most crucial parts of the season, however, is spring cleaning. While spring cleaning is typically associated with cleaning your home (which we all know is needed, especially since you ate popcorn on your couch while watching Netflix all winter), spring is the perfect time to revisit different areas of our professional lives, decide where improvement is needed, and conduct a professional “spring cleaning”!

Here are some tips to help you clean up your professional PR life:

Clean up your media lists at work.
No one wants to open their closet and find they have tons of clothing but NOTHING to wear, and no one wants to open a media list and find they have tons of contacts, but no one to pitch. Spending the time to find valuable articles, uncover new reporters and follow media movement can make all the difference.

Throw out unnecessary items.
Delete old emails, folders, and documents that are creating unneeded clutter on your computer, your desktop and in your life. Try to delete all emails that you haven’t touched and more than two years, and definitely consider deleting those that have been sitting in your inbox for more than 6 months.

Check in on client strategy at work.
Everything at work might be fine on the surface, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t use a little tidying up. If you’re consistently using tactics that are making the client happy, and getting results, you might think your job is done. However, it’s important to revisit your overall strategy several times each year, asking yourself, “Are these tactics (events, media engagement, earned or paid placements, etc.) helping us reach overall goals and contributing to our strategy?”

Finally, clean your social media.
Use this opportunity to revisit your social strategy. Ask yourself, are my client’s followers engaging? What content is working (and what isn’t), and where is the best content coming from? Consider chatting with your client about how you think social media is going, and come up with a best course of action to change any areas.

 

With all of this cleaning, valued clients will be impressed by your ability to not miss a beat and you’ll get a fresh start and a new chance to work toward your professional goals.

A Long Time Coming

Yesterday, the U.S. Treasury Secretary announced that the nation’s well-known revolutionist, Harriet Tubman, will be replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.  Unfortunately, there was no set date set for when we will see the actual change-over.

But on an equally positive note, five women will be added to the back of the $5 bill in the year 2020.

It’s been a long time coming, but bravo to the Treasury for finally recognizing women for the amazing contributions they have made in this country since its very beginning.

The Not So Scary Truth About SEO

SEO is a term that is thrown around in daily conversations around the office, but what does it mean exactly? SEO stands for “search engine optimization,” and it is the process of affecting the visibility of a website in a search engine’s unpaid results, which are often referred to as “organic” or “earned” results.

SEO rules can change upon a moment’s notice. It is important to stay in the information loop so you are getting the traffic you deserve to your website. Ultimately, understanding how SEO works will help draw in more visits to your site.

  • You must be mobile friendly.

If your site is not mobile-friendly, you will not rank in mobile search results. Mobile search is the pinnacle of local SEO making up 60% of searches.

  • Bad SEO is bad for business.

A nickname for the bad guys in Western movies, “Black Hat” SEO is a practice that increases a page’s rank in search engines through means that violate the search engines’ terms of service. Black Hat SEO evolves as search engines change the rules about what is acceptable and what is not; tactics that were once good become toxic. As long as you are filling your website with quality content, link to other quality sites, and stay on top of innovations, you are golden.

  • Duplicate content can hurt your SEO, but not always.

Duplicate content is not as bad as it once was for a website. As long as you use recognized tags when you republish content on your site, duplicate content is not as devastating as you might imagine. If a site is using your content without permission, you should still report them, but there is less need to worry about consequences from Google.

  • Incoming links are not always good for SEO.

Incoming links are a great way to boost your ranking, except when the place that is linking to you has some sort of authority issue. Questionable domains and sites unrelated to your industry can hurt you rank. In this case, quality is far more important than quantity.

  • Everything must be relevant.

Everything you publish on your site must be related to your website’s focus. Image descriptions, HTML tags, title, sub-headers, and other page attributions should all be semantically related to the purpose of your page.

Take Public Speaking by the Horns

If you fear public speaking, you are not alone. Known as “glossophobia”, the fear of public speaking is the most common of all social anxieties.

Luckily, it is an anxiety that we can be taught to conquer. From the popular Ted Talk series, there are six significant ways in which we can improve upon our public speaking abilities.

  • Use the tools in your vocal box

          Register: Speak in a deeper voice so that you are associated with authority.

          Timbre: Meaning the way your voice feels. People prefer rich, smooth and warm voices.

          Prosody: Meaning the melody of how we speak. It’s important to avoid monotone.

          Pace: It’s important to vary the speed of your speech, and strategically use silence.

          Pitch: Varying in pitch can change the feeling or message that comes from a statement.

          Volume: The use of loud and soft speech can add emphasis or cause your audience to listen carefully and respectfully.

  • Be Engaged: Be passionate and familiar enough with your presentation so that you can be excited and animated while you present, rather than just reading information from a screen. This will make your audience want to stay engaged with you.
  • Keep Their Attention: Keep the presentation short. Typically, people’s attention spans start to drop off after about 18 minutes. Keep their attention by using headlines instead of bullet points and adding images to PowerPoints.
  • Connect with the Audience: Make it easier for your audience to understand what you’re talking about by drawing parallels between them and your topic, in order to present familiar situations in a relatable way.
  • Body Language: Body language affects our behaviors. For example, we smile when we’re happy, but we also feel happier when we smile. Therefore, you must keep your posture open, rather than hunched over and closed off so that you send the right message to your audience.
  • Break the Ice: Tell a joke before a talk, or even poke gentle fun at oneself in moderation. This help the you stay calm your nerves, and it will help the audience relax and be entertained.

Overall, with baby steps, all of us can overcome the fear of public speaking, as long as we practice presenting and remember to engage the audience.

For an inside look at each of the above tips in action, check out the following Ted Talks: How to Speak So That People Want to Listen by Julian Treasure, The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen by Hans Rosling, How to Pitch to a VC by David S. Rose, How Great Leaders Inspire Action by Simon Sinek, Once Upon a Time, My Mother… by Carmen Agra Deedy, Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are by Amy Cuddy, How I Beat Stage Fright by Joe Kowan