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6 Writing Mistakes PR Pros Should Never Make

In the PR world, most of your work consists of writing so it is important to make sure your work is grammatically correct and error free. But no matter what field you work in, writing is unavoidable. Think of all the emails, reports, and performance reviews written each day. If you are making common writing mistakes, your peers have most likely taken note. A report or email filled with avoidable writing mistakes is seen as unprofessional and careless. Many of the mistakes you are making, you might not even be aware of. Review this list and cut these errors out of your business writing:

  1. “Here’s some”: This is a fairly common phrase, as in, “Here’s some tips on how to beat writer’s block.” This is incorrect because “here’s” means “here is.” The correct version is “Here are some…” because you are referring to multiple tips.
  2. There, their, and they’re : Confusing these three words is still a common mistake, even in PR. There is a place, their shows possession, and they’re is short for they are. This is an error that most people will notice right away in your writing so be mindful when choosing the correct word.
  3. Long-winded sentences: Aim to write like Hemingway. People are busy, and they do not want to waste their time poring over complex and drawn-out sentences. Write short sentences and simple words that get right to the point and make your writing easy to understand.
  4. Stationery vs. stationary: These two words can be easily mixed up because they are pronounced the same, but they have different meanings. Stationery with an “e” is paper that you use for writing letters or notes and is something PR firms often design for their clients. Stationary with an “a” means not moving or fixed in one place.
  5. Buzzwords: PR writing is filled with buzzwords and jargon that puts a wall up between you and your readers and can confuse them. While it may sound professional, your readers most likely will not appreciate the lingo. Lose the buzzwords and write plainly and concisely.
  6. i.e. and e.g.: These two abbreviations are frequently used interchangeably, but they have different meanings. The first, i.e., is Latin for “id est,” which means “that is.” It is used to re-state an idea or fact for clarity for better understanding (think: “in other words”). The second, e.g., is short for “exempli gratia,” which means “for example.” It is used to indicate that what follows is a particular example of the generality just stated. Use i.e. to summarize and re-state and idea and e.g. to list examples.

If you eliminate these errors out of your business writing practices, you will be on a path to better writing in no time. Your reports and emails will be more professional, and your co-workers will stop nitpicking you.

 

4 Reasons to Bring Back “Old School” Customer Service

Technology has made keeping in touch with customers easy. While customers enjoy how streamlined and fast-paced communication with businesses has become, there is something cold and impersonal about many 21st century transactions. No matter how much technology improves, customers will choose brands and companies that take the time to get to know them, interact with them, and make them feel like they matter. No matter what business you are in there is still a human being on the receiving end, and that human being has a name, a face, and feelings.

In a world of constantly-evolving technology, here are four approaches to help you bring back “old school” customer service:

  1. Show customers that you care. You can provide fast, on-demand service while still making people feel like they had an authentic, deeply personal experience. Take the time to send a more personal email or to reply to their tweets.
  2. Know that customers crave a connection to simpler times. Nobody wants to interact with a machine. Customers want to have the ability to pick up the phone and talk or communicate face-to-face with a human being who shares their interests. These interactions should be to the point but also have compassion and empathy – part Silicon Valley efficiency and part “Main Street” values.
  3. Fit in with the growing artisanal movement. Gone is the mass-produced junk offered in the last few years. Shoppers are now choosing products and services that are unique and customized. The craft beer craze is an excellent example of this. Microbrewers have reclaimed the art of beer making, and more and more people are falling in love with craft beers because of this.
  4. Your service style will help you stand out from the pack. This is the most compelling reason to adopt an old-school approach to customer service. With so much competition, the way you treat and relate to your customers might be the only thing that defines your brand and helps sustain your business. Even though technology is ever advancing, the basic need of human interaction has remained the same.

Networking Tips for Newbies

Let’s face it, networking is scary. For soon-to-be graduates such as myself, even the word “networking” seems intimidating. However, networking really is key to making your career possible. Rather than attending hundreds of events to make maybe a few connections, it’s better to be strategic about your networking. Taking a systematic approach to networking and using a plan will help ease the tension and result in more meaningful business relationships.

Here are a few tips to help make networking more enjoyable and effective:

1. Find the right events.

Use social media outlets to find new events through your friends and local venues.

  • Facebook: Take an informal approach by joining a group or Facebook event.
  • LinkedIn: These groups are associated with specific industries and often post events. This can offer insight into specific group members’ professional experiences and interests.
  • Meetup: Use this site as a resource for finding groups in professional and non-professional contexts. Most of these groups meet regularly.
  • Eventbrite: This site provides a simple, categorized search and map of local upcoming events.

2. Arrive prepared.

Create a long-term plan by choosing the events most likely to be attended by the types of people you are looking to connect with.

When you have an upcoming event, do some research beforehand. Look at previous events by the same host or organization to see what they have to offer. Check to see if a guest or sponsors list is available. Then, see if you share common connections with participants and request an introduction.

3. Actively understand other’s needs.

When you get to the event, be sure to an approachable demeanor. It is likely that everyone is experiencing the same anxiety as you and acting relaxed will make others around you feel more comfortable themselves.

Take the initiative to start a few conversations or join group discussions instead of waiting for others to come to you. Introduce yourself or casually ask: “How are you liking the event?” or “What do you do?” Listen carefully to the dialogue so that you can align what customers need with what you offer. At this point you may present a more targeted pitch.

When you do exchange contact information and business cards, quickly jot down some mental notes about your conversation to help with memory recall later.

4. Stick around for the aftermath.

As the event comes to a close, remember that you don’t necessarily need to leave right away, especially if things are going well.

If there is an after party, gather some of your new connections and go together. If there is a lunch session, ask permission to join someone’s table. If there is nothing planned, take action and invite people to continue the conversation over dinner or drinks.

Later that evening, connect with the people you have just met on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. That way, you’ll have multiple channels in which you can communicate.

5 Ways to Kill Writer’s Block for Good

Situation: you have something to write – a challenging email, a brief or presentation about a new project, a post for your blog you have been struggling to keep up with – and a deadline to meet, but you are at a loss for words when you put your fingers to the keyboard.

What follows is a cycle of looking at the screen, walking away, writing a few sentences, deleting them, and then walking away again. Claiming “writer’s block” is an excuse that many of us use, but it is a problem that you have complete control over. The solution is to break this negative cycle by starting a positive one and to take action to obliterate writer’s block once and for all.

Here are 5 simple approaches to get unstuck:

  1. Allow imperfections. Lower your expectations for your first draft and give yourself permission to write poorly. The American poet William Stafford said, “There is no such thing as writer’s block for writers whose standards are low enough.” Having high expectations for your first draft will ensure your fingers freeze up and crush your confidence.
  2. Mind map. Grab a blank sheet of paper and some colorful markers. Start scribbling words and phrases about your message. Take a few ideas from your mind map and put them together to help form content.
  3. Record yourself. Maybe your issue is between your brain and your fingers. Speak your ideas into a voice recorder or even leave a voicemail for yourself. This helps to shorten the distance the message has to travel.
  4. Talk it out. Call a friend or sit down with someone face to face. Ramble to them about your idea, have them take notes, and restate what you said.
  5. Shrink the task. Mark Twain said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” Break your work into smaller chunks to make it more manageable: write the headlines, insert your bio, or drop in the page numbers.

 

Remember that you have written before, and you will write again. Start by choosing one of the tasks from this list, and you will be writing up a storm in no time.

10 Reasons You Should Still Blog – Even If No One Is Reading It

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your blog. It can take a good couple of years to develop a solid readership of a blog. As a new blogger, you should not give up prematurely because you are not getting the kind of attention you had hoped for. If this is a long-term problem then there might be some issues you need to fix, but if you are just starting you should not give up. You should readjust your focus from the lack of readers to the content you are producing and how you feel about your creation.

Just because no one is currently reading your blog does not mean what you are doing is not worth it and that your content is not important. Here are ten reasons why you should stick with blogging even if no one is reading it (yet):

  1. The act of writing helps to shape and crystallize your own thoughts and opinions.
  2. The research you do in order to write helps you to stay on top of trends.
  3. It is hugely motivational and helps you work towards a goal.
  4. Blogging is something you have complete control over which is rarely the case in paid employment.
  5. Knowing that people will eventually ready your blog (even if they are not currently) forces you to aim for a certain level of quality.
  6. Getting into a regular rhythm of blogging is like making a contract. It is as if you have made a public declaration of your intent, and you’re more likely to stay the course if you’ve publicly committed yourself.
  7. It helps to consolidate your own knowledge and skills. The best way to internalize knowledge is to teach others how to do it.
  8. You are creating content that can be later used in your own speeches, presentations, workshops, and marketing literature.
  9. Whether you are an experienced writer, or looking to develop your writing ability, blogging allows you to experiment with different styles.
  10. You can build your own blog or website to host your posts.

Keep your spirits up, solo bloggers! By investing time and energy into your blog, the days of zero readers will become a distant memory. Stay focused on why you are blogging in the first place, and keep creating content!

Meet H&A’s Newest Intern, Allie!

A senior at the University of California San Diego, Allie Leachman will graduate in June with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a minor in Business Marketing.

During her internship, Allie will serve as an account assistant with several of the agency’s public relations and marketing clients. Her responsibilities will include client research, writing and editing press releases, and coordinating special events and community outreach.