As PR professionals, we often deal with placing a client’s op-ed with what we hope will be a reputable, widely read publication or platform. However, as anyone who reads small-town newspapers for fun and schadenfreude knows, many op-eds are pretty much unreadable. One can only assume they’ve been printed because there wasn’t any news about angry, window-smashing McDonald’s customers that week.
While I was back in my hometown for winter break, I came across an op-ed that must be shared here with some (I hope) small suggestions for improvements so that you and your clients can see what makes a good op-ed and what makes a bad op-ed.
As we enter a new decade, let’s all make a pact right here, right now. Let’s stop saying “two thousand” when we say the year.
Guys, it’s 2010. That’s “twenty ten.” We’ve gotten away with saying “two thousand blah blah” for far too long. It’s ridiculous. No one at the turn of the last century was saying, “Oh dear me, I cannot wait for nineteen thousand oh-one!” By rights, we should have been saying “twenty oh-five” or whatever, but because the new millennium was such a big deal, I let it slide.
But no longer. Continue reading
Are you sick of sounding silly when trying to use “whom” correctly? Of course you are. Here is how you figure out when to use “who” or “whom.”
Whom replaces a subject where the answer to the question could be either “him” or “her” or “them.” I remember it like this: whom ends in an M, just like him. Continue reading
Normally, any attempt to stifle what little creativity we have in this business makes my skin crawl. Really takes the cake. Gives me the pip. But in this instance, I have to put my foot down.
Guys. Stop using figures of speech in your business writing. If I had a nickel for every time someone mucked up some folksy sayings, well, I’d have a bird in hand, which I’m told is worth two in the flora.
Okay, I’ll put the stupid jokes on the back burner now. My point is, writing pitches and press releases is hard enough without figures of speech ruining everything. Two reasons: colloquialisms are easily misused, and easily misunderstood. Continue reading
Instead of my usual harsh judgment (my hammer of knowledge, if you will), this week I bring you a question. It’s an issue on which I’ve been waffling for some time.
Backstory: Remember a few weeks ago, when Starbucks released their new instant coffee? Well, now Nestle’s Taster’s Choice would like to remind you that they’ve been making instant coffee way before that young Turk ever came into the java-slinging world. Here in New York, and in several other cities, Nestle street teams have been handing out little envelopes filled with all sorts of Taster’s Choice instant coffee packets. Copy on these envelopes calls out the Starbucks instant brand as a lot of needless hype.
One of our own, CTMichaels, is in the market for a new place. Like a lot of people, he’s going to be looking on Craigslist (CL) for the apartment and/or roommate of his dreams. Because Craigslist is the place where copy goes to die, I pleaded (nay, begged) CT to let me have a crack at his advertisement. Below is what he had in mind. Continue reading
It’s November, which means NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).
NaNoWriMo can also be called “the month where all your wordy friends disappear from the planet.”
If you’ve never heard of it, here’s the scoop: for the month of November, participants sign up for the NaNo challenge. Their goal is to write a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month. Some quick math reveals that this means writing a little under 2,000 words a day on average, and that doesn’t sound very difficult. Continue reading
Wow. Guys. Did we really need to sit down and talk about how you probably shouldn’t steal? Man, I guess we do.
So here it goes: when you steal words, pictures, or ideas from other people, especially people who live in the constantly well-documented world of the blogosphere, you’re not being cool. Continue reading
Please consider this a gentle nudge in the direction of proper usage. I am not angry with you, dear thing. Almost everyone makes the same mistake time and time again. But for your elucidation:
Editing is not the same thing as copyediting.
When you talk about making sure all the commas are in the right place? That’s copyediting. When you think about taking a red pen to a piece of writing? You’re probably thinking of copyediting. It’s something wholly different than editing-editing, and you should probably know the difference.
You will never write dialog in business writing, except when you do. In press releases, you often have to quote someone. In e-mail exchanges, you might have to recount a verbal conversation accurately. Guys, it just helps to know how to write and punctuate dialog without looking like a jerk.
Here’s how to do it: