Earlier this summer, marketing consultant Chris Brogan wrote a great blog post about whittling down your business value to one perfect sentence. In the comment section of that post, a couple hundred of Brogan’s readers shared their sentences and critiqued those of others. PR pros have to give that kind of feedback to clients striving for succinct ways to sell themselves.
Ernest Hemingway wrote, “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” But how do you do that? In writing about technology in particular, too many companies approach this task by calling on the same words and phrases everyone else uses. If clichés don’t exactly kill the truth, they muddle it enough to make it unappealing.
On the path toward creating one sentence that means everything to your prospects, keep an eye out for these repeat offenders of good writing:
Beyond this short list, you can test your prose against a cliché finder to make sure you haven’t let trite wording slip into your copy. When you spot a cliché, hit the delete key. Of course, that leaves you with a gaping hole where your cliché once sat, and filling that hole is harder than creating it.
Hemingway, in addition to his one-perfect-sentence tip, advocated that people, “Write drunk; edit sober.” Short of that tempting approach, brainstorming can help writers replace empty words with potent ones. Grab a thesaurus, create a mind map, doodle images, or free write for 10 minutes without stopping or editing yourself. Let the process be messy, so long as the outcome freshly expresses who you are, what you offer and why buyers should care.
Want to add a tired cliché to our no-no list? Let us know which phrases you’d like to see erased from your industry.
By Rachel Sullivan
The common perception of an office environment is one filled with busy employees found at their desks between the hours of 9 and 5. However, this may soon change as the need for a human presence in the office disappears.
It may be a bit premature to assume future offices will consist solely of telepresence robots, but exactly how necessary is it for employees to be physically present in the office? Flexible working conditions already allow women to achieve a better work-life balance, while still encouraging productivity. This, though, is actually true for all employees. With telecommuting options, shared workspaces and soaring gas prices, many companies are adopting work-from-home policies. GigaOm highlighted a 2011 study which found that 58 percent of U.K. workers think the offices of today will no longer exist in 2021.
Today’s business world is truly global. Workers communicate by e-mail, chat or phone, thereby drastically reducing the need for human interaction. Companies taking an agile approach to the workplace encourage trust, productivity and results, rather than accumulation of hours at a desk. Working remotely can actually lead to increased productivity in less time, as interruptions are reduced and commuting time is eliminated.
Co-working offers a great compromise for those who enjoy the freedom of working from home, but crave a piece of the office structure. It offers numerous benefits such as inspired creativity, increased networking opportunities and non-constraining office structure. Already showing signs of change, today’s typical office environment will not be typical for long.
Do you work remotely? Do you feel more productive out of the office?
The earliest scary memory I have is of my older brother asking me if I wanted to watch “an awesome movie.” I was five years old, and I did everything he told me to do, so I said, “yes” and asked for popcorn.
The movie was Salem’s Lot, and I did not think it was “awesome.” I screamed and cried until my parents came to see what the commotion was. I stayed scared of vampires until Buffy arrived, and then I spent four years in vampire-fixated New Orleans during college. Once I got educated on the genre, it helped alleviate my fears and reassured me that I would be able to hold my own against the undead, if the need ever arose.
This path from fear to knowledge to survival is outlined in “The Survivors Club,” a fascinating look into the psychology of survival. Think about the last time you were really scared. What happened to your body? Your surroundings? The time? The book provides insight into figuring out how we survive difficult situations. While its focus is not on business survival, the lessons apply.
The second lesson -- It’s all relative. We all have Everests to climb (and the undead to fight, the clients to woo, etc.). By managing your expectations, it’s easier to see past your fears.
The book provides a range of topics, highlighting the science of luck, the probability of survival formula, how animals smell fear, what you can learn from sharks and so much more. “The Survivors Club” provides both the amazing stories and the science behind the study of surviving. It’s a great read, whether or not you ever face off against supernatural enemies in your personal or professional life.
As we’ve recently noted, one of the best bangs for your PR buck comes from broadcasting the voices of your satisfied customers. When organizations include customer delight programs within their strategic public relations plans, great things can happen. Below, we share with you some success stories, built around the accomplishments of those who use the technology we promote.
We worked with EqualLogic before its acquisition by Dell for $1.4 billion in 2008. Metis qualified more than 300 of EqualLogic’s happy users and infiltrated scores of industry and vertical publications with their stories. EqualLogic became well-known for its customer delight program, which articulated the value and ease of use of the company’s products to a wide audience.
We’ve worked with Embotics since the rollout of its virtualization management platform in 2006. Embotics’ burgeoning customer delight program kicked off big with a great piece on customer Aston University. The customer told SearchServerVirtualization why Embotics was a better choice than the dominant market leader, a statement that holds far more weight coming from a user than from a vendor.
SundaySky makes video simple for e-businesses, and we knew users could tell that story most powerfully. One such customer, Sawbuck Realty, has thousands of online real estate listings for four major cities. The company bet big on video. Sawbuck has shared its success story with multiple outlets, not only declaring the value of the technology solution it purchased, but also positioning itself as a thought leader in its own industry.
TransPerfect provides global language and translation services and technology for marketing materials, websites and social media. The Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas chose TransPerfect to help it reach the growing Spanish-speaking population of girls in its region. Both Forbes and USA Today picked up on the news value in the GSUSA story, covering the ways in which the customer uses the client’s technology to meet its organizational mission.
How do you help customers tell your story?
By Melissa Cohen
Press releases help create awareness of new developments in your company and also improve search engine rankings. Here are 10 tips to keep in mind when working through a press release with your PR team.
Discuss the strategy and put it in writing. It’s important to determine the overall objective for the announcement. Is this to create awareness, bring in leads or just give the industry a heads up?
Talk about the timelines. If you want media coverage from a news announcement, make sure to give yourself enough time to talk with the media prior to the news going out (if you can). Personalize your news discussions and remember that you have to fit into the media's timeline for reporting and not when it suits you.
Understand your audience. Who will be interested in your announcement? It's important to answer the question "will anyone care?" What will drive the results you’re expecting?
Outline expectations with your team. Most announcements that are important from an internal perspective are not breaking news to the industry. Set realistic goals and expectations for each announcement.
Draft the release and choose a wire, if necessary. Most media do not read beyond the first two paragraphs, if they read it at all, so make sure the message is prominent and written in a language that is easy to understand. There are pros and cons to each wire service, so your PR professional can help determine which wire suits your company best. Also, consider that you can write an update to your corporate blog and point folks to it instead of issuing a press release.
Create supporting content prior to the announcement. Focus on whitepapers, background information, screenshots or product photos, and priority social media outlets to post content on such as Slideshare, Flickr, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
Optimize release with your SEO keywords. Conduct searches to identify top keywords or phrases that will attract your target audience. If you have an SEO team, make sure it is integrated into your PR efforts.
Track conversations about news and comment. Monitor coverage and comment on what people are saying on social media outlets.
Measure the impact. Results can be measured through press coverage, site traffic, links clicked in the release, social media mentions, comments, industry buzz or all of the above. Identify those achievements and determine the progress against business goals. Additionally, ask your customers what they are reading. If it’s not where you are targeting, change your strategy so the impact is greater.
Determine your follow-up strategy. PR teams need to follow up to provide the media with what they need to cover the story (photos, executive titles, research, charts, etc.).
What other tips would you recommend?
By Rachel Sullivan
I recently stumbled upon Penelope Trunk’s article: Want To Get Ahead? Stay Away From Women, in which she states, “It’s never good for one’s career to be in a room full of women unless you’re a model or a stripper. Because where there are women there are lower salaries.”
As I looked around an office filled with women, my first thought was “uh-oh.”
Then I started to think this through. Yes, it is a well-known fact that the field of public relations is female-dominated. A 2000 study by the PRSA found that women made up 71 percent of the PR workforce. Some possible reasons for this are that women are more practical than theoretical, women can think about different things at the same time better than men can, and that women are simply better listeners than their male coworkers. So why is it that men in PR tend to hold higher positions and earn higher salaries?
Trunk points out that women choose different career paths than men. She references another article suggesting women don’t choose mentors high enough up on the corporate ladder. Also, instead of choosing a high-responsibility position, women are more likely to choose a more supporting role in order to maintain a work-life balance. Al Lee, PayScale’s director of quantitative analysis, uses data from PayScale to demonstrate to both Trunk and The New York Times, that women do not earn less than men because of gender issues, but because of different career decisions.
Instead of running away from women-filled offices, let’s embrace the fact that women make up the majority of the PR workforce and recognize its benefits. Women, who are more likely to emphasize work-life balance than men, find the means to manage their time better to achieve success. Smarter use of time should be embraced by all of us in PR, regardless of gender. By focusing on goal setting and results -- and NOT antiquated arguments about billable hours or gender-biased productivity -- female-dominated workplaces create nurturing environments in which women can grow their careers and their paychecks, while delivering stellar client service.