So…what exactly are infographics?

Before researching on this subject, I had little knowledge on what a infographic was. Actually the only idea I had on what a infographic was and is was based on context clues from the given word: info + graphics = a graphic with information.

Looks like my intuition was accurate. An infographic is simply that! It is a visually appealing way to connect viewers with information in a creative and unique way.

In the article “What Are Infographics and Why Are They Important?” author, Daniel, expresses how infographics “express complex messages to viewers in a way that enhances their comprehension.”

Infographics appeal to viewers because they create a visually engaging experience while allowing the bulk of the information you are trying to communicate to be condensed to the main points that are attempting to be displayed.

Infographics communicate complex data quickly and clearly

Infographics are used for the following reasons:

  • To communicate a message,
  • To present a lot of data or information in a way that is compact and easy to comprehend,
  • To analyze data in order to discover cause-and-effect relationships,
  • To periodically monitor the route of certain parameters.

Infographics are composed of three important elements:

Visual Elements

  • Color coding
  • Graphics
  • Reference icons

Content Elements

  • Time frames
  • Statistics
  • References

Knowledge Elements

  • Facts
So what are some practical tips to keep that balance of concise and creative? Here are a few simple tips to do just that:

Simplicity Is the Best Policy

Infographics should be simple, clean, concise and clear. Make sure the information being conveyed is well organized. Visual simplicity ensures that the graphic will be easy for readers to comprehend.

Nothing Takes Effect Without a Cause

Emphasize cause and effect relationships in your presentation. Several infographics depicting the causes of the recent recession in the US are still fresh in my mind for their effectiveness and precision. Even a layperson in Asia would understand the role of the subprime lending industry in the chain of events. Infographics spread awareness of these factors and enable people to voice their concerns.

Draw Your Boundaries

Be clear: limit the scope of your information, and draw your lines accordingly. The attention span of the average user is not increasing. Define your question carefully, and be sure to answer it using the best method available. The visualization you create will be much more effective and imaginative that way.

Sticking to one question makes it easier to communicate to the public. If I wanted to discuss the recent recession, I could begin by asking, “What were its root causes?”

Think in Color

Color is the most effective tool by which authors guide and influence their readers. Color can give readers varied impressions, both conceptual and emotional. It plays an important role in infographics.

Choosing colors that enhance your information is an important aspect of graphic design. Color makes the information you provide more legible and determines the visual hierarchy of information. Choosing the right colors is important. Contrast is king: the background should blend well with the illustrations.

Layout Is Not Just About Typography

Infographics don’t have to look like a piece from a newspaper or magazine. Tap your creativity: try different combinations of typography, illustrations, images, charts, diagrams and icons. Adopt an exciting trend in the creation of your design. Use a maximum of two or three fonts in the designs you create. The effectiveness of the infographic will depend entirely on your creativity as a designer. Add a logo if the infographic is connected to a company or institution.

Make It Appeal the Eye

Ensure that you have a clear idea of the final size of the graphic as you are working. Articles online that require you to click on a text link to view the relevant graphics are annoying. Design your graphics to be viewed along with articles. Perhaps viewers will need to click the image to see a high-resolution version, but they should be able to first view the image along with the article to better understand its relevance.

Be Verifiable

Many infographics lead readers to the wrong conclusion due to a lack of verifiable information and detailed data resources. Make infographics trustworthy by allowing readers to dig deeper into the data if they so desire. Always cite your data sources with relevant links. Some articles allow readers to access source data through links to a spreadsheet that they can view on their own.

So…there are many ways to engage an audience with your message: photos, videos, podcasts etc. How about switching it up next time and allow your viewer to encounter a new informational experience by letting them follow up on an infographic addressing the content you are trying to communicate?



Everyone’s an Expert at Something

Founded in 2008 by serial entrepreneur Peter Shankman, Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is one of the fastest-growing social media services in North America.

Every day, HARO brings nearly 30,000 reporters and bloggers, over 100,000 news sources and thousands of small businesses together to tell their stories, promote their brands and sell their products and services.

The main premise of HARO is to connect and provide resource to use for reporters, sources and subscriptions, and sponsors.

HARO is entirely free to sources and reporters, and unlike a majority of social media services, is independently owned and funded and has been profitable since day one. In addition, HARO serves as a vital social networking resource for sources, reporters and advertisers who use this service.

So if you have writer’s block and simply need that extra push, HARO is here to save the day. Take some time and explore HARO for yourself. It will for sure benefit you and your writing.

If you don’t believe me, check out a few sponser testimonials from HARO:

Peter Shankman has changed journalism. Back in the day, when I was looking for “just plain folks” to talk to for a story, I would too often find myself stuck in the circle of acquaintances-of-neighbors-of-colleagues-of-friends. Peter has created a wide-net, and HARO is often the first place I start when trying to find sources who I don’t already know.
Lisa Belkin
The Motherlode /

“I just wanted to thank you guys at HARO for helping me with my story on Baby Boomers. I didn’t expect such prompt and voluminous replies while posting my request. And was pleasantly surprised when so many people wrote back offering to share their thoughts with me. The site seems to be a god-send for reporters working on tight deadlines.”

Mihir Dalal
“Just wanted to say thanks for the HARO service. I recently queried Profnet about a story I’m doing on resume fraud pertaining to diploma mills and got a few off-target responses. Then I tried HARO with a similarly worded query, and received some very strong, quotable sources, right on-point.”
Lorna Collier
“Thank you so much for your service. Help a Reporter Out produced 15 responses to my request for experts who could talk about children reading to therapy dogs. I used two of them in my article and I will definitely turn to Help a Reporter Out when I need sources for future articles.”
John Piekarski

Need Help Kickstarting Your Music Career?

Are you a poor musician, needing help to make that big breakthrough? Well Kickstarter is here to make your dreams come true!

So, you may be asking yourself: what exactly is Kickstarter? Well Kickstarter is the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects! I’ve had a number of friends use Kickstarter to help fund their EP’s and take the first step in their musical careers. It’s creative, fun, and allows you to be directly involved with the funding process.

My friend Michael McArthur a few months ago made a Kickstarter account to raise money for his first debut EP! He had until November 23rd to raise $5,000 to record, mix, master, design and press this album.

Sidenote: Kickstarter is all or nothing. Meaning if Michael were not to raise the $5,000, the album would get none of the funding.

Good news: he did it!

Here is a video on his Kickstarter account explaining more about his album and how Kickstarter is helping make this dream a reality:

To support Michael, click here to donate to his album.

(Re-blogged and Edited from November 2011)

How to Write an Effective Press Release!

Public relation practitioners use press releases so that their clients will be into the news. Here are a few tips for writing an effective press release from PR Web Direct:

“Is your news “newsworthy?” The purpose of a press release is to inform the world of your news item. Do not use your press release to try and make a sale. A good press release answers all of the “W” questions (who, what, where, when and why), providing the media with useful information about your organization, product, service or event. If your press release reads like an advertisement, rewrite it.

Start strong. Your headline and first paragraph should tell the story. The rest of your press release should provide the detail. You have a matter of seconds to grab your readers’ attention. Do not blow it with a weak opening.

Write for the Media. On occasion, media outlets, especially online media, will pick up your press release and run it in their publications with little or no modification. More commonly, journalists will use your press release as a springboard for a larger feature story. In either case, try to develop a story as you would like to have it told. Even if your news is not reprinted verbatim, it may provide an acceptable amount of exposure.

Not everything is news. Your excitement about something does not necessarily mean that you have a newsworthy story. Think about your audience. Will someone else find your story interesting? Let’s assume that you have just spent a lot of effort to launch a new online store. Announcing your company’s opening is always an exciting time for any business, but the last thing the media wants to write about is another online store. This is old news and uninteresting. Instead, focus on the features of your online shopping experience, unique products and services. Answer the question, “Why should anyone care?” and make sure your announcement has some news values such as timeliness, uniqueness or something truly unusual. Avoid clichés such as “customers save money” or “great customer service.” Focus on the aspects of your news item that truly set you apart from everyone else.

Does your press release illustrate? Use real life examples about how your company or organization solved a problem. Identify the problem and identify why your solution is the right solution. Give examples of how your service or product fulfills needs or satisfies desires. What benefits can be expected? Use real life examples to powerfully communicate the benefits of using your product or service.

If you are reporting on a corporate milestone, make sure that you attribute your success or failures to one or more events. If your company has experienced significant growth, tell the world what you did right. Show the cause and effect.

Stick to the facts. Tell the truth. Avoid fluff, embellishments and exaggerations. If you feel that your press release contains embellishments, perhaps it would be a good idea to set your press release aside until you have more exciting news to share. Journalists are naturally skeptical. If your story sounds too good to be true, you are probably hurting your own credibility. Even if it is true, you may want to tone it down a bit.”

Wikihow also provides these helpful tips for writing a press release:

  • “Include a “call to action” in your release. This is information on what you want the public to do with the information that you are releasing. For example, do you want them to buy a product? If so, include information on where the product is available. Do you want them to visit your Web site to enter a contest or learn more about your organization? If so, include the Web address or a phone number.
  • Do not waste time writing the headline until the release is done. Copy editors write the real headlines in newspapers and magazines, but it is good to come up with a catchy title or “headline” for the release. This headline may be your only chance. Keep it concise and factual. But if you try to write it before you write the release, you waste time. You don’t know yet exactly what you – or those you interview, will say. When you have finished a draft of the release, you may decide to revise your lead — or not. Then and only then think about the headline.
  • Send your release by e-mail, and use formatting sparingly. Giant type and multiple colors don’t enhance your news, they distract from it. Put the release in the body of the e-mail, not as an attachment. If you must use an attachment, make it a plain text or Rich Text Format file. Word documents are acceptable at most outlets, but if you are using the newest version (.docx), save down a version (.doc). Newspapers, especially, are on tight budgets now, and many have not upgraded. Use PDF files only if you are sending a full media kit with lots of graphics. Please don’t type a release on letterhead, scan it, and e-mail a jpeg of the scan. That’s a waste of your time and the editor’s. Just type the release into the e-mail message.
  • Use your headline as the subject line of the e-mail. If you’ve written a good “grabber” headline, this will help your message stand out in the editor’s e-mail inbox. “

Guest Blogger

Three cheers for Melanie Shoults, my spotlight, guest blogger for the week. Melanie is a great writer with a real eye for quality work. She balances out fun and informative posts while keeping it all professional and relevant. Check out her blog sometime. You won’t regret it! Until then, here is a glimpse of one of her most recent post:

Rough Drafts Are Fun

Image Credit: micn2sugars

Okay, raise your hand if you hate rewriting. Wow.  That’s a lot of you. You just want to throw something on a piece of paper, glance at it, then turn it in, right? That used to be me, too.  I was mostly confident in the stuff I could just pull out of my brain, make sure the grammar was correct, then submit it.

And that worked fine for all my other classes until I got into Journalism. Then, even after rewriting it 10 times, I could turn it in and still have red marks all over it. This bugged me, a lot.

That’s why I loved the (FREE!) NewsU course, Get Me Rewrite that I took a few weeks ago. Not only did it emphasize the importance of rewriting, but it also offered valuable tips and steps for the rewriting process. And because I love lists and step-by-step instructions, this made me super happy!

Here are Chip Scanlan‘s steps, taken from Get Me Rewrite, for working through the rewriting process:

  1. Print out your draft.
  2. Listen to the entire story. During the reading, you can’t write on the draft or comment or respond, just listen.
  3. Read the draft a second time aloud, or silently to yourself, but now every time something strikes you, make a mark at on the manuscript. Nothing more.
  4. Number every mark you’ve made.
  5. Beside each number write down why you flagged that word or passage either on the draft or in a separate file. For example, you might jot down, “cut this,” “check this with source,” etc.
  6. Count up the number of changes and estimate how long each will take you to deal with them all.
  7. Start with the first one — if it’s a misspelled word, change it on the screen, hit save, and move on, cutting, pasting, moving up or down, inserting, as quickly as possible. You may not be able to solve every problem in this revision. But you may the next time around.
  8. Once you have gone through the entire list and made changes save the revision as a new file, hit print, and repeat until you are satisfied.

He also wrote about the 10% rule, trying to cut out 10% of your essay every time you rewrite. I didn’t like this rule, because that’s a pain whenever your essay has to be a minimum of 1,000 words or so. Sometimes I just want to be lazy and submit whatever I have rather than making that essay or article a bunch of really good 1,000 words.

I highly recommend this course to anybody who has to write a lot, especially journalists, who need to write succinctly.

How to Write a Feature Story

In our COMM 4333, writing for PR and advertising class, we researched and discussed effective tips to writing a feature story. Here are a few of the tips that we highlighted:

Feature Story Writing Tips via Barbara Nixon.


Twitter Chit-Chat

Twitter is used for a number of reasons today. From advertising to socializing with friends and famly, twitter has topped the social media charts .

One of the many avenues of Twitter include twitter chats. And I have to admit, I wasn’t aware of what a twitter chat was as of recent nor had I ever had the desire to participate in one. How would this benefit me?

PR chats on Twitter are a helpful way to connect and communicate with PR specialists from all around the world, to build relationships and personal network, to meet new interesting people and to learn the current tendencies in the field.

I decided to participate in the PR Chat #PRStudChat, which is a once a month conversation between public relations students, educators and professionals.

Moderator Deirdre Breakenridge (@dbreakenridge) and host Valerie Simon (@valeriesimon) bring present and future PR industry leaders together for a lively discussion once a month on twitter to discussion the Public Relations industry and the changing landscape.

Since I had never particpated in a twitter chat before, I did some brief research on what to expect from it. Here is a glimpse at a few tips in case you are about to embark on your first twitter chat as well via Valarie Simon:

Before the chat

  • Join the #PRStudChat LinkedIn Group The group has been set up to anchor participants. Get to know the other members that will be attending the chat. Feel free to “message” them through the group, to let them know you are looking forward to hearing from them. Take an active role in the group by posting disucssion topics or adding your comments to current discussions. And be sure to start following those members you find interesting, Remember, participants won’t be able to DM you if you are not following.
  • Follow the hashtag in advance of the chat, so that you can get to know who is coming (you can “follow” the hashtag by either searching for #PRStudchat or setting up a column inTweetDeck)
  • Tweet with the hashtag in advance. Let everyone know you will be attending. Tell them something about yourself and what you hope to gain from the conversation
  • Encourage other PR Students and professionals to join in. The quality of the dialog is dependent on the participants, and you can help by referring those you respect.
  • “Watch” other chats. If this is your first Twitter chat and you are curious to “watch” a chat before jumping in, you may want to check out #journchat, a weekly discussion between PR professionals and journalists (Monday evenings 8pm EST) or #PR20chat a weekly discussion about PR 2.0 and the future of the PR industry (Wednesday evenings 8pm EST)

During the chat

  • Log on to or and use the hashtag #PRStudchat. This will allow you to participate in the conversation real time, without the distractions of tweets from those not participating in the chat
  • It’ okay to talk. Please jump in and voice your questions, comments and advice. Discussion and debate are encouraged, but please be respectful so that we can maintain an environment where everyone is comfortable asking questions.
  • It’s okay to listen. RT comments you find particularly valuable, to help assure that they do not get lost in a fast paced conversation.
  • Stay on topic. If you want to discuss something off topic with a participant, drop the hashtag .

After the chat

  • Consider and continue the conversation. Blog about the chat and your experience. Take a moment to review the conversation (rough transcripts can be made at and a clean summary of the event will be available shortly after here.  Continue to use the hashtag.
  • Build relationships with new tweeps you hope to learn more from; Follow their blogs and tweets, Check out their profiles and websites. Continue to use the LinkedIn Group to learn about future chats and follow up to the conversation. Once you have built an individual relationship with other members, send a personal invitation to them to join your LinkedIn network.