Hello, Future Bloggers!

Blogging is a great way to stay connected! However, there are a few simple things to keep in mind in order for your blogging experience to be an effective one:

10. Keep posts short and simple! No one wants to spend their time reading long, redundant posts. Make sure to break up what you write into smaller paragraphs so you don’t scare away your reader.

9. Comment Frequently! Comments help you stay engaged with your blogging community.

8. Add lots of visuals. Readers not only want to read what you’re saying but they want to see it too.

7. Make it personal! Choose designs that represent you and take advantage of the “about me” page. You have plenty of opportunities to let the reader know who you are…seize these opportunities.

6. Get creative! With your posts title, blog page…word your titles in a way that they will appeal to your readers.

5. Be passionate about the things you write about. It is so easy to tell when you’re not sincere about the topic you’re writing on, and readers find sincerity appealing.

4. Create Categories. They help keep your blog post organized and easily accessible.

3. Proofread! It leaves a good impression and shows your level of professionalism.

2. Stay engaged in the blogging word. Alongside keeping up with your own blog, follow others. It exapnds your mind and helps keep the blogging community alive.

1. Have fun! Enjoy blogging. Don’t simply see it as a task but rather an opportunity to expand your knowledge, stretch yourself as a writer and be creative in representing who you truly are.

How to Write an Introduction

Need to know how to write an introduction for a guest speaker? Or perhaps, you’re the guest speaker and you need to write an introduction for yourself. What are the best techniques to go about this?

For myself, I am an awful public speaker. Simple as that. However, like most people, at some point of my life I will most likely have to give an introduction.

The best ways for me to mentally prepare over a speech is to consider three things:

Who is my audience?

This is an important question to ask when you’re about to write out any type of speech. The demographics of your audience should be a main priority because they dictate the language you use and the content you expound on in your speech.  An introduction will of course contain some of the same common personal information: name, age, job title etc. However, you also need to consider which facts about yourself are necessary for the audience to know. What will grab their attention? These are questions that cannot be answered without having a firm grasp on who your audience is.

Preparation.

This is the only way for me to stay calm over a speech. Do not wing it! Winging a/an speech/introduction shows a lack of preparation. For me personally, preparation also helps to ease my nerves. It helps you to sound less scripted and more natural. Which brings me to my next point…

Be natural.

There is no faster way to turn someone off to your speaking than by sounding scripted, monotonous and boring. Prepare what you are planning to speak on but remember who you are in the process. Engage with the audience and they’ll be sure to keep their attention on you.

Here are also a few tips from Jennifer Maugn on writing an introduction:

Tips And Techniques

  • Mention the speaker’s name in the intro several times because he is the main focus.
  • Write the introduction so you grab the audience’s attention and prepare them for the speaker.
  • Be clear about why the speaker was chosen and how his knowledge applies to the event.
  • Use active voice when writing an introduction-it brings energy and confidence to the words.
  • Remember that the introduction is like an appetizer and should never upstage the main course. An introduction to a speaker is designed to hold the audience’s attention until the speaker begins.
  • Include some kind of visual handoff as part of the introduction. Many introducers welcome the speaker with a handshake or embrace, or they pass over a handheld microphone after their words.

So just remember to recognize your audience, prepare and be natural. Writing an introduction and presenting it will be done with ease for even the most frightened public speaker like me!

Info(Graphics)

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 / NYTimes.com

“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
ThomsonReuter
“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
GetEducated.com
“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
SoSara

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.

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 Tweetchat.com or Tweetgrid.com 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 athttp://wthashtag.com/Prstudchat 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.

Writing for the Ear

I recently completed the NewsU Course entitled “Writing for the Ear,” which taught me how to write more effective audio narratives.

The five-part module covered:

  • Introduction to audio stories – How audio stories are different from their print counterparts and examples of great audio stories
  • Picking and pitching stories – Generating story ideas that work well in audio form and pitching stories and sharpening their focus
  • Writing the story – Everything you need to write effectively at the story, scene and sentence levels
  • Revising the story – Strategies for applying the tools of revision to audio writing
  • Voicing & special topics – How to perform an audio story and other topics, such as “translating” a print story to audio form

I’ve mostly written for print, so I definitely learned a number of new things regarding journalistic writing from a broadcast perspective.

It was interesting to view the necessity of picking and pitching your story. Selecting and pitching your story will have a big impact on your writing. They can make your job a lot easier ― or harder ― when it comes time to report, write and voice your story. So I learned how it important it was to pick if you want to use audio or not in your story.

Evaluating how to pitch the story was some of which I learned already in regards to writing story. The writing process begins with story selection. It involves reporting, tape logging and drafting. After a draft’s in place, a story still needs to be revised and voiced.

Revision is probably where I learned the most from this course. How do you revise an audio story?

While the tight, succinct writing that is done for listeners is good writing no matter where it is used, there’s one critical difference between writing for audio and writing for print: Audio writing is more conversational. Even the best writers slip into clunky, multi-syllabic, adverb-dense prose, and it takes careful editing to get rid of that heavy language. You want to write like Ernest Hemingway, with jabs. Some of the best radio writing isn’t even full sentences. But the writing sounds good, which, of course, is what matters.

Overall, I really enjoyed this NewsU course because it gave perspective on a form of writing I am not too familiar with.

There’s More to Poynter

I’ve used Poynter for the past two years now. Most of my experience from this website has come from the NewsU courses, which have coached me through effective journalism and public relation’s techniques. However, there courses are just a small portion to everything Poynter has to offer to media students and professionals.

Here is a brief overview of what Poynter has to offer:

Latest News

Under the “Latest News” tab, Poynter offers media industry news and commentary through “MediaWire,” the latest news about media through “Top Stories,” accuracy, errors and the craft of verification through “Regret the Error,” news about mobile and its applications for media through “Mobile Media,” news about social media that matters to journalism through “Social Media,” and media business news through “Business News.”

How To’s

Under the “How To’s” tab, Poynter offers tips for reporting and telling stories with traditional and new tools through “Newsgathering and Storytelling,” tips on managing a website, from measuring traffic to understanding new platforms for news and information through “Digital Strategies,” tips on leading people and organizations through “Leadership & Management,” and tips on crowdsourcing, user-generated content, managing comments and other ways of connecting with communities through “Community Engagement.”

Chats

Under the “Chats” tab, Poynter offers chats with Joe Grimm and other experts about managing your career through “Career Chats,” and chats bi-weekly with Roy Peter Clark about writing through “Writing Chats.”

As you can see, Poynter offers so much in just media news alone. Try exploring the Poynter website and experience something new today!

Copy Cats

Give Credit Where Credit is Due.

This is a rule that we have famliarized ourselves with in and outside of the classroom. Yet, there is still complications that have arised from it.

Growing up, teachers stressed the importance of crediting our sources, explaining what plagirism looked like and teaching us the proper ways of citation.

However, I have never personally encountered  plagiarism or have had friends that got in severe trouble with plagiarism. I have only encountered what plagirism looks like in academia but not in a professional field.

So I must ask myself: how would I deal with plagiarism in the field of public relations? I mean, plagiarism has to reside in blogs more than ever before. Content is easily accesible and easily attainable to use and abuse.

If infringement took place in my work environment, the best way, I believe, to go about it would be to target the source. I would contact the infringer and explain the area where they have stolen from our company. I would request a cease and desist letter, requiring that the infringer take down any content that was not theirs, and request that they notify viewers that the work was not originally theirs…referencing the original source.

The best way to deal with situations like this is to simply have the right knowledge of infringement laws. They are constantly changing, and adequate background-knowledge will give you the skils to handle it in a professional manner.

Here is a great site that keeps you up-to-date on content theft, copyright infringement and plagiarism:  PlagirismToday

 

 

Get on board with AP Style

Within the sphere of social media, it is not uncommon to encounter a number of grammatical errors. Social media is a fast-paced occupation; it is always on the move. In the midst of these everyday advancements, businesses have adopted their own methods when it comes to dealing with gramatical issues.

The exciting part of social media is that it is flexible. Social media allows room for change and innovation. It is creative and vibrant. However, there must be a balance between two. AP style has provided this flexibility.

“The first Associated Press Stylebook came out in 1953. It was 60 pages, stapled together, distilled from a thousand suggestions and ideas, a stack of newspapers and big dictionary.”

Since then, AP books have changed it’s style but not it’s relevancy. AP has stayed a loyal companion for journalists and PR practitioners. It remains dedicated to “its original concept: to provide a uniform presentation of the printed word, to make a story written anywhere understandable everywhere.”

So why is AP style important to us as journalists and PR students and professionals? Well … for the main concept it was originally made for: uniformity within the written press.  AP style has contributed to making the field of journalism and PR a more refined art.

As fellow journalists and PR practitioners, we are all fairly familiar with this book. We have learned a number of spelling, puncutation and dateline rules. However, I still find myself stumbling over some of the simplest of rules. I am fairly certain I am not alone in this dilemma.

So here is a list of some of the most common mistakes made within AP style:

  1. Commas in a sequence: This is a highly common mistake. When writing a list, do not include a comma before the conjunction in a series. Meg went to the store and bought pepperoni, apples, eggs and toothpaste. However, put a comma in front of the conjunction if an integral part of the sequence contains a conjunction. Sammy had salad, roast beef, and macaroni and cheese for dinner.
  2. a.m. / p.m.: This one gets me more often than I would like to admit. I think to myself, “it’s just two little letters after the time–is it REALLY that critical?” And yes. There is a rule in place for time. So the next time you are pulling together a quick briefing sheet, remember that you are meeting with the press contact at 10 a.m. or 3:30 p.m. If an event takes place on the hour, such as 11 a.m., it is not necessary to include a colon followed by zero.
  3. Datelines: Datelines should contain a city name, written entirely in capital letters and the city is frequently followed by the state, county or territory where the city is located, e.g. PORTLAND, Ore. However, certain cities do not need to be followed by the state or country since they are nearly synonymous with the state or country in which they reside, such as Atlanta, London, New York, Paris, Chicago, Seattle, San Diego and Tokyo. For a complete list, refer to your AP Stylebook.
  4. State abbreviation: Things would be so much easier if all state abbreviations were treated the same. But alas, we are not so lucky. That is why AP-appropriate state abbreviations are different than zip code abbreviations. Here is a quick refresher: Ore. rather than OR, Wash. versus WA and Wyo., not WY. Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah are never abbreviated.
  5. Its/it’s: This is one of my favorite grammar rules, regardless of what stylebook I am using (Yes, I have favorites. I also enjoy reading the AP Stylebook in my free time. Nerd alert!) When using it’s as a contraction for it is, by all means use it’s. However, it does not possess things. Therefore if a company announces its new product, leave the apostrophe out, lest you be scorned by the AP gods. And your supervisor.

Don’t be afraid to admit your flaws. Don’t let weaknesses with grammar hinder your voice in your writing. That’s where AP Style can help aid you along the way.