Archive for the ‘Copy Writing’ Category

Creature from the Blog Lagoon

November 6, 2007

It’s six days into NaBloPoMo, and already we’re five posts short. It happens.

Honestly, when I realized that we had missed the first few days of posting, I kicked myself, then slapped my forehead, then gnashed my teeth, then pulled my hair and begged forgiveness from the blogging gods.

I’m lying. I didn’t do anything but shrug my shoulders and think, “Eh, I’ll post something today.”

While I really like the idea of NaBloPoMo – and its more literary counterpart, NaNoWriMo – I don’t like the idea that a blog should be a big, scary burden hanging over your head and making your life harder.

Social media – and I count blogs in that group – are supposed to make your life easier and more enjoyable. They’re the digital versions of the campfire, the dinner table, the corner bar and the Main Street beauty salon all rolled into one.

Social media offer a meeting place, a place to connect with people who are important to you, and a place to find out what’s really going on in the world.

Not every organization should be using every social media tool. I mean, maybe my plumber is on Twitter, but it’s probably not generating a bunch of conversions for him. On the other hand, if he had a blog and he posted genuinely useful information such as how to solve easy problems that don’t really require his expertise (and are not a big moneymaker for him) or cool new products or what to do when your 2-year-old flushes a doll’s head down the toilet, I would go to it.

Would I subscribe? Maybe not, unless I were building a house and wanted really good product information. But I sure would go to it if I saw a headless doll floating on the guest bathroom floor.

And the fact that just having a blog increases the chances of your organization coming up in an organic search means everyone should have something.

But over and over we hear clients say they’re afraid to launch a blog – afraid of adding something extra to the workload. Afraid someone is going to make them sign up for NaBloPoMo.

Social media may be new. They may require a small learning curve in order to start using them. But they’re not scary. It’s just another way to offer your clients or customers something of value – and to remind them that you exist.

If you want to know more about starting a blog, using social media or how to remove a doll head from a toilet, contact me at etb@grafiqa.com or 607.433.8837 x206.

7 Tips for Writing a Press Release

October 11, 2007

You should be writing a press release right now.

Over the weekend, one of our clients hosted an open house at their sales facility, and wanted help getting the word out. This wasn’t a high-budget event, so there weren’t going to be billboards or television spots to promote it. What the client needed was a cost-effective method of spreading the word to as many existing and potential customers as possible.

The solution was clear: Press Release.

A well-crafted press release can put your name in the media, introduce you to key players in your industry’s trade publications and – best of all – act as free advertising.

Our content developer, Elizabeth Buchinger, researched media outlets within 100 miles of our client’s sales facility, and compiled a contact list of nearly 50 media professionals to target. She then worked with the client to hone the message they wanted to convey both about the event and the company.

She collected images, wrote the press release and distributed the material to newspapers, television, magazine and radio outlets.

The event was well attended, and the organizer definitely got the sense that people had heard about the event in a variety of media.

But the best return was that, the day before the event, an area TV reporter and camera crew came to the business and spent two hours interviewing the owners.

You literally cannot buy that kind of coverage because it’s just not for sale.

Here are seven tips to ensure that your next press release brings results:

Target your audience. A scattershot press release is a waste of your time and a nuisance to the person who receives it. Take the time to create a media list of outlets where your audience spends time. A company that is opening a lakeside resort might target newspapers, travel magazines, and television programs. A teen center, on the other hand, would do best to form relationships with popular radio stations, alternative weekly papers and social networking web sites.

Make it newsworthy. Think of your press release as a pitch for a magazine cover story. Find an angle that makes your organization so newsworthy that the editor who receives your release will be inspired to give you great coverage and will thank you for sending it.

Write it well and keep it brief. Good writing will spark interest, but that doesn’t mean sending a novel. Editors and the like receive hundreds of press releases a week. If you can’t convey your story and give a call to action within five short paragraphs, you’ll lose their interest, and you won’t get coverage.

Include a photo or other image. Good quality images grab attention and enrich your story. Make sure your images are of print quality, and include caption information.

Follow up by phone or email. PR isn’t about one-shot media coverage; it’s about building long-term relationships that will bring repeated exposure for your organization and build your public profile. Get to know the people at the outlets where coverage is most natural, and learn how you can make their jobs easier. Maybe they’re looking for expert sources in your field. Maybe they want a guest columnist. It can be time consuming, but in the end it pays off.

If you have any questions about designing a PR plan or you would like to talk about PR solutions, you can contact our content developer, Elizabeth, at etb@grafiqa.com or 607.433.8837 x206.

‘Marketing’ is just another word for “Storytelling’

September 20, 2007

After seeing the new Wal-Mart ad campaign, created by The Martin Agency based in Richmond, Va., I’m impressed.

Turning around the image of a corporation that everyone loves to hate (even if they simultaneously patronize it) was an unenviable task. How do you go about replacing the public image that your business is a behemoth with bad employee and community relations?

The Martin Agency – which is also responsible for the Geico “Caveman” ads – struck at the heart of what all good marketing should be: They told a story.

One ad features a family on a typical vacation. Clearly meant to tug at the fond childhood memories of parents (or childhood fantasies of what life should be like), the commercial follows a family of six as they load into the minivan for a road trip to Florida. But not without a quick stop at Wal-Mart. We see them stop at tourist traps. We see the kids getting on each other’s nerves. We see them making memories to last a lifetime.

Then we see these words:

“Wal-Mart saves the average family $2,500 a year. What will you do with your savings?”

The tag line is “Save Money. Live Better.”

Wow. That’s a story. It’s a story I want to be my story, even if I don’t particularly want to shop at Wal-Mart.
When it comes right down to it, all marketing is storytelling. Your business story may be that you came from humble beginnings and grew a fast-food empire to compete with McDonald’s. Your story may be that you love ice cream almost as much as you love peace, the environment and your employees.

Your story may be that little savings add up to once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Everything your business or organization puts into the world adds a line to the story – from something as simple as your business cards to something as complex as your employees’ satisfaction.

Good marketing helps you take charge and craft the story you want to tell.

Tips for creating a better Email newsletter

September 18, 2007

A few weeks ago I was talking to one of our clients about his new Email newsletter. He’s in the process of transitioning from a print newsletter and was planning to apply the same approach to the electronic version.

Big mistake.

If you try to remake your print newsletter in electronic form, not only will you ensure that no one will read it, you’ll also be losing out on many of the benefits email newsletters have to offer.

Here are some tips for creating an email newsletter that your users will actually subscribe to and read.

  • Make it easy to scan and read. Subscribers are busy people. They’ve got a lot of Email to wade through on a daily basis. You’ll increase chances that recipients will read your newsletter if you make it easy for them to scan by bolding key statements or offering bullet points, and if you keep it short.
  • Make it worth reading. We’re used to thinking about newsletters as vehicles to share information about our companies – basically, another PR tool. This thinking ignores the basic fact that subscribers are self-interested. Subscribers who offer up their Email address and who take the time to read your content, expect that the content they receive is going to benefit them in some way. Fail to meet that expectation and you’ll notice subscribers removing themselves from your mailing list faster than rats jumping off the Titanic (not that subscribers are rats, mind you).
  • Try using a single article format. Most of the newsletters I subscribe to don’t do this. They opt instead for the multiple-article-summary-paragraph-click-to-read-more approach. While this approach seems to work for a lot of people (because they keep using it), as a subscriber, I find that I rarely click through to read the entire article which means that I’m probably missing out on some good information. Plus, having multiple article summaries to review makes it very difficult to know what’s important and what’s not. A better way to capture subscribers’ attention and deliver your message in its entirety is to concentrate what you want to say in a single article format. Not only is this more effective, it also allows you to title your articles something other than “September 2007.”
  • Send it out on a regular basis. Let’s remember that one of the advantages of having an Email newsletter is that it gives you the opportunity to reach your clients and prospects on a regular basis, and drive qualified traffic back to your site. In addition, unlike its print cousin, sending out an Email newsletter is relatively inexpensive and the costs are pretty much fixed. Thus, the more newsletters you send out (within reason, of course) the more you stand to gain, and the less you will pay to produce each newsletter.
  • Archive old newsletters on your site. Email newsletters can help your company long after they’ve been published. By adding newsletter content to your site, you’ll be creating new pages containing valuable keywords (not to mention internal links to those pages from other pages on your site). This will help you optimize your site for search engines. Also, users who aren’t subscribers will appreciate having access to this free resource material. They may even decide to subscribe to your mailing list after reading it. This is where it helps to have a descriptive title. To receive the search engine optimization benefit and to compel your users to click though and read the article, you’ll want to make sure that your title is descriptive, compelling and keyword-rich. So opt for a title like “Use Your Brand To Make Money” over “Vol. 2, Issue 1.”

Developing and writing effective Email newsletters isn’t easy, but the benefits that your company stands to receive from this low-cost marketing tool is worth the time and effort required to do the job correctly.

Blugguge 1.0

July 28, 2007

GrafiQa is a marketing agency and graphic creative services firm in Oneonta, NY. We specialize in brand, print and web development. Employees of GrafiQa will be using this blog to talk about projects, insights, links, articles and anything we feel like posting about. Visit our website at http://www.grafiqa.com to find out more.