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offering tips, techniques, and thoughts from Maine's PR Maven, Nancy Marshall

 

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Terrible Typos

Hello, Erika here!

My friend Grace and I were talking about ideas for work the other night and she started laughing as she told me about some of the typos she had seen in emails and documents she had received. We joked about auto correct and the fact that there are sites solely dedicated to people’s “clumsy thumbsies“ as Ellen DeGeneres would say.

How many times have you accidentally texted someone something you didn’t mean to? I haven’t been involved in some of the incredibly embarrassing incidents above, but I have accidentally texted “I kiss you” instead of ‘I miss you.” I also told my sister once that “the dogs are dead” when I definitely meant, “the dogs are fed.” Typos happen, but how can you prevent them from making their way into your business?

I decided to share some common typos that frequently go unnoticed and include five fail-proof proofreading tricks—ways to make sure you don’t end up with a grammatical blunder on your hands.

If you work in public service then you are most likely already aware of the common missing “l” in many documents and emails, resulting in some “pubic” disasters. I have a friend that used to work for the New York Housing Authority and this was a commonly overlooked error in their office.

The simple misuse of your vs. you’re, or missing a comma can make a huge difference. If I say, “Let’s eat Julia,” it means something completely different than when I say, “Let’s eat, Julia.” People notice when grammatical errors are made. The other day at a meeting, I overheard a woman say, “Me and Kyle are planning…” and out of nowhere, the gentleman sitting next to me mumbles, “Kyle and I.”

My final example is not capitalizing when we should. When Time Magazine featured an article on Steve Jobs and Apple, they simply referred to him as “steve jobs.” A simple AP styling rule that I found myself rusty on was when to capitalize someone’s job title. When the title comes before the name, it is capitalized, but when it comes after their name, it is in lower case.

So how can you make sure you don’t make these simple grammatical errors? Here are my five tips.

  1. Read aloud
  2. Read backwards
  3. Take a break and re-read
  4. Use a second pair of eyes
  5. Always re-read before sending or posting

My friend Grace Zinnel and me in New York City

Grammar is complicated and AP guidelines are always changing because of the tools available to us. For example the term the Web now requires “web” to be capitalized because it encompasses and summarizes an entity, but a website is still lowercase because it is a smaller part of the Web.

I would recommend that you subscribe to the online AP Style Book or use the AP cheat sheet provided by Scribd. The cheat sheet isn’t as thorough as the complete style book, but it still provides the basics you need. If you really want to work on becoming an expert proofer you should subscribe to online mailing lists. Our proofing Queen, Dianne, swears by dailywritingtips.com and Grammar Girl, which both provide daily emails on various writing techniques, tools and tips.

When I first started at NMC, it had been a while since I had actually written in AP form. I had done it thousands of times in college, but working for different organizations with their own rules and ways of doing things had definitely formed some bad habits. I decided to get back to the basics and made it my mission to write better. I’m not perfect and Dianne can attest to my typos and grammatical errors, but using the right tools has helped me get better and now we joke that it’s only a matter of time before I get a document back without any red ink!

I hope that this week’s witty wisdom helps you, no matter what your skill level when it comes to writing and editing. After all, it never hurts to keep learning new skills and developing new good habits.

Hula Hooping, Singing and All Things Nikki Hunt

Nikki Hunt, lead singer and hula hooper of The Nikki Hunt Band

Anyone who lives in Hallowell or frequents the Hallowell scene has heard of this week’s Monday Maine Maven, Nikki Hunt. They know that not only does she sing, she also hula hoops. In fact, her name and hula hoop are almost synonymous—almost as if she invented the thing.

Ironically, the idea was originally brought up as a joke. Her band mate, Sonny True, suggested she bring it on as a floor show since he knew how much she enjoyed hooping for fun. Nikki says she was terrified the first time, so terrified that the hoop never even left the van, but now she says, “The hooping has picked up at shows and if I don’t bring it people ask where it is—it’s been such a hit.”

So how did her passion for performing begin? Nikki Hunt credits her Mom, who got her enrolled in dance lessons very young, and in fifth grade she started voice lessons. Hunt says, “I was frustrated with sports and found myself leaning toward the performing arts.” It was during this time she became heavily involved in the Hallowell and Waterville theater programs.

After high school, Hunt moved to New York City for college. She says that she loved it there, but she felt like she was spending too much time working on everything but her voice.  She eventually left the city and made her way back to Maine. Nikki says it was through this experience that she learned a very important thing about the entertainment industry: “You don’t have to live in New York City, Boston or Los Angeles to write original music and you don’t have to kill yourself, juggling multiple jobs and hundreds of bookings, to pay rent.”

Hunt says that in Maine, she has been able to start her career the way she wants to—in small steps and says, “I’d rather take my time and build a solid foundation than constantly be skating on thin ice.” A part of her plan has been to find ways to build and network with her fan base. “Social media is a phenomenon,” says Hunt. She credits the use of her original MySpace page as a way to branch out to her fans so they could hear her live recordings. This evolved to Facebook where she currently has more than 2,500 friends and fans.

We mentioned in our previous previous post, American Dream in Portland Maine that sending too many event invites via Facebook can be perceived as spamming fans. Nikki started her website for just this reason, “I try not to barrage Facebook friends with event invites,” she says. She adds, “I have a great advantage to communicate clearly with my fans using an email or simply by posting pictures, or a video from YouTube.” She adds that social networking sites can be addicting, so she tries to use them in moderation.

Hunt’s growing success has lead to more interest in who she is, which is why she decided to start an official blog which is set to launch in February. She believes it is important to reach out to fans and to relate to them on a more personal level than Facebook. Nikki hopes that the blog will do just that and help to inspire new material for her and her band mates.

To connect with Nikki, check her out on Facebook or on her website: www.nikkihunt.com

The Continuing Evolution of Social Media

Hi, Erika here!

My little sister Tessa and me last Christmas

I would consider myself to be pretty hip. I keep up with the latest celebrity news. I know who the cutest guy from One Direction is (according to my little sisters it’s a pretty close tie between Louis and Zayn) and I follow the latest social media trends, but sometimes I have these moments when my little sisters are zipping through online chats and sharing videos from one source to another as easy as cutting a hot knife through butter, that I begin to feel really old.

My little sister Desiree and me last Christmas

 

I think about trying to explain to my Mom why she should ditch the landline for mobile and I find her giving me reasons that are comparable to my reasons for why kids shouldn’t be on Facebook. She’s stuck in her ways, I’m stuck in mine, but the reality is that social media is everywhere—neither one of us should be fighting it and neither should you. Social media is evolving, but how much has it changed and how will it continue to evolve in the years to come?

Social media has steadily increased from a blip on the radar to an essential part of business strategies. The increasing mobility and access to social media sources makes it pretty safe to say that social media is no longer just a trend—it is an integral part of business and popular culture. So let’s take a look at how it all began and where it’s going.

AOL: While yes, there had been BBS and CompuServe, America Online (AOL) brought the “Internet” into everyone’s homes in 1993 and made “networking” possible. It was the original site that allowed people to personalize their profiles, update their statuses in the form of “away messages,” personalize their account with color and font choices, and it included member searching capabilities. I remember sleepovers with friends looking for Justin Timberlake (we never found him) or seeing who had the coolest away message. You could even customize your online mood by choosing a smiley, grumpy, goofy, flirty, etc. icon.

Classmates.com: In 1995, the first true social network was created by Randy Conrads. He was looking for ways to let people reconnect with that high school prom date or that best friend you lost touch with over the years. It was the first time this sort of network had been put into motion although due to issues with fees, it has lost a lot (if not all) momentum in the social media scene.

Friendster: Basing much of its basic set-up on classmates.com, Friendster was a social networking site that focused on making new friends and meeting new people, unlike Classmates which focused mainly on people you already knew. It recently has re-launched as a social gaming site.

LinkedIn: In 2003, two very different sites would launch, but LinkedIn decided that with all of the online social networking going on, they would focus primarily on business “connections” rather than personal networking. To this day, the site’s primary goal is helping business professionals to network and endorse one another.

MySpace: The second 2003 launch and without a doubt, a precursor to Facebook, MySpace was mainly focused on music and video sharing. It felt more hip and gave the users more options than any other site available. The personalization factor helped people feel more comfortable and it became a resource to connect with artists, friends and more.

Facebook: The game changer. Founded in 2004 and originally available only for Harvard students, it went public in 2006 and has since brought in nearly one billion users. Its success has set precedents that no other social network has been able to surpass. They are constantly changing their site (maybe too much if you ask users) to better fit the evolving trends in social media and the requests of users when it comes to privacy policies and page layout. The trust built with users helps people feel free to be themselves by sharing their status, current location and even personal photos.

YouTube: The next phase in the evolution came from three former PayPal employees. They decided to share videos online and with the use of HTML5 and Adobe Flash Video they enabled their members to share their own personal videos. This revolutionized sharing and in a world where people are constantly being overloaded with information, the instant gratification factor that YouTube brings to consumers is refreshing.

Twitter: In 2006, the world rapidly became familiar with “Tweeting.” Celebrities quickly endorsed the idea of sharing photos and mini status updates in the form of a Tweet. In 140 characters or less you were able to constantly update your followers and keep up with the people you followed. This social media outlet became a great resource for news outlets, and contests, and sharing more frequently.

Pinterest: While it is still young, since 2010 Pinterest has set records in growth. Last year alone they grew by 145%, not to mention that they generate more referral traffic to website than YouTube, Google +, and LinkedIn combined. Not bad for a company less than three years old with a mere 16 employees.

So where is technology going?

  • Mobile access is becoming a requirement, not an option as social media continues to evolve.
  • The iPhone and Android systems have completely changed accessibility, which means everything, good or bad, can go viral in an instant—you want to make sure that you are not only prepared to act quickly, but that you have a way to respond to consumers in the way they understand it best.
  • Social television is taking off thanks largely to Twitter. Fans can now watch television with their favorite actors/celebrities by Tweeting using a hash-tag to carry on conversations as the show is playing via their mobile device.
  • Facebook and Twitter are looking into ways to present advertisements through their mobile sites. This requires a larger social media budget for most companies and makes proving results very important. The C-suite wants to see what they’re getting out of the money they’re spending.
  • Social customer service—if you have an e-commerce site, link it to your social networks and take the time to answer questions posted. Transparency is more important than ever. You are no longer selling a product—you are building relationship and trust with your consumers.

It’s a lot of information, but social media is a complicated business. It has grown exponentially from its humble beginnings into a full-on revolution in the way people communicate and do business. Hopefully, this week’s Witty Wisdom will help you navigate your way through the different social networks out there and find a way to join the conversation.

Barks, Bellows and Grunts at World Invitational Moose Calling Championship

 

Many strange noises may be heard coming from the Rangeley region during the weekend of June 22-24, 2012. The Rangeley Region Guides’ and Sportsmen’s Association (RRGSA) has been selected to host the annual Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Moose Lottery drawing.

In celebration of this honor, the Rangeley Lakes Region invites sportsmen from across the state and their families to a three-day festival featuring the World Invitational Moose Calling Championship.

Check out the video below of Maine Guide Roger Lambert for an accurate (and entertaining!) moose calling demonstration. Thanks to our friends at Maine Today Media for this great clip!

Click here for more information about the moose-calling event.

Moose calling with Maine Guide Roger Lambert 
Video by MaineToday Media, Inc.

A Picture Equals a Thousand Words

Saddleback Base Lodge One of the important things I learned early in my PR career was the power of great photographs. My PR mentor, Chip Carey, taught me to always try to include a photograph with a press release for the media. Sometimes that slowed me down (and those of you who know me know that I don’t like to be slowed down at work!), because I had to look around for a good photo, and back in the day, I had to make duplicates (sometimes by myself  in our own darkroom!….talk about time consuming!)

I am now more convinced than ever that a great shot adds enormously to a press release. Sometimes, particularly in dealing with travel editors, having a great image means the difference between a cover story in the travel section or being buried in the back of the section. Or sometimes it means your story being placed above the fold rather than below the fold. And obviously when dealing with television news, they need great video. When pitching a story to a TV news editor it’s important to describe what the visual images will look like.  TV people thrive on images, not on words alone. Continue reading

Michael Stumpf having fun with his iPhone

Michael Stumpf taking a photo of the boats at Fisherman\'s Wharf

Seems that everyone I know who has an iPhone is fanatical about it. I don’t have one because I use U.S. Cellular and they don’t offer them (note to self: ask my friend Jim Holmes at U.S. Cellular if and when they will offer iPhones.)

This is a photo of my friend Michael Stumpf who owns Stumpf and Associates from Doylestown, Pennsylvania taking a photo last Friday night on Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey before we went in to have dinner at Domenico’s on the Wharf. The calamari appetizer there was unbelievable, as were the fresh California artichokes. Continue reading