Aug 31 2010

You can build your own website, really


I’m about to start building another website. It’s not that I don’t like this one or that I’m not happy with the work my sister and I have done on Travel Beauty Health, but I’m going to start to offer another service that will require its own voice. More about that later. Right now, I’d like to focus on my original thought, which is if I can build a website, anyone can.

For some, it might seem like an unsurmountable task, and getting started is daunting. But the only way to begin, as they say, is to begin. Do they say that? Maybe not. I might have made it up.

Anyway, the first thing I did when I was ready to start was to search for “popular WordPress templates.” Templates range from simple and free to complex and expensive, and everything in between. I recommend starting with simple and free, unless you know someone who is willing to help.

The level of difficulty and amount of time it takes to build a website depends on the complexity of the template you choose. So, keep that in mind too. Although you’re working with a template, there’s lots of flexibility.

Once you choose a template and download, there’s plenty of support to be found but you can save a lot of time if you have the ear and/or help of a friend or business associate. I could not have built either of my sites without my big sis’ Michelle.

Populating and updating the site is the easy part. And, it’s fun. So, don’t delay any longer. You can do this.

Aug 20 2010

AP Stylebook to news writers what butter is to cooks


According to the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook, website is website. Not Web site or web site or any other combination that you’ve seen in print.

E-mail, by the way, remains e-mail and Internet continues to require capitalization, says the book.

If you’re wondering what the AP Stylebook is, and you are a writer of any sort, I recommend that you consider buying it. If you write news releases, story pitches or any other kind of communication aimed at journalists, and you do not own a Stylebook, you need to get one right away. They are a requirement at Boise-based Joanne Taylor PR.

The AP Stylebook is to a news writer what butter is to a cook–an essential ingredient. It is the usage guide for most newspapers and pubic relations offices throughout the U.S. If you can’t afford the book, use Google or Wikipedia. Most of the guidelines can be found through search. Also helpful is AP’s online Ask the Editor FAQ.

Once you start using AP style guidelines, you’ll see improvement in your work. So will those who read it.

Aug 8 2010

Top 5 tips for pitching in the digital era


During the past year, I’ve seen several lists of tips and tactics for marketing and PR pros who are using social media. I tend to think of it a little more broadly, as our work online is not simply confined to social media, and some old rules apply. We just execute them differently. With that in mind, and as a follow up to my last blog post, which was quite a while ago because I’ve been on hiatus, I’ve come up with my own list: Top 5 tips for pitching in the digital era.

  • Brevity is key. Think twitter (140 characters). Attention spans are short, time constraints intense. Start with the hook rather than an introduction.
  • Use twitter or Facebook to pitch an editor or writer, if you notice that they allow direct messages. Again, start with the hook.
  • Make it easy for journalists and bloggers to access digital imagery, including screen grabs, photos and logos. Make sure captions are included with all images. If you can’t get the company you represent to put the images on its site, simply put them on Flickr or Photobucket.
  • Include a link to video or embed a photo in your pitch. Showing editors and/or bloggers what you’re talking about is more powerful than any amount of words.
  • Include links to related information, story resources, stats, and anything else that will help craft a good story.

Note: I submitted this to PRSA’s Tactics a few months ago, though not sure if it was ever printed. If you’ve seen it there, sorry for the repeat!