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A Write Good!: The News report — “All the story, plus lies!”

(WriteGoodwire) As Wall Street investors decry Apple Inc’s new high-end iPhone 5s and cheap, plastic piece-of-shit iPhone 5c, the next generation iPhone 6 promises to include more features than anyone could possibly want.

“So, it’s not enough that the iPhone can scan your fingerprints? Fine! The iPhone 6 will be able to change your fingerprints,” hinted a clearly vexed Corky Panderman, Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Hype. “And the camera can take pictures through six inches of lead.”

“Now get those frickin’ mikes outta my face!” he added to reporters gathered at the company’s Cupertino campus.

Apple poised to unveil the gimmick-laden iPhone 6c Swiss Army Cell and the high-end, provocative Anatomically Correct iPhone 6s.

Apple poised to unveil the gimmick-laden iPhone 6c Swiss Army Cell and the high-end, provocative Anatomically Correct iPhone 6s.

The tepid response to the new iPhone 5 models has revived fears that the company’s innovative days are over. Further fueling concerns are complaints from emerging Asian markets that the phones’ features aren’t despotic enough.

To correct that, the iPhone 6 promises to be both fun and oppressive, said Apple officials.

With the iPhone 5 models to go on sale Friday, Sept. 19, industry experts agree that it’s too early to criticize Apple for a misstep. Nearly 47 percent of early focus groups said the brightly colored 5c phone was “Ooooo, pretty! Shiny!” Another 22 percent giggled and clapped their hands; and 14 percent drew pictures of it that they posted on mom’s ‘fridge.

Mindful of the competitive pressures in the mobile phone marketplace, Apple will add a third model to the iPhone 6 generation. The iPhone 6d-minus will boast the 6c’s laughable overabundance of accessories and the 6s’s sexually gratifying design, but at one-third the cost.

However, it will not make calls.

The iPhone 6 models are scheduled for rollout next month to coincide with the rollout of the iPhone 7. And possibly the iPhone 8.

Permission to re-use this material for non-commercial purposes is granted provided that Dave Jaffe, www.davejaffecomm.com is appropriately credited as the author and source. Please feel free to link to this page.

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Crafting a short, snappy, yet engaging elevator pitch so intimidates even the most confident business leaders that many prefer to take the stairs.

Although an excellent fitness choice, the lack of a succinct elevator pitch puts today’s entrepreneur at risk of missing important business opportunities as well as exacerbating ankle tendon problems. Yet developing a memorable, attention-getting elevator pitch is simplicity itself if you follow a few basic speaking rules, demonstrate a command of your topic, and ice your leg muscles after strenuous exertion.

To properly formulate your elevator pitch, it’s advisable to understand the history of the elevator and possess a detailed comprehension of the machinery involved.

Folklore would have us believe that the elevator was invented by American industrialist Elisha Graves Otis. But that would just be folklore jacking us around again like it did with that whole moon landing thing.

Early, slow-moving elevators meant long, formal elevator speeches

Early, slow-moving elevators meant long, formal elevator speeches

In fact, elevators were in operation long before Otis, in 1854, introduced a safety device that prevented them from falling when the cable snapped. His attempts to market the device lead to the earliest recorded elevator pitch:

OTIS: “Shit! Sure hope that cable doesn’t snap.”

CLIENT: “Oh, Sweet Jesus! We’re all gonna die!”

OTIS: “Maybe not. Sign here.”

Thus, an elevator “pitch” or “speech” refers to a concise synopsis of your business that can be effectively communicated to someone in an elevator moving from, say, the second to third floor. Going down, use the same pitch, only backwards.

Brevity is the key to a successful pitch. We’d explain in detail, but that would miss the point. Instead, let’s examine the elements that contribute to a winning presentation.

Vitally important to your elevator speech is that it quickly engage listeners. This can prove difficult as the heady rush of acceleration in fast-rising elevators drains blood from passengers’ brain leaving them temporarily disoriented, confused and possibly retching blood. In such cases, apply a tourniquet to their throat, then press the buttons for every floor to buy you time.

After ensuring that your listener is out of immediate medical danger – pallor clear, pupils no longer dilated – begin your pitch with a question. This serves as an intriguing icebreaker, provided that it flows naturally, comfortably into a description of your business.

LISTENER: “M..Mom?”

PITCHER: “No, you’re still on the elevator. Deep breaths, now. Say, ever wonder how that Hannibal Lecter fella’ skins his victims?”

LISTENER: “Wha..What?”

PITCHER: “The movies get it all wrong. I should know. My flourishing company manufactures state-of-the-art potato peelers at economical prices!”

LISTENER: “Oh, Sweet Jesus! We’re all gonna die!”

A powerful first impression, no? Yet just as effective, should these two meet again at business events or court-ordered psychiatric evaluations. Honing an elevator speech to this level of sophistication requires that you practice it on anyone who will listen – like family, friends and business colleagues – and many who won’t – again, like family, friends and business colleagues.

Rehearse in front of a mirror. Refine your gestures, attend your posture, and most important, articulate your words. The goal here is that your lip movements should exactly match those of your reflection. If they don’t, press the “reset” button on the cable box.

Frankly, there’s no shortcut to developing a masterful elevator speech. But with a lot of dedicated work and a little luck you could be ready by the time your business folds and your company goes into receivership.

Permission to re-use this material for non-commercial purposes is granted provided that Dave Jaffe, www.davejaffecomm.com is appropriately credited as the author and source. Please feel free to link to this page.

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Whether you’re a new graduate responding to that first job application or a laid-off professional living in a cardboard box under a railroad trestle, writing a proper cover letter could be your gateway to a rewarding career or at least a sturdier packing crate.

However, even the most seasoned job hunters find themselves intimidated at the prospect of creating a cover letter. “Am I boasting too much?” they worry. “Should I mention my references?” “How do you spell ‘embezzlement’?”

Such concerns are minor, except for the felony. Writing a compelling and powerful cover letter is a relatively simple task, especially if it’s about someone other than you. However, you’re all we have to work with, so let’s take a look. Stand up straighter! Don’t slouch!

Hmmmm…just how good are your references?

A well-written cover letter can mean the difference between placement in a job that fits your skills or one that surrounds you with choking fumes, hazardous molten steel and muscular, hate-filled men who bitterly resent you.

A well-written cover letter can mean the difference between placement in a job that fits your skills or one that surrounds you with choking fumes, hazardous molten steel and muscular, hate-filled men who bitterly resent you.

Too often cover letters tend to be formulaic, which is fine if you’re applying for a job writing formulae – a skill so specialized that you probably already have a job. But for those following a more traditional career track, using a standard, “one-size-fits-all” letter can produce such uninspired results as this:

TO: General Manager, One-Size-Fits-All Apparel Company

As a (go-getter; name-taker; butt-kicker: Select one) I believe I would be a (benefit; asset; formulae: Select one) to the One-Size-Fits-All Apparel Company. I offer a wide range of skills and an ability to (think outside the box; color inside the lines; fit into one size: Select one) that would help make your successful company even more (good; nice; real nice: Select one). I hope that you will consider my enclosed (résumé; bribe; blackmail photos: Select one) as you look over job candidates.

I look forward to hearing from you.
Respectfully,
(Your name; someone else’s name; more blackmail photos: Select one)

Technically speaking, there’s nothing really wrong with this letter, unless your intention is to be hired. If so, consider ways to create a letter that go beyond the mundane, past the merely interesting, into the realm of the creative, through the portal to the Dark World, out along the rim of the Oblivion Void….

Okay, that’s too far. Back this way, a little. A little more. Aaaaand…THERE! Put it in park, hand over the keys, and follow these rules:

  • A successful cover letter weaves an intriguing story about you, reflects an insightful grasp of the prospective employer, delineates your skill set, portrays your individuality, and expresses your business commitment, all in less than a half dozen words or, better yet, just a feral grunt.
  • Take the time to research a perspective company before you set pen to paper. Knowing how they operate will help guide the tone of your letter. Also don’t write with pen and paper. What are you, Charles Dickens?
  • If possible, target your letter to a person rather than an anonymous “Dear Sir/Madame”. This can prove a challenge as many companies, particularly large firms, rarely include the names of hiring managers unless they’re combat trained.
  • Mention mutual contacts. Do you and a company executive share a common acquaintance? Probably not, since they rarely associate with your kind. Still, it’s worth a little exploration through a practice the business community calls “networking” and the criminal courts call “stalking.”
  • Turn a personal trait or quirk into a unique benefit to a company. For example, which of these phrases stands you out from the crowd?

“I’m an enthusiastic team player!”

or

“I’m an enthusiastic team player who’s also highly radioactive. Consequently, I respect peoples’ boundaries.”

Finally, carefully manage your expectations of what a cover letter can accomplish. It is, after all, but the “appetizer” to your résumé, which is the “salad course” introducing the “entrée” that is your job interview. Hopefully, that won’t cause you a panic attack, or “spilled soup”, that requires a visit to the rest room, or “rest room”, to “rinse a stain” – puke – “use hand sanitizer” – pop a Xanax – then “return to the table” – call your therapist.

Bon Appetit!

Permission to re-use this material for non-commercial purposes is granted provided that Dave Jaffe, www.davejaffecomm.com is appropriately credited as the author and source. Please feel free to link to this page.

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A Write Good!: The News report
Write Good!: The News — “All the story, plus lies!

(CHICAGO) In the wake of the Chicago Sun-Times lay off of its entire photography staff as it seeks to reach a more “digitally savvy” audience, the newspaper continued that bold campaign Monday by sacking all of its reporters and eliminating the use of vowels in news stories.

“Just as photography has given way to video content in meeting the demands of our digitally savvy audiences, the rapid pace of news has outstripped the Sun-Times’ need for slow-moving reporters, with all their phone calls and ‘reliable sources’ and fact checking,” according to a statement from the newspaper.

“Plus all their loud typing and the coffee stains everywhere – it drives us crazy!”

To combine news gathering efficiency with enhanced multimedia content, reporters will be replaced with the Sun-Times newspaper delivery staff equipped with iPhones.

“Those kids on their bikes go everywhere. They probably see lots of news. Real stuff, too. Not just politics and all that overseas crap,” said Dolph Flagin, former assistant delivery dispatcher and now Sun-Times managing editor. “They can cover a story, write it, make a video, then fling it at your door all at the same time. They’ll even write those editorials, I’ll bet. They’re always giving me their opinions.

“Bunch’a loudmouths,” Flagin added.

New Sun-Times reporter covering pro-evil conference takes notes, writes story, shoots video, folds newspaper, then flings on doorstep. (Photo courtesy of same reporter.)

New Sun-Times reporter covering pro-evil conference takes notes, writes story, shoots video, folds newspaper, then flings on doorstep. (Photo courtesy of same reporter.)

The move to excise vowels from news stories has long been predicted by media industry analysts, although no other daily has been willing to take such a dramatic step until the Chicago Sun-Times, a multiple award-winning newspaper best known for its ease of page turning.

“How many letters are really needed to convey a thought? Has Wheel of Fortune taught us nothing?” said Derrick Fn of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.

While traditional new gathering concerns itself with questions of Who? What? When? Where? and Why?, the Sun-Times fledging reporting staff will bolster efficiency by only focusing on “Who?” and “When?”

Write Good!: The News is a money-losing subsidiary of Write Good!: The Blog.

Permission to re-use this material for non-commercial purposes is granted provided that Dave Jaffe, www.davejaffecomm.com is appropriately credited as the author and source. Please feel free to link to this page.

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No writing format is more effective in attracting social media attention than a list of valuable, illustrative, clearly delineated points, provided that at least one of them is a secret weight loss tip to lose belly fat.

Historically, “lists” have served as efficient marketing tools since long before the advent of the Internet – a time when pencils and paper still strode the Earth like giants. There even exists archaeological evidence that prehistoric man made lists, though usually with just one item due to the lack of stuff.

The Origin of a List, featuring cognitive detours.

The Origin of a List, featuring cognitive detours.

Advertising professionals know that information disseminated in the form of a list has a powerful effect on people, especially those who are left-brained, or “analytical”, as compared to those who are right-brained, or “egg-laying.” In the realm of social media, the “list” has become so important that it gets its own quotation marks and is often photographed surrounded by a security detail when out clubbing.

Unfortunately, because of the prevalence of so many lists on so many blogs even the Internet has begun rolling its eyes and making snide comments that it thinks we don’t hear. Well, Write Good hears, Internet, and maybe you and Mr. Google and Ms. Yahoo would like to share with the entire class what’s sooooo funny!

No? Write Good didn’t think so.

Listed below we’ve listed a list of tips on creating a list. Wow! That sentence nearly broke Write Good’s brain!

1. I’ve read that lists enhance your blog’s SEO. What does that mean and why do I feel threatened?
There’s no reason to feel threatened, as near as we can tell at this time and under the current administration, for the next 10 to 14 weeks. SEO – an acronym for Centers for Disease Control – is the process by which your web content is made highly visible to search engines – huge, steam-powered machines, invented in 1785 by Ely “Googly” Google, that once crisscrossed the nation and made cotton king.

2. I’ve heard that list blogs only appeal to the short-attention-span readers of the Internet. What was I saying?
Not true! Lists also interest the lazy. Well, not so much “interest” them as interfere with their porn.

3. Should I number my list items or set them off with those sideways things from math class?
As a rule, numbers are indicative of facts while “carets”, as they’re known, improve your eyesight.

4. What if my list repeats itself or, to put it another way, is repetitive saying the same thing over and over again? And again.
That’s a very good question deserving a—

Internet! Google! I heard that! I’ve had it with you two! Get your books and go straight to Principal Harrington’s office. No! No back talk. March! And you’re next, Ms. Yahoo. Spit out that gum right now, missy!

5. I don’t know 10 things about anything. Can I just use three?
Well…then it’s not really much of a list, is it?

6. Can be.
Have you ever read a blog? How did you even get here?

7. I was scrolling on HornyFormerSovietChicks.com and this thing popped up next to an ad about how to lose belly fat.
Thanks for reading this “thing.”

8. How long should my list be?
No longer than this.

Permission to re-use this material for non-commercial purposes is granted provided that Dave Jaffe, www.davejaffecomm.com is appropriately credited as the author and source. Please feel free to link to this page.

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How to Create a Press Release, Part II

The essence of quality press release writing is a sophisticated command of words because words are, like, you know…nice.

Yet even lacking a facility with language, anyone can craft an effective, well designed and informative press release by following a few instructions no more complex than those required to program a flight simulator.

First…or maybe second depending on where you started…determine if the subject of your press release is really news. As noted in a previous Write Good!: The Blog blog, reporters are busy people who require clear, concise, digestible content, preferably chewed into a thick paste, then regurgitated directly into their open beaks.

Before writing the first word of a release, even before you begin chewing it into paste, you need to assess whether the topic is newsworthy. Begin this by thinking like a reporter. Ask yourself if the content answers the classic 5Ws of journalism: Who? What? Huh? Me? and Could You Repeat That? If you can answer even two of these – and not even correctly – write your release, then apply for a job at the Chicago Tribune.

Prepared now to begin writing – hands neatly folded on your desktop, a sharpened No. 2 pencil in your pocket protector – the novice communicator will ask, at this point, “Soooooo…what do I do now?” Hmmmm…a fair question. Give Write Good! a moment to think while you go sharpen that pencil again.

OK, got it! Just create a lead paragraph that conveys in a single thought your most vital news. Make sure that it engages the readers, doesn’t talk down to them but uses snappy phrases. So, go ahead and do that. Yes, right now! Write Good! will wait.

Sorry! Write Good! is just messin’ with ya’. You should have seen your face!

When constructing a press release, public relations professionals draw on several simple writing tricks or, as they refer to them, “a five-year, multi-million dollar hierarchical communications strategy, Phase I.” Here are several:

Use active verbs. And hurry!

Active verbs are the Bruce Willis of a press release. They grab the reader, move the action along, and leave a trail of mangled, bleeding corpses in their wake. Passive verbs, while important, serve a press release more like Ben Kingsley in Ghandi – informative but, oh my God, so very long and boring!

Avoid puffery (No! That has nothing to do with your fashion sense.)

Puffery refers to undue, false or exaggerated praise that “puff up” an image. Common idioms considered puffery include “Awesome!”, “Bitchin’”, “Bruce Willis” and “press release”.

Always include a quote, he said.

A quote humanizes a release, even if it’s a quote from your CEO, who is anything but. An effective quote is strong, opinionated, perhaps even provocative, but it must always stay on message. Compare these two quotes for a news release about a storewide sale:

QUOTE 1: “We’re reducing prices because that’s what our customers want,” said CEO Kevin Kevinson.

QUOTE 2: “My wife’s leaving me. Get that mike out of my face!” said CEO Kevin Kevinson.

Now, which quote is awesome and which is merely bitchin’? You make the call.

 

In future Write Good!: The Blog blogs: “How to Write an Attention-grabbing Headline before the Oncoming Comet Smashes into the Earth!”

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Most frequently asked of Write Good! The Blog by small business owners is “Can you teach me how to write a press release?” and “Is my company going into receivership?”

The answer to both is “probably.”

Let us tackle the former and distance ourselves as far as possible from the latter.

Surprisingly, many business professionals, even some with their own office with a door, are unsure how a “press release” differs from a “news release.” In fact, the two are virtually identical, but “press release” harkens back to a time when business announcements were “pressed” into wet adobe bricks, dried in the sun, then hurled through the plate glass window of the local newspaper. On the other hand, news releases are printed on shiny paper.

The purpose of a press release is quite simple: to clearly impart Just read the quote. It's rather catchy.newsworthy information about your company’s products, services and activities to reporters or, as they’re known in developing countries, journalists.

Writing a press release that captures the attention of a reporter is not as easy as it was in the old days when they drank heavily. Shrinking newsroom budgets and staff layoffs have forced remaining reporters to do the work of three – fortunately not three reporters. More like one-and-a-half reporters, three-quarters of an editor, half a custodial worker, and half a delivery boy riding two-thirds of a bicycle. Not sure if that adds up. Better do the math yourselves.

Interestingly, this changed media landscape also offers unprecedented opportunities for the voice of small business to be heard, especially when combined with the Internet’s voracious appetite for information. (Note New York Times Online latest tagline: “All the News that Dogs can Skate!”)

The key to unlocking the marketing potential of the Internet is a well-written news release,Stop wasting time! Read the blog. and the keys to a successful release are brevity, quality and news value. That’s a lot of keys and I’m not sure what those other tarnished ones do, but bring them along just in case we get locked in.

It would take too long to explain “brevity,”* and “news value” is an important enough topic for a later Write Good! The Blog blog. (Proposed title: “What is News? Anyway?”) So you’re stuck with “quality,” which we will explore in our next Write Good!: The Blog blog, titled “Quality is Job Three out of Seven!”

*See “Brevity: A Write Good! The Blog White Paper – Volumes XXII – LXVII

Permission to re-use this material for non-commercial purposes is granted provided that Dave Jaffe, Dave Jaffe Communications, Inc., is appropriately credited as the author and source. Please feel free to link to this page.

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