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Budleigh gets the news. And it ain’t good…

Paper training

Like to laugh at dogs? Ever wonder if they’re laughing at you, too?

Read our litter-mate blog, Sleeping Between Giants, to learn what goes on in the minds of dogs.

If anything.

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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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A Write Good!: The News report

(Merida, Mexico) What began as a prank 5,125 years ago has landed four ancient Mayan gods in a Yucatan court facing misdemeanor charges of terrorizing the Earth’s population and several parking violations.

The four gods, Itzamna, Cinteotl, and two unnamed minors, admitted concocting a Mayan calendar that “predicted” Dec. 21, 2012 as the end of the world in a fiery apocalypse that would reduce a fearful, screaming humankind to charred ashes spinning endlessly through the black void of the celestial firmament.

“We were just trying to lighten the mood,” Itzamna admitted to an arraignment judge before a packed courtroom. “Everybody’s always acting so…you know, serious. It was just a joke. We honestly didn’t mean to fool, like, every living person on the entire planet.

“That was wrong.”

“My clients are quite red-faced,” said their attorney Mark T’xtal. “Of course, several of them are, in fact, red. Also blue, grey-green. One of them’s violet. Most are feathered. Colorful? Yes, but also very, very apologetic.”

Mayan god and alleged doomsday prankster shown here with…weird shit.

Mayan god and alleged doomsday prankster shown here with…weird shit.

Although no one was harmed by the prank calendar and bogus prediction of doom, prosecutors intend to take a hard line with the perpetrators, despite their youth.

“If they’re ‘ancient’ gods they’re expected to make mature choices,” declared Asst. State’s Attorney Patrick Mc’Quetzal for the First District of Chichen Itza. “What if this had been the real end of the world? Someone could have gotten hurt.”

Misdemeanor charges usually result in an extended period of supervision. In cases involving gods, that could run into the millions of years, plus a fine for the parking violations.

Write Good!: The News is a money-losing subsidiary of Write Good!: The Blog.
This story is courtesy of Write Good!: The News – “All the story, plus lies!

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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