Monday, February 8, 2010

Free Marketing

Community newspapers are constantly looking for stories of local interest to include in their next issue. Many small newspapers rely on volunteer 'reporters' and stories submitted by the public to provide the content of the paper, so why not take advantage of this free marketing tool? Did you know that community newspapers are one of the most highly accessed forms of local media in smaller communities? So, why not take a few minutes each month to submit a short article to your local paper? You could write about a successful program at your library, or a new service that was introduced, or a Did You Know feature, or profile a staff member or volunteer - a great way to recognize those that work so hard to help keep your library running.

Here a few tips for writing for the public from Katie Badeusz:

1. Be clear - Don’t get caught up using technical terms and convoluted sentence structures.
2. Use action verbs - Avoid using 'lazy' verbs - those created by adding 'ize' to a noun. Instead, try using visual verbs—verbs you can picture happening, such as plunge, hover, unveil and rebound. To determine if you are using a visual verb ask yourself "What does this verb look like?"
3. Apply active voice - Avoid writing in passive voice, which hides the doer. For example, say “He made a mistake,” not “Mistakes were made.”
4. Specify everything - Be as specific as possible - this will make you easier to understand
5. Avoid jargon - When you use jargon, you exclude certain members of your audience. If you must use jargon, limit the number of terms you use and don’t forget to define them.
6. Focus on people - Ylisela suggests “People make stories. ... People want to hear about people,”. Go find people and see what’s going on. Do interviews in person or over the telephone. And avoid e-mail interviews at all costs—you can’t get a sense of personality over e-mail.
7. Compose high-quality headlines - A good headline should be short (around four to five words) and accurate. The best way to write a good headline is to first think of headlines you see at the newsstand. Newsstand headlines are bold, grabby and to the point. Next, use the headline to sell the story’s benefits and don’t wait too long to write it. A headline becomes far too difficult to write if it’s put off until the end.
8. Don’t forget the lede - A good question to ask yourself when writing a lede is, “What is this story about?” Answer that question in a creative, inviting way, and you’re sure to win the reader’s attention.
9. Include quotes - Readers want to hear a "real" point of view and they want to understand what’s being said.
10. Write with your ear - good writing is conversation, edited. In order to make your writing better, read it out loud and hear what actually works and what doesn’t.
11. Allow yourself to write crap - Don’t try to write perfect sentences in your head. Let your thoughts go and then fix them.
12. Take chances - Start thinking outside of the box when considering topics to write about.

(Source: Baduesz, Katie, "12 tips to improve corporate writing",,

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