Friday, February 19, 2010

Structural check on my glass house

I'm planning to upgrade my website, so I've been reading some other writers' sites pretty closely - close enough to catch some embarrassing typos.

I hope they are typos. I've seen sloppy punctuation (missing periods, double periods) "it's" where "its" was needed, and other errors a 5th grade teacher would circle with her red pen. Yes, you understood correctly - all these amateur errors appear on the sites of professional freelance writers.

I was dumbfounded, dismayed, and working on righteous indignation (doesn't ANYONE proofread their own work these days?!) when I realized... errors on their sites probably meant I should stop picking up rocks and check for cracks in my own glass house.

If you see anything off, let me know, OK? (Please knock gently before throwing stones.)

I'd also like to remind those writers (and everyone else) that I'm available to proofread your website. I just might ask that you return the favor - editing your own stuff is especially difficult!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

3-minute inspiration

Writers, NPR is doing you a tremendous favor. All you have to do is come up with a 600-word (or shorter) story, inspired by the picture provided here. Too lazy to enter? You can tickle your muse by reading recent winners and the judges' comments on why those particular stories rose to the top.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Succinct is the word...

...for the Four-word Film Review site.

(Sure, you could call it a waste of time - but an excuse-prone copywriter will more likely extoll the virtues of studying the site for its inherent lesson in brevity.)

My review? Please pass the popcorn.

Monday, February 8, 2010

If you see this, will you recognize it?

I write medical articles for "average" readers. Also known as "consumer" articles - a term that covers a wide and bumpy landscape. The medical articles I write are fact-checked by an editor, first, and then reviewed by an MD.

In other words, I don't write the hype you're likely to see on a glossy magazine (THE SNACK FOOD THAT CAN KILL YOU! see page 64) or blurbs you're likely to hear from a newscaster at 6:59pm ("Are donuts good for you? tune in at eleven!" [big smile, cue music]).

So I'll be interested in following a story on the possible/probable link between sweetened carbonated beverages and pancreatic cancer.

I'm jaded. I'm pretty sure the nitty gritty facts (a controlled study of more than 60,000 adults over 14 years found those who consumed two or more cans of pop each week were more than 87% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than those who drank less pop) will be obscured in "news reports" or - more probably, and more maddening - simply ignored.

If I think about this too long, I'll start replaying Men In Black in my head; I'm thinking about the scene where K (Tommy Lee Jones) goes to the hot sheets to get some good leads on the bug that's invaded Manhattan.  The hot sheets are the National Enquirer and the like.

The irony is that while most of the "mainstream" media ignores studies like the one described above, a lot of dubious/alternative sites report on such studies to further their own agendas. (Acai berries, anyone?)

Readers beware. And journalists - is there a story in the Singapore pop study? Or is there a story in why it isn't a story? I think so.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Twitter as a 5/8" socket wrench

Strategic Services Director Bryce Marshall of Akron-based Knotice delivers a clear description of just what Twitter isn't in the January iMedia Connection article, Where Twitter drops the marketing ball.

If you have been living comfortably with the notion that Twitter is your marketing slave, expect a little discomfort.  Its an article worth reading in its entirety, but in the spirit of things, here's a summary in 140 characters, or less:

      Twitter is a useful marketing tool, but you can't build a whole campaign with it. Be sure you have some
        other implements in your toolbox.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

More worries about the news hole

This, from NPR war correspondent Anne Garrels, says a mouthful.

Top Ten Signs You Need a Copywriter

10. Your website still has a "coming soon" message on the home page.  (Or on any page - "coming soon" tells the visitor "goodbye")

 9.  Your employees don't know what's going on...and it's costing you money. (A short, simple employee newsletter can increase productivity, reduce accident rates, and improve morale and retention rates.)

 8.  You found a your contract. (Better you than your client's lawyer!

 7.  You rely on the cable/radio/newspaper salesperson to write your ad copy, or...

 6. do it yourself.

 5.  You lernt all the English you needed in high school.

 4.  Your products are very unique - and you see nothing wrong with saying so. (Don't get it? see #5 again.)

 3.  You're shipping a panda overseas, or doing something else noteworthy.

 2.  You're shipping a panda overseas, but you don't have time to write a press release about it.

.....And the number-one reason that you need a copywriter....

 1.  You're reading this.   --------------------------------------------------(written by a copywriter)

Contact this copywriter to discuss your needs.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I worry about the news hole

You know the old adage about 'sunlight being the best disinfectant?' It's meaningless without news coverage.
-- Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, in SPJ's The Quill.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Journalists can't protect society...

...if they can't protect their own careers. -- from a post at Reflections of Newsosaur, one of the most on-target and depressing things I've read about the news biz recently.