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Dale Garrison Editorial Services
Getting out good words on your organization, business or almost any entity is often a hit-and-miss proposition.

Size or supposed sophistication is often no guarantee of success. I've seen horrible work by large, well-funded corporations and sadly amateurish work by veteran non-profits.

The ideas on this page were formulated to help small businesses and non-profit corporations, but they can help any organization.

Public Relations Common Sense

It's dismaying to admit it sometimes, but what we read in the newspaper carries a lot of weight. People will remember if they see your photograph or read about you or your business. They may not even remember the specific reference, but they will generally retain that positive association. Especially if it is repeated with some frequency.

This is why public relations-most often in the form of news releases-is so effective.

Learn to look for opportunities:
· Completion of a class, certification or other accomplishment by you or your staff
· New staff, services or facilities
· Events or other items from above (this is one reason hosting or going to an event is a good gives you an excuse to get in the paper!)

Be Real
Note that all of these examples are real. Like it or not, the fact that you and your business exist is NOT news. The newspaper might do a story if you go bankrupt, but oddly, they won't give a hoot because you manage to avoid that pitfall one more day! So look for "real" things. It's okay to be creative, but be real!

Be Timely
News is news because it's relatively recent. Don't send in a write-up about your Tan-Tar-A conference six months after you get back. One or two weeks is about it. If you're smart, you'll plan ahead. Most of these articles can almost be written in advance.

Be Nice
DO NOT EVER ask or complain if your news does not get in. That will guarantee a visit from Mike Wallace and a 60 Minutes exposé on you and your business.

Good Luck!

Some Thoughts On News Release Success

© 2000 Dale Garrison

Even if you have extensive experience with news releases and copy, it's always a good idea to review the basics. Consider some of these thoughts:

· Be a management guru: If you've ever studied the management concept of Total Quality Management (TQM), consider the idea of "internal customers," people between you and the end-consumer who must be treated with care. Consider editors and news directors as your internal customers. You have to give them what they want or you will never be able to give the client what he or she wants.

· Think globally, act locally. Okay, it's trite, but "local, local, local" is often the name of the game for news releases. For instance, simply adding "Local students" to the headline "Students offered scholarships" can have a tremendous impact on your success.

· Name that person. Along with local focus, nothing pops into an editor's vision like a local name. Even if you are communicating future opportunities or activities, look for a local spokesperson, a local example or another local name that can be used in the article-with their permission, of course.

· Send out news releases, not crossword puzzles. It's awfully tempting to use a "fill in the blanks" routine, especially with high-quantity news releases. You know the kind we mean: generic release with blank spaces and parenthetical phrases like "student's name here" or "your name here." You send a bunch of those and hope that "someone" writes in the proper names before forwarding the release to the press. It may work, or it may end up in the trash because "someone" didn't complete the release, put in the wrong names or the editor couldn't read the handwriting. Especially with computers, there's usually no reason not to send out complete releases with local or regional names.

· Don't forget the basics. Always remember things such as a contact person and day phone number, proper numbering of multiple pages and correct identification for photographs.

· When in doubt, talk. If you're having trouble with successful placements, consider a personal call or visit. In many cases, editors don't have time for a lot of chit chat, but if you make a point of calling when it's convenient for them and ask how you can best get information to them, you can usually get past initial barriers. Also consider a two-pronged attack: brief new items that communicate just the essentials of your release and longer features that offer more detail. For the latter, consider three alternatives: a complete feature, an outline (such as in a press packet) or a verbal "sales" job on the value of the article.

© 2000 Dale Garrison Editorial Services. Everything on these and following pages is mine. Use it wholly or in part without my permission and I will give your name to my friends in law enforcement and the legal profession. On the other hand, if you see something that strikes your fancy, just holler. I'm pretty easy to get along with.
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English Imperfect

I did not write this. 'Wish I knew who did. It's something anyone who writes (or reads!) should keep in mind:

Let's face it - English is a crazy language.

There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices?

Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend, that you comb through annals of history but not a single annal? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preacher praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? If you wrote a letter, perhaps you bote your tongue?

Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? Park on driveways and drive on parkways?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and wise guy are opposites? How can overlooked and oversee be opposites, while quite a lot and quite a few are alike?

Have you noticed that we talk about certain things only when they are absent? Have you ever seen a horseful carriage or a strapful gown? Met a sung hero or experienced requited love? Have you ever run into someone who was combobulated, gruntled, ruly or peccable? And where are all those people who ARE spring chickens or who would ACTUALLY hurt a fly?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm clock goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, isn't a race at all). That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible. And why, when I wind up my watch, I start it, but when I wind up this essay, I end it.

(Author lost in Cyberspace)

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