In my house, there was always a rule: when you receive a gift, you can’t play with it, wear it or spend it until you’ve written a note of thanks to the giver.
I tried to instill that in my children, too, each Christmas and birthday giving them a stack of thank-you notes and a sheet of stamps, but their efforts these days are inconsistent. To their generation, it’s so much faster and easier to send a text or an email of thanks, after all.
Unfortunately, writing such notes seems to be a lost art. But still, and especially in business, there’s no substitute for a handwritten thank-you note.
Notes are appropriate in many professional situations. After a job interview. When a business deal closes. For a referral that leads to a new client. When a holiday gift is received.
Taking the time to write your note on business letterhead or a blank thank-you card shows your sincerity and appreciation to someone who has extended a courtesy or done something nice for you. And the recipient of your note will remember you much more fondly than she will someone who didn’t send a note.
Confused about just what to write or how to get started? Check this tip sheet from the people at Hallmark – the experts on the topic of sending greetings.
Just don’t forget to check your spelling, grammar and punctuation. Write a rough draft and have someone you trust look it over if you think you need some help. Don’t undo the good done by your card with bad mechanics.
Every small-business owner stares at a lengthy to-do list each morning. One thing that often isn’t on that list that should be, at least once a week?
Writing a blog.
These days, blogs aren’t tangential to your marketing efforts. They’re integral. Posting a blog to your website helps your business to stand out in a crowded field. It gives you instant credibility and allows you to show your expertise in the industry.
That’s just for starters.
A well-written blog will move you up on the search results in search engines. Google, for example, will scan your website to look for fresh, original content that adds to the discussion of a topic. Once it finds that authoritative content, over and over again, your site will move up on Google. Quality, original content that takes advantage of search-engine optimization will increase the number of visitors to your site. The more you blog, the greater the chance you have of being found on search engines.
Remember that blogging needs to be a sustained effort. One blog here and there won’t do the trick. You need to continue to share informative, SEO-rich content for it to make a difference. As you continue to blog, and to add to your impressive collection of content, the blogging will pay off.
And if you don’t blog? You don’t take advantage of the chance to build trust with potential customers, engage with readers who can use that opportunity of a blog to ask questions or interact, sell your product or increase your search-engine optimization.
Blogging. It sounds like a no-brainer to us.
From WTOP radio in Washington, D.C.:
“Neiman Marcus just revealed its 2016 Christmas Book, its annual catalog of holiday gifts that always includes a handful of exotic and outrageously priced gifts.
For $65,000, you and three of your friends can train for a day in the San Francisco area with Joe Montana at a private quarterback camp. It includes throwing techniques, drills, drawing up plays and reviewing the day’s footage with Montana. The gift also includes a photo with Montana and a personalized football.”
Now, that sounds like the perfect gift for the person who has everything.
But if that’s a bit out of your price range, let us make this suggestion for the business professional on your list who has it all: a gift certificate for an hour of PRigital services.
For just $65 -- or 1,000 times less than a day with Joe -- PRigital will edit a business document, provide writing coaching, write website content or complete whatever print/digital content task is needed.
PRigital might not be in the Hall of Fame, but we do promise expert service without the sweat and dirt. Just drop us an email at email@example.com, and we’ll get a gift certificate in the mail to you. We might even include a pocket dictionary autographed by the PRigital professionals.
On an episode of the classic sitcom “Friends,” Joey is a bit overwhelmed when he sits down to write a recommendation letter for pals Chandler and Monica as they begin the process to adopt a baby.
“I want it to sound smart but.. I don't know any big words or anything,” Joey tells friend Ross, who promptly introduces Joey to the thesaurus. Suddenly, Joey’s sentence -- “They’re warm, nice people with big hearts” -- turns into this:
"They're humid, pre-possessing homosapiens with full-sized aortic pumps."
When we struggle to write something very important, we often ask for advice. And sometimes, in incorporating the suggested words of others, we lose our voice. We lose what makes us, well, us.
It’s never more important to retain your own voice than in the essay you write as part of your application to college or grad school. There are many trusted people students can turn to -- parents, teachers, school counselors -- for advice, but if too many people weigh in, the message becomes theirs and not the student’s.
The essay task seems daunting and dreadful. But with preparation, thought and the help of one trusted adviser, a student can write an essay that will convey to a college the unique talents, personality, experiences or goals that he or she would bring to a campus. In their essays, students should let themselves shine through. Use humor. Be conversational. Look deep into themselves. Share simple things that have made them who they are. Be authentic and genuine. An essay that contains these elements will stand out to the readers.
PRigital Solutions offers essay counseling, editing and proofreading services. PRigital won’t write a student’s essay, but we will discuss the themes and thoughts the submission should include. We will read the first draft and offer feedback, then review subsequent drafts until the end product is ready for proofreading.
For more information, check out our Prigital for Students page. The deadline to submit applications will be here soon. Good luck on your college journey.
Don't think that millennials -- the generation hooked to the smartphone and social media -- don't appreciate words written on paper.
A study by the United States Postal Service and the American Association of Political Consultants shows that this election season, millennials are relying on direct mail for information about candidates to help them choose which candidates will get their votes.
According to the study, "an exclusive focus on digital channels would miss an important opportunity for communications outreach: direct mail. ... Millennials are paying very close attention to political direct mail — it is a must-have component of a multichannel communications strategy and important launching point to digital channels."
The study goes on to state that 36 percent of people under age 30 check their mailboxes each day -- the same percentage as those ages 30 to 49.
It's a good lesson for those of us who want to reach millennials who aren't on the political spectrum: don't think they are only receptive to digital communications. That's why you want your business plan to include both print and digital elements.
Print and digital. PRigital.
We can help.
Who knew that the beloved Cookie Monster from “Sesame Street” was one of the great grammarians of his time? Consider the verse of his song, “C Is For Cookie.”
C is for cookie, that's good enough for me
C is for cookie, that's good enough for me
C is for cookie, that's good enough for me
Oh, cookie, cookie, cookie starts with C
Cookie Monster understands what many don’t: When you refer to yourself following a preposition, the word is always “me” – not “I.” After all, it sounds pretty silly to say “C is for cookie, that’s good enough for I,” doesn’t it?
So why is it that so many people write sentences such as, “The past few days have been crazy for Jim and I?” That’s a stumper.
If you forget the Cookie Monster rule and wonder whether you should write “me” or “I” in your prepositional phrase, just take out the other person’s name and say your sentence aloud to see how it sounds. Which sounds better? “The past few days have been crazy for I,” or “The past few days have been crazy for me.” The latter, of course. Simply insert, then, the other person’s name and move on to the next sentence.
Thanks, for the lesson, Cookie Monster.
Spotted in the stack of papers that has accumulated on the PRigital desk, this headline from a July 2014 edition of the Denver Post: "Troy Tulowitzki's name misspelled on 15,000 Rockies jersey giveaways"...
Yes, on July 26 of that year, the first 15,000 fans who went to Coors Field in Denver received a replica of then-Colorado Rockies' star Tulowitzki's jersey -- only the name above his number 2 was spelled T-U-L-O-W-I-Z-K-I. (Maybe Vanna White failed to turn over the second T in his last name?)
Anyway, the Rockies gave out the jerseys, then said they would have them reprinted and fans could trade in their shirts when the new ones were available. Plus, each person who turned in a shirt received a free ticket to a future game.
The promotion designed to celebrate fan-favorite Tulowitzki turned out to be a costly one. The Rockies had to apologize to fans and to the sponsor named on the shirts, replace the giveaways and absorb the cost of the free tickets.
That's why every business must ensure that professional proofreaders go over all marketing materials before they are distributed. It's a small price to pay to avoid such a PR and financial hit.
At PRigital Solutions, this work suits us to a "T."
(Photo credit: Denver Post via Twitter)
This scorching summer day got us talking about cooler seasons, like fall. And that led to thoughts of fall holidays, like Thanksgiving. And visions of pie.
How will we get that pie? Will someone take it to our house? Or bring it to our house?
Ah, the bring and the take.
Those are two of the verbs with the most confused usage of all -- ones we frequently correct when proofreading for our PRigital Solutions clients. So just what is the proper usage?
Consider that Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.
Right: "I am going to take a pie to the Smiths for Thanksgiving dessert."
Wrong: "I am going to bring a pie to the Smiths for Thanksgiving dessert."
Right: "I brought the pie the Smiths served for dessert."
Wrong: "I took the pie the Smiths served for desserrt."
Simply, "take" is used when an object is going away from a fixed location. "Bring" is used when something is going to a fixed location. Examples:
"May I bring a friend to dinner?"
"Will you be taking anyone to dinner with you?"
"Take an umbrella when you go to the beach."
"Bring an umbrella when you come to the beach."
"Remind me to take the garbage can to the curb."
"Remind me to bring the garbage can back to the garage."
So, are you hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year? Who will bring the pie? Or are you taking it to someone's house?
“Not again,” you mutter to yourself after your boss asks you to put together a memo to the rest of the staff about a new product, an office policy or an upcoming meeting.
So you sip your latté. Check your Facebook account. You do anything to avoid the job duty you hate the most: writing.
But turning around an effective business memo -- or letter, email or anything your job demands -- isn’t as tough as you think. We have the following tips to help you get started.
1. Write in an active voice. Stay away from the “to be” form of verbs: is, am, are, was, were. Those words lead to uninteresting writing that the reader will need to read more than once to absorb. The passive voice also creates unnecessary wordiness.
2. Along a similar line, avoid the use of prepositions. Prepositions show how a noun or a pronoun relates to another word or a sentence. Example: “I spent the money on a new bike.” In many sentences, prepositional phrases just contribute to the passive voice. In our example about the staff meeting, for instance, the phrases “in Mr. Johnson’s office” and “about how we can expand our product line” just add words. Remember one of the golden rules of writing: less is more. Keep the writing business-like. Use professional words, and stay away from exclamation points. Words you might say in casual office conversation don’t translate well to writing.
3. Stay away from jargon, which is words or expressions specific to an industry. Keep it out of memos and leave it only in technical papers written for those in the industry. Readers will read right over those words and will miss your message.
4. Use simple words rather than words that make you try to sound smarter than others.
Colleges should add one class to the general-ed curriculum for all business majors: Journalism 101.
It’s true. Even if aspiring business people have no desire for a career in news reporting, by taking that course, they will learn one very important thing that will serve them well in business: the concept of the 5 Ws and an H.
It’s shocking how many news releases, announcements of product launches, or information about new hires have crossed our desks through the years missing at least one of the 5 Ws or the H. Without them, your business is failing to share the whole story with your audience.
So just what are the 5 Ws and the H? They are the who, what, when, where, why and how of your business news. And so often, business writing fails to include all six elements.
How do you incorporate them into what you write?
Let’s say John Mechanic is opening a car-repair facility and wants to share that with the community by sending a news release to the local newspaper or by buying advertising. Here is the basic information John must include:
Who: John Mechanic. Give us details about John, such as how long he has been fixing cars, notable places he has worked or any special training he has.
What: Opening a car-repair shop.
When: Give us the date, such as Wednesday, June 1, 2016, at 9 a.m. Don’t stop there; tell us the regular hours of the shop, such as weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.
Where: Give us the exact street address of the shop, and don’t forget to add the phone number, website and any social media contacts. Don’t give us the intersection or the name of the center. Your potential customers live by the GPS on their phones and need a street address.
Why: To give car owners another option for car repair in their town. But that’s obvious. Why should those car owners give John a try with their car? Does he have a courtesy shuttle service? Does his waiting room offer free WiFi? Does he offer senior or military discounts? Does he have grand opening coupons available on his website? Does he have a specialty, such as expertise with German cars? Does he provide a discount for cash payments? What credit cards does he accept? What is his parts warranty?
How: Just how does John fix cars? What technology in his shop, such as the latest computer for diagnostics? Is he certified to fix electrical systems in hybrids? What makes John’s shop different from others?
Before you write your next business memo, jot down the words who, what, when, where, why and how -- and then make notes under each word. That way, you won’t leave any questions unanswered for your audience.
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