Online reviews and forums have made it much easier for people to communicate their experiences with products or places, which, for businesses, can be a blessing and a curse. Although reviews are a reliable mode of expanding brand awareness, one bad streak in online reviews could scare potential customers away. Management must act quickly and respond thoughtfully to customers in order to protect the company’s brand reputation, but also want to avoid appearing overly eager to please. It’s a delicate balance between satisfying an unhappy customer and standing up for the business you believe in.

Companies are run by people, and people make mistakes. Even large companies like United Airlines and Johnson & Johnson occasionally have a misstep that casts doubt on the integrity of their business. Whether your company’s mistake was real or just perceived, it’s up to you to restore faith in your brand.

Here are some basic steps to follow when encountering a crisis:

1. Be Honest. When a public relations crisis occurs, honesty is the best policy. Own up to your mistakes and take a leaf out of the humility handbook. Excuses make your business look bad, and it’s especially damaging to indicate that the jilted customer is to blame. Accept the blame for the problem, note that you understand the customer’s frustration, and apologize.

2. Empower the Customer. Put yourself in the shoes of your unhappy customer. How would you like the problem to be fixed, if you were her? Ask the customer outright what you can do to assuage the situation. Listen to her response, and if it makes sense to you, implement it. A customer is much more likely to forgive a business that makes changes for the better.

3. Make Changes. To restore confidence in your brand, you need to make adjustments when you goof up. Customers will see the way that you react in times of trouble. Thanks to the Internet boom, communication between the business and the customer is an all but public platform; the way you respond to unsatisfied customers is likely to affect the opinions of both new and returning customers. Though it may be costly to you, it’s important to make your customers whole. In the long run, you’ll make back what you’ve lost by rebuilding customers’ trust in your business.
Customer loyalty is a crucial part of survival in the business world these days. Online reviews can be an extremely useful and empowering tool, as long as they are monitored and responded to with honesty and empathy.

A full service public relations, marketing, digital advertising and communications firm, The Public Relations and Marketing Group has over a decade’s experience with brand reputation and online brand recognition. For more information, please call 631-207-1057 ext. 107, or email us at info@theprmg.com.


Trust in MarketingWhat’s the most important part of public relations? You might think that the answer is in the word “public”—in other words, how wide an audience you can reach with information about your organization. However, an equal amount of attention needs to be focused on the “relations” component of PR. PR is less a set of tried-and-true formulas for communicating with customers, and more a discipline of building trust. The relationships you cultivate with audiences will ultimately determine your company’s success or failure.

This is borne out in recent conversations across cyberspace about the role of “influencers” in social media marketing. According to data from the PR firm Edelman, more and more existing and prospective consumers turn to trusted technical experts, academic experts, peers, and even CEOs for information on what products to buy. These “influencers” are opinion leaders because they have earned a given population’s trust and can therefore powerfully affect consumers’ purchasing choices.

As one author describes it, “Influencer marketing is yesterday’s word-of-mouth marketing on steroids.” Interestingly enough, even though 21st-century consumers seem to prefer the “old-fashioned” concept of trust when deciding to make a purchase, the media they trust have shifted significantly. Edelman’s data also revealed that millennials tend to place their trust in search engines and social media more than traditional avenues.

Whether your business uses primarily traditional or online marketing in its approach, it’s safe to say that you’ll see greater results only if you use public relations to cultivate trust and build relationships with the clients that matter to you. This will strengthen brand loyalty, as people will genuinely enjoy your brand and your product. Some of our most successful clients have already developed relationships with customers who love them and what they do, and it shows.

The Public Relations and Marketing Group, LLC (PRMG) can help your organization develop a comprehensive public relations plan to connect with your audiences. As a full-service public relations, marketing and digital advertising agency, we understand the public with which your business is likely to interact, and we can connect you with influencers who will further help you develop a relationship of trust with consumers. If you have any questions about our social media or other marketing services, please contact us at (631) 207-1057 ext. 107 or at johnzaher@theprmg.com.


For most companies, the holidays are the busiest selling margin of the year, amounting to 19% for retailers and nearly 30% for jewelers and department stores. Social media and website shopping are becoming increasingly popular, but how can your business stand out amid the whirlwind frenzy of the holidays?

Advertising software program Short Stack and business advice journal Entrepreneur.com recently interviewed top marketing analysts for advice on how to handle the holiday rushes with mostly unmixed results; the experts say a resounding “give to your consumers before you ask them to give to you.” If you offer more than deals and discounts, your customer base is more likely to purchase your products. Let’s take a look at the advice the experts have:

  1. Connect to local populations. Consumers want to see that your business is full of real-live human beings, notes Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of Marketing Profs. The holidays are a great connector and an opportunity for businesses to show off their sentimental side.
  2. Help consumers with their challenges. It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but to most Americans it’s also the most stressful. In addition to finding the perfect gifts, there’s a lot of pressure to host the perfect party, hang the perfect decorations, and wear the perfect outfit. Consumers are more likely to flock to companies that alleviate some of the stress.
  3. Allow user-control. CEO of Short Stack Jim Belosic advises to give consumers a feeling that they have input and control over what the business is offering during the holiday season. Customers are most apt to respond to real consumer reviews even if they ignore the pop-up holiday ads.

This all amounts to one big idea: how can my company make the season a little easier for my consumers? When you give to people, they want to give back to you. Happy customers have a strong say in what their friends and families think of certain companies, so tailoring to your consumer’s needs this season is your best bet. Building brand value during this time of year will help keep your sales up into the New Year and beyond.

The Public Relations and Marketing Group, LLC (PRMG) is a full-service public relations and marketing agency. PRMG offers social media content creation and ad management, paper advertising, blog article content creation and website search optimization, in addition to digital marketing.

PRMG is dedicated to helping businesses, professionals, non-profit organizations, government entities, attorneys and law firms leverage their time, talents and resources by using effective public relations and marketing techniques. For more marketing advice, please contact us at (631)-207-1057 or at johnzaher@theprmg.com.


Brand management is all about genuine audience engagement and its consequential consumer action—whether that is good or bad all depends on the reflexes and wit of a given brand’s communications team. When things go south, marketing professionals protect a brand’s reputation. So what is it that mar-com people know that companies don’t? Communications is all about, well, communicating, and in today’s digital atmosphere there’s no better way to connect than through the web. Marketing professionals are experts in digital communications, social media, content creation, and reputation management. To be an expert in this field you need to know the following:

1. What it takes to be a pro in digital communications

While print and TV/radio marketing is still vitally important, the crux of public relations now rests in digital communication. United Nations stats from May of this year show that there are more than three billion internet users worldwide. When the whole world is turning to online marketing, shouldn’t you be, too?

Digital communications is not just social media. Rather, it applies to e-blasts, online newsletters, blogs, ads and email correspondence with your target audience. Today, over 20 billion ads are viewed through sites like Google, Facebook and Amazon each day. Communications professionals know how to include the new audience you want without making them feel they’re being sold something. And keeping the loyal audience on board is equally important, so staying conversational with consumers will garner you profit as well.

2. How to navigate social media

Social media is a great way to connect your digital communications audience and direct more traffic to your company website. Companies that are active on social media have active followers and friends who share, like, tweet and repost status and articles that interest them. This is one of many ways to promote positive and profitable customer action.

Facebook and Twitter seem simple enough, but there’s a real art to crafting genuine and concise posts and photos that will keep a reader’s interest. And that’s not to mention Google+, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and the list goes on.

3. How to create content that grabs the reader

Advertising material is all about developing a “strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience,” according to Joe Pulizzi, founder of the online school Content Marketing Institute. Content isn’t just about throwing as much out there as possible, it’s about creating personalized material that makes your brand stand out. You want to engage a specific audience with authentic content. Having too broad a customer base will make readers feel disconnected, as if they’re not part of the conversation.

4. What to say to protect a damaged reputation

Public relations is crucial to any brand. It takes 20 years to build and five minutes to ruin a reputation, as was smartly summed up by business magnate and self-made billionaire Warren Buffet. What if your Vice President slips up in an interview? What if the company’s associated with a scandal? PR professionals handle all of the stress of the virulent consumer eye so you can focus on the next great initiative on the business side of things.

Public relations professionals know all about the ever-changing market landscape, whether it’s digital correspondence, social media engagement, content creation or reputation management. Without a PR team, your business could be lacking. Why wait?

The Public Relations and Marketing Group, a full-service public relations and marketing agency based in New York, offers all of the above mentioned services and more. For samples of our work, go to theprmg.com. Contact us at info@theprmg.com or 631-207-1057 for further information.

 


Client PR clips

Public relations (PR) services help businesses communicate their message to media outlets. PR keeps your company in the public eye, and if your company is in need of public recognition, consider creating an online media kit that will enhance its PR efforts. An online media kit will help media professionals learn about your company, and they may subsequently choose to contact you for a potential feature story or mention in a publication.

An online media kit is a pre-packaged set of promotional materials about your company/service that is intended for the media to review. It should feature facts, news, and updated contact information. The kit will allow reporters, editors, and bloggers to get a “sneak peak” of your company that may lead to an interview. However, following up with reporters dramatically increases your chances of getting featured.  Furthermore, a media kit is a professional way to quickly present stimulating information about your company/services.

Below is a list of information that is essential for your company’s online media kit: Continue reading


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More than ever before, we live in an age of lightning-fast exchanges of news and a seemingly endless stream of information at our fingertips. While traditional public relations techniques are still important, being able to adapt to recent Web and social media trends is essential for success in this industry. The ability to create content, build relationships and convey information is as important as ever, but there are a variety of new, digital methods to doing this. This article will provide you with an overview of five important skills that every public relations professional should have, including creating content for online sources, proactive monitoring, visual communications, adaptation and consistency.

  1. Online Content Creation — It has always been important for public relations professionals to create strong and compelling content but, especially in this age, it is equally important to optimize this content for the Web. Even if your online press releases or social media updates contain quality content and writing, your efforts will go unrecognized if no one can find it online. Using methods to optimize your content for search engines will help your content get found. Make sure to always include keywords throughout your copy and include hyperlinks and relevant tags whenever possible. For more information on content creation and search engine optimization, read our articles, “Why Quality Content Reigns Supreme” and “What You Need to Know About SEO.”
  2. Proactive Monitoring — It’s important to set aside some time for a Web and social media monitoring strategy to keep informed of what’s being said online. For anyone in the field of communications, it’s helpful to monitor conversations, mentions of brands and businesses and current trends and to get involved in online discussion groups. If you haven’t already, set up Google Alerts for phrases that either interest you or are related to your business or clients. For example, create alerts for business names, products and areas that you want to receive updates from. Always keep yourself informed with what’s being said about your business or client on the Web and stay up-to-date with industry updates and tips on how to grow professionally. For more information, please refer to our articles, “Social Media Publishing 101” and “How to Monitor Your Facebook and Twitter Success.”
  3. Visual Communications — Strong visuals have always been powerful in regards to public relations efforts. Many people are able to connect stories and information more easily on a visual level rather than through text alone. Infographics, charts and traditional photographs have become immensely popular online thanks to the rise in photo sharing websites such as PinterestFlickr and Instagram, which can be downloaded on iPhone or Android devices. It’s important to include a multimedia element, such as a photo, video or graph, in press releases, social media updates and blog posts whenever possible. You may even consider creating a Flickr or Pinterest account to store and categorize your photos. For more information on the importance of visual communications, refer to our article, “How Photo Sharing Sites Can Help Your Business.” Public relations professionals should be able to harness multimedia to engage audiences and encourage them to share this content.
  4. Adaptation — Especially in the ever-changing realm of social media, there are constantly new updates and tools to be explored. With Twitter redesigning its interface and Facebook’s new Timeline for business pages, professionals should be prepared for these changes and implement new strategies and techniques accordingly. Being able to adapt and take advantage of new tools can keep you one step ahead of the competition.
  5. Consistency — With the majority of online and social media outlets, it’s imperative to find the right balance with your efforts. If you don’t update your pages enough, your efforts will go unnoticed. Yet on the other hand, if you overdo it with postings that are too frequent, you could push your audience away and this could work against you. It’s essential to commit to a consistent updating schedule. Updates don’t have to be exact, but at least have a loose idea of how often you should update each platform. For example, blogs should be updated twice a week while Twitter should be updated daily, if possible.

For more information about public relations skills, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com. You can also visit our blog for more valuable articles, advertising spotlights and more.


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A press release is a form of written communication that is meant to bridge the gap between an organization and the media. They are meant to announce newsworthy stories, special events, upcoming promotions or contests and any other interesting and timely content. Using the information from press releases, members of the media can then choose whether to publicize the story. When written and distributed properly, press releases will attract the attention of members of the media and encourage positive publicity for your organization.

Press releases are a vital component of any organization’s public relations and communications efforts. This article will provide you with five essential tips for writing effective press releases.

  1. Start with a Captivating Title — The title and first paragraph of your press release are two of the most important elements. Since most newsrooms receive dozens of press releases a day, including a strong title and opening paragraph can help yours stand out. When crafting a title and subject line, decide on something that is newsworthy, informative and straight to the point. Your title should hook the reader as quickly as possible and give them a reason to invest their time into reading the rest of the content. Also, make sure that your opening paragraph includes the essential five W’s: Who, What, Where, When and Why.
  2. Don’t Oversell — The goal of a press release is to educate your audience about a newsworthy event, person or organization, not to overtly advertise and promote the product or service. This can damage your credibility. Be honest when presenting the information to your audience and let them decide what to make of it. The content or news that you’ve highlighted in your press release should be able to sell itself.
  3. Be Concise — Never ramble on just for the sake of having your press release appear longer. Ideally, press releases should be one page in length. Since the goal of a press release is to spark the interest of reporters, you don’t want to bore them with a text-heavy piece. Include only what is necessary to the story and do so in a concise, well-written manner. Visually, your press release should also be easy to read. Choose a simple, clear font and an appropriate size and line spacing.
  4. Include Contact Information — What’s the use of a press release if it fails to provide a clear way to get in touch? Always include an accurate business name, phone number, fax number, mailing address, email address and any other information for the public relations contact person or agency.
  5. Proofread All Content before Publication — Take the time to proofread and fact-check all content that your business publishes, most importantly press releases. Before you send your press release out, check for grammatical or spelling errors and make sure that all numbers, facts and names are correct. For more information on the importance of proofreading and flawless writing, please read our series of articles, “Proofreading — The First in a Series of Three Articles,” “Write Like You Mean It: 5 Ways to Use Better Grammar” and “Words Mean Things: 5 Tips to Avoid Spelling Errors.”

For more information about effective press releases, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com. You can also visit our blog for more valuable articles, advertising spotlights and more.


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Whether your business is planning to host a seminar, fundraiser, workshop or a Webinar, Web and social media outlets can serve as powerful and inexpensive tools to promote and market your upcoming event. Especially for those on a budget, Web and social networking sites can provide free publicity and visibility for your organization. When promoting an event, your goals should be to spread awareness, boost attendance and generate excitement.

This article will provide you with a multifaceted approach to using various Web and social media outlets to market your events. Our recommendations include using online event calendars, posting press releases on free submission websites, sending e-blasts, creating events on Facebook, updating Twitter, using LinkedIn and continuing to promote your event, even after it has ended.

Event Calendars — Submitting your event to free online calendars is one of the most valuable methods of promoting your event online. Dozens of local newspapers, magazines, television channels and radio stations have websites that host calendars of events. These calendars often offer free postings and give the public a useful tool to search for things to do in their area. Event calendars are highly targeted since your event will be organized according to what category it belongs to. For example, if you are holding a benefit dinner for your non-profit organization, you can ensure that your event listing will appear in the “non-profit” and “fundraiser” categories. When you post your event on these calendars, be sure to include your business’ contact information, the event’s location and any other important details. Very often, these media outlets will also use their online calendars for their television, radio or print outlets.

Free Online Event Calendars:
www.nymetroparents.com (regional)
long-island.newsday.com (regional)
www.eventful.com

Press Release Submission Websites — Whenever your organization is hosting an event, it is essential to create and distribute a press release to notify your target audience, the general public and members of the media. You should include a description of the event, its location, contact information and a powerful headline. When creating this content for online distribution, it is important to use keyword-rich language and to include as many relevant links as possible. These links should lead to further information, a specific offer or a landing page on your website. Once your content has been created, distribute your press release on the Web using the following websites to create buzz and get the word out. For more information on free submission websites, read our article, “Why You Should Take Advantage of Free Submission Websites.”

Free Online Press Release Submission Websites:
www.longisland.com (regional)
www.prLog.com
www.openPR.com
www.pressmethod.com
www.pr-usa.net
www.PR.com
www.PR9.net
www.pressabout.com
www.PRUrgent.com

E-Blasts — E-blasts are emails that are sent out to your clients or customers that notify them of a special deal, promotion, event or other news. When promoting events, we recommend using e-blasts because they can quickly deliver content to a large number of people. E-blasts are also much cheaper and easier to distribute than traditional print advertisements. To begin, we suggest signing up for a program such as Stream Send or Constant Contact. These email marketing programs will allow you to create and send e-blasts, as well as e-newsletters and any other professional emails. Once you’ve signed up for one of these programs, create an email with a description of your event and a powerful subject line. Having a strong subject line is so vital to your email marketing success because the majority of people choose whether or not to open an email based on the subject line alone.

Your e-blast should include a small blurb about your event, a link to more information, multimedia (if necessary) and your business’ contact information. Always keep in mind that you don’t want to bombard your contacts by sending an excessive amount of emails. We recommend sending out an initial e-blast to announce your event, a reminder when the date is approaching and a follow-up email after the event has ended.

Facebook — Facebook, the most widely used social media website, offers several areas to promote your organization’s event at no cost. For example, the Facebook Events application is one of the most powerful marketing tools this social media giant has to offer. By creating a Facebook Event page, you are providing your audience with an interactive hub of information and conversation surrounding your event. Once you are logged in, you can create your Facebook Event here. Include a profile picture, fill out all information, upload multimedia (if applicable) and begin inviting friends. When you are creating your page, make sure that the following “Event Options” are checked off:

• Enable the event wall
• Enable the event photos, videos and links
• Allow guests to bring friends to the event
• Show the guest list

Once all of these options are checked, guests will be allowed to invite their friends to your event, write on the page’s wall and upload their own photos and videos. It is important to periodically encourage your friends to spread the word by using the “Share” and “Post to your Profile” buttons. These buttons will post an event invitation directly on the user’s personal Facebook wall. For more information on how to use Facebook to build your business, read our article, “10 Steps to Getting the Most Out of Facebook.”

Twitter — Considering its immensely powerful viral capabilities and communication features, it is essential for your business to break into the world of Twitter. There are a variety of ways to reach your target audience and market your upcoming event using this microblogging network. Before you begin tweeting about your event, you may want to create a customized hashtag (#). On Twitter, hashtags are used to mark keywords or topics in a tweet. By including relevant hashtags in your tweets, they can be categorized and found more easily in the Twitter Search Engine. For example, if you are planning to host a Webinar on social media, your hashtag may be “#SMWebinar.” Be sure to include this hashtag in any tweet relating to your event and encourage people to do the same. Thus, a sample tweet may be, “We are excited to host our first Webinar on social media today! #SMWebinar.”

When using Twitter to promote your event, another tip is to mix up the content in your tweets. If you are continuously tweeting the same thing, your followers will be disinterested with the same information and become inclined to “un-follow” you. To build a variety of tweets related to your event, you can try asking questions related to your event, tweeting the sign-up link or links to any press releases, posting photos related to your event or re-tweeting what someone posted about your event. You can also ask people to share your event by including, “Please RT!” (please re-tweet) to increase awareness on Twitter. For more information on how to use Twitter to promote your business, read our article, “Secrets to Twitter Marketing.”

LinkedIn — LinkedIn offers several opportunities to market your event to personal connections and other business professionals. After you are logged in, you can create and manage your events here. Once you’ve created your event and completed all relevant information, you can invite up to 50 people from your personal network. Since you are limited to 50 invitations on LinkedIn, you should send personal emails to the rest of your connections with a brief invitation and a link to your event. When someone RSVPs, the notification will appear on their home profile so all of their connections will be notified of your event as well. As the administrator of your event page, you can keep track of your RSVPs and monitor any comments. You may also send individual invitations and promote your organization’s events using the discussion boards of LinkedIn Groups. Submitting events to LinkedIn is another quick, simple and cost-effective way to spread your message and boost your attendance. For more information on how to use LinkedIn to build your business, read our article, “Making the Right Connections on LinkedIn.”

Continue Promoting After Your Event — Don’t stop marketing your event just because it has ended! There are still a variety of ways to promote your organization, encourage attendance at future events and nourish communication with your guests. Always thank your attendees through social media updates, emails and, if practical, personal messages. Upload any photos you may have taken to Flickr and your social media profiles. On Facebook, make sure to “tag” people if they appear in your photo album. This interaction will encourage involvement on your fan page and help to keep it interactive and fresh. If you recorded any videos at your event, make sure to upload them to your organization’s YouTube channel and embed them on your website. Another good way of continuing to promote your event is to write a blog post or an article on how it went and what you learned. Always encourage feedback and suggestions from your attendees on all of your Web and social media profiles.

For more information, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or info@theprmg.com.


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By Hank Russell

It is obvious that, more often than not, we do not write the same way we talk. If we did, we would see how unintelligible we sound based on the amount of grammatical errors we make in our conversations. The words we use when we speak may be more suitable with our family and friends than with our clients or business associates.

Like spelling errors (please see “Words Mean Things: 5 Tips to Avoid Spelling Errors” for more information), grammatical errors will leave a bad impression on prospective employers (especially if it’s for a job for a proofreader or copy editor), clients and business managers. When writing copy, you should make sure it is fluid, concise and doesn’t confuse the reader. Here are five ways to improve your grammar:

Remember there is no reason to use “because.”
People feel the need to use the word because when explaining a reason. The word because should be used only when the question begins with “Why?” Think of it this way: If someone asked you what was the reason that something happened, you would not start your answer with “because”; it should be the explanation why something happened. If the question was, “What was the reason for canceling tonight’s game?”
Wrong: The reason the game was canceled was because it rained today.
Right: The reason the game was canceled was that it rained today.

Know the difference between an individual and a group setting.
When discussing quantities or groups, many people do not know when to use fewer and when to use less. Fewer refers to more than one object that can be set as one or in a group. Less is used with groups that count as one collective unit. Here is a perfect example: Joe sold fewer cars at the dealership this month; as a result, he will make less money than he did last month.

Just like fewer and less, much and many have their respective uses. Much is used for collective units, and many, like fewer, can be used for multiple individuals or entities. The following sentence shows proper usage of both words: There is too much work to do and not many hours in the day to do it.

Know when something is between or among friends.
These words are known to be used interchangeably, which is not a good thing. Between is used for only two people or concepts, and among is used when there are more than two people or entities. Lottery winnings are divided between a husband and wife, for example, but if a group of 10 co-workers hits the lottery, the winnings are split among them.

On another topic, if you use between when writing about a period of time, use and, not to. Use to when using from. Please note the differences:
The school year runs between September and June.
The distance from New York to Los Angeles is more than 2,400 miles.

Watch out for dangling modifiers.
When applying the modifier to the wrong subject, you cause confusion for the reader. Most dangling modifiers give inanimate objects or other nonhuman entities human qualities or actions that are not possible for them to possess or perform, respectively. An example of a dangling modifier and how to correct it is listed below.
Wrong: Looking at his watch, the train pulled into the station. (A train cannot look at his watch.)
Right: Looking at his watch, the passenger noticed that the train pulled into the station.
Right: As the passenger was looking at his watch, the train pulled into the station.

Don’t go on and on and on.
Run-on sentences are the written equivalent of blabbering — there is no coherence and no end to what is being said. Many people do not know when to stop (talking or writing) when trying to make a point. Run-on sentences overwhelm the reader as you try to include as much information as possible. Try to understand reading a sentence like this:
It will take about two weeks to deliver the materials to ABC Company and another three weeks before they can break ground on the building after that construction of the First Second Bank will begin the building is expected to be completed in 12 to 15 months and a grand opening ceremony is to be scheduled three months after the bank officially opens for business.

See how much easier it is to read this:
It will take about two weeks to deliver the materials to ABC Company and another three weeks before they can break ground on the building. After that, construction of the First Second Bank will begin. The building is expected to be completed in 12 to 15 months. A grand opening ceremony is to be scheduled three months after the bank officially opens for business.

These tips should help you improve your writing and produce more understandable copy. As always, be sure to proofread your copy before sending it to print or by mail (learn more at “Proofreading — The First in a Series of Three Articles”). Here are some other resources to help you with your grammar skills:

The Associated Press Style Manual (www.ap.org)
The American Library Association (www.ala.org)
The Bedford Handbook Seventh Edition (bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/bedhandbook7enew/Player/Pages/Frameset.aspx)
The Chicago Manual of Style (www.chicagomanualofstyle.org)
Grammar Girl (grammar.quickanddirtytips.com)
The Elements of Style by Strunk & White (www.bartleby.com/141)

For more information, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com.


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By Hank Russell

It is said that people judge you by the words you use — whether they be spoken or written. How you write is an indicator of the quality of your work and your communication skills. Spelling errors in your document may show that you are unfit for a potential job (if they appear on your résumé), you are not an effective communicator (if they appear in a presentation) or you do not have a grasp of the written word (if they appear in your article).

Using the wrong word or not spelling it correctly prevents you from getting across the message you want to send to your clients or associates. (To learn more about this, please see “Proofreading — The First in a Series of Three Articles“). In the case of the former, your message takes on a new (and unintended) meaning. For the latter, the only message you will convey is how lousy a speller you are. Here are some tips to prevent these errors from appearing in your document:

Watch out for words with double letters.
Take extra special care when using these words. You should know whether to use one “l” or two in parallel and how many “c”s or “r”s there are in occurrence. Although spell check might do the trick, it is better to do the job yourself and look it up in a dictionary for the proper spelling. If you let a misspelling go through, it may result in another double-letter word: embarrassment.

Know which word you want to use and make sure it’s the right one.
Do you know the difference between compliment and complement? What about there, their and they’re? Then there is the difference among insure, ensure and assure, and advice and advise. These words — known as homonyms — sound alike, so it is easy to misuse them. Unlike a patently misspelled word, spell check will not identify the mistake if the wrong word was spelled right. If you are unsure about which word to use, use a dictionary or thesaurus and check the definition to make sure it is the right one.

Watch where you place the apostrophe.
The apostrophe is probably the most misused punctuation mark in the English language. Like using the wrong word, misplacing an apostrophe alters the meaning of a word and the sentence. Probably the most common mistake is the use of the word it’s when the writer means its. It’s is a contraction of the phrase it is, whereas its is a possessive. Also remember that there is no apostrophe at the end of its (another spelling error that is also commonly made).

Avoid spelling words phonetically.
In the age of texting, people write words phonetically rather than correctly for the sake of brevity and due to the restrictions on character count; for example, they will write “ur” instead of “your” or “l8r” rather than “later.” Such communication is fine with family and friends, but it will not work with business associates. It is easy to write skool instead of school, dum instead of dumb or criticly instead of critically. Many words have letters that sound differently or, when joined by another letter, make the same sound; other letters are silent and are not pronounced. Once again, if you are unsure how a word is spelled, look it up.

Do not write in the Queen’s English.
Unless you are writing for a Canadian or British audience, avoid writing in the Queen’s English — that is, writing theatre rather than theater, centre instead of center or manoeuvre instead of maneuver. However, there are exceptions: when the spelling is used in a proper name such as Rockville Centre or NYCB Theatre at Westbury. Otherwise, it will not meet domestic standards. Think locally, write locally.

As always, be sure to proofread your document before sending it to print or to a client or business associate. Here are some resources you can use to help improve your spelling:

• The Associated Press Style Manual (www.ap.org)
• Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary (www.merriam-webster.com)
• The Bedford Handbook Seventh Edition (bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/bedhandbook7enew/Player/Pages/Frameset.aspx)
• Thesaurus.com (www.thesaurus.com)

If you would like further information, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or info@theprmg.com .