Tag Archives: tips

9 Easy Tips for Talking to the Press

Jay Croft, Atlanta, writer, newspaper, Journal-Constitution, Cox Enterprises, storytelling, corporate communications, content, gay, pop culture, movies, music, TV, Poncey-Highland, Virginia-Highland, Inman Park, Old Fourth Ward, who is a good writer in Atlanta, public relations, marketing, social media expert

As a former journalist, I’m sometimes asked for advice about speaking with reporters. Just this week, for instance, I addressed a group of healthcare professionals who want to get quoted in the press and to raise their media profile as experts.

They’d never been interviewed before, and they wanted my advice for what to do when they’re connected with a reporter.

This has come up frequently in my experience in corporate communications, as well, and in digital and social media. I’m always happy to have these interactions and to share a few tips, including these.

1. DON’T start the conversation by saying, “What’s your angle?” It’s defensive and somewhat insulting. Better to say something like this: “I’m happy to help if I can. What’s the story you’re working on?”

2. DO know who’s calling. Reporters are not investors or analysts — they don’t have time or interest in the James Michener version of the topic. And a journalist from, say, a trade publication might be seeking a different level of depth than your local daily.

3. DO have two or three key points sketched out in advance of the interview. It’ll help you stay on track and to keep your responses short, simple and quotable. That will increase your chances of making it into the story, whether it’s in print, online or for broadcast.

4. DO humanize the story. Reporters often need real examples to bring stories to life. Make it easy on them with credible, compelling people and contact information.

5. DON’T think you have to have an answer for everything. If you don’t know, or if you’re uncomfortable discussing something that might be outside your scope, just say something like, “I’ll have to look into that and call you back. When is your deadline?”

6. DO return the call – on time. Reporters are often busy and stressed out – especially today when newsrooms have fewer staff members than ever. You can establish a good relationship by doing what you say you’re going to do, and by honoring basic courtesy like this.

7. DON’T ask to see the story before it’s printed or airs. Better to say, “Feel free to call me back or email me if you have any questions later.” That way, a reporter will feel confident fact-checking if he or she needs to.

8. DO pitch your own ideas for follow-ups and offer yourself as an ongoing resource to the reporter. A good one always wants to meet smart, savvy people on their beats – not just when they need a quick quote.

9. DON’T lie. Seriously.

How about you? Any questions or suggestions? Let me know!

5 Great Lists and 1 Free Download to Help You Write Better

ON READING: Which book should you pick up next?

The blogosphere is full of great content about content — writing about great writing, useful tips about how to be useful. I love it. Here are six posts I’ve come upon lately that engaged me and helped me. Share your favorite posts or ideas, too. Thanks.

grammar, grammarly, write well, write good, how to write, improve your writing, jay croft, blog, storycroft.com, storycroft, write hard die free, write free die hard, how do i write better

From Grammarly’s Facebook page

  • 15 Content Ideas That Your Followers Will Love to Share, by Kim Garst. She says, “It’s GREAT if our current readers like what we have to say, but what types of content are they most likely to share, retweet or link to?” I’m combining several of these with this post — it’s a list, it’s curated, it’s a roundup…
  • Fifty (50!) Tools Which Can Help You in Writing, by Roy Peter Clark at the great Poynter Institute. The first one’s a bad link, but don’t let that stop you from the rest, which include Seek Original Images, Show and Tell, and Self-Criticism.
  • 13 Vital Reminders for Writers, on The Conversationalist. Tips from great artists like Toni Morrison, Hemingway and Leonard Cohen My favorite, at least today, is from Isaac Asimov: “You are my idea of a good writer because you have an unmannered style, and when I read what you write, I hear you talking.”
  • Words that Get Content Shared, an infographic shared on PRDaily, “aggregates a few studies that look at which words will prompt people to retweet, share, and engage with your content on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.”
  • The Marketer’s Pocket Guide to Writing Well, a free download from HubSpot, demystifies writing for non-writers with a helpful no-nonsense guide that should help anybody who’s afraid or intimidated to get past it, get better and get the work done well and on time.

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16 Easy Ways to Write Better

Jay Croft, Atlanta, writer, newspaper, Journal-Constitution, Cox Enterprises, storytelling, corporate communications, content, gay, pop culture, movies, music, TV, Poncey-Highland, Virginia-Highland, Inman Park, Old Fourth Ward, who is a good writer in Atlanta, public relations, marketing, social media expertEverybody’s a writer in the Internet age. And I think that’s great.

I just wish more people had an editor, as well.

There’s no substitute for a collaborator who’s looking over your shoulder and pointing out where you could improve. But absent that, you can take steps on your own to make your writing better — whether it’s in blog posts, memos, tweets or articles.

Here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the (many, pre-Google) years as a professional writer and editor. They’ll help you get your message across more effectively. I hope you try them and I hope they help. Let me know!

1. Resist the urge to use exclamation points!

2. Favor short sentences.

3. Remember to vary your sentence lengths, as well, so that some are longer than others.

4. In most instances, don’t start a sentence with a dependent clause. Subject-verb-object works better generally, and relying on it does not indicate you’re simpleminded or lacking in “style.” It means you care about clarity.

5. Get to the point early in your piece, whatever it is. Readers won’t stick with you if they have to look for it.

6. Avoid adjectives and adverbs. Pick the right nouns and verbs, instead.

7. Take advantage of the medium (blog, newspaper, etc.) to enhance your message without going overboard or obscuring it.

8. Write short paragraphs. Dense copy blocks are unappealing and even intimidating to people who are scanning and deciding whether to dive into your blog or article.

9. Write short pieces. Really, no one has time. If you can cut that line, paragraph or passage, then do.

10. Avoid clichés like the plague.

11. Jargon, too. Or you’ll never think outside the box at the end of the day.

12. Write to express yourself, not to impress anybody else.

13. Read it out loud. Listen to the sound, the sound, the sound.

14. Watch out for tangents and stop when you find yourself going on one. A good clue: If you say, “But I digress,” then DON’T. (See No. 10.)

15. Prevent AAOS (Acronyms & Abbreviations Overuse Syndrome). When in doubt, spell it out or find a simpler way to put it.

16. Know your subject matter and audience so well that you learn to relax when writing and editing your own copy. You can even break your own rules now and then! (See what I just did? Ha!)

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Jay Croft, author of storycroft.com, is a veteran communicator in mainstream daily newspapers and large, national corporations.