Tips to Help You Proofread Your Work

Proofreading, the action of editing your writing carefully to find any grammatical or spelling errors, is an important step for everyone to take—especially in public relations and writing.

As public relations and marketing professionals, we are tasked with using our knowledge about words and grammar to ensure that client press releases, brochures, newsletters, social media posts, website text and other content are free of errors and typos.

The way we create content has evolved throughout the years, and it’s made society hungry for information right away. Content is distributed much quicker these days via blogs, social media and websites. That increases the risk of simple, yet crucial mistakes that could impact your credibility as a business or professional. Just last month, the Texas Longhorns college football team released a media guide with a URL typo — Texas was misspelled— at the bottom of every page. Similarly, the Colorado Rockies baseball team misspelled the last name of one of its players on 15,000 promotional shirts, resulting in an apology on social media and the need to manufacture additional shirts for replacement.

Here are some tips to help you effectively proof your writing:

  1. Concentrate—The industry is quick-paced, and if you’re working on multiple projects at one time, chances are you’re going to lose focus and you won’t catch all of the mistakes in the copy you are editing. Read all of the content (including headlines, standard boiler plates, etc.) slowly and pay attention to grammar.
  2. Step away for a while—After spending hours writing content, you’re so familiar with it that even if there is a mistake, you won’t notice it because your mind tends to fill in the blanks. If you’re writing in the evening, go to bed and give the copy a fresh look in the morning. You’re more likely to find an error once you’ve had a chance to think about something else.
  3. Have someone else read it—If you’re on a tight deadline and don’t have time for a breather, ask a co-worker to proofread your content. Even if you do have time to go over your writing a few times, consider asking someone else to look it over. A fresh set of eyes might catch something you missed.
  4. Print it out—Nothing beats the classic “red pen” method. Printing out a hard copy of your work allows you to review it in a different format. Read it carefully and mark any mistakes in red or brightly-colored ink so that you don’t miss any corrections when you’re fixing them on the digital copy.

Do you have any proofreading tips? Share them with us in the comments!

Our Favorite Pittsburgh Things: Pittsburgh Summer Restaurant Week

Pittsburgh is always referred to as a melting pot of cultures, which is certainly reflected by the different types of restaurants participating in Pittsburgh Restaurant Week. Through Sunday, August 17, participating local restaurants are offering special menus to diners, including multi-course meals and specialty items priced from $20.14 to $35.14.

The purpose of Pittsburgh Restaurant Week is to celebrate Pittsburgh food and restaurants throughout the city. This summer’s Restaurant Week highlights fine dining, fresh harvest and outdoor seating. A list of participating restaurants and their specific deals can be found online at pittsburghrestaurantweek.com, and we encourage you to check out the options!

As you browse the menus of participating restaurants, you’ll discover that there is a variety of diverse cuisine selections from nationally recognized chefs – and from restaurants old and new to the city.

A few of the restaurants that have been serving Pittsburgh for years include the Grand Concourse and Morton’s, but restaurants such as Grit & Grace and Altius have been gaining positive reviews over recent months. NOLA on the Square in Market and Meat & Potatoes — both in downtown — are a couple of our lunch time favorites.

So take this opportunity to spend some time downtown. Make a reservation and enjoy! Let us know if you’ve found any new favorites.

Credit: Pittsburgh Restaurant Week

Credit: Pittsburgh Restaurant Week

5 Questions to Help You Write a Marketing Plan

Busy or growing companies often ask agencies like ours to help them write marketing plans.  While we’re usually eager to help, sometimes we can’t get started because a few basic questions stall the process right off the bat.

If you’re ready to engage an agency to help you draft a marketing plan, or if you’re planning to write one yourself, you can accelerate the process by working with your company management and sales team to tackle these five questions first:

  1. What is the value proposition for your product, service or company?  What makes you different?  What problems can you solve for customers or help them gain a competitive edge?
  1. Who is your ideal customer?  What is his/her job title or function, and who or what exerts the greatest influence on their buying decision?
  1. What is the best way to reach customers?  Which tools and tactics has your company used to successfully generate leads or sales in the past?
  1. What is the desired call to action for your prospect?
  1. What key metrics will help you measure the success of your plan?

These fundamental questions lead to many others, of course, but they can help narrow your focus or start a productive conversation within your organization.  Is there a question you would add to our list and, if so, how has the answer helped shape your marketing program?

Are You Using ‘That’ and ‘Which’ Correctly?

In everyday conversation, people use that and which interchangeably without giving the words much thought. However, when using them as relative pronouns to introduce adjective clauses, the choice of using that or which determines the meaning of a sentence. It’s another grammar rule that is more important in writing than it is in speech.

So, how do you know which word to use? Simply put, use that before a restrictive clause and which before a nonrestrictive clause. Easy enough, right?

That

Restrictive (or essential) clauses limit the meaning of the nouns they modify. They add important information, and leaving it out would change the sentence’s meaning.

Example: The bacon cheeseburgers that are topped with cheddar sell fast.

In this sentence, we specifically know the bacon cheeseburgers with cheddar sell fast. We don’t know anything about the burgers with a different cheese.

Which

Nonrestrictive (or nonessential) clauses simply provide additional information that can be left out of a sentence without changing its meaning.

Example: The bacon cheeseburgers, which are topped with cheddar, sell fast.

In this sentence, we can assume cheddar is on every bacon cheeseburger and they all sell fast.

Did you notice the commas in the nonrestrictive clause example and how they are absent in the restrictive clause example. The rule of thumb is to surround a nonrestrictive clause with commas. If the sentence ends in a nonrestrictive clause, set it off with a single comma. For example, “I ate a bacon cheeseburger for lunch, which was delicious.”

Would you like us to explore other grammar questions? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

When Is Twitter Going to Add an Edit Feature?

Here at Yearick-Millea, we love Twitter as a go-to source for news, general information, laughs and more! With that said, Twitter needs to add an edit feature to help clarify tweets, whether it is misinformation from a news source, an accidental tweet from your phone or an embarrassing typo (like Delta’s typo last month).

Earlier this week, this tweet from the AP really demonstrated the need for the edit button on Twitter:

ap tweet 1

The wording in this Tweet caused quite a bit of confusion and horror, with people thinking the military plane had crashed. Though the AP delivered a correction moments later, the damage was done because people already had widely retweeted the post and taken screenshots of it.

ap tweet 2

The addition of an edit button on Twitter could help users fix their errors much more smoothly. Other social media outlets, like Facebook, offer similar features.  On Facebook for instance, users are allowed to edit their posts after publication and previous versions are visible to anyone who wants to see them.  There are obviously some logistics to work out with an edit button on Twitter – editing time frame after the initial post, the visibility of previous versions of the tweet, etc. –but it’s clear Twitter needs it.

Do you agree? Do you think Twitter needs an edit button?

 

 

Our Favorite Pittsburgh Things—The Gateway Clipper

The Yearick-Millea office has a great view of one of the best things to experience in Pittsburgh—the Gateway Clipper Fleet.

The Gateway Clipper

The Gateway Clipper

Docked at Station Square, the Gateway Clipper Fleet offers a variety of cruises—sightseeing, social, dining, entertainment, seasonal and holiday events. Whether you’ve lived in Pittsburgh your whole life or you’re a newbie to the city, there’s a cruise for you.

Tourists and residents alike can enjoy the sightseeing cruises to take in the beauty of the city. The one-hour cruise offers a different view of the beautiful landscapes and buildings Pittsburgh has to offer, as well as some fun facts about the three rivers. Themed sightseeing cruises—think superheroes, princesses and pirates—are fun for the whole family, while dining cruises like the Captain’s Dinner Dance, are perfect for a date night.

But don’t think you have to set aside an afternoon/evening to enjoy a ride on the Gateway Clipper. If you’re heading to a sporting event or a concert on the North Shore, you can take a riverboat ride from the Station Square dock.

If you’re ever aboard one of the ships during the week, wave at the First & Market building!

Attracting New Business

If you’re in a small business like ours, you know first-hand how vital it is to seek our new customers or expand opportunities with existing ones.

In the restaurant world, a chef might add a new entrée.  In the retail business, a local mom-and-pop shop might run a contest on social media. Both scenarios revolve around a common thread — generating a buzz about your business to attract new customers.

Has your business changed with the hiring of a specialized employee?  Has your company started making or selling a new product, or opened a new location?  Your prospecting program should be designed to make the most of developments like these.

Here are some tools you should consider to help you do so:

  • An accurate and continually updated e-mail database of customers and prospects
  • A mechanism for reaching your customers and prospects on a regular basis, whether it’s an electronic newsletter, a monthly “secret sale” for loyal customers or an informal breakfast meeting with a new business prospect
  • A vibrant website that is continually adding new content
  • A comprehensive social media program focused on the right forum for your targeted audience

Beyond the website, none of these tools has to be a major financial investment.  They just require persistence and a regular investment of time.  Successful gardeners know the work doesn’t stop when the seeds are planted.  The same rules apply to your customer acquisition program.  Take a few hours each week and see what a little watering can do for your business.

LinkedIn Tips for Professionals

LinkedIn can be one of the greatest assets for a professional in any industry. It’s a place to gather insights, establish expertise and develop new business opportunities. Most importantly, it’s an opportunity to make a great first impression for anyone just discovering you – perhaps a future colleague or a potential client, so make the most out of your LinkedIn profile by following a few suggestions:

  • Start with a profile photo and professional headline: Choose a photo that is recent and professional, and create a specific description or job title that will grab the attention of your viewers. Both of these items help establish your social media credibility. Not having a photograph or headline could cause viewers to be suspicious of your profile, so include something that matches the sense of your industry.
  • Include a summary: The summary section of your LinkedIn profile can bring together your headline and experiences. Think of it as a brief overview of yourself, including keywords that can help you to be found in industry searches. This area allows you to tell a story in more ways than a traditional resume.
  • Add visual content: LinkedIn allows you to add videos, images, documents and presentations to each experience that you list on your profile. Showcase items from your portfolio to demonstrate skills.
  • Solicit professional recommendations: Request recommendations from current and former colleagues. This can be a valuable area of your profile to potential employers and business partners/clients.
  • Leverage LinkedIn messaging: LinkedIn allows you to tag an individual or company now by using the “@” symbol followed by your connection’s name. Doing so ensures that your connection will see your post and also engages members of your network. Use this strategically – only for things that are important. The rest of your connections can see posts like this in their news feeds, so ultimately, this creates a more valued relationship amongst those in your network.
  • Join local groups, follow industry resources and create conversation: Provide more significance to your network by also participating in these areas as a way to establish thought leadership. The more content that you share, the better chance you have of others viewing your profile. Be careful not to use this as a way to promote yourself or your company, but as a way to share thoughts and gain feedback.
  • Claim your URL: LinkedIn allows you to customize the URL. Most claimed URLs include the last name (e.g., linkedin.com/lastnamehere). You can also adjust how you appear when people search for you through online platforms such as Google or Yahoo!.

 

Our Favorite Pittsburgh Things: Summer

If the intense heat wasn’t a dead giveaway, let it be known that summer is well underway. While we are able to enjoy all four seasons—some more than others—summer offers nice weather and a variety of activities: some that you may have been doing since you were a kid and some that you may not even know about. That’s why it’s one of our favorite Pittsburgh things.

Catch a ballgame

The Pittsburgh Pirates are normally hitting their stride and climbing in the rankings this time of the year. Even if you’re not a fan, enjoying a day at PNC Park and the surrounding area offers a variety of activities, whether you’re into food, music, or a casual stroll along the Allegheny River.

Seek some thrill

Kennywood’s open! Whether you are looking for some thrills, roller coasters, driving recklessly in a bumper car, or feasting on Potato Patch fries, Kennywood offers a chance to relive your youth and make new memories.

Fun in the sun

If you’re not lucky enough to have your own backyard pool, it seems like there is one available in every community. But, if you’re feeling more adventurous, spend a day riding the slides or floating around at Sandcastle.

The great outdoors

While there’s plenty to do in Pittsburgh, sometimes it’s nice to get away from city life. There are countless camp sites, rafting locations, and off-roading sites that are within an hour or two.

Beach bum

Ok, maybe you can’t be a beach bum in Pittsburgh, but Lake Erie is roughly two hours away. Pack up the family or gather some friends and spend a day at the lake and work on your tan. There’s nothing more relaxing than having your toes in the water; bum in the sand.

Those are some of our favorite things about summer in Pittsburgh. What are yours?

PNC Park

PNC Park