Editor’s Corner: Grammar Snob Alert! Who vs. Whom Demonstrates Usage in Transition

September 13, 2011

by Andrew Guinn, Graveyard Newsroom Supervisor, Business Wire Nashville

Andrew Guinn

by Andrew Guinn, Newsroom Supervisor, BW Nashville

Who vs. whom, which is it? 

 “Look it up.”

This was my fellow university newspaper staffers’ reply to a grammar question, accompanied by an AP Manual flying toward my head.  I’m far from an expert, so, when confronted with the question of who or whom, I looked it up… and found confusion.

Why?  Apparently we’ve changed how particular we are about the correct usage and now find whom awkward in some instances – mostly when our misuse is corrected.  

In a typical press release, the sentence structure is simple and doesn’t call for complication.  The characters you write about are usually getting hired or promoted, maybe sued, so the trick for determining which usage is correct revolves around this: Who is a subject and whom is an object.  Or, who does stuff while stuff happens to whom

 Who came up with this idea?  We, they, he or she came up with this idea.

 We can’t tell for whom the package is.  Awkward, isn’t it?  But correct useage tell us the package is for them, us, her or him.

If the people being replaced in your sentence are committing the action, they are replaced with who.  If they’re just there, near the action, replace them with whom.

 Give this to someone who knows how to use it.  Even if it’s not an actual action.

 Without an address, we didn’t know to whom the package belonged.  Guess it’s for us.

 Whoever and whomever work in the same manner.

 Whoever finds the keys gets a reward.  If he or she finds the keys.

 We will look for the keys in the pockets of whomever we meet.  We meet them.

Some of these feel strange to say.  If you saw a birthday cake in your break room, would you ask, “For whom is this cake?”  Or, would you ask, “Who’s the cake for?” 

Will there be a “grammar snob” around who is still willing to correct us?  I wouldn’t count on it.  But, why wait on someone else when you can do it yourself?

With 31 bureaus around the world and more newsrooms than all of our competitors combined, Business Wire is proud to provide local expertise and superior service, backed by the most accurate editors in the world. In Editor’s Corner, we ask some of our best to chime in on how to get the most out of your press release, based on their years of experience in the industry.


Editor’s Corner: Best Practices for Presenting Quotes in Press Releases

July 20, 2011

by Andrew Guinn, Graveyard Newsroom Supervisor, Business Wire Nashville

Andrew Guinn

by Andrew Guinn, Newsroom Supervisor, BW Nashville

Writing for an audience of business journalists can be tedious.  You want your story to catch their eye, but the language of business news ties your hands and holds you to a monotonous retelling of the latest bond offering or board meeting.  You want to make the release personal and add some zing, but your boss (or client) doesn’t want you to editorialize for them… so, why not let them do it for you?  By asking the right questions, you can build a palette of quotations to break up the rhythm of business speak and breathe a little life into your release.

As the narrator of business news, you convey the facts and answer the “5 W’s.”  Anything you say which attempts to judge these facts without attribution will lead to the dreaded question: “Says who?”  With quotations, not only can you tell the reader how your company feels about its news, you can relay how you think they should feel about it.  You also provide business journalists with the tools necessary to make their story about your news seem as though it resulted from an actual interview, not just a press release.

Once you have the quotes you need, you should present them in the proper manner.  To demonstrate, I’ll quote myself during the rest of this entry.  (I wouldn’t try this at home, unless you’re your own boss.)

“A standard, run-of-the-mill quote starts out like this,” said Andrew Guinn, Editor, Business Wire Nashville.  “Simply take the first full idea the speaker said and follow it with the attribution.  The first mention of the speaker should give their full name, title and company.”

For simple quotes like this, the punctuation should always be placed inside the quotation marks.  Since the attribution is complex, the verb should come first so it is not tacked on to the end like an afterthought.  (“This is an example of what not to do,” Andrew Guinn, Editor, Business Wire, said.)  On further references to a speaker who has already been mentioned, only their last name is necessary.

“In hard news, the preferred verb for an attribution is ‘said,’” Guinn said.  “Words like ‘commented,’ ‘stated’ and ‘says’ are fine for fluffy features, but, since most hard news is written in the past tense, quotes should be finite – the speaker said these words.

“Notice I left the quotation mark off the end of the last paragraph.  If the statement you’re quoting continues into a new paragraph spoken by the same person, you can use a continuing quote like this and not need to add another attribution.  You can carry on in this manner for as long as you need, but, if you change speakers, you’ll need to start a new paragraph and a new quote.”

If you need to introduce the quote, but don’t want to use an entire paragraph or sentence to do it, “you can use a partial quote,” Guinn said.  “This is especially helpful if the idea you’re trying to convey is based on this person’s opinion, if your speaker wasn’t concise or if you simply need to establish context not provided in the quote.”

These are the three most common types of quotations you’ll encounter writing a standard press release.  For further information, the Associated Press Stylebook is considered by many to be the “journalist’s bible.”  Of course, you can always feel free to contact your local Business Wire office and speak with an editor who will be more than happy to assist you.

With 31 bureaus around the world and more newsrooms than all of our competitors combined, Business Wire is proud to provide local expertise and superior service, backed by the most accurate editors in the world. In Editor’s Corner, we ask some of our best to chime in on how to get the most out of your press release, based on their years of experience in the industry.


Editor’s Corner – January Edition

January 26, 2011

With 31 bureaus around the world and more newsrooms than all of our competitors combined, Business Wire is proud to provide local expertise and superior service, backed by the most accurate editors in the world. In Editor’s Corner, we ask some of our best to chime in on how to get the most out of your press release, based on their years of experience in the industry.

 

by Joe O'Brien, Business Wire Boston

How to Avoid Getting Lost in Translations

If your business is booming in Europe or your CEO is giving the keynote at a conference in Tokyo, you’re probably planning to issue your company’s news internationally. But efforts to identify a target market and choose an appropriate release time can be all for naught if you’re unprepared to communicate in the local language. That’s why it is vital to ensure that your translations are ready when you are. Follow these tips and you’ll never get lost:

Finalize Your Release First

While last-minute edits are sometimes unavoidable, always try to provide the final version of your press release. Implementing changes to in-progress translations can become complex and might potentially result in additional fees. In fact, as a safeguard the Boston newsroom’s standard practice is to begin the translation process only after the English release has been approved for distribution.

Your Translation Takes Time

When planning for translations, a good rule of thumb is to allow at least 24 to 48 hours for completion. Most translations can be returned within this time frame depending on:

  • The type of translation – More commonly requested languages, like French or German, can be processed more quickly than a less commonly requested language, like Russian or Thai.
  • The length of the release – This one is self-explanatory: the longer a release, the more time required to translate it. On a related note, consider the content of your release. A release with multiple instances of technical or product-specific terminology may require some research and more time to properly translate.
  • The timing of the request – Translation turnaround estimates are based on when the vendor receives the order, not when it is sent. Most of our vendors are located overseas and are only open during local business hours. Also, most are closed during the weekend. Keep this in mind for translation requests sent near the end of the business day or at the end of the week.

Take Advantage of Your Translation

If pressed for time, you may be tempted to forgo translations. Resist that temptation! Not only will your release reach fewer readers, but the translation service is included in the cost of many of Business Wire’s international circuits. Take advantage of it.

-Joe O’Brien, Senior Editor, Business Wire Boston

PS: For more tips for issuing releases internationally, don’t forget to check out our white paper on engaging global audiences.


Editor’s Corner – November Edition

November 16, 2010

With 31 bureaus around the world and more newsrooms than all of our competitors combined, Business Wire is proud to provide local expertise and superior service, backed by the most accurate editors in the world. In Editor’s Corner, we ask some of our best to chime in on how to get the most out of your press release, based on their years of experience in the industry.

A Tip from Business Wire: Own Your Headline!

by Christina Jahnke, Editor, Business Wire/Chicago

Think your release will stand out in a crowd? If you don’t own your headline, think again! Hundreds of headlines scroll across the Business Wire website (and the multitude of feeds we reach) on a daily basis. How is it possible to draw crowds to you, when the only tools you have are words? It’s simple, really: Choose words wisely.

Having run the Chicago Marathon over Columbus Day weekend, I was entertained and inspired by the many spectator signs on course. Unfortunately, there were so many signs and only a passing moment to read them. The slogans that took hold were clear, witty and, most importantly, could be read inside three seconds. Anything longer and I missed the punch line en route to the next aid station. This is a great analogy for those scrolling feeds. Eyes are moving fast over those headlines. If you don’t stand out, you may be passed over. Take a tip to own your headline!

Here are three to consider:

1.  Include your organization’s name.
Ownership implies a name, and that is perhaps the most important element. Don’t assume the public knows who you are, no matter how big you are. These press releases are the story of your organization on the Web. Give your company the recognition it deserves! Additionally, those who search by your company’s name will have a way to find your release on the Internet.

2.  Be concise.
The three-second rule fits perfectly. Be brief in summarizing the content of your press release. Longer headlines are less likely to be picked up by search engines. Be concise. Less is more.

3.  Stay on point.
You have something important to say. While it’s good to be concise, don’t let the effort to be succinct overshadow the message. Read and re-read your headline. Are you staying on point or trying to fit too much in too small a space?

The headline is the first appearance of your message to the world. Own it, and help your release go the distance!

-Christina Jahnke, Editor, Business Wire Chicago


Editor’s Corner – September Edition

September 24, 2010

With 31 bureaus around the world and more newsrooms than all of our competitors combined, Business Wire is proud to provide local expertise and superior service, backed by the most accurate editors in the world. In Editor’s Corner, we ask some of our best to chime in on how to get the most out of your press release, based on their years of experience in the industry.

by Business Wire Minneapolis Editor Paul J.F. Bowman

Answer Potential Questions Within Your Press Release Content

Readers should rarely need to clarify your information; well-written press releases answer nearly every question they may have. After you’ve read aloud the final draft of your release in private, ask a few colleagues to review it as well. See if they have any questions about the content. If not, you’ve written with clarity!

 

Company XZ is rated #1 in our field.

#1 in which field? Who rated you #1?

 

ZZ Magazine rated Company XZ ‘#1 Distributor of ABCC Products.’

 

The latter italicized sentence shows who rated Company XZ as #1 (ZZ Magazine). It also indicates in which field Company XZ is rated #1 (distribution of ABCC Products). This example illustrates a primary purpose of a press release: to offer the media enough initial and verifiable information to write about the topic.

 

Don’t offer a reason to leave your press release

In my experience, phrases such as “studies show” or “researchers agree” (my personal favorite: “most people agree”) often lack citation. A reference to the study or survey’s findings should always accompany these phrases; uncited claims quickly open the information’s legitimacy for questioning.

When writing an article responding to a survey or research, offer verifiable sources through hyperlinks, name/company/position of personnel interviewed, periodical name and date of issue, etc. Don’t leave your readers to trust your writing exclusively; give them a chance to investigate your source material. The sources you provide act as the first defense of your information. Ideally, the writer’s content guides the reader’s understanding of the research, much like a GPS assists a driver’s navigation.

Though many will not read your source information, simply offering your reader the chance to review it gives tremendous credence to your piece. Providing citations and footnotes focuses the reader on your source information rather than Web search results.

My estimated chances of finishing an article are around 1% once I’ve attempted to find or clarify the source information myself. In the press world, this loss of your captive audience costs money. Once you’ve let readers stray from your content, it will be very difficult to bring them back.

Hyperlink your sources

 

Clicking press release hyperlinks on our website opens them either in a new window or a new tab, depending on how your browser is setup. The only exception to this is the (BUSINESS WIRE) hyperlink in the dateline or our logo at the end of the release. Clicking either of those will bring you to our home page in the same tab/window.

The setting to automatically open each hyperlink in a separate window is embedded in the website coding. If your company has an online press center, ask your webmaster if they can enable your release hyperlinks to automatically open new windows/tabs.

Internet Explorer 7 users, here’s how to change your setting between opening a new tab or opening a new window:

  1. Open Internet Explorer 7
  2. On the “File,” “Edit,” etc. toolbar, click “Tools,” then “Internet Options”
  3. On the General tab, under the subsection named “Tabs,” click “Settings”
  4. The first box, “Enable Tabbed Browsing” must be checked to use tabs
  5. Once that box is checked, the options we’re most interested in are under “When a pop-up is encountered:”
  6. Pick your preferred option, “Always open pop-ups in a new window” or “Always open pop-ups in a new tab”
  7. Click “OK”
  8. Click “OK” again
  9. If “Enable Tabbed Browsing” was not checked before step #5, you will need to restart your browser to complete enabling of this feature

-Paul J.F. Bowman, Editor, Business Wire Minneapolis


Upcoming Business Wire Event: Chicago – August 4

July 21, 2010

Upcoming Business Wire Events

Join Business Wire experts in your area for media breakfasts, panel discussions and other insightful events. We bring local media members and industry thought leaders to your market to discuss today’s most relevant topics, from writing for SEO to marketing with social media. Best of all, Business Wire events are usually free of charge. Check out this upcoming event in your area:

Chicago’s Media is “Transforming”: Discover New Placement Opportunities

Hosted by Business Wire Chicago

Our companies and clients understand that the reductions in local newsroom staff can mean less opportunity for pitching and placement, but are we missing opportunities with local news organization start-ups with rapidly growing audiences that can give our properly-crafted pitches a new place to call home? Join Business Wire Chicago as we speak with the editorial management staff behind some of Chicago’s newest media outlets.  They will talk about how professional communicators can best work with their staff and what kinds of untapped PR opportunities exist within their organizations. Speakers include Kyle Leonard, Managing Editor at Triblocal and Tracy Schmidt, Editorial Director for ChicagoNow.com. This event is free for all attendees.

Wednesday, August 4 at 8:00 a.m. CT
Maggiano’s Little Italy – Chicago
Amarone Banquet Room
516 N. Clark St. (banquet entrance is on Grand Ave.), Chicago, IL 60654

To register: Please RSVP to Abbie Sullivan at abbie.sullivan@businesswire.com by Thursday, July 29. Please include your name, company name and phone number.

For more upcoming local Business Wire events or to see what’s coming up in our award-winning webinar series, visit http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/business-wire-events.

Follow Business Wire events on Twitter! Hash tag #bwevents


Editor’s Corner – July Edition: What’s all the Hype about Hyperlinks?

July 16, 2010

With 30 bureaus around the world and more newsrooms than all of our competitors combined, Business Wire is proud to provide local expertise and superior service, backed by the most accurate editors in the world. In Editor’s Corner, we ask some of our best to chime in on how to get the most out of your press release, based on their years of experience in the industry.

What’s all the Hype about Hyperlinks?

Direct the Media and Viewers Beyond Your Home Page

Nicole DeJarnatt

BW Denver Editor Nicole DeJarnatt

From financial filings to product updates to new personnel announcements, it’s vital that today’s press release not only encourage your target audience to read your news, but to “click” through your text and go beyond the scope of your company’s home page.

Including a variety of “active” or “clickable” hyperlinks in your press release is an easy and cost-effective way to showcase a particular product and generate traffic to your website. Moreover, it enables your audience to learn more detailed information, keeping them engaged with your company longer, in a fresh and interactive way.

When adding hyperlinks to your press release, consider these tips:

  • Pick relevant, up-to-date links that reference a specific Web page, rather than generic links like your company home page. For example, emphasize your investor relations page, link to the registration site for an upcoming conference, showcase a product and where it can be purchased, or highlight executive bios/photos and personnel quoted within your release.
  • Don’t link your headline. This can actually hurt the searchability of your release on sites like Google.
  • Don’t wait for the boilerplate. Readers often skim the news so include links early on and not just in the “About” section.
  • Don’t repeat links. Mix it up and reference a variety of resources/Web pages.
  • Don’t overdo the blue. Too many links can actually flag your release as spam and make it hard for the reader to focus on what’s important. Business Wire recommends one link per 100 words.
  • Link to interactive multimedia like photos as well as video and audio clips.
  • Optimize and reinforce keywords/phrases with online search engines by hyperlinking them in your press release.
  • Copy/paste embedded hyperlinks whenever possible (i.e., don’t re-key long URLs).
  • Use Business Wire’s Short URL Generator to convert long URLs for use in your release and other marketing communications.
  • No dead links. Double check that all your links are live and working.
  • When uploading your company logo via Business Wire Connect (free), be sure to include the URL/link to your home page so readers are automatically directed there.
  • Gauge your return on investment by reviewing your NewsTrak reports to determine a summary of viewer interaction with your release, including links and click-throughs from referring URLs. Evaluate which keywords/phrases are getting hits and which aren’t, and adjust your media strategy accordingly.

Adding “active” and “clickable” hyperlinks expands the reach of your press release and transforms it from a basic public relations tool into an interactive online portal for media, analysts, investors and consumers. Now click your mouse three times and say…“There’s a better place than the home page.”

For questions about how to embed “active” and “clickable” links within your news release, contact your local Business Wire newsroom.

-Nicole DeJarnatt, Newsroom Editor, Business Wire Denver


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