The Oxford Comma Debate

oxford comma debateThe Oxford comma is a polarizing piece of punctuation, and its use has even been disputed in the courtroom. The Oxford comma debate raged on in a class-action lawsuit where Oakhurst Dairy drivers were awarded $5 million for not receiving overtime pay from their employer. Maine law states workers must be paid 1.5 times their normal wage if they exceed 40 hours per week. The exceptions to this law included the following activities:

The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:

  1. Agricultural produce;
  2. Meat and fish product; and
  3. Perishable foods

The drivers claimed that “packing for shipment” and “distribution” were not two separate exemptions because there wasn’t a comma included before “or”. This meant that distribution on its own was not an exception to the law and merited overtime pay. The ambiguity that resulted by omitting the Oxford comma caused the judge to rule in favor of the drivers.

What Exactly is the Oxford Comma?

If a single comma can cost a company millions of dollars, the Oxford comma debate must be a big deal. Also known as the serial comma, the Oxford comma is a piece of punctuation placed just before a coordinating conjunction in a list of three or more items. There is little consistency to its use and it continues to spark controversy in the world of writing. Many American-style guides such as The Chicago Manual of Style advocate for the use of the comma, but the Associated Press Stylebook is one of the most noteworthy exceptions. Several publications only use it when it’s necessary to avoid confusion, and most foreign languages leave it out of their writing entirely.

Arguments In Favor

Many researchers, academics, and writers insist on using the Oxford comma in their work. Proponents of this comma believe that it improves the clarity of a sentence and should never be left out. Consider this example:

Without the Oxford comma: “After accepting the award, the director thanked his parents, Jeff Goldblum and God.”

With the Oxford comma: “After accepting the award, the director thanked his parents, Jeff Goldblum, and God.”

The absence of the Oxford comma in this example literally changes the meaning of the sentence. Without the comma, it could be wrongly assumed that the director’s parents are Jeff Goldblum and God. Placing the comma before “and” separates the two nouns and helps to avoid any misconception of meaning.

Another argument in favor of the Oxford comma is that it better mimics the cadence of a spoken sentence. Adding an extra comma before a conjunction represents the pause you would take while speaking, and many people would argue that it makes the meaning of a sentence more clear. Like the example above, failing to pause at the end of could make the listener believe that the final two items in the list are combined.

Arguments Against

The Associated Press, along with many journalists, are against the Oxford comma being a grammatical requirement. Opponents of the comma believe that it can make a piece of writing seem cluttered and even pretentious. A lot of these people think that including a conjunction is sufficient enough, and some would even say that including the extra comma belittles readers because the author assumes they have difficulty understanding longer sentences. Publishers also frown upon its use because it has the potential to take up page space, something that is incredibly crucial to conserve.

Some people would consider the Oxford comma in this example to be unnecessary:

Without the Oxford comma: “Mary went to the mall, the library and then to Jenny’s house.”

With the Oxford comma: “Mary went to the mall, the library, and then to Jenny’s house.”

In the example above, some would argue that the sentence is clear enough without the extra comma.      

One Key Takeaway

Whatever your stance is in the Oxford comma debate, remember to remain consistent in your writing. Only using the comma periodically could cause even more ambiguity and make your writing seem unprofessional. The comma is not yet a universal requirement, so pick a side and stick to it! 


Where do you stand in the Oxford comma debate? Share your opinion with us in the comment section below!

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How to Effectively Use Facebook Stories for Brands

Recently, I’ve been brainstorming how to implement a plan to use Facebook Stories across all of the brands we own here at TrackFive. I have to admit – although I am an avid Facebook user, I rarely pay attention to the Stories at the top of my page. So, I started watching the stories my friends are posting. They’re similar to Snapchats in that they’re short, 20-second snippets of either photo or video. After 24 hours, they disappear.  Plus, they’re at the top of everyone’s newsfeed and can be seen by all of your Facebook followers. However, I wondered, how many people actually watch Facebook Stories, and how valuable could Facebook stories for brands actually be? It turns out pretty valuable. It’s no surprise that Facebook has an average of 2.23 billion monthly users, but I was surprised to learn that Facebook had 150 million active users per day for Stories just 14 months after launching this feature. Also, in a study conducted by Facebook, the social media platform found that 62 percent of those who actively watch Facebook Stories said that they become more interested in a brand after seeing it in their Stories feed.

So, the audience is there. As best stated by Forbes writer Bud Torcom, “I see Facebook Stories like California’s mines and creeks before the 1849 gold rush, and as a fellow marketer, you deserve to know about this rich vein of opportunity waiting to be tapped.”

Let’s tap in!

Five Benefits of Using Facebook Stories for Brands

  • Facebook Stories are the first thing people see when they log into Facebook, and they’re growing in popularity. This means you have the opportunity to reach a wide audience of people who probably aren’t going to your brand’s page every day. Once they see your attention-grabbing Facebook Story, they just might.
  • Facebook produces a greater return on investment than any other social network, and Facebook Stories is rising in popularity. People are mindlessly scrolling Facebook, and they’re not even really looking for anything. Facebook is kind of like wandering into Target to kill time. You didn’t realize you needed all that junk from the $1 bins at the front of the store until you saw them. Facebook Stories puts your brand at the front of the store, so to speak.
  • Video! Let’s face it, video marketing is more relevant than ever before. In fact, whether you’re talking companies or regular consumers, we are all uploading more video content per month than major U.S. television stations could create in 30 years. Let that sink in. People engage with video. It has a higher reach on Facebook, and it’s an interesting and more personal way to tell your brand’s story.
  • Stories are organic and easy to consume. If you want to connect to your customers in a real way, getting their attention by creating Facebook Stories is an effective way to do it. It’s especially beneficial if you’re running a campaign or trying to engage with your audience. Here at TrackFive, our first Facebook Stories trial was with a scholarship campaign we host every year through our TravelNurseSource brand. We created selfie videos encouraging people to head over to our page and vote for their favorite scholarship contestant. It worked!
  • It’s free! The fact that Facebook Stories are free is the most obvious benefit. Even if you experiment with it and find that you’re not seeing a difference in engagement from your consumers, it doesn’t cost you anything at all to do it. Well, other than a little bit of time and creative juices.

Three Tips for How to Effectively Use Facebook Stories for Brands

Facebook Stories for brands

If you want successful Facebook Stories for brands, check out these three tips!

  • Make sure your content is time-sensitive. Think about it. Facebook Stories are only live for 24 hours. You don’t want to post something evergreen here or duplicate your stories week after week. You want to promote something that’s timely, like Valentine’s Day, a 24-hour contest, or announcing something new in your industry.
  • Don’t bore your audience with all of the same content. What do I mean by “the same content?” Well, you’re not going to like it, because this is a tough one. You shouldn’t post the same content across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Although some duplicate content is ok, it gets boring. Think about your personal Facebook use. How annoying is it to scroll Instagram and see that your friend from high school is posting a proud “my child used the potty for the first time” picture? Now, it’s even more annoying when you switch over to Facebook and see the post again. Before you create a story, ask yourself, who cares? Then, ask yourself, which social platform cares most?
  • Use Facebook Stories as a way to take things to a more personal level. Sure, your Facebook story can be graphics or animation, but also think of ways to show face. People like people, so if you can use Facebook Stories to recognize your employee of the month or to show video clips of a conference you’re attending, this will attract a lot more attention. It also shows your audience the people behind the brand, and it can increase their likelihood of engaging with you.

How to Measure Success After Posting Facebook Stories for Brands

My issue this week – how do I measure the success of all these Facebook Stories that I planned out? I found through Facebook Insights how to see the stats on my stories, but I didn’t really understand what they meant. It said something about how many people forward swiped and backward swiped. Now, I’ve used Tinder before, (for those of you in relationships, this is a dating app) so I get the whole left is bad, right is a good thing when it comes that. However, Facebook is different. Did they like it or didn’t they!? It took me just one a quick Google search to arrive at my answer. I’ve included the info below for you.

  • Unique Story Opens: This is the number of people who opened your story. If that number is high – yay!
  • Forward Taps: Forward taps means that’s the number of times someone tapped to skip to the next piece of your story. If this number is high, that’s also a good thing. That means your story was interesting enough that they hope there’s more to see.
  • Backward Taps: This is the number of times someone tapped to go back to your story. So, basically, if someone was tap-happy and moved forward too fast, backward taps mean they probably thought – “hey, that was cool. I should go back and look at it again.”
  • Forward Swipes: The number of forward swipes is one that you don’t want to be high. This is the number of times someone swiped to skip to the next story in their feed.
  • Exits: This one is obviously the number of people who viewed your story and then exited the Stories feature to go back to their regular newsfeed.

What have you discovered about Facebook Stories for brands? Share your experience with us in the comments below!

Benefits of a Website Audit

I’ve survived! After hacking through (literally) millions of URLs, sifting through insurmountable amounts of spreadsheets, and wading my way through site crawls, I’ve finally completed my first full audit of a website. While, I know that description might scare you away, I actually had a ton of fun digging into the meat of one our many awesome websites. Not only was I able to diagnose issues to tackle in the future, but I was also able to learn more about our website and company than ever before! A website audit is certainly a big endeavor, but it could be exactly what your company needs in 2019. Below we’ll take a look at some of the best benefits of a website audit.

Benefits of a Website Audit

What is a Website Audit?

Before we can climb the mountain that is a website audit, we first need to know what it is? Similar to an SEO audit, which I covered in the past, a website audit takes a look at your entire site from multiple angles. You’ll take a look at things like content, functionality, link building, and other aspects of your site that provide the foundation of your brand. Below we’ll take a look at some of the most important benefits of a website audit.

Overall Website Health

Like our own bodies, some ailments affecting your site might not present many symptoms on the surface. Luckily, a website audit could detect issues that could cripple your website down the road. It can help detect navigation issues. For example, you might not be leading your consumers to the correct landing pages. Ideally, a full website audit will catch this. It also identifies potential gaps in content structure, technical gaps, and website speed. The overall health of your website is something that should be examined every year. Whether it’s a broken plug-in, large videos, or simply a messy landing page, one of the biggest benefits of a website audit is the ability to diagnose an ailing site.

Content Audit

We’ll get into the SEO aspect shortly, but let’s first just take a look at the raw content. One of the biggest benefits of a website audit is finding content gaps. A content gap is essentially a topic that you might not be covering on your site. For instance, if your site deals with cooking, you might want to consider a section devoted to cooking schools. This will help you generate more traffic and ideally, more conversions on your site.  You’ll also want to check for duplicate content as well, which can hurt you from an SEO standpoint, but we’ll touch on that shortly.

benefits of a website audit

You also need to be looking at the quality of your content as well. Website crawlers with Google are aware of content that is not valuable, short, and repetitive and will penalize the website and search rankings for content that is seen as inferior. If the content on your website is deemed low-level, it will not rank high in the search rankings. A website audit will help you identify this thin content. Then, you can beef it up and rank for even more keywords in the future!

SEO content Audit

I’ve mentioned it before, but an SEO audit should be an essential part of your website audit. Since a good portion of traffic depends on Google, it’s probably a good idea to make sure your SEO is up to snuff. This can include things like using the correct keywords, interlinking, and link building. This is also a good time to perform a link audit. This will help you find broken links and link building opportunities. Are there any SEO practices in use on your site that are known to generate a red flag or penalty from Google that could hurt your site rank? This is also the time to look for those spammy links that could potentially harm your site.

Another SEO aspect you want to consider is your URL structure. You want your URLs to look as clean and concise as possible to Google can crawl them. They should include the keyword you’re ranking for. They also should have the proper coding to avoid duplicate content and to ensure Google isn’t wasting time crawling unnecessary pages.

There’s certainly a lot more that goes into a complete site audit, but these tips should help you get on your way. Do you have any more benefits of a website audit to provide? Comment below!

Tips for Writer’s Block | 5 Ways to Coax Creativity!

.So there you sit — staring at a glowing screen, a blank word document stealing the oxygen out of the room. You have just a thousand more words before the end of the day and it’s already an hour to closing time. Maybe the week got away from you or the ideas just haven’t leapt to the page as usual. Whatever the case, writer’s block is something that can be as enigmatic as it is obvious to cure! Here are a five tips for writer’s block!

Smashing Your Writer’s Block | Five Tips for Writer’s Block

Whether you’re in marketing, journalism, or you just write for fun, we all have those moments (or maybe many excruciating series of moments) when capturing the right words and ideas is as easy as holding the smoke in your hands. It doesn’t help when there are a series of other assignments ready to present a similar struggle. Writer’s block is never fun…Or maybe it is?

Here’s my first technique for eliminating writer’s block:

1. Indulge in Nonsense

Sure, you’re not going to want this to transfer into the ultimate execution of your work. However, sometimes it helps to simply write the first thing that comes to mind. It may not (and will likely not) be related to the serious topic you’ve been tasked to cover, but it may unfurl your subconscious mind enough to expose your real ideas.

writer's block

Words are hard, but nonsense is simple!

Whether it’s just a matter of clearing away unwanted mental baggage or generating a false sense of accomplishment, writing nonsense is something that can be a quick solution to shifting your thoughts into the right gear. While I can see this working for the more nebulously minded of us, maybe you’re the type of person who just goes deeper into the self-doubt writer’s block produces.

2. Get Up and Move

Sometimes it just takes a bit of physical movement to redistribute the blood and really get those mental facilities up and running. If you have the ability, go for a brief walk, run, or do some light cardiovascular exercise to convince your body that things are different now and the masterpiece can ensue.

writer's block

Believe me, staring forcefully into your computer monitor until words appear is rarely the best way to produce something you’ll be happy with. You may want to just get a little sunlight and breathe deeply into the void of existence before sitting down to write your problematic piece of work. Hopefully, that’s enough to let you reach the fruit of your creativity-orchard, but if not you may need a more directed approach. Getting up and moving is one of the most important tips for writer’s block, as it also will help with your overall wellness.

3. Find an Uncanny Influence

If you’re inspired by music, find something you’ve never heard before. Into the visual arts? Go glimpse interesting imagery just until the point where your mind’s eye is ready to see those words hitting the page! The point is this — find something to help you break out of your regular thought-patterns and stir up new ideas. Writer’s block may feel like you’re turning to stone at the bottom of the ocean, but if it never left anyone then humanity would have exhausted just about every great thought available. So far so good!

writer's block

Waste time with the Magic iPod at your own risk…

While it’s important not to waste time being a whimsical dandy just floating about, finding things you wouldn’t normally draw inspiration from can inform what you’d like to create, in addition to what you’ll want to avoid. The answers are out there, regardless of how elusive they are at this very moment. More or less, just take to mediums which aren’t your usual cup of tea and swallow them whole or smash the mug entirely — whichever is a more applicable metaphor.

4. What Would You Want to Read?

So up until this point, my advice has probably been pretty subjective. Perhaps you’re looking for that actionable, completely obvious way to destroy your writer’s block the “just say it already” takeaway point. And really that’s just it! Write exactly what it is you’d like to read yourself. Some people take entirely boring subjects, and through some alchemical wizardry, produce a relatively engaging piece because they’re genuinely interested in the content.

writer's block

You are your most critical audience member, and simultaneously the performer!

This can also translate to the fact that sometimes you’ll need a jump start on figuring out the exact content you’ll be writing. For this, I’d essentially recommend finding similar pieces and writing your own take on the matter, taking care not to lift anything directly. Plagiarism is still alive and well in our digital age! Think about who your ideal reader is and write for them. The worst case scenario is that you write too narrowly, but that’s fine if it gets the job done!

5. Time is Your Friend!

Sometimes you can use your deadlines to leverage your creative mind! I know what you’re thinking “that’s what has gotten us here in the first place.” However, maybe setting small incremental goals is just what you need to break down a larger task at hand. Give yourself an hour to get the topic or focus of your piece. Use the next hour to develop the outline. Before you know it, you’re adding that final punctuation mark and punching out for the day! (Side note: Time is an illusion of consciousness designed to present order in a relatively chaotic universe.)

writer's block

The most difficult part for many with writer’s block is taking that first step into the unknown. You know, that swirling semantic tornado of uncertainty devouring the trailer parks and open prairies of your mind until inspiration is pulled from the rubble! Hopefully, this blog gave you your mental vacation needed to erupt with that next great piece of content! If not, you’re on your own — but I’m glad I temporarily convinced you otherwise! I hope you enjoyed these tips for writer’s block!

7 Link Building Mistakes Every Marketer Should Know

Ah, link building. It’s one of the most common SEO techniques out there, but it’s also one of the most challenging. No matter how experienced a digital marketer you are, link building is sort of a crapshoot – you never really know what’s going to happen. Needless to say, there are quite a few link building mistakes that anyone can make, and these mistakes could yield some negative consequences.

7 Link Building Mistakes Every Marketer Should Know

link building mistakes

1. Buying links

We hope you’re smart enough to know that buying links is a BIG no-no in the SEO world. However, there are still some people out there that think they can take the easy way out by buying or selling links. It seems too good to be true, right? Well, it is. Paid links can seriously hurt your ranking in search engine results. Search engine algorithms, especially Google’s, are becoming smarter and smarter. So, there’s a high chance that they will catch and penalize any link buyers or sellers out there. Avoid this mistake at all costs!

2. Getting “no-follow” links

Building no-follow links is nothing more than a waste of time since Google ignores any link with the nofollow tag. These links do not count toward a page’s authority, nor their placement in the search results. Use tools like Moz or SEMrush to check your links, and stay away from nofollow links whenever possible!

3. Only building links to your site’s homepage

This one’s a popular link building mistake for beginners. While it may seem like a good idea to build backlinks exclusively to your site’s homepage, it’s not. Google will see this as artificial or spammy, and your search rankings could suffer. It’s important to keep other pages in mind while link building, like links to your site’s blog. This will help you to rank higher in the search results for pages other than your homepage.

link building mistakes 2

4. Building links too quickly

There’s no rule for how many links you should build in a day, but search engines will notice if you seem to be getting backlinks unnaturally quickly. Link building is not a process that should be rushed; slow and steady wins the race! If you build, say, a thousand links to your site in one day, prepare to be penalized. Search engines will notice this, and they may even ban your website from being indexed as a result.

5. Getting backlinks from irrelevant sites

Link builders should strive to build backlinks for relevant sites only, or, sites within their niche. In other words, if you have a site that sells pet supplies, getting links from a marketing website isn’t going to do you any good, even if the site has a high domain authority (DA). Before trying to build a link, make sure that the site is in a similar niche as yours.

6. Linking to a site with a bad reputation

Linking to spam or duplicate content sites is one of the worst link building mistakes you can make. Building a link to a site with a bad reputation will tell Google that you endorse that site. As a result, you will be penalized. Be sure to thoroughly check the site and their reputation before you link to them!

7. Getting site-wide links

It’s a good idea to stay away from site-wide links or links that come from the header or footer section of a website. While this used to be an effective link building strategy, it isn’t anymore. Google started noticing these types of links and began penalizing the websites.

Can you think of any other link building mistakes that marketers should avoid? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Why Marketing With Graphic Design Can Improve Your Business

Graphic design is becoming an increasingly important component of online marketing. Design is so much more than pasting a colorful picture onto a piece of paper or using an interesting font on your website. Graphic design is a way in which we can communicate and problem-solve through the use of photography and illustration. Graphic design is a key way to connect with users or customers and sway their decision-making process. The supplementary use of imagery and color is often times a more appealing form of communication than just using written word. Hence, why so many people are interested in nailing this aspect of the marketing mix! So, how exactly does graphic design improve your online marketing? Here are four great ways that marketing with graphic design can help grow and advance your business.

marketing with graphic design

4 Ways Graphic Design Can Improve Your Marketing

1. Improves Your First Impression

Believe it or not, you have less time to make a good impression online than you do in person. This means you have just seconds to make a good impression on someone visiting your site. If your website lacks visual appeal or attraction, chances are you will lose any potential business from said viewer. Potential customers visiting your site should be able to understand what your company does, how they can help, and why they should choose to conduct business with you. Remember, you only have seconds to do this. Thus, marketing with graphic design is an incredibly important and useful tool that can help to sway their decision in your favor.

Builds Trust

In today’s digital era, online trust is becoming increasingly important in the wake of online scamming. When people visit and browse your company’s webpage, you want them to feel they can trust your site. Design, believe it or not, plays a larger role in online trust than you might think. A small study asked users to record whether they trusted certain websites they visited, and if not, why. When evaluating why there was distrust towards certain websites, 94 percent of those reasons related to design problems. This means you may be utilizing the concept of graphic design, but doing so in a counterproductive way. Some of the top reasons that viewers did not trust a website were due to a boring web design, pop-up ads, slow load times, too much text, and more. Invest time in developing a site that is user-friendly and builds trust. When viewers feel they can trust your site they will likely continue to return.

Improves Your Social Media Presence

It’s no surprise that engaging graphic design can have a major impact on your social media platforms. How you utilize design will also impact how people remember your brand. In the age of scrolling, eye-catching visuals are becoming increasingly important. Creating current and well-designed visuals will help attract new followers, likes, comments, shares, and overall engagement.

Improves Your CTA’s

As we’ve mentioned before, graphic design is a great way to communicate and engage with your audience. However, when users are visiting your webpage the end goal is almost always engagement. Whether it’s liking, commenting, sharing, or clicking on a link it all helps to increase the social participation around your brand. The use of graphic design only helps to further improve your CTA’s (call to action) Attention grabbing CTA’s will help to guide users visiting your site into potential paying customers.

What do you think are some additional benefits of pairing marketing with graphic design? Let us know is the comments below!

SEO Tactics for Small Businesses | Some Basic Tips!

Each year there are more SEO tactics to become aware of for the benefit of your business. When you’re working to ensure your company’s websites are performing the best they can, it all comes down to staying ahead of the curve. No matter what your product or service may be, there are SEO tactics for small businesses that you’ll want to stay aware of and implement. It’s not just the trends you have to consider, but how these tactics can stay sustainable throughout the year. Today we’ll talk about some of the basic SEO considerations to make if you want your small business to flourish:


SEO Tactics for Small Businesses | Basic Tips:

Unless you’ve been totally avoiding the internet and all the marketing required to make your small business a success, it’s no secret that mobile SEO is huge. Along with a greater volume of searches, mobile devices are changing the approach consumers take when finding information on a product or service. This means that SEO tactics for small businesses absolutely need to account for this shift. Mainly there are 3 main things you’ll want to consider:

  • Voice Search
  • Featured Snippets
  • Local Search

Optimizing your small business’s site for each of these aspects of mobile search can have some huge results. That’s why we’ll break down each of these critical SEO tactics for small businesses.

Voice Search is Here to Stay

Whether it’s through a smartphone, home assistant, or even a desktop more people are doing voice searches than ever before. Last year in 2017, 33 million voice search devices were used by 40 percent of adults each day. Compared to its launch in 2008, Google’s voice search received 35 times more search queries in 2016. Since voice assistants have been added to more phones, TVs, and dedicated devices than ever, SEO is following suit.

SEO tactics for small businesses

In terms of SEO tactics for small businesses, you’ll always want to answer specific questions via ‘first-page content,’ and by this I mean content that provides the absolute best and most concise answer. This is what will ultimately get you popping up on people’s mobile devices which leads to our next point…

Featured Snippets are Best

If you’re optimizing for voice search at all, that means really nailing those featured snippets. When people are searching for a product or service your small business provides, they’re likely looking for something very specific. Doing some keyword research into what phrases your customers are actually using allows you to earn these featured snippets with greater accuracy. Then, not only will your site be easier to find on mobile devices, but will also populate on full desktop pages better.

Local SEO is EVERYTHING

If you’re a small business then you already realize the importance of optimizing your website for local searches. When you consider both voice search and rich or featured snippets, local search is where these things really make sense. Most of the time, people are going to ask for products and services “near me” or “in my area.” Writing content featuring keywords with your city or location is one way to do this in addition to having a Google My Business profile. This way people can instantly find your store hours, directions, and a phone number without doing an additional search or even clicking onto your website itself!

Overall, SEO tactics for small businesses include many other more nuanced factors, however, these are some of the most common and effective ways to increase your site’s reach and rank. Combining voice search, featured snippets, and local SEO ensures you’re getting the best return on investment for any marketing and content writing efforts you’re undertaking.

What are some ways your small business optimizes itself for Google and other search engines? Let us know in the comments below!

How to Write a Press Release that Journalists Won’t Ignore

Full disclosure: Before I accepted my position as a content marketer at Track5Media, I was a reporter. Now that I’ve crossed to the other side, I have to be the pesky marketing person harassing the media. It’s quite an adjustment. After a year into my marketing position, though, I’m realizing how much of a benefit it is to have both a marketing and journalism perspective. From my commitment to fact checking to my awareness of how press releases are received and perceived, I see how my time as a journalist shapes me as a marketer. I’m not special. Lots of journalists are making the transition in their careers from journalism to marketing. I know that the skills I brought with me, I’m also competing with in this industry. With that said, I realize that my experience is still valuable to those who haven’t been frantically looking for a story on a Friday afternoon. Here are some tips (from my perspective as a reporter) on how to write a press release that journalists won’t ignore.

Five Tips on How to Write a Press Release that Journalists Won’t Ignore

how to write a press release

Are you tired of writing press releases and sending them but not getting any news coverage? Here are five tips on how to write a press release that journalists won’t ignore.

Target the right reporters

It’s not enough just to write a press release and blast it out through one of those fancy distribution websites. I mean –  do that –  but also think about how to target the right media. Is there someone locally you know who covers the industry you work in? Is there a specific magazine or industry newsletter that might be interested in your news? It’s always best to target the right audience.  a personal copy of your release.

Get their attention

Make sure you have a catchy subject line when you email them. Look at some recent articles that they wrote, and consider the language or phrases they used. Make your subject line sounds like something they would write.

Make them care

Just because something is exciting to you and your company, doesn’t mean it’s exciting to everyone else. That’s why if you want to know how to write a press release that journalists won’t ignore, you have to think about what makes it to interesting to other people. Construct your press release with that thought in mind. You already care. That’s why you’re making the announcement. Your job, however, is to convince other people that they should care too.

Give it to them straight

Consider the five W’s – who, what, where, when and why. Make sure your press release answers all of those questions and then some. Make sure you give them all of the details and that they’re accurate. For example, if you forgot to write a press release about a new hire and it’s six months later, don’t try to tweak the content so that it seems like it just happened. There’s nothing more frustrating for a journalist than to be fed old news.

Follow up

The most important part of how to write a press release that journalists won’t ignore is to follow up. You can do everything right, but at the end of the day, reporters are busy. They’ve got many others just like you sending them story tips and press releases, and they have an editor yelling at them to make a deadline. Even though they might be interested, your outreach could be lost in their inbox. Send them a follow-up, or even give them a call! Sometimes having a friendly conversation on the phone will help you to stand out above the rest.

Do you have any additional tips on how to write a press release that journalists won’t ignore? Share with us in the comments below!

Stop Creating Content Just to Create Content

Do you ever find yourself using extra words in a blog just to get to your word count? Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the content we create and what exactly makes it valuable. It seems like as marketers, we throw these arbitrary numbers out there – all blogs should be at least 500 words or Google likes content that’s closer to 1,000 words or briefer blogs are better because people have shorter attention spans these days. But what about… write until you’ve made your point and then stop? Stop creating content just to create content.

Stop Creating Content Just to Create Content – Four Things to Consider

stop creating content just to create content

  1. Who is your audience?

In order to stop creating content just to create content, first, consider who your audience is. Once you have a topic selected, how much background do you need to include for your readers? Do they prefer technical writing or a fluffier piece? What questions do they have, and how do you plan to answer them in your content? With your audience in mind, you can better decide what information to include, what to cut and how to construct your copy.

  1. What is the purpose of your content?

Next, you need to ask yourself what is the purpose of your content? Although you know the basics – to write SEO content for your website that Google can crawl but that also engages readers – what else are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to get your audience to perform an action once they read your content? If you put yourself in their shoes, what could you say to compel them to do what you want them to?

  1. Did you get your point across?

Next, ask yourself – did you get your point across? Often times I find myself at the end of writing a blog thinking – I believe I said everything I can say about this subject. However, sometimes I’m still not on my word count. So, I go back through the blog and I add extra words or fluff sentences to make my content longer so that I don’t get in trouble. I’m guessing I’m not the only one…

This is a terrible idea.

I know I need to stop creating content just to create content, and so do you. If you can justify a shorter or longer piece than what you are required, be confident in that decision and just go with it. Even if your manager disagrees, chances are, your readers will thank you.

  1. Is your copy compelling?

The last question I think is critical – is your copy compelling? Or another way to word this… is your content boring? If you were bored writing it, chances are people won’t want to read it. Not only do you have to get your point across and include a call-to-action, you also need to be creative. Don’t be the person who has a catchy headline and then puts people to sleep with a boring, long blog that basically says, “I’m writing this so that I get paid.” How can you engage your reader as much as possible every step of the way?

stop creating content just to create content

In a previous life, before I entered the colorful world of marketing, I was a journalist. Perhaps it is that old-school journalism training that has me brainwashed into thinking you should get your point across as fast and creatively as possible. Or maybe that’s just fake news. Either way, I hope I gave all you fellow marketers out there something to think about next time you sit down to write. With that said, I’m going to stop creating content just to create content now. You’re welcome.

 

How to Use LinkedIn for Marketing Your Business

Do you ever feel like you’re wasting your time with a company page on LinkedIn? You’re posting articles weekly and chatting it up in groups relevant to your market. Yet there seems to be very little engagement when you look at analytics. Me too. Track5Media has a LinkedIn page for our company as well as for several of the brands that we own. Some pages perform better than others, but overall, engagement is nothing to brag about. There has to be some secret to success on how to use LinkedIn for marketing your business, right? My frustration moved me to action, and I did a little digging online about LinkedIn and company pages. Here are the four most useful things that I learned!

Four Tips for How to Use LinkedIn for Marketing Your Business

how to use LinkedIn for marketing your business

1. Know your audience. It may seem obvious, but after you create a company page you need to decide who your audience is going to be. For me, this one gets tricky. On our job board websites, our marketing efforts are typically business to consumer. For example, on AllTruckJobs we are marketing to truckers so that they come to our website and apply to the jobs that our clients (trucking companies) have posted. However, on LinkedIn, our goal is to market to our clients. This means switching up the language in copy so that it’s geared toward a business-to-business audience.

2. Use SEO. You also shouldn’t forget about SEO. Make sure that your LinkedIn page is optimized for SEO just like your website would be. This will help people searching for specific keywords or services to find your page.

3. Gather a following. The third item is what I find to be the most challenging. How the heck can you get people to follow your page? It doesn’t matter how engaging your shared content is if you have no one following your page and engaging with that content. I found a few suggestions for how to get more followers:

  • First, make sure your employees are following all of your brands on LinkedIn. This is an easy way to establish a basic following, and hopefully, it will show up on newsfeeds that they are following that page.
  • Secondly, let your clients know that you have a LinkedIn page and encourage them to follow it, either through an email, newsletter or blog post. Tell them they’re missing out on great content there!
  • Third – add a LinkedIn follow button to your website just like you would your other social media pages. Not only should you share that you have a LinkedIn page on your website, but share it on your Facebook and Twitter pages as well. If you have more followers on those pages, try to push that following to LinkedIn too.
  • The fourth and final way I found that you can get more followers on your page is to join LinkedIn groups. Engage with people in those groups, follow their pages, and hopefully, they will start to follow you as well.

4. Be interesting. The last tip I have for how to use LinkedIn for marketing your business is to share content frequently that is interesting and beneficial to your audience. Think about articles that are relevant to your industry, as well as content on your own site that you want them to see. Also, don’t forget that you don’t only have to share text copy. Is there a YouTube video or a Podcast out there that they might be interested in? Better yet, can you create one? Sharing different forms of media can help to make your LinkedIn page more engaging.

Do you have any successful strategies for how to use LinkedIn for marketing your business? Share with us in the comments below!