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Archive for July 2012

Storytelling Tip: Use the Big 4

 

Storytelling Tip: Use the Big 4
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Tips for Telling Your Story on the Experience Pros Radio Show
Listen to the Radio Version

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Storytelling Tip: Use the Big 4

Today’s storytelling tip from JerryBrownPR

Not sure how to tell your story so it gets heard, understood and remembered?

Use the Big 4 — four ways to tell your story that increase your chances of grabbing our interest:

Solve a problem / create an opportunity: Flip sides of the same thing. What problem can you help us solve? Or what opportunity can you help create for us. If it’s a problem that affects a lot of people or an opportunity a lot of us are interested in, then a lot of us will be interested in hearing what you have to say — and maybe acting on it.

Provide useful information (tips): Offer useful tips to increase interest in your story. Five ways to lose weight. How to conduct business on the golf course. How to avoid long lines at the airport. Providing tips the rest of us can use is a good way to establish your expertise.

Identify a trend: More specifically, tell us how the trend affects us and how we can take advantage of it or avoid being hurt by it.

Help the community: Charity events, for example. If your event or organization helps enough people, some of us may be interested in contributing to your cause.

When I’m trying to find a way to help clients tell their stories, I ask myself if there’s a way to fit their story into at least one of the Big 4 — and how I can do it in a way that will interest as many people as possible.

That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?

————-

Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros radio show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet.

Storytelling Tip: Listen to What You Write

 

Storytelling Tip: Listen to What You Write
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Tips for Telling Your Story on the Experience Pros Radio Show
Listen to the Radio Version

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Storytelling Tip: Listing to What You Write

Today’s storytelling tip from JerryBrownPR

Listen to what you write. Good writing, like good music, has a natural rhythm. If it doesn’t sound right, start editing.

Some poetry follows a specific pattern of rhyme and meter. So, it’s easy to tell when a line is off even if you don’t know why. You can hear the problem. For the same reason, you don’t have to be a musician to tell when a singer hits the wrong note. It doesn’t sound right.

I’m not suggesting you become a poet, using rhymes and iambic pentameter — or whatever. I am suggesting you listen to what you write. And change it if it doesn’t sound right.

What are you listening for? One place to start is punctuation. Do your periods, commas and dashes provide natural breathing spaces for someone reading out loud? If not, it’s time to consider whether your writing is out of rhythm.

Short sentences are usually better than long ones for a lot of reasons. One reason is rhythm. Many times, long sentences are undisciplined sentences. When reading out loud, do you need to breathe more than once per sentence? Then your sentences are too long. Consider breaking some of them into two or three sentences instead.

Short or long, don’t make all your sentences the same length. That’s boring. Short sentences are easier to read. But too many of them lined up back to back can sound a bit abrupt.

One more thought about rhythm and writing. It’s a little trick I learned as a speechwriter before I knew it had a name: The Rule of Threes. Truth, Justice and the American Way. Red, white and blue. For some reason, listing things in threes usually sounds better than listing them in twos or groups of four or more. And lists of three are easier to understand and remember. Why? I don’t know. But it works.

That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?

————-

Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros radio show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet.

Storytelling Tip: Get to the Point

 

Storytelling Tip: Get to the Point
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Tips for Telling Your Story on the Experience Pros Radio Show
Listen to the Radio Version

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Experience Pros Radio

Today’s Experience Pros tip from JerryBrownPR

Today’s tip: Get to the point.

We live in a fast-paced soundbite world. And we’re trying to reach people who have lots of other messages competing for their attention.

Take too long to tell your story and your audience may not stick around to hear it.

Here are four tips for getting to the point.

Tip #1: Start with your main point

Don’t bury your lead, as we called it when I was a reporter. Tell us right up front what you want us to know and why we should care. Take too long to make your point and the rest of us are less likely to get your point.

Tip #2: Use shorter sentences and shorter words

Shorter sentences and shorter words make your writing easier to read. Easier to understand. And easier to remember.

Some statistics from the American Press Institute (API): When sentences average eight words, readers comprehend 100 percent of what’s said. At 15 words per sentence, comprehension drops 10 percent. At 19 words, that’s just four more words per sentence, it drops another 10 percent. And at 28 words per sentence readers will comprehend only half of what you say.

One trick for making your sentences shorter: Turn commas into periods. One place to look: Sentences with “and” or “but.” You can often put a period before the “and” or “but” and turn one sentence into two. You’ve said the same thing. But your message has more impact.

API also recommends using shorter words. One- and two-syllable words are easier to read, easier to understand and easier to remember. So, use shorter words when you can. Do instead of accomplish, for example. Buy instead of purchase. About instead of approximately. Google “use shorter words” for more examples.

Does that mean you should use only short sentences and short words? No. That’s boring. But your message will lose impact if you use a lot of long sentences and long words.

Tip #3: Delete redundant words

Say 12 cars instead of a total of 12 cars. Noon or midnight instead of 12 noon or 12 midnight. Say to instead of in order to. Google “eliminate redundant words” for more examples.

Tip #4: Edit what you write

Editing is important. Edit what you write. Better yet get a colleague or friend to edit your writing. Or hire a good editor if you can afford to. And be ruthless when editing your copy. Don’t fall in love with your writing. Fall in love with telling your story effectively.

That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?

————-

Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros radio show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet.

Storytelling Tip: Talk on Paper

 

Storytelling Tip: Talk on Paper
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Tips for Telling Your Story on the Experience Pros Radio Show
Listen to the Radio Version

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Storytelling Tip: Talk on Paper

Today’s Experience Pros tip by JerryBrownPR

Today’s tip: Talk on paper. Make your writing informal and conversational.

And the simplest way I know to do that is to break some of the rules of grammar you learned in school. We’ve barely started. And I’ve already broken five of them. I’ll be getting ticketed by the grammar cops if I’m not careful.

I want to introduce you to the Seven Nevers, which I found some years ago in a wonderful book called Writing with Style by John R. Trimble.

The Seven Nevers are seven rules you learned in school that Trimble suggests — and I agree — are worth ignoring at least some of the time:

  • Never begin a sentence with But or And.
  • Never use contractions.
  • Never refer to the reader as you.
  • Never use the first-person pronoun I.
  • Never end a sentence with a preposition.
  • Never split an infinitive.
  • Never write a paragraph containing only one sentence.

The trouble with the Seven Nevers is that they get in the way of talking to your audience when you’re putting words on paper or online, which is to say when you’re writing instead of speaking.

If you’re in the business world, and you probably are if you’re reading this, most of your writing is designed to persuade the rest of us — or some of us, at least — to buy something or believe something.

We’re more likely to do that if what you have to say is interesting and easy to read. So, imagine you’re talking to your audience and write that way. Talk on paper. It works.

And it really is okay to ignore the Seven Nevers at least part of the time. Your teachers were nice people, most of them anyway. And they meant well. But they taught you some things — like the Seven Nevers — worth unlearning.

That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?

————-

Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros radio show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet.

That’s my story. And I’m NOT sticking to it.

 

That’s my story. And I’m NOT sticking to it.

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

That’s my story. And I’m NOT sticking to it.Are you willing to change your story? If not, why not?

Most of us understand our story will evolve over time. Things change over time.

But what if you need to change your story today because it’s not working or you made a mistake? That can be harder. Are you willing to do it?

What keeps us from changing our story when we need to? Let’s look at some of the obstacles.

Your story isn’t working

What are the obstacles here? First, you have to recognize your story isn’t working. And be willing to acknowledge that to yourself.

Most of us have a good bit of ego tied up in our stories. Your ego is your image of yourself. So, your ego can get in the way of acknowledging that your story isn’t working and being willing to change it.

But in the business world a story that isn’t working usually means sales aren’t what they should be. How much of a hit to your pocketbook are you willing to suffer to protect your ego? Your choice. But not much, I hope.

How do you recognize whether your story’s working? And how do you fix it if it isn’t?

Go back to the basics. What’s your objective? Who’s your audience? What’s your message? Your message and the story you use to deliver your message are designed to persuade your audience to do or believe whatever you want them to do or believe to achieve your objective. If that isn’t happening, your story isn’t working.

How do you fix it? Ask yourself two questions:

  • Is there too much about you in your story? Your favorite parts of your story are the parts about you. But that’s not what the rest of us are interested in. We want to know what’s in it for us.
  • Do you have the right message for your audience? If your message isn’t getting traction with your audience maybe you have the wrong message. It’s not about what you say. It’s about what your audience hears and cares about.

You made a mistake

None of us like to make a mistake. And admitting we made a mistake is embarrassing. If you make a mistake, fix it. Admit the mistake with a correction if it’s something the rest of us need to know about. You said the meeting will be on Wednesday when it’s on Tuesday? Do what you can to let us know so we don’t show up a day late.

A common mistake by people who’ve made a mistake that plays out in the media is to come up with an inane explanation of what happened instead of simply saying “we (I) goofed.”

We all make mistakes. Trying to cover up a mistake with an explanation that clearly isn’t true compounds the problem.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Unless I need to change it.

————-

Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros radio show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet.

Be quotable if you want to be remembered

Be quotable if you want to be remembered

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Be quotable if you want to be rememberedIf you’re quotable when you talk to reporters there’s a good chance you’ll get quoted. That’s because good quotes are as irresistible to a reporter as candy is to a kid.

You can be clever, funny or outrageous if you want.  But you don’t have to be.  You just have to be interesting.  Have something worth saying that helps reporters tell their stories and they’ll quote you more often than not.

You don’t talk to reporters? It doesn’t matter. The same idea applies to telling your story to any audience.

Reporters like good quotes because they know their audience, people like you and me, like them. A quotable quote is an easily remembered way of saying something well. Be quotable when talking to reporters and you’ll be quoted. Be quotable when talking to the rest of us and you’ll be remembered.

If I have a not-so-quotable statement from a client I know wants to be quoted, I ask them three questions:

What are you really trying to say?  It’s amazing how often what they’re saying bears little resemblance to what they’re trying to say.  Say what your really mean and it’s usually much clearer and quotable than the watered-down version.

Why will the audience you’re trying to reach care?  Unless you say something that’s interesting to your audience, what you say probably won’t be remembered.

Do you really want to be quoted?  I ask this question even when I know the answer is yes to get clients to think about what it will take to be quoted.  It helps them understand the need to be quotable.

Is your message being ignored? Ask yourself the three questions listed above and work to make what you say more quotable.

That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?

————-

Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

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Jerry@JerryBrownPR.com | 303.594.8016