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Archive for September 2014

Storytelling tip: Make it visual

 

Storytelling tip: Make it visual

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

Storytelling tip: Make it visualWe’ve all heard the cliche: A picture is worth a thousand words.

But that’s only part of the story. Because it implies pictures are substitutes for words. Good images can do more than that. They can also add impact to your words.

I spent the first 20 years of my career as a print journalist. It was all about words. Most of the stories I wrote ran without pictures. Newspapers ran some pictures, but most of their stories were limited to text and a headline. The headline’s job was to grab your attention so you would read the words.

Today’s digital word is far more visual. Facebook, blogs, websites all lend themselves to images. Newspapers, what’s left of them, use far more pictures.

The rest of us should follow their example. I include an image with every blog post I write. I try to include an image with every Facebook post. PowerPoint presentations use as many images and few words as possible. I’m always looking for images to include with what I write.

We can take pictures with our phones. Buy professional photography dirt cheap from stock-photo services. And add them to what we write with a mouse click or two.

So, tell me a story. Make it about me. Keep it simple. And make it visual.

We all have stories to tell. Do you need help telling yours?

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist who helps clients get their stories heard, understood and remembered. Need help telling your story? You can reach Jerry at 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Storytelling tip: Put your writing on a diet

 

Storytelling tip: Put your writing on a diet

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

Storytelling tip: Put your writing on a dietJust as too many pounds will make you flabby, too many words will make your writing flabby. So, put your writing on a diet. Slim it down. Make it fitter. And, just as taking off extra pounds is good for your health, taking out extra words is good for your writing.

Start with a goal. Losing weight often starts with stepping on a scale and deciding you need to lose (fill in your number) pounds. You can do the same thing to eliminate flab from your writing. Start with your current word count and decide to eliminate (fill in your number) words. If you get to the new number easily, do it again with a lower number. Keep doing it until you can’t take anything else out and still tell the story you want to tell.

One way to trim off extra pounds is to eliminate empty calories that don’t have nutritional value. One way to trim down your writing is to eliminate empty words that don’t add value to your story. Two words I target for possible elimination: “very” and “that.” For example, “happy” usually works as well as “very happy.” If not, try “ecstatic.” Look for the word “that. “Sometimes you need it. Often you don’t. Delete the ones (that) you don’t need.

Eliminate unnecessary modifiers. Redundant pairs, for example: final outcome, past history, future plans.

Become more active. Being more active is a good way to lose weight. Being more active is a good way to improve your writing, too. Eliminate the passive voice (mistakes were made) with active voice (I goofed) whenever possible.

Being fit isn’t just about how many pounds you weigh. It’s also about muscle tone. You can tone up your writing, too. Using shorter sentences makes your writing easier to understand and remember. One way to do that is to look for opportunities to change commas into periods — changing one long sentence into two shorter ones.

Looking for other ways to trim down your writing? Check out this article. And this one.

We all have stories to tell. Do you need help telling yours?

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist who helps clients get their stories heard, understood and remembered. Need help telling your story? You can reach Jerry at 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Storytelling tip: What do you say when you run out of things to say?

 

Storytelling tip: What do you say when you run out of things to say?

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

Storytelling tip: What do you say when you run out of things to say?What do you say when you run out of things to say?

If you do a lot of public communication — writing or speaking — you’ve probably faced this problem, as I have, many times: Your next deadline is here. And you can’t think of anything to say.

When I was a journalist responsible for regularly coming up with new stories to justify my paychecks, I sometimes dreamed that all the stories ever to be told had been told. There weren’t any more. And wouldn’t be. Ever. And I didn’t know what to do about it.

Maybe you haven’t dreamed about it the way I did. But chances are you’ve found yourself with that dilemma: It’s time to say something. But you’ve run out of things to say. Now what? Here are a few suggestions from someone who has faced that abyss more times than I care to remember:

  • Repeat yourself. Go back into the archives of what you’ve already said and recycle some of your old material. Most of the time your audience won’t care — or even know — that you’re doing it. Just because you said something doesn’t mean the rest of us heard you. Or that we remember it even if we did. Repetition is the key to delivering your message effectively. People who study such things say your audience hasn’t really heard your message until you’ve repeated it multiple times. If you’re writing a blog or something else where there’s a public archive of what you’ve said you may want to make some changes in the new version. But if it was worth saying once, it’s probably worth saying again.
  • Look to news headlines for ideas. Stories that are in the news often lend themselves to sidebar stories that add a new angle. Do you have a new angle to a story making news? If so, use stories already making headlines to tell a story that adds the context of what you have to say.
  • Keep a story-idea journal. Some writers keep a notebook with them so they can jot down ideas as they come up with them. If you frequently find yourself struggling to come up with something to write about when you’re on deadline, writing down story ideas as they pop into your head when you’re not on deadline can be useful. Good reporters are always looking for story ideas.  Follow their example. Be open to finding ideas for how to tell your story wherever and whenever you come across them. And write them down when they pop into your head.
  • Put off writing until another time. I’m a big fan of using newsletters and blogs to communicate with your audience. And I often tell clients to wait until they have something worth saying before sending out their next newsletter. Unless you have no choice, don’t send me something just because your (often self-imposed) deadline is here. Send me something when you have something to say that I’ll be interested in.

We all have stories to tell. Do you need help telling yours?

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist who helps clients get their stories heard, understood and remembered. Need help telling your story? You can reach Jerry at 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

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