UBC DAY 16: Write Like a Pro!

Oh, my goodness! Today, I had not one, but two presentations to make about writing.

One was by invitation from Carl Lucchi of Success Builders, who is also the founder of TampaBayNetworkers. Carl hosts several networking meetings, and today’s was at Ferg’s Sports Bar & Grill in downtown St. Petersburg.

Carl had asked me to talk to his group about The Power of Using the Proper Words in Your Promotions, geared toward small businesses that may not have the resources to keep a full time writer on staff to generate press releases, web content, blogs, brochures, and video scripts.

This is right up my alley! I have a presentation that I adapt for 20-minute to half-day programs called “PRx for the Media-Impaired,” and it covers everything from how to prepare a decent press release, to how to be a guest on radio or TV, to how to deal with sound/film crews when they cover your events. (Yes, I’m available in YOUR town!)

I had fun with this one: I gave examples of “right words” and “wrong words” for a radio or TV commercial.

RIGHT WORDS: (pretending to take a DEEP “toke,” then sounding like it wasn’t the day’s first): Oh, man! We’ve gotta get back to The Haze out on … uh … out there! They’ve got the best papers and pipes for supporting our … smokin’… habit!”

Imagine the laughter—but for a head shop needing to reach it’s target market, yep: Sounding like Cheech of “Dave’s not here” fame was the right tone.

WRONG WORDS: (imagine coming home after work, unlocking the door, and calling out, surprised, when Fluffy doesn’t come running to welcome you), Fluffy, I’m home! Fluffy? (sound of fast footsteps) Oh, Fluffy! NO! (voiceover comes in) When you come home to find your dog dead on the floor, call Three Guys Pet Cemetery. We have guys who know how to burn or bury your furry friend, so you can start looking for your replacement pet right away.

More laughter, but they all got the point. There are messages that speak to your audience, and messages that speak at them, and sometimes in appalling ways.

My next “performance” (yeah, I’m a bit of a ham) was up in Clearwater. VonHenry Media was presenting the class, “Video Toolkit for Your Online Marketing.” They had invited me to talk about script writing for small businesses wanting to use videos on their websites, from quick vlogs they produce on their smart phones, to longer pieces that explore their topics more fully.

Again, right up my alley. I’d spent 14 years with Vision Cable of Pinellas (now Brighthouse Networks), producing commercials, 3-minute “packages,” 30- and 60-minute shows, even documentaries.

Here, after my quick 3-point presentation (Make a Strong Statement, Read It Aloud, Remember The Audience) that included elaboration of each point, we got into discussions about other applications for writing on their websites. One participant was intrigued by the use of blogging to bring people in, but didn’t want to throw “just anything” out there. Good on him! There is a lot of dreck going out just to fill content pages, and he’s right to instinctively feel that weak content won’t keep people coming back.

I’m always harping on the importance of quality writing. Not just quality content, but content that is expressed well and clearly. I remember a writing teacher who tossed these words onto the chalkboard and asked us to punctuate the phrase:

Woman without her man is nothing

You’d think you couldn’t do anything to direct or damage the meaning of such a short phrase, right? Uh-uh. Look:

Woman. Without her, man is nothing.

Woman, without her man, is nothing.

This is the kind of thing I mean when I talk about quality writing. Knowing not only which words to use, where to place them in a sentence, how to organize the sentences into flowing paragraphs, and how to place your punctuation so your message isn’t mistaken.

Another fun one that’s made the rounds on Grammarly, a Facebook page, is this pair:

Let’s eat, Grandma! (who doesn’t love a grandma’s home cooking?)

Let’s eat Grandma! (e-yeeeeew!)

‘Nuff said …


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About Billie Noakes

The writer you want for crisp, clean copy.
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