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The News Chair

My Copywriting Pet Peeves

Pet peeves. Let’s be honest. We all have them. They’re those annoying little behaviors that, while seemingly normal to everyone else, drive you bonkers.

Being surrounded by the written — or typed — word for the majority of the day, I happen to have collected a number of personal pet peeves when it comes to copywriting.

It should be noted I subscribe to the AP Stylebook frame of mind, so for those writers out there who have their differences of opinion, to each their own.

The following list is in no particular peeve order, but each is nonetheless like nails on a chalkboard to my copyediting brain.

  1. Home in vs. hone in: I bet you’ve heard someone say something like, “Let’s hone in on this goal and really try to hit the mark by the end of the first quarter.” Well, it’s wrong. It should be “home in.” I promise. Whenever using the word “in,” always put “home” before it, not “hone.” I get that it seems weird. But in truth, home as a verb means “to move or be aimed toward a destination or target with great accuracy.” Just like to “home in on.” Now, you can certainly “hone” (or sharpen) your skills. But you can’t “hone in” on your target — nope.
  2. Daylight saving: This is on the list primarily because we just rolled the clocks back for daylight saving time (DST) this fall. I would guess many people don’t know it’s wrong say “daylight savings time.” Don’t believe Wikipedia that says, “Daylight saving time (DST), also daylight savings time (United States).” You are saving time … not savings time. (sigh)
  3. Hyphens: Those little marks sure can make or break you. Heck, there’s a whole section in the AP Stylebook that says “use of the hyphen is far from standardized. It is optional in most cases, a matter of taste, judgment and style sense.” Just in case you weren’t already confused by them. The standard I go by is making sure to hyphenate words that act as adjectives or modifiers for a noun in the specific text. For example: full-time job; high-quality care; first-rate service. When coming after the noun, the modifier is no longer hyphenated, i.e. She has a job that is full time.
  4. Capitalization of titles: This one gets you, every time. People like to capitalize things — they just do. More important. More significant. But in some cases, more wrong. (OK, that was bad grammar, but you get the point.) Only capitalize titles when they are directly before someone’s name. For example: Vice President Public Relations Tiffany Whisner. When the title comes after your name, don’t capitalize it. I am Tiffany Whisner, vice president public relations. Hard to swallow, but if you really want your title capitalized, put it before your name.
  5. Comma, specifically the Oxford comma: I left this one for last. The Oxford comma is also known as the serial comma, and it sparks a lot of debate in the copy community. (Sad, isn’t it?) It’s the final comma in a list of things. AP Style does not require the use of the Oxford comma, and personally, I’m not a fan. I prefer, “The flag is red, white and blue” as opposed to, “The flag is red, white, and blue.” That last comma actually was difficult to even put in the sentence! I ONLY use the Oxford comma when the meaning of the sentence would otherwise be unclear. Now, when you start writing a complex series of words, that’s a different story. While I can’t say using the Oxford comma is wrong … I CAN say it’s a pet peeve. A big one.

Need someone to write or edit your article, blog, brochure, newsletter or website? We can do that for you, among other things. Rest assured your copy will be handled with care, sans the Oxford comma.

By Tiffany Whisner,
Vice President Public Relations

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Understanding Facebook’s New Page Template Feature

Have you received the email or red notification from Facebook letting you know that your Facebook Page template will be changing soon? Don’t panic. You still have a choice in how your page will look. If you don’t choose a template yourself, Facebook will automatically change it on August 23. Be sure to search around for what template would work best for your business and make the decision yourself rather than have Facebook’s algorithm choose one for you.   

You can choose from a wide variety of templates that better fit your brand:

  • Services – for people to see what you offer and get in touch
  • Business – to manage your business, special offers and job openings
  • Venues – to highlight information like hours, locations and upcoming events
  • Movies – to highlight showtimes
  • Nonprofit – designed for encouraging people to help fundraise and donate to a cause
  • Political – to help reach your supporters and communicate your message
  • Restaurants – to highlight your menu, hours, location and photos of food
  • Shopping – to showcase products and a more seamless online shopping experience
  • Video page – to highlight specific video content

According to Facebook itself, this new change will help you connect with the people who care most about your business. With the decline of organic reach across the board, Facebook is changing things up to ensure that they are still valuable to small businesses as well as corporations.  

The templates may look similar but depending on your choice they differ on layout design and call to action options. For a restaurant you can now choose an option to “make a reservation,” or for retail, “book an appointment.” This won’t drastically alter how your page looks as a whole, but it could make a difference in your reach and engagement compared to previous weeks. Take the time to poke around and see what advantages there are for your business and choose the template that suits your brand.

Want some help creating a social media strategy or need some marketing assistance? Drop us a line at 317-571-0051 or email info@colesmarketing.com. 

By Meagan Hook,
Social Media Manager 

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How to Reach Small-Town America

Are you trying to promote your business in a small town? Think there aren’t many options once you get outside the big city limits? Think again. Things may not be as different as you might think. Big cities typically have more outlets and options when it comes to spreading the word about news and promotions, but small towns have their advantages, too.

BILLBOARDS

Typically, small towns have lots of smaller posters sprinkled throughout the area. There are typically fewer restrictions on billboards in smaller towns, and they are, without a doubt, more economical. Because locals tend to canvass the town more than in larger cities, your chance for exposure is far greater. The lower rates are advantageous because you can purchase a greater number of locations for a longer posting time.

RADIO

Small towns typically have a small handful of local radio stations. These stations love advertisers, and residents typically tune in for local news, local sports coverage and daytime/drivetime listening. Because there are only a few stations to choose from, small-town stations typically receive more listeners than those of a large city. Fewer stations means you can advertise on one or all of them and cover a larger percentage of your demographic at a fraction of the cost.

PRINT

Let’s be honest. Marketers don’t typically love to utilize print in the digital age. It’s often expensive, and readership of local newspapers is down now more than ever. One exception to this rule is local small-town newspapers. These weekly or bi-weekly publications still get read, even with today’s online versions (more on that in a minute). Local papers focus on local news, local businesses, school and sports information, as well as local events and happenings around town. Strategic size and placement can ensure your message gets noticed loud and clear, in an outlet visible to many of the residents you are targeting.

DIGITAL

Online advertising is not just for big cities. Many newspapers and local organizations have a vast online readership. Websites, news sites and social media outlets all get accessed by today’s small-town residents and cost next to nothing. Take local papers, for example. Many, if not all, small newspapers have an online version of their paper featuring additional local content. These sites are typically free to access and include advertising. If you are purchasing a physical newspaper ad, you can typically get an incredible deal, or even free ads, on the same website as well as their social media outlets, such as Facebook. Yes, even people in small towns use the internet. You can use their digital footprint to target them where they go the most, physically and digitally. Google display ads, geofencing and Google search focusing on keywords should always be a part of your plan.

LOCAL SPONSORSHIPS

One of the best things about small towns is the access to customers everywhere you turn. Take a look at your business. What type of free information, goods or services can you provide to the public? Healthcare company? Sponsor the local walking program, diabetes seminar or blood pressure clinic. Get in front of your customers and give them meaningful information they will not only use, but use to remember you by.

Cheers to supporting local!

By Whitney Coles,
Media Planner/Buyer 

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