Writing Advice


Former Porter Novelli President Resurfaces at Mercer

Posted by on 6:20 pm in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Julie Winskie has joined Mercer as a partner and global branding and communications leader. Winskie brings 25 years of experience gained at Porter Novelli as global president, thus making her a valuable addition to the firm.   Winskie specializes in strategy, marketing, and business development – qualities that are sure to guide Mercer through their ever-expanding role in the investment firm industry.   Mercer Marketplace Mercer ranks as one of the largest investment firms in the industry, with more than 20,000 employees operating in 43 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies; a global professional services firm, offering clients advice and solutions in the areas of risk, strategy and people.   Mercer specializes in the industries of energy, insurance, healthcare, financial services, higher education and retail. They have been steadily growing throughout the last year. In February, Mercer expanded their relationship with Benefitfocus in a strategic equity investment.   “Mercer Marketplace has become a leading private benefits exchange for active employees,” said Julio A. Portalatin, Mercer’s President and Chief Executive Officer.  “The success of Mercer Marketplace is driven by the flexibility that allows it to meet the needs of a wide range of companies and individuals. Our proprietary solution – powered by Benefitfocus technology – is critical to that flexibility as we continue to innovate and grow together.”   Mercer and Transamerica Also, in September Mercer entered into a strategic alliance with Transamerica. Transamerica expects to acquire Mercer’s US defined contribution (DC) administration book of business, and this should make Transamerica Mercer’s preferred DC record keeping provider.   “We are excited about this alliance with Transamerica as both firms share a deep passion for service excellence and value delivery,” said Ken Haderer, Mercer’s Chief Operating Officer. “After the transaction is complete later this year, we will partner with Transamerica for our defined contribution recordkeeping administration business. We also want to clearly state that we are committed to continuing to provide best of class service to our defined benefit and health clients through our own solutions.”   As branding and communications leader, Winskie will lead campaigns for corporations in private and public sector looking to expand their global footprint.   Porter Novelli As a global president with Porter Novelli, Winskie worked with some of the biggest branding names in any industry. Winskie established and maintained client relationships with international companies like HP, P&G and McDonald’s.   After leaving Porter Novelli in January 2012, Winskie worked as an independent consultant with Fortune 500 companies, helping to design integrated reputation strategies that build customer relations and client...

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De Blasio Bashed for Banning Horse-Carriage Industry

Posted by on 5:18 pm in Blog | 0 comments

Bill De Blasio’s attempt to ban the horse-carriage industry in New York surprises no one. During his 2013 campaign, De Blasio loudly voiced his opinion of the industry by promising to ban horses on the street within his first week in office. For this promise, he gained the support of animal rights advocates, while angering the owners of 270 horses in the industry. No Support from New Yorkers New Yorkers do not approve of the move, either. According to George Miranda, “New Yorkers… made it clear that they stand behind the carriage drivers and want this iconic institution to stay.” Miranda holds the position of President of Teamsters, which is the union representing the workers of the horse carriage industry. Strong Opposition from the Council De Blasio also faces disapproval from fellow colleagues, which stirred up a good deal of bad press. The most notable opposition comes from Brooklyn Councilman Rafael Espinal who stated that, “My top priority is making sure the industry stays strong… I wouldn’t support a deal that the people who operate the industry do not support.” Councilman Eric Ulrich also opposes De Blasio’s ban. In an interview with POLITICO New York, the Republican from Queens stressed the importance of a deal which represents a fair compromise between De Blasio and the union. Ulrich stated that, “This is a collective bargaining issue… The administration needs to work with the union to make sure that all of the issues that the drivers have raised are addressed.” A Bid for a Second Term? In fact, many now speculate that De Blasio’s push for the ban represents a last ditch PR effort to gain the support of voters for another term.  According to the NY Post, “Sixty percent of New Yorkers say they see more homeless people around. And 48 percent of New Yorkers don’t want De Blasio to have a second term. So what does the mayor do? He races back into the arms of the special interests who helped get him elected… re-embracing the nuts who want to ban the Central Park carriage horses.” Is Mercury PR the Game Changer De Blasio Needs? NYCLASS is the primary “nut” the NY post refers to. The group backed De Blasio during his 2013 campaign, and recently hired PR firm, Mercury Public Affairs, to assist with lobbying the City Council members. Mercury takes a high-stakes approach to public relations. The PR firm is also no stranger to politics and carried out political and lobbying assignments before. In fact, the firm represents clients on both sides of the political fence – catering to both democrats and republicans when needed. The firm’s most notable clients in government include the Honorable Gordon H. Smith; and their most notable target for lobbying activities are the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. It seems fitting then that NYCLASS would hire the firm to lobby the Council in a bid to push De Blasio’s proposal. However, Mercury may need to work PR miracles in order to win against the counter-efforts of Teamster and its workers. De Blasio’s Ties to Mercury PR One primary issue the PR firm faces comes from its ties to De Blasio. Mercury currently employs a former member of De Blasio’s staff, named Rachel Noerdlinger. This inspires a great deal of speculation that De Blasio is directly involved with NYCLASS’ lobbying, and that the mayor only wants to maintain the activist group’s support. De Blasio denies the claim, despite the fact that NYCLASS filtered...

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Weird Reading Skills That Will Make You a Better Writer

Posted by on 1:45 pm in Blog | 0 comments

Weird Reading Skills That Will Make You a Better Writer

Being a good writer goes hand in hand with being a good reader. In fact, one of the easiest ways to improve your writing skills is to work to improve your reading skills. Great writers read every day from a variety of sources, but there are some specific reading skills that go a long ways towards making you a better writer. Check out some of these weird reading skills that will make you a better writer and try some of them out for yourself.   Read things you had never considered reading. Try a new genre or a topic that you have never explored before. Look up a new website or blog with. However you go about it, find something that you wouldn’t normally read and give it a try. Reading in this way expands your horizons and opens your mind to different ways of writing. You will learn new vocabulary and styles of writing that will instantly make you a better writer. Skim and skip sections while you read. This is extremely hard for some people because they want to make sure that they are getting every little scrap of information. Studies have shown, however, that skimming can be good for the brain since it helps you to weed out the information that is not relevant. This allows you to retain and remember more. The Internet has made skimming and skipping around a more common form of reading since people have to wade through so much information. This method of reading helps you to pick out the important pieces, and this can help your writing to become more clear and concise. If you are reading something and it just isn’t interesting, then quit. Quitting gets a bad rap, but knowing when to throw in the towel is actually a very important lesson for reading and for life. When something just isn’t grabbing your attention as a reader, then do not waste your precious time on it. As a writer, think about what you have quit reading. What was it that made you quit? Make a list of these factors and make sure to avoid them in your own writing. Take notes as you read, or make notations within the book. Underline and highlight areas that catch your interest. This makes it easy to find these places later. Write down your thoughts in a notebook, but do not read these notes without taking a break from your reading for awhile. Allowing the reading to absorb and then going back to reexamine your thoughts allows your brain to look at things in new ways. This helps you to think of different ways to write and to make connections that you might not have ever thought of making. When you become a better reader, you will become a better writer. Reading introduces you to other ideas and ways of writing that you can incorporate into your own writing. As you learn new ways to write, you will be able to write about more topics and in more styles. Additionally, ideas for what to write about will come easier, and writing itself will be more...

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Become a More Versatile Writer by Changing Your Voice

Posted by on 1:26 pm in Blog | 0 comments

Become a More Versatile Writer by Changing Your Voice

Every writer has a distinct voice, a style that is uniquely their own. Very successful writers are able to change this voice in response to different writing situations. This means that they are able to write more and gain more followers. Changing your writing voice is by no means simple, but it makes it possible for you to write in different genres or about different content that will make you a much more versatile writer. Try some of these strategies for changing your writing voice. First of all, you cannot change your writing voice or style if you do not know what it is. Take some time to discover the distinct style of your writing. Do you prefer long or short sentences? Do you use a lot of conjunctions? Do you like to use lots of adjectives to describe different things, or do you like to make comparisons with metaphors and similes? These are all questions that you can ask to determine your personal style of writing.     Read a lot in the style that you are trying to adopt or mimic. One of the best ways to become familiar with a new voice is to completely immerse yourself into that style. For example, if you are trying to write a news piece, then it is a good idea to read many articles in that style before beginning. If you are trying to write something comedic or satirical, then find some examples to read first. Pay attention to your language. Although the Internet makes it possible to share articles across the globe, there is still a distinct difference in language between different regions that speak the same language. British English is very different from American English. Knowing which parts of your language are regional can help you to make simple changes that will change your voice and make you seem like a whole new writer. Understand the current slang. Although most formal writing prohibits using slang, it is useful if you are planning a more casual piece. In addition, this is another aspect of language that is very easy to change for different situations. Throwing in a few slang terms can completely change your voice as well as the style and tone of a piece that you are writing. Depending on the mood, you can make your work more emotionally appealing to readers by adding the appropriate slang. Knowing how to use slang and when it is appropriate makes you a more versatile writer. Finally, it is important to practice writing in different styles and voices. You will never improve if you don’t practice. Most writers have a specific kind of writing that is their comfort zone. The best thing that you can do to improve your writing overall as well as change your voice is to write outside of this comfort zone. Make a list of topics, genres, and styles that you are completely unfamiliar with. Do some research and then write some short pieces for your eyes only to practice writing in a different way. Compare your work against examples. Remember that changing your writing voice takes a lot of work, and keep practicing until you are able to write in several different styles. Being a versatile writer means more opportunities and more...

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How to Get More Readers

Posted by on 7:17 am in Blog | 0 comments

How to Get More Readers

No writer can be successful without readers, but it seems like getting people to read your work is nearly impossible. The hardest part is getting started and establishing yourself as a writer. Once you have a few readers, the word will begin to spread, but getting those first few readers hooked can be quite the challenge. Knowing how to get more readers is essential for any writer looking for success.  Give your readers a reason to pay attention. The human brain has to focus on specific information in order to absorb and understand that information, so it is important that you get right to the point and tell readers why they should sit up and pay attention to your writing. Not only will this entice readers to continue reading to the very end, but it also increases the chance that any readers will recommend your writing to someone else. In this way, your readership will grow. Make your writing personal. Readers want to be able to connect to what they are reading. When you make your writing personal, you make it important. Readers know that it means something to you and that it should mean something to them also. In addition, writing that is personal has more emotion, and this helps to grab attention. More attention means more readers. Speak the language of your audience. Don’t try to write in a way that no one can understand. Communicate your ideas simply and clearly so that your audience knows exactly what you are trying to say. Do some research and use terms that resonate with your chosen audience. Remember that if your audience feels your writing on a personal level, they will continue to read and share with others. Use social media to your advantage. Never before have writers been able to reach out to so many different people. Social media makes this possible, so make sure that you are using it. Social media can give you an idea of the types of topics people are interested in reading about so that you can tailor your writing. It also makes it easier for your writing to be shared. Because sharing is so easy, you will gain wider readership very quickly. Find a purpose, and stick to it. Many writers get bogged down trying to touch on as many topics as possible and reach as many people as possible. It is more effective, however, to just focus on one subject area. If you try to be too diverse, you will quickly lose readers who may have initially been interested. Although you will have new readers every time, you will never establish a loyal base of readers to share your work with their friends and family. Without sharing, your readership will not grow. Gaining and holding onto readers is the biggest challenge for any writer. Getting started is the hardest part, but once you have a base of loyal readers established, attracting more becomes easier and easier. Learning how to boost your readership is essential for being successful as a...

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Worst Writing Mistakes Ever

Posted by on 11:16 am in Blog | 0 comments

Worst Writing Mistakes Ever

Losing readers is devastating, and one of the fastest ways to turn readers away is to make a writing mistake. Writing mistakes often make your words and ideas difficult to understand. Readers don’t want to have to puzzle through a bunch of errors in order to get to the point. Avoid the worst writing mistakes ever in order to keep your readers coming back for more.  One of the most common writing mistakes is being too wordy. Readers do not want to wade through a wall of text. They want to get to the point quickly and clearly. Speak plainly and avoid long, complex sentences if you want to hold on to your readership. Some writers have very weak beginnings to their articles, and this can instantly cause readers to look somewhere else. A great hook is an absolute necessity for capturing someone’s attention and keeping them engaged enough to read the entire thing. If you are able to manage a strong beginning that will intrigue your readers, then chances are the remainder of your writing will continue to be engaging. Never rely on Spell check. With the advent of the digital age, many writers have come to depend on this handy little computer perk to make sure that their writing is free of embarrassing basic spelling and grammatical errors. Unfortunately, Spell check is not totally reliable. Many words in the English language sound the same but are spelled differently. It is very easy, for example, to write “their” when you mean “there.” Spell check cannot catch these types of errors because the words are technically still spelled correctly. In the end, nothing can replace good old proofreading. Also avoid relying on the online Thesaurus. While it is a good idea to vary your language, using a Thesaurus can often produce words that your readers do not understand. If your readers can’t understand what you are trying to say, then they will go elsewhere for information. In addition, sometimes words that the Thesaurus says are synonyms don’t necessarily mean exactly the same thing. You can very easily end up using a word that changes your meaning or makes your sentence awkward and confusing. When you were first learning punctuation, your teacher may have told you to place commas where you would naturally pause to take a breath. This is not always correct, and you should never punctuate by sound. There are very specific rules for using commas and other punctuation marks. If you do not feel confident about these rules, then consider having someone proofread your writing. Avoiding these writing mistakes will help you to not only become a better writer, but will keep you from inadvertently losing readers. Readers want to get the information from your writing quickly. They do not want to have to decipher loads of errors. Keeping these mistakes in mind will help you to be more effective and professional in your...

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The DiGiorno Disaster: Why Companies Are Careless on Twitter

Posted by on 6:11 am in Blog | 0 comments

The DiGiorno Disaster: Why Companies Are Careless on Twitter

By Elena Novak Hashtag activism has been a rising phenomenon, thanks to campaigns like #YesAllWomen in response to the Isla Vista killings and #IfTheyGunnedMeDown following Ferguson. The most recent campaign involves the stories of domestic violence victims using the hashtags #WhyIStayed or #WhyILeft and surfaced after Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocked his wife unconscious in an elevator.  But DiGiorno Pizza clearly missed the memo and jumped on the trend stating, “WhyIStayed You had pizza.” Apologies immediately went out as the account user explained they “did not read what the hashtag was about before posting.” Gaffes like this are not uncommon. Sometimes a careless employee mistakes the company account for their personal account. Sometimes a user makes a poor judgment call. In most cases, someone’s just not paying enough attention. But companies can’t afford to not pay attention when it comes to Twitter and its over 200 million users. You can delete a reckless tweet seconds after it’s posted, but it’s likely that someone, somewhere took a screenshot. It’s a PR disaster. There’s really no surefire way to prevent such incidents from happening except to stress the nearly irreparable damage that can be done to a company’s brand. But as with any PR disaster, the focus should not on the incident itself, but on the aftermath. The true test of a company is how it handles a misstep. A swift and sincere apology goes a long way, but it is often not enough. DiGiorno sent out several apology tweets to diffuse the angry barrage coming in from the public. However, humor and charity are two of the best ways to recover from a PR faux pas. In 2011, two companies worked together to accomplish both. A Red Cross staffer accidentally tweeted, “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer… when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd.” The inappropriate tweet prompted an apology from the staffer, and the company responded with a brilliantly humorous follow-up: “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.” The company’s brand was further restored when Dogfish Head started a social media fundraising campaign using the hashtag #gettngslizzerd. The takeaway? Do more than apologize. Interact with your audience. And if you’re a pizza giant, donating some of your profits to a domestic violence shelter could be a giant...

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4 Ways to Show Up in Google Search

Posted by on 6:29 am in Blog | 0 comments

4 Ways to Show Up in Google Search

By Elena Novak Whether writing a personal blog or marketing content for a company, every content writer has the same mission: prove your content’s worth to Google. In order to do this and have your site rank highly on Google’s search results, you must tame the bewildering monster that is SEO, or search engine optimization. Here’s how to do it. 1. Use plenty of keywords When writing a post or article, after you come up with a standout title, repeat the words in your title early and often in your content. Repeating a title keyword phrase in your first paragraph is ideal, since the Google algorithm won’t have to search long and hard to determine how relevant your content is. Repeat that phrase a couple more times, and your content looks tight and focused. Keywords should also be repeated across your site, though not excessively. Be strategic. 2. Make your content searchable If your content is too obscure, you’re not likely to see it pop up in Google. For instance, if you are writing an article about the best ways to store leftover cake, a title like “The Best Ways to Store Leftover Cake” is your best bet, since that is probably what I am going to search when I have half a cake leftover from my birthday party. Alternatively, “Storing Cake is a Cake Walk” might be an impressive pun, but Google Search won’t be impressed, and the world will miss out on your muse-inspired creativity. 3. Go social media crazy In order to get the attention of Google, you need your content to stand out. One of the ways to do that is by putting your content out there on as many social media platforms as possible. Send it to friends. Build relationships with other sites that are willing to link to your content. If you interviewed someone for your content, or researched a particular topic, send it to the appropriate people so they can brag about being featured in your work. 4. Create an internal link pyramid This might be the most important tip, since without it, the rest won’t help much. Another must for getting Google’s attention is being sure each page on your site is connected. Starting with the homepage and spreading outward, all pages and content should link back to the main source. That way, search engine algorithms will have an easy time of traveling through your site, looking for worthy content. Think categories and subcategories. SEO is a complicated beast, but these tips will ensure you won’t be left out of the search for the Internet’s greatest...

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6 Ways to Write Titles that Make Readers Stop in Their Tracks

Posted by on 12:22 pm in Blog | 0 comments

6 Ways to Write Titles that Make Readers Stop in Their Tracks

The title is arguably the most important aspect of your writing. After all, the title is the first thing that a potential reader sees, and it determines whether or not they will continue to read rather than simply look somewhere else. This is why every title you come up with needs to be mind-blowing and attention grabbing. There are a lot of other places that people can go to read, especially on the Internet. Keep in mind these 6 ways to write title that make readers stop in their tracks. 1. Mention a celebrity People love learning about their favorite celebrities, and a title with a name in it is a great way to grab attention. Try to make a connection between a celebrity and a topic that is not too obvious. This will get readers’ attentions because they will want to learn how such a connection can be made. Learning something new about a favorite celebrity is a great way to grab a reader’s attention.    2. Make a Top 10 list People are very busy, and they don’t always have time to sit down and read a full article. Putting a specific number in your title gives readers an idea of how long it will be and how much time they can expect to spend reading. This makes it more convenient for people and more likely that they will read on. This is essential when it comes to writing because more people will continue to read what you are writing. 3. Phrase the title as a question A question is interesting because it demands an answer. By phrasing your title as a question, you promise readers that you will provide the answer. This captures attention because readers are typically looking for answers, or they may just want to see whether or not you are correct. 4. Reveal a secret Nothing is more tantalizing to a reader than promising to let them in on a secret. It makes the reader feel like he or she shares something that is not widely known. A title that states that you will reveal a secret tells readers that there is something important in your article that not many people know. This is almost irresistible to click away from. 5. Explain a myth Like revealing a secret, explaining a myth tells the reader that you will be imparting some little known knowledge. Readers who are keen to learn more about a subject area will jump at the chance to get ahead of the curve. There are countless myths and a plethora of false information out there that you can debunk for your readers. 6. Explain how to do something A “How To” article is one of the most popular for people to read. Readers love learning to do new things, and a comprehensive list of the steps needed to accomplish something is exactly what many people are looking for when they go online. After all, the Internet provides almost limitless knowledge, and a how to article is the perfect way to share what you know with the...

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7 Typical Grammar Mistakes to Watch Out For

Posted by on 8:38 am in Blog | 0 comments

7 Typical Grammar Mistakes to Watch Out For

Nobody is perfect, but when you are a writer your grammar needs to be pretty darn near. Nothing makes readers more skeptical and likely to look somewhere else for information than trying to read something that is littered with grammatical errors. Even minor mistakes will greatly damage your credibility as a writer. Keep your eyes open when proofreading for these 7 typical grammar mistakes to watch out for.  1. Since and Because Many people mix these two words up when writing. This common mistake happens because people often interchange these words in spoken language. If you think about the meaning of each word, however, you will notice that they are not synonyms. “Since” refers to time whereas “because” refers to the cause of something. 2. Affect and Effect These two words sound so similar when people are speaking that it can be confusing when it comes time to actually write and figure out which is which. An easy way to remember the difference is to know that “effect” is a noun whereas “affect” is a verb. 3. Anxious It is astonishing how many people use this word incorrectly. The most common mistake is when people say that they are “anxious to meet their friends,” or “anxious to get to the party.” Unless you are feeling afraid or nervous, chances are that the words you are looking for are “excited,” or “eager.” Anxious refers to negative feelings, not positive feelings. 4. May and Might The difference between these words can be pretty ambiguous and difficult to understand. “May” implies a possibility. It implies something that could happen. “Might” implies even less certainty. When “may” is used, there is a real possibility that something could happen. “Might,” on the other hand, means the event is very unlikely to occur. 5. Moot This obscure word has been making a comeback recently, probably due to how fun it is to say out loud. Many people, however, use this word incorrectly. They use it to describe something that is superfluous, but that is not the meaning of “moot.” “Moot” refers to something that is disputable or open to discussion. 6. Continual and Continuous These words are very similar, but there are distinct differences between their meanings. “Continual” refers to something that continues indefinitely but with obvious lapses in time. “Continuous,” on the other hand, means something that continues without any stops or lapses in between. 7. Nor “Nor” literally means “and not.” It is used to express a negative condition. You have to use “nor” if your sentence expresses a negative and follows it with an additional negative condition. Many people confuse this and simply write “or.” Great grammar is essential when you are writing for other people. Not only does grammar affect how easy your writing is to read, but constantly poor grammar will greatly undermine your credibility. Losing readership is a writer’s nightmare, and with the ease of finding information online finding a new article with better grammar is only a click away. By avoiding these 7 typical grammar mistakes, you will make it easier and more enjoyable for your readers to share in your written...

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