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Writing

Kung Fu Panda: Google Quietly Released Another Content Killer Update

kung fun panda

PR professionals that belong to integrated agencies, listen up! You hear that? It was a big Google update that whizzed right by you.

Less than four months after we spoke to Prezly’s Gijs Nelissen about learning Panda 4.0, the dudes in Mountain View switched things up on us again. And it’s important that we all stay up on these updates.

Did you know that, depending on the region or the website, this update affected about 3%-5% of all search queries? Was your client’s blog blasted? How about their website? Do you know what “thin content” is, and are you guilty of promoting it?

Those answers after the jump [cue scary laughter]…

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Amtrak Announces Writers’ Residency Winners, Keeps Romantic Sentiment Rolling

Amtrak-01-450x271

Just goes without saying
That everybody loves a train
Go ahead and call us insane
But we all just love a train

-- Perez Hidalgo, Los Lobos

Amtrak announced the 24 winners of the Amtrak Writers’ Residency program (a.k.a. #AmtrakResidency on social media) today from pool of 16,000 applicants. Flip through the list and you’ll find prominent writers who have significant social followings and commercial success.

There’s Chris Taylor from Mashable, Marco Werman from PRI’s “The World,” Jen Carson from Gothamist, fantasy writer and social media marketer Ksenia Anske, and poet/performance artist Saul Williams (to name a few).

All are very influential on Twitter. No surprise there.

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The 5 Most Common Grammar Errors That Aren’t…Really

Grammar-Nazi-PeanutsIf you spend anytime in PR, you are going to come across the self-proclaimed “Grammar Nazi” who wears the dreaded red Sharpie around his/her neck like a nerdy Flavor Flav. I should know, I’m one of those dweebs (most of the time).

And despite the mind-numbing changes by the AP Stylebook that really don’t need to be made, it is always nice to stay up on the reasons behind the edits because knowledge really is power.

For that reason, this week’s #5Things is important because there are actually some edits that don’t need to be made, as much as you may want to do that.

It’s okay. Breathe easy and push the Sharpie away.

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14 Words and Phrases PR Pros Need to Stop Using

word-or-phrase-people-should-not-use-in-2014We have discussed catchphrases and buzzwords that should be erased from memory immediately. They are the worst, and used so much that they have become the replacement of “um,” “uh,” and “you know what I’m sayin’?”

No! No, we don’t.

To add to that prestigious list are real words (except one seen below) that have been used in popular settings like new business pitches, client kickoff meetings, and media interviews. Yes, way.

Although we did this in June, which revolved around the word misappropriated term “homophobia,” here we go again. Please take note and spread the word. Save the industry. #PRCares.

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BAD WORDS: The Oxford Dictionary ‘Mansplains’ Our New Lexicon

OEDMost logophiles and word nerds cherish their local dictionary. Typically ensconced in a warm light, these go-to resources hold a place somewhere among any collection of great works of American literature (alongside your brutally earmarked volumes of the “for dummies” series).

Thank God for Noah Webster’s fascination for etymology at the turn of the 19th century!

However, that wasn’t good enough for the Brits. So, in 1857, the Philological Society of London decided “that existing English language dictionaries were incomplete and deficient, and called for a complete re-examination of the language from Anglo-Saxon times onward.”

As of today, that austere compilation of the Queen’s English known as the Oxford English Dictionary is officially the worst compendium of any language in the history of ever.

Here’s why…

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Grammatical Ignorance Considered Support for Gay Rights in Utah

Inigo-Montoya-WORD-MEANS

I love a good turn of phrase. Much of the time, one can be achieved via the mastery of a word/figure of speech — like these three, for example:

Homograph (n.) – Words that have the same spelling, but different pronunciations and meanings.

Homonym (n.) – Words that have the same spelling and same pronunciation, but different meanings.

Homophone (n.) – Words that have the same pronunciation, but different spelling and different meanings.

That last one is tricky because it reminds narrow-minded people of a word that no one uses correctly: HomophobeYou see, to have a ‘phobia,’ one must be legitimately afraid of something. People who are labeled with that term aren’t scared. They’re just idiots.

Kinda like this guy in Utah who fired a blogger for using that word. No, not that one, the other one: Homophone. 

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The Top 9 Most Contested AP Style Changes in ‘Hopefully’ Ever

APStyle

Come on. High-Five? Who’s with us?

Thanks to the evolution of text lingo, -isms, and a cornucopia of other logophilic and verbivore-ish drama, the AP Stylebook has become the most coveted book for hacks and flacks alike. It’s like anything Adobe — one second away from the thing and it shoots you another inconvenient update.

I’ve been struggling with this whole Oxford comma thing since I read this study and this report. I had a nightmare last night — woke up screaming, sweated a little, and ran to my computer to make sure the Oxford commas hadn’t been adopted overnight.

While that change has yet to be made — and I still struggle with adopting it — here are 10 other controversial changes from the AP Stylebook that caused a Jonestown-like response. Bottoms up?

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STUDY: Oxford Commas for Grammar Snobs Only (Ironically)

serial comma kayne

Who gives a f*ck about an Oxford comma?

We do. Because we’re snooty.

Number-crunching blog for the OCD-compliant FiveThirtyEight.com released a mind-numbing study that will cause curse words to be hurled in PR and ad agencies nationwide. Its key finding: only the grammar snobs in America embrace the Oxford Comma.

This may fly in the face of copywriters and flacks alike who have been taught by the “So, let’s talk journalism and … SQUIRREL!!” experts at the AP Stylebook, but here we are: If you like writing, you love the serial comma.

And it’s not even close.

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5 Rules for Ethical (and Good) Blogging

blogging101On most Saturdays, I make it a point to thank tweeps for shout outs on the retweets or favorites regarding my PRNewser posts. Why? Because it’s nice to get a shout-out and I’m from Texas, so I’m sweet like that.

In short, everyone — bloggers and tweeters alike — appreciates the sharing of love in “@” form. We’re all working here.

That is what led me to think about today’s “5 Things“: the rules to ethical (and good) blogging. 

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Social Media: One Place to Find Technical, Sales Writing Gigs

Technical and sales writing does not carry with it the romantic image of sitting in a cafe in Paris, the excitement of chasing down a lead or the somber atmosphere of writing poetry on a rainy day. But it does allow for a starting point in writing for companies and brands, not to mention a means of a steady income.

Amanda Layman Low did not picture herself working in technical writing for a sales consulting company, but now that she’s there she recommends it as a career option for all writers. For those who may not have considered the option of writing copy for brochures, manuals, PowerPoint slides, etc., Layman Low says you should “dip your toes in” as there will always be a need for technical writers. She writes:

Google technical writing jobs or sales writing jobs. The company I work for is a sales consulting company, but most corporations have their own in-house writers and contractors who provide content for training, presentations and other corporate materials.

If you’re interested in pursuing technical writing, one place to start is social media. Layman Low applied for her current position by seeing the status update of a friend of a friend and recommends mining social media for job opportunities.

For more on technical writing and what it means for you as a writer, read: The Case for Breaking Into Technical Writing.

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

 

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