United Nations praised for helping dispel albinism myths

But more efforts are needed to fight ignorance about albinism

(This is a press release I researched and wrote for the Albinism Fellowship charity for the UK and Republic of Ireland. This is gaining coverage in the media around the UK this week).

Work by the United Nations (UN) to de-bunk myths about albinism has been welcomed by the Albinism Fellowship. But the charity says more still needs to be done to explain the unique challenges that face people living with albinism every day.

With Albinism Awareness Day on 13 June this year, the Albinism Fellowship, which represents people living with the condition in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, has praised a United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) website which explains the reality of albinism.

The website, launched on 6 May, is entitled ‘Not ghosts but human beings’ and the OHCHR believe the rare genetic condition is ‘profoundly misunderstood, socially and medically’.

Albinism is a genetically inherited group of conditions which leads to a reduction, or complete lack of pigment (colour) in the skin, eyes and hair of people with the condition. Approximately 3,000 people in the UK and Republic of Ireland live with it.

Mark Sanderson, Chair of the Albinism Fellowship, said: ‘We welcome the significant work of the United Nations in raising the profile of albinism on the global stage.

Albinism Fellowship logo (from website) June 2015

‘We want to ensure that our voices are heard on Albinism Awareness Day. The problems facing people with albinism in the UK and Republic of Ireland are certainly less severe than in other parts of the world – for instance, in Tanzania, Africa, there have been media reports of people with albinism being targeted against their will to be used in witchcraft.

‘But nonetheless, those living with the condition here often face a daily battle to make others understand about their often poor sight and sensitivity to the sun, as well as facing general ignorance and prejudice about their distinctive appearances and why they “look different” to other people. This must stop.’

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Why good business writing matters

It’s still something that winds people up – and some of you have listed it as being among the most annoying aspects of living in Britain today. ‘It’ is bad grammar, and earlier this year respondents to a poll of 700 people cited it among the top 12 moans about life in the UK.

Granted, public transport, UKIP party leader Nigel Farage and snow ranked even higher in the survey, which was published by Metro newspaper. But it is good to see that sloppy English is still something that irks the public. Why should it matter?

The standards of many things have risen dramatically in recently years; so would it not put you off if a company (or organisation) can’t be bothered to communicate properly?

Think about it – if their website is poorly written and full of spelling mistakes, what does that say about the actual goods and services they supply?

If press releases they send to the media miss the main ‘newsworthy’ point and have other important information buried down the page, why should journalists be bothered to cover their stories?

And if a company’s social media feeds are full of unintelligible ‘youth-speak’, I would give them a miss and take my business elsewhere. Somewhere that talks to me in plain, simple English.

Content is certainly king these days, but part of that content should always be well-written words, in

Clear, simple writing always helps
It helps if your business writing is in clear, simple English – and easy to read!

a clear, simple style. Contact me for advice on helping make your business writing crystal clear.

  • What was the most irritating thing about life according to respondents to the poll? Self-service checkouts in supermarkets.

Reaching your audience with Twitter

With over 280 million active users worldwide, Twitter can be a great place to share your messages.

Here are four key tips for using this popular social media channel:

• Plan some of your content in advance and schedule it by using a tool like Hootsuite. But keep your Twitter feed up-to-date with some ‘live’, spontaneous tweets, too
• It’s easy to gain followers. But are they right ones? Use the correct

iStock_000045402090Small buzzwords and hashtags and look at the kind of content your customers like to follow. Look for what’s trending this week, or today
• 140 characters per tweet means just that. Keep it snappy. Use plenty of pictures, video links, and shortened links to other web content to drive up interest and gain followers. Use tweets to link to your own blog
• Remember, no-one likes to be sold to directly on social media. Entice your prospective customers by posting lots of interesting, relevant content, and start the conversation with them on Twitter. Then work to keep them engaged!

These are far from the only tips about using Twitter as a communications and marketing tool. Contact me for more thoughts or tweet me at @bennettwords.

• Did you know? The Twitter team are very fond of hard-boiled eggs. At their HQ, they eat 1,440 eggs a week.

Re-booting creativity. How to gain inspiration

We all have times when our creativity flags and we get stuck in a rut. It’s quite natural to go through the odd fallow patch when the ideas don’t flow as naturally as they usually do, whatever kind of writing or other creative work you do.

Once in a while, I think this is allowed. Few of us have the luxury of frequently taking a few days off to recharge creative batteries, given the pace of modern working life and the daily demands on our time.

But there are simple ways we can re-boot our creativity. I have found the following have worked in the past:

• Take a short break. Sounds obvious, but ten minutes away from your screen, a few stretches and a bit of gentle exercise (I like walking around my house for a few minutes) might give you the boost you need
• Sleep on it, or give it a few hours. Finish the first draft of your copy (it’s always better to complete a task than stop half way through). If time allows, try to do something else for a short while rather than agonising over why a draft isn’t perfect. Then return to the task in hand when you are more focused
• At the end of the working day, tune into some music you find particularly inspiring. Read a book, watch a favourite programme on TV, play with an app, go to the gym – you know what works for you
• Try reading out the draft of the article/blog/press release/etc. that’s been troubling you to a spouse/business partner to get their feedback. You may be judging your own work too harshly. Or perhaps not?
• Get a decent night’s sleep
• Surround yourself with creative, inspiring, challenging people
• Meet new people from other walks of life than your own. A cliché? Maybe, but creativity and ideas come from all sorts of (sometimes unlikely) sources. Be sure to talk to people, even if you know nothing about their backgrounds and professions. Ask questions. You might be surprised at the outcome
• Find the right environment to work in. But learn to write, too, in places where things are less than ideal – simply shut out the distractions
• Step back a bit from that particular piece of copy or writing task. Remember, yes, it is very important to the client and/or you, but the success of project itself is not life-dependant
• Ignore the voices of doubt that sound in our heads from time to time
• Try scribbling, doodling, writing down random words on scraps of paper, juggling –whatever brings your imagination alive. Good luck in rekindling the creative flames – they seldom go out completely for too long!

Why wasn’t my news release covered?

PR and copywriting in Nottingham

It’s a moment that PR professionals dread. Despite your best efforts, when you check for coverage, very few – or no – media outlets have used your carefully crafted news release.

You thought it was a great story – however, the journalists didn’t. A time of frustration, and perhaps with some explaining to do to your client if you work for a PR agency, or as a PR consultant.

All is certainly not lost, but it is probably worth taking a few minutes to evaluate why your news release didn’t get the coverage you felt it deserved, then taking note.

Here are some common reasons for a lack of coverage:

1. Bad timing – if you sent out a topical, timely press release, you may have been overtaken by (news) events. A bigger story that the media regarded as better than yours came up that day. Were journalists distracted by…

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How to avoid common news release blunders

PR and copywriting in Nottingham

We all desire and expect coverage for our news releases, given the hard work that can go into researching and writing one – not to mention the boost it should give to your marketing efforts.

But what kind of news release content is likely to put reporters off, or reduce their level of interest in using your story?

Here are a few tips, based my experience in Public Relations:

  • Using jargon. If you’re writing for a technical, specialist media audience, producing a news release that is tailored for the job, it’s fine to expect a level of knowledge of the subject matter and craft your words accordingly. But our job is to make the journalist’s life easier, remember – copy that is difficult to follow and littered with buzz words from your industry or organisation won’t get used.
  • Providing no immediate ‘hook’ for the story, or having the main point…

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What makes a great blog – and how to write one for business

What makes a good blog and how do you go about writing and sustaining one?

Someone asked me about this topic recently, so here are a few thoughts below. One thing that comes to mind straight away is that a blog should evolve as time goes by. It is quite acceptable to address a variety of topics over the course of several months or weeks – as long as the blog has a common thread or theme that ties your posts together.

And as long as it encourages repeat viewings.

Your style of writing can, and should, evolve, too, as should the overall content and direction.

This blog has been for some time about various writing skills in a business environment, including P.R. and the art of good communications (at the risk of stating the obvious!). But when I started blogging, it was more about personal reflections on my day-to-day existence.  Beware about mixing both.

Here are a few ideas about blogging:

  •           Identify your audience and write for them. As with all forms of communication, it’s best to focus your blog on a particular audience and their needs and desires. Why are you blogging? If it’s just as a hobby or to sound off, that is a different matter from a business-related blog that serves as a marketing channel to reach your audience. I always advocate planning a series of topics, perhaps a month or two in advance and writing about them in order. See my bullet point below about being stuck for ideas – writer’s block happens to all of us
  •          Adopt a friendly, approachable tone and include anecdotes and experiences, where relevant. Gone are the days – mainly – of cold, clinical blog posts with little personality. Readers should feel they know (at least a bit about) the person writing the blog, without hearing their full life story. But, like much writing, this is easier said than done
  •          How often to blog? Good question – some say several times a week, to help with search engine rankings and to create a following. I prefer to stick to my own communications plan and update my blog when I really have something to say on a writing or communications topic. Blogs needn’t be too long, either, around 500 words is an ideal maximum length
  •          Test a few draft blogs on colleagues, friends or partners before you post them. You may end up creating a few followers and fans in the process. Or listen to their feedback if they have constructive criticism. Did they honestly find it easy to read to the end of your post? Would they wish to revisit your blog in future?
  •          Once your blog is established and you have posted a few items, see if you can attract a guest blogger (preferably an expert or highly knowledgeable in their subject area) on to your site. It will only add to the credibility of your blog. And it is great to include other voices and perspectives, especially blogs written by existing and potential customers, including links to other credible blogs and web resources
  •          Hot topics. Like press releases, white papers and other pieces of business writing – establish the real hot issues in your line of work. What new perspective can you offer on them (especially if you can convincingly argue a view-point that differs from the status quo)?
  •          Mix it up. For the last few years, my blogs have been about writing, Public Relations (P.R.) and communications. But, we all like a break from the day-to-day, so occasionally I have included updates on the work of a charity I support. It’s fine to vary the general direction of a blog once in a while, as long as there is a reason for doing so (you may get some push back for trying this if you blog on someone else’s behalf). Variety keeps things fresh, and communicates a wider perspective. It helps with writer’s block and if you run low on ideas, too
  • Check out other blogs and writers you find inspiring to generate your own ideas. And as well as text, clearly don’t forget pictures and video.

For advice on business writing, contact me at bennettwords@sky.com