1) Describe your typical workday in 140 characters or less.
Respond to e-mails. Budget pages. Respond to e-mails. Edit copy. Respond to e-mails wondering why I haven’t been more responsive. Repeat!
2) What’s the best pitch you’ve ever received?
I’m lucky to have so much commentary to choose from, but sheer math forces me to decline (politely, I hope) most of the submissions I get, including some perfectly good ones. So I think my sentimental favorites are from the people who become enraged when I say no, demand explanations, urge me to reconsider, and, best of all, tell me something like, “Well, I think it’s really good!” I have yet to meet someone who agrees that I should not publish his submission.
3) The greatest words of wisdom an editor ever gave you?
My best editor in college told me to remember the acronym “KISS: Keep it simple — smart!” He was being nice; it really stands for “Keep it simple, stupid!” Most good editing comes down to this admonition.
Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch famously put it another way: “Murder your darlings.” That is, if you’re madly in love with the beauty or wit of a passage you wrote, you should probably delete it.
4) If there was one thing you could tell every PR practitioner, what would it be?
Many PR people are very conscientious about the submissions they handle. But others seem to be acting as mere conduits for whatever their clients give them — and then blaming editors for failing to publish it. I think many clients could be done an immense service by a representative who edits them or encourages them to rewrite, and who is honest about what is and isn’t likely to be published and why.
Can you run an effective PR campaign today without a social media component? A quick look at the numbers suggests that the answer is “no.”
Roughly 25% of all Americans now have a Twitter account. Facebook has more than a billion users -- and about half of all Americans have accounts. Meanwhile, 82 million American consumers are constantly connected to the social media pulse, accessing their social profiles from their phones.
It used to be that people took blogs less seriously than traditional news reporting. But that’s changing. Sixty-five percent of people now find the information they see posted online trustworthy, according to ING's new Impact of social media 2012.
Look at any recent news event -- from the election to Superstorm Sandy to the Patraeus scandal. It’s obvious that social media is driving the news and shaping public opinion.
Your Name: Tara Curtis
Your Position: Director, Communications
Your Business: West Virginia University Alumni Association
Company Website: alumni.wvu.edu
Twitter: @WVUAlumniAssoc (business) @WVUGal93 (personal)
Services You Offer:
The WVU Alumni Association represents West Virginia University's largest constituency - more than 185,000 alumni worldwide. We provide outreach opportunities throughout the country, develop opportunities for social and professional networking, and engage our alumni through communications, including web, social media and printed communication.
Your Niche Area of Expertise:
Communications, strategic messaging and media relations.
How Did You Get Started in this Business?
My first real "communications" job was working for an energy company where I had an opportunity to develop great skills in the areas of crisis communications, media relations and internal/external relations. The experiences I gained with this company really helped me enhance my professional skills and developed my work ethic. I have always enjoyed working with nonprofit agencies, so when the opportunity was presented to work for my alma mater, I jumped at the chance. Working with alumni who are passionate about their university makes my job fun, challenging and wonderful.
We just redesigned our website here at Keybridge Communications after only two years. Why so soon? For us, there were several reasons.
First, we recently expanded our core services to include Web Development, Graphic Design and Social Media -- and these new services needed to have their own place on our website.
Second, our original website was created in Flash, and with the ever-changing technology on phones and tablets, we needed to stay up-to-date.
Third, we felt that our business, clients, potential clients, and followers would benefit from a blog.
So how do you know when it’s time for a website makeover? Here are a few questions to ask yourself that might help you decide:
>Rest assured you’re not the first person to be tripped up by insure, ensure, and assure. And for good reason -- there is a fair amount of leeway in the usage of these words.
But while a dictionary may state that it’s okay to use insure in a context other than insurance, and assure to mean “guarantee,” many style guides have stricter guidelines.
AP style, for instance, assigns one meaning to each word:
“Use ensure to mean guarantee . . . insure for references to insurance . . . assure to mean to make sure or give confidence.”
This approach simplifies the matter and makes the definitions easier to memorize. While you could defend your usage by pointing to Merriam-Webster, style guides often trump dictionaries.