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Copy Editor’s Corner | Assure – Insure – Ensure

>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.

PR Tips | Writing An Effective Press Release

In addition to my work at Keybridge, I'm the publisher of Terroirist.com, an award-winning daily wine blog. So when I'm not at the office, I'm immersed in the world of wine -- attending and hosting tastings, reading and writing articles, and browsing other blogs. One of my favorites is Fermentation, published by wine industry insider Tom Wark, a veteran wine marketer and publicist. Last summer, Tom wrote a blog post detailing how to write an effective press release. While Tom's focus was wine, the lessons are universal. So if you work in PR, it's well worth reading. The key takeaway? "The one thing that anyone writing, receiving, or reading a press release needs to be able to do is understand what 'news' is and if the press release contains any." Too often, public relations firms are guilty of sending out press releases devoid of news. When writing a press release, you must have a sense of what 'news' is -- to journalists, not your client -- and if the press release contains any. A good PR professional should be able to take virtually any story and make it newsworthy. All that's required is creativity and media savvy. Consider a fairly typical assignment for our firm, the release of a new think tank study. Let's think about a few possible headlines:

PR Tips | Home runs don’t just happen in PR, either

San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval inscribed his name in baseball's history books Wednesday night by hitting three home runs in Game One of the World Series. With the feat, he joined some illustrious company. Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols are the only others to do the same. To casual baseball fans, Sandoval may seem to have appeared out of nowhere. But he's actually been toiling in the Giants organization for over eight years. Sandoval had to log more than 2,200 at-bats in the minors -- and another 2,100 at the major-league level -- before slugging his way into baseball immortality. Similarly, folks looking to increase their media footprint generally need to notch a number of solid-if-not-sexy placements before they can reach a million readers with one op-ed or feature article.

Profiles in PR | Michael Fulton

Name: Michael Fulton Business: The Arnold Agency Position: President, Washington Office Twitter: @hillrat1156 Services You Offer I perform a full range of government relations, public affairs and communications services for companies, associations, higher education, health systems and non-profit organizations. Creative staff in our West Virginia and Montana offices offer tremendous assistance and teamwork to any campaign or project. Your Niche Area of Expertise Federal funding strategies, and ways to help your organization advance its cause and reputation among the Administration, Congress and strategic partners. How Did You Get Started in this Business? I worked nearly 10 years on Capitol Hill, meeting hundreds of influential people and learning how government works to our advantage. I left the Hill in 1988 and began consulting with incredible results over the past two decades, regardless of which party controls Congress and the White House and how the economy is performing. Do You Have Any Advice for Potential Clients? Success in the nation’s capital remains first and foremost a people and relationship business. Hire smart people and spend time collaborating with them to serve your organization’s best interests. Do not be afraid to hold their hired lobbyists or communications firms to high expectations and ethical behavior (far too many clients are unhappy with their representation and do not know how to make a switch for the best.)

Copy Editor’s Corner | Affect vs. Effect

Thanks for visiting Copy Editor’s Corner! Every month, we’ll get to the bottom of a common copyediting conundrum. In this inaugural post we’ll address the homophones affect and effect.

Let’s start with the two meanings we encounter most often. The following sentences are examples of proper usage:

"A candidate’s debate performance can affect the outcome of an election."

"Amanda’s exercise routine had a salutary effect on her health."

But this next sentence is correct, too. It introduces the word effect as a verb, which means “to bring about.”

Jamie wants a president who will effect change, but she doesn’t know what effect each candidate's proposed policies will have on her life.

(Of course, we don’t recommend using effect twice in the same sentence.)

Finally, affect can be used as a noun, but such usage is rare. Why? Because it is a term used in psychology to describe a person’s mood or emotions. For example, a psychiatrist might describe a patient’s affect as irritable or flat.

Mastering the many meanings of effect and affect will most certainly have a positive effect on your affect.

PR Tips | The Process of Creating a Logo

Creating a logo -- or any unique design -- might seem like a daunting task of open-ended creativity. But here at Keybridge, we've developed a step-by-step process that makes design projects manageable and fun. In short, our process ensures that clients are happy with the final product because their preferences are incorporated into the design at each step along the way. Kim Brodie, Founder & CEO of Educational Digital Solutions, was kind enough to let us use her logo to demonstrate how our process works. We don't just create logos from thin air. First, we ask the client a series of questions to get an idea of what he or she wants: What should the logo say about your company? What feelings or emotions should it convey? Do you have a symbol or font style in mind? Do you have color preferences or aversions? Etc.

Review | Online Surveys — Create Your Own In Seconds

There are companies out there that will charge you $50,000 to conduct a survey.

Or you could conduct your own for free.

With easy-to-use online tools like SurveyMonkey and PopSurvey, it takes just minutes to create surveys that can be embedded into websites or emailed to large sample lists. You can even buy inexpensive lists directly from these companies.

Will you get more accurate results from a qualified polling firm?

Absolutely.

But you can save a ton of time and money by conducting your own poll -- and you can discover any number of fascinating things while you're at it.

For example, we wanted to confirm our suspicion that we're the best PR company in the world. So we put together this one-question poll using SurveyMonkey's free version. It took us less than 5 minutes to create -- seriously.