Category Archives: social media

Writing’s not hard, right?

As someone who works as a communications professional and writes every single day, I can identify with this quote often attributed to Ernest Hemingway:

“There is nothing to writing. You just sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

While I may not be sitting at a typewriter, I understand the sentiment. Writing isn’t easy, at least good writing. It’s a craft, and to write well, it takes time, effort and a lot of rewriting.

But unfortunately, when you work in a creative field, especially in a corporate setting, it sometimes seems like everyone has an opinion and advice about your work. Let’s just say, sometimes that can be a little frustrating. So today, I offer to you three things you shouldn’t say to the communications/editorial/public relations professionals in your company.

  1. Why isn’t my title capitalized? OK, guys. Here’s the deal: most journalists, communication and PR professionals use the Associated Press Stylebook to set baseline rules for how to handle specific words, concepts and ideas. Remember when you were in high school or college and your paper had to follow APA, MLA or Turabian? It’s a similar concept and provides consistency so that every piece of content has a similar feel and look. And the AP Stylebook has some specific rules on titles, particularly that they aren’t capitalized unless they are used in front of a name. For example, the title is capitalized in this sentence: Deputy Director Smith leaked the information to the press. But it wouldn’t be if written this way: Smith, a deputy director, leaked the information to the press. So when you see the press release and notice your title isn’t capitalized, take a deep breath. It’s not because the communications department hates you or doesn’t want to give you your due. It’s because we have a set of rules to play by that are designed to make communication clear and concise. And we’re just trying to follow the rules.
  2. Are you sure the grammar is correct? I’m not saying you shouldn’t question something if you think there’s a problem; you should. Grammar isn’t always an exact science, and we make mistakes. Sometimes, you catch a mistake our eyes have overlooked because we only see what we think we’ve written. (And when you bring those mistakes to our attention, please don’t be condescending!) But you should remember that there’s a difference in a grammar issue and a personal preference. Sometimes, what people identify as a grammatical error isn’t; instead, it’s simply a construction they don’t necessarily like or something they’ve been told is wrong, such as ending a sentence with a preposition. Most communications professionals have at least some training in the ins and outs of grammar and have spent years perfecting their craft. Bring true mistakes and typos to their attention with kindness and humility rather than in a manner that seems to patronize their knowledge and training.
  3. Oh, your job isn’t very important. And I don’t have time to help you with this project because my job is important. Yeah. . . that’s not going to go over so well. In a corporate setting, communications can be undervalued simply because its impact is hard to measure, according to a 2015 FastCompany article. But communications covers a wide variety of aspects, from reputation management to social media, community relations and holds much of the responsibility for establishing the voice, tone and public face of the company. So rather than allotting degrees of importance to various roles within the company—with yours at the top—understand we all have a role to play and share your story, so that the communications department can weave it into the greater narrative of the corporation.

The day Facebook injured my vanity.

I’m a sucker for any kind of quiz on social media. From finding out which Disney character I am to what old lady name best fits me—if it’s a quiz, I’ve probably taken it.

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The picture in which I apparently look 42. Or 29.

The other day, I saw a “How old do you really look?” quiz. It analyzed your Facebook profile pic and spit out an answer.

And do you know what mine was?

42.

Yeah. 42. That’s a great number for Jackie Robinson, but it’s not for me.

Not to offend any 42-year-olds out there, but I’m 36. And, to be frank, I don’t really want to look 42 until I’m actually 42. It would be even better is I didn’t look 42 until I was 52!

Random Facebook quiz, you injured my vanity.

Thankfully, how-old.net made me feel a little better. It said I look 29

(And that was based on the same picture. . . )

3 types of social media posts that make me crazy

I love social media. I still use Facebook and like that I can keep up with friends from high school and elsewhere, no matter where we may live now. Twitter keeps me up-to-date and is usually good for a laugh.

But there are a few things people do on social media that make me a little crazy. And I’m willing to bet some of you agree, too.

1. The Lure.
The Lure is that social media post designed to elicit a response from the reader. It takes many forms, many of which you probably know well. I’m so OVER it. Can’t take it anymore. I can’t believe he did that! Maybe those examples seem a little melodramatic, but I’ve seen similar posts many times. The lure is often passive aggressive. It’s meant to draw attention to yourself and cause readers to ask questions like: What’s wrong?, Need to talk?, or How can I help? I’m not saying every status update or tweet has to be happy; that’s not real life. But they don’t have to be passive aggressive. So, if you think you might be about to post “The Lure,” ask yourself:

  • Is this designed to get a response that makes people feel sorry for or focus their attention on me? 
  • Am I being intentionally vague so that people will ask me a lot of questions?
  • Is my desire to feel like the center of attention? 

2. The Sell.
I love that you have found a product you love or a company that you want to work for. I really do enjoy seeing posts about the amazingly crafty things you make and have for sale. But I don’t like it when EVERYthing you post is an attempt to sell me something. Truth be told, I don’t buy into the essential oils craze, I think losing weight involves more than drinking a specific drink, and your skin products are probably amazing, but I can’t afford them—and I don’t want to join your team. For me, social media is social and about connecting, not advancing business. If you want to sell on social media, I’m fine with that. But create a page or separate account for your product or business and use that to sell your wares, not your personal account. Questions to consider if you’re a repeat offender of “The Sell”:

  • Are my social media posts on my personal pages more about my business or my life? 
  • When I interact with my friends via social media is it about actual life stuff or trying to sell them my product?
  • Are there people that THE only time I interact with them on social media is to ask them to buy something?

3. Private Made Public.
Maybe this one is just me. Perhaps I’m just too sheltered or think some things should remain private. I truly get when you want to wish your spouse or significant other a happy anniversary or birthday, or even just honor them in some way publicly. And I think choosing to publicly honor that special someone is laudable. Who wants to be with someone who never says they love you in front of others? But you don’t have to overshare in those posts and outline every aspect of your relationship. A simple Happy Anniversary! Thanks for standing by me all these years, even though I don’t deserve it! would suffice. We don’t have to read the personal note you’d inscribe in a card or letter thanking him/her for being your best friend, lover, encourager, etc. It’s your relationship and part of what makes that special is the intimacy. Guard that intimacy; don’t slap it on social media for the world to see. Questions to ask if you think your post might be TMI:

  • Would I be embarrassed if my mom, dad, brother, sister, teen child, pastor, boss, etc. read this? More than that, will it embarrass my significant other?
  • Is this something personal that would be better said in person or shared in a personal note, card, or letter?
  • Am I striving to create a facade of intimacy online, rather than investing in the relationship in person?
  • Is there a simpler, less exploitative way to let people know how happy I am and how much I love this person?

I’m sure there are many more social media faux pas that make you crazy. Share them in the comments!