3 Words to Replace for Stronger Writing

Just – Do – Get – Out of the Way for Better Writing This is not a weird rip-off of Nike’s affirmative tagline, Just Do It! These are the words that haunt my writing making it slag and drag with boring words. Do you have a bad habit in your writing? The same three might plague you as well. Extraneous words make boring copy. Admitting there’s a problem is the first step. Double check your writing by reading each word in reverse order. This way you will view each word individually instead of anticipating what word comes next. You’ll also be more likely to notice if there’s a repetitive word.     Just a Minute I’ve overused the word ‘just’ for years. I use it in front of a little, a tad, a bit. I also use it instead of only, solely, and all (as in “you just need to _______”). The worst is as a qualifier—just a PR consultant or just a work-at-home mom—it never belongs in front of a role or occupation! It’s belittling and disrespectful. Let me say that again:             NEVER PUT THE WORD “JUST” IN FRONT OF A ROLE OR OCCUPATION! If you find you’ve done that, ALWAYS change it to an aspirational descriptor like fabulous, valuable, qualified, sought after, or respected as a way to support what you and others are doing and the important roles you fill every day. The truth is, the word is rarely needed and is just in the way.   That Thing You Do ‘Do’ is a general word. It works for Nike (Just Do It!) and for Mountain Dew (Do the Dew!) because everyone can internalize the statement and believe the tagline is referring to what the they do best. When I find that I am using ‘do’ instead of a specific verb, I substitute something more interesting or active—maybe something punchy–that doesn’t leave any question about what I need to do. “I just need to do a report” becomes “I only need to write/create/compose/author a report.” If you give instruction to others on a regular basis as a parent, teacher, or manager, then you know that saying, “Don’t do that,” is not nearly as effective as saying, “Stop running,” or the more affirmative “please walk.”   I Get You While we get each other and try hard not to get COVID-19 and other viruses, it is...
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Titles – CEO to Vizier

  As the US Postal Service finds itself in the news quite often lately, I was pondering the title Postmaster General. What a weird title! Silly, really. When you Google it, the information assures the reader that the postmaster general is the CEO of the USPS. Why don’t we just call it that? The first postmaster general was Benjamin Franklin. I have to assume the witty Almanac writer was great at parties making him a Toastmaster Postmaster–now that’s quite a title! An even stranger (dumber) title is Grand Wizard. That’s what a certain white supremacist organization (which doesn’t deserve to be named) calls their leader. It’s stupid enough to suit that group just fine—good branding! I can think of some other suitable titles, but I digress.   The U.S. Government is Not a Great Model for Titles The United States government is full of titles that perhaps don’t mean what they once did and don’t seem to follow the terms of just one organizational chart. President, vice president–those are fine. The term ‘secretary’ was especially confusing to me when I was learning about the Cabinet (the what? Like a cupboard?) in elementary school. My mom was a secretary. She knew shorthand and typed. Is that what the Secretary of the Interior does? By Interior, we mean outside (what?)—national parks and such. She worked at a bank, does that make her a Treasury Secretary? Hmm. Then we have a whole tier of ‘deputies’ under the ‘chief of staff’ (a normal title). Deputies? Where are the sheriffs? Did they all get shot by Eric Clapton? Is the chief of staff the sheriff? In the interest of parallelism, if that person isn’t called the sheriff, shouldn’t those under him or her on the organization chart be called ‘assistant chiefs’? Or ‘sous chefs,’ like in a kitchen?   Russian Influence Sidelining sheik and vizier, the US Presidents somehow embraced the title of ‘czar’ as the title for those who are essentially task force managers, the term for Russian emperors before 1917. How did this Russian title make it into our government structure? Aren’t we opposed to Russian influence? What’s Russian for ‘task force manager’? That might have been better. Czar was largely used as a nickname for the person in charge of a department, however the title was given out by presidential appointment starting with Franklin D. Roosevelt who named 11 czars. Topping...
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Evaluation – A Necessary Evil that I Make Easy

Evaluation is an important part of your marketing strategy and yet it is a low priority for most small businesses and nonprofits. I know ‘Eval’ is close to ‘Evil,’ but you have to do it before you move on to the next thing on the to-do list and it’s forgotten. Mostly, I find that evaluation is ignored not just because of time, but because people do not know where to start. I have made evaluation as easy as completing a form. If you keep it up you will have great data to rely on year after year. Below is my FREE downloadable Communications Assessment Tool that will help you take inventory of your promotional activities as you move forward. If you have taken my classes at The Nonprofit Partnership then you likely already have this tool working in action. “Oh yeah!” I heard you say that! I offered this way back in 2016 also. It’s simple to use and very important. If you don’t keep track, how else will you know what’s working? McCormickLA_Comm_Assessment_Tool_2020. Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and businesses of all shapes and sizes. Sign-up on her website today to receive helpful insights like this one in your inbox.  See how easy your promotional efforts can be here.  ...
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3 Ways to Promote Your Business During COVID-19

We were all ready to get back to normal! Unfortunately, the COVID-19 virus is still active and dangerous. Back inside we go! But you still need to promote your business during COVID-19. What’s different now in July compared to March when we first shutdown is the increase in computer literacy. We’ve all created a new relationship with our computer, tablet, and/or smart phone. Virtual meetings are the norm for business and family interaction. Stodgy executives and elderly grandparents alike have increasing comfort with communicating like The Jetsons. We’ve all become pros in ordering online as well. Now that (almost) everyone has been trained, take advantage of that with these three tips to promote your business during COVID-19—and there are more where these came from. Amplify your promotion by including one or more partners for these endeavors. You’ll share your customers with one another and share the reach for a much richer campaign. I’ve listed the collaborators that come to my mind under each tip. Use the options that are best for your business. Here are three no-contact ways to reach out to your customers during the COVID-19 shutdown:   Create a Webinar. If you are used to meeting with people face-to-face to explain your product, now you have the opportunity to do it with several people at once. Invite your list of prospects to hear what you have to offer on a 30-minute free webinar. Make sure you invite them to take the next step with you. Offer a discount to people who sign-on to your program during the webinar. Collaborator: Offer this through your local chamber of commerce or other local business association. There are neighborhood business development associations searching for speakers and good content all the time.   Host a Contest. It’s summer and people can’t travel as they’d like, can’t go to amusement parks—or any parks for more than a walk, can’t see extended family, no movies, no parties, no camps … they are BORED! Making videos is easy these days and if several people are loading videos about your business, there’s a multiplier effect that is more valuable than what you can likely afford. Pick a theme related to your business and create a hashtag for people to use when they share their videos on Facebook and Twitter. Offer a $25 gift card for any video that earns more than 100 Likes. Example: if you run an...
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Terms of Service: Swag

SWAG: Stuff We All Get Not to be confused with swagger, “swag” is a popular term for all those wonderful promotional items you can receive for free from a company, usually given at an event. It’s the STUFF WE ALL GET! Some look forward to the swag bag more than the event. The most coveted swag is the loot given to Academy Award nominees. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences does not distribute this, incidentally. A marketing firm called Distinctive Assets compiles and distributes the special gifts. Click to see the 2020 bag. The objective for merchandisers to give their products for free through a swag bag or celebrity gifting lounge is to have their products in the hands of Hollywood royalty. If they’re lucky a photo of a celeb and the product will make its way into a print publication or entertainment coverage TV show. An expected practice – like goody bags at a children’s party People appreciate and even expect swag at certain events. Swag commonly appears at running races (t-shirt is the bare minimum), fashion shows, some galas, and vendors offer it up like trick-or-treat candy at trade shows. Swag usually has the company’s name and/or emblem on it and can range from a small bag of candy  to a vacation on a yacht as was gifted at the 2020 Academy Awards.   Guess again As a second acronym, a dear friend enlightened me that S.W.A.G. also stands for Scientific Wild Ass Guess. I love this! AKA Guesstimate. It’s a contradiction in terms, of course, how scientific is a guess? A wild ass one at that! Consider giving swag as a nice gesture that compliments the experience and attaches a lasting memory to the event, organization, or product. What will people really love? You’ll have to make a S.W.A.G.! Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and businesses of all shapes and sizes. Sign-up on her website today to receive helpful insights like this one in your inbox.  See how easy your efforts can...
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