Watch Out for These Shortcuts

In the rush to make yet one more deadline and fit in ever more in our busy schedules, using shortcuts in our writing can be tempting, and once they gain traction, their use can spread like wildfire.  But not so fast. Many shortcuts can be questionable, poorly thought out or just plain wrong. Before you jump on the bandwagon and begin using, for example, “intel” as an abbreviation for “intelligence,” check this usage in a reputable resource. Even though an abbreviation may be commonly used, if it’s not listed in a guide like a dictionary or stylebook, it’s usually too early to start using this term in formal writing, or its use is considered erroneous by the broader language community.    In my role as editor, I frequently come across problems related to these terms, and below are some abbreviations, misnomers and slang words that I have seen come up in the news lately along with some oldies but goodies that remain rampant in the world of marketing and communication. Do you use any of the ones below in your writing?

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The Culturalist

To celebrate the fashion industry’s fall assault on the Big Apple, 1,000 stores, shops and boutiques throughout New York City’s five boroughs are participating in Fashion’s Night Out, a mega-celebrity packed event on Sept. 10, from 6 p.m. to midnight. At Macy’s, you’ll meet singing sensation Joss Stone, designer Tommy Hilfiger, and the multi-talented Jennifer Lopez. Over at Saks Fifth Avenue, you can rock out with Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas, or play fashion bingo with Donna Karan, Rachel Roy, and Peter Som (as well as Gossip Girl’s Jessica Szohr). And if you can’t afford a limo to transport you to these events, Payless is cruising the city with six free double-decker busses to take you to your fashion destination. For more on the latest in trends, treats, and technology, take a look at the latest edition of the Culturalist.

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Dinner Reservations

In England, it’s back to school time.

Yesterday we dropped off my son at his new boarding school.  As we met his five new roommates, it occurred to me that a dorm room of teenagers is a kind of Petri dish for observing cultures other than bacteria.

Most fascinating to me was to observe the interplay between father-mother-son.  The various combinations and the milestone occasion made for a very interesting window into the family dynamic.

There was tension, there were tears … there were trembling stiff upper lips. 

And in the fullness of truth, most family members appeared to be genuinely excited about the next chapter in their lives – whether it was the son embarking on his next five years of study – or the mother and father coming to grips with it.  

The scene brought to mind a dinner conversation I had with one of our clients in Beijing last week.  The general topic was about the difficulty in hiring top management talent. 

After wringing his hands over the particular challenges in China, our client relayed to me a new element in his interview process.  He invites the family to dinner and looks for the subtleties in the inter-relationships between family members.  Once, he said, he did not make an offer to a highly respected candidate because he could tell the candidate’s son was afraid of his father.

“Trust comes from inside the heart,” our client said.  “And a kid’s eyes tell you what is in their heart.  If you can’t manage your own family, then you’d be a disaster trying to manage my business.”  Jon

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Go, China

Go, China

The Beijing Olympic Games were a powerful spectacle, stunning in sight and sound.

But the moment that made the biggest impression on me came during an informal visit just before the Games to one of the new Chinese internet companies, and in conversation with some of the younger Chinese entrepreneurs.  

These people, men and women, were smart, sharp, forthright, unafraid to express their views about China and its future.  Above all, there was a confidence, an optimism, a lack of the cynical, and a presence of the spirit of get up and go, that reminded me greatly of the United States at its best and any country on its way forward.

These are the words of Tony Blair, taken from an op-ed he wrote for The Wall Street Journal shortly after the Games concluded two years ago (August 27, 2008).  Its headline:  “Help China Embrace the Future”

The former UK Prime Minister’s observations back then summarise perfectly the energy, the sense of commitment and ownership of the future that many of us felt in the presence of our Chinese colleagues last week. 

As you have seen elsewhere on myKGN, Ketchum Greater China marked its 30th anniversary with a major training programme – easily the biggest we’ve ever done there.  My fellow instructors – Peter Fleischer, Jonathan Kopp and Roy Edmondson – came away from the experience feeling that we, the teachers, may have learned more than the pupils.

Over the years and on more than one occasion I have heard Kenneth Chu, chairman of Ketchum Greater China, make the point that our agency will have to evolve and adjust to a global marketplace in which economic power soon will be shared with the Far East.  

I wonder if we quite understand what that means, we whose culture (not just our politics and economies) has dominated for so long.  It will be a rather strange, possibly unnerving experience.  Personally, I think it will be incredibly enriching.  New experiences; new ways of thinking liberate creative energy.

Tony Blair wrote those words, too.  

Today Blair’s memoirs, “A Journey” have been published and, perhaps predictably, he’s getting ripped.  “Reads less like a memoir, more like a long memo to his staff …”

But he got his op-ed on China and its future exactly write.  

Jon

PS Read the full piece click here

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Check in to . . . Everything?

If you would have asked me in January what the buzzword of 2010 would be as it relates to social media, I would have said “location.” I likely would now be considered wrong for being a bit shortsighted. So, with it now being August, let me give you what I think is the buzzword for 2010: “check-in.”  By now, readers of this blog should know all about Foursquare, the mobile app that lets you check in to real-life locations like retailers, gas stations, bars, restaurants and more to unlock discounts, virtual badges and more. You might also be aware that Facebook recently launched their own initiative called Facebook Places; for right now, all you can do is check in to locations without any incentive, unless “falsely” tagging friends in that location with you is fun for you.  There’s also a rise in applications that allow you to check in to entertainment properties like TV shows, movies, video games, even TOPICS. The three main applications out there right now are GetGlue, Miso and Philo.

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30!

30!

This week, Ketchum Greater China is marking its 30th anniversary in the Chinese public relations market. With more than 150 employees in five major cities across the country, Ketchum Greater China is one of the keystones of the Ketchum’s global network in one of the world’s most rapidly growing markets. Among the special events that have been taking place this week, a 30th anniversary celebration was held in Beijing that included more than 50 Ketchum colleagues and over 40 special guests including clients, members of Ketchum Greater China’s Asia Pacific affiliates, and members of Ketchum’s parent corporation, Omnicom Group. This has been followed by three days of a series of special media and educational events and seminars focusing on such topics as corporate social responsibility and social media. The other night, I had the great honor to join our colleagues in Greater China to celebrate the occasion of their 30th anniversary in the PR business. It was a great moment in time to join with clients and friends of the agency to look back at the tremendous impact our colleagues there have had on the growth of PR in China and to look forward at the opportunities that lie ahead for us there. During the festivities, I had the chance to share some thoughts about the great work being done by our colleagues in the region as well as to toast Ketchum Greater China’s founders, Kenneth Chu, Partner and CEO, Greater China, and Betty Lo, President, Greater China, and reflect on their contributions to the industry. Below is my speech. 

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The Culturalist

The Culturalist is thrilled that NYC burger institution ShakeShack is expanding throughout Manhattan, with outposts in Midtown, and the Upper East and West Sides of the city. Still, we were a bit flabbergasted when Pat LaFrieda (the genius butcher who created ShakeShack’s burger blend) appeared recently on a home shopping channel (ShopNBC), selling 16 six-ounce burgers for $85. We’re certainly not beefing about Google’s latest freebie, a new version of Google Earth that sports an under-ocean mapping feature. Looks like we’ll finally be able to find Nemo. For more about what’s new, what’s hot and what’s popping up in the Big Apple, check out the latest edition of the Culturalist. . .

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The Five Most Confusing Digital Media Terms

“She Tweeted the news” or “She tweeted the news”? “IPads are on sale” or “iPads are on sale”? “He sent an email” or “He sent an e-mail”?  The fast-changing world of digital media has generated as many new terms as it has technologies. Yet PR pros and business communicators have no easy resource they can turn to that can keep up with the special capitalization and spelling of these words. What’s more, a lot of older digital media terms continue to cause confusion and aren’t fully explained in stylebooks.  In my role as editor, I frequently come across mistakes related these terms, and here are five I see as the most common. Do any of these terms cause confusion for you, too?  The Five Most Confusing Digital Media Terms  1. BlackBerry – This trademark has a capital “B” in the middle and, because it is a trademark, its plural is formed with as minimal change as possible and not the same way as other words ending in “y” —  with “ies.” For this reason, the plural is “BlackBerrys” and not “BlackBerries.” This is an easy mistake to make, as can be seen on this New York Times page about halfway down on the left side under the headline “Texting With Terrorists.”

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BlogHer Business 2010: What We Heard

BlogHer Business 2010: What We Heard

As an attendee and active participant in BlogHer Business and the BlogHer conferences, I can describe them in one word: power. Power as in the power of the blogger as an influencer and consumer and the power of the enthusiasm and energy that the conferences radiate.

According to BlogHer’s Social Media Matters Study 2010, which was co-sponsored by Ketchum, blogs are second only to Internet search when it comes to influencing product purchase. So, marketers need to be listening, paying attention to and leveraging the trust that bloggers engender among their followers. And, while at the BlogHer Business Conference, ROI analytics are still in great demand, companies are jumping in to social media with two feet and trying to develop analytics along the way.

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Buzzwords

Buzzwords

I grew up in a one-stop-light town in rural New England.  So it came as something of a revelation when I eventually made it to the bright lights, big city, and in my first class at university, the Journalism 101 professor opened things up by announcing the newest entries in the Oxford Dictionary of English.   It hadn’t occurred to me that the dictionary was a living, evolving record of the way we talk, not just a freshman’s most valuable resource.   My instructor was the classic, crusty, cantankerous news editor type, and that must be why I so distinctly recall the way he lit up as he revealed the one he loved best — “uptight.” His face squinched up with exquisite expression as he said it. He smiled.  That memory came flashing back this morning when my morning radio show announced a selection of the latest 2,000 entries, to be published today. 

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