Blog – 5 Steps for Mobile App Success

August 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

By Julie Caan

Vollrath Associates recently had the pleasure of working with Festa Italiana on the creation of its first mobile app – Festa MKE. The app launched in late-June, but the planning began months out. While we are certainly not app “experts,” we have definitely learned a thing or two throughout this process along the way!

Here are a few key things we learned and tips for those interested in creating an app for your business or event:

Step 1: Have a purpose. Before we began, we asked ourselves, what is our purpose for creating this app? Apps are like new toys. However, unless they serve a purpose, they run the risk of becoming shiny new toys that are never played with (or downloaded).

Make sure your app serves a real benefit to your customers and key target audience. In our case, we wanted our app to serve as a comprehensive source of information both before and during the festival. We considered our demographic, families, many of whom use their smartphones daily to check emails, use the Internet and access social media sites. Festa was also interested in reaching a younger, more tech-savvy audience so this parlayed nicely into that.

With nearly 40 food vendors, seven stages, countless entertainment acts and a wide variety of attractions, we wanted a way to streamline all of this information into one, easy to use location. Hence, the need for an app. Now you can say, hey, there’s a Festa app for that!

festa 2

Step 2: Determine scope. Once we determined that we did indeed need an app, we needed to figure out how to create it. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is an app. Our agency specializes in public relations and, while we are certainly skilled marketers and copywriters, the whole “building an app” thing was a little foreign to us. Luckily for us, we had great partners. We worked with THIEL Design (who had previous experience building apps) to create the app’s interfaces. THIEL, in turn, recommended Xorbix Technologies to us to help actually build and program the app.

Step 3: Functionality. Going into any app, aside from having a purpose, you need to know what you want your app to do. Do you want it to serve as a selling tool? An extension of your marketing efforts? Offer a new way for your customers to engage? Once you nail down what you want the app to do, you need to determine how you will do it.

For our part, we wanted an app that was on one hand, extremely user-friendly, and on the other, encompassed A LOT of information. These two goals don’t always go hand-in-hand, but in the end, our app managed to merge the two harmoniously.

The app’s wireframe included a home screen, weather widget, entertainment lineup, general info., interactive map, food vendors, history, photo gallery, social media integration, sponsors and Italian phrases. We incorporated a mix of need-to-know information, along with some fun things to enhance the festival going experience. In building the app, we determined the areas that would get the most use (entertainment line-up, food, festival map) and made sure to make them top-notch.

festa 1

Step 4: Thorough Checking and Testing. All total, the Festa app took about 4 months to build. One of those months was devoted solely to testing. An app such as this that incorporates a large volume of information needs to be checked and tested thoroughly. We checked all of the information several times as well as the usability knowing that we wanted to limit our updates after launch.

Testing is something to keep in mind when you are planning your app’s timeframe. We knew our app needed to launch mid-June for the start of the July 19 festival so we made sure to build time in for testing and approvals.

Step 5: Promote. Once our app launched, we got busy doing what we do best – promoting it! Remember when we said what good is an app if it doesn’t serve a purpose? Similarly, what good is an app if no one knows about it?

Make sure to list your app prominently on all marketing materials, along with information for how and where to download it. For Festa, that meant putting the app’s icon on the website, digital billboards, traditional and online advertising and across social media platforms (we created a custom cover photo for Facebook).

Since this was a big step for Festa as the first ethnic festival in Milwaukee with an app, we made sure to let all local news outlets know about its launch via a press release and some separate pitching. The press release resulted in several articles and social media interactions that reached our target and garnered great feedback. We also made sure to mention the app and show how to use it in all of our TV interviews leading up to and during the event.

Looking back, the app was a great success and had several thousand downloads. We are looking forward to refining the app and making it even better for next year!

festa 3

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Summer 2013: Unplugged

June 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

By Sarah McClanahan, Intern

 

It’s June and Milwaukee is finally heating up! Hopefully, we are past the random cold days and spontaneous thunderstorms and we can begin to enjoy our beautiful city. At VA, we love being outdoors! To experience summer to the fullest, we created this 2013 Summer Bucket List:

 

 

 

 

1. Jazz in the Park. The stage in Cathedral Square waiting for the performers and the crowd.

2. Milwaukee Air & Water Show. Phil and Julie last summer at the Air Show.

3. Lunch in Cathedral Square. Looking East over Cathedral Square, almost right from our office door!

4. Bastille Days. Casey, Phil, Jessica and Julie at Bastille Days.

5. Golfing. Marilyn loves golfing. She even has her own team, “Nine and Wine.”

6. Boating. After a long day on the lake, Phil walks the boat in.

7. Festa Italiana. Jessica, Casey and Julie playing bocce at Festa 2012.

 

Other things on our list include trips to Door Country, soaking up the sun at Bradford Beach, attending outdoor concerts, getting popcorn at Koepsell’s Popcorn Stand (Phil!), dining on the patio at our favorite restaurants and much more!

 

However, we quickly realized that to make the most of this summer and these events, we need to leave behind the one thing we all cling to the most: our technology. Phones. Tablets. Laptops. Forget ‘em! Outside of the office, we are challenging ourselves to spend as much time unplugged as possible.

 

Think about the last time you went a day without technology. Do you think you could go a day without your smartphone? A week? As we look forward to our summer activities, we plan on staying engaged in the present by putting away our smartphones– at least for the evening. While this may be challenging at first, the more time you spend unplugged, the easier it will become. By putting down the phone, you may not be able to post a status on Facebook or check-in on FourSquare, but you will definitely have more memories of actually spending time with those you are with.

 

If you need more incentive to stay unplugged for the summer, check out these five fast facts about the health benefits of leaving the phone at home:

 

1. Sunshine boosts the ‘happy’ hormone serotonin which lifts your mood.

2. Spending quality face-to-face time with friends and family strengthens relationships.

3. Listening to water washing in on the shore alters the wave patterns in your brain, much like meditation.

4. Sitting on the beach encourages contemplation and reflection.

5. A walk in nature improves your memory, enhances your immune system and boosts your mood.

 

So are you up for the challenge? Will you join us on our quest to pass the zero-technology test? Put down the phone and take on our Summer 2013 Unplugged Challenge! Let us know how it’s going via Twitter, Facebook or commenting below!

YP Week Milwaukee – Looking Back

May 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

By Julie Caan

YP Week Milwaukee. A series of events presented by Newaukee that celebrate all that is vibrant in Milwaukee – giving the city’s young professionals an inside look at what’s going on in our city and how it affects us. Both Jessica and I attended a few of the week’s events. The following is a recap of the highlights and what we learned.

Milwaukee: The Silicon Valley of Water

Many young people know Milwaukee as the Brew City. Given our city’s rich history of breweries and deep-rooted German culture, this label is an easy one to apply (and one that many Milwaukeeans, including myself, take pride in). However, thanks in part to organizations like The Water Council, an alliance formed five years ago by leading water technology companies in Southeastern Wisconsin, things are starting to change. AKA less focus on beer, and more focus on one of our Earth’s most precious resources: water.

Rich Meeusen, CEO of Badger Meter, the world’s leading provider of water meter technologies, and co-founder of The Water Council, kicked-off Tuesday morning’s event by providing a history of water in Milwaukee and a glimpse into our future as a world water hub. Rich, as always, was entertaining, humorous, and most of all, informative.

Rich Meeusen speaking at YP Week.

Rich Meeusen speaking at YP Week.

Here are my takeaways from Rich’s talk:

  • Every 20 seconds a child dies from lack of water – water is an immediate problem. Rich shared that he believes Milwaukee is the solution.
  • Over 21% of the world’s fresh water  is found right here in the Great Lakes.
  • Milwaukee has an image of a beer town, but we need to get back to our roots – and that’s water.
  • Tanning companies, breweries and other industry first came to Milwaukee because of it’s connection to the Great Lakes. Today, more than 150 water technology companies call Southeastern Wisconsin home. This rare concentration includes companies from every cycle of water. What’s even cooler, is that through the Water Council, these companies work together.
  • The area is also home to more leading water technology companies, more flow labs than anywhere in the world and the first ever school of freshwater sciences (UWM) – Milwaukee is the Silicon Valley of Water.

Perhaps Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said it best when he closed out the program by saying, “You have the East Coat and you have the West Coast, we are America’s Fresh Coast – we are not the Rust Belt anymore, Laverne and Shirley no longer work here.” Amen to that.

To learn more about Milwaukee’s status as one of the world’s most significant hubs for water research and industry, visit The Water Council’s website – you’ll be glad you did! http://www.thewatercouncil.com/

“Tips and Tools for Growing Your Career” presented by TEMPO Milwaukee.

Another event we really enjoyed was Wednesday morning’s breakfast event, “Tips and Tools for Growing Your Career” presented by TEMPO Milwaukee.

For those unfamiliar with TEMPO, it is an organization made up of women in leadership in the Greater Milwaukee area. The group is comprised of approximately 275 members from more than 100 companies in Milwaukee. Basically, when these women talked, I made sure to listen – they all gave great advice!

Here are just a few of the valuable nuggets I took away from this discussion:

  • “Not everyone is born a leader, but everyone can develop the capacity to lead” – Mary Dowell, director of global community relations, Johnson Controls.
  • “The ability to accept when you make a bad decision and to learn from it; Solicit feedback from key people; Be confident in your decisions,” – Peggy Williams-Smith, senior corporate director of catering, Marcus Hotels & Resorts.
  • “Take time to brainstorm with people with different strengths and skills than you have. Gain as diverse a perspective as you can in order to arrive at the best decision” – Linda Newberry-Ferguson, managing partner, Newberry Ferguson LLC.
  • “A good mentor won’t just tell you the things you want to hear. They will also tell you the things that no one else will take the time to have the courage to tell you. In order to move forward, you have to have the willingness to hear the good and the bad and be thankful.” – Ellen Trytek, chief marketing officer, CliftonLarsonAllen.

Perhaps my biggest takeaway from this talk was to not be afraid to make mistakes because that is how you grow. A difficult lesson to learn, but a valuable one nonetheless.

Sunday Brunch with Zappos CEO

The last event we attended was brunch with Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com. Wow, it’s not every day you can say you had brunch (well, theoretically speaking) with the CEO of Zappos. Despite his great amount of success and power, I found Tony to be surprisingly down to Earth. As he explained how he started his company, and the tremendous emphasis it puts on culture and community, I really got to thinking how these same principles could be applied to Milwaukee.

Jessica and I at Sunday brunch.

Jessica and I at Sunday brunch.

I could go on and on about takeaways from Tony, but you’d stop reading, so I’ll keep it short and sweet.

  • Whatever you’re thinking, think bigger.
  • No matter what your position at a company, or in any aspect of life, treat people with respect – you never know who’s watching.
  • Money shouldn’t affect your decisions. Chase the vision, not the money.
  • Downtown Las Vegas (where Zappos is headquartered – not the traditional Las Vegas strip as most people would think) focuses on community and collaboration. Utilizing the art of “co-working,” people focus on increasing their “collisions” with others in order to create the greatest amount of idea sharing and betterment for the entire community. I like this concept and think it is one that is being increasingly applied in our area, especially through organizations like the Water Council and Newaukee.

Overall, YP Week taught me to really take ownership and pride in our city – and myself. Even if you don’t consider yourself a leader now, you will be. It’s important to know what’s going on and to take stock in Milwaukee’s future!

The Truth About PR Measurement Resutls

March 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

Measuring the value of public relations is an important, yet often overlooked, process. Knowing what groundwork and benchmarks must be in place and how to utilize the information you gather through measurement is important to ongoing success and key to recognizing where further improvements can be made. With this in mind, we’ve developed a group of ideas to consider when measuring your PR efforts.

Create Objectives

Before creating your PR tactics, you need to have an understanding of what specific goals your client wishes to achieve. ImageObjectives must be clear and holistic, looking at the “big picture” and addressing large-scale outcomes. These objectives can range from generating basic awareness to growing your client’s market share by “x%.” Your objectives should be as specific as possible – outlining what effects are intended to come from the campaign. Having quantitative objectives is preferred – as they are easier to measure and more useful when presenting results to a number-oriented audience. “Bolstering awareness,” is not a good objective, as it is too vague and impossible to measure. However, “bolstering Facebook awareness with women ages 20-25 by a 5% increase in engagement by March 2014” is a strong objective as it is specific and easily measurable. Building objectives is an opportunity to work closely with your clients to help develop and tap into their overall business strategy.

Measure Outcomes Relevant to Business

When measuring the effectiveness of PR efforts, it is important to focus more on the outcomes of the work – rather than the outputs. Were there any changes in consumer habits, employee attitude, company reputation, brand equity or similar effects? Those changes are what the client’s business executives and planners are going to want to know. To validate your PR campaign, it is important that you can prove that business objectives were met effectively. Developed objectives that are focused on what your client wants to have change in perception, attitude or behavior from the campaign will make this step in the measurement process easier.

Quality over Quantity

The amount of total impressions in the media is often mistaken as the most important aspect of measurement. The quality of the impression is much more important, as each impression is an opportunity to connect with an individual on a personal level. Quality is enhanced when the medium is relevant and credible to the audience and delivered using the most appropriate method. Also, adding a third-party spokesperson improves the credibility of your message, enhancing the quality of the impression.

Presenting Results

After understanding the significant measurements, it is important to present your findings to your client appropriately.Image All PR measurements must be presented in a way that is fully transparent to the process used to gather the data. If surveys were used, the size, margin of error and questions should all be released. Likewise, the method used to calculate metrics and specific statistical information should be made available as well. Another important feature of measuring results is making sure the process used to get the results is replicable. Using the same method to compare results of future PR efforts and campaigns will be important to make meaningful comparisons.

Measuring Social Media is Important Too!

Measuring social media efforts is a young but important aspect of PR. There is no single tool or metric in which to measure social media outcomes – and combining a variety of different methods can prove beneficial.Image With social media, it is important to have clear, concise and specific goals in mind. When dealing with social media, the measurement is going to be focused on “conversation” and “engagement,” not simply reach and frequency. It is important to understand reach – however putting more time and consideration into experimenting and testing is key to effectively measuring your PR efforts. Reach and frequency measurements can be explored through the use of a free service called Klout. This tool uses an algorithm to determine how influential a social media account or accounts are. It is important not to use any social media measurement tool alone, Klout can be paired up with Google Analytics, which can show the traffic on a client’s website. Combining both services’ information, a PR team can determine not only how influential the social media account is, but how well it engages the audience by moving them to visit your client’s website. Facebook has its own built-in analytics tool. This feature can show increases or decreases in regards to a page’s reach as well as key demographic information about the audience. TweetReach is another tool that can calculate the reach and engagement of your Twitter page. Regardless of what tool you choose – it is important to monitor the effectiveness of your social media efforts.

Conclusion

Clearly, it is important to measure the effectiveness of a PR campaign or just a PR tactic. How did it align with our objectives? Did we accomplish our goal through this tactic? Keeping expectations realistic by developing specific objectives prior to executing your tactics is the foundation of strong measurement results. Remember to keep measurement focused on quantitative results, and quality engagement. While measurement isn’t always easy, it is important in making the most out of a complete public relations plan. Ongoing evaluation and measurement is an essential part of the PR process.

 

Pitching Morning News Shows

November 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

By: Julie Caan

At Vollrath Associates, we love working with the media. Being media junkies, nothing gets our blood pumping more than securing a TV segment or seeing our client grace the front page. Media relations is an exciting aspect of public relations, and one of the reasons we love coming to work each day. Working with the media takes patience, know-how and a true understanding of an industry that revolves around deadlines and timing. Part of that understanding comes with crafting the perfect pitch.

Team VA recently attended a Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter panel where key players from all four Milwaukee TV stations shared their tips for working with PR professionals, specifically pitching morning news and entertainment programs. Gone are the days when the morning news served up the nightly news’ leftovers. Today, morning shows are more dynamic than ever, seeking fresh content and delivering stories people need to know to start their day. It’s the job of morning news producers, editors and anchors to deliver content that effortlessly mixes hard news with lighter content, capable of putting smiles on viewers’ faces. That’s where PR practitioners come in. News stations need our help to find the stories people want to know about.  And it all starts with the pitch.

Below are a few key takeaways to keep in mind when pitching morning shows (Milwaukee and beyond):

  • Local. This one seems obvious, but it’s important that your story really resonate with the stations’ viewership. Take Superstorm Sandy for example. Was your company affected? Did it contribute to the relief effort? Members of the PRSA panel also agreed that there is definitely a trend towards more local programming featuring hyper-local content, which creates even more opportunities for PR professionals.

When pitching the 2012 Milwaukee Air & Water Show in conjunction with Milwaukee’s Navy Week, we offered interviews with local service men and women.

  • Timely. Depending on the news value of your story, the timing will change. If you are delivering breaking news content, make sure your pitch is sent out first thing so that it has a chance to appear in that day’s newscast. If your story can wait, or is considered “soft news,” it might not receive airtime for several weeks and may require advance planning. At Vollrath Associates, we generally pitch items for our consumer-based clients several weeks in advance. These topics may be seasonal in nature, receive their own segment or require more coordination.

When working with our pest control client, we need to make sure seasonal pitches are timed just right.

  • Personalize your Pitch. One anchor from a local entertainment show shared that she receives pitches all the time addressed to her competitor’s station. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to pitch the wrong show with the wrong station. However, this is a huge no-no and one that editors, reporters and anchors in a fiercely competitive market do not take lightly. This is a sure-fire way to get your pitch sent straight to the trash as well as a costly mistake that could affect your relationship with the show.

To avoid mix-ups, know the show you are pitching. Each media outlet prides itself on having a     different flavor, and it’s important as PR professionals that we recognize that. And within each station, each show is unique. Take the time to really get to know the show you are pitching – its segments, talent and featured content.

  • Be Up Front. Don’t bury your angle beneath a wordy pitch or flashy packaging. If you have something great to say, then say it up front. Each member of the panel shared experiences of pitches that took too long to get to the point, which ultimately led them to stop reading. Some PR professionals, on the other hand, get too caught up in a pitch’s presentation. For example, one anchor shared an experience where he was sent a basketball along with a video game, however, he received no information about what the product actually was or why it was being sent to him. Instead of receiving airtime, the attempt now serves as an example of what not to do.
  • Incorporate Visuals. Morning shows love visuals. If you can tell your story visually, make sure to communicate that right away. In the past, we’ve side-stepped the traditional “talking-heads” approach by offering up a fun demonstration, performance or unique off-site interview location.

Cooking demonstrations are always a great visual that morning shows love! Shown here is a picture from Festa 2012.

  • Social Media. Follow key media contacts on Twitter to stay informed on what they’re talking about, future story ideas and as a way to personally connect with them. Media people, after all, are people too. J When asked if they use social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook as a way to find stories, the answers were mixed, with an emphasis placed on using social media as a way to discover and enhance breaking news stories and connect with viewers.
  • Follow-Up. In some cases, the follow-up is just as important as the pitch itself. Most of the panel admitted to being buried on a daily basis with press releases and advisories – following up either over email or on the phone is a great way to make sure your story stands out from the pack. The follow-up is also your chance to add a fresh angle to a story that isn’t receiving traction.

Do you have any advice for successfully pitching local morning news and entertainment shows?

The Importance of Visuals in PR

July 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

Written By John Grossman, Summer Public Relations Intern

With more sensory stimuli present in everyday society, the battle for your audience’s attention is more challenging than ever. Because of this, simple text-only releases just don’t cut it anymore. Your releases need a spark that will captivate your audience’s attention, and nothing works better for this than images and other multimedia. The power of visuals and imagery can be seen by Facebook’s recent acquisition of Instagram, a social media image hosting site, for a cool $1 billion. However, despite the attention and precedence of visuals in society, the majority of public relations content remains plain text on a plain background distributed through the same channels. The monotony of it all not only bores eyes, but also readers. The simple reliance on words to convey a story and paint a picture in the audience’s mind is currently the method of choice, and drastically inefficient compared to some of the newer trends in PR. Here’s why you should get ahead of the game and start making your PR tactics a multifaceted approach:

  • Multimedia content creates more results. In a recent analytic study, PR Newswire looked in-depth at what differentiates regular plain-text news releases with those that contain images, videos and other media sources. The results they found make it hard to believe that many PR professionals haven’t made a visual switch yet. Their analysis showed that the inclusion of many media types in press releases garnished 77% more views than releases with just text. If you aren’t sure if visuals are right for you, this should help persuade you in the right direction. In order for your content to stay at the top it doesn’t just need to sound good, it needs to look good too.
  • Social media loves visuals. By including visuals in your releases, you are creating more shareable elements than a simple text release would have. These shareable images make their way onto different social media networks, driving traffic to your releases from more than one place. In the past, most traffic is gained through search engines. Now that each media source is different, the audience can be reached without detailed searching, once again driving up views and the total reach by your work. With a share rate of three times that of text-only releases, multimedia should be a mainstay in your future work.

Now, you may be thinking that this all sounds great, but you have no idea how to implement visuals into your daily work. It’s not just you thinking this. Multimedia costs more, and as budgets for PR work remain tight, it’s hard to convince clients to spend more on what still is considered an unproven element. With the right tactics, however, you can show multimedia’s effectiveness and why it deserves funding. Utilize a few key elements in order to see such results:

  • Simplify information. One of the biggest trends right now in visual PR are infographics. These visually appealing, simple to read displays convert raw data into something the audience wants to see. Infographics are able to convert complex information into simple bite-sized pieces that the audience can understand and share with their networks.
  • Spice it up. It may not be the most exciting thing, but things like lists and basic information are needed. Rather than simply typing these details, turn your text visual. Replacing a basic list with a colorful display will add some life to your release. The reader will be drawn to it, and will view it further in-depth than just plain text buried within the release.
  • Take advantage of social media releases. To help with the changing times, more tools are becoming available for PR professionals that make it easier and more effective than ever to include multimedia content in releases. Pitch Engine is a service that turns a traditional press release into a multifaceted approach that benefits both you and your client. This easy-to-use program creates a social media release that allows for embedded pictures, videos and other content. Since they are linked through social media, the releases are easy to share via Twitter and Facebook, widening your audience even further. Not only is it effective and easier to distribute than traditional release styles, Pitch Engine also helps boost your SEO, an important statistic that helps drive web traffic to your site. Most wire services also have templates for more multimedia options, so make sure to utilize these as well.

As the saying goes, pictures are worth a thousand words. An effective implementation of imagery and visuals can be worth even more than that to your clients by reaching larger audiences and multiple channels of distribution compared to simple text releases. By linking content creation, your business needs and your data, you can achieve a significant improvement in your releases and their reception.

How are you incorporating visuals into your PR plan?

Write a Better Feature Article

July 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

Written By: Julie Caan

Writing a feature story is one thing, but writing a feature story that people will actually want to read is another.

Creating a great feature story isn’t easy; in fact, it’s really tough.

Every day, we’re entrusted with telling our clients’ stories through articles, blogs, newsletters and other communication. It can be easy to slip into bad writing habits when writing for a company’s internal audience: enter clichés, corporate-speak, abstract concepts and the like.

My fellow VA team member, Casey, and I recently attended a presentation about how to write stronger feature articles. The talk left Casey and I feeling inspired, refreshed and ready to write. Throughout the talk, we were reminded that it’s all about the little things when it comes to writing interesting feature copy.

Avoid Boring Writing:

This probably won’t come as a surprise to most, but corporate writing can be really boring. Next time you sit down to write think about WHY you’re writing, WHO you’re writing for and WHY they should care. I know this all sounds basic, but as I mentioned earlier, it’s easy to forget about your audience and most importantly, the PEOPLE behind the story.

Think of it this way: you’re the messenger and what you’re writing (whether you think so or not) is important to someone, somewhere. Don’t abuse this privilege; make sure you’re writing something people can relate to and draw meaning from—and try to have a little fun along the way.

Next time you write a feature, keep these building blocks in mind:

Elements of a Great Feature Story:

1. Attention grabbing, non-newsy lead (take a step back and reflect on the news)
2. Color (pay attention to detail—inject life into your writing!)
3. Narrative writing style (set the scene)
4. Include point of view
5. People (human beings doing things to influence a story)

Now, I realize that not every feature story you write is going to be “dramatic” or even all that interesting, but that doesn’t mean you can’t write a quality piece that will resonate with your audience.

The talk we attended also emphasized being specific, focusing on people and writing with clarity. How many times have you buried a complicated acronym in the lead, or used jargon your audience might not understand? Instead of describing a new initiative using obscure, abstract language, use specific words that will paint a picture in the readers’ minds. Rather than writing about a new policy or procedure, try SHOWING your audience the change using people and actions they can relate to.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway I learned from this presentation was the importance of using people to tell stories (after all, this is feature writing we’re talking about). It’s simple really. When you’re writing about people, make sure to inject all the qualities (when appropriate) that make them who they are into your story. For example, if you’re interviewing someone for a corporate profile, pay attention to what’s on his or her desk, photos or even that obscure collection of piggy banks hiding in the corner. This is the stuff your readers care about. Rather than resume-dumping right off the bat, why not try leading with some ‘color?’ Pay attention to detail. Humanize the piece.

To close, I’d like to share some general tips that apply to all types of writing:

• Set a timer for one hour and write without looking back (good old school tip that really works!)
• All great writing lies in great editing: it will take time to carve the perfect masterpiece
• Have fun with your writing!

Nobody’s a perfect writer and while some assignments may seem destined to be boring, it’s your job to turn them around. Cut to the heart of the story, create images and include PEOPLE. Set the scene for something your audience will want to read and something you will want to write!

What do you think goes into writing a great feature story? Any tips?