July 10th, 2014
Author: Dianne Craig
On Words: July Grammar Tips

July OnWords

Glen Danzig on words:

“But when you get to a song, not only do you have to do a vocal melody,
you have to write words and not be redundant and make some semblance of a story.”  

CONGRATULATIONS to Erroll Kamel! Erroll is the winner of a $25 Starbucks gift card, after his name was drawn randomly from all participants in the first On Words Quiz! Have you taken the quiz yet? You still can, just for fun.

This month, we look at avoiding redundancies and at the use and overuse of ‘etc.’ in business communications:

Avoiding Redundancies

My grandmother liked to preface her opinions with, “To tell you the honest truth…”, as if there was any other kind! Many of us use redundancies in speech and even in writing. Some do it for emphasis, but it rarely enhances, and typically bloats, communication. In some instances, redundancies such as ‘free gift’ in promotional writing can be effective, but generally, they are unnecessarily repetitive. Here are some common business redundancies, excerpted from a more general list of 200 Common Redundancies, by Richard Nordquist: Read More

May 23rd, 2014
Author: Jennifer Rideout
Why it’s time to align online marketing and sales, and the surprising stat you didn’t know

b2b marketing

If we go back 60 years, salesmen were responsible for the majority of a company’s sales (save those generated from advertising). Literally men travelled door to door selling products, speaking directly with consumers.

Not anymore. The reality is that today, nearly 60 per cent of B2B purchasing decisions are already made before customers contact your company, as recently revealed by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB).

The tide has turned, and the way customers move through the buying cycle has evolved to a ‘self-service’ model to research and decide for themselves whether they want to purchase before speaking with anyone. Read More

May 8th, 2014
Author: Dianne Craig
On Words: May Grammar Tips


Oscar Wilde on words: 

“I have spent most of the day putting in a comma and the rest of the day taking it out.”

 QUIZ alert!  Next month, you can test your grammar knowledge in our first quiz. Questions will cover many of the grammar and usage guidelines we’ve reviewed so far.  There will even be a PRIZE!  Did you know some of the most frequently-made grammar faux pas are ones you might consider small, grammar 101 errors? For example, check out our look at mixing up ‘compose’ and ‘comprise’ or ‘less’ and ‘fewer’.  It’s easy to forget the basics. This blog is intended to refresh and extend your grammar skills.  Here is this month’s guide:

Less or Fewer?

Choosing whether to use ‘less’ or ‘fewer’ should be easy, but it is often the subject of second guesses. Although many people don’t use ‘fewer’ in their regular speech because it sounds too formal, there are cases where it is the better choice. Tip: Use ‘fewer’ in reference to things that can be counted, (fewer cars, men, women, people, things, etc.). Use ‘less’ when referring to things that cannot as easily be counted (less air, gas, time, etc.). For example: “There are fewer people in the neighbourhood, with less time to get together.”  Read More

April 9th, 2014
Author: Dianne Craig
On Words: April Grammar Tips


Mark Twain on words: 

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”    

Thanks to reader Elizabeth Fawcett, for her comments about several common grammar errors, some of which we will cover in this April post of OnWords.  They include using terms like ‘very unique’, as well as failure to use parallel structure.  

Here is this month’s mini grammar and usage guide:

Further or Farther?

Do you want to go further or farther? It depends on what you are talking about. If you want get deeper into a discussion, you would go further. If you want increase distance, you would go farther. Tip: Use ‘farther’ for physical distance and ‘further’ for metaphorical or figurative distance.  It sounds simple but there are other considerations. For example, to interrupt someone, do you say, “Before we go any further” or “Before we go any farther?”  Both meanings are implied — figurative and physical distance.  ‘Further’ and ‘farther’ have been used interchangeably since both first appeared in the 14th century, and you’re not really wrong either way, but several grammarians suggest ‘further’ sounds better when the meaning is in question. Tip 2: When in doubt, use ‘further’. It usually sounds better in ambiguous cases.   Read More

January 27th, 2014
Author: Dianne Craig
On Words: January Grammar Tips

Irregular verbs


Gertrude Stein on words: 

“I really don’t know anything that is more exciting than diagramming sentences.”

A new year begins …a new opportunity to refresh our goals and our business communications skills. Here is this month’s mini grammar and usage guide, with some useful quick tips:   Read More

November 11th, 2013
Author: Dianne Craig
On Words: November Grammar Tips

grammar tips

Joan Didion on words: 

Grammar is a piano I play by ear. All I know about grammar is its power.”

The power of good grammar and usage cannot be underestimated. In business communications, your ability to express yourself with impeccable grammar can be as important as the content you discuss or present. Good grammar creates first and lasting impressions. Here is the third edition of OnWords, a mini grammar and usage guide to give you quick, at-a-glance grammar tips for better business communications.  Read More

October 15th, 2013
Author: Dianne Craig
On Words: October Grammar Tips

good grammar

Ernest Hemingway on words:

All my life I’ve looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time.” 

Here is the second edition of On Words, a mini grammar and usage guide to give you quick, at-a-glance grammar tips for better business communications.  Good grammar affects first and lasting impressions.  This refresher guide is designed to sharpen your communications skills.  Here are October’s tips:  Read More

September 23rd, 2013
Author: Dianne Craig
How to write for an integrated marketing communications agency


integrated marketing

You’ll need heightened skills when writing for an integrated marketing communications agency

When I tell new friends I write for a marketing communications agency they sometimes say, “Oh, an ad agency?”, and I wonder how to best describe the scope of an integrated marketing communications agency in a few words. I say, “Full service: advertising, PR, digital, direct, promotions, branding, design – integrated communications.”

While most agencies specialize in one discipline such as advertising, public relations, or direct marketing, a full-service integrated communications agency is just that: full service. It offers a clear advantage by providing a much wider scope of services, designed to work synergistically together to meet clients’ objectives, and reach targets at every conceivable interface. Read More

September 9th, 2013
Author: Dianne Craig
On Words: September Grammar Tips
grammar tips

Good grammar can take you very far.

Allow myself to introduce…myself.” – Austin Powers.

I am a Senior Copywriter at StrategicAmpersand. Proper use of the word ‘myself’ (unlike what you see above!) is the first tip in this debut post of On Words, a new monthly feature of our blog. As you know, good grammar, whether spoken or written, is your calling card — affecting first and lasting impressions. Each month, you’ll find good grammar tips covering frequently misused words or punctuation. This refresher guide is designed to help you improve your communications.

Here are September’s grammar tips: Read More

August 28th, 2013
Author: Kara Merpaw
7 steps to becoming a successful PR professional
successful PR professional

Continued learning is critical to becoming a successful PR professional

Habits of successful PR professionals and how you can be just like them

Great public relations professionals stand out in any environment. Though special in their own ways, these individuals have a few things in common. They’ve already spent a lot of time refining their craft, but even these veterans continue to dedicate a significant amount of energy to learning and improving their skills. Every successful PR professional understands the ins and outs of their client’s business, market and competitors as well as they do (if not better). They recognize busy clients rely on them to be their eyes and ears. They know understanding a client’s business provides the insight needed to be successful at even the smallest task.

How to be like them:  Read More