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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Zipko chimes in on pot fight

In case you missed it, Goff & Howard's Mike Zipko was quoted in Jason Hoppin's front page Pioneer Press story on medical marijuana. Click on the link to find out what Mike had to say about it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It’s okay to question spell-check

As I blogged recently about the impact of texting on kids’ writing and spelling skills, my spell-check went crazy. It’s going a little crazy again right now.

The words “blog” and “blogging” are in the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (my preferred dictionary), but only as nouns. “Blogged” is not listed at all.

“Text” has long been in the dictionary as a noun, but not in the way that I’m using it here. In the way that I’m using it, the dictionary lists “text” as a verb only and “text messaging” as a noun.

Don’t even get me started on “spell-check” in the dictionary.

I’m telling myself not to be alarmed. Language is an evolving art as much as a science. Merriam-Webster cannot possibly answer every question or keep up with every new word.

Under the “FAQ” section at merriam-webster.com, there is a question about how to suggest a word for the dictionary. The answer is:
“The selection of which words to include in the dictionary is not based on personal preferences or popularity-contest-style votes; it is based on usage. Simply put, to gain entry to the dictionary, a word must be widely used in a broad range of professionally written and edited materials over an extended period of time.”

Next year at this time, I expect my spell-check might let “blogging” and “texting” slide.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Real world, beware the text generation

I’ve been a part of several conversations lately talking about the texting craze among today’s young people. Wherever a teenager is found, a cell phone will be found attached to said teenager’s hands or located no more than a few inches away.

In light of all the abbreviating, OMGing, and GR8ing that takes place in the average text, will these teenagers ever be ready for the real world, where spelling and grammar matter? Or will “textese” seep further into business writing with every passing year?

Language purists, take note. The English language has been vandalized for centuries. Texting will most likely lead to an evolution in the English language, but so did the advent of printing and the British colonists’ population of America. Change can be good in healthy doses.

This leads me to my second point, which will hopefully bring some real relief to the purists. At least two studies – one published in the March 2009 issue of the British Journal of Developmental Psychology, and another conducted by the University of Toronto in 2006, indicate that texting does not harm texters’ language skills. In fact, texting may actually improve kids’ reading and vocabulary skills.

The theory is that exposure to and use of language – even through texting – makes children more verbally skilled. Beverly Plester, lead author of the British study, says, “We tend to get better at things that we do for fun.” Likewise, David Crystal, author of Txtng: the Gr8 Db8, says, “Before you can write abbreviated forms effectively and play with them, you need to have a sense of how the sounds of your language relate to the letters.”

I must admit that as a writer, I’m one of those people who have feared the impending demise of the English language when the text generation joins the real world. But perhaps I need to relax. The English language might be in good hands, after all.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

G&H President in Star Tribune today

Chris Georgacas of Goff & Howard was quoted in a front-page Star Tribune story this morning about Governor Pawlenty’s decision to single-handedly balance the budget.

"It was an invigorating move for his political allies and for his conservative constituencies, particularly the business community," said Chris Georgacas, a former chair of the state Republican Party. "It was understandable and consistent with where he has been in 6 1/2 years as governor."

Click here to read the entire story.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Shop around for printing price and quality

Shop around.

This is the advice we hear when it comes to finding the right car, furniture or outfit. But Goff & Howard applies the same concept to finding the right printer for our clients’ projects.

Some things to keep in mind for your next printing project:
• Keep a list of quality printers that you trust. Some printers have specialties that make each of them well suited for specific types of projects.
• Seek quotes from at least three trusted printers.
• When the quotes come in, each printer’s pricing can be quite different. For instance, Goff & Howard recently received bids ranging from $410 to $759 for a simple low-quantity project, a difference of 46%. Before selecting the winning bid, make sure to know exactly what you would get for the quoted price. Cost, quality and timing should all be considered on a project-by-project basis.
• Challenge your printer with questions such as: How much lower would the price be if we use your “house” stock of paper? (The “house” stock is often a printer’s best-priced option, because it is ordered in bulk.)

Choosing the right printer helps Goff & Howard consistently achieve a finished project that prints on time, at or under the budget, and with the quality our clients expect. Talk about an art and a science…

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Social media and the need for speed

During the 2008 Republican National Convention, Goff & Howard's client, the Saint Paul Police Department, monitored demonstrators' social media activities to prepare for averting potentially violent protests. It was a textbook case of using newly evolved public communications to help peace officers maintain order and protect property.

Apparently, not all big city police departments have caught on to the SPPD's success. On Tuesday afternoon, the Dallas Morning News Web site carried a story about the imminent arrival of the Gumball 3000 car rally in the Dallas area. The Gumball is a coast-to-coast charity drive which features lots of supercars. Many of the participants drive in such excesses of the legal speed limit that they risk having their exotic sports cars seized by the cops.

As the News reports, "Some participants are sending updates on their progress by Twitter. 'One reason people are using Twitter is the police aren't monitoring it,'" a rally spokeman said.

A legislative snap shot

As the legislative session continues, the GH Spin thought it might be fun to take a different look at what happens at the Capitol. This photo shows the crush of people trying to get a copy of the new tax bill. Goff & Howard's Brian Bergson is the second person in from the right. We thought this photo begged for a different perspective and a different caption.

After a quick contest in the office – here’s what we came up with.

Jodi Saari’s winning caption:

"This interesting creature, known as a lobbyist, is seen here in its natural habitat. Each spring they engage in a highly ritualistic paper frenzy sometimes known to include shoving, kicking, crying and groaning. Not all will survive. "

The photo is from Session Weekly, published by the Minnesota House of Representatives. Click here to see what the real caption is.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Hyperlocal and doing just fine, thank you.

For some in this new media world, the glass may not be exactly half-full, but there might be a way to put a little water in it. A community media publisher from Maine has a model – called Village Soup – that blends together print, online, and social media technology. This new model could be what others need to survive.

The traditional community newspaper publisher spent years experimenting and has now evolved into an operation with online sales that collectively generate 19% of its $2.5 million in annual ad revenues. This is something that appears to be a first in the print media world.

At the core of the success is the buzzword “hyper-local.” It focuses on a very specific area where the media company can offer something of value to its readers. Think Highland Villager vs. the Star Tribune’s national news coverage. For some in the news media, this is a concept beneath many reporters and editors who would rather focus on Washington, D.C., Europe, and Asia.

But for Village Soup, hyper-local is a way to serve customers, connect with the community – and make money. Village Soup has a branded Web site and separately branded weekly papers for each of four communities. Each city also has a section on the Village Soup site.

The Web site has content from reporters, but two-thirds of the Village Soup sites’ front pages are filled with citizen and business posts. New revenue comes from sponsored postings that businesses can buy. The posts, which run right next to the ordinary editorial content, are not controlled by Village Soup. It’s a blend of new, old, and social media.

This may not be the solution, but is an example of an idea that is actually working at a time when so many others clearly are not.