Techniques to Succeed: The 30-3-30 Principle

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From Larry’s More ABCs of Strategic Communication (check it out on the website)…

Copy should always be prepared using the 30-3-30 principle. Is your copy aimed at the 30-second reader, three-minute reader or the 30-minute reader? To be effective, write for all three audiences.

There are nearly 300 Tips and Techniques in both The ABCs and the newer More ABCs Proceeds from the books’ sales go to the Public Relations Student Society of America and Parsons (Iowa) College Alumni Association.

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Henry Clay Eulogy

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Read by Larry Litwin on behalf of the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association at Henry Clay’s funeral on July 7.

First I’d like to acknowledge your late pastor Reverend Britt Stargell. I miss his advice, counsel and friendship.

When I got the call last Saturday, the news of Henry’s passing hit me like a brick. I couldn’t sleep Saturday night. Like all of you, I am broken hearted. BUT, I am an optimist and continue to be – because Henry is in a better place.

Where do I start? How about at the beginning…when we first met – where else, but in a press box? This one…during a Phillies’ game at the Vet.

What kind of person was Henry Clay? Let me read from an email colleague Phil Neuman sent me soon after hearing of Henry’s passing: Phil speaks for many of us…

        “This IS sad news,” wrote Phil. He said Henry was very good to him…especially when he first started in Philly back in the mid-80s. It was Henry who showed Phil how things worked in South Philly…little things like where to plug in his microphone during post-game news conferences and what rooms were used for other interviews.

        Phil remembers there were a number of times he had problems…a broken tape recorder or his microphone went bad … or he may have missed an interview because he was interviewing someone else. He said Henry would hang around and make sure Phil had what he needed…all stuff he didn’t HAVE to do….but just helped out anyway. Phil speaks for all of us when he says…Henry WILL be missed by plenty of people.

        My early memories of Henry are similar. While Phil met Henry in the 80s, I go back even further – to the late 70s. A few years later, I was one of his sponsors to join the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association. His membership goes back nearly four decades. I will miss Henry because of his regular emails – containing information about Philadelphia media…and the Sports Writers Association.

        Before the days of email, it would be a Henry Clay phone call…just to assure I was in the know and wasn’t caught by surprise when changes were happening in radio, TV or in print.

Here are a couple of recent examples:

  • He was the first to tell me about the Philly Journalism Institute getting millions in new donations assuring The Inquirer would be around for years.
  • He wrote a mail telling me to “Be careful with PayPal. There’s a scam going on and HE – Henry, didn’t want the Sports Writers to lose any money because of the scam.
  • He wrote about Dawn Staley – South Carolina’s women’s basketball coach: He suggested, she’s got to be at next year’s banquet. Wrote Henry: I nominate Dawn Staley who just added another chapter in her unbelievable life as a basketball player, leading the South Carolina Lady Gamecocks to their first NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship. Getting her here will be difficult, he said, as they will be in the middle of conference play again. Just a thought, he said, she will be coaching in the USBA Basketball Season, this summer, but, she always comes into Philly for a girl’s summer league game no matter what she is doing. Maybe if she were chosen for the award, the presentation and speech could be pre-taped and shown at the banquet. If, she could be flown up here the night of the banquet and right back, I would think the ticket sales she would generate would offset a major part of the cost.
  • That was Henry – always thinking – not about himself – but of others.
  • He would mail me or call when one of the Sports Writers previous award winners was a guest on ESPN or another channel – or was interviewed on the radio and mentioned the Sports Writers Association and was among the first to call me when our colleague Frank Bertucci passed away unexpectedly. Henry would always say, “I just want to be sure YOU know so you can mass mail all the members.”
  • And: almost monthly, Henry would email me the Philadelphia radio ratings just so I could stay on top of the industry we love so much.

Henry – whose 73rd birthday would have been Aug. 19th –  spent years covering Philly sports…and thinking back to Phil Neuman’s experience…and mine, too, he certainly touched a lot of people – the athletes, writers and students who wanted to do what Henry did – cover the games we grew up playing and watching. There is no doubt in my mind, Henry – who faced personal challenges over years…as did many of us…  made a difference in this world and helped make it a better place for all of us. As we who are Jewish say of those who have passed: May Henry Clay forever be a BLESSED Memory.

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Media jobs — They are shifting

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From the Associated Press (AP) on April 3, 2017 comes this story:

Washington: More than half of the jobs at US newspapers have disappeared since 2001, with a large portion of the losses offset by employment gains at internet firms, government figures showed Monday.

The data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed US newspaper employment fell from 412,000 in January 2001 to 174,000 in September 2016.


In the internet publishing and portal segment the number of jobs grew from 67,000 in 2007 — the earliest for which data was available — to 206,000 last year.

The figures confirm the huge upheaval in the news media industry, where a shift to online sources has forced a major retrenchment in print.

The same report showed that the number of newspaper industry businesses fell from 9,310 in 2001 to 7,623 last year, a decline of 18 percent.

The number of internet publishing and web search portals meanwhile jumped 150 percent from 2007 to 13,924 last year, the report showed.

The report showed declines in magazines, book publishing and radio broadcasting, while television industry jobs held nearly steady since 2001.

The number of periodicals, or magazines, hit a high of 9,232 in 2008 and have been declining since then, with a total of 7,566 in 2016.

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AP Stylebook Updates: Singular ‘They’ Now Acceptable

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This blog comes from one of my all-time favorites, Grammar Girl:

Although the new print edition won’t be out until May 31, 2017, the Associated Press sent out an email update announcing that these changes are effective immediately.


Mignon Fogarty, 

Grammar Girl

March 24, 2017

Every year, editors announce big stylebook changes at the American Copy Editors Society (ACES) annual meeting. It’s where we first heard in 2011 that the Associated Press would no longer use a hyphen in email and in 2016 that the Associate Press would lowercase internet. Yesterday, the Chicago Manual of Style announced it would adopt these two styles as well, and now today, the AP is leading the charge again with these changes:

Gender-Related Entries

The presenters, Paula Froke (special liaison editor) and Colleen Newvine (product manager), saved the biggest news for last, but we’ll start with it here:

singular they: The AP Stylebook now allows writers to use they as a singular pronoun when rewriting the sentence as plural would be overly awkward or clumsy. Example: The Obama administration told public schools to grant bathroom access even if a student’s gender identity isn’t what’s in their record.

The style also allows writers to pair they with everyone in similar situations.

In stories about people who identify as neither male nor female or ask not to be referred to as he/she/him/her: Use the person’s name in place of a pronoun, or otherwise reword the sentence, whenever possible. If they/them/their use is essential, explain in the text that the person prefers a gender-neutral pronoun. Be sure that the phrasing does not imply more than one person.

his, her. AP style used to be to use he when gender is not known. This entry now refers to the entry on theythemtheir.

homophobia, homophobic. Acceptable in broad references or in quotations to the concept of fear or hatred of gays, lesbians and bisexuals. In individual cases, be specific about observable actions; avoid descriptions or language that assumes motives. (The previous version of the Stylebook recommended against using these words.)

LGBT. LGBTQ. Acceptable in all references for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning and/or queer. In quotations and the formal names of organizations and events, other forms such as LGBTQIA and other variations are also acceptable with the other letters explained.

gender. The editors began the presentation by unveiling a huge new entry on gender including new entries on cisgenderintersextransgender, and more.

Other Entries

autonomous vehicles. Do not use the term driverless unless there is no person on board who can take control in an emergency. They may be called self-driving cars. Describes cars or truck that can monitor the road and drive for an entire trip without intervention from a human. For vehicles that can do some but not all of the driving, such as some Tesla models, use the terms semi-autonomous or or partially self-driving.

baby bump. Avoid.

Columbus Day. Added Indigenous Peoples Day reference, plus a separate Indigenous Peoples Day entry: A holiday celebrating the original inhabitants of North America, observed instead of Columbus Day in some U.S. localities. Usually held on the second Monday of October, coinciding with the federal Columbus Day holiday.

courtesy titles. In general, do not use courtesy titles except in direct quotations. When it is necessary to distinguish between two people who use the same last name, as in married couples or brothers and sisters, use the first and last name. The presenters gave the example that it would still be proper to refer to Mrs. Trump and Mrs. Obama if the courtesy title is needed for clarity.

cyberattack. One word. Often overused. A computer operation carried out over a device or network that causes physical damage or significant and wide-spread disruption. The presenters said they consulted with cybersecurity experts who felt strongly about the “physical damage or significant and wide-spread disruption” part.

Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program. Use the acronym DACA sparingly and only on second reference. Do not use DREAMers or dreamers to describe DACA recipients. These are separate programs and the DREAM Act never passed.

esports. As with frequent flyer, the AP consulted people in the esports industry before deciding the recommend spelling should be esports without a hyphen.

fact checks, fake news. Holding politicians and public figures accountable for their words often requires reporting or research to verify facts that affirm or disprove a statement, or that show a gray area. Fact-checking also is essential in debunking fabricated stories or parts of stories done as hoaxes, propaganda, jokes or for other reasons, often spread widely on the internet and mistaken as truth by some news consumers.

Fake news may be used in quotation marks or as shorthand for the modern phenomenon for deliberate falsehoods or fiction masked as news circulating on the internet.

However, do not label as fake news specific or individual news items that are disputed. If fake news is used in a quote, push for specifics about what is meant. Alternative wording includes false reportserroneous reportsunverified reports, questionable reportsdisputed reports and false reporting, depending on the context. 

flyer, flier. AP changed the spelling from frequent flier to flyer after reviewing airline industry websites and determining this was the spelling most commonly used in the industry. The audience seemed happy about this change. Flyer is also the spelling for paper handouts, but flier is still proper for the phrase take a flier, meaning to take a big risk.

incident. A minor event. Don’t use this word to minimize major happenings. Anything that causes death, injury, notable damage and the like is not an incident.

Oxford Comma (aka serial comma). The new Stylebook emphasizes that clarity is the bottom line. Although the normal style is to avoid the serial comma, use one if it is needed for clarity. This is not a style change, but a clarification because the editors noted that some writers were confused.

reform. Not a synonym for change.

virtual reality, augmented reality. Because virtual reality is quite widespread now, the Stylebook allows VR on the second reference. Augmented reality is still uncommon, so continue to spell it out instead of shortening it to AR.

More. In some cases, the presenters noted that there will be new entries, but they didn’t share the entire entries. Expect to see new information on these topics when the new AP Stylebook is released: immigration (they will bring immigration-related entries that were scattered throughout the book together into one entry), cliches, television sets (based on input from the technology editor), and Uber and Lyft.

Thank you to all the people at #ACES2017 who tweeted from the presentation and to ACES for livestreaming (one word!) the presentation.

The new print AP Stylebook will be available May 31, 2017. Note that the AP Stylebook is updated every year, but the Chicago Manual of Style is updated less often. The last Chicago update was in 2010.


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From a frustrated (former) broadcast journalist

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