Storytelling Briefs: Online Reviews, Mobile Emails and Cover Letter Mistakes

February 1, 2018

[francois pointer]
[francois pointer]

Are Social Media and Smartphones Killing Quotes and the Apostrophe?

Apostrophes are important punctuation symbols that create possessives, contractions and single quotation marks. But in the age of smartphones and social media, “The apostrophe is on its way out,” Nenagh Kemp, who led a 2017 study of texting at the University of Tasmania, told The Wall Street Journal. In texts and social media, she says, “the message is the main thing, rather than the correctness of the spelling.”

Autocorrect features in texting apps sometimes switch “it’s” to “its” or replace an apostrophe with a left-hand, single quotation mark. Some databases don’t recognize the apostrophe and masses of social media users ignore its rules. In fact, many people now consider apostrophes optional in electronic communication, according to a 2013 study by researchers at National University of Ireland Maynooth.

On some newer technology, autocorrect features have become more reliable, and apostrophes tend to appear more frequently in text messages. But “whether the user understands why the apostrophe is appropriate is another question,” says Fiona Lyddy, the study’s lead author.

Storytelling Expected to Further Adapt to Mobile Devices in 2018

In 2017, storytelling began adjusting to what has become Americans’ preferred platform of mobile phones — a trend NiemanLab predicts will accelerate in 2018. During the last year, many major newspapers took big steps forward to advance storytelling that’s specifically written and designed for consumption on mobile platforms. Stories and visuals have begun flowing linearly from top to bottom, the same way that we communicate when texting or using WhatsApp on our phones.

Despite the shift toward mobile storytelling, most newsrooms still design digital stories in the traditional arrangement of headline and text, with photos often displayed separately as galleries. In 2018, expect to see more stories first presented vertically — especially those rich in photos, videos and infographics — and then adapted for other platforms, including desktop-computer screens and print. Videos on mobile devices should be short and informative, according to NiemanLab.

A Mobile Email Takeaway

Nearly half of mobile readers spend three seconds or less reading an individual email. As Grammerly points out: It’s essential to optimize. Before starting to write, ask yourself this question: “If I could have my recipient take just one thing away from this email, what would it be?”

Writing Hacks for Thought Leaders

Executives today are expected to run successful companies while also being prolific writers and public speakers. As Inc. contributor Tanya Hall recently noted, corporate conversations about writing often emphasize search-engine optimization and discoverability. But what about the writing itself? Algorithms change, but good writing always connects with audiences and communicates ideas in a clear, simple and easily understood way.

To make your writing more concise, eliminate unnecessary words. Avoid adjectives and adverbs. Use strong verbs. Read your work and delete any words that don’t convey your point. A thesaurus can help you avoid repeating words or sounds within words, but don’t use one to find bigger, smarter words. Good writing requires a strong authorial voice, and words that are outside your everyday vocabulary alter your voice. If you don’t know what a word means, then your audience probably won’t either.

Similarly, if you find yourself contemplating the complexities of English grammar, delete the sentence and find a simpler way to say the same thing. To help your audience understand complex ideas, forgo jargon and tell them a story. Picture your readers and write directly to them with stories you think they’d relate to. Engaging stories involve experiences that spark emotions.

Tips for Handling Online Reviews of Your Business

Many consumers now consider online reviews roughly equivalent to personal recommendations, a recent survey found. While you can’t please everyone all the time — especially not on the internet — every small business, startup and independent consultant should know how to handle online reviews, Fast Company noted.

Polite responses from business owners help counteract bad reviews, but “don’t go through the review point by point,” cautions Cara Lageson, Yelp Seattle’s community director. “Let them know you heard them and offer to make it right. Other people will see you as reasonable and [be] more inclined to give you a second chance.”

Cover Letter Mistakes That Could Cost You a Job

When applying for jobs online, a mistake in your cover letter might doom you to the “no” pile before anyone even sees your credentials, Lifehacker says. The site asked executives and hiring managers in tech, media, advertising and academia for their cover letter pet peeves.

Typos and grammatical errors top the list, especially if the job involves writing. Always check spelling and grammar, and read your letter out loud to catch mistakes. Use greetings, but be careful how you word them. “To Whom It May Concern” works, as does “To the hiring team at [Company Name].” Knowing the name of the HR representative or hiring manager is even better. Don’t sound too casual (“Hi,” “Hi there” or “Hey!”).

Remember to mention the name of the company you’re applying to and the position, and describe why you’re perfect for the role and eager to work there. Otherwise, the letter “could have been copied, pasted and sent to 1,000 random companies,” says Nisha Chittal, an editor at fashion-and-beauty website Racked.

A ‘Web’ of Perfect Prose

Ann Handley, chief content officer of MarketingProfs and author of “Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content,” recently shared her thoughts on the best books for writers. Her list, published in Adweek, included: the children’s classic “Charlotte’s Web.” She says E.B. White’s book will help writers structure a narrative. “It’s a spare story, well-told. Zero fat. Humor. Character. The loveliest prose. It’s all here,” Handley said. “It’s also the most perfect book I’ve ever read.”


No comments have been submitted yet.

Post a Comment

Editor’s Note: Please limit your comments to the specific post. We reserve the right to omit any response that is not related to the article or that may be considered objectionable.


To help us ensure that you are a real human, please type the total number of circles that appear in the following images in the box below.

(image of six circles) + (image of five circles) =



Digital Edition