Wednesday, August 30, 2006

un-mix those metaphors

The Washington Post's political reporter, Dana Milbank, listened with a writer's ear to Senator Charles Schumer (D.-N.Y.), who described yesterday his party's plans for victory in the midterm elections.
To judge from Schumer's presentation, the Democrats will achieve this extraordinary triumph by employing an extended series of mixed metaphors. Schumer himself may have set a record in that department yesterday as he painted the electoral landscape:

"This administration is shrugging its shoulders. . . . It's like 'The Wizard of Oz' -- it showed the man behind the screen. . . . You know which way the winds are blowing. . . . There have been very few bumps in the road. . . . The wind continues to stay at our backs. . . . The idea that there should be no check and balance, no congressional oversight, just isn't flying. They want to try to bring back the 2004 playbook. . . . They're trying to find a new rabbit to pull out of the hat, but so far they've gone back to the old chestnuts."

Chestnuts? In the same hat with rabbits? With the wind at their back on a bumpy road?
Speakers draw on metaphors to make complex points clear, to resonate with audiences, and, more often, because they haven't thought through ahead of time what to say. Piling on too many metaphors tells you that the speaker's either unprepared or unsure his audience gets the point, or both. Cliches in the form of mixed metaphors tell the audience the speaker isn't trying hard enough to be clear or concise. Don't get caught speechless or tongue-tied -- contact Denise Graveline at to get help developing messages memorable for both audience and speaker.

Check out our sister blog, The Eloquent Woman, for more on giving great speeches and presentations and become a fan of The Eloquent Woman on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

next year's anniversaries, now

Anniversaries of all kinds help organizations measure progress, whether you're celebrating the founding of the group or the 10th year since a chapter was formed. (And they're often irrestible when you want to motivate your volunteer members or recruit new ones.) If you're anticipating organizational anniversaries next year, don't get caught without our anniversary speech inserts for 2007. We offer suggested remarks you can drop into board member, executive director, or member speeches, letters, editorials and more, with content that reminds audiences of what was happening 10, 25, 50 or 100 years ago, putting your history into perspective -- a technique that wins audiences over every time. You and your organization will start 2007 ready to celebrate. We also offer customized anniversary content for scientific, medical, environmental and other subject-specific organizations. To find out more, email us at

Friday, August 25, 2006

science writers' meeting early registration

You have just one week left to get the early registration discount for the National Association of Science Writers "Science in Society" meeting, set to begin Friday, October 27, in Baltimore, Maryland. Register by September 1 for the discount. All registration closes on October 5. To learn more about the NASW Science in Society meeting or to register, go here. Don't Get Caught President Denise Graveline served on the meeting's organizing committee and will be speaking at a "Book PR Boot Camp" at the meeting on Saturday morning, October 28.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

'small business blog of the day'

Our other blog, Vegetables for Breakfast, is the 'small business blog of the day' today, according to Pajama Market, blogging consultant Brian Brown's blog about best practices for business bloggers. (Read his review of our blog here.) Brian's blog, well-reviewed itself, offers a daily take on a good business blog, and offers tips and advice along the way, based on real-world examples. His enthusiasm's catching, too (and not just when we're mentioned). Vegetables for Breakfast is our journalistic and impressionistic blog about don't get caught president Denise Graveline's experiment with a community-supported agriculture (CSA) project, in which she gets a weekly subscription "share" of fresh, local organic vegetables every week from June through October, from a farm less than 100 miles away from her (in this case, in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.)

The blog offers perspectives on prepping, cooking and consuming vegetables (hence the name), CSAs and how they work from the consumer's view, the science behind organic vegetables and sustainable agriculture, nutritional issues, and efforts around the world to increase the consumption of locally grown produce. We take health, environmental and science perspectives and toss in recipes and ideas, and we're proud of this new salute! (Brian correctly notes that V4B is not a blog about our business, but the business of the farmer, from the consumer's side...and still liked it.)

Monday, August 14, 2006

revising your publications wardrobe

If you publish -- be it magazines, brochures, newsletters, fact sheets, news releases, issue briefs or any other paper-based publications for your communications efforts -- perhaps it's time to reconsider some of the "closet classics" in your publications wardrobe. That's particularly true in the era of blogs, which can replace many, if not all, publications. Among the participants in one of our popular "Blogging for Your Business" workshops was a Washington-based publisher for several national membership groups. Much of her business consisted of publishing newsletters for those groups, updating them on goings-on in the nation's capital on their issues -- but not once she learned about blogging, still a largely free option for self-publishing. Consider what else you could be doing with the budgets you spend on printing, production, graphic design, postage and distribution. We can help you determine strategic alternatives to your current publications schemes (some of which may even include paper-based materials). Email Denise Graveline at to find out more.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

foot in mouth disease

In the aftermath of Mel Gibson's outbreak of foot-in-mouth disease, today's New York Times asks seasoned Hollywood publicists for their prescription for handling gaffes with more finesse -- and with better results for your reputation. Celebrity publicist Michael Levine cites what he calls "the four pillars of celebrity crisis management: Speed, humility, contrition and personal responsibility" as the essential steps in recovering from major public mistakes, good counsel even if you are not a movie star.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

science writers set to meet in Baltimore

Registration for the 2006 NASW Science in Society meeting is now open. The meeting will begin Friday, October 27, in Baltimore. Here's where you can register, check out the hotel discounts, program and speakers, which include Denise Graveline and a panel speaking on book publicity. Registration closes on October 5.

nominate a woman of the year...

Once again, Washington Women in Public Relations has issued its call for nominees for its "Washington PR Woman of the Year" award, to be presented at WWPR's annual awards luncheon in mid-November 2006. Nominations and all supporting material must be received no later than September 8, 2006, by: Gwen Haynes, WWPR Woman of the Year Co-Chair, via or at The Points of Light Foundation, 1400 I Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20005.