Archive for the ‘Editing’ Category

Posted in 2011, the entirety of this essay collection is available online but requires a paid Lit Reactor account for a tiny fee of $9 per month.

Essay #24 (Stocking Stuffers) was already summarized here: https://wordplay11.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/chuck-palahniuk. Once I read these 13 writing tips, I wanted to find out more as I’m sure you will too.

If you’re brand new to writing and do not have the finances to pursue a degree in creative/professional writing, I encourage you to use these essays to guide your writing process. If you’re busy with several part-time jobs to support your finances like me, #15 (When You Can’t Find a Writing Workshop) will be a great help to you if you want to pay the $9 fee. However, most of these tips–or similar ones–can be found around the interwebs.

If a tight budget doesn’t permit spending $9, save your money blog readers, and sign up for Lit Reactor by linking your Facebook account to the site. There are plenty of other how-to essays available for free on Lit Reactor.

Or you can read more of Palahniuk’s advice. Right now. Without signing up or even leaving this blog.

I’ve accessed one of Palahniuk’s 36 essays (#13 Nuts and Bolts — Punctuating with Gesture and Attribution) and summarized it here for your learning purposes. Happy reading!

Palahniuk forbids you to use thought verbs. What are thought verbs? Empty/weak/deadwood verbs. You know the ones.
  • Thinks, Knows, Understands, Realizes, Believes, Wants, Imagines, Desires
  • Loves, Hates, Forgets, Remembers

Original: Brenda knew she’d never make the deadline.

Revised: Brenda would never make the deadline.

“Thinking is abstract. Knowing and Believing are intangible,” Palahniuk writes. Allow the reader to feel smart by showing physical actions and placing details into context. Above all else, show instead of tell, which means you can’t use is or has either. Sorry, but Palahniuk forbids. You’ve got to find some other way to introduce smell, taste, sound, and feeling.
To do this, you’ve got to unpack the meaning behind these thought verbs. Write so the reader grasps the entirety of of the character’s actions, inner thoughts, behaviors. Stop taking stifling shortcuts, and instead use specifics that arouse the senses. Like a lawyer, you must use details to present your scene as you would a case.
Identify Thought Verbs: Thought verbs can often be found at the beginning of paragraphs. Find examples of thought verbs in published works and in your own writing. Figure out ways to revise them.
Advertisements

On December 19, 2013, Target unveiled a press release regarding unauthorized access to payment card data that may have impacted certain guests making credit and debit card purchases in its U.S. stores. Approximately 40 million credit and debit card accounts may have been impacted between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, 2013.

Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel delivered a message on December 20, 2013 stating:

We take this crime seriously. It was a crime against Target, our team members, and most importantly, our guests. We’re in this together, and in that spirit, we are extending a 10% discount – the same amount our team members receive – to guests who shop in U.S. stores on Dec. 21 and 22. Again, we recognize this issue has been confusing and disruptive during an already busy holiday season. We want to emphasize that the issue has been addressed and let guests know they can shop with confidence at their local Target stores.

Target released further media updates regarding the security breach from December 20, 23, 24, and 27 with a final update on January 10, 2014. The media updates surrounding Target’s security for credit card payments were both professional and timely. Both the media updates and the CEO’s statement reflects the emotions of his readers, which ranged from fearful, outraged and discomforted. The press releases all had language that reassured the reader that the issue was being addressed and would swiftly be resolved. Formatting for the press releases and released statement was easy for the eye to skim and the bottom line message was included within the first paragraph.

Then I received this email on January 15, 2014.

Original E-mail from Target received on January 15, 2014

Dear Target Guest,
As you may have heard or read, Target learned in mid-December that criminals forced their way into our systems and took guest information, including debit and credit card data. Late last week, as part of our ongoing investigation, we learned that additional information, including name, mailing address, phone number or email address, was also taken. I am writing to make you aware that your name, mailing address, phone number or email address may have been taken during the intrusion.
I am truly sorry this incident occurred and sincerely regret any inconvenience it may cause you. Because we value you as a guest and your trust is important to us, Target is offering one year of free credit monitoring to all Target guests who shopped in U.S. stores, through Experian’s® ProtectMyID® product which includes identity theft insurance where available. To receive your unique activation code for this service, please go to creditmonitoring.target.com and register before April 23, 2014. Activation codes must be redeemed by April 30, 2014.
In addition, to guard against possible scams, always be cautious about sharing personal information, such as Social Security numbers, passwords, user IDs and financial account information. Here are some tips that will help protect you:

  • Never share information with anyone over the phone, email or text, even if they claim to be someone you know or do business with. Instead, ask for a call-back number.
  • Delete texts immediately from numbers or names you don’t recognize.
  • Be wary of emails that ask for money or send you to suspicious websites. Don’t click links within emails you don’t recognize.
Target’s email communication regarding this incident will never ask you to provide personal or sensitive information.
Thank you for your patience and loyalty to Target. You can find additional information and FAQs about this incident at our Target.com/databreach website. If you have further questions, you may call us at 866-852-8680.
Gregg Steinhafel
Chairman, President and CEO

Rhetorical Analysis

“Should I be concerned?” was my first question. My original reading was that the situation was more serious. Taking the time to read this was a conscious effort on my part. I thought since it was a one page email with bullets I would have time to read this. I didn’t realize it would spawn an entire rhetorical analysis. Since it was addressed to me (I am a Target guest), I thought my personal information was a risk for being stolen. There was a sense of urgency in the language of this email. “Criminals forced their way into systems” immediately sets off red flags and fire alarms in my head. I figured this was especially urgent since the CEO (or the CEO’s ghostwriter) took the time to craft the email.

This topic had already been on my radar screen since both my sisters received letters from the credit union the three of us use. They were informed that they would be sent new debit cards because they had shopped at Target between November 27 thru December 15.  As for me, I had already checked my bank and credit card statements before receiving this email and nothing seemed amiss. My next question was, “Should I register for Experian’s Protect My Id product. Figuring it wasn’t necessary, I have instead chosen to be more cognizant and vigilant about the ways to protect myself from scams and identity theft.

After a close reading, I’ve determined that Target is still working on the investigation regarding the security system hacking that happened a month ago. I don’t have anything to be concerned about and can ignore the email, but not the rhetoric. Another reason why I wasn’t emotionally invested in taking the suggested action is that the idea wasn’t altogether sticky.

Made to Stick SUCCESs Analysis

(Click here to read more information on what makes an idea “sticky”).

I had to read this email several times to get a sense for the bottom-line message. Since this email raised more questions than answered them, I didn’t think the email was Simple. The email fulfilled the Unexpected category in a positive and negative way. I wasn’t expecting the security breach investigation to still be  ongoing. I also didn’t expect Target to provide a free identity protection service. A suggestion to make this email more Concrete would be to explain the process that forensic computer security investigators used to uncover what the hackers did. Since there weren’t any concrete details such as statistics on how many customers have been affected or helped, I didn’t think the email had much Credibility in terms of satisfying Target customers. The Emotional bent to the email was lost with business cliches such as “truly sorry” and “sincerely regret any inconvenience.” However the bulleted list does appeal to my self-interest to protect myself against identity theft. This email could have been a Story with a creativity plot that addressed the breakthrough needed to find out that Target’s security had been hacked. The opportunity to describe what was being done to solve the problem in an innovative way was also missed.

SUCCESs RATING: F

This post is a sneak peak of an Examiner post that will be published on 2/12/2014. Be sure to check out Examiner.com on that day to find out how to make your  cover letters and resumes stand out with memorable writing.

Making yourself and your writing memorable

Malcom Gladwell’s Tipping Point: How little things can make a big difference and Dan and Chip Heath’s Made to Stick: Why some ideas survive and others die take a look at the concept of “sticky ideas.” Sticky ideas are so memorable and powerful they change people’s behavior and are triggered by an overall feeling of pleasure at the initial encounter. The best way to describe a sticky idea is an incredibly effective slogan. Sticky ideas are a kind of word of mouth epidemic that is as catchy as Paul Revere’s “The redcoats are coming!” It was the right message delivered at the right time to the right people by packaging it in a relevant, contagious, and irresistible way.

Gladwell describes a tipping point as a sudden and radical change brought on by a critical moment of absolute certainty that it will stick. The Heath brothers define a sticky idea as being a simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, and emotional story. Sticky ideas are understood, remembered, and retold because they leave a lasting impact. Strip down (not dumb down) to the core. The essence of your main message should have a clear purpose to prevent the reader from suffering decision paralysis–the inability to move forward because excessive ambiguity produces irrational anxiety.

To construct an effective sticky idea consider the following questions:

  1. Find the message’s essential core. What selling point do you want people to remember?
  2. Make the audience to pay attention and maintain their interest.
  3. Get the audience to believe what you say. How can you build credibility?
  4. How can you get people to care about your selling point?
  5. Stay away from statistics. What story will make the audience take action?

made-to-stick-succes

For a formal rhetorical analysis using in the Made to Stick SUCCESs model visit: https://wordplay11.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/disney-press-release-revisions/.

To view the original Disney press release visit: http://thewaltdisneycompany.com/disney-news/press-releases/2012/06/walt-disney-company-sets-new-standards-food-advertising-kids.

To view the revised Disney press release visit: https://wordplay11.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/original-disney-press-release/.

Watch to find more advice on making your writing stick

Lessons in Business Writing, Part 1

Posted: February 1, 2014 in Editing

Quality Business Writing

In business writing, usefulness and readability are key to helping readers. Questions the reader might have must be addressed in the way the message is structured, so think in terms of dialogue rather than a monologue. Your dialogue should be a roadmap that meets implied expectations so skimming and scanning are easy for the eye to follow. To accomplish this strategy, a deductive style should place the bottom-line message first to answer the following questions.

  1. What is this?
  2. Who is it from?
  3. Why should I care?
  4. What should I do with this?

Ultimately your message should leave no unanswered questions. Strive for communication rather than confusion. Here are some tips to create a bottom-line message using Plain English.

  • Break the document into logical easy to grasp components such as headings, paragraphs, bullets, lists, or even font choice.
  • Be aware of your language usage. Vary your sentence length with subordinate and coordinate structures.
  • Eliminate redundancy, vague pronoun reference, excessive prepositional phrases, and nominalization.
  • Use active/passive sentence effectively.
  • Avoid business cliches: valued customer, we regret any inconvenience, we appreciate your patronage, etc.
  • Under no circumstances should negative language be used. This is especially difficult when delivering bad news to a customer or employee.

Bad News Letter

A bad news letter should begin with a buffer statement, which respectfully considers the reader’s feelings and emotions. Define your purpose for writing, but avoid words or apologies that convey unpleasant facts. Get the tone right by accentuating the positive: stress what something is or what a product can do versus any negative qualities.

The buffer statement has positive connotations and is followed by a reason statement to offer background for why the bad news must be delivered.

Logically, the bad news statement follows the reason statement because negative information should be embedded in a secondary position.

Conclude by ensuring that the message that you cannot grant the request is clear.

Original Cover Letter Draft

The accompanying vita is to introduce myself as a candidate for the [SCHOOL NAME] school psychology internship.

I am currently a graduate student at [SCHOOL NAME] in the School Psychology program. [SCHOOL NAME] interests me as a place of internship because I seek to gain experience functioning as a change agent for students, teachers, families and systems. At [SCHOOL NAME], the purpose of an internship in school psychology is to provide students with the opportunity to participate in a full range of psychological services in an educational setting. Upon completion of the internship (minimum of 1200 hours), it is expected that students will possess entry-level skills to begin employment as school psychologists. Field supervisors are expected to provide two hours per week of direct supervision as well as on-going feedback regarding the intern’s written reports, specific skills and interpersonal competencies.

As you will see from my curriculum vita, I have gotten a breadth of relevant experiences over the past three years including working at the elementary, middle, and high school levels with ethnically and economically diverse children and families. In addition to numerous other activities, main areas of focus during my practicum year have been implementing a behavioral intervention within a classroom using the consultation model (e.g. entry and contracting, problem identification and analysis, intervention design, implementation, etc.) while also utilizing motivational interviewing strategies; and counseling a student using evidence-based approaches (e.g. solution-focused brief therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy). In addition, I have been responsible for collecting assessment data, implementing behavioral interventions, and monitoring student outcomes throughout the year.

I am interested in an internship within [SCHOOL NAME] because I believe my graduate training, field and related experiences, and skills have directly influenced my ability to work in the best interest of students. Through creative problem solving, critical thinking skills and innovation, I seek to personalize learning that meets students’ at their needs. Since graduating from my undergraduate institution, I have worked alongside children and adolescents by assisting in their growth to success and accumulated valuable knowledge along the way. Particular areas of interest for me are multicultural issues including social advocacy for underserved or marginalized students and families. As a student intern for a District Court Judge, whom presided primarily in juvenile court, hearing trials and motions involving custodial cases of the Department of Social Services – Youth and Family Services Division and delinquency cases, I witnessed numerous cases involving an adolescent who made one bad decision which affected/altered the trajectory of the rest of his life. From this point forward, I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to intervening within children and adolescents’ lives in order to provide them with better services/options to further their success. I also would like to gain additional experience with crisis intervention teams.

I firmly believe in [SCHOOL NAME’S] vision to inspire and empower every student to learn and excel. I not only wish to be a part of this vision but I also desire to contribute my strengths and skills to your learning community.

Upon review of my vita, you will find that I have extensive experience counseling/working with diverse populations, a demonstrated ability to collaborate amongst/alongside a team (of individuals), outstanding interpersonal and customer service skills, and a willingness to learn more about new concepts and strategies that can aide my growth as a school psychologist.

The enclosed resume will furnish additional information on my background. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Revised Cover Letter

I am currently a graduate student at [SCHOOL NAME] in the School Psychology program interested in the [SCHOOL NAME] for a school psychology internship. I seek to gain experience serving on crisis intervention teams, and I wish to be a change agent for students, teachers, and families. I firmly believe in the [SCHOOL NAME] vision to inspire and empower every student to learn and excel. I not only wish to be a part of this vision, but I also desire to contribute my strengths and skills to your learning community.

As you will see from my accompanying curriculum vita, I am a qualified candidate with extensive experiences counseling diverse populations, a demonstrated ability to collaborate alongside a team, outstanding interpersonal and customer service skills, and a willingness to gain new concepts and strategies that can aide my growth as a school psychologist.

My breadth of relevant experiences over the past three years comes from working at the elementary, middle, and high school levels with ethic and economic diversities. Having been a student intern for a district court judge, a particular area of interest for me is social advocacy for underserved or marginalized students and families. I witnessed numerous cases involving adolescents who made one bad decision that affected his or her life trajectory. From that point forward, I dedicated my life to intervening in children’s lives to provide them with better options and services, and a school psychology internship in the [SCHOOL NAME] will help me accomplish my personal and professional goals.

To achieve this end, my practicum at [SCHOOL NAME] has allowed me to implement a classroom behavioral intervention using the consultation model (e.g. entry and contracting, problem identification and analysis, intervention design, implementation, etc.), motivational interviewing strategies, and counseling using evidence-based approaches (e.g. solution-focused brief therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy). Additionally throughout the year, I have been responsible for collecting assessment data, implementing behavioral interventions, and monitoring student outcomes.

If you are willing to serve as a field instructor, you would provide two hours per week of direct supervision as well as on-going feedback regarding my written reports, specific skills, and interpersonal competencies.  A minimum of 1200 hours is necessary to complete the internship, and this time will provide me with entry-level skills when seeking employment.

Original Text at Persian-Cats.com

Revised Text

Ethical Breeding Steps for Fun and Success

Cat breeding is an expensive, time-consuming hobby.
Here is an easy five-step formula for becoming an ethical and respected breeder in the Fancy without facing heartaches and making mistakes.

Step 1—Gaining Knowledge

A good breeder needs a firm goal that is specific towards the betterment of the bread in some way. To create a measurable goal, you need a strong education in breed standards, health, look and temperament, and genetics. Get ready to do some research in these areas.

Gain knowledge about the breed standard

  • Find a breed standard on a major cat registry website or correspond with a current cat breeder
  • Attend a show hall to see winning cats in action and find a breed that suits your taste
  • Do not attempt to change the breed standard as it is a long and difficult process for an experienced breeder.

Gain knowledge about the breed’s health

  • Be ethical. Know how to keep your cats healthy throughout their lifespan.
  • Other breeders can be a great resource to ask how to avoid health issues and eliminate them from your breeding lines.
  • Consult books or the internet about the breed’s health.

Gain knowledge about the breed’s look

  • Decide on a color division. Not all breed’s color mixes are allow for showing.
  • Learn about the breed’s aesthetic faults and disqualifications.
  • Determine a winning look for the breed you wish to show. Have an objective for the qualities you wish to emphasize on the show floor.

Gain knowledge in genetics and feline husbandry

  • Genetics can help you predict if the cats you breed together will produce the dream kittens you wish to produce.
  • Genetics can help you avoid inbreeding and free your line from health problems.
  • Feline husbandry can help keep your cats healthy and happy.

Step 2—Build a breeding program

  • Think of the number of cats you want and can have in your program
  • Consider how the cats you choose will be bread in the most effective way to reach your goal.
  • Write down the colors of your cats, their type, aspired lines, and pedigree for future reference.

Step 3—Prepare your home/cattery

  • Purchase pet supplies.
  • Create a comfortable space for your cats to sleep, play, and eat before purchasing.

Step 4—Purchase your cats

  • Do not compromise. Get the best cats to reach your goal. If needed, wait to buy the right pair of cats.

Step 5—Spay/Neuter

  • Showing a neutered cat
    • Looking at cats without buying one during the research process can be frustrating, and one must be extremely disciplined.
    • A neutered show cat might be a temporary and less costly alternative. Having a neutered show cat will enable you to visit many shows, develop a reputation, and get a head start on show grooming.
    • For such a cheap option, you will get to know many cats and people who will be sources for knowledge.
  • Spay/neuter cats that deteriorate the breed
    • Ethical policy that ensures the health and welfare of cats
    • Selling a neutered cat may motivate others to show a breed
    • Inspires respect from other breeders

Revision Rationale

Publishing for the web means taking an essay or article and making it appeal to the visual senses. This document was long, confusing, and disjointed. Instead of being informative, the writing style gave off an opinionated tone. My revisions focused on the visual elements of the writing by using bullet points and bolding the steps. I reduced the number of steps because I wanted the article to focus around a central bottom-line message: ethical breeding steps for fun and success. The author seemed overly focused on creating a 10-step plan, which over-complicates the process; thus, the reader becomes overwhelmed and is unwilling to take on a breeding program.

The revisions emphasize the research that goes into a breeding program by dividing categories of the process into sub-sections. The bullet points for Step 1 clearly identify the objectives a future cat breeder should keep in mind when exploring his or her options. The remainder of the article did not receive subsections because the points made were mainly more generalized reminders versus detailed how-to steps.

Original Letter of Appeal

It is because of community supporters like yourself that the Dedi Sykes Education Endowment continues to provide educational opportunities to York VNA Home Care nurses and clinical staff. The endowment is in memory of my mother, Dedi Sykes, a lifelong champion of the VNA. My family and I see my mother’s memory live on through the amazing work of the entire VNA staff.

Last year the endowment was able to fund a grant to Leslie Nelson. Leslie will be finishing up her Wound Care Certification this coming October.

“This has provided me with the confidence in providing wound assessment and care to patients with acute and chronic wounds. This knowledge will able me to provide the easiest, most effective, and medically appropriate care for a win-win of the patient and the VNA,” explains Leslie.

Leslie mentioned the win-win for patients and the VNA. The Dedi Sykes Education Endowment hopes to continue to foster win-win situations by providing opportunities of growth and knowledge to the VNA staff. I am excited to announce that this year we will be able to award two grants from the endowment. The first grant will be used by a nurse who is attending a Wound and Skin Management Course and the other will be used by a nurse who is taking two online courses towards her Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Thank you for your past support of the Dedi Sykes Education Endowment. I hope you will consider making another gift to the endowment to help VNA clinical staff and nurses continue to give outstanding care to their patients. To make your gift, please send your check in the enclosed envelope.  Checks can be made payable to the Dedi Sykes Education Endowment. You can also make a donation via credit card by completing the enclosed credit card form.

My mother would be proud of the support you and other community members have given this endowment. She was always a supporter of the work of the VNA staff, and it means a lot to my family that this support continues in her honor.

Revised Letter of Appeal

The Dedi Sykes Education Endowment is in memory of my mother, Dedi Sykes, a lifelong champion of the VNA. My mother would be proud of the support you and other community members have given this endowment, which allows the excellent VNA staff a chance to expand their knowledge base.

My family and I see my mother’s memory live on through the amazing work of the entire VNA staff, and it means a lot to us you’re your support continues in her honor. The York VNA Home Care nurses and clinical staff members also appreciate your support of their educational and professional development opportunities.

Last year we were able to provide three scholarships. Kimberly Yinger received a scholarship for a Chronic Care Professional (CCP) Certification, and Betty Anne Abrahamsen received funding for a course in Lymphedema Therapy. Steph Emenheiser received funding for books used in courses required for a BSN.

Steph says, “Having my BSN will open new opportunities for furthering education and I hope to specifically have the skills to help the under-educated and financially impaired population of York County.”

Steph’s story is only one of those helped by the Dedi Sykes Education Endowment. Your donation can continue to provide this valuable education opportunity. Doing so will help VNA clinical staff and nurses continue to give outstanding care to their patients.

To make your gift, please send your check in the enclosed envelope.  Checks can be made payable to the Dedi Sykes Education Endowment. You can also make a donation via credit card by completing the enclosed credit card form.

Thank you for your consideration.

Original Text from Stansberry Research

Revised Text

Writingsample

Deal with Disaster. Cope with Crisis. Come out a Success.

Crisis is inevitable. We clean up hurricanes, floods, fires, and earthquakes because we cannot stop them. Terrorist attacks, government shutdowns, public shootings, and health epidemics are all beyond our control.

These disasters are bound to happen, do happen, and will continue to happen. But don’t just throw your hands up in the air in apathy and dejection. Instead, consider Benjamin Franklin’s advice.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

As Americans, we’ve faced extreme disasters over the last 15 years.

Hurricane Katrina               Boston Marathon bombings         Hurricane Sandy
Aurora shooting                  Newton shooting                 Columbine shooting
The 9/11 attacks       2008 Great Recession                    2013 Government Shutdown      

We’ve endured great stress and strain on our emotions, finances, and well-being. This pressure causes “negative panic.” We lose the ability to make rational decisions. We are unable to leave a detrimental situation because we don’t know how to cope. We are stuck in panic mode and cannot escape.

To overcome our fears, we must, as Dr. David Eifrig, Jr. advises in The Doctor’s Protocol Field Manual, “Plan the Trade; then Trade the Plan.”

Dr. David Eifrig, Jr., retired doctor and former Wall Street banker, offers a reassuring outlook that sees past America’s problems. The Doctor’s Protocol Field Manual examines natural disasters, national events, financial decisions, and medical emergencies to create a sure-fire, clear-cut way to resolve any crisis. Convoluted misinformation will not be found in this book…only memorable categories.

Design, Provision, Shield, and Prosper.

These provisions in The Doctor’s Protocol Field Manual–not anyone or anything else–will come to your aid when disaster strikes.

Ready yourself for when the worse happens.

Plummeting stocks             Unexpected decline in savings                  Unforeseen bills
Expensive healthcare costs                                    The common cold & the flu          
Identity Theft                                   Property damage                             Robbery & burglary

The Doctor’s Protocol Field Manual guides you through these major and minor life events by:

  • Preparing you to be proactive to ensure their safety and security.
  • Preparing you for major and minor disruptions.
  • Preparing you to aid yourself in a disaster.
  • Returns your life to a state of normalcy.
  • Restores order with a simple, scientific method

The Doctor’s Protocol Field Manual contains more than 100 pages of crucial life-saving information. For $25 off the regular price with free shipping included, this book only costs $4.95. Buy it now to find out important ideas, techniques, strategies, and secrets that can make you safer, happier, healthier, and more secure.

Original Disney Press Release

Posted: December 10, 2013 in Editing
Tags: ,

Original Disney Press Release

Magic of Healthy Living Brochure
Magic of Healthy Living Promotional Website
Magic of Healthy Living Kid’s Activity Website

Revised Press Release

Disney’s Magic Promotes Healthy Living

What is the Magic?

In a 2007-2008 study performed by the CDC, approximately 12.5 million children and adolescents aged 2-19 were considered obese. The Walt Disney Company has been on a mission to change this statistic.

Since 2006, its landmark nutrition guidelines have been evolving. As of 2012, Disney has become the first major media company to introduce new standards for food advertising on programming targeting kids and families. Disney’s unmatched efforts have received critical acclaim and recognition from moms, nutrition experts, and federal regulators. More importantly, these new standards help shape healthier lifestyles for families using the concept Disney Magic of Healthy Living.

How does the Magic Work?

Disney Magic of Healthy Living combines Disney’s unique storytelling, beloved characters, and unparalleled reach into a fun and easy concept for kids and their families. According to Robert A. Iger, Chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company, this concept gives the company “a unique opportunity to continue to inspire and encourage them to lead healthier lives.”

That’s not all Disney is doing.

The new nutrition guidelines have evolved to include well-balanced breakfasts, promotions of fruit and vegetable consumption, limitations on calories, and reductions in saturated fats, sodium and sugar. Dr. James O. Hill, who worked with Disney to develop its nutrition guidelines, claims results are appearing because “Disney is using ‘magic’—fun and creativity—to encourage kids and families to make positive changes.”

Where is the Magic found?

It’s a question made easier to answer by the “Mickey Check Tool,” a part of Disney Magic of Healthy Living. The “Mickey Check Tool” features the iconic Mickey Mouse ears with a green check in the middle. The image is surrounded by a purple seal, which states “Good for you; fun too!” No matter where Disney advertises, sponsors, or promotes food and beverage products, parents and kids can connect with this message. For more information on Disney Magic of Healthy Living, please visit: www.thewaltdisneycompany.com/mohl.

Disney Press Release Revisions

Posted: December 10, 2013 in Editing
Tags: ,

Highlights

The press release “The Walt Disney Company Sets New Standards for Food Advertising to Kids” (included below) is written for an audience of parents of young children. In my case, I’m neither of these. I am, however, a Disney fanatic who loves food. My identity as an audience member helped me pick out the bottom line message: new advertising standards with a nutrition focus help shape healthier lifestyles for families. After reading the press release, I analyzed it using Chip and Dan Heath’s SUCCESs model found in their book, Made to Stick. I revised the press release, and an analysis follows. The report concludes with a discussion of my rationale behind the revisions.

SUCCESs Model Analysis

Simplicity

The bottom line message is buried in the first and third paragraph, making the level of effort when reading the press release rate fairly high. The press release packs in a lot of information. One example of this is the long list of Disney media sources in the first paragraph.  Another example is the subsections discussing “The Mickey Check” Tool and Disney Magic of Healthy Living. They are short and succinct, but the data mentioned is overwhelming and unmemorable. This organization makes the press release difficult to navigate. This category could be much improved because it fails to focus on the bottom line message.

Unexpected

What is surprising is that Disney has stumbled on a formula for getting kids involved with making healthier choices. This is unlike the usual associations people have with Disney. There is potential for unexpectedness because Disney is revealing innovative methods. Instead of building up the surprise, there is just a list of changes in policy at the end of the press release. By failing to place emphasis on the new dining experience or the new advertising campaign, this press release does not follow the “sticky” formula for getting and holding attention.

Concrete

This press release fails to use sensory details, which means the Velcro Theory isn’t being applied. In the third paragraph, it states that “unique storytelling, beloved characters, and unparalleled reach” attribute to Disney’s success. These factors do not demonstrate how they make an impact. The idea is abstract and impossible to remember. Disney has many iconic logos (Cinderella’s castle, Mickey Mouse, and Tinkerbell) that could be used. In this instance, a new logo is introduced—the Mickey Check Tool. It features yellow Mickey Mouse ears with a green check in the middle. It is surrounded by a purple seal with the words “Good for you; fun too!” This detail isn’t mentioned, and I had to search on Google to find out what it looked like. The colors are not correlated with Disney and are an unappealing combination.

Credible

The three sources included serve two purposes. First, they support the idea that Disney has the capability to change kids’ health. Second, they are effective in demonstrating the validity of Disney’s new standards. Iger’s comment speaks to the vital impact Disney has on children and how the company can change children’s eating habits for the better. Obama’s question, “Is it good for our kids?” wasn’t relevant to me—I don’t have kids—but still forced me to question children’s eating habits. Hill’s comment brings attention to the power Disney has in terms of making dull material enjoyable for kids. However, the quotes are not integrated with the core message, and I ended up skimming through them. This category needs improvement to make the credible information stand out from the rest of the information presented.

Emotional

In this category, the writer maintained a neutral stance, and the emotion is implied rather than stated outright. Childhood obesity is a common problem in the United States, so concerned parents can be reassured by Disney’s new policies. Parents would also be comforted by the fact that Disney’s new polices align with federal standards and are supported by doctor recommendations. Iger points out the fact that young kids even have an “emotional connection” with Disney characters, and by default, an emotional connection is made with healthy food. Kids respond to the aesthetic of shapes and colors. Disney clearly needs to do more to with this branding to promote a specialized packaging instead of just placing logo.

Story

The story told in this press release follows two of the basic plots discussed in Made to Stick—creativity and challenge. Disney was faced with the challenge of making healthy food more appealing to young children. The task was a difficult one. After all, it took six years to finally devise an innovative solution that was approved by parents, nutrition experts, and federal regulators. The end result was one Disney could take pride in because it was the first time a media company had taken the right steps. This is where creativity comes in. Disney followed the formula of combining food and fun, which matches the bottom line message. This is one category where the writer exceeded expectations.

Discussion of Revisions

I had three reasons for making these edits. First, I wanted to focus the core meaning; second, to integrate the quotations to increase credibility, and third, to provide a more concrete picture of Disney’s new advertising rules.

Changing the title and including new headings gave me an outline to follow and simplified the concept being presented. The headlines also give the reader a guide when scanning the article. Positioning the headings in question format eliminated questions a reader might have and lowered the level of effort. The revised press release is notably shorter because the information is concise, making it more focused around the bottom line idea.

The first section “What is the Magic?” serves three purposes: it meets the story category, the emotional category, and the simple category. The paragraph gives a shocking statistic to grab the reader’s attention and provide the data that drove Disney to make such a monumental change in its policies. I specifically kept it short and to the point to state the bottom line message in a way that would get the reader invested in the story.

The second paragraph in the first section starts the story by explaining why the new advertising standards are so monumental for such a challenging situation and reveals the creative way of solving the problem of childhood obesity. It serves three purposes. First, it defines the audience as being parents and children. Second, it stresses the significance of this new idea. Third, it explains how everyone emotionally connected to the problem is satisfied.

The second section “How does the Magic work?” expands on what the standards mean for families in terms of the dining menu. This paragraph uses the credibility of two sources to reinforce that Disney Magic of Healthy Living is not a hokey gimmick, but an idea that sticks. Iger explains why the principles behind Disney Magic of Healthy Living work on kids. Hill defines the power of Disney as a positive influence to improve kids’ lives and their eating habits. All people who have watched a Disney movie or been to a Disney theme park have experienced the magic Hill mentions: it’s a gleeful, childlike, and exciting journey into the imagination. I chose to remove Michelle Obama’s endorsement of Disney’s nutrition program because it was a long quote and readers might not know she initiated Let’s Move!, a program for eating healthy and staying physically active.

The third section “Where is the Magic found?” is meant to leave the reader with a concrete image of “The Mickey Check Tool.” The icon is specific enough to provide a common understanding, and the slogan corresponds with the bottom line message. The description serves two purposes. First, it informs the reader what the icon looks like and where it can be found. Second, it changes the abstract idea of promoting healthy food through advertising into a concrete image that’s easy to remember.