Press Kit 101 – Print or Digital?

KrakenPK

By Lauren Mackenzie

We’re well into the Trade show and Expo season and if you’re exhibiting at any of the thousands taking place, you need to have a comprehensive press kit.

However, with the upsurge in the use of online “virtual” press or media rooms, the decision to go with a printed or digital press kit is a definite shade of grey.

But don’t abandon your printed version just yet.

It’s a very versatile item in your marketing arsenal.  Not only is it a tangible and visible reminder of your company when it’s sitting on someone’s desk,  it can be tailored to lots of other uses.

I’ll explain more later.

 

So why do you need a press kit and what do you put into it?

The purpose of the kit is to give journalists’ enough facts and background information to pique their interest in your company.  Make them curious enough to ask more questions and it might lead to them writing a story on your products or service.

It represents you, your image, your brand, your company culture, your products or services and to be effective,  it needs to  glow brightly in that huge pile of kits in the Show press lounge.

 

PRINT PRESS KIT

When creating your printed press kit, focus on four key areas:

1  Design and packaging of the kit

  • Use a design that keeps the contents secure
  • Make sure it’s large enough to hold everything you want to put in the kit
  • Consider having it professionally designed
  • Make sure it’s branded with your logo and company name
  • Use high-quality paper stock

2  Copywriting

  • Value-rich, easy to read and on point- no fluff
  • Use headings, subheads, sidebars and callouts for important details

3  Clear, factual, easy to understand information

  • Use graphics to highlight specific data
  • Bullet points and lists make it easy to skim read
  • Fact check all the data – and that includes the correct spelling of names, titles and links

4  Showcasing your brand, your organization and what your business stands for

  • Over to you.  As your brand’s chief evangelist, you know best how to do this.

 GoodallPKDry Creative – Goodall press kit

CONTENTS

Contact information

  • Very Important Piece, which is why it’s top of this list and should be on yours too
  • A one-page sheet of names, phone numbers and email addresses for main contacts e.g. the people in your organization responsible for talking to the media

If possible, include someone who can be contacted outside traditional working hours, giving their availability or voicemail option.  Being a journalist can be a 24/7 job when covering breaking stories or news, so offering a contact outside normal hours is very helpful.

Overview of your organization

  • Basic description – think how you’d describe it to someone who didn’t know it
  • Founding date
  • Potted history or timeline
  • Mission statement or the reason for its existence
  • Investors
  • Number of employees
  • Location
  • Demographic data

Biographies

  • The team who worked on the product or service you’re showcasing
  • The Board or Executive leadership group
  • Include professional headshots of everyone
  • Keep all bios short, interesting and relevant

Product or Services information

  • Technical details for new products
  • Availability
  • What your new service is all about
  • Launch dates
  • Usable quotes from key team members
  • Samples of printed marketing material
  • Case studies – if your product or service is already on the market

 

TumbleweedPK

Tumbleweed’s edible press kit

Images

  • Provide high resolution prints – color and black & white versions.  They must be high-res to look good when reproduced in print publications
  • Your team
  • Your products or services – with descriptive captions
  • Your logo – with guidelines on its use
  • Your studio or office
  • Group staff photo

    In addition to providing prints, you can include a CD of images.

    IMPORTANT: Journalists love good images for their stories but if there are copyright restrictions attached to any of your images, you must make it clear what they can and cannot be used for.

Optional Extras

  • Your latest Annual Report
  • Current newsletter
  • Photos and write-ups on recent awards
  • Clips of recent media coverage – it shows what’s been written previously and helps journalists develop a different angle
  • Client list – mention if they can be contacted for comments
  • FAQ list
  • CD of video or audio clips

 

Book Launch PK CHC

C Hope Clark Book Launch press kit

DIGITAL PRESS KIT (or EPK – Electronic Press Kit)

On your website media page:

  • Have digital versions of the printed kit contents listed above
  • Make high-res and low-res JPEGs available, accurately named for easy sourcing
  • Include Logo images – with guidelines on how to (and how not to) use it
  • Give fast access with a button or link from your home page to the media page
  • Make sure your media page or section is easy to navigate and search

Extras you can add (here are the goodies I mentioned at the beginning)

  • Promotional videos
  • Podcasts and recordings of webinars
  • Additional images of events, speeches, award presentations
  • Infographics
  • Website links to articles, reviews
  • Animated GIFs
  • Screenshots of anything you feel is important e.g. special artwork or packaging design

 

whole-foods-market-logo
Whole Foods has a stunning online media page offering individual media kits for company initiatives, food products, their mission and new stores.  There’s also a very detailed Resources section along with a side bar of facts & figures.

Northrop-Grumman1

Northrop Grumman has links from their online media page to nine separate sections making it easy to find information, images, social media blasts etc.

 

OTHER USES FOR YOUR PRESS KIT

By simply changing the contents, your kit can be tailored to other events e.g. new product launches, sales awards, competition entries, major talks or conference presentations.

Meet someone at an event or get chatting to a fellow passenger on a plane and they ask for more information on your services?  Send them a copy of your press kit, making sure it contains details on their particular area of interest.

If you’re trying to get your foot in the door of a particular customer and you don’t like cold calling, send them a lightweight version of your press kit.

Strip it down to:

  • Product or service information sheets
  • Contact details
  • Company factsheet

With many companies now solely using digital campaigns to generate leads, sending a mini press kit by snail mail could be a novel way to make you stand out above the crowd.

 

MORE PRESS KIT EXAMPLES

Adobe includes all the information you could possibly want on the company from fast facts to their corporate responsibility statement and even a few case studies.   They include information on their products, the key movers & shakers of the company and financial data.  All this is available online with downloadable PDFs for everything.

Moo gives a lightweight option with only contact information for their PR team – you have to get in touch to get information for an article or review. They do offer press releases and downloads of their products.

A Design Award – fabulous selection of press kits for product and industry design competitions

Several companies supply off-the-shelf and custom designed press kit packaging i.e. Fastkitpack and Pitchkits

 

 

Lauren Mackenzie is a freelance business writer 
helping SMBs create value-rich content that gets them noticed.

Image credits:
Under consideration.com/ Dead As We Know It Design team / Image: NOTCOT
Dry Creative
Tumbleweed / Tracey Buxton / A Cottage Industry 
C Hope Clark
Whole Foods
Northrop Grumman


 

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Who is Your Digital Rockstar?

As a content writer with a passion for everything digital (and would-be techie who dabbled with object-oriented C++ many moons ago), someone I have enormous admiration for is, the Software Engineer.

Sadly my creative brain just didn’t want to be creative with lines of code and took me off in a different direction (even though I could see the magic that programming languages could conjure up).

Emotions of a software developer

Emotions of a software developer

Why So Much Admiration?

Well not only do software engineers constantly create ways of making my online life easier, they’ve unlocked pathways to hidden treasure.   As a content creator I can write using information I’ve unearthed and researched in places I simply couldn’t have accessed just a few years’ ago.

And because of the awesome skills of these creative rockstars, I can reach a vibrant online community around the world that I now work and collaborate with.

Software developers have enabled me to build a website myself (despite not completing that C++ course).  Without knowing how to code I simply chose a platform, tweaked a pre-populated theme to get the look I wanted, then added plugins to let me share my content. They’ve done the hard work to make it mobile responsive and easy to optimize for search engines and by adding an app, I can create a mini eCommerce store to sell my eBooks and courses direct from my site.

Using online software, I can record, edit and publish podcasts or video and have real-time face-to-face meetings with anyone around the globe with online access.  And those images I’ve taken with my smartphone or camera – easily uploaded, edited or enhanced, then added to my site.

If I want to share my creation with the world or spark a conversation with my tribe, I simply publish on my favorite social media platforms adding a link and asking for comments.

Personal Devices

FitBark monitor

FitBark monitor

Need more convincing as to why these code writers are essential, then take a look around.  Your mobile phone becomes more powerful (a.k.a indispensable) with every software update and new model that comes out.

Wearable computing is gaining momentum.  It lets you track your fitness using amazing devices – think Fitbit and Pebble – or send data direct from your Adidas miCoach or Nike+ trainers to your smartphone.

Your dog can join you too with it’s own wearable gadget from FitBark. 

Google Glass is being challenged by smart glass creators like Epsom Moverio and Lumus  giving us access to visual technology formerly the unique domain of fighter pilots.

Yet while the aesthetic design *is* important, these pieces of hardware need software engineers to bring them alive.  It’s their applications that enable us to interpret and use the real-time data we gather on our devices.

Software Engineering on the Move

Tesla is leading the carmakers’ pack with some of the most advanced software innovations in the motor industry.  With a car that uses wi fi to update its software systems overnight and checks weather, windspeed and road terrain en route to your next charging point, you’re driving a vehicle that is approaching the level of sophistication found in aircraft design.

Staying with the car industry, tire manufacturers Goodyear and Michelin have integrated software technology with their products to monitor pressure, wear, temperature and performance and  Chevrolet currently has more lines of code (10 million) embedded in its Volt hybrid-electric model than a Boeing 787 (6.5 million).

Add smart bikes, road sensors and F1 race car technology spin-offs to the mix and our travel is becoming a lot safer – thanks to software engineers.

The Digital Industrial Revolution

These coding gurus are spreading rapidly throughout manufacturing, finance, retail and education, helping organizations develop software applications to improve operating efficiency, add value to all sectors of their business and build stronger relationships with their clients.

Healthcare wearables

Types of wearables in Healthcare

 

One big user of software systems is the healthcare industry.  Not only for medical and clinical devices but also for improving practice and hospital management.

For example, without leaving his office, it’s possible for a d0ctor to check electronic patient records, assess patients online, then remotely adjust devices such as heart pacemakers and biosensors. A scenario which could offer much higher levels of healthcare to patients in remote areas.

Developing The Future

Ever since Ada Byron Lovelace and Charles Babbage designed the first “difference engine” in 1822 – an early form of computing – there has been an increasing need for skilled professionals who can write programs.  And as the variety of digital devices grows, you and I will demand ever more complex software to run them.

While the business world might influence how the online world is going to develop, it’s the software developers who will figure out how to make it happen.

So let’s hear it for the software engineers – the vital backbone of our digital economy in so many subtle ways – and if you’ve got one sitting near you right now, shake their hand and say, “Thanks.”

 

Margaret Hamilton Lead Software Engineer on the Apollo Project

Margaret Hamilton – Lead Software Engineer, Apollo space program

 

Margaret Hamilton, lead software engineer on the Apollo space project.
The tower of books contain her hand written programming code, used by NASA to put man on the moon in 1969.

Lauren Mackenzie is a freelance web content and business communications writer, helping startups and SMEs spread their story online.

Image credits:
 www.funfani.com
 www.fitbark.com
 www.boston-technology.com
 www.pinterest.com

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Case Studies: The Hidden Treasure in Your Storytelling Toolbox

success

Would you agree that we’re in business to provide solutions?

So why are some businesses not using case studies to promote these solutions?

Case studies are the hidden treasure in your marketing toolbox.  Yet lots of companies don’t appreciate their power or take advantage of case study marketing to highlight their product success stories.

Clients I’ve spoken to have commented that writing a good case study is hard.  Or it’s difficult to get customers to take part and I know that to be true from actual experience.  Nevertheless the return on investment (ROI), for the time spent researching and writing an in-depth user profile, far outweighs the hurdles you need to jump in order to achieve this.

Picture this …

Your potential customer is considering investing in the very thing that your company just happens to offer.

What’s the first thing they do?

Yes, that’s right, the same as you and I would do; jump online and start looking for information, product reviews, social media comments and case studies.

Once they’ve found this, they might then ask business contacts for their thoughts and recommendations.

But you’d better believe that by the time your potential customer approaches you, they will already know most of the benefits and features of your product or service.

In other words, they’re already a warm prospect which makes your job or that of your sales team a whole lot easier.

So what better way to help this process along, than to demonstrate your product or service in action using a well written case study.

The Content Marketing Institute surveyed European marketers and found that 63% considered case studies a crucial component in their marketing resources, yet there are dozens of business websites that don’t have a single case study available.

Time to Change

If you’re one of those businesses, let’s change that right now.

I’m going to help you create a winning case study.  And if you get stuck, get in touch and I’ll help you finish it.

The Case Study

There are four basic elements to your case study:

  • The Challenge
    • what was your customer’s problem?
  • The Journey
    • how did they try to solve it?
  • The Solution
    • why did they choose your product or service  as the answer to their problem?
  • The Benefits
    • how has it helped and what benefits is your customer enjoying as a result?

You don’t have to use them in this sequence.  Let your creative juices flow and find a different way of telling the story.  And if individuals use your product or service, write it in the first person as if the customer was narrating their story.

Emotion Sells

A successful case study creates an emotional connection with your potential customers, but avoids the “hard sell” marketing edge.  You want them to be nodding their head in agreement as they read it.

You want them to be thinking, “Eureka, this is me they’re writing about, this is what I need.”

It’s not easy to achieve this level of connection with your potential customer, but you can if you pay laser-sharp attention to what they need help with in their business.

The Who, Why and Because of Case Studies

1  WHO SHOULD CREATE A CASE STUDY

  • Any company that provides a complex product or service – a real time example shows how it works
  • A start-up or a company offering something new
  • Companies offering for example:
    • Software
    • Web developer services
    • Consultancy
    • Hardware
    • Training
    • Services, also
    • Non-profits – show how you use funds raised and who benefits from them

2  WHY YOU SHOULD WRITE ONE

  • To build trust
  • To prove that your product does what it claims to do
  • To demonstrate how it works and help people understand it
  • To answer potential customers’ questions and banish their doubts:
    • Will this work for me or my company?
    • Will it meet all my expectations?
    • Does it justify the costs?
    • How long will it take to see the ROI?
    • Is this manufacturer or provider reliable?

3  WHEN TO APPROACH YOUR CASE STUDY SUBJECT

  • Approach them a short time after their project has been completed and they’ve happily signed off the contract
  • Choose your case study subject carefully – ideally a customer that’s your brand evangelist – not every customer will want to tell the world what they did or bought
  • Choose a customer that will appeal to the majority of your business demographic
  • Explain clearly what you’re looking for and why you think they’re the best fit for this study.  Most customers will be flattered – some will say, “No”

If you get some resistance, emphasize the benefits of being the subject:

  • It’s positive exposure for their company
  • It demonstrates to their own customer base that they’re continually assessing and improving their business
  • They can use the case study as their own form of marketing
  • You’ll be circulating it to your large email subscriber list
  • It will be featured at your next conference or Trade show
  • And highlighted in an industry publication
  • You’re sharing it across social media

Create a detailed document explaining what you need from them and what you plan to write e.g.

  • List the data you would like to get from them – this might need some negotiation
  • Identify the company employees you want to interview and quote
  • Explain you will be outlining the problem they had, and
  • Highlighting the outcomes they wanted to produce
  • Create a timeline for interviewing and writing
  • Ask them to confirm their review and approval process and who will sign off the final case study before publication
  • Ask them to nominate someone you can contact at any time to get questions answered or extra information

It’s essential to be absolutely transparent at this stage.  If you don’t explain everything in detail, you are going to have a difficult time getting the information you need.  Worst case scenario, they might say, “Enough” and back out.

Remember your case study subject is running a business (and running it much more effectively now they’re using your product or service) so time is precious.

4 WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR CASE STUDY

Use the basic elements I highlighted above, Challenge / Solution / Benefits and explain:

  • How your customer faced critical business needs
  • Why your solution answered their needs
  • How the customer used it and why it worked
  • The great results they achieved

Include lots of hard data – without giving too much away:
(commercial privacy is a major concern and the main reason why most customers do not want to be the subject of a case study)

  • Number of employees
  • Years in business
  • KPIs (key performance indicators)
  • Sales growth figures
  • Savings made
  • Benefits they’ve experienced

Use quotes but make sure you interview the right person:

  • If a potential customer wants to know how your new software will speed up their business processes – they won’t be interested in a quote from a Human Resources Director.
  • Quotes can cover any aspect of the project from the initial problem to how easy it was to introduce the solution

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes: what would you want to know about your product or service?

  • Thinking like this will help you generate questions to ask your case study subject to answer.

Don’t forget to add an About Us paragraph on your company at the end of your study, with a strong call-to-action to persuade your readers to get in touch.  And include all your contact details.

EXAMPLE
Case Study: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)    Download PDF

The challenge:  The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) needed to create a robust online forum for its 182,000 members.
The solution:  Abila, a leading provider of software and services to nonprofits and other agencies, provided the solution.

5 HOW TO CREATE IT

Case studies don’t have to follow the traditional format of a written report and they don’t need to be too technical.  Shake them up by trying these alternative methods –

  • YouTube video – Interview the customer who used your product
    • Agree the questions / answers beforehand so there are no surprises to either party
    • Create a script format to make sure all the vital information on your customer and your solution is covered
    • Choose a relaxed setting – somewhere neutral
    • Include clips of the product or solution in action if possible
    • At the end give contact information for your subject (unless they decide otherwise) and your company

EXAMPLE
Video Case Study: The Investor’s Business Daily newspaper

 

 

The challenge:  To improve their online training.
The solution: Use the GoToMeeting communication platform.

  • Podcast
    • Do the interview as a podcast if the company doesn’t want its staff on camera
    • Use the YouTube video format above
  • Create an infographic
    • Use the basic elements – Challenge, Solution, Benefits – to tell the story
    • Use lots of color to make it eye catching
    • Share it on your social media platforms
  • Questions & Answers
    • This is a simple method for creating your case study
    • Build a list of questions you would like to ask your subject
    • Submit them and ask them to add their answers
    • Get them to add any questions & answers they would like to include

Length is not important as long as you include all the relevant details and no fluff

  • 750 – 1,500 words is the average word count in a case study

6 WHERE TO PUBLISH CASE STUDIES ON YOUR WEBSITE

Case studies should be very visible on your web site and easy to find:

  • Include a link from your Home page
  • Once you have several studies – set up a dedicated page on your site.  You can give it a different name; call it your Happy Customer page or Success Stories or Real Life Examples, whatever works for you.
  • Highlight them with blog articles and remember to include a link to the study
  • Get your sales team to use them in their negotiations and refer customers to them

Additional Ways to Use Your Case Study

Case studies are a powerful way to get media coverage for your business so share them across networks to increase your lead generation and sales potential.

Here are a few more ideas for repurposing your case studies:

  • Use them in your PR strategy
  • Submit them to online industry magazines
  • Print hard copies for your sales team
  • Submit them to editors of trade publications
  • Convert and publish them as SlideShare presentations
  • Link to them in your email campaigns or newsletters
  • Add more complex detail and turn them into white papers
  • Use them as handouts at trade shows, conferences and workshops

And Finally

When it’s done, dusted and signed off, send a copy of the final version to your case study subject including the various formats you’ve used.

And don’t forget to add a big thank you for their time, help and cooperation.

PS:  Be unique and send an edible thank you in the form of a large box of cupcakes or basket of fruit  … that never fails to surprise.

 

Lauren Mackenzie is a freelance
B2C web content and business
communications writer

 

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NaNoWriMo 2015 … It’s Not Too Late

Early October. Are you organized?

Have you planned your schedule?

Are you still struggling for ideas or have you got the plot worked out and already know your main characters?

If you’re shaking your head to any of these questions then you need to start planning NOW for the NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge.

WHAT IS IT?

November is National Novel Writing Month

It’s a fun, online writing challenge attracting budding authors around the world and as I highlighted in my earlier post, anyone can join. Your goal is to write a 50,000-word novel by midnight on the last day of the month.

Now Panic And Freak Out poster
Calm down…I’m only kidding.  It’s not that many words, only around 1,700 per day…okay 1,666 for 30 days to be exact.

YOU CAN DO THIS!

I agree, writing can be a lonely sport but not during NaNoWriMo. Sign up and find your local write-in. These events spring up in all sorts of places and give you the chance to meet other aspiring authors facing the same challenges – juggling everyday living with finding time to write.

And don’t forget to check your NaNoWriMo dashboard for links to social media pages and make sure you bookmark the calendar for your local group events.

MUSIC FEEDS THE SOUL

If you write regularly, you’ll know when and where you write best.

One thing I’ve discovered is I can’t write in silence. I need to have some sort of sound burbling in the background and I recently discovered a fantastic collection of soundtracks called SoundFuel.

This is an amazing music directory for writing, and it was the brainchild of Leah Kathryn,  a classical pianist and composer who also happens to be an author.

As you and I already know, music has an incredibly powerful influence on our brains and different types of music activate all sorts of emotions within us. In this wide-ranging collection you’ll find the perfect background track to inspire and energize your writing, whether it’s sinister gothic horror or light-hearted satire and comedy.

NEED HELP TO GET STARTED?

If you’re trying to figure out how to achieve your 50,000-word goal and could use some help, check out writer and author Gary McLaren’s brilliant weekly to-do schedule Ready, Set, NaNoWriMo! complete with ready-to-publish tweets.  And if you need help creating a plot for your novel, Harvey Chapman’s site Novel Writing Help has lots of wonderful advice, tips and ideas to get you started.

Is 2015 going to be the year you unleash that author lurking inside you?

Give it a try… you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Get Writing

PS:  Follow the NaNoWriMo Challenge

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Lauren Mackenzie is a freelance web content & business communications writer at thewritevintage.com

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250 Web Content Ideas … for starters

250 Web Content Ideas

There really is NO excuse for dreary, yawn-inducing web content.

But how often have you landed on a site, only to do a fast exit because the content was atrocious, boring, weird, pointless…  You probably have your own favorite adjective for the stuff you’ve seen masquerading as web content.

When a new client contacts me, one of the questions I’m often asked is, “What sort of content should I put on my site?”

My stock answer is it should always be:

  • Customer (or reader) focused
  • Well written
  • Fabulous quality
  • Giving the customer something of value (well they’re giving you their precious time)

So if you’re pondering what to add to your web site, let me give you a few ideas to play with.  I’ve compiled a list of over 250 Web Content Ideas that you can use online or as printable downloads.

I’ve tried to include terms you and I often use when describing content, so some topics may seem a tad similar.

I had fun pulling this list together and it’s not finished … an expanded version is in the pipeline as I write. And if I’ve missed something that you think should be on this list, let me know and I’ll add it.

You can download your list here: 250 Web Content Ideas

I hope you find inspiration somewhere on this list.

 

Lauren Mackenzie is a web content copywriter
lauren (at) thewritevintage (dot) com

 

 

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30th April …

Here’s a VERY random selection of thought-provoking, horrifying and sometimes funny events that have happened on the 30th of April through the years.

1803
The USA doubled in size through the Louisiana Purchase (Bought from France for $15 million approx.)

1808
The first working typewriter was built by the Italian Pellegrino Turri. It’s said he created this for his blind lover, Countess Carolina Fantoni da Fivizzano, to enable her to write to him when they were apart.  Some of her letters still survive.

1859
Victorian writer Charles Dickens’ “A Tale Of Two Cities” started to appear in weekly printed instalments.

1885
The fabulous Boston Pops Orchestra was formed.

1896
The first ice cream cone was produced by immigrant Italo Marchiony, who arrived in New York City from Italy.  His delicious creation was granted a patent in December 1903.

Baskets of Ice Cream Cones

Image:  pixshark.com

1900
American folk hero Casey Jones died in a train wreck in Mississippi, while trying to make up time on the Cannonball Express and a TV series was later created about him.    And Boxcar Willie’s version of the Wabash Cannonball with some wonderful trains.

1920
The British Government ended military conscription 

1939
The First Regular Television Service was launched in the States with President Franklin D. Roosevelt appearing on television for the opening of the New York World’s Fair.

1943
Operation Mincemeat.
The British submarine HMS Seraph secretly planted the corpse of  ‘the man who never was’ into the Mediterranean sea off the coast of Spain.  False papers had been planted on the body to deceive the German High Command into thinking that the Allied Forces were invading Sardina and the Balkans.  They actually invaded Sicily and the deception worked.  It’s a fascinating story and worth reading the book Operation Mincemeat  by Ben Macintyre 

1943
The infamous Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp was opened – Anne Frank, the young author of Diary of Anne Frank, would die here two years later, just before her 16th birthday.  (She wrote her diary while she was in hiding with seven others in occupied Holland).

1945
After being married for only one day, Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide.  One week later Germany surrendered unconditionally.

1948
The fabulous Land Rover Series I appeared for the first time at the Amsterdam Car Show.  It had four-wheel drive and was created from original Rover car components including the 1.6 engine from the Rover P3 60 saloon.

1950
Babe Didrikson-Zaharias wins LPGA 144-hole golf  competition at Weathervane, Massachusetts.    She was America’s first female golf celebrity and in 1946 won the U.S. Women’s Amateur event.  In 1947 she won the British Ladies Amateur title and turned professional later that year.  In 1948 she became the first woman to attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open.  However, not surprisingly, her application was rejected by the USGA – who stated it was a men only event.   She went on to become a founding member of the Ladies Professional Golf Association.

1952
Mr Potato Head was the first toy to be advertised on TV.

1955
West German unions protested for a 40-hour work week & higher wages (and the fight continues today).

1961
Premier Fidel Castro of Cuba received the Lenin Peace Prize.

1968
The top 3 songs in the U.K. charts were:

Louis Armstrong – What A Wonderful World 
Cliff Richard – Congratulations  
Tom Jones – Delilah   (My wonderful friend Julia’s all-time favourite song … Go Julia)

1975
Following the fall of Saigon, South Vietnam surrendered unconditionally to North Vietnam and the war in Vietnam was over.  The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army and Government were now in control.

1977
Led Zeppelin set a new record for audience numbers by performing in front of 77,229 fans at a single-act concert in Michigan, USA.
Almost twenty years later, in 1994, Rod Stewart performed at a New Year concert on Copcabana Beach, Brazil with an estimated audience of 3,500,000 fans.

1986
Ashrita Furman peformed 8,341 somersaults over 12 miles  He holds more records than any human being alive and currently holds the most Guiness World Records.

1993
During a quarter final tennis match in Hamburg, Monica Seles was stabbed in the back by a man who leant over a barrier beside her.  She made a full recovery after a few months.

2000
The fabulous Ridley Scott film Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix was released.

2010
Belgium’s parliament voted for a law to ban the wearing of the Islamic full face burqa in public. The law banned any clothing that obscured  the identity of the wearer in public places like parks, public transport and on the street.

2010
On this day, the first oil that escaped during the Deepwater Horizon drilling disaster reached the beaches of the Louisiana Coast.

2015
You read my very random curated list of 30th April events.  Thank you.

If you’ve got an event you’d like to add to this list, share it in the comments below.

 

Lauren Mackenzie is a
Web Content Copywriter.
Get in touch at lauren@thewritevintage.com

 

 

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Do You Remember Pi?

Think back to your early school days.  Sitting in the Math class learning about that mystical, irrational number which is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter or “pi r squared”.

Yes that pi.

And today, Saturday March 14th 2015 is (unofficially) Pi Day,  mostly celebrated in countries that use the month/date format.

Not only that, it’s a very special pi day that occurs only once each century because for a brief moment in time, at 9.26.53 am to be precise, in numerical format it will be the first ten consecutive digits of pi – 3 14 15 9 26 53.

HISTORY OF Pi

Pi is a very old number.

In 1706, an English mathematician, William Jones, was the first person to use the Greek letter Pi for the number.  In the Greek alphabet, Pi (π) stands for ‘perimeter’.

From history books, we know that ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Hebrews, and Babylonians knew about its existence and their mathematicians had worked out that it was approximately 3.  The Bible sets it at exactly 3.

Curiously, scientists investigating the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza discovered that its perimeter ratio is approximately twice pi, demonstrating that the builders knew of and used this formula.

It’s an infinite decimal – in other words, you’ll never get to the end of it.  In 2013 computer scientists worked it out to 3 plus more than 13 trillion digits.

Even Einstein got in on the act.

His General Theory of Relativity states that pi can’t be created precisely by simply measuring a circle, because we live in a curved universe.  And circles can never factor out to pi on a curved surface.  However, pi is always the same number, no matter which circle you use to compute it.

Albert Einstein

Pi FUN FACTS

  • Some people celebrate by waking up at exactly 9.26.53 am
  • Lots of pies are eaten in honour of Pi, some decorated with the π symbol
  • Daniel Tammet, an amazing autistic savant, set a European record after reciting from memory, 22,514 consecutive pi digits in 5 hrs 9 mins – with no mistakes
  • This quirky website lets you find your birthday using the first 200 million digits
  • A couple of Artists, Martin Krzywinski and Cristian Ilies Vasile created a fabulous Archimedean spiral by giving each pi digit a colour and used the first 13,689 to create the spiral
  • Google search ‘digits of Pi’ to find endless lists of computer calculations for pi.  Really?
  • On the World Science Festival website you can test your knowledge with their Pi Day quiz
  • It has even featured in an episode of Star Trek.  Spock tells an evil computer to compute pi to the last digit (which is highly illogical – Spock’s favourite phrase) thereby destroying the nasty computer.

If, like me, you decided pi was one of those necessary evils you needed to know about to pass your school exams, but couldn’t ever imagine using, then you’d be wrong.  Pi is actually used in everyday situations.

  • In navigation: planes flying long distances actually follow the arc of a circle and need to calculate fuel, distance, weather accurately
  • GPS uses Pi to help you find your location
  • It’s used in geometry to calculate areas or arc lengths
  • It’s used to calculate signals ie radar, television, radio
  • Engineers use it to represent unknown factors in testing and simulation projects

Pi SYMBOL

If you want to type the pi symbol on your PC,  hold down the Alt key and type 227.

On a Mac hold down the Alt/Option key and type P.

AND FINALLY

If you’re a lover of coincidences and quirky facts, you might like to know that today,  3/14,  is also Albert Einstein’s birthday and 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of his General Theory of Relativity.

 

 

Lauren Mackenzie is a
web content and

business communications writer
Image credit: tuningpp.com

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BEWARE the domain name scam

During the weekend an odd email appeared in my inbox which read as follows:

Dear Manager

(If you are not the person who is in charge of this, please forward this to your CEO, thanks)
This email is from China domain name registration center, which mainly deal with the domain name registration in China.  We received an application from Dehua Ltd on March 2nd 2015.
They want to register my business name.com as their internet keyword and China/Asia domain names.  But after checking it, we find this name conflicts with your company.  In order to deal with this matter better, so we send you email and confirm whether this company is your distributor or business partner in China or not?

Best regards
Abby Wang

After reading it, my immediate reaction was “SCAM”.

However, as it contained my domain name, I decided to investigate further.

Fiction vs. Fact

As you’ve probably guessed, my first discovery was that the domain name registration center didn’t exist and that the city named in their address, was not a city at all but actually a large northern province of China.

Dehua Ltd, the company apparently wanting to use my business name could be connected to a television station, porcelain manufacturer, Alibaba gold supplier and a Canadian coal and metal mining group.  Take your pick.

Digging deeper, I uncovered lots of comments on this scam and variations of it from Europe, the USA and Australia and that it has been going since 2010.

The emails originate from the Shanghai area of China, under different domain names, all using the Jiangsu Bangning Science & Technology Co Ltd as their registrar and they have various  ladies names masquerading as the sender e.g. Tiffany Dai, Angela Zhang and of course my friend, Abby Wang.

How it works

On one scam blog, I found a story from a German retailer.  Out of curiosity, he decided to play along with them to see how it would develop.  Very quickly, the emails became more hostile, throwing up red flags and dire consequences for his business if he didn’t agree to let them register him as the owner of the domain name.

At this point, the real purpose of the scam emerged as they aggressively demanded his bank and credit card information, “to allow them to register his details and safeguard business”.

The emotional sting

What makes this scam successful is that it mentions your business domain name, and in so doing immediately makes the email very personal.   I know from my own reaction, you instantly become defensive and want to protect your domain name and your business.

Sadly, during my search, I discovered a few who commented on receiving this email, and who also admitted they had paid to safeguard their domain name and ended up losing a lot of money.

And the retailer in Germany?   

Eventually, he told them he had recorded their IP address, registrant and admin details and had passed their information to the Chinese Government with a complaint about their method of business.

That was in 2012 and he hasn’t heard from them since…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Lauren Mackenzie is an
independent web content
& business writer

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Are you ready for NaNoWriMo?

November is an important month on the writer’s calendar.

It’s the National Novel Writing Month when thousands of aspiring and established writers start writing a new novel.

The challenge is to write 50,000 words during the month of November.

While writing a good story is far more important than the final word count, 50,000 words is a HUGE challenge when you’re also working full-time, running a home and looking after kids, studying or doing anything else that needs a large time commitment.Girl writing

However, as I highlighted in last year’s blog post, that challenge is gleefully taken up by writers around the globe every November… and this year is no exception.

If you’re thinking about flexing your fingers and starting that novel that’s been smouldering deep inside you for some time, explore the NaNoWriMo website for inspiration.

You can also look for a writing group close to you and make some new writing buddies along the way.

These groups can be a lifeline when your ideas start to fizzle out, the words won’t work or you just need a bit of writing TLC. Lots of these meet-ups take place in local coffee houses, book stores, libraries and other great venues and who knows, you may find you write better in some of these locations.

If you’re still having doubts, then read Joel Cunningham’s blog post on the Barnes & Noble Book blog about the eight bestsellers that have been created during NaNoWriMo.

So make 2014 the year you start writing that novel.

You never know what you can achieve… until you try.

Lauren Mackenzie is an
independent web content
& business writer
photo credit: Slaff via photopin cc

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