Saturday, December 12, 2015

Virus Alert: USPS Email Scam

Though this scam has made the rounds in the past, it looks like it has recently reared its ugly head again and is wreaking havoc on unsuspecting USPS customers. The scam works like this; you receive an email letting you know that a package was not able to be delivered to your address. In order to claim the package, you simply have to download the attached shipping label and bring it in to your local USPS. Unfortunately, the Word® document that is attached to the email isn’t a shipping label, it’s a virus. These kind of viruses typically phish for personal and banking information on your computer and can create a real headache for the victim of the scam.

So how are customers supposed to know the difference between a legitimate notification and a phishing one? Using the tips below, consumers can be more aware of some common email scams.
  1. Check the send from address – in this case, the email was sent from which looks like a very legitimate email address. However, the postal service’s website is not .org. Just by checking the URL before opening the attachment, a red flag would go up about this email.
  2. Hover over links – many phishing emails will encourage you to visit their website and may even show a legitimate URL in the body of the email. However, when you hover over the link or address in the email (don’t click on it, just hover your mouse over it), you’ll often see that the URL is actually directing you to a completely different site. This can be a sign that the email is in fact, a phishing attempt. As a side note, plenty of legitimate companies will have links in their emails that do not look legitimate too. If they are using an email marketing program to send their emails or to track clicks on any given message, the URL could look strange to the end user. So this isn’t a sure fire way to tell that an email is a phishing message.
  3. Seek out a trustworthy source – if the email is coming from someone like your bank or credit card company, the notification should appear in your email as well as in the secure section of their website. Instead of clicking on a link in an email, go directly to the company’s website using your browser. Then login and look for the notification in the messages from the company.
  4. Look in the “to” address – in the example below, you’ll see the words “undisclosed recipients” in the “to” field. This typically means it was sent to multiple people and the addresses have been placed in the BCC field.  Typically, a legitimate notification will show your name or email address in the “to” field.
  5. Use common sense – if you aren’t expecting a package, or have not done business with the company that is sending you the notification email, then there is a good chance that the email could be a phishing attempt. It is unlikely that you have a fifth cousin in a far off country that needs you to send your banking account information in order for them to wire you millions of dollars (but hey, it could happen!). Before you blinding click on a link or respond to an email, stop and think about the email itself. 
It is estimated that over 156 million phishing emails are sent every day and of those, 16 million make it through the spam filters. If you haven’t yet encountered a phishing email, you likely will. Being prepared and knowing what to look for will help you keep your personal information private and secure.

Here is what the USPS phishing attempt looked like:

Wrapping Up for Year End

Whether we like it or not, the holiday season is upon us. For many businesses, this is the beginning of their busy season. For others, however, the extended vacations, lack of business focus and delay in initiatives can mean a slump in production and a shift in priorities. If you are looking to wrap up a project or keep clients engaged during the holiday season, try one of these tips.

  • Hold a “state of the union” meeting. If you are mid-project going into the holidays, it's a good time to ask for 30 with your client to address the current status of all projects. Show the client quickly what has been done and what is left to be done. The goal of this meeting will be to set the expectations for wrapping up the project.
  • Assign tasks to the client. Whether it is providing content or feedback, the client should have a task assigned to them. It doesn’t have to be complex, just something that holds them accountable for the project getting completed. A task could be signing off on a proof or sending feedback. Make sure the task is meaningful and not a waste of the client’s time.
Of course, it is not always the client that can make an engagement run long. We all know the squeaky wheel gets the grease, right? Likewise a project with a demanding client will often take priority over an easier, less vocal client. To keep a project on track even with an easy going client, make sure your team is focused on the project’s goals and mission. Frequent communication with clear task assignments will help each team member be accountable for a project getting completed on time.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Don’t let your printing needs come to a CRASHING HALT

Order Now!

We will be closed Wednesday, December 23 
through Friday, January 1.

We are grateful for your business and ask that you please place your orders as soon as possible so we can meet your needs before we close for the year. We will reopen Monday, January 4, 2016 and look forward to working with you in the New Year.

Press Releases that Grab Attention

Suppose that your business or organization has just purchased a new piece of equipment or has just launched a new service, and it’s time to get the word out. A multi-faceted approach usually works best. This might include taking out ads in newspapers or magazines, sending out a direct-mail postcard, and utilizing social media. One of the most effective methods to grab attention is sending out a news release. Traditional printed press releases remain one of the best ways to get the news to the right audience, at the right time, very inexpensively.

When to Write a Press Release

Press releases are meant to help news services get relevant news and information to their subscribers in a timely manner. Before sending a press release to a news outlet, determine whether or not the news is truly relevant to its recipients. Make sure the news is still current. If it took place quite a while ago, or will not be happening soon, the release will be ignored.

A press release is an effective way to communicate a wide range of topics including:

  • Launching a new product or service 
  • Recognizing key employee achievements 
  • Redesigning a website 
  • Moving your busines 
  • Participating in an event 
  • Establishing a new partnership 
  • Sharing research results 
  • Receiving an award

A press release can also be used to generate a feature story. Reporters are more likely to consider a story idea if they first receive a press release. However, because journalists receive so many requests for coverage, to be successful the release needs to:

  • Have an eye-catching headline
  • Contain the who, what, when, where and why of the story, and
  • Be error-free and attractive

Eye-Catching Headlines

Your headline, should be an abbreviated version of the press release’s key point. Just as newspaper headlines are meant to grab readers, the headline of a press release also needs to be attention-getting.

The headline is typically in bold type and uses a larger font size than the body copy. Conventional press release headlines use the present tense and exclude articles such as “a” and “the”.

A common way to create the headline is to use several of the keywords from the body copy to create a relevant and interesting title.

Body Copy and the 5 “W’s”

The press release should be written just like you want it to appear in the news story. Reporters are very busy and don’t have time to research your company’s information, so typically what you write is what will be in the journalist’s version of your event.

Start with the date and city in which the press release originates. The first sentence should grab the reader’s attention and say precisely what the release is about. The body copy should be brief. The first paragraph should summarize the press release, and the following paragraphs should support it.

Communicate the 5 “W’s” very clearly. The who, what, when, where, and why should tell the reader everything they need to know:

  • Who is this about?
  • What is the actual news?
  • When does this event happen?
  • Where does this take place?
  • Why is this news?

Once you have written the basic information, go back and fill in with more detail. The more newsworthy you make the press release copy, the better its chance is to be used.

Attractive and Error-Free

News services and reporters get lots of press releases everyday. Make sure yours stands out by keeping it error-free with a professional appearance.

Traditional hard copy press releases that are mailed should be on nice paper similar to your letterhead. Using letterhead is not recommended, but if you have second sheets with only your logo on them, they can be used.

When an editor looks at your story, she is first considering if it is appropriate for her audience, and then if it’s professional. Make sure you have correct spelling, good grammar, use nice paper, and that major points are clearly covered. Reporters and editors will appreciate the fact that you’ve helped make them look better.

The Basic Structure

Finally, it’s important to make sure everything in the release is organized correctly.

  • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: should go at the top of the page, on the left margin in all caps. If it is not for immediate release, the date you would like it to be published should be clearly stated in the same location.
  • The headline: usually in bold, should be centered below that. If you plan to use a subhead or tagline, put it in italics right below the headline.
  • First paragraph: this is where the most important information must be located. Make sure to include all the key points here.
  • Second and third paragraphs: this additional information should include the 5 “W’s”. This is also a good place to include quotes.
  • Boilerplate: place the information about your company underneath the body of your release. Describe your company or organization with five or six sentences. This is the same type of introductory information found in your company’s brochure or website.
  • Contact information: if your press release is newsworthy, reporters may like to contact some of the key individuals in your organization for more information. This section should contain a contact person’s name, the company name and address, phone, fax, email and website addresses.
  • Other media: mention other ways to receive more information such as requesting a brochure, or a link to your website, Facebook page, LinkedIn, or blog.

Tie it Together

Remember, traditional press releases are still one of the best ways to get your business news to the right audience, at the right time, very inexpensively. Let us know if you’d like us to help make your next press release stand out, grab attention, and be more effective. To set an appointment, call or email us today!

Press For Events

Brigid and Marya with Chip Alfred, Director of Development
& Communications at Philadelphia FIGHT’s Annual
FIGHT for LIFE Gala.
Many events include quite a few different activities. Rather than just writing one press release that lists everything, consider writing a press release for each activity.

There could be a separate story about each activity, for example: a story about how the event is organized, a story about daily contest winners, a story about vendors, a story about who the event benefits, etc.

Press releases can be sent out before, during, and after an event, each one addressing a different aspect. Newspapers and magazines are always looking for additional content, and your newsworthy events could be just what they’re looking for. The more press releases you send out, the more opportunities you have to get press coverage. The more press coverage you get, the more attention your business gets.

Targeted, Relevant, and Recent

  • Prepare each press release to target a specific news organization, and send it to the most appropriate reporter. This information can usually be found on their website. Sending the identical press release to multiple organizations and multiple reporters is a sign that you have not carefully identified your target market.
  • For a press release to be important, it must be relevant and recent news – not too old or too distant.
  • Copy editors write the actual newspaper and magazine headlines; however, if you come up with an attention-getting headline for them, they may use it. Your headline is your best chance to get noticed. Keep it brief, and be sure it includes the main point. It’s a good idea not to write it until after you finish the press release.
  • Avoid using jargon. If accuracy requires the use of a technical term, define it in such a way that everyone will be able to understand it.
  • Include a “call to action” in your press release. This is what you’d like the reader to do once they’ve read it.

Q&A: How can I measure the success of a press release?

Before beginning to write a press release, you should consider what you hope to accomplish. It might be an increase in website traffic, or more visits to your new location. Some press releases are meant to give your business or organization “top-of-mind” awareness so that when a company or individual needs what you have to offer, your name will be the first to come to mind. Top-of-mind awareness is hard to measure, but ultimately very important.

Start with a goal in mind before beginning your press release strategy. An example would be to set a goal of a 15% increase in website traffic after the press release has been sent. It’s important that you know exactly what your activity is both before and after the release is sent. If your goal is reached, you had a successful distribution.

Another example might be the announcement of new product now available at your location. It will be easy to see if sales of the new product increase after the
press release.

If at all possible, every press release should have a goal, even if it is only to create top-of-mind awareness. Without goals, you can’t measure the results and you don’t know if it was effective.