Feature Stories With Heart

Feature stories have heart. Feature stories have warmth. Most of all, feature stories force a writer / reporter to evaluate the human side of a community – beyond the facts, beyond the opinions – to find the spirit of the story.

I have always favored feature stories (or soft news) as a writer because it gives me the chance to get to know people on a higher level than straight news reporting (hard news) does. Beyond that, it also forces me to work as a reporter with feelings – yes, some reporters have actual feelings.

For the past few weeks, I've evaluated a variety of types of college feature stories in preparation for a workshop I'm presenting at the Associated Collegiate Press and College Media Advisers National College Media Convention. After sifting through stacks and stacks of archives of papers, I've come to the conclusion that college newspapers are much more active to seek out the feature elements than mainstream, professional newspapers.

My students (and former students) from The Montage, have compiled heartwarming stories of life and death, fun and frolics, and service and sacrifice. Here are a few examples:

"A Day in the Life of Mary Davis:" As a regular series, my students write personality profiles, covering students, faculty, staff, locals, etc. This particular story highlights an 86-year old student still eager to learn.

"Turning Lead into Gold:" This profile provides an in-depth look at a faculty member's passions.

"Inauguration Road:" Following a road trip to the White House for Barack Obama's engagement, two of my students compiled a piece about a 1st person account of the journey itself.

"What's Brewing in St. Louis:" Beer is a priority for many college students. Recognizing this, my students compiled an in-depth centerspread on St. Louis. Louis' beer culture, including a list of "things" to do with beer.

"The Vertical Expression of a Horizontal Desire:" Fun and frolics come in all shapes and sizes as detailed in this feature about the art of tango music.

This list of stories (found at http://www.meramecmontage.com ) includes a variety of subjects, topics, and angles. Primarily, though, these stories offer readers something "different," something soft – a much-needed break from the heart-wrenching news of reductions, murders, and swine flu statistics. Even more so, they offer reporters (whether student or professional) a chance to explore more than just the facts but rather the fun-loving spirit of life.

I could spend all day listing compelling, heart-warming and entertaining features that have been written by both students and professionals, but I'd rather open my eyes and seek the next big story that could possibly touch someone else's life and in return, touch mine.

How Business Cards Can Help In Advertising/Marketing

The modern business environment is increasingly challenging. Companies are now forced to become more innovative to stay afloat in a highly competitive landscape. With a globalized marketplace, competition is stiffer and this comes against a backdrop of increased cost of operations. As an entrepreneur, you have to think outside the box when building your advertising strategy.

Which techniques do you use to be more effective? While digital marketing tools are all the rage, recent studies have shown that business cards still remain a versatile advertising strategy even in the contemporary world of commerce. This is a tool that helps connect easily with new prospects. If you have been wondering whether this tool still retains any importance in your advertising strategy, keep reading.

Advantages of Using a Business Card

Some of the reasons to invest in this old school advertising technique include:

  1. It is a personal method of swapping contacts and hence it is more effective than digital techniques. Through eye contact and actual engagement, you have a better chance of creating a new relationship.
  2. This is an effective direct marketing tool: Compared to other methods such as email and paid ads, a well-designed business card is part of direct marketing strategy. An in-person meeting and exchange of information leads to success.
  3. Continued marketing: Even after parting with a prospective lead, your information will be easy to share and will continue promoting your brand. It can be exchanged or stored for future reference.
  4. First impressions: If you want to make a good impression with your leads, then talk to an established printing products company in your city.

Getting the Most Out of a Business Card

There is only so much you can achieve by sharing your company’s information on a printed format. Therefore, to get the most out of this promotional tool, consider the following:

  • Add a logo and tagline for more effectiveness and easier identification.
  • Name and job title for credibility.
  • Make sure there is direct contact information for easier communication.
  • Add your website and send them to a relevant page.
  • Add social media profiles for faster connection.
  • Avoid cluttering a lot of information and instead use white space so that important information is read easily.
  • Leverage creativity such that your presentation stands out and catches the eye instantly.

Of course you must have received many business cards, many of which ended up in the waste basket. To avoid the same fate for your printed promotional materials, make sure you give it a purpose. You can also use a QR code to track its effectiveness. By supporting a worthy cause in your community and showing it on a printed product, you will easily captivate the attention of prospective leads.

When handing it out, ensure that the occasion is memorable. The recipient will remember it later and pull it out to read further. Go on and contact a reputable printer in your city to start leveraging this important advertising technique.

Offshore Translation Agencies – Reducing Your Translation Costs

Naturally, the language centers are aware of the existing cultural differences and the possible difficulties that may arise during the process of negotiations.

The offshore translation agencies usually cooperate with other language agencies, and they will gladly assist you in finding a translator of a certain language, if they cannot offer the services of the translator themselves. Besides the quality of translations, offshore translation offices can offer cost-reduction options, just like many IT outsourcing services due to their location in low-economy countries.

As for the most common services, provided by offshore translation services, this is first of all translation, interpretation, localization, reviewing of documents in various languages. Most translators specialize in a certain area of knowledge, for example, engineering, software and IT, advertising and marketing, economy, finance, tourism, medicine and many others.

The jobs, outsourced to offshore translation offices, can be performed in a short period of time, or they can be done in a few hours. The ready made projects are forwarded to the customer using the most modern techniques, available today. Also there is a chance to communicate with an employee of an offshore translation agency, using all the possible means of communication.

The rates for the translations can be more than competitive if compared with the rates in, say, America. The rates are usually based on the per-word model; however there are offshore translation agencies, which prefer the per-page model (usually 1800 characters). You can also request a quote per book or article.

Offshore translation agencies are very handy if you plan to visit the country, in which it is located. If you are in need of a language assistant, you can also make a request to an offshore translation agency. Consider employing an offshore translation agency and see how you will benefit from it.

Saving Money in This Economy For Your Family on Your Food Bill

With ten percent of the population out of work and most of the rest trying to scrape by it is important to save as much money as we can for our families. This is not to say we have to live a life of minimalism, we just have to start watching what we buy, when we buy it, and to rely on ourselves more for the things our family needs.

In a family a large portion of the budget is consumed by food. You can save a lot of money for your family by watching how you do grocery shopping, where you eat, and brown bagging your lunch. When going to the grocery store always have a list prepared ahead of time. Try to stick to that grocery list as much as possible and not to buy any food on impulse. Do not go to the grocery store when you are hungry. You will end up buying more food than you need for the week. If you have children try to leave them home when doing the weekly shopping, they have a tendency to throw extra things in the cart that is hard to say no to. This is not to say you should not buy snacks for your kids, it is just easier without them to be the one who regulates what kind of snacks they will be.

Use coupons where you can and if your grocery store has a discount card program use it. Buy generic products. Most of the time generic products are just as good as the name brand ones. Buy things that you will use in bulk if you will use all of it before the food expires. Try to keep the grocery shopping to once a week instead of going every other day. This will save on gas and you will end up buying less. Make your own coffee at home and bring it with you in a travel cup or mug. Coffee costs around $ 1.75 at the conveinence store, you can make it at home the way you like it for under 50 cents.

With both the husband and wife having to work in families to make ends meet it gets hectic. Try to cook dinners at home to save money. I love it when my wife cooks dinner, I also love cooking for her and our family. This will not only save you money in your food bill by not having to go out to eat so much, it will also give you some good family time around the dinner table.

These are some great tips to save your family on your food bill in this tough economy. These ideas should not hamper your lifestyle too much and at the end of the work week you may have extra money in your pocket.