Agricultural Communications, Purdue University
An electronic newsletter with communication tips and information

November 1997

Holiday Break

The holidays are coming. You're going to be really busy, and so are we. In deference to the holidays and all of the hubbub they bring, we're taking a short break. Expect the next issue of "On Target" to come your way the second week of January, 1998.

Thank you all for reading and responding to "On Target." We hope your holidays are happy ones. See you next year!

The "On Target" Team

Super Newsletters, Part II: The Seven Cs

(The following was adapted from: "Creating Super Newsletters: A Training Curriculum for Cooperative Extension Staff, Module 2," University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service, June 1997)

The "Seven Cs" checklist for creating newsletter copy is the invention of Don Ranley, journalism professor at the University of Missouri, Columbia.

The seven Cs are a benchmark to evaluate the potential success of your writing. Try applying them to your articles.

CORRECT: Is the information accurate? Are names and locations spelled correctly? Are days of the week and dates right? Being correct is paramount.

CONSISTENT: Are people's titles treated equally as far as capitalization and punctuation? Is percent spelled out or symbolized throughout? Are some things capitalized and others not? The more meticulous you are, the better.

CLEAR: Can the reader understand it? Have you defined terms that he/she may be unfamiliar with? Have you used any jargon? Have you spelled out acronyms? Does the information flow in a logical manner? Try asking someone else to read it and give you feedback.

CONCISE: Have you omitted all unnecessary words? Do you have any words that are vague or general? Have you been as specific as possible to get your meaning across? Imagine getting paid $1 for every extra word you can delete, yet still maintain the meaning of the work. How much money will you make editing each article? The shorter and more concise it is, the more likely people will read it.

COHERENT: Does the writing hold together and make sense? Have you used transitional phrases between paragraphs to guide the reader? Try reading your writing out loud to yourself or someone else. Sometimes, just the sound of the words will help you pinpoint areas that need more work.

COMPLETE: Have you included everything necessary to understand the topic at hand? Ask yourself, "What's missing?" Have you included more than necessary? Have you covered the 5Ws and H (who, what, when, where, why, and how)?

CREATIVE: Is the writing interesting and lively? Is it written to communicate with the reader? Will it excite and engage? Is it interesting to you? Did you have fun writing it? Are you inspired to share it with your readers?

All writers, including people who write for newsletters, can apply these principles to help them write articles that are more complete, more informative, and more interesting.

Savvy Tape Storage

You've shot some priceless footage. You shown it at your meeting, and it was a hit. What now? Put the tape in a desk drawer? Tape over it? Pitch it?

Why not keep it? Remember, tape is cheap, and time is money. You never know when you might want to use the footage again, and re-shooting will take valuable time.

But how do you protect that footage until the next viewing?

Follow these tips, and your tape will be around for a long time:

The basic recommendation is keep your tape cool, clean, and dry.

Four Factors for Fair Use

Any communications in a fixed form is automatically copyright protected, right? This applies to an article in "Newsweek"--and it applies to a piece of e-mail, your kid's portrait of your family, or the shopping list you wrote on a post-it. All are protected.

But if you're interested in using a portion of some work, you may use it under the "fair use" condition. Here's a first test to determine if something is fair use.

Consider four factors.

  1. PURPOSE: If your reason for using the item is for non-profit, educational purposes, that's good.

  2. NATURE: Was this item factual material or a published "creative" work? Factual material is generally not copyright protected. However, while facts cannot be copyright protected, an original collection of facts can be. For example, you can't copyright a Web URL (the location of the web site, like your home address, is a fact). BUT a person's listing of helpful writing URLs is copyrighted. You can't take that person's listing, reprint it, and claim that because the URLs were all facts it was fair use. The collection of these particular facts was original and is protected.

  3. AMOUNT: The amount used should be quantitatively small but not the "heart of the work." An example: "Business Week" reprinted a few paragraphs of Gerald Ford's autobiography "A Time To Heal," in which he explained why he pardoned Richard Nixon. Even though it was a quantitatively small portion of the book, it was determined that these few paragraphs were why many people would purchase the book, and therefore it was the "heart of the work." "Business Week" lost the suit.

  4. EFFECT: If your use had no effect on the market of the other work, the owner of the copyright doesn't offer a similar product, and there is no way to request licensing or permission to use the item, you're probably okay.

You don't need to satisfy all four standards, but you should have at least two of them on your side before you decide to use something. Three is obviously better.

This information was gleaned from materials and talks offered by IUPUI assistant law professor Kenneth Crews, director of the IUPUI Copyright Management Center. There's a wealth of good copyright information on the Center's Web site at <>.

An important note: these are my own paraphrases, and I'm no attorney. As they used to say on "Hill Street Blues"--"Let's be careful out there."

Focus on the Web

We all know that focus groups are a good way to learn what our audiences think and what they want. That's why they're an important part of any marketing effort and why they play a key role in our current Plan of Work efforts.

Want more information about focus groups? In searching the Web, I've found several sites that might be helpful as you develop your marketing strategies.

Focus Group Overview
This site give an overview of focus groups.
Desert Voices
This site is the homepage for a focus group research project in Texas. There are several links you may find useful. The next two addresses are part of that project.

Thoughts on Moderating a Focus Group
This site is linked to the site above and gives some thoughts on being a moderator. While it speaks specifically about moderating interactive video, there are good points that are useful in "live" discussions.

Questions Asked of Focus Group Participants
While you've been given specific directions on leading the discussion, this site shows sample questions specific to their project. The useful information here is seeing how they moved the conversations along in an open-ended manner. Again, this is part of the Texas project.

Bibliography from Tom Greenbaum of Group Plus
This site lists a couple of books that you can purchase or borrow regarding focus groups. There is a brief overview of the books' contents.

Labor Measures Satisfaction
This site shows information from state agencies in Georgia. The relevant point is that focus groups should be used as a means for developing further information gathering tools. From their focus group, they had enough information to develop a thorough questionnaire.

Focus Group Task Team Report
UC-Davis conducted a series of focus group discussions on their communications service. They give a thumbnail sketch of that process and present their findings.

And, of course, the Plan of Work Web site is: <>

Grammar Trap: Inside vs. Outside Quotation Marks

What punctuation do you put inside quotation marks, and what do you put outside? Here are the most common conventions.

With commas, periods, colons, and semicolons, it's simple. Put commas and periods inside the end quotation mark. Put colons and semicolons outside.

Examples: "Paul," she said, "it's over." She told him "It's over"; then she threw him out.

It gets trickier with exclamation marks and question marks. If the exclamation or question mark applies only to the quoted matter, put it inside the end quotation mark. If it applies to the whole sentence, put it outside.

Examples: When Paul asked her to take him back, she yelled "No way!" What did Paul do when she told him "It's over"? He stared at her sadly and asked "But why?"

These conventions apply to titles in quotation marks as well as to quoted speech.

Thanks to Lisa Crowe, Agricultural Research Programs, for suggesting this topic. (And my apologies to Pauls everywhere.) If there's a grammar (or usage) trap you'd like me to discuss or you have a tip that will help the rest of us avoid one, please let me know.

We want to hear from you. Do you have a communication question? Do you have a comment on this issue of "On Target"? If so, please e-mail any of our writers.

It is the policy of the Department of Agricultural Communication Service of Purdue University that all persons shall have equal opportunity and access to its programs and facilities without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age or disability. Purdue University is an Affirmative Action employer. These materials may be available in alternative formats.