January 2013  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”

—Jack Kerouac

Word "Pair" of the Month: annual, biannual, semiannual, biennial, perennial

This month we offer not two but five words that are frequently misused. The first and last of them—annual and perennial—are fairly well known. Annual refers to something that occurs each year, while perennial means everlasting and continuing.

Confusion exists, however, concerning the words biannual, semiannual, and biennial. To keep them straight, consider what is similar about them. Biannual and semiannual both contain the word “annual,” and both mean the same thing: occurring twice in a year. The word biennial, however, finishes its spelling with “ennial” and refers to something that occurs every two years. Keep that spelling difference in mind to use the words correctly.

January Writers’ Forum Question

This month’s forum centers on technology: How has the growth of social media changed or influenced the way you do business?

Bethany Dawes, a sales rep from Houston, says Facebook has helped forge tighter connections between her and her customers:

Facebook has brought my customers closer to me and has created a cozier, more open relationship. Because of the personal tone of the site, my customers feel closer to me. They use the site to ask me questions about my products, and the casual tone allows for a sense of trust. Plus, FB makes it easy for customers to get ahold of me, and vice versa. When I have a new product to introduce, I post it, and when my friends “Like” it, the information goes out to all their friends, making FB one of my best advertising tools.

Charles Yu, an HR manager in San Francisco, praises social media as a recruiting tool:

My recruiting methods have changed because of the growth of social media sites. I have found some of my best people on sites like LinkedIn. Using a refined list of keywords assures getting candidates with the right qualifications, and the site allows us to use recommendations from connections we trust. I wouldn’t necessarily use it to fill entry-level jobs, but it’s a great way to screen candidates for upper-level positions.

Juan Castenada, a marketing director for a boating service in Sarasota, Florida, uses social media discount sites to drive specific business areas:

I like the fluidity of using social media for advertising. For example, once or twice a year I offer a Groupon deal to pull in new customers. It often ends up costing more than it makes, but it’s a gamble I’m willing to take. A good deal advertised online always brings in a few new customers, so it’s worth it to us. It’s a quick, easy way to get our name out there.

Getting the brand out there is the name of the game, and Seth Powers, a freelance illustrator in Minneapolis plays it with Twitter:

Twitter is great for staying connected with a large audience. I’ve learned the best way to use it is to maintain a constant presence. I write most of my tweets in the morning and then spread them out throughout the day. Sometimes I tweet about my illustrating service, but sometimes I just make a general observation about life or share a slightly outrageous thought. I try to be somewhat hip and humorous, so my followers will retweet my more pithy comments to their friends. This type of media is great for creating a big network fast, and I hope my followers feel like they’re part of a special society. For me, familiarity breeds jobs.

Thomas James of Orlando finds that social media create a strong, immediate impact:

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth volumes. I manage an appliance store, and we use YouTube videos to introduce a recipe of the week and show how to prepare it using the specific appliance we are promoting that week. We announce our videos with an email blitz to a targeted group and embed it in our online ads and blog. People appreciate that little extra, and it does seem to drive traffic.

Finally, Shanna DuBois of New Orleans comments on the general nature of the beast:

The rise of social media has changed the way we interact with our customers. By connecting with them online, we are able to learn more about them and their needs, and we can adjust our services—and our advertising—accordingly. We can interact directly with customers, creating a more intimate relationship. However, while that intimacy means more trust in our business, it also demands more of us. We have to work hard to deliver what we promised in order to maintain that trust. I think the social media movement has been a positive force. It creates a strong connection between a business and the customer, and a real sense of duty on the part of the business.

A Final Thought

Have you gone paperless yet? Many companies are now switching to online bill payment to reduce paper use. This “green” trend is good for the environment, and being earth friendly is a sure way to promote your business. It definitely attracts potential customers and clients. How nice that something so good for the earth can also be very good for your business!

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