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For those of you forced by budgetary constraints (inherent in non-profits, small business or volunteer organizations) to be self-taught and self-sufficient, here are a couple of books to aid you in becoming and remaining proficient communicators. Both are concise, illustrated, easily referenced little volumes, part of the One Step Ahead series from Oxford University Press - a series designed for "all those who want and need to communicate more effectively in a range of real-life situations".

Publicity, Newsletters and Press Releases
By Alison Baverstock
Oxford University Press, 2002, 96 pp., $12.95 Cdn
ISBN 0-19-860384-3

Written by an accomplished marketer and teacher, this book focuses on how to effectively use words to generate publicity. Starting with the basic strategies for crafting messages (what to say, how to say it, who to say it to), the author provides valuable lessons in how to be persuasive and compelling in print. The focus is on newsletters and press releases as PR fundamentals. Included are a number of invaluable writing and production checklists, as well as troubleshooting techniques for handling customer complaints, errors in reporting and setting up focus groups for valuable feedback.

Writing for the Internet
By Jane Dorner
Oxford University Press, 2002, 128 pp., $12.95 Cdn
ISBN 0-19-866285-8

Here's ample testimony that Internet communications don't read the same as print communications. The urgency of the Internet requires emphasis on brevity and clarity. Also consideration must be given to positioning (letting the reader know where they are and where they can go next) and the reader's purpose - are they visiting your site for factual information or for recreation? On paper there are a number of ways to keep your reader engaged, online the choices are limited, particularly when most online readers are in a hurry to "get to the point." Don't try to build and maintain a Web site without reading this book. All the tricks and techniques are here for grabbing and holding your online audience.

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