Friday, July 15, 2011

Find this blog at its new home

I've moved this blog to its new home on my website:

If you subscribe to this blog, you should continue to get notices when I post new content. If you aren't getting those notices, just visit the new location and subscribe again there.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Authors and public speaking: 5 reasons to be an author who speaks

When my humor book, WHY CAN’T A MAN BE MORE LIKE A WOMAN?, was released, I learned about the power of a book when people with budgets are looking for speakers. I heard from Fortune 500 corporations that included Corning, Kraft, and Xerox, and from organizations that needed a light-hearted, upbeat keynote speaker. I was happy to oblige and accept flattering fees for my presentations around the country at sales meetings, networking sessions, and women’s events.

So . . . when Publicity for Nonprofits: Generating Media Exposure That Leads to Awareness, Growth, and Contributions was published, my book marketing plan included securing paid speaking engagements that would allow me to:
  • Provide nonprofits with information they could use immediately to generate publicity
  • Sell books
  • Leverage the book to earn more through speaking fees
In addition to meeting all three goals, I was paid as much to speak about the book’s topic as I was to write the book! Clearly, the time it took to pursue paid speaking opportunities was well worth it for me.

Is it worth it for you? Here are five reasons to consider becoming an author who speaks:  
  1. You can share your message with more people. You have something to say, right? That’s why you wrote the book. Speaking lets you present your core messages in person.
  2. It can lead to more paying work. Many consultants speak to generate leads. If you’ve got a book and you consult on your book’s topic, public speaking can not only generate more speaking invitations, it can also fill your inbox with requests for information about your professional services.
  3. It supports your expert positioning. Whether you acknowledge it or not, you’re considered an expert on your book’s topic. This applies to all types of authors – from nonfiction writers to novelists to memoirists. When you add “speaker” to your list of credentials, you further underscore that expert status.
  4. Your admirers want to hear from you. Whether they deserve it or not, authors are admired by non-authors. For reasons that are hard to understand, many think authors are “cool.” People like to hear what cool people have to say. 
  5. You can earn more money from your book. Sure, you can – and should – accept unpaid speaking gigs offered by local groups or association conferences. But why limit yourself to unpaid opportunities? Why not take that experience to organizations that have money to pay speakers?
I realize that many authors are introverts who find the whole concept of speaking in public too stressful to even consider. But I know from the messages I receive in my e-mail inbox, from the questions my Book Publicity 101 students ask, and from the inquiries I read on writers’ forums that many, many authors are pursuing this option. They ask:
  • “How do I respond when a meeting planner asks, ‘How much do you charge?’ ”
  • “How do speakers’ bureaus work?”
  • “What topics are in greatest demand?”
  • “How do I find paying opportunities?”
I’ll be asking these and other questions when I interview speaking industry expert Mary McKay during a Build Book Buzz teleseminar on March 29, 2011. During From Author to Speaker: How to Get Paid to Speak, we’ll tap into Mary’s three decades of experience booking more than 2,200 paid speaking engagements to learn how to find and secure these opportunities. To learn more, please visit
If you speak about your book's topic, tell us why.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Is your blog quotable?

Journalists are quoting from blogs more often. Is yours quote ready?

My local newspaper recently quoted from a college president's blog when it needed information for an article. If my newspaper is doing it, yours probably is, too.

As somebody who interviews others and is interviewed herself, this is a bit alarming. First, bloggers in general are more casual about their writing than journalists are, which means their "facts" might not actually be "facts." There's more heresay, less fact checking for accuracy. If journalists are using them for information, are they also using some kind of vetting process to make sure the source is reliable and responsible? Second, I'm thoughtful about what I say to the media when I'm interviewed. If a "quote" is pulled from my blog, I'm deprived of the opportunity to make sure what I say is appropriate for the situation or the audience.

I realize my opinion doesn't matter so to make up for that, here are suggestions for anyone who might or wants to be quoted from their blog:
  • Get it right. Think of the harm you could cause if your facts weren't really facts.
  • Choose your words carefully. Take any chunk of your content -- especially a rant or something inflammatory -- and picture your mother reading that in her newspaper or hearing it read by a broadcaster. How does it sound now? Is that what you really want to say -- or the tone you want to use?
  • Monitor your emotions. If you don't want to be quoted, don't get all emotional on us. If you do want to be quoted, tell us how you really feel.
  • Pick your topics carefully. To get quoted, blog on big news current events and do so with a unique perspective. If there's a possibility you'll be quoted whether you want to be or not, stick with the topics you know well to minimize the chance that your shared commentary will be attacked by those who might know more.
  • Add appropriate "about me" information to the blog. You want to be identified appropriately.
This trend will only grow as media outlets continue to cut budgets and ask staffers or freelancers to do more with (or for) less. Quoting from existing material -- whether it's a blog, a book, or an interview elsewhere -- takes less time than securing a personal interview.

Has content from your blog been lifted and quoted by the media? How did you feel about it?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Top elements to include in your online news room

TEKgroup International, Inc., an organization that helps companies create online news rooms, offers a list of the top 20 elements to include. A large corporation should consider including all of them; a small business can get away with incorporating about half of them. Here's TEKgroup's list followed by my recommendations for smaller operations in order of importance.

TEKgroup's top 20 elements in their order of importance:
  1. Searchable archives
  2. PR contacts
  3. News releases
  4. Background information
  5. Product info/press kits
  6. Photographs
  7. Help/FAQ
  8. Crisis communications
  9. Events calendar
  10. Executive biographies
  11. Media credentials registration
  12. Financial information
  13. Info/interview request form
  14. News coverage
  15. Video
  16. Social media page
  17. RSS feeds
  18. Audio
  19. Blog
  20. Twitter feed

Here are mine for smaller organizations, including nonprofits, in order of importance, based on the information I look for when looking for article and interview sources: 
  1. PR contacts
  2. News releases
  3. Background information
  4. Product info/press kits
  5. Photographs
  6. Searchable archives
  7. Executive biographies
  8. Social media links (not page)
  9. Blog
  10. News coverage

Why did I select "PR contacts" as the top item? Because more often than not, I'm at a company's online  news room because I need to schedule an interview and I'm looking for somebody to help make that happen. And yet, surprisingly enough, this information can be hard to find (and some companies make it impossible to find by not offering it at all). If it takes too long to find a media contact, I'll move on to your competitor.
TEKgroup also recently released results of its survey on how journalists are using digital media, online newsrooms, and social media to write, researchn and report on news stories. Not surprisingly, the 1,500 journalists surveyed want access to helpful information at a company's website. Download the report here.  

Friday, January 21, 2011

Be your own book publicist

When it comes to book promotion, most authors are either paralyzed because they don't know what to do or where to begin, or they're throwing money at the latest tactic because they've heard that's what everyone else is doing. I understand both, but neither is good.

The chronic, widespread paralysis is caused either by a lack of information or information overload -- either you're clueless about what you should be doing, or you've read so much about book promotion that you can't sort out what does and doesn't apply to you. The "tactic of the month" approach comes from a lack of information about the best strategy to use -- and every book deserves its own strategy.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when starting the book publicity and promotion process:
  • Who did I write the book for?
  • Where do I need to be to reach them? What do they read, watch, or listen to? Are they online, offline, or both? 
  • What's the best strategy for reaching them? Should I leverage my networks, tap into the research I did for the book, or focus on a specific tactic?
  • How much time do I have for book promotion?
  • What are the most cost-effective tactics, and will they help me get my book title in front of my target audience?
  • What promotional activities do I enjoy the most, and are they the types of things that will help me reach the right people for this book?
  • Is there anything I should outsource to someone who's better suited for the task?
  • What are the one or two things I have time for that will have an impact?
If you want to sell copies of your book, you have to promote it yourself -- there's just no way around it. And you've got to answer these questions if you're going to make progress. Learn what will make a difference with your book -- not anyone else's -- when you register for "Book Publicity 101: How to Build Book Buzz," the popular e-course running from January 31-February 25, 2011. You'll learn more about what works and what doesn't, the best options for your title, and, best of all, how to do it! We've got a few more openings for the course, so join us and enjoy the benefits of personal coaching in a group forum environment. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The press release isn't dead yet

I'm sure that Heather Whaling's column, "10 alternatives to sending a press release," caused many people to breathe a sigh of relief. For whatever reason, non-publicists are often intimidated by press releases. I sometimes get the impression in my workshops that people would rather give a speech than write a press release. For those who don't like them, you'll find a couple of different options on Heather's list that are a good fit for your communication style and ability, so give it a read.

I'd like to take her column a step further and offer reasons why you still want to use press releases, though. There's a lot of chatter about whether these tools are still effective now that we've got Twitter, Facebook pages, websites, and so many other ways to get our information in front of our target audiences. They are. And here are five reasons why:
  1. A well-written press release will still get used. This is especially true when you're sending it to weekly newspapers, smaller dailies, trade magazines, e-zines, and other outlets that are looking for the information you're offering because it's relevant or important to their readers, viewers, etc. And by "well-written," I don't mean award-winning. Just get to the point quickly and include the facts. (If you're an author writing a book announcement press release, read my tips on how to do that. If you want a fill-in-the-blanks template, you might like this resource.)
  2. A distributed press release is an aggressive alternative to the more passive options on Heather's list. Oh yeah, sure, you can put a YouTube video up there or write a blog posting about whatever you've got going on, but people -- including journalists -- have to come looking for it. When you send a press release, you're shouting, "Hey! Look at me!" (And oh-by-the-way, make sure that any press release service you use actually sends the thing out. Some of the free sites don't -- your release only sits on their site waiting to be found.)
  3. When your press release gets picked up, you're reaching people who aren't on your e-newsletter list or missed out on your blog tour interviews, etc. You're expanding your audience and building your business.
  4. A press release posted in your website's press room is a two-fer: (1) It helps search engines find your site and all your organization has to offer while (b) it provides journalists searching for information about your topic with helpful or relevant content presented in a format that works for them.
  5. When you become known as someone who provides good information in press releases, you get added to journalists' contact databases. They'll start calling you for interviews without you reaching out to them because they trust and respect you. And that's when your publicity program shifts to automatic pilot.
Why do you think press releases are still effective?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Doing good? Tell somebody about it

Waste Management’s High Acres Landfill in Perinton, N.Y. seems to be an ongoing source of community controversy. Most recently, the landfill’s expansion proposal was opposed by residents concerned about air quality and other issues. I haven't seen or heard much positive publicity for this site in the local news -- outside of its cameo appearance in an early episode of "Undercover Boss" on CBS -- until recently. An article in our weekly community newspaper announcing that High Acres received national recognition for its "green" community relations activities seemed like a nice change -- but it also made me wonder why I didn't know more about what the company does right.

I learned through the article that High Acres was recently honored as the Wildlife Habitat Council's Corporate Lands for Learning Rookie of the Year. The award recognizes the company’s work to be a good neighbor by creating a more than 400-acre wildlife habitat for community-based activities. These include Eagle Scout projects, bio-diversity and college field studies, migratory bird reviews, habitat enhancements, removing invasive species, public trails, and presentations to local groups.

There’s no doubt that High Acres management is trying to counter negative perceptions of the landfill and its environmental impact by transforming some of its acreage into an impressive community resource. But I live in Perinton, I'm an outdoorsy-walking/biking/hiking-kind-of-gal, and I'm a media consumer, so how is it that I'm not more aware of High Acres' contributions to my community? I suspect it's possible that the company's communications resources are focused on responding to criticism and complaints about the proposed expansion or other negative issues and don't have enough time for positive community outreach. Or maybe they're doing it and I'm not in the target demographic. (But as a taxpayer, how can I not be?)
It's not enough to be a good corporate citizen -- people have to know about it, too. National recognition for facilities like the High Acres Nature Area is validating, but that doesn't help much if the local community is unaware. Companies of all sizes need to find a way to spread the word about what they're doing right so it helps diminish the impact of perceived wrongs. And if you can't share news of positive activities or accomplishments through the media (because, well, they like controversy more than they like stories about class field trips to a corporate-owned wildlife habitat adjacent to a landfill), then go straight to the people:
  • Invite local groups on guided tours.
  • Develop environmental educational programs for schools.
  • Staff a booth at local festivals and engage passerbys not with brochures but with wildlife or other tangibles that will entice them to visit or learn more about the habitat.
  • Present a wildlife slide show at the library.
  • Teach a class at the recreation center.
  • Host technology recycling events.
  • Lead guided birding tours.
  • Identify the community's key influencers and invite them to volunteer or serve on advisory committees.
It's possible that High Acres does all this and more and yet isn't on my radar screen. Regardless, High Acres obviously understands that when a business has any potential for controversy, it's important to counter that by giving back to the community, as it does. But you have to also tell the community what you're doing, too. The old Nike slogan -- "Just do it" -- isn't enough.