A new organization kicked off in Orange County Friday: PR Over Coffee-Orange County, intended to provide do-it-yourself help to small businesses looking for media coverage (full disclosure: I’m one of the organizers). Our speaker was Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz Media, a company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their business. She’s the former longtime editor of Entrepreneur magazine—and remains a prolific blogger and columnist for a wide variety of online publications.
Here is Lesonsky’s advice for would-be publicity hounds:
1. Don’t think any media is too small. A story in your local community weekly can be invaluable, especially if it’s also published online. “Anyone looking on Google is going to find you,” Lesonsky says. Consider trade publications, as well. Every industry has at least one, and they are a good way to establish expertise in your industry. “Part of what will get a reporter to talk to you is an aura of expertise,” Lesonsky says. “Once you establish yourself as an expert,” she adds, “people will start calling you.”
2. Make sure you know which department and/or reporter to pitch. For example, the Huffington Posthas a wide variety of channels. If you don’t fit the business channel, you might want to target the women’s channel or the post50 channel. (Tip: If you want to pitch by phone rather than email, make certain you’re not calling during deadline. Call the publication first to find out about deadlines.) If a reporter turns you down, ask whether anybody else at that publication might be a more appropriate contact.
3. Make a list of everything you know—you’ll likely be surprised at the topics you’re an expert on, Lesonsky says. One woman who attended today’s event sells signage for trade shows. Lesonsky suggested tips on “How to work a trade show.” An accountant can provide tax tips. A clothing store might offer advice about prom night. Around Mother’s Day, florists can talk about various blooms and why to buy them.
4. Check out desired publications’ editorial calendars, usually available online. The calendar lists topics the publication plans to address throughout the year. Be sure you know the magazine’s lead time, though. Don’t pitch the editors in April for a story they finished writing in February (to be published in the May issue). If you want a national magazine to publicize your product in its annual Christmas gift guide, for example, be prepared to provide that information months in advance.
5. Volunteer with your local Small Business Development Center, with SCORE, or even with your local chamber. Reporters often contact those agencies looking for experts; if you’re top of mind, you may get an interview out of it.
7. “Lead with what’s interesting.” Think about what will interest your customer, not necessarily what seems important to you. Talk to someone who knows what you do, and look for another angle if that person responds, “Why should anyone care?”
8. If you have a business, you must have a website—and make it user-friendly. Make it easy for people to connect with you. They have to be about to find your name, your email and your phone number. Make it easy for them to figure out, in a sentence or two, what you do. That’s why most companies have an “about us” page. Make sure the information on your site is up to date.
10. Don’t forget the bloggers. To find out which bloggers have the most influence, go to Technorati.com. http://technorati.com/ It ranks the most popular blogs by industry. Alltop.com http://alltop.com/list blogs and their five most recent stories, so you can see which bloggers you want to target. Start leaving comments on targeted blogs. Bloggers remember names that crop up repeatedly. Ask whether you can write a guest post – and, if you sell a product, consider a product giveaway.
11. Social media. Follow targeted members of the media on Twitter. Don’t stalk them, warns Lesonsky, but go ahead and engage them in conversation. “I’ve met a lot of people through Twitter that I later interviewed,” she says. Lesonsky also uses LinkedIn groups to solicit sources. “I’ll say, ‘I’m thinking of writing about this. What do you think?’ ” Respond, and you might be included in the article.
Now that you know what the media considers newsworthy, you’re ready to write your first press release.
We’ve already touched on tips and advice appropriate to the news of the day as one route to publicity. This is the time of year when reporters are looking for holiday-themed stories. Show off your expertise — but steer clear of self-serving articles and thinly veiled advertising copy. The idea is to give people information they want and need, without expecting something in return.
Plan ahead, though. Send the release in November if you expect a story in December. Warning: Don’t bother to send the release if you won’t be readily available for interviews when reporters respond. Reporters on deadline will contact someone else if they can’t connect with you.
Here are some ideas to stimulate your thought processes:
A psychologist, coach or time-management expert might offer tips on avoiding holiday stress.
- Someone who sells promotional products could offer suggestions on holiday gift-giving for clients and vendors.
- An interior designer could offer advice on decorating a Christmas tree or creating a festive setting for a holiday party.
- A caterer could suggest a party menu, complete with recipes.
- A mediator could talk about ways to keep relationships on an even keel during the stress and anxiety of the holiday season.
Once you’ve got a topic in mind, you’re ready to start writing. Remember to keep it short — three or four paragraphs is good. Essentially, you want to tease reporters with a preview of the topics you can cover.
- Make the subject line intriguing, i.e., “7 ways to avoid holiday stress,” “4 time-saving tips for holiday gift-giving,” “Dazzling holiday parties that won’t wear you out.”
- Your first paragraph — what journalists call “the lede” — should be intriguing. Don’t start off with dry facts about how long you’ve been in business. Your goal is to grab the editor or reporter’s attention and arouse his or her curiosity with your first sentence or two.
If you’re talking about alleviating holiday stress, for example, set the stage:
Here’s a sample:
Christmas is approaching, but the month ahead looks nothing like your holiday fantasy. Instead, the frenetic pace of the season – filled with parties, gift-buying and a host of other holiday-related “must-do’s” – is making you feel anxious and irritable.
It doesn’t have to be that way, says Jane Doe. Doe, founder of Stress Relief, Inc., [link to the website] can offer tips on how to make the winter holidays enjoyable again.
Here’s where you might briefly list a tip or two, link to a story you’ve written on the topic, or give the reporter a choice of topics:
Jane can tell your readers how to:
1. Deal with relationships during the holiday season
2. Simplify the holiday shopping process
3. Introduce shortcuts to prepare for a holiday gathering
Make sure you provide all your contact information at the bottom of your email. That includes a link to your website, so the reporter can look you up without resorting to Google.
For an interview, contact Jane at 1-800-555-5555 or by email at email@example.com. Visit her website at www.stressrelief.com
Include a short bio at the end of the press release. If you’ve written a book or been interviewed by the media in the past, include a short list.
For example: Jane Doe of Stress Relief Inc. has been helping people manage their time for more than 20 years. She’s been interviewed by The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and has appeared on CNN. She’s the author of the book Time Management Simplified.
Style of writing
Keep your sentence structure clear and crisp. That way, readers can easily grasp your message. Vary your sentence length, though, so the news release doesn’t sound choppy and immature.
Avoid industry jargon at all costs. Go back through your news release when you’ve finished writing it and scrub any words peculiar to your industry. If you’re not sure, have a friend outside your industry read the release to see whether he or she understands your message.
It’s always a good idea to have a second pair of eyes scan the release. A couple of misspelled words or poor grammar could prompt your recipient to hit the delete key no matter how good the story is.
While you’re at it, send the release to a free news distribution service such as Newswire Today or i-newswire.com, and make sure you post it — as well as the resulting news coverage — on your website.
The process isn’t magic. It takes time, energy and initiative. But you’ll feel good when the hard work pays off.
Have you gotten coverage from a press release? Tell your story here.
If you plan to do your own PR, the first thing you need to know is what the media consider newsworthy. The answer, sad to say, isn’t universal. To some degree, what is news depends on whom you’re targeting.
For example, a local newspaper or a trade magazine (a magazine that covers a particular industry) probably has a section for promotions, new hires and business openings or expansions. (Be sure to take a look at the publication before you pitch.) Don’t expect a full-blown story. You’ll likely get one paragraph and, depending on the publication’s backlog of such tidbits, it could take several weeks to appear in print.
A national publication, on the other hand, doesn’t generally publish that sort of information. Send one of them a story about your new hire, and the recipient will simply hit the “delete” key. There are exceptions, of course. If you’ve opened a branch office, the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times probably don’t care – unless, say, you’re the latest in a slew of small businesses that have expanded to China. In that case, you might want to make a case for a “trend story” about all the small businesses setting up offices in the Orient.
That means you have to do some homework, so you can name other companies the reporter might want to contact. (Three is usually sufficient. That’s a magic number for reporters – if three sources say the same thing, it’s automatically a trend.) Trust me, it’s well worth the time you spend.
Reporters love trend stories – especially ones that fall right into their lap. The reporter probably has noticed the activity in China. He or she might already have plans to develop a story on that topic, but hasn’t gotten around to doing the research. By sending a pitch naming a trend – and providing the reporter with several sources – you’ve proved that you’re media savvy — and a valuable resource. Plus, you’ve made it more likely that the reporter, who’s already stretched too thin, will write the piece you want to be featured in.
Here’s where we have to add a dose of reality. Even if you pitched the story, there’s no guarantee your company will get more than a paragraph in the resulting article.
Still, there are lots of upsides:
More people are likely to read a trend story than a story about just your company.
- Reporters remember the folks who save them time. He or she will be more receptive to your next pitch – and might even pick up the phone and call you the next time the paper needs a good quote from a knowledgeable source in your field.
- Best of all, the media “borrow” stories from one another. That means other publications are likely to contact you for a similar story. Once you’ve been quoted by a few publications, there’s a good chance you’ll be added to a lot of reporter databases as an acknowledged expert in your field. (Make sure you add the fact that you’ve been interviewed by various media to all of your profiles.)
But, I digress.
We were identifying newsworthy stories. Among them:
Launch of a new product. Again, there are caveats. Is your new product substantially different and better than others in your industry? Did your supply sell out the first day you announced it? That’s newsworthy. On the other hand, be wary of announcing a “revolutionary product.” Don’t say it unless you can back it up with facts. “First,” “best,” “unique” and similar words arouse a reporter’s bullshit meter. Reporters who receive dozens of pitches a day are looking for excuses to hit the “delete” key – and unsubstantiated claims are high on that list.
What’s the back story behind your company? Focus on your story rather than your product. What made you get into the business you’re in? What kind of challenges did you have to overcome to succeed? If your story is unusual, or if you add a dose of humor, it might be your best opportunity for publicity.
Advice that’s relevant to the news of the day. Sometimes, you’ll want to put a local spin on a national story.
Did your company send a team to Japan after the earthquake? Newspapers have a soft spot for charitable efforts – as long as they’re unusual. Tips and advice appropriate to the news of the day are helpful as well. During fire season, your landscaping company might offer tips on preventing fires. When it’s hurricane season, a contractor can offer advice on how to choose a contractor to repair or rebuild a damaged home. If you’re a veterinarian, explain how to keep a dog sane through the fireworks on July 4. A financial advisor might offer tips to help people hang onto their money during the downturn.
Have you reached a milestone? Has your company achieved $1 million in sales? Are you celebrating your 25th anniversary? How did you get there? And what are you doing to mark that milestone. One company I know about buried a time capsule to celebrate 25 years in business.
Has your company taken a poll or a survey? Did you find out something counterintuitive, surprising or just plain quirky? Reporters will pick that up in a heartbeat.
In the end, of course, it’s a subjective decision by a reporter or editor that determines your success. But following the guidelines above can improve your chances of coverage.
Photo: Flickr — skyliner72
I had lunch in Los Angeles recently with media guru and Hollywood correspondent Gayl Murphy. She’s the author of Interview Tactics: How to Survive the Media Without Getting Clobbered! Gayl does media training and media coaching — as well as reporting (she covered the Emmys last month). As we discussed my fledgling freelance business, she suggested that I add coaching to the writing and editing services I offer — that is, offer to teach small businesses how to do their own public relations.
The suggestion took me aback. Sure, I’ve written the odd article offering PR advice. (See my blog on “How to Pitch the Media Successfully.”) And I certainly know I know how to write clear, cogent copy. But can I teach those skills to others?
I wasn’t sure — so I countered with the notion that I write an e-book. My thinking: If I can write an e-book on the topic, I can teach it, too. Plus, I’ve interviewed a slew of women lately — from sales expert Alyse Hart and attorney Nina Kaufman to freelance writer and mentor Carol Tice — who have created information products based on their skills and knowledge. I don’t mean just e-books, either. These women provide online and offline courses, produce webinars and publish special reports.
Those efforts are paying off by building their brand, creating passive income — and making their businesses scalable, as well. It works.
Gayle liked the e-book idea so much that she insisted that I come up with a working title, to make it real. So now I’ve set myself up to write Do-It-Yourself PR for Women in Business, with the goal of trying out at least some of the content on this blog. Gayle tried to encourage me by pointing out that she wrote Interview Tactics in her spare time — between 1 and 4 a.m.
Yipes! I hope to be sleeping every night between 1 and 4 a.m. Still, it will be a useful (and possibly profitable) exercise. So I’m including Do-It-Yourself PR in my business plan – with the goal of finishing in the next six months.
Stay tuned. You’ll be able to see how it goes.
While browsing through an antiques mall last week, I happened by an old typewriter. This one wasn’t particularly old as typewriters go – but it definitely belongs to a different era. After all, who uses a typewriter in today’s world?
My girlfriend looked at me quizzically when I paused, and said – somewhat wistfully: “One of these days I’m going to buy an antique typewriter and display it in my home.”
For me, a typewriter brings back those first, heady days as a working journalist.
(Cue the Lone Ranger:) “Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear …”
I remember pounding away at a manual typewriter at the Daily News Tribune in Fullerton, lo, these many years ago. It was an afternoon paper – remember those?
The newsroom of the time was a noisy place – phones ringing, typewriters grinding and a teleprinter from the now-defunct United Press International wire service pinging out the news in counterpoint. The teleprinter also sounded a series of bells when the news was especially important. You quickly learned to block out the annoying sounds in order to stay focused on your work.
We reporters literally cut and pasted our stories together – with scissors and rubber cement — moving paragraphs around so we wouldn’t have to retype pages of copy. (Life was tough without a “delete” key.) We made carbons copies of our stories, too, getting ink all over our fingers.
Instead of emails and instant messages, the editor shouted out your name when he had something to tell you, and you marched up to his desk to find out what he wanted.
Those were the days! Reporters carried a notebook and pens instead of a laptop. My colleagues and I were always annoyed by the characters on our favorite television show, Lou Grant. The reporters apparently had total recall, because they always queried their sources sans either notebook or tape recorder.
I never used a tape recorder in those days, either (it tended to make people nervous). But today I often record interviews on a website called TalkShoe.
I wouldn’t want to go back to typewriters, even though computer screens can be tough on the eyes. There’s no getting around the fact that I write more efficiently and more competently using a computer. It frees from the mechanical process and allows me to think more clearly. I can type whatever I want, in whatever order I want, and rearrange or eliminate paragraphs simply by depressing a couple of buttons. Cutting and pasting doesn’t require scissors or cement.
What’s more, thanks to the internet, there are more avenues than ever before for a budding freelance writer like me.
It can be fun, occasionally, to reminisce about the past – but it’s certainly more exciting to live fully in the present.
For me, the 9th annual Women’s Small Business Expo in Los Angeles last month was a winner in many ways. I learned a lot from the speakers about running a successful business. But perhaps more than that, it proved an excellent exercise in networking.
It also forced me to cross a couple of items off my to-do list:
- I finally ordered business cards. That exercise – forgive the tangent – left me wondering why companies that create cards think writers still want an inkwell or a typewriter on their business cards. How quaint. News flash, folks: The last thing we want our card to say is, “Yes, I’m still living in the last century.”
- I took advantage of an Expo special to get a slew of professional photos from Deb Halberstadt of Half City Productions — for the bargain price of $45. Check my online facebook and Twitter profiles for my new head shots. I think you’ll agree that Deb’s a consummate professional.
When it comes to the networking part of the event, however, I learned that I need to beef up my networking skills. Yes, I made a couple of good contacts — but I didn’t meet as many people as I would have liked. Plus, I’m still tentative about what I do, and what my ideal client looks and sounds like. Those are questions I need to answer for networking to work.
I dutifully followed up by emailing the contacts I did make the very next day — a few responded; I know it’s up to me to sustain an ongoing relationship.
But back to the speakers, and their top tips for success:
Keynote speaker Rhona Silver, who sold her kosher catering firm to Lowe’s, the home improvement retailer, for $35 million, advises: “If there’s a roadblock, there’s still a road on the other side. Never, ever give up until you get there.”
Rachael Bermingham went from broke to the highest-selling, self-published woman author in Australia. She did it through successful promotion and marketing. For a killer press release, she says, use photos, plenty of color, and an eye-catching subject line. “Slap people in the face and wake them up,” she advises. She also recommends following up by phone with the reporter. She says you’ll have a 33 percent better success rate if you phone the reporter within 48 hours after sending your email.
Kerianne Mellott is a social media expert. Among her top tips: Write out a 30-day calendar to schedule upcoming events, telecalls, product launches and business meetings. Then pre-write your marketing messages so they’ll appear in real time.
Wealthy Bag Lady Linda Hollander, a business consultant who created the expo nine years ago, advises women to make your business easier, quicker and better for your customers. “Cut through the veil of stress,” she says. “People will pay for solutions to their problems.” Hollander also emphasizes customer service. “Offer a ‘wow’ experience,” she advises. “Surprise and delight your customers.”
Carren Smith is another businesswoman who went from broke to mega success. Smith had $9 in her pocket when she decided to become a public speaker and share her haunting story, which chronicles how she conquered severe depression to become a super-powered speaker and consultant.
That’s how she developed what she calls The Miracle Mindset Formula. “We’re all the same,” Smith says. “The difference is whether we believe we can, or cannot.”
With advice like that, success ought to be assured.
I used to complain that working eight hours a day interfered with my lifestyle.
Now that I’m not working, I’m not only strapped for time to do the things I want, but also I don’t have time for the things I ought to be doing to find employment.
Turns out that having any kind of routine — even if it takes eight hours out of the day — is better than having no routine at all.
I’m not exercising more often than before. I take voice lessons, but I’m not practicing more often. That linen closet I’ve been intending to reorganize? Still disorganized.
Sort of like my life at present.
It’s tough being motivated when I have nowhere I have to go and nothing I have to do (except for the e-newsletter I put out each week for WomenCentric.net).
At WomenEntrepreneur.com, I could sit at my desk for hours, totally focused. Now I find myself writing a sentence, wandering into the kitchen, leaving empty-handed — then writing one more sentence, and wandering back to the kitchen again. I used to eat lunch at my desk so I could get more work done. Now, anytime I cross one thing off my list, I figure I deserve a short break — which usually means spending the next hour lying on my bed, reading a book. Might as well enjoy my time off, right?
Of course, plenty of folks on the internet are willing to explain how I can find clients, uncover the “hidden” job market, shorten my job search or become a wildly successful freelancer — for a hefty fee. In the meantime, I lose large chunks of time following up on what are mostly wild goose chases. My career coach, Joy Chudakoff, suggested recently that I set a kitchen timer to keep myself on track. (Note to self: Add a timer to the shopping list.)
It’s also easy to spend hours applying to jobs on the internet — instead of meeting and talking with people who might have a solid lead for me to follow. Or communicating with my “peeps” to let them know I could use their help.
They say that recognizing a problem is the first step to solving it. Now that I’ve admitted the problem for all the world to see, I’m duty bound to rectify it.
Preparing for an interview with a well-known publication last week, I reviewed my answers for the questions I expected to be asked.
I imagined responding to the questions recruitment experts warn you about: What are your weaknesses? What are your strengths? Why should we hire you?
Although some of the questions related at least tangentially to those anticipated, my preparations were largely unnecessary. The questions were largely new and intriguing — and, overall, I think I comported myself well. The outcome, of course, remains to be seen.
Here are some of the more interesting questions — and my answers, which I’m passing along as lessons learned over the years.
What if your publisher asks you to publish something that conflicts with your sense of journalistic integrity?
I don’t think I’ve run into that exact situation in my career. But certainly, I’ve disagreed with my editors on occasion. I think the answer is pretty obvious: Clearly explain your objections to your editor, publisher or superior — and if that individual says, “publish it anyway” — well, that person’s the boss: You publish it.
Of course (and I didn’t think to say this at the time), if the disagreement is serious enough to weigh on your conscience, you might have to resign. But as long as no one’s asking you to falsify information or commit a criminal offense, it probably won’t come to that.
Another question centered on collaboration — getting along with people in different departments who might have different agendas.
I think both co-workers and bosses would agree that I generally get along with everyone. The key is respect: I try to treat everyone the way I want to be treated. It’s not difficult. Just say “please” and “thank you” when you ask someone to do something for you — and mean it.
Respecting co-workers has tremendous impact. Consider this story, which I related during my interview: I worked at one newspaper where the person in charge of typesetting was slow to respond when I needed a galley for pasteup. One day, I decided to be especially nice to this person. I said “please.” I said “thank you.” I remarked on how tough the job was, and how much I appreciated the help I received.
That’s all it took. From then on, if I needed something, it was provided promptly and even cheerfully (and I continued saying “thank you.”) It was a powerful lesson for me, and I try to remember it wherever I go.
A final word about collaboration: Don’t take disagreements personally. Assume everyone has the same goal and the same good intentions you have, even if he or she disagrees with the way you want to go about it. A compromise is usually possible if you maintain friendly relations.
If not, there’s always rule No. 1 (see above). Explain the reasoning behind your opposition, but if your boss says, “do it!” follow directions — and then let it go. Grudges take too much energy. And these days, who has energy to spare?
Editors and reporters get dozens of emails a day from business owners who want publicity for themselves or their product. You have to find a way to stand out.
Sure, it’s easier to go around the media these days via blogs, social networking and even the good, old internet press release. But having a story in a legitimate publication still offers your company credibility you can’t get any other way.
Set yourself up as an expert. Sign up for HARO (Help A Reporter Out) or Profnet. Reporters use those websites to search for subject experts for stories they’re working on, while experts get a list of queries they can respond to. Other, similar free services include PitchRate, PRManna and Reporter Connection.
When you respond to a reporter’s query for sources, make sure you follow directions. Be brief, describe your qualifications, maybe offer a couple of examples — but respond only if you can offer exactly what the journalist needs.
If you’re going to approach an editor directly, here are some additional suggestions:
Know the publication and what it covers. For example, don’t send a business publication a pitch about family vacations, tips on child rearing or relationship advice. Enough said.
Explain why your story is relevant. Is your business part of a trend? Do you have tips that would help me run my business better? Maybe you’ve got an opinion that runs counter to prevailing thought. Reporters love controversy.
Don’t Be Self-Serving. Never tell a reporter he or she should write your story because “We could use the publicity.” It’s not the reporter’s job to find clients for you. The reporter’s after an interesting, informative story that serves the publication’s readers. A self-serving pitch will have the reporter hitting the “delete” key in short order.
Avoid hyperbole. If you say you’re the first or only company to do what you do, you’d better be able to back up that claim. It’s likely the reporter received a pitch last week from a company that sounds remarkably like yours. Unless you can explain succinctly what makes you completely different, don’t make the claim.
Target the right reporter. Do some research — you might want to call the publication you’re pitching to find out which reporter covers your area (that also prevents you from sending a pitch to a reporter who left the publication a year ago).
Your story has to be newsworthy. You need what reporters call a “hook” for your story.
- If you can provide perspective about an ongoing story in the news, you’ve got it made. For example, right now reporters are likely looking for experts on Japan, nuclear power and Libya.
- If your product is truly unique, reporters will write about it.
- Sometimes it’s not the product — it’s the story surrounding the product. Two fortysomething soccer moms-turned-private investigators piqued my curiosity with a humorous pitch about their activities. (Humor never hurts.)
- Tips are always welcome. If it’s tax time, offer advice about filing your taxes.
- Did your business go viral? Did you achieve incredible success in a short period of time? Publications love “how-to” and success stories.
Fit your pitch to a holiday. Sometimes your pitch can be timed to coincide with a particular holiday observance. For Christmas, pitch your product for a holiday gift list (Some magazines work six months ahead — make sure you know the deadline for submitting your ideas.) If you started your company after a bout with breast cancer, pitch it as a feature for Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October). If you’re running a business with your mom, pitch it for Mother’s Day. If you’re an organizer, pitch your story for Organize Your home Office Day (March). You get the idea. You can find a calendar of special days online.
Make your pitch provocative, keep it short — and explain why readers need to know. No, it isn’t easy. But remember that publications need good content. So if you can pique a reporter’s interest, you’ll both get what you want from the relationship.
If you’re already savvy about social media, you can skip this particular blog post.
If you’re still trying to figure out the intricacies, and where you fit in the scheme of things, here are a few basics I’ve gleaned in the past few weeks:
First, from a free webinar hosted by Social Media Magic:
- Be selective. Settle on keywords that will attract your best customers.
- Be helpful and empathetic. You want to build relationships. (Come on, say it with me: People buy from those they know, like and trust.)
- Join niche sites. In addition to Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, build a presence on some niche sites. Social Media Magic suggests Biznik, Plaxo, MerchantCircle and QAlias FastPitch Networking is another recommendation, for turning content into press releases.
(Personal interjection: Check out WomenCentric.net, a directory of women experts, authors, speakers and thought leaders. Full disclosure: I’m the editor of the site’s e-newsletter, SuccessPaths.)
Once you’ve joined the social media sites, Social Media Magic suggests a three-step system:
- Don’t join groups that do what you do — join groups that contain your customer base.
- Create your own group or fan page.
- Create a pitch that will get people to subscribe or join. For example, if you sell medical devices to doctors, say something like: “Join here now if you want to learn how medical devices make you more successful in your practice.”
People who get it: My hat’s off to Tova Borgnine, who created the facial cream Tova-9 in the 1970s and her top-selling perfume, Tova Signature, in the 1980s. Borgnine (yes, actor Ernest Borgnine is her husband) is no Gen Xer; nevertheless, she has a vibrant presence on Twitter and LinkedIn, which she views as just another incarnation of direct sales. (Learn more from my blog, Winning Thru Reinvention, on WomenCentric.net)
Just as QVC was a more effective means of direct sales, capturing millions of eyeballs for the cosmetics queen, social media goes QVC one better. “Now, when you release something, it’s instantly around the world if it’s big enough,” she says.
Pattie Simone, a sales and marketing expert and the force behind WomenCentric.net, describes social media in four words: “sharing; advice, resources and tips.” She suggests some topics for me: “You could tell people about editing, or what editors are looking for when it comes to writing for them,” she offers.
Simone says social media has three purposes:
- It’s a mining tool to find out what’s going on, what people are talking about and who the influencers are. She suggests establishing a connection and posing a question. Along with Borgnine, she notes that people like to help others.
- It’s a great way for you to provide information — “that’s how people find you,” she says. “Someone will decide he or she likes what you say and will retweet it.”
- Once you have a relationship, it’s a way to let people know what you need. “Start a conversation and a connection, and let people know that you’re looking for a new position.
With only 30 Twitter followers, I’ve barely scratched the surface. But as blogger Deb Ng of Kommein.com notes, there are plenty of free social media courses online. She’s listed of them in her blog, “25 Free Online Social Media Classes.
Gotta go — it seems I have a lot of homework to do. …