It's all about the STORY!

Posts tagged ‘media’

Best use of social media for business

A quick word on how to best use social media–folks, this is a powerful communication tool. It is NOT… I repeat… NOT a replacement for in-person relationships. Rather, social media is an enhancement to in-person relationships. It helps you stay in touch with people you’ve met in person or who have similar interests as you do. It helps you communicate with those individuals and the public at large (depending on your privacy settings) — to communicate who you are and what you are all about.

It helps you brand YOU, and you control the content. Let people know what matters to you, what you know, what your opinions are and even, if you want to share this — where you spend your time and show a bit of your sense of humor. It can, in some cases, lead to in-person introductions as well and real-time networking opportunities, events and causes. Too often I hear people that have a misconception that social media dehumanizes and disconnects real personal relationships. When used properly, I assure you, it can enhance relationships significantly–both personal and professional.

Networking

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Melancholy in less than 500 words

(Photo credit: http://anxious-creative.blogspot.com/)

As a writer, I am concerned about words. They mean something to me. Also, I am concerned about stories. They mean something to me, too. 

I am concerned that contemporary culture may lack a love for words and written stories–that it is a love affair that is becoming more rare. Sometimes things that are rare are special, but in this case, I find it melancholy.

I am concerned that our culture is too distracted to have a love affair with words and stories any longer. They want one night stands and speed dating versus the relationship filled with deep attraction, love notes, commitment, harsh words, broken hearts and promises, redemption and the bliss of kindness, thoughtfulness and quirks that make these love affairs beautiful and worth living for.

More and more, 500 words or less is the formula for success in modern media, and I have no choice but to succumb to stay relevant. So, I promise to rise to the occasion and challenge myself to engage you in a deep love affair confined to brevity–to sweep you off your feet and enchant you into a friendship or more that hopefully will fill you until the next story, the next encounter, the next night in our favorite hotel above the busy street where words will take you onward to the next chapter in our relationship.

Maybe then you will be willing to take on more than 500 words. Maybe then you’ll long for the whole story not just the soundbite. If so, imagine this story (link below), of this life slashed into 500 words? What a tragedy that would be, indeed!

[Total: 270 words]

Not authored by me, though I wish it were: Shelagh Was Here: an ordinary magical life 

Daphne’s List of 7: Telling your company’s story

I have just spent hours researching the history of several Bay area nonprofits–learning about their stories. Specifically, their history.

Here are 7 tips on storytelling that would be helpful for all businesses, particularly nonprofits. These are 7 important points, what I have learned along the way as a professional writer for nonprofits and as a member of the media as I am currently…

  1. Make your audience “feel” your story. DO NOT give us facts and figures. We truly don’t care–we glaze over them, mostly. Tell us about the tears. Tell us about the victories. Tell us about the struggle. Tell us how your organization CHANGED things. Give me something to feel, to care about, to go out and tell my friends and family about. Here in Pinellas County PARC does a GREAT job of telling their story HERE.
  2. Get your FACTS straight and make sure your information is up-to-date. I will not mention the site, but it is one I know all too well–they have the date the company was founded, which is good, but then they also include how long the company has been operating. Not only is this information redundant, but the number of year operating is an evolving number that needs to be changed each year. If you insist on including it, you’d better be committed to updating it every single year. As it stands, you’ve been dormant for about 5 years. Okay, that’s just an example, but in a historical statement, STAY AWAY from figures that change. Also, if you include a blurb about where you are today, which is good–update that at least annually. Do it the same time you do your annual report–that’s a good reminder that all your company’s content should be reviewed, including your website
  3. Make sure your website looks good. Honestly, this is not an expensive or difficult thing to do. If you have a website, and you certainly should, make sure it’s attractive. Certainly, if it’s easy to navigate, lots of content, etc.–even better. But, first, make it visually pleasing. If your web page is hard to look at, no one will want to bother, and it reflects poorly on your company’s image.
  4. Less is more when it comes to text. WOW! So much verbose copy, laden with industry jargon–I’ve been working in the helping fields for over 20 friggin years, and if I wonder what you mean by what you’re trying to say, and I’m getting tired of reading wordy copy, I can’t begin to imagine what the public at large thinks when they see it. Tighten it up, and keep it simple. If that’s too hard for you pros in the field to do, get some clients and community members together to focus group your marketing copy for you. If you don’t believe me, listen to what they have to say…
  5. Include a link for media on your website. Please, think of us and throw us a little bone. Include your press releases there as a link. Include contact info. and brief bios of subject experts that we can contact for quotes and insight into issues–we are always looking for expert opinions. Make it easy for us to find. Give us your logo and other graphics that we have total permission to use as stock art for articles. And, tell us who your media contact is so that we can contact them directly. When a story is breaking, and we want to use your organization as an expert, we don’t have time to wait around or hunt to find “maybe” the right person. Get us linked to them straight away, and we’ll get you into print faster and more often as the experts in the field that you are.
  6. Be responsive to media. We matter. In a time when funding is tighter than ever, getting and keeping your company’s name in the community dialogue is critical when you are cultivating donors. If a development director has to spend too much time explaining to a potential donor what the organization is and why they care about it, it’s probably already too late to bother. Keeping your name in the media as noted experts in what you do is key to raising the value of your organization in the mind of your public. There’s no short cut. There are many creative ways to do this, and traditional media isn’t the only one… but it’s important to do in some fashion.
  7. Reach out to media. Don’t just send us a press release. Trust me, we often don’t “get” why your story is important. Talk to us. Get to know us. Take us to lunch (we really like that!). But, develop a relationship with us. And this is critical–don’t bother telling us why your story is important to you. Tell me why I, the media professional cares, and why it’s cool, interesting or important to the public. THAT’s the story. Don’t count on the fact that the media professional will be able to see why your story matters. Spoon feed THAT to them, because why your story matters IS the story.

Poynter seeking superhero VP to help with funding

It’s no surprise that the parent of the Tampa Bay Times, Poynter Institute for Media Studies, is facing the same financial terrors as print newspapers across the nation. The first blow is obvious, coming from a relentless national recession, while the second hit has to do with Poynter’s unique ownership model of the Tampa Bay Times.

Tampa Tribune’s Richard Mullins reports: “The nonprofit Poynter Institute is recruiting new philanthropy experts, launching a massive fund-raising drive and exploring land sales as financial support from the St. Petersburg-based newspaper is ‘no longer viable.’”

“‘These have been difficult times,’ said Poynter President Karen Dunlap. The institute’s posh campus with the bay view makes ‘a number of people think there’s a huge pot of gold in a closet somewhere in Poynter. That’s not true. I’ve looked.’”

The Times has not been immune to the same threat all print media is facing—the internet. In fact, despite holding strong as the best selling newspaper in Florida, the times has had a steady decline in revenue, based on IRS filings.

“Times revenue in 2009 stood at $274.7 million, which included the sale of its Washington-based Congressional Quarterly publication. Times officials declined to say for how much. Then in 2010, revenue fell to $159 million, a drop of 42 percent. At the same time, assets, including physical property, stood at $122.9 million in 2008, then $113.4 million in 2009 and $83 million in 2010,” based on Tampa Tribune research.

This directly correlates to Poynter’s hardship as the Tampa Bay Times had been a significant part of the organization’s revenue. “Newspapers simply can’t offer the kind of ‘generous dividends’ required for Poynter to remain vital as a national journalism training institute,’ as described in the job posting for a new vice president for Poynter, “and ‘strategic thinking’ over the past few years suggests the newspaper model won’t in the future,” reported Mullins.

Poynter’s solution is that they hire it. So the organization has a new position open: President, The Poynter Foundation/Vice President, Institutional Advancement.

Based on the job description, the position’s expectation will be to double outside grants within two years, launch an endowment drive and lead a new foundation staff. While the new-hire will be responsible for “doubling outside grants,” Poynter admits that historically it has mostly left government grant untouched for ethical reasons.

“Poynter could seek donations from government-affiliated groups, such as national endowments for the arts or humanities,” reported Mullins, “but has ‘steered clear’ of those groups in the past, Dunlap said, partly out of a concern about a potential conflict of interest because journalism plays a role of government watchdog.”

If this new Vice President of Institutional Advancement is expected to double outside grants without applying for government grants, I
wonder if the applicant must also have a superhero cape in her wardrobe?

Link to full TBO.com in-depth article by Richard Mullins HERE: http://www2.tbo.com/news/business/2012/jun/02/6/tampa-bay-times-parent-facing-financial-squeeze-ar-410873/

New Media vs. Traditional Media — new take on “the medium is the message”

While sitting on the sidelines of today’s Suncoast Tiger Bay Club meeting, listening to local panelists discuss “Traditional Media vs. New Media,” it became crystal clear that Marshall McLuhan’s prophetic phrase, “The medium is the message” first published in 1964 had become a reality far beyond anything McLuhan could have possibly imagined.

The panelists for today’s Suncoast Tiger Bay meeting included Eric Deggans of the Tampa Bay Times, Jeff Houck of the TBO.com, Mitch Perry of Creative Loafing, Noah Pransky of WTSP 10 News, John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times and Peter Schorsch of Saint PetersBlog.

Our experienced panelists discussed issue such as predicting whether newspapers will still be politically relevant in ten years, with most of the panel agreeing that yes, though it might look different. Schorsch was a striking voice of dissent on this issues, stating flatly, “absolutely not.” Schorsch pointed out that newspapers are not economically sound and that the on-line publications The Huffington Post and Politico were Pulitzer Prize winners this year.

Largo Mayor Pat Gerard asked the panel a pertinent question in the wake of local newspaper layoffs and marked circulation decline, “Will the decline of local newspapers lead to the decline of keeping an eye on local politicians? […] How do we know who to trust?”

Deggans responds, “Trust yourself.” He continues saying that while “there is downsizing in newsrooms, you have the tools to determine how valid, how real and how important a story is.” Deggans explains that this isn’t determined entirely by the source.

St. Petersburg City Councilmember Karl Nurse posed the question as to whether media is making people more educated or more opinionated. Schorsch stated firmly, “More educated” He said, “There has been a 400 percent increase in talking about politics since 9/11,” where Schorsch credits social media as a significant reason why. Schorsch also contends that through the use of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, the volume of national dialogue about all issues has increased. Yet, Pransky was less enthusiastic stating that he believes overall people are more opinionated based on blog postings yet more educated from traditional media.

Willi Rudowski of the Poynter Institute asked, “What is the benefit of speed over accuracy for democracy?” Deggans first spouted off saying, “None.” Then, he follows-up with a more complete answer, “Imapct.” When you are first, he explains, it gets you noticed, and being noticed affects your bottom line, and that’s important if you want to stay in the game.

Yet, I suspect that Deggans meant what he said the first time, “None.”

Romano expanded on this saying that while this is true, he believes that “speed is often destroying good journalism. Good journalism is comprehensive, nuanced and thorough.”

Schrosch had more to add to this, however, and this point was my biggest take-away from this panel discussion where “The medium is the message” became the true topic of conversation. And I’m not saying that because Schorsch pays me, which he does, but because I believe it to be true. I’ve seen it in action.

Schorsch replied to the question of the benefit of speed over accuracy for democracy citing Twitter feeds to help organize protesters in Tunisia and other similar stories to help gather, organize and inform the public via social media tools. “It’s about getting people organized versus the ‘right people’ organized.”

At this point someone interjected, “The news is different from social media.”

But is it?

Schorsch said that the power of new media isn’t just to inform. “You can use it to overthrow a totalitarianism regime. I want to be able to help overthrow a totalitarianism regime.”

And here, the medium surely is the message.

What does that mean? “The medium is the message” refers to the reality that not only does the content the medium carries affect society, but the medium itself plays a significant role in the story and in shaping society.

Media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are as much a part of the story as the stories they tell just as much as the newspaper, television show or cable news station is. Moreover, whether we are discussing traditional media or new media, the storyteller his- or herself also is the message.

Via Daphne Taylor Street. You may reach Daphne at dts.streetmedia@gmail.com.

Published first on Saint PetersBlog: http://saintpetersblog.com/2012/05/at-tiger-bay-panel-traditional-journalists-and-new-media-debate-if-the-medium-is-in-fact-the-message/

Daphne’s List of 7: The Art of the Press Release

Here is a list of 7 tips to get the most out of press releases:

  1. Why: Determine why you are distributing a press release. What are you  hoping to achieve? Are you a public company alerting your investors and potential investors about activities that will raise the value of your company? Are you reminding your community that your company provides critical products and/or services that will address their problems and meet their needs? Are you rallying support for an issue or cause, solicit community awareness, support and/or involvement? Are you trying to get the public to come to an event–something that will make them happy or give them pleasure/enjoyment? Are you alerting the community of a problem–do you have a legal obligation to report or address a crisis, or do you need to address this problem to help you get ahead of a crisis management situation? Know WHY, then make certain the why is obvious in the press release.
  2. Content: Include facts (who, what, when, where, why + who cares?), and be sure to tell a story. Draw your reader into the experience, and engage them. Give them what they want. Make certain it serves THEIR needs more than yours and your company’s. Remember that news is usually something that someone else doesn’t want you to know. All else is advertising. There’s nothing wrong with advertising, at all, but know it when you’re selling it. If it’s actually news, it’s more likely to be carried to wider readerships. Add links and hyperlinks so that recipients can fact check easily and have easy access to details if they need more content.
  3. Trends: Look for opportunities to address trending topics already getting media coverage. If you can ties your press release into a hot topic of interest, that tie-in can serve as a follow-up article or special interest piece that will probably trigger buzz or keep a buzz going more than a lone wolf story would. Know what’s trending and/or how to spin your story to address trending topics.
  4. Style: There are different styles that speak best to different types of press releases. Formulas for public companies alerting investors and potential investors are available on the web. As for publicity, writing in AP inverse pyramid style. Create a brief article, which will save print media from needing to do much editing if they are short-staffed and short on content. This will increase your chances of getting your press release published. At all times, proofread, edit, pay attention to legal parameters such as never making a claim about a product or services, etc. It’s an excellent idea to have more than one set of eyeballs on the copy prior to distributing. Editing often makes stronger copy. Keep your release to one page. Brevity is blessed.
  5. Timing: Timing is critical. Immediacy is most often the best practice for press releases. This means, it’s a good idea to keep CEO quotes at the ready for press releases. As soon as you see a relevant topic is about to trend or a relevant story is about to break, gather the CEO quote, then respond while the topic is hot. Streamline your review process so that everyone responds with urgency. A late submission narrows your chances of coverage. If you are a public company, a late submission greatly diminishes the effectiveness in influencing investors and potential investors.
  6. Distribution: Best to have a subscription to a distribution service or go through a pro that has access to a distribution service. This is the only way to go for a public company. For publicity purposes, it’s best to have personal relationships with key media personnel (e.g. columnist, journalists, editors, producers, etc.) to help ensure your press release gets noticed. If you don’t have these relationships built yet, remember that flattery will get you everywhere. Know what articles or news pieces these journalists have covered recently. Compliment them, specifically citing why their piece was compelling to you, and then pitch the story you have that might be of interest to them. It can be a slow process. Good relationships usually take time to build, and they are based wholly on trust and accountability, being mutually beneficial.
  7. Follow-up: Pick up a phone. After you have submitted (outside of a distribution service), pick up a telephone and call your news sources. Do not assume that they received, read or understood your release. Call them, and let them know you sent it. Have a 2-3 minutes synopsis ready to pitch, and request that they cover it. Try to get a commitment. There are some mild soft-sales skills that would be helpful here. If they flatly are not interested, ask if they are working on any similar stories where your company could serve as a source or if they might be interested at another time. Also ask if they know other news pros that might be interested in the story. Try to get a commitment first. If that doesn’t work out, try to get a lead. No matter what, make sure to work on building and maintaining that relationship. Be willing to provide leads to the media pro even if the lead may not benefit your company right then. Personally link them to that lead. The media pro will remember the favor and your generosity. Most likely, the favor will be returned.

Revolutionize tourism and advertising.

I’ve read many, many blogs, websites, brochures, fliers, posters, ads… you name it. Let’s get real. People might like to be pampered and entertained, witness exotic customs or seek adventure and excitement. All of this is true.

Tourist introduced to culture

I have a better question for people in the tourism industry–all you copywriters, marketers and ad guys out there whose job it is to lure the almighty American dollar into the hands of tourist destination A or B…

Question: What do people really need?

Answer: They need to feel connected.

 This will require nano-target marketing, keeping costs ridiculously low while redefining “vacation” by amping up the local experience. This means having an intimate understanding of the “vacation” destination, its locals, history and opportunities for tourists to fully engage in what it means to be local. This means including opportunities for short-term, hour-long community volunteerism; opportunities for walking tours with locals at parks or beaches; allowing access to open classes on subjects such as sculpture, kayaking, local history or meditation; participation in community festivals; and providing affordable, safe, comfortable accommodations in historic or culturally significant locations.

Give people an opportunity to “Be a local” and be a part of a community when they travel–to reconnect with themselves and connect to the community they’re visiting.

Marketers and copywriters, sell THAT. I dare you.

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