Saturday, January 26, 2013

Essential Information for Dealing with the Media

When you see a television interview, watch it carefully and you will see that some people have short, easy-to-digest answers while others tend to ramble. Also you will observe some people always manage to slip into their conversation about their key point or their new product without being offensive.

You may wonder how they pull off such successful interviews. It is not by accident. They are showing their own savvy skills with the media. You need the insights in THE MEDIA TRAINING BIBLE.

When I want to learn a specialized skill like media training, I turn to an experienced expert like author Brad Phillips. For years, he has been a broadcast journalist and worked with well-known broadcasters like Ted Koppel and Wolf Blitzer. His ABC and CNN experience combined with his years of working with top executives on the topic of media, make Phillips someone who knows the inside information about working with journalists and reporters.

Whether you need to know the basic ground rules to working with the media or insights on answering tough questions or just understanding the different types of media formats, you will find important information inside THE MEDIA TRAINING BIBLE. Whether you are a small business owner, a book author, a CEO or working at a nonprofit, I recommend this book.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Get Answers from A Writer's Writer

Where do you turn to find answers to your questions as a writer? You can gain some insight at a writer's conference or possibly from reading an article or a how-to-write book. But where do you get answers for situation and your burning questions?

Next Tuesday, January 29th I'm going to be asking your questions to bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins. He is the author of more than 170 books with sales of more than 70 million copies including the bestselling Left Behind series, is the chairman of the board of trustees for the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. His writing has appeared in Time, Reader’s Digest, Guideposts, Parade and dozens of Christian periodicals. Twenty of his books have reached the New York Times Best Seller List (seven of them debuting at number one). Jerry also owns the Christian Writers Guild.

Jerry is the author of the 2013 Christian Writer's Market Guide which for more than 25 years, has been the most comprehensive and highly recommended resource on the market for Christian writers, agents, editors, publishers, publicists, and writing teachers. In addition to providing a wealth of ideas and tips for publishing in the Christian industry, the 2013 Christian Writer's Market Guide also includes up-to-date information on more than 160 book publishers, more than 140 periodicals, and hundreds of agents, contests, conferences, editorial services, niche markets, self-publishing services, and more. This is the ultimate reference tool for Christian writers.

I have convinced Jerry B. Jenkins to grill him during a LIVE 70-minute telewebcast on Tuesday, January 29th!

* * * Here's My Small Request * * *

Rather than have the "content" come out of my head (or Jerry's head) for the January 29, 2013 telewebcast at 4 p.m. PDT / 7:00 p.m. EDT, I have decided to let you ask Jerry a question. 

Sound fair?

So, if you could ask Jerry ANY question you wanted about writing or marketing for the Christian writer, what would your question be?

Here's your chance to ask Jerry directly and get registered for the call on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 (starts promptly according to www.Time.gov).

Click the link below:


* * * Get FREE chapter on What to Write from Jerry's book "Writing for the Soul" * * *

You will receive a full chapter from "Writing for The Soul." It's FREE if you ask a question and register for this telewebcast.

Click the link below:


After your question gets submitted, you'll find out how to get phone access and webcast access to Jerry B. Jenkins and I for the LIVE telewebcast, January 29, 2013.

If you can't make the time of the call, please go ahead and sign up anyway. The entire teleseminar will be recorded and EVERYONE who signs up will receive an email with the replay link. Also if you sign up, you will be able to download the FREE Ebook, What To Write from Writing for The Soul right away.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Social Media Can Make or Break You

Editor's note: Yesterday and today, I'm honored to introduce you to Brad Phillips, the president of Phillips Media Relations, a media and presentation training firm with offices in New York City and Washington, D.C. I was fascinated with the insights in these two excerpts from his new book, The Media Training Bible.

By Brad Phillips


Imagine you’re the communications director for Hartown Manufacturing, a midsize company based in California. You’re responsible for all communications in the western United States.

One morning, you arrive at work and log in to your Twitter account. You’re scrolling through the rather dull tweets when you suddenly see one that takes your breath away: “Breaking News: Major Explosion at Salt Lake City Hartown Plant.”

Within minutes, dozens of people are tweeting about it, spreading rumors along the way. Some eyewitnesses claim they’ve seen ambulances pulling away with dozens of victims. One claims a plant supervisor has been killed. You call a colleague who works at the plant who tells you that no one knows whether anybody was badly hurt—and that no ambulances have arrived yet.

You immediately post that accurate information to Hartown’s social media pages. Journalists who follow your feeds see your posts and decide against reporting any of the rumors they’ve read about possible injuries or deaths until you confirm them.

That type of scenario is commonplace in the age of social media, and it underscores three important truths:

  1. The public and the press may learn of a crisis affecting your company through their social media networks before you even know there’s a problem.
  2. People will begin discussing (and speculating about) your crisis before you’ve had time to obtain the facts.
  3. You need to use your social media channels to immediately correct misinformation and establish yourself as a primary source of accurate information.

Most reporters now use social media as an essential tool of crisis reporting. As Jane Jordan-Meier reported in The Four Stages of Highly Effective Crisis Management, “Two journalists I spoke with saw Twitter as the new police scanner.” You can no longer afford to relegate social media to being of secondary importance.

Communicate through your social media networks as quickly as possible, ideally within half an hour of learning about an incident. You can include links to lengthier statements and additional resources in your posts.

There’s one additional way to help manage a crisis using social media: be engaged with your social networks before a crisis strikes. You’ll need fans to defend your integrity when something goes wrong, and few people are more credible than the unaffiliated third parties who voluntarily vouch for you.

Case Study: Domino’s Pizza & a Disgusting Video (V)

In 2009, an employee of a North Carolina Domino’s franchise filmed a coworker sticking cheese up his nose before appearing to send the food out for delivery. The two workers uploaded the video to YouTube, where it quickly racked up a million views. Television anchors showed the disgusting clip on their newscasts and customers stopped ordering pizza.

Company president Patrick Doyle waited two days before finally responding. He issued a two-minute YouTube apology, in which he appeared genuinely pained by the incident. He was deservedly given credit by many crisis management professionals for releasing the heartfelt video— but most suggested that he waited too long and incurred unnecessary financial and reputational damage by waiting 48 hours.

Mr. Doyle’s response was noteworthy for one additional reason: it was the first time a major company president used YouTube as the primary method of responding to a crisis.

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Social Media: An Introduction

Editor's note: Today and tomorrow, I'm honored to introduce you to Brad Phillips, the president of Phillips Media Relations, a media and presentation training firm with offices in New York City and Washington, D.C. I was fascinated with the insights in these two excerpts from his new book, The Media Training Bible.

By Brad Phillips

Many of the executives we work with are terrified of social media. They’ve either experienced the dark side of it personally or heard horror stories from their industry peers: tales of vicious comments on an influential blogger’s website; incorrect and badly damaging rumors on Twitter; or an embarrassing, secretly filmed video uploaded onto YouTube. 

Those potential hazards are real. But executives tend to focus disproportionately on the downsides of social media and not nearly enough on the potential upsides. Their focus on the risks leads them to adopt a “head in sand” strategy of neglecting social media, which rarely works, at least in the long-term.
Social media—which include blogs, social networks, and video-sharing sites—offer today’s communicators a tremendous advantage over their predecessors.
Think back for a moment to the turn of the 21st century, when journalists still dominated as the primary gatekeepers of information. If a company wanted media attention, it would send a press release to a few reporters and wait passively as the reporters decided whether or not to cover the story. Even if the company’s work was covered, there was no guarantee of the story being favorable. Companies were at the mercy of the press.
To be sure, those reporters remain critical allies today. Positive stories by the media still bestow valuable third-party credibility onto you, while negative stories can diminish your reputation.
But the traditional media’s influence is waning. Social media have flattened the playing field, allowing companies to disseminate the information they want, to whomever they want, whenever and however they want. There’s no longer a need to wait for a journalist to file a story—if companies want their audiences to know something, they can just post it to their blog, Facebook page, or Twitter feed.
If you’re still deciding whether or not to maintain a social media presence, the answer should almost surely be yes. Your audiences aren’t waiting for you to interact—they’re already talking about you. Companies that engage their audiences can build positive relationships, create a reservoir of goodwill to tap into when a crisis strikes, and help prevent false rumors from spreading before they take deep root.
If you work for a company, your social networks offer you free market research that used to cost many thousands of dollars. If you work for an advocacy group, your networks tell you which appeals are most likely to spur donations before you invest in a major campaign. If you work for a government agency, your social networks will let you know what public misperceptions you need to clear up.
Journalists are also turning to social media in droves to learn more about you. If you’re not managing your reputation where your audiences are, you’re nowhere—or worse. 
Social Media by the Numbers

  • In September 2012, Twitter users in the United States visited the site more than 51 million times per week.
  • In June 2012, Facebook averaged more than 550 million users every day.
  • As of May 2012, 800 million unique users worldwide visited YouTube each month.
  • LinkedIn members conducted an estimated 5.3 billion searches on the platform in 2012.
Sources: Burson-Marstellar, Experian, LinkedIn

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Basics Count on Submissions

The creativity of writers never ceases to amaze me. Here's one of my true stories with a lesson for you on submissions: You are passionate about your story and sit hour after hour and write that manuscript.

You bring that manuscript in a large binder and hand it to an acquisitions editor during a large conference where the editor (me) is a keynote speaker. I listen to you for a few minutes and thank you and promise to read it and get back to you.

Weeks later I actually have a second to look at this large binder. I'm intrigued with the story and the writing but there is a key missing element—the writer didn't add a title page with her contact information, email, phone number. In fact, her name doesn't appear anywhere obvious inside this binder.

In the interim weeks, I've heard nothing from this author—no follow-up email to see if I've had a chance to read it or reconnecting or anything. I finally read the material and wanted to reconnect with the author so I tracked down her business card. I keep the business cards in a separate place from the manuscripts, then I reconnected the materials and emailed this author to find out the status of her book.

At this time, I still don't know where she is in the publication process but a basis error kept us from connecting weeks earlier.

You would be surprised how often this happens with submissions. 

Whether you hand your submission to an editor or literary agent at a conference—or—you send it electronically—check and double check that you have some basic information on the first page:

Name, mailing address, phone number and email address

Here's the simple reason you need to include your mailing address. As a part of our submission process, we mail each author a printed letter in the postal system. If you don't include this information in your submission, then the editor has to reach out to you to get this information. In the meantime, your submission goes to the side while other things are worked on (not what you want to happen).

As I was writing this article, another author contacted me about her submission. During our conversation, she mentioned that her mother had passed away. I was going to send her a sympathy card so I dug out her business card. The card was beautiful and included her name, email and phone along with her photo—but no mailing address. Next I went to her website and looked around. It was an attractive website but did not include a mailing address. 

One of the most difficult aspects of proofreading is finding something which is not on the page. Many editors will not go to such effort to process your submission but will simply set it aside and begin working on the next one on their submission list. You will be rejected by default.

Don't make the editor or agent have to work hard to reach you. It will work against you rather than for you in this process. The basics are important and make sure you have them covered.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Keep Building Publishing Relationships

I had not heard from this author in several months then I received this follow-up message: “Since I haven't heard back from you, I'll assume you're not interested. Just wanted to let you know that I'm pursuing other publishers for my book. Cheers.”

What did she submit? It had been weeks ago so I used my search tool for my email and located her “submission.” It was a scattered “idea” of a book project claiming that she was too busy to properly put together anything else. The submission didn't contain her name, contact info, her marketing ideas or a brief bio. When it arrived, I reviewed it and confirmed receipt but I assumed that something much more polished and presentable would be coming. It never arrived so I had nothing to present to my publication board. Instead I received her follow-up note.

This author is clueless of the volume of submissions that editors and agents receive—nor the necessity of building (not tearing down) relationships with these publishing professionals. 

As writers we need to continually grow our connections and relationships. Here's some positive ways to grow these relationships:

First, follow the editor or agent and their writing. It may be as simple as reading their blog on a regular basis (if they have a blog) or following them on Twitter (and if you follow them back you have a direct connection to them and can send them little bits of encouragement—we all need it). 

Or get connected to them through LinkedIn (which is another tool that I'm using to be connected to different editors). Or befriend them on Facebook and follow their posts and comment on them or “like” them. These connections do not have to take tons of time or energy or cost lots of money but you do need to be actively developing and strengthening new connections on a regular basis.

Next, you want to polish your writing and proposals, then be sending them out on a regular basis to the editors and agents in your path. And if you don't hear any response (which happens fairly often because of the large volume of submissions), then after a few weeks time, I encourage you to gently follow-up. Not as the opening example in this entry—but maybe something simple as, “I'm double checking to make sure you received my submission which I sent on this date.”

Email gets messed up and we receive a lot of it. The simple checking to see if they got it may spur the editor or agent into action and get you the attention that you wanted in the first place. 

Another way to build publishing relationships is a little harder for me to explain but I'm going to try. I listen to my inner thoughts and take action on those thoughts. Some people would call it listening to the “still small voice” which directs your daily actions. For example, today I was reminded of one of my Morgan James authors and I wrote a little email checking in. Or it might be an author that I've not heard from in a while and the author comes into my thoughts—and I write a simple email to this person. 

Sometimes I hear nothing from those little emails (and it will work the same for you). Other times I reach out to an author just at their point of decision and they are trying to figure out which way to go. Because I've reached out to them, they come my direction as opposed to going another way (and I'm talking about my work as an acquisitions editor here but it can also happen with my writing life). One of the keys in this publishing business is being in the right place at the right time. It can only happen if you are taking consistent persistent action. 

Today one of my friends, Bob Bly wrote about the characteristics of successful people and the seven factors that make a difference. I encourage you to follow this link and study this list. How can you gain more of these characteristics for your own publishing life?

How are you building publishing relationships this year? One of the best ways is to plan to attend a writer's conference. There are many different choices in this area. I'm speaking at a number of different events around the country. I'd love to help you and hope our paths cross soon—either on the phone or email or face to face at a conference.

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Seize Opportunity to Get Published

There are a number of keys to getting published. First, you have to learn the craft of writing and have written something of well-done for the market to get excited about and publish. This first point is foundational.

Yet there are many good writers that never get published because they don't follow the second key: stir opportunity and take action. Your writing will never get published if it stays inside your computer or your journal or your desk and never is shown to an editor or literary agent.

You must take consistent action to get connected to the marketplace. I've often said that publishing is a matter of being at the right place at the right time with the right writing to meet the right person (publishing champion). I understand there are many “rights” in that last sentence but it can happen for you if you seize opportunities.

My first book involved meeting a children's editor at a writer's conference. This editor asked me for my ideas—and I had some ideas prepared. When she responded, “That's a good idea. Write that up and send it to me.” 

I went home and took action and wrote it and sent it to the editor. Yes, it took a number of rewrites and other things before that idea actually became a book but I was taking consistent action and moving forward.

You must meet the right champion to get your book published. There are thousands of ideas in circulation and one of the ways you can stand out is to make the right connection.

A writer's conference is a great place to connect with editors and agents and talk with them about what they need and your own book ideas. These talks can happen formally or informally during the conference.

I'm going to be traveling to a number of conferences this coming year and hope our paths will cross. I encourage you to check my speaking schedule on a regular basis so we can personally meet at a conference. As an acquisitions editor, I'm actively looking for all types of manuscripts (adult fiction and nonfiction and children's books).

Tuesday, January 15th, I've created an opportunity for you to learn from an expert, Rick Frishman—and also possibly receive a FREE registration to Author 101 University in Los Angeles in March. Five people will receive these registrations during our 70–minute teleseminar.

You have to take action to be one of these five people. First, you have to register for the FREE call. Second, you have to be listening to the LIVE event on Tuesday night. 

Let's say you take action and register for this call and attend the event—and you are selected as one of the five winners. The registration is worth about $500 and you are able to attend Author 101 University in March. Suddenly you are at an event where you can meet a literary agent or an editor who will get your book published. 

Take action today and sign up for this event (use this link). Ask Rick a question when you register. It may be one of the questions that I will ask Rick on Tuesday night. Even if you don't win one of the registrations, you will learn a great deal and it will be a help to your writing career.

You have to take action to get connected to the publishing world. I hope to speak with you Tuesday night or see you at Author 101 University in March.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Why Keep Up with the Technology

Maybe you are one of these writers who is focused on writing and the technology can spin around you and you aren't interested in keeping up. I know where you are coming from and I've been right there with you.

Last summer I met with a pastor of a large church. He picked a local restaurant which had gone out of business two days before our meeting. As I was walking up to the meeting, he told me, “I just sent you a text.” I had no idea where that text went because it did not reach me. I had a cell phone but did not text nor receive email on my phone. I did not have a smart phone.

I watch people enamored with the technology to the detriment of their writing life. When they are with people, instead of focusing on these people, they are reading their email or texting friends. I didn't want to be a part of that crowd. Also I've often found with email and texting, there is some value to not instantly responding but putting some thought into it. Some times a situation can be enflamed with an instant and thoughtless response. I was happy with my little plain cell phone.

I handled my email on my regular computer—not my phone and not on the road. I tend to get a lot of email (hundreds a day). Any time that I'm away from my computer for a length of time, things do begin to pile up and take several days to process. 

Last fall I did six conferences in seven weeks all over the U.S. I spent a great deal of time away from my computer and knew it would take more than a few hours to catch up if I didn't do something to change how I worked. I took the plunge and traded my simple cell phone for an iPhone 5. I've been learning to text and email and much more on my phone.

> I've had a huge learning curve with my phone. Each day gets better and I've seen the repeated value of making this switch. Several weeks ago I read that bestselling novelist Philip Roth had purchased an iPhone 5 and he was working through the instruction in the book iPhone 5 for Dummies.

While you might not like the Dummies series, I've found a number of these books to be insightful for learning. I got the book and have been working through the different chapters applying it to my phone and situation. While the phone has a lot of intuitive features, I have benefited from the detailed instructions.

This week I was speaking about my technology change with one of my writer friends and he told me about a songwriter friend who was writing with a well-known recording artist. This songwriter had a clunky old cell phone—nothing connected to the Internet or the ability to text. 

During his writing session, they created a song. He asked when they were going to head into the studio to make a demo of the new song. The well-known artist said, “Hang on. Let's record it now.” 

He pulled out his phone and started the recording application. They created an MP3 then he sent the phone off to a record executive. In a short amount of time, the executive responded and gave them a record deal.

The experience changed the song writer with the old cell phone. He updated his phone and began to use the new technology.

Admittedly you have to use wisdom with the technology. I still think twice and sometimes several times before I fire off a response. Also I work at not constantly checking my email or using my phone when I'm with my wife or other family members. Like any tool, you need to discover the right balance for you and your writing life.

What steps are you taking to update your technology and continue to grow as a writer and communicator?

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