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Right Writing News, September 25, 2008, Issue #36
September 25, 2008
Welcome to the 36th issue to subscribers of Right Writing News. If you are reading this issue forwarded from someone, be sure and use the link below to get your own free subscription.
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Table of Contents1)A Unique Conference in Atlanta
By W. Terry Whalin
2)Fifteen Things the Media Loves
By Rick Frishman
3)Fifteen Things the Media Hates
By Rick Frishman
4) Health Insurance For Writers
By W. Terry Whalin
5) How's Your Reputation?
By John Jantsch
6) Get My Latest Free Ebook
By W. Terry Whalin
7) To Get In Print, Hit 'Em Where They Ain't
By Laura Backes
A Unique Conference in Atlanta
By W. Terry WhalinHave you heard the definition of insanity? It's doing the same things over and over expecting a different result.
Over the last ten years, I've been to many different writers conferences and taught in a number of places. I've never been to a conference with the shape like Spread the Word 2008.
The majority of these conferences are focused on developing your skills--and this conference will be as well. Yet the unique focus of Spread the Word 2008 will be to help you understand how to position and market your message in fresh ways.
At Spread the Word 2008 you will have the unique possibility of meeting with me personally for 15 minutes so I can hear your book idea and give you my professional insight about how to position your book idea. Those 15 minutes could be lifechanging to help you with your dreams of book publishing. In addition, you will also receive a free 30 minute consultation with the conference organizer, Rosey Dow. To learn more click here.
I've never written this type of article but I feel strongly if you live in or near the Atlanta area--or can possibly get to Spread the Word 2008, then you should make the effort and be there.
Climb out of your every day rut and get to this unique conference. I hope to see you in Atlanta.
Fifteen Things the Media Loves
By Rick Frishman"Reporters are like alligators. You don't have to love them, you don't necessarily have to like them. But you do have to feed them."
Above all else, the media wants newsworthy items. The first thing they ask is, "Will our audience care about this?" News is what affects people's lives, what they discuss at the dinner table and around the water cooler. For the media, news is not just about delivering information; it's about entertaining first and educating or selling second. So, provide your information in an entertaining fashion.
2. The Big Three: Sex, Money, and Health
Stories that involve sex, money, or health attract attention. The media believes that the public is obsessed with sex, money, and health, and if you link your story to one or more of them, it will increase its media appeal.
Save everyone time and effort by sending short, concise messages, preferably by e-mail. Cut to the chase--be direct and without subterfuge. State what you're pitching and how it will help the intended audience. Long missives often go unread.
Faxes can be unreliable. Some newsrooms, stations, and offices have only one fax machine, or one per floor, and it may be operated by an intern or a clerk. In large organizations, faxes are often undelivered or delivered to the wrong person. If you send a fax, follow up with an e-mail to be sure it is received.
4. Targeted Pitches
Every story isn't for every outlet. Research the audience you wish to reach and identify which outlets best target that audience. Before making your pitch, study each media outlet: read its articles, watch and listen to its programs, and visit its Web sites. Customize your pitch to stress how it will benefit each outlet's specific audience. Send business stories to business reporters, not to lifestyle reporters, unless the story has a lifestyle angle.
Media people like to deal with people who build relationships rather than merely try to sell a story. Although individual stories are important, people in the media know that careers are built by forging strong relationships. To the media, professionals build relationships and they prefer to work with professionals in their network rather than one-shot wonders.
Do your homework. The media likes to work with people who have their acts together and can deliver what is needed. Focus on making the media's job easier. Know your subject inside and out and have written materials completed and on hand to send upon request. With products, send three copies of the product to the media. Being prepared shows commitment and that you're a dedicated professional.
7. Broad Appeal
The story behind your product or service should be able to reach a wide variety of individuals. You want something that makes audiences say, "I know someone who could use that." The media looks for stories that people will identify with. Search for broad themes that deliver some punch.
The media wants stories that feed into larger items such as breaking news or trends. It looks for topics that will spawn families of stories. For example, during mining disasters they go for stories about safety, corporate greed, the closeness and tradition of mining communities, handling grief, treating trauma, technical and scientific advances, and the environment.
Reporters, editors, and bloggers like to see how others have covered your story; send articles that others have written about you or your product or service. Producers and podcasters want to know how you came off on camera or radio; give them a list of shows you've appeared on and offer to supply tapes for their review.
The media loves stories that they can picture. In your written materials, use visual terms to create images and tell stories that illustrate your main points. The better the media can visualize your story, the better it can visualize its audience visualizing your story.
11. Celebrity Connections
Explain how your product or service is linked to well-known personalities. The public craves information about celebrities and products related to them get plenty of ink.
12. Prompt Response
Since the media works tight deadlines, time is always of the essence. Respond promptly to requests. Send requested material by the fastest route: hand delivery or overnight express. Delays can cause postponements or cancellations. You're always in a race with the clock.
Be respectful to everyone you come in contact with, especially those who answer the phones. Before speaking with media contacts, learn the proper pronunciation of their names. Butchering a media contact's name will get you off to a rocky start; it will put you in a hole before you begin.
14. Visual Aids
A picture is worth 10,000 words. Send charts, graphs, photographs, illustrations, and other graphic aids that reporters can stick under their editors' noses to show why your story merits telling.
15. Send Warnings
Before sending unsolicited material, you should notify your media contacts that it is coming with a quick call or e-mail. If they tell you not to send it, respect their wishes.
See you in Atlanta on Oct 1 and 2 http://AUTHOR101-UNIVERSITY.COM
Reprinted from "Rick Frishman's Author 101 Newsletter"
Get to Author 101 University on October 1 & 2nd. Click this link to learn more: www.AUTHOR101-UNIVERSITY.COM
Fifteen Things the Media Hates
By Rick FrishmanNow that you know what to do in order to solicit a positive response--here's what to avoid:
1. Not Taking "No" for an Answer
Persistence is an admirable trait, but there comes a point when you must accept defeat. Most people won't build relationships with insistent callers who phone 500 times after they're told "No." When someone says "No," accept it. Walk away before you destroy a potentially valuable connection.
One killer page is all you need. If the media wants more, they'll ask for it. Come up with a great headline, state the major points in a strong first paragraph, and bullet everything you want to stress. Include secondary information in a background or follow-up release.
3. Lying, Misrepresentation, and Hype
Don't be dishonest or unreasonable. The truth will always emerge, and when stories aren't based on facts, the media usually ends up holding the bag. Most people, especially those in the media, won't forget who got them burned and will not give you the chance to do it again. Media pros know a good story when they see one and they can cut through the hype.
4. Pitches That Don't Fit
Know exactly what the specific contact wants. Don't approach reporters or producers with stories that fall outside their areas of interest. Pitching a story to the wrong outlet shows that you haven't done your research. It wastes everyone's time.
5. Small Talk
Get right to the point--be clear and brief. Don't confuse chitchat with courtesy. Assume that the people you contact are busy and don't have time for small talk. Needless chatting borders on rudeness, it holds people hostage and keeps them from attending to business. It's thinly veiled manipulation that rarely works.
6. Links That Don't Work
Little is more frustrating than to click on a link that doesn't work. When people go to your site or blog, they don't have time to waste on dead links. If they can't easily access the information they want, they will probably exit your site and move on to something else.
Media kits that weigh as much as your cocker spaniel are a turnoff. Less is more. When in doubt, leave it out. Most recipients resent bulging kits, consider them wasteful, and won't read them. The last thing they want is more stuff. If you must send tomes, bound them securely because it's maddening to watch papers falling out and scattering in every direction when an envelope is opened.
8. Cold Calls
Unsolicited phone calls are intrusions--verbal spam. They interrupt busy people while they're working. E-mail first to warn them that you plan on calling. Similarly, don't send unrequested attachments--they won't be opened--and unsolicited videotapes won't be watched. Unless you receive express permission, never call the media at home!
Avoid offering free tickets to events and other bribes. Many media outlets prohibit gifts altogether, some bar presents over a fixed dollar amount (often $25) and others require gifts to be shared or donated to charity. Generally, the media wants good stories, not free T-shirts or coffee mugs.
Nobody likes name-droppers. Name-dropping often indicates that a story is weak. In most cases, if connections to celebrated names are tenuous at best, they seldom change the story's value. While name-dropping may work with friends, it will hurt you with media professionals.
11. Lack of Appeal
Your discovery of a foolproof method of pickling pimentos may be the biggest thing in your life, but it's probably of little or no interest to the rest of the world. If you want your story covered by the media, it must have audience appeal.
12. Unnecessary Confirmation Calls
Unrequested calls made simply to check on whether faxes or packages have arrived draw mixed responses at best. Some media pros see them as helpful reminders for keeping track of items on their plates. Others resent them as pestering. Your best bet is to send a quick e-mail, rather than call, to check on the delivery of faxes and packages.
If you use a gimmick, it better be sensational and the reason you're using it must be clear. That said, the vast majority falls flat. Never assume that the media will get the point you're trying to make. Most media people prefer conventional approaches. A reporter for a big-city newspaper told us that a woman who appeared outside his office clad in a bikini and blowing a trumpet provided a good laugh, but she didn't get the publicity she wanted because she never mentioned why she was there.
14. Not Following Up on Requests
Everybody hates people who send press releases, call, or fax, but then don't follow up with additional information when it is requested. If you say, or even imply, that you're going to do something, do it and do it promptly. Otherwise, you will be considered unreliable and unprofessional. If you don't respond promptly it may be too late. You can't expect folks to wait for you.
15. Recycling Ideas
Don't repeatedly send the same idea no matter how cleverly you repackage it. Writers, producers, and bloggers recognize and resent old dogs dolled up in new duds. "A lump of coal is still a lump of coal and no matter how you package it, it's not a diamond," a producer once explained.
Stay on the media's good side. When you're aware of what the media loves and what it hates, it will give you a great shot at staying in the media's good graces. Feed the media what it wants because the more the media likes you, the more publicity it can generate for your product or service.
See you in Atlanta on Oct 1 and 2
Reprinted from "Rick Frishman's Author 101 Newsletter"
Health Insurance For Writers
By W. Terry Whalin
If you are a freelance writer, where do you get your health insurance? It's a challenging question and there are nearly 47 million Americans or 16 percent of the population without health insurance in 2005 (the latest government data on this question).
Many people have a spouse that works a "day job" and that is their method to get insurance. My family wasn't in that situation so we had to pay for our own individual policy.
For years I've looked at different writer's groups and in particular watching for the health insurance benefit. I never found it--until the American Society of Journalists and Authors launched a nationwide health insurance benefit.
For more than 10 years, I've been a member of the ASJA. It's different from most other writer's organizations. For the majority of them, if you are living and breathing and will pay their dues, then you can join the group. It's different with the ASJA. You have to qualify for membership. There are many people who qualify for membership yet they have never considered joining--but I believe this nationwide health insurance benefit will be a draw to many people.
If you read this entry in the Writing Life and decide to join the ASJA for their many benefits (including health insurance), please do me a favor a add my name to spot on the membership application where it asks for a "referring member." Why? Because I will get 10% off my next year's dues and it's something that I've never had happen in my years in ASJA--even though I'm certain I've brought people into the organization. You can be the first one.
I want to celebrate this great new benefit for writers: a group health insurance policy.
How's Your Reputation?
By John Jantsch
Everything on the web about you, your products and your company is true - unless you manage otherwise.
The onslaught of user generated media, blogs and discussion forums has changed the flow of information about people, products, and brands forever. Anyone with a computer or video camera can post information, reviews and comments about you and your brand on dozens of highly visited online destinations.
It's no longer enough to create a web site and assume that prospects will get their information about your firm on your site. In today's online social media world companies of all shapes and sizes must actively participate in something commonly called online reputation management.
Of course the best way to manage your online reputation from a business standpoint is to put out great products and services, provide great customer service and honor all your commitments. That's certainly a great start, but you may still need to develop the practice of monitoring and responding to what's being said online about your organization, both good and bad.
Reputation management, however, isn't simply about responding to the negative, it's equally important as a way to amplify the positive.
Here are some simple ways to get started creating a reputation management program.
Google allows you to set up customer searches on Google News for any phrase, such as your name. When you subscribe to this search, either via RSS or email, you will receive an alert any time your search phrase shows up in the news.
These sites, BoardReader.com and ForumFind.com, allow you to keep track of what's being said on bulletin boards and forums.
If you really need to monitor what's being said online closely use the search.twitter.com feature of a micro-blogging site called Twitter to follow what's being said in real time from this growing community.
Participate in Social Media
One of the ways to combat any potential negative comments is to make sure you have lots of positive content showing up for searches on your name or company.
Practices such as adding a blog to create frequently updated content, creating well written LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, and writing and submitting articles to article directories can help assure that you have lots of content online that's attributed to your name.
Hosting a blog and inviting all manner of comments from customers is another great way to keep an eye out for potential issues. If a customer has an issue and you help them get the answer by way of your blog you may very well turn that issue into a real positive and stop them from posting negative comments elsewhere.
Social Search Engines
Claim and enhance your business listings on search engines such as Yelp.com, InsiderPages.com, CitySearch.com and JudysBook.com. These sites allow you to enhance your business listing and allow users to rate your services and write testimonials. The best thing you can do on these sites is create a great profile and then encourage your customers to post positive reviews. More and more these reviews are being picked-up by search engines like Google and shown in their local directories.
Build Your Reputation
Recently, a number of sites such as Naymz.com and Rapleaf.com launched with the sole purpose of allowing you to build an online reputation by inviting people to write reviews about you and your work. LinkedIn, the professional networking community also allows and encourages this practice
Related article - Teaching is the best way to sell
John Jantsch is a marketing and digital technology coach, award winning social media publisher and author of Duct Tape Marketing. He is the creator of the Duct Tape Marketing small business marketing system. You can find more information by visiting www.ducttapemarketing.com
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Get My Latest Free Ebook
By W. Terry Whalin
Recently I did a teleseminar with Platform Building Ideas For Every Author. As a part of that teleseminar, I created a free Ebook.
Here's where you can get it (just click the image):
Or you can go to this page.
I'm excited about this new resource and believe if writers study the contents, follow the clickable links, then they will make great strides to increase their attractiveness to literary agents and book publishers.
I look forward to your feedback about this new resource.
The Fine Art of Plotting
By Laura Backesp>One excellent -- and underserved -- field is writing nonfiction magazine articles. Nonfiction can be profitable because you can use the same research on several pieces. Find a topic you love, gather your information, and then craft several articles for different markets. Remember that children are most interested in the "how" and "why" of a subject, especially if you present it in a humorous or unique way.
Longer how-to articles. These differ from straight activities because they require more of an introduction than, "Have you ever wanted to make paper dolls? Here's how!" Many magazines have theme lists for each issue, and want activities that also present information related to the theme. That same paper doll activity might be prefaced by several paragraphs on the history of paper dolls in the U.S., or focus on paper dolls manufactured during a particular decade. The "how-to" element would follow, with clear, step-by-step instructions children can complete on their own, or with minimal adult supervision. How-to articles for older readers might involve self-help topics, or tips for improving relationships, getting organized, or landing a summer job. Break these more abstract topics into several steps and use catchy subheads to keep the article entertaining.
Interviews and profiles. You don't have to look far to find subjects to profile for magazines. Many publications want articles about kids doing interesting or unusual things. Research potential markets before finding your subjects, as each magazine's audience and focus differs. Interviews with adults in your community who have unusual jobs or ordinary people who are making a difference in the world are also good subjects. Center your interview questions around areas the magazine's target audience would find most fascinating.
Biographies. Many magazines need short biographies of adults whose lives are connected to themes for upcoming issues. When writing a magazine biography, focus on a small aspect of the person's life, such as a pivotal childhood experience that inspired him to take a certain path in adulthood, or the one or two accomplishments for which that person is best known. Or, for famous subjects, highlight some obscure achievements. Many magazines love to receive biographies of unknown people who had an impact on a big moment in history. .
Feature articles. If you enjoy research and are passionate about a topic, wait until you uncover some new, interesting, or tantalizing facts that would fascinate kids. Then study several recent issues of magazines for different age groups to determine which publications might be interested in a feature article on your subject. Many nonfiction editors prefer to see a query letter describing the article, the age group, and the slant you're planning to take on the topic before you write the entire piece. Note the format of each publication you're querying so you can mention any necessary sidebars, graphs, timelines or photos you'd need to provide.
Reviews. Some magazines have regular departments that take freelance reviews of children's software, video games, books, or other products. Check the magazine's guidelines before submitting any reviews, as sometimes they're staff-written or written by kids. Also note if the reviews are targeted to the children reading the magazine, or to their parents.
Regardless of the type of magazine nonfiction you write, your best chance for publication is if you custom-fit each submission. Study each magazine's style, note if the articles tend to be light and humorous or have a more scholarly tone. Design your submission to look as if it belongs in the magazine by including sidebar material or photographs, if needed. Give the editor something she can use, but written in a way she's never seen before.
About the Author: Laura Backes is the publisher of Children's Book Insider, the Newsletter for Children's Writers. For more information about writing children's books, including free articles, market tips, insider secrets and much more, visit Children's Book Insider's home on the web at http://write4kids.com
Reprinted with permission.
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