Tag Archives: writing

Alsop Book Missing!

14 May

imagesI seem to have misplaced my Alsop book, so hopefully I can tear the house apart and it’ll turn up.

In the meantime, I will put in a plug for the Columbus Social Media Network. Michele Savoldi of Columbus imPRessions and I were speakers at a lively meetup on Tuesday for this relatively new group. The crowd was terrific, very engaged and provided a terrific opportunity to meet some of the social media personalities that I follow on Twitter.

By the way, thanks to the person at the meetup who gave me this idea: Why not batch several of Alsop’s laws together in my next few posts, so that I reach #18 more quickly? Great thought!

Note to self: Next time you choose to write a series, make it a three-parter, not an 18-parter.

Let this be a lesson to new bloggers: Don’t overextend yourself!

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Getting Inspired to Write

24 Feb

calliope2Some of us write for a living, and some for personal enjoyment. Or both. Any writer will admit that there are days when the muse just isn’t accessible. Call it writer’s block or just plain lack of inspiration, the inability to write is frustrating. In an agency environment that’s based upon productivity, writer’s block is an unfortunate inconvenience.

I’ve used the word “Blogamucil” to describe my tricks for more regular blogging. Laughing about it helps, but it doesn’t always solve the problem. Trouble is, there’s no cure for writer’s block. But there are things that can reset your creativity. Here are some of the things I’ve found to help:

  1. Walk around the block, or up and down a few flights of stairs. A change in perspective and a good dose of adrenalin can release new thoughts.
  2. Have a conversation with someone who will make you laugh. Often when I am blocked, I am simply taking myself or my writing task too seriously. Humor interjects new perspective into stale ways of thinking.
  3. Expose yourself to something artistic to encourage feeling, rather than analytical thought. This could be music, visual art, someone else’s  writing or dance.  The point is to short-circuit the cerebral processes and get to your soul, which is authentic and grounded—and also the basis for your creativity. This applies to all writers—creative or technical. Even when writing is structured, it is an organic process that must be inspired by something crafted for a unique purpose. When it feels forced or humdrum, we are not at our best.
  4. Learn more about someone else’s creative process. Reading biographies or watching documentaries about creative people always inspires me. PBS recently ran programs about two of my favorites: Jerome Robbins and Billy Strayhorn. Having some insight into others’ own self-doubt and creative challenges is reassuring. Or, instead of learning about a famous person’s creative muse, just talk with a good friend who creates.

What inspires you to create? Tell me how you reach the muse.

Newsflash: No Fear

3 Jan

Before the official beginning of my illustrious career at the DQ 27 years ago, I delivered newspapers.

First, it was the Columbus Citizen-Journal, then The Columbus Dispatch. There’s nothing like a newspaper delivery job to make you appreciate the hard work of stuffing and folding papers (hard to wash off that newsprint) and collecting money from people who never seem to be home. While in high school, I was the feature editor for the school paper. In my late teens, I freelanced for a community newspaper called The Reynoldsburg Reporter.

Now, I work hard landing good client news as a PR professional. The sensation is not unlike the feeling of carrying your newspaper bag on a bike: You have to pull weight from the front bag and the back bag evenly, so you don’t get thrown off balance from the front or strangled from the back. (Those of you who’ve delivered papers know what I mean.) Despite my decades-long commitment to print media, I am considering the cancellation of my local paper delivery.

Because it’s official: The Web is now the more popular news source.

Some on Facebook have joined a group about not letting newspapers die. But all the positive thinking in the world can’t change technology. In the world of news, fast is good. And in a world quickly realizing that paper is expensive and environmentally wasteful, words are best delivered digitally. And so is the Sugar Daddy for print news–advertising. It’s no surprise that papers are getting thinner and thinner. The Cincinnati Enquirer just eliminated advertising from two of its seven daily papers. Technology is speedy and cheap, and the immediacy of the Web has overtaken the process of the printing press.

It’s time to admit that the newspaper as a vehicle for delivering news is dead. In fact, technology is changing the delivery of broadcast as well as print media. Every day, good people are laid off from media jobs. There are various services documenting the downsizing phenomenon in media. And some entertaining summaries of the fallen. This one documents the demise of magazines during 2008. It’s sad but true. The Web, with its lightning-fast delivery, has replaced the once proud newspaper carrier.

Large and universally known entities like CNN, Fox, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal are using technology to their benefit, leveraging all forms of media on the Web, blurring the lines between online, broadcast and print. They are not afraid to experiment with new media. It’s not a huge commitment to play with technology’s array of options and back out if it doesn’t work. Successful local media are finding their niche in community-focused stories that tell the human side of local events. Those who can best harness technology will remain intact.

Savvy PR firms are no longer pitching to the masses or trying to publicize the irrelevant. Like heat-seeking missiles, we are in search of the relevant news organizations, local, national or international, who have lured our target audience. And our pitching has to offer up visuals and a multifaceted story line. More than ever, our relevance comes from sifting through the various pieces of information and assembling a pitch package that includes all the right elements of news, delivered through the richness of multimedia.

Our pitching now had better include bloggers and citizen reporters. News organizations don’t always have the clout they once did. There are times when our pitches are first covered by bloggers, then picked up by the news organizations where they freelance. These days, there’s more than one way in–and we have to be prepared for the various points of access. This is not to be confused with pitching everything to everybody. We have to know our contacts. Relationships count.

This means setting the context for our pitches, and part of that comes from sharing mutual respect with the news media. Make no mistake, especially in the midst of constant turnover at news organizations, relationships make all the difference. What this means is that we have to be trusted sources for media, appropriately proactive in our outreach and reliably reactive when media ask us for ideas or access to sources.

New media is no longer new. These days, that’s old news. Case in point: Use of Twitter for press conferences and citizen reporter coverage of the recent Mideast crisis. Traditional and new media have become one. The best of both will remain when the dust settles.

If you’re not ready for the change that’s been underway for years, step aside before you get run over. If you are ready, come to grips with this newsflash: Constant change and progress have always been part of the news. The difference today is the speed of technology, driven by the higher proportion of the population with access to absorb and create the news.

Smart PR pros will embrace the change and help their clients navigate the unknown. Fear is not an option.

The Human Touch

3 Jan

There’s a curious sense of immediate gratification that comes from social media like blogging, Twitter LinkedIn and Facebook. A sense of having truly done something. Something that many people will see, which gives that something even more validation. It’s addictive. But can that sense of accomplishment be trusted?

Upon having posted something, people who’ve been vetted by me, have vetted me, or both, respond to that something. I wait for their reaction, intentionally or not, and get a sense of recognition and approval for having been noticed. But how genuine is this social media-driven relationship? Just because you comment on my blog, or you have friended me in Facebook, is there true quality in our engagement as human beings?

It’s intriguing how technology is changing interpersonal etiquette. Ten years ago, it was rude to talk on the phone at the grocery. Now, it’s generally accepted to simultaneously be having dinner with friends and monitoring various conversations on Twitter and Facebook via iPhone. At what point do we cross the line between the value of face-to-face interaction and the value of technology driven “friendships?” As human beings, do we have the bandwidth to manage hundreds or thousands of “friends” or “followers” — and should it be a priority to do so? There have been studies on the fallacies of multi-tasking. I think we’re in similar territory here.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the benefits of technology and social media–immediacy of information from trusted sources, interconnection capability with industry experts and peers and flattening of the world in a way that provides access for many minds to cooperatively build solutions. And more.

But I wonder, how do our most cherished human relationships suffer as a result of social media over-usage? As humans, we thrive on intimacy of relationship, with family, friends and associates. Much of this involves hugs or high-fives to celebrate, or a shoulder to cry on when it’s time to give support. These are tactile experiences. Much as we try to replicate them via interactive technology–witness the Wii or video conferencing–it’s not the same if it’s not “in person.”

My prediction for 2009: The challenge for social media evangelizers and technology gurus will be in finding a balance, a way to engage in social media that enhances and doesn’t replace true human engagement.  We still need the human touch, probably more than ever. And better ways to manage our “virtual” lives, so that our in-the-moment personal time makes a difference, in a way that we can sense–not simulate.