Monthly Archives: October 2008

Social Media and Ladies and some Lunch

Last week, my colleague Nettie Hartsock and I presented a great luncheon talk called “Get Your Blog On” to some wonderful women who signed up for the event coordinated by Girlstart— a non-profit dedicated to empowering girls in math, science and technology. Full disclosure: Girlstart has been a client of mine on and off over the last ten years. They are awesome.

Anyway, the crew at GS decided that women also needed educational opportunities on subjects related to math, science and technology, so we were happy to tell the workshop participants everything we knew about the brave new world of blogging– at least what we could fit into 1 1/2 hours.

I think they left with an understanding that blogging is easy, empowering and fun. For some, blogging was something that they were looking into to add value to their companies’ marketing programs. For others, it was just getting the basics. Here are five tips we shared with the ladies:

1) Your blog is not a newsletter or a magazine– it’s information that you are sharing as a gift to your readers

2) You are entering a community– don’t just post, go out there and read a variety of blogs and discover ones you really like

3) Blogging is free– you don’t need to buy a domain name to get a blog. Just got o WordPress, Typepad, Blogger, whatever and just get going

4) You don’t have to be a writer to produce a good blog– but you do need a passion for the subject you’re sharing. The more you post, the better you’ll get.

5) Blog for the world or for your loved ones– if you have personal information like on a family blog, you can set your blog to private so only certain people have access to it. Don’t share a lot of personal info like when you’re going on vacation or the names and ages of your children.

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THE Most Important Skill for a Publicist

Writing. Period. The End.

Just kidding… I have a bit more to say on the topic. Over the years I have counseled dozens of young people interested in pursuing a career in public relations or some form of marketing communications. The number one question I get asked is: “What is the most important skill I need to have in order to get a job?” My answer is always the same: “Can you write?”

Believe it or not, writing does not come naturally to most people. In fact, some people hate writing so much, they would rather do their neighbors’ tax returns than write an article even on an interesting topic. For me, I have always loved writing. I wrote my first “book” when I was nine years old. It was called “Albert the Blue Alligator” and I still have it– and it’s still pretty good.

I chose to attend Emerson College in Boston, MA because it is a communications school that puts great emphasis on one’s ability to communicate effectively. In fact, the school motto is ” Expression Necessary to Evolution.” So true.

So why does a PR person need to know how to write? Don’t they spend most of their time networking, hooking up with journalists, building their contacts lists, going to events and making phone calls? No. That’s some of what a publicist does, but that’s not the whole enchilada.

A lot of what happens includes developing messages, working with clients on how to communicate what it is they want to say, and writing a variety of written documents for both internal and external use. There are press releases, Q&As, talking points, media advisories, pitch letters, e-mail communications, etc. All of these activities require a person to be an outstanding writer.

Spending time honing your writing skills lets a potential employer or client know that you can get up to speed on new topics quickly; assimilate complex information and relate that to a general audience; understand a variety of audiences; and can create messages that speak authentically and accurately about your product or business. Being a good writer means you are a good strategist, researcher, and overall great communicator.

PR people have to understand and apply basic journalistic principles in writing press releases. This tells a journalist that she’s working with a pro– someone who understands the meat of a good story, not just someone interested in hawking a product, service or initiative.

Some great writers’ resources for PR people include:

The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr.

The Associated Press Stylebook

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