I’m Speaking – Now What?

A colleague called today to ask for my help with “building some buzz using social media” about an upcoming speaking engagement.  This is a common question, so I thought I would  share some practices I have used successfully to both “build buzz” and “get butts in seats” for events.

First, time is of the essence for this particular event – it’s about two weeks away.  Typically, the longer you have, the better, but since so many attendees are late registrants, you can still achieve good results within a short amount of time.

What we need to help you maximize your speaking opportunity is a mini speaker promotions plan. In the next few paragraphs, I’ll walk you through how to create and execute one, quickly and easily, in about an hour.

This mini speaker promotions plan will help you:

  • get clear on your messaging
  • set up a schedule and time your efforts for maximum impact
  • determine what platforms to use and what to do on each platform (complete with sample message themes!)

Getting Clear on Messaging

Your messaging will stand out if your content clearly addresses the needs of your intended audience.  Getting clear on the messaging includes crafting a compelling marketing piece (which can be long or short depending on the length and complexity of your event) that outlines what’s in it for your attendees.  Helpful questions to ask yourself in this effort are things like:

  • What might an attendee learn?
  • Who might an attendee meet?
  • Why is this info important to an attendee?
  • What tangible benefits will an attendee gain?
  • What intangible benefits will an attendee gain?

This list is just a starting point, but will help you focus on promoting the parts of the event that have the most value for attendees.  Lamentably, much of the event marketing that crosses my desk is written more from the perspective of the sponsoring organization and less from that of the intended attendee.

Setting up a Schedule

The next part of your plan is scheduling or timing.  Now that you have your salient points assembled, how do you share them?  How much time do you have?  One status update is better than nothing, but if you want to get your message out, repetition is key.  Plan when to deliver your messages according to the consumption practices of the media or platform you will use.  For example, the time you should allow between a LinkedIn post or Tweet is very different from the time between emails.

What Platforms to Use and What to Say

What tools and platforms should you use and exactly should you do?  You do not want to overwhelm your audience, but you do want to create awareness.  You need to go where your customers are, so think about where you are likely to find them.  (If you don’t know, ask a marketing specialist or your event organizer for ideas.)

Not all platforms are equal.  For the purposes of our plan, since this is a business event, we will want to use LinkedIn.  You should also consider building buzz with video on YouTube.  You may also decide to include Twitter and Facebook in the mix if your intended audience is social media savvy.

What to Say?

Some sample message themes follow.  Adopt these to your specific needs

 On LinkedIn:

  1. Update your status showing where and when you will be speaking. Remember to link to more details.
  2.  Initiate a discussion in a group that matches your target audience.  Ask group members to share their challenges so you can address their concerns in your talk.

YouTube:

  1. Have a video?  Use YouTube to show a quick preview or just a quick promotion of what you will be discussing.
  2. No video?  Pick one related to your topic and comment on it, noting you’ll be speaking on the same topic and asking for ideas.

On Twitter and Facebook: 

  1. Post an update about your speaking engagement, linking to the event sign up page.
  2. Ask a related question on the topic, again linking to event details.
  3. Share your excitement that you will be speaking – and invite your friends and followers to attend the event.
  4. Share a photo of yourself speaking elsewhere and note you will be speaking again, with a link to details.

Other tools you might want to use include SlideShare, Pinterest, Google+, other online discussion boards and sites.  The list goes on and on, and will vary according to your particular speaking opportunity.

On Your Own Website:

Don’t overlook your own website.  Create a page showing your speaking engagements and topics.  This page will showcase your availability and expertise long after the event is over.

If you speak regularly, spending some time getting comfortable with these methods will be beneficial.  Alternatively, you can hire a marketing strategist to help focus and jumpstart your social media activities and visibility. Either way, spend some time thinking about what you will do differently or better next time to promote similar opportunities that come your way.  It will be time well spent.  If you followed the suggestions in this article, you now have a template your can retool and repeat next time around, making it that much easier.

One more thing – please share what you are doing with the event organizers.  Not only will they appreciate that you are acting as a true partner in promoting their event, they will likely boost your visibility by commenting and liking your posts.  Showing you are willing to invest in the success of an event is also a sure-fire way to boost your chances of getting invited back to speak.

Have other ideas to promote speaking opportunities?  Please share them with me.  Looking to learn other ways to boost your visibility?  Let’s chat.

© 2015 Anne Doherty Johnson

About the Author
Anne Doherty Johnson is marketing strategist with expertise in growing engagement and revenues for member based organizations. She has over 20 years experience working for membership organizations  matched by leadership roles  for professional and non-profit associations. She views membership from both sides of the table , having been and still serving as both a professional provider and personal consumer of membership services. Equipped with a keen business sense and public relations savvy, she has created successful marketing campaigns to sell memberships, events, products and services.  She has also counseled corporations and individuals on how to maximize memberships in pursuit of their goals.  Contact her at http://www.annedohertyjohnson.com.

This article may be reprinted when the copyright and author bio are included.

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Nine Ways to Slay the Dragon of Writer’s Block

Most writers experience a touch of writer’s block at one time or another. Staring at a blank screen or piece of paper can be intimidating and unnerving. You shift in your chair. You are not smiling. Both your fingers and your brain appear to be frozen in place.

So how do you slay this particular dragon?

Doses of Inspiration

A dose or two of inspiration can work wonders in getting those creative juices flowing.  Feeding your Muse with any of the following will get you unblocked in no time.

Quotes

Bartlett’s quotations and the web will serve up any manner of inspirational quotes.  Indeed whole websites are now dedicated to inspiring people from all walks of life to succeed.  If you don’t yet have a few favorites, take some time to find some and keep them in a document, on your phone or posted in your office.  Strong positive messages have been the catalyst for everything from finishing a task to reforming societies.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • “Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goals: my strength lies solely in my tenacity.” — Louis Pasteur
  • “Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” — Saint Francis of Assisi
  • “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”  — Thomas Edison

(We’ll return to the perspiration in a moment.  For now, let’s explore some things bound to inspire.)

Nature

Free and ubiquitous, nature will grant its restorative powers to all who pay attention.  So next time you’re stuck, get outdoors.  Take a walk in a park, go tend your garden or take a scenic drive.  No matter the subject, you can always find endless sources of ideas, patterns, observation, impressions, and stories in nature. If you can’t leave your office or location, just close your eyes and transport yourself to place where nature is abundance. If you need more tangible evidence, do your armchair traveling on-line.  Visit a green and verdant pasture, gorgeous beaches, or a quiet forest.

Bathe Your Senses

If you’re fingers aren’t flitting across the keyboard or page, try a splash of light and color to tease your senses into action. Change the color of your computer screen. Write with a colored marker.  Focus on the colors around you. Scientific studies show that color and light have a profound effect on our mood and productivity.   To jump start your neurons, listen to some music to replace the quiet most people seek for concentration.  Spicy, hot or cold food will also deliver a sensory jolt, so a quick snack might boost your creativity as well as your energy and get your words bubbling.

Cloud Source Some Help

It’s easier than ever to cloud source some inspiration from the universe. If have friends who write, or you’re active on social media, you can reach out to some familiar faces with a question about your topic or the writing process and your friends, followers or contacts might provide the added push you need.  There are also countless websites on writing and communities of writers that can validate your experience and offer other tactics that have worked for them.

Doses of Perspiration

While the best writing, like the best performances, appear effortless, so beautifully do the elements flow together, the craft of writing requires both skill and discipline.  Here are some ways to perspire yourself into good writing.

Get Moving!

Oxygen to the rescue!  Get up and get moving to gain some forward momentum.  Go for a run or exercise in place. If you can combine moving and nature, great, but if not, just walk around a bit, stretch, go up and down the stairs or dance around your office if the spirit moves you. Run a quick errand.  Exercise helps recalibrate your brain and fuels those little gray cells in wonderful ways.  It also gives you increased energy for any task.  Leverage the power of movement.

Just Write … Anything

Some writing instructors advise that the mere physical act of writing — writing anything, even a grocery list — can help get you back on track.  The key is to do no editing while writing.  What you are shooting for is a free flow of content to the page.  This is a “fake it ’til you make it” approach that helps clear the dam of words and thoughts seeking release. Eventually, the rhythm of writing will allow you to switch back to the subject of the writing project at hand.

Dangle a Carrot

Think of a way to reward yourself for finishing our piece. Make yourself a tiny promise of something you like (even if it’s 15 minutes of quiet time to yourself).  Keep your promise to yourself.  Savor your accomplishment.  Register how it feels across your senses.

Give Yourself a Deadline

Sometimes having a real or self-imposed deadline can generate just the right amount of heat to flare your efforts. Hunker down in chunks of time, using an actual timer, can also help.  Performing any activity for 15 minutes has been shown to be a great way to end procrastination (another word for writer’s block at times). Setting a timer can be a powerful way to commencing activity, and it’s that activity that will get you to the last sentence.

Know When to Declare Victory

This is not always easy but even if you are working on the Great American novel, you have to stop somewhere.  Gain comfort in the fact that the more you write, the better at the craft you are likely to become.  See my earlier post on No Piece of Writing is Ever Finished.

Try these and other methods to jump start or finish your writing projects.  Keep note of which work best for you and start developing your own list of tools.  That time, when writer’s block rears its ugly head again, you’ll be ready.

© 2012 Anne Doherty Johnson

About the Author
Anne Doherty Johnson is marketing strategist with expertise in growing engagement and revenues for member based organizations. She has over 20 years experience working for membership organizations  matched by leadership roles  for professional and non-profit associations. She views membership from both sides of the table , having been and still serving as both a professional provider and personal consumer of membership services. Equipped with a keen business sense and public relations savvy, she has created successful marketing campaigns to sell memberships, events, products and services.  She has also counseled corporations and individuals on how to maximize memberships in pursuit of their goals.  Contact her at http://www.annedohertyjohnson.com.

This article may be reprinted when the copyright and author bio are included.

Posted in Getting results, Tips and Tricks, Writing | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

I Love Words.

I love words.  They have limitless power. They can leap tall buildings, move mountains, inspire multitudes, bridge divides, race to the finish and so much more.  Verbs captivate, celebrate, accelerate and exemplify, all in a day’s work.  Nouns, the ying to the verb’s yang, convey with ease concepts like power, wonder, peace and love and serve as cataloger of all things we need to identify.

Words are real workhorses – I like that.  They seldom complain, and there are endless things you can do with them.  You can eat them, swallow them, shout them or whisper them.  You can sing them, rhyme them or make them dance.  You can place and misplace, use and abuse them.  You can share them or keep them to yourself.  You can love them, hate them or just ignore them.  They are multi-faceted and multi-talented. While the unfamiliar may approach them with fear or awe, the admirer is drawn to their diversity and is never bored.

I love sentences.  This assembly of words can provoke laughter or instill fear, all according to their mood.  Sentences have convened words together throughout the ages, across all cultures.  There are lost phrases and oft repeated ones.  Some become aphorisms or live on as quotes to guide and remind.  Others are associated with great leaders or famous people — the words themselves pay no mind.  When misbehaving, they may dangle the odd modifier, but for the most part, they are quite considerate, throwing lifelines to dependent clauses and otherwise being supportive of adverbs, adjectives and articles.   And size is of no import — to be mighty, the sentence needn’t be long, only clear and precise. Marketers are among their biggest fans, gleeful at their ability to persuade.  Critical thinkers, on the other hand, are far more aloof in their encounters, recognizing their ability to communicate truth as well as to dissemble.

And then there is the paragraph – I’m very fond of those too.  Sentences strung together, they play amiably, one building on the other.  Working in harmony, they extend meaning, add value and illuminate. When enough of them gather in one spot, they blossom into letters, reviews and articles. They hang around the office water cooler as brochures, white papers and annual reports. They take spoken form in scripts and plays and bind themselves together in covers hard and soft.  They hold meetings in neatly organized catalogs and encyclopedias.  They spin the web with ease, carried at lightning speed on the backs of 1’s and 0’s over satellite and cable.

I love stories.  When two or more paragraphs get hitched, the offspring develops into one or more particular ideas. Think back to the nursery stories we heard as children, designed to impart important lessons for life’s journey. Consider the story’s varied forms — fable, parable, myth or the business world, the case study.  Many a political or religious movement was started with a story, seeking followers paragraph by paragraph.  The best stories can seem to give meaning to existence and explain the workings of the universe.  A well crafted one can capture essence without including details –it can stop you in your tracks with its brilliant simplicity.  A sad story can make you cry.  And of course, a very short funny story has come to be called a joke and who doesn’t like those?

Throughout history, the power of story has captured human imagination and motivated entire nations.  Individuals clamor to tell their own stories in diaries, blogs and memoirs.  Look on-line and it seems the entire world is out there commenting, reviewing, blogging and sharing their stories at a furious pace.

Stories as a form, and how to tell them, are more popular than ever.  All manner of businesses try to translate brands brand into stories that resonate with customers.  Elected leaders look to strike chords with voters using anecdotes about the local impact of their work.  The media, the big game hunters of the story, constantly have their noses in the air, sniffing out the barest hint of a good story, ready to pounce on the tastiest ones.  Revered institutions know how critical it is that they continue to tell the story of their accomplishments to stay relevant and in public favor.  The best organizations, associations and communities capture in story the experiences and emotions of their members.  And it all starts with words.

I love words.  The most precise of them, skillfully grouped, make for compelling reading.  As a writer, they are my basic building block. They are nothing if not versatile.  I love being able to sculpt them into sentences, paragraphs and stories.  I like looking at them, playing with them, arranging and re-arranging them.  I enjoy whittling at them one moment, dressing them up another.  I relish their potential, alternately letting them flow or reining them in as we team together to capture an idea, express a thought and share information.  Some days they seem stubborn and reluctant, others amazingly cooperative.  I try not to judge.  Most days we have a fabulous time together.

How about you?  What is your relationship with words? What do you like to do with them?

© 2012 Anne Doherty Johnson

About the Author
Anne Doherty Johnson is marketing strategist with expertise in growing engagement and revenues for member based organizations. She has over 20 years experience working for membership organizations  matched by leadership roles  for professional and non-profit associations. She views membership from both sides of the table , having been and still serving as both a professional provider and personal consumer of membership services. Equipped with a keen business sense and public relations savvy, she has created successful marketing campaigns to sell memberships, events, products and services.  She has also counseled corporations and individuals on how to maximize memberships in pursuit of their goals.  Contact her at http://www.annedohertyjohnson.com.

This article may be reprinted when the copyright and author bio are included.

Posted in Tips and Tricks, Writing, Writing Party | Tagged , | Leave a comment

When Should You Issue a Press Release?

Press releases are an often overlooked way to spread the news about your business or organization.  Chances are, with the varied media out there today, there is an audience hungry for your news.  Here are a few tips to help you determine when and where to send a press release.

First, when should you think about sending one?  The following are just three categories that are good triggers for a press release.

#1 – Changes to your staff, products, services or offerings.

Have you added or promoted a member of your staff?  Are you rolling out a new product?  Are you speaking at an upcoming conference?  All make great fodder for press releases.

#2 – Have you won an award, been recognized for your work or volunteer accomplishments, achieved an educational degree or completed a training program?

News about achievement is important to share with your customers, prospects and friends and colleagues.  Anything that differentiates you from the competition or shines the light on the work you do or the contributions you make is worth promoting.

#3 – Are you celebrating a milestone of some kind in your business?

Major milestones around business can make for interesting stories if you get creative.  In today’s economy, celebrating the success and survival of your business can itself be news if you frame it right.

The next item you want to think about is where to send your release.  To be sure, the examples above unlikely to land you on the evening news or the cover of the New York Times.  But remember to think about what local media your customers read.  These are ideal places for you to get some coverage or help you pick up some business. Many locally focused media outlets are looking for local content like this to fill short announcement columns that get widely read.  To increase your chances of maximizing these opportunities, be sure to include a recent and professionally taken photograph.  Seeing your face and name in the press will help you remain top of mind with customers and increase your visibility with prospects.

Reporters for local media are also hungry for the local angle on major events as well as for feature stories.  On slow news days, even light news items like these can get picked up in surprising places, particularly if your press release is compelling and interesting.

There are hundreds of reasons why you might want to issue a press release about your business.  With the right planning, your news could land you some nice free coverage in media that is read by those you most want to see it.

© 2015 Anne Doherty Johnson

About the Author
Anne Doherty Johnson is marketing strategist with expertise in growing engagement and revenues for member based organizations. She has over 20 years experience working for membership organizations  matched by leadership roles  for professional and non-profit associations. She views membership from both sides of the table , having been and still serving as both a professional provider and personal consumer of membership services. Equipped with a keen business sense and public relations savvy, she has created successful marketing campaigns to sell memberships, events, products and services.  She has also counseled corporations and individuals on how to maximize memberships in pursuit of their goals.  Contact her at http://www.annedohertyjohnson.com.

This article may be reprinted when the copyright and author bio are included.

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No Piece of Writing is Ever Finished

Do you believe that “no piece of writing is ever finished … merely abandoned” as I learned early in my writing career?  How do you declare victory on something you are writing?  When is it complete?

That quote has stuck with me for well over twenty years since I first heard it early in my writing career.  It was delivered as a great pronouncement from an English professor on the first day of class.  My wise and learned English professor was also a poet, and as such, forced to be pecuniary with words.  He told us that if we were to learn anything in his class, that was it.  He paused for effect each time he said what was to become an often repeated maxim.

It was not what I was expecting, seated in Introduction to Compositional Writing, I think it was, in a room of forty fresh-faced and naïve college students.  I, along with the aspiring writers around me, shifted in our chairs.  We were there to tame words and show them who was in charge.  We wanted definitive answers, not the suggestion that great writing is a kind of holy grail.  We wanted the secrets of good writing splayed out before us.  We expected our kindly white-haired English professor to gift us all the tools and tricks of the trade. Mostly, I think, we all wanted assurance he could help us learn to become masters of expression, able to turn our thoughts and sentences into things of beauty and a joy forever.

Instead, we got an important lesson that writing was a skill to be worked on constantly and never to be taken for granted.  We learned to respect writers and the writer’s craft with a new seriousness and yes, reverence.  We learned that great writing was hard work but enormously satisfying.  We learned we could indeed hold meaning, emotion and experience in our grasp and feel the resultant satisfaction it brings.

As proof of his pronouncement, which he made often, our professor shared lots of stories about writers we admired, who admitted that given the chance, they would change entire sections of text that had made them famous and sometimes wealthy.  If Hemingway would take a red pen to his short stories, who were we to think our work were any different?  In our instructor’s view, a writer didn’t need to be any sort of perfectionist to want to do this.  It was natural and to be expected.  In the future, things would look differently to us — the secret was taking a piece of writing as far along as we could, then knowing “when it was time” to stop.

Looking back, I’m glad I took that class.  Our professor taught us many things — how to imagine a scene with an artist’s eye, hear dialog with a musician’s ear, experience meaning with a poet’s soul, and shape a story like a sculptor.  He taught us about the craft of writing, the tools and methods used by the masters, what we were doing well and what not so well.  He led us to become better writers.  He taught us that the more we write, if we are lucky, the more we grow as a writer, not just improve technically, but really grow.  And finally, he taught us about the importance of good editing, taking the time to review, rethink, what to look for, how to tweak and tinker — and when to let go.

In my career in marketing, PR and sales, I’ve written all manner of things, been published many times and received a fair share of compliments.  But as I finish each piece, as part of my final review, a little voice asks me what will I think of this piece of writing a year from now.  Could it be tweaked some more?  Could the language be tighter, the tone more unified, the verbs packed with more action?

How do you “abandon” something you are writing?  When do you deem it finished or complete?

© 2012 Anne Doherty Johnson

About the Author
Anne Doherty Johnson is marketing strategist with expertise in growing engagement and revenues for member based organizations. She has over 20 years experience working for membership organizations  matched by leadership roles  for professional and non-profit associations. She views membership from both sides of the table , having been and still serving as both a professional provider and personal consumer of membership services. Equipped with a keen business sense and public relations savvy, she has created successful marketing campaigns to sell memberships, events, products and services.  She has also counseled corporations and individuals on how to maximize memberships in pursuit of their goals.  Contact her at http://www.annedohertyjohnson.com.

This article may be reprinted when the copyright and author bio are included.

Posted in Getting results, Writing, Writing Party | Tagged , | 1 Comment