This Halloween, Step Up Your Ghostwriting Game

It’s Halloween weekend which makes it a perfect time to add some thrills to your ghostwriting skills. Ghostwriting plays a big part in the lives of us PR Mavericks. Speech writing, OpEds, byline articles, the list goes on. Without getting into the debate about whether ghostwriting is ethical (I absolutely think it’s ethical and a critical part of any publicist’s job), here are my top tips for doing killer ghostwriting. Find out what scares them What I mean by this is get to know the person you’re writing for. I mean really get to know them. What are they passionate about? What pisses them off? And yes, what scares them? Doing this will help you can convey their voice and their tone as you write content on their behalf. Channel their spirit When writing for my CEO or my CMO, I have to take off my PR hat and put on my C-suite hat. The chiefs are mostly thinking about things from a wide-angle business perspective. So, when writing for them, part of my job is to channel the inner chief that’s within me. Nine times out of ten ghostwriting requires writing for someone who’s title, position, and/or expertise is different than your own. No matter whom you’re writing for, it’s always best to put your own perspective in the back seat and let theirs drive. Get inside their heads You know that part in a scary movie where one of the characters goes wandering off alone and you yell at the screen, “Don’t go!”? It’s the same with ghostwriting. Never just wander off and start writing without talking to the person you’re writing for. Sit with them first and get inside their heads as it relates to the subject you’re writing about. Get their overall perspective then work your magic as a writer and professional to give it that sizzle the news media is looking for. Find out if they have skeletons in the closet Ghostwriting doesn’t just mean taking someone’s thoughts and putting them to paper for the media. Ghostwriting also means you have to seek out any skeletons that may be lurking out there in the wild. Good or bad; if the person you’re writing for has previously written or said something that counters what you’re currently writing, then you’re going to have a big problem on your hands. The job of the publicist is not only to write, but to ensure the public-facing message always remains consistent. What other tips do you have for killer ghostwriting? Share them with me in the comments!

My First Google Hangout + Bonus Tips on How to Get Free Media Coverage for Your Small Business

They say you never forget your first. Yesterday was a day of firsts for me. My very first Google Hangout and the official launch of my first-ever website for my own personal brand. All in a day’s work of a rising PR Maverick I suppose. Neither will be forgotten anytime soon. The hangout was a ton of fun. It was hosted by Evan Carmichael and I was the guest expert helping entrepreneurs and business owners with tips to get free media coverage. As you know, PR is my favorite subject so hanging with Evan and his audience for an hour was pretty dope. The time went by way quicker than I expected and I wouldn’t have been opposed to taking a few more questions and continuing the chat. But that’s what blogs are for, right? Here are some bonus tips I didn’t have a chance to cover in yesterday’s conversation. First off, here are my top three points to remember when pursuing media coverage. – Go where your audience is – Be newsworthy – Ask yourself, “If I saw this in the news, would I find it interesting?”   How to get in touch with media reporters Many times, it’s a matter of using a paid media database or searching the media outlet’s website for a journalist’s telephone and email information. Most prefer email so start there. – Craft a short, but enticing subject line – Keep your email pitches to three sentences max. Reporters are busy! – If you can’t explain it in three sentences or less, try harder!   How to become BFFs with a reporter – Do your homework, do your homework, do your homework! Find out their “beat” and the types of stories they typically cover – Sell the story, not your product or service – Engage with them on social media. if you follow them on Twitter, share their stories you find interesting, bring something new to the discussion in the comments section on their articles – Say thank you when they write about you or feature your business!   How to get reporters to ignore you – Not doing your homework – Pitching them with junk or something that’s irrelevant to their beat or their audience – Offering something and then not being able to deliver – Leaving them hanging when they need you. when the media calls, you jump!   Tips to determine if something is newsworthy before you media pitch – Look for a human interest angle – Is it a “first ever”? – Can you create a story out of current events, trends, news, etc. that are popular? – Is there any shock value? think counterintuitive, surprising statistics, etc. – How can you tie your story to national/world events, holidays, seasons, themes, etc. but bring in a new perspective?   If you missed the hangout yesterday, here’s the full recording. Share your tips or questions with me in the comments!

If You Work in PR, You Oughta Get this Book

Am I the only one who adores reading, but can’t find the time? Good, it’s not just me. Nevertheless, I do manage to squeeze in a few good reads here and there. This summer, I tried pushing myself to conquer at least three. To kick things off, I started with Aliza Licht’s Leave Your Mark. Turns out, Leave Your Mark was not only an awesome read, it also happened to be the extra push I needed to create my website and launch this blog. Yes, the book was that inspiring; it moved me from thinking to doing. I’m a sucker for three things: PR (of course), career development, and anything about personal brand. It’s almost as if Aliza dedicated her first book to me because Leave Your Mark covers all three! The book is divided into four parts: Landing Your Dream Job, Killing it in Your Career, Rocking Social Media, and Creating the Brand of You. The first two sections weren’t all that applicable for me personally, but who doesn’t love a nice reminder of what they already know – with confirmation that they’re on the right track? That’s not to say the first two sections didn’t have anything to offer because there were some definite key takeaways. Not to mention, I totally wish this book was around when I first started out in my career. Parts III and IV were when things began to heat up for me. So many bookmarked pages and “notes to self.” Chapter 13, “Being Socially Savvy” spoke favorably to the PR in me thanks to Aliza’s strategic advice on how to do social. Did I mention she’s the creative maven behind one of the most successful fashion brands on Twitter? Yeah, she’s the mastermind of DKNY PR Girl. With more than 530K followers, I was all ears to what this PR Maverick had to say about social strategy. Like how to build a follower base. Aliza says it’s the result of three things: 1) putting out great content, 2) engaging with people who speak to you and 3) proactively reaching out to others. Throughout Leave Your Mark, she also hits you with her Insider Tips. These little info nuggets were short, yet each one packed a mighty punch. As far as social strategy goes, here are the tips that stuck with me most: – Not every tweet has to include an image or a link, and the shorter a tweet is, the more engagement it gets – Pay close attention to your tweets that generate engagement, and lose the ones that don’t – Before your start a blog, determine what your purpose and point of view will be and stick to that filter – Transparency and authenticity rule in social media She also talks about the importance and relevance of social media for our personal brands. “Social media has helped catapult seemingly regular people into personal brands,” she says.”Your social presence should be a carefully curated version of yourself.” Speaking of personal brands, Chapter 15, Being Your Own Publicist, was another key chapter for me. My favorite Insider Tip from the entire book: A lot of people do a lot of things, but the person who does it the loudest gets the “expert” credit.   YES! That’s what I needed to hear as I aim to pursue my new PR Maverick brand. Seems like basic advice, but the short blips of information were like gasoline to my fire as I move forward with my own social media and personal branding. There’s a ton more that I took away from Leave Your Mark. If you’re a sucker for PR, personal development and personal branding like yours truly, I strongly urge you to pick up a copy. When you do, come back here and let’s chat about it! Leave your thoughts in the comments. Happy reading!

Will the Subway Brand Survive Foglegate?

It was an unlikely chain of events a few weeks ago. America’s favorite weight loss success icon, Jared Fogle, pled guilty to charges of child pornography and sexual acts with minors–about a dozen over the past five years. Disgusting. Due to his disgraceful acts, the former spokesman for Subway restaurants has catapulted the restaurant chain to the center of national media attention. The words “firefighting” and “damage control” come to mind as I ponder what the company’s PR folks must be experiencing at the moment. So what are the PR lessons to be gleaned from this? Say something One of PR’s many golden rules when it comes to crises is to tell it all, tell it early, and tell it yourself. In other words, say something before others say it for you. Subway first started out with the classic “no comment” statement. In this International Business Times article, PR Disasters and How Companies Can Overcome Them, Eric Dezenhall a PR consultant says that given the situation Subway has found themselves in, “you sever ties, you make a statement, and get back to business.” I’ve never been a fan of this type of arms folded, “I’m not talking and you can’t make me” approach, but I’ve also never been involved in a PR crisis of this magnitude. Thank you PR Gods <<insert praying hands emoji here>> Damage control The day of Fogle’s guilty plea, Subway opened things up some. Because Jared’s acts are as despicable as they come, their strategy was to create as much space as possible between him and the brand. From a brand perspective, this makes sense I suppose. But PR-wise, wouldn’t it have been more impactful had they humanized it some? Here’s why. No matter what, Jared Fogle and Subway will forever be synonymous. This was the case before the scandal and now even more because of the scandal. With that said, Subway’s attempt to publicly “unfriend” Jared are ineffective because their statements end up coming across as mere corporate speak. To humanize it, it would’ve been more impactful to express sympathy towards the victims and (dare I say it) even toward Jared as a human being who clearly needs to get help and who was once a long-time partner of theirs. This is all assuming that Subway had no knowledge of Jared’s vices, of course; which is still unknown. Looking ahead This scandal is still in its early stages so it’ll be interesting to see if Subway quietly fades into the background and waits for the PR gods to send the next crisis for everyone to turn their attention to. After all, Trump is saying something outrageous every other second so it shouldn’t take too long, right? But Subway may be proactive in a continued attempt at damage control. I wouldn’t be surprised if they offered some form of assistance to the victims or if they launched a campaign to help fight and put an end to child pornography. We’ll have to wait and see. What are your thoughts on the way Subway handled all this? Share your thoughts in the comments below and let’s talk about it!