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Take Your Own Advice

Advice you give freely may be quite valuable, even for yourself.

You probably love to give advice to others. We all have insights on (un)usual business issues and strained relationships, plus tips for gardening, exercise and travel.

Ever get that AHA moment when you realize the suggestions you offered work for your own situation?

In a recent newsletter, I calculated that each of us probably has 5,000 contacts in a variety of places: address book, LinkedIn, subscribers to a newsletter or blog and more. Aggregating those names into a single database:

  • Provides a way to keep in touch with hundreds of them;
  • Evokes opportunities to introduce one to another;
  • Sparks awareness of your own services and products for them as potential referral sources and connectors.

Accordingly, I took my own advice by consolidating my contacts into my address book. Here are a few results:

There were 2,483 names in my address book in August; a month later, I had 4,503, a gain of 2,020 names that were scattered in emails, lists and business cards.

Similarly, my connections on LinkedIn increased from 2,809 to 3,023, an additional 214 and a number that continues to grow.

Clearly, implementing my own suggestion was successful, as it enabled me to re-connect with long-dormant contacts, plus initiate conversations, email exchanges and meetings, not to mention a few subscribers to this newsletter.

This Month’s Tip

Here’s a few resources for hands-on advice and general tips:

Ilise Benun, Marketing Mentor offers tips on marketing for creative professionals that apply to many business owners.

David A. Fields advises consultants who work with companies of all sizes.

Life Hack – Tips for Life features pointers on productivity and getting things done.

Contact

If you’ve followed my advice on this topic of aggregating your contacts – or have a suggestion of your own to share – Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s dig for more good ideas in that gold mine of 5,000 contacts, plus we can swap tips and brainstorm together.

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Your Gold Mine of 5,000 Contacts

Out of Sight, Out of Mind.
In Sight, Top of Mind.

You may not believe it, but you’re probably sitting on 5,000 contacts in various pools of connections.

Imagine the opportunities they represent for new business, new alliances and new volunteers.

You can find these people here:
1. Names in your address book
2. Recently emailed addresses
3. LinkedIn connections
4. Subscribers to your newsletter and blog
5. Business cards
6. Lists of attendees at events
7. Membership directories
8. Facebook friends and Twitter followers

Look for potential clients, partners, vendors, donors and board members among these resources.

Possibilities for you to refer business and connections to each other also abound.

Let’s start identifying them and actively mine these contacts. Plan to re-connect with these people and create momentum — for your business, for your organization, and for them to be thinking of you.

If you don’t use a contact relationship management program, make your address book the basic database.

1. Export the names in your address book in a .csv file. (If you use Outlook, go to File, select Open & Export, click on Import/Export and follow the simple steps.) Save the file as an Excel spreadsheet to make it easier to manipulate. Sort by first or last name. Print only the names. Review the names; delete duplicates and others, as appropriate.

2. Collect the email addresses and names of the 1,000 people you have most recently emailed. Outlook’s blessed auto-complete feature is your new best friend. Certainly, there are several hundred names in that pool you have not yet added to your address book. Download the NK2Edit program. As before, export, save in Excel, sort, print. Compare this group to the list above. Through this exercise, I found more than 400 new names to enter in my address book.

3. Export the names of your LinkedIn connections. Again, save, sort and print. Perhaps there are a few names of people you no longer recognize. Now might be the time to delete them. (They will not be notified you did this.) Compare these names with those in your expanding address book and add them to it.

4. Your newsletter and blog subscribers are another group to mine. Continue to export, save, sort and print. Compare the list to your address book and LinkedIn connections; add to both, ensuring consistency across all platforms.

5. That stack of business cards? You know what to do.

6. Have you been to any events and received a list of the attendees? Who did you meet at the break-out session? Who sat with you at lunch? Add these names.

7. Do you belong to a chamber of commerce, professional association or networking group? Peruse the membership directory; your dues paid for it. See how your address book continues to grow!

8. Finally, your social and professional connections on Facebook and X (Twitter) represent an audience that is interested in keeping up with your latest activities. Bring them into the fold, too.

Yes, this exporting, sorting, printing, comparing and entering data is tedious.* With this effort comes a payoff; when you read every single name, you will find out who’s hiding there, including some welcome surprises.

Last month I wrote to a colleague who subscribes to my newsletter; I hadn’t spoken with him since 2012! We then chatted for 15 minutes. The following day, he emailed me to help him with a project, which I completed. A few days later, he urgently needed my help by close of business, so I also did that. Plus, he spies another task on the horizon.

Four years of minimal communication, and now he sees me as a member of his team.

This Month’s Tip

Here are six subject lines and invitations to re-start a conversation:

  • LinkedIn suggested your name, so I endorsed you for a few skills. When can we grab a coffee to catch up?
  • Your name came up in conversation with PERSON (Put the name in the body of the email, so the reader will open the note.) What are you working on now?
  • This article/podcast reminded me of our conversation about TOPIC (link). What do you think?
  • Would you like to meet a PROFESSION? Perhaps NAME is a potential collaborator. (link to website or LinkedIn profile). Let me know and I will introduce you.
  • Remember this email? Please help me recall what happened next.
  • Your business card re-surfaced. What’s new?

By asking a question, you open the door to a phone call, coffee or lunch to re-ignite the connection. Perhaps you have discovered a viable contact for this person among the hundreds of names you recently added to your address book. Some say your best prospects and referral sources are among the people you already know, so start re-connecting.

Contact

Ready to hunt for buried treasure among your contacts? Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s start prospecting.

Click here to read prior issues of this newsletter.

Click here to subscribe to this monthly newsletter and make sure you don’t miss the next issue.

* Note: You can expedite the Outlook data entry process by saving each modified Excel list as a .csv file. Import that file into Outlook. It sounds more complicated than it is; let me talk you through the process.

It’s Business. Not Personal.

Take a stand.

Two very different companies once had rather similar slogans:

It’s not business, it’s personal. (law firm)

It’s personal. (meaning: It’s not business.) (bank)

In each case, the slogan was designed to reference a close, even intimate, working relationship. Some clients prefer to be reassured and reminded, on a frequent basis, that a vendor or partner has their interests top of mind at all times.

Consider that what is personal from a client’s perspective may not be reciprocal. Many clients think primarily of themselves and may have a limited interest in the individual private lives of their contacts.

Copywriter Deirdre Rienzo wrote about her dog in her newsletter and invited subscribers to send photos of their pets. The response was overwhelming.

LinkedIn coach John Nemo recommended sharing “something personal from your non-work life . . . once or twice a day as part of your LinkedIn status updates.”

Let me be blunt. I do not care about your pet, the (extra) ordinary exploits of your progeny or your awesome (tiresome) visit to Nepal.

As I commented to Nemo and Rienzo, if there is a business lesson to be gleaned, then summarize and explicate it. Otherwise, I will look elsewhere for inspiration and connection. I might even unsubscribe to your newsletter. The reader’s attention is yours to lose.

Following this guideline, here is the takeaway: a business consultant in North Carolina read Nemo’s post and agreed with my response. She contacted me, and we chatted about our respective practices. A few weeks later, she referred a client to me.

It was Business. Not Personal. That’s how I began working with a former CIO on an article about lessons learned from implementing enterprise technology to improve performance.

This Month’s Tip

Think: What’s the earth-shattering news about your morning coffee? People who announce on social media where and with whom they have consumed a breakfast drink flabbergast me. Can you specify the value-added information or societal significance of your inability to prepare a hot beverage at home? Alternatively, invite me to sample one with you, so we can become better acquainted and consider ways to work together.

Contact

Where do you draw the line between business and personal in your Communications? Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s clarify where the boundaries are.

Click here to read prior issues of this newsletter.

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Turn Your Networking Inside Out

You probably know someone who is a resource for a connection.

It’s a mystery to me why people say they hate networking.

When asked their best source of new customers, most business owners say referrals.

What is the flip side of referrals?

Networking.

Everyone makes referrals of professionals, with whom they’ve previously worked, to contacts who need someone with that particular skill. We all pass names around our network.

For those who claim to hate networking, think instead how you might make – and receive – referrals to and from people in your various circles.

These circles include formal organizations, such as professional membership associations and networking groups, current and former clients, vendors and partner organizations, even friends, family and members of your faith community.

It’s amazing how far your reach will extend when your approach is focused on referrals, not networks.

Here’s an example:

A neighbor asked me for a referral to an engineer to evaluate the repair work the condominium board had arranged for her friend’s terrace. Because I did not know any engineers, I directed her to Fred Basch, an architect and former client. Fred named an engineering firm, saying the project “is right up their alley.”

Referral made. Problem solved.

The sequence of emails was completed in less than two hours.

Everyone knows someone worth knowing. Who might be the intermediary who can introduce you to a prospective client or your next hire? When there is someone for whom you’d like to do a good turn, think about the people in your circles (or networks) who might be useful to that person – or who might have a colleague who could suggest the resource the contact seeks.

This Month’s Tip

Whom might you offer and whom do you seek to meet? Members of a networking group can provide mutual referrals in an exchange exercise. Each participant writes the profession of a contact they’d like to help on a 3 x 5 card (offer) and requests a person with a specific occupation or employee at a company they want to meet (seek) on another card. Every pair of cards gets passed around the room, so all attendees can see each one. Invariably, a match will materialize.

For example, a grantwriter, who wanted to enhance her LinkedIn profile, learned about a very active LinkedIn user. That referral helped her draft emails to request recommendations from clients.

Contact

Let’s brainstorm about the people among your professional and personal connections. Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s consider how so you can make and earn the referrals that will promote business growth for your contacts and yourself.

Click here to read prior issues of this newsletter.

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Six Tips for Your Mid-Year Communications Check-up

Conduct a Self-audit of Your Communications

Nonprofit New York, formerly The Nonprofit Coordinating Committee (NPCC), created the Nonprofit Excellence Awards program with self-assessment tools. Participating nonprofit organizations conduct audits that help them evaluate their performance along specific metrics. The effort inevitably helps raise the bar in eight key areas of operations.

It’s exciting to see Communications placed so prominently among the criteria, next to governance and financial management, among others. NPCC held a workshop on Pathways to Excellence to share best practices in Communications; the discussion concisely presented six valuable nuggets that apply to all organizations: large and small, nonprofit, for profit and government.

Take a moment now to review your communications.

  1. Choose. Between Media Relations, Social Media, Website, Newsletter, Video, Annual Report and Marketing Collateral, it is unlikely your organization can deliver on all these projects equally well. Pick the ones that will have the greatest ROI for your group – based on dollars and donors — and support them with sufficient internal resources.
  2. Schedule. Create a Calendar that incorporates deadlines for events, email distribution, postal mailings, annual report and newsletters. Pre-populate Social Media posts whenever possible using automated tools, like TweetDeck.
  3. Empower. Front-line employees observe incidents and anecdotes in the moment. Encourage them to suggest story ideas as topics. Capture their insights and energy.
  4. Re-purpose. Once you’ve drafted content, distribute it widely. A narrative profile of a client published early in the year can be updated six months later, perhaps with a new photo. A new project can be re-visited with recent results and feedback from participants.
  5. Bifurcate. Write newsletters and annual reports that target hearts with photos and harness facts with charts. Many donors will connect to the personal stories; other supporters want to see outcomes. All thrill to successes and progress in accomplishing the mission of your organization.
  6. Anticipate. Invariably, a crisis arises. Prepare for it by designating a single spokesperson. That person will assemble the facts, develop the context, indicate the steps being taken to address the situation, wait for reporters to call and be responsive to pointed questions, keeping within carefully set boundaries and perhaps on a 20-minute delayed basis that will permits additional strategizing.

This Month’s Tip

Match your Communications activities to your goals. Highlight select programs by consistently featuring stories about the participants or clients, services, staff, allied partners and results. To ensure consistency, coordinate with colleagues across the group for a steady flow of new content.

Contact

Is it time for you to conduct a self-assessment of your Communications activities? How will you Choose, Schedule, Empower, Re-purpose, Bifurcate and Anticipate for the balance of the year? Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. We’ll review the past, present and future of your Communications.

Click here to read prior issues of this newsletter.

Click here to subscribe to this monthly newsletter and make sure you don’t miss the next issue.

Thanks to the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee, whose workshop inspired this newsletter.

How Are You the Opposite?

Consider what you are compared to what you are not.

Here’s a striking contrast:
Sell your firm as an ENTER Strategy, Not as an EXIT Strategy.

This turn of a well-known phrase emphasizes what is to be gained and shifts the focus away from the owner, the price tag and the negotiation process.

It promotes the opportunity the acquirer has to gather expertise, penetrate new markets and add clients — all by using a buy rather than build approach. An acquisition/enter strategy may be an expedient and cost-effective solution to quickly expand in a desirable and growing market and niche.

Similarly, would you like to resolve your separation from your spouse in a private setting and at a lower fee, supported by an attorney, a divorce coach and a financial advisor?

Or would you prefer to duke it out in an expensive, protracted public battle over the future of your family? Do you relish a process that may devalue all your assets and leave every participant bitter, emotionally drained and physically exhausted?

That is the premise, admittedly exaggerated, of the collaborative divorce process as practiced by a recent client, the Collaborative Divorce Center of Coastal Virginia. Guided by legal and financial professionals and a child development specialist, divorcing couples invest in a customized, mutual agreement. They allocate their resources and arrange for the care and education of any children, instead of a third-party (judge) determining their individual and collective futures.

These examples demonstrate how an organization or company can effectively set itself apart by describing how it is the opposite of what is familiar.

I follow this path also. With an eclectic background in various industries (law, Wall Street, nonprofit) I made the logo of Falk Communications and Research an octagonal shape.

You might be a round peg and someone else, a square peg; I am not so easily categorized. I am an octagonal peg, someone who does not fit the mold.

Not being an industry insider often makes me a keener analyst who is better able to assess the situations of my clients. By tapping into a range of valuable experiences, I develop unique communications solutions.

This Month’s Tip

Consumer goods are well known for flaunting their other-ness. Apple urged customers to Think different. In the beverage industry, 7-Up was the Un-cola. For cars, one manufacturer nearly denied its heritage: This is Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile. Consider the attributes of your cohort to see where you might be most different and distinctive.

Contact

How might you define who you are in contrast to who you are not? Let’s take a traditional slogan or image and turn it on its head. Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. We’ll devise ways that make you the opposite of the crowd.

Click here to read prior issues of this newsletter.

Click here to subscribe to this monthly newsletter and make sure you don’t miss the next issue.

Thanks to Art Stevens, whose observation inspired this newsletter.

Your Co-Authored Article Reaches Influencers of Your Target Market

A colleague or client helps an industry outsider gain credibility.

How might a company offering specialized training promote its services?

Sometimes the best way to reach a target market is through its influencers.

The strategy I developed for Ed Katz, founder of the International Office Moving Institute (IOMI®), focused on attorneys, not the Human Resources professionals responsible for training employees.

Lawyers specializing in employment and contract law might be interested in a product like a video training series in best practices for moving office furniture, once they are aware of the context of such training.

Failure to observe best practices in moving bulky items, like large file cabinets and office desks, may result in serious injury to employees, which in turn may lead to worker compensation claims and subsequent litigation. In addition to the costs associated with workers compensation claims and litigation, damage to property, either property being moved or walls, elevators, doors, etc., may require additional payments for losses and damage.

In the event an employee sues a company or nonprofit for injury sustained in a move, documentation of prior training will provide an affirmative defense. The fact that an employee is trained in best moving practices will mitigate the claim and may lead to denial of any compensation.

Lawyers who are alerted to the long-term value of this video training series might refer this resource to their clients, especially at those businesses and nonprofit organizations where staff ask untrained maintenance staff to move heavy items or hire professional moving companies. In addition, for those lawyers that work in-house, they may mandate, as a best practice, such training for employees.

In order to reach these attorneys via a legal trade publication, a legal professional needed to be a co-author. Jacqueline Thorlakson, Senior Corporate Counsel for The Suddath Companies, a leading global moving company that is a long-time client of Katz, agreed to co-write an article about the video training series.

Working together, Katz and Thorlakson developed a forceful argument on the need for training employees at various steps in the moving process to prevent any accidents that may occur:

• Before the move: preparing to deal with situations in advance;
• During the move: managing issues as they arise; and
• After an accident involving injury or harm: training may be used as a corrective measure.

The combination of Katz’ hands-on expertise in moving heavy file cabinets, for example, coupled with Thorlakson’s citation of recent lawsuits, proved compelling to Employment Law 360. It is unlikely the subject of best practices in moving and training videos would have been reported by the legal publication in a different circumstance.

And it may be unlikely that attorneys specializing in employment and contract law would have pre-emptively spoken with their clients to ascertain whether they currently observe best practices in moving and whether they have trained their employees accordingly. Or, alternatively, that in-house counsel would have issued a mandate requiring all employees undergo training.

This Month’s Tip

Your co-author speaks to her peers in their language. An article may not be accepted by, for example, a legal publication, without relying on the legal expertise and writing style of an attorney.

Contact

If you are reaching out to influencers who might refer your services and products, an article in a trade publication, co-authored by a specialist, may help you hit the target. Let’s talk and line up some topics – and co-writers – for future publication. Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. We’ll focus on the appropriate influencers.

Click here to read prior issues of this newsletter.

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Take Your Idea for a Test Drive

Look at the world through the eyes of a colleague or collaborator.

Do you occasionally share an inspired idea with a trusted sounding board, so you might learn how others see the situation?

When you speak with someone who sits on a different side of the table, or a peer in another industry, you’ll see the plan through another lens, which can be very revealing.

Here’s how I learned this tactic. You probably receive too many non-business newsletters, especially from retailers who twice a week entice you to shop for the latest fashion.

One way to control the distraction of such promotional emails is to create an email address with an account dedicated to that purpose. Next, you deliberately do not place that email account on your computer and phone. Instead, you only review that email on a tablet, at night, while relaxing or watching TV.

From your perspective, you are not interrupted by tempting announcements of sales and new products during your busy work day.

Now the kicker: From a marketer’s perspective, you are a dream audience. Sitting on a comfy couch, scrolling through promotional emails, you are in a much more receptive mood. When you see a photo of a fashionable jacket — voila. Immersed in news of sales, you now are more likely to shop online than when you are scrolling through emails on your phone before your next meeting starts.

How about that 180 degree turn? What started as a defensive posture has now made you a vulnerable target.

We all have a blind spot when it comes to our genius ideas. Find people who can serve as a corrective mirror. Make it a practice to ask for their perspective and see the market through their eyes.

This Month’s Tip

Who might be your sounding board? Members of networking groups. Former clients and former co-workers. Set up a phone chat with a social networking contact whose thoughtful blog posts and comments exhibit insights. The retired executives who serve as coaches at SCORE counsel business owners for free; ask to be paired with someone who worked in your industry.

Contact

Let’s test drive your newest idea. Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. We’ll take it out for a spin, so we can see if there are any bumps in the road ahead.

Click here to read prior issues of this newsletter.

Click here to subscribe to this monthly newsletter and make sure you don’t miss the next issue.

Thanks to Joshua Sessler, whose observation inspired this newsletter.

Toot, Toot and Re-Toot Your Own Horn

Write, revise and re-format your content to reach new audiences.

According to novelist Willa Cather, “There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.”

Consider this quote, enshrined on Library Way (East 41st Street in New York City), in a business context. It is a reminder that all business-related content may be (infinitely) re-purposed in various formats to reach new audiences.

Start with a client engagement that’s a success story.

Write the success story as a case study and post it to your website.

Add a graph, photo or other visual and publish it as an article for the company or nonprofit newsletter.

Then, situate the client write-up in a broader context as an article for an industry trade magazine or a professional membership association’s publication.

Email the case study or article to prospective clients, donors or collaborators.

Take a lessons learned format, and invite the client to speak on a panel at an industry conference, professional meeting, networking group or local chamber of commerce event.

Submit your client success write-up as a LinkedIn post.

Turn the case study into a guest post for a blog hosted by a colleague.

Lead a workshop where peers, prospects and collaborators may learn best practices, and also see you in action.

Post an abridged version of the workshop presentation on Slideshare.net.

Interview the client in a podcast and video, to be hosted on your website (and YouTube channel).

Ask a question in a LinkedIn group and on X (Twitter). Your client success story is the answer, so provide a link to one of the above formats, as appropriate.

Re-play the theme. Assemble a series of case studies, articles, panel presentations or workshop handouts in an ebook.

Finally, build upon your previous work; update it to reflect changes in law, regulation, demographics, industry trends or technology.

The same client-centered content has now been shared and promoted to: current contacts, prospective customers, professional colleagues, industry peers and potential collaborators, not to mention website visitors, event and conference attendees and the LinkedIn universe and X (Twitter) sphere in a dozen ways.

This Month’s Tip

Share your content with reporters. Case studies, articles, blog posts and presentations testify to your credentials as an authoritative expert. You will position yourself as a source to comment on solutions to problems faced by others in that industry or serving a similar population.

Contact

Don’t toot your own horn as a one-note song. Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s jazz up your client success in multiple ways.

Click here to read prior issues of this newsletter.

Click here to subscribe to this monthly newsletter and make sure you don’t miss the next issue.

Wake Up Your Sleepy Email Signature

S   t   r   e  t   c   h   to get more marketing action.

Email signatures are invaluable marketing tools. Take a good look at yours. Is it working for you or is it asleep?

Here’s a checklist to make the most of your real estate that passes under the eyes of at least 50 correspondents each day:

  1. Your signature is positioned immediately below the last line of your email message, not buried at the tail end of the chain of correspondence.
  2. Your direct phone number and cellphone number share a line and sit under your name, making it easy for the respondent to give you a call.
  3. Your company or organization’s name, hyperlinked to the website, invites a click to learn more about your products, services and programs.
  4. Your snappy tag line proclaims the value you create for customers.
  5. The headline of a recent news story trumpets your success links to a PDF of the article.
  6. Your current exhibition, an upcoming event you will host/sponsor or a trade show where you will speak/exhibit, is noted, with a link to register or make a reservation, if appropriate.
  7. Your product flyer or an informative brochure is available as a download, which requires an email address to facilitate future sales team follow-up.
  8. Your LinkedIn and X (Twitter) account information are listed, so contacts may connect with you on social media platforms.
  9. The latest issue of your newsletter or blog is hyperlinked, with an opportunity to subscribe.

This Month’s Tip

Your email signature is a fundamental component of your brand, as are your logo, website and business card.  Every team member should have an identical signature, to reinforce the organization’s positioning and messages. After a revised email signature template is developed, provide the model and instructions for an update to all personnel, along with a two-day deadline for implementation.

Contact

If it’s time to rouse your sleepy signature, contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. I can give it a once-over. Together, we’ll make it rise and shine.

For a more detailed discussion and an example of an email signature template, please see Harness the Marketing Power of Your Email Signature.

Click here to read prior issues of this newsletter.

Click here to subscribe to this monthly newsletter and make sure you don’t miss the next issue.

Make the Most of Your Event Photos

Plan ahead to strengthen six relationships.

Photos have always been a central element of special events. In the digital age, these images are available almost immediately and can be distributed through various promotional outlets, as well as informally through social media.

Part of the process of taking photos is to integrate the RSVP list of the attendees with the post-event action.

Whether you host an Open House, fundraiser, concert or conference, become familiar with the names on the RSVP list beforehand. When the event begins, be flexible and alert to spontaneously capture moments that convey the activities of the company, as well as the relationships that the organization nurtures with its many partners and allies.

At a recent event for IMPACCT Brooklyn, a nonprofit focused on affordable housing, a guest asked me how the photos being taken at the evening reception might be used.

In addition to the organization’s own promotional brochures and website, plus social media activity, I identified some key opportunities for cultivating relationships with attendees and their respective audiences.

  1. Elected officials: The Assemblymember and City Councilmember who spoke at the event will likely include the photos of their attendance in their constituent newsletters.
  2. Partners: Real estate developers and bankers work with the nonprofit to develop and finance apartment buildings with affordable housing. They may place the photos in their marketing literature and other external communications to document their Community Reinvestment Act activities and relationships with the nonprofit sector.
  3. Allied organizations: Like-minded nonprofits, neighborhood associations and local merchant groups could share the photos in their member newsletters as an update of activities and changes in the community.
  4. Funders of the nonprofit: Photos that record how the group has expanded its operations, thanks to the support received from a foundation, are a confirmation that the grant is being deployed effectively.
  5. Media outlets: Reporters who were unable to attend a public event, such as IMPACCT’s ribbon-cutting at its new office, might use a photo in their news coverage.
  6. Clients, employees, Boardmembers and donors: Photos of workshop participants, staff and supporters could be included in the organization’s own newsletters, marketing literature, website — even on the walls of the offices. These shots underscore the personal connection the organization builds with clients, similar to the snapshots of celebrities who dined at a restaurant.

Of course, the attendees might eventually add your photos to their websites and re-distribute them through their social media presence.

In sum, photos document the event and ultimately may be shared to strengthen the relationships between the host, event participants and their respective organizations. That bonding process became my goal when I accompanied Deirdre Scott, Executive Director of Bronx Council on the Arts (BCA), to an event held at Hostos Community College. I noticed a Hostos photographer taking photos; I asked if he would like to take a shot of a small group that included a Director from Hostos, who is also a Boardmember at BCA.

That Hostos connection compelled him to agree to take the photo. Later, the photographer and I exchanged business cards. When he emailed me the group photo, I replied and identified the BCA Boardmembers in the group, so that he might include their names in any future publication of the photo.

This Month’s Tip

Make a list of photos to be taken at an event, as if you plan a wedding. Prepare to stage photos with the management team, Boardmembers, key staff and special guests. Hover near the principals, with the photographer ready to aim and shoot. Keep groups to a maximum of five people. Note the name of anyone who is not immediately familiar, to identify the person for a caption and perhaps share the photo with the attendee later.

Contact

Ready to work with a photographer at your next event? You’ll have a bigger smile when you’ve anticipated how to use the photos in the weeks after the reception. You might enjoy the event even more if I direct the photographer for you. Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770.

Click here to read prior issues of this newsletter.

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Listen to Aretha: RESPECT

Respect and lessons from other languages.

When you studied Spanish, French or German, you learned there is a formal and informal degree of addressing another person. Generally, it’s best to use the formal — Usted, Vous or Sie — to be polite, especially at the start of the relationship.

When the other speaker indicates she is amenable to informal address, she will tell you to use Tú, Tu or Du.

As Aretha Franklin sang, from the other’s perspective, communication is about R E S P E C T.

Treat your clients and potential customers with respect — during every in-person and electronic interaction.

These people may soon pay your fees or be in a position to refer others to you. Lack of respect may cause a prospect to look away from you and turn instead to competitors for products and services.

Two recent emails from Public Relations industry professionals violated the norms of polite customer correspondence, reminding me that we all need to pay heed and reflect on the lessons from Aretha.

Hey
The first was a sales pitch that began: Hey Janet,.

When I replied to the sender, I mentioned my name was Janet and not Hey. I received a follow-up note, again: Hey Janet,.

I replied I was offended at twice being addressed Hey.

This complaint led to a prompt apology, which was accepted.

DUDE
The subject line of the second email: DUDE. Seriously, OPEN my email already! (sic)

The Hey email was from a sales rep, who, with two years experience, should have known better.

The DUDE message was from a well-known senior Public Relations consultant with nearly 20 years experience.

Though this DUDE subject line is eye-catching, it is akin to the language of high school students and unlikely that an award-winning, college-level Public Relations instructor wrote it.

I responded that I found the subject line DUDE disrespectful. Surprisingly, the reply was by no means apologetic, but contrarian. According to this communications professional, if the use of DUDE or other terminology to which one personally does not relate is offensive, the recipient should unsubscribe.

Draw the Line
Where do you draw the line between informal and formal email correspondence with prospective customers and current clients?

This Month’s Tip

Do your colleagues treat your clients and prospects with respect? It’s polite to begin an email with Sidney, or Dear Leslie,. These forms of address acknowledge the virtual distance between the writer and the recipient and do not overstep the bounds the way that Hey Nicky, does. Write complete and grammatically correct sentences. Use restraint in tone, limit exclamation points and avoid emoticons. Finally, consider that the email might be forwarded to the CEO or another senior executive who has the final say-so on the buy decision.

You and your colleague worked very hard to get the reader’s attention; don’t let your email be discarded because it was disrespectful.

Contact

Are your coworkers speaking the same language as your potential clients and showing them appropriate respect? Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s review your company’s standard emails in this light.

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Orient Your Newsletter

Adopt a reader-centered approach.

Your newsletter waits patiently in a recipient’s mailbox.

Once opened, you have the reader’s attention.

  • Their attention is yours to lose.
  • You gave them a gift and then you walked away.
  • What will the reader think or do next?

Think of a reader’s attention like a person’s gaze. How fragile it is! At any moment, a phone call, knock on the door or sudden air conditioner blast could distract her eyes from the newsletter’s article.

Their attention is yours to lose. Accordingly:
Build trust and cultivate a solid relationship.

  • Deliver timely and useful information.
  • Provide relevant documents and links.
  • Position your staff as accessible experts.
  • Reach out to potential collaborators and competitors in a gesture of good faith.

You gave them a gift and then you walked away.
Lead a reader to feel good about your organization or company.

  • Remind him of the solid work and accomplishments, to which he may have contributed or from which he benefited.
  • Keep volunteers involved.
  • Connect with elected officials and local business leaders.
  • Maintain contact with alumni.

What will the reader think or do next?
Guide the reader to deepen her relationship with your group.

  • Drive the reader to a specific page on the website.
  • Make it easy for the recipient to share your newsletter.
  • Promote advocacy.
  • Encourage RSVPs and donations.

Is it time to orient your newsletter and implement a reader-centered approach? Let’s write a plan to hold onto your reader’s attention. Call me at 212-677-5770 or email at Janet@JanetLFalk.com.

See also Make Your Five W’s Reader-Centered.

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Radio Interview + Digital Links = Infinite Audience

Use links to promote it.

Radio interviews are no longer time-sensitive; they do not evaporate after they are broadcast.

In the digital age, anything that was aired may be captured, re-purposed and merchandised to promote your services and programs.

Senior care advisor Joanna Leefer spoke about options and resources for seniors in two radio interviews.

She shared tips on how to search for an appropriate nursing home for a family member.

Leefer also addressed the misconceptions seniors and their family members may have about the financial and government resources available for medical care.

Here’s what happened next:

  • She copied the long URL of the recorded interviews from the two radio stations’ websites and created bitly links; these shorter links are easier to share in emails, on websites and on social media.
  • She summarized each discussion in a phrase and added that to her email signature, embedding the links, like this:

Regards,
Joanna Leefer
Radio Interview: Tips to Locate a Nursing Home for Your Aging Parent (Part 1 , 25 minutes)
Radio Interview: 3 Common Misconceptions Families Have About Eldercare Options (38 minutes)

  • The interviews are prominently displayed on her website.
  • She also includes a reference to the interviews whenever she contacts organizations interested in senior care issues to secure speaking engagements.

All in all, the third-party approval by these radio interviewers, who are objective observers, testifies to Leefer’s knowledge in the eldercare field. This is reassuring to prospective clients. It also gives the Chair of the Program Committee confidence that Leefer will deliver a quality program when addressing their group.

Is radio an appropriate medium to reach your target audience? Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s consider how to secure radio interviews and then how to promote them, so they continue to broadcast your expertise.

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Make Your Pro Bono Client Newsworthy

Be active and use your perspective as an insider and observer

You contribute your professional expertise in marketing, law, finance, operations or management to your work as a board member or volunteer of a nonprofit organization.

Equally important is your unique perspective highlighting the group’s programs and services.

In addition, you offer a reality check of how other audiences may view the nonprofit’s activities.

Here is where these multi-faceted roles of professional expertise, inside champion and outside observer coalesce.

As a board member or volunteer, you may suggest to the Executive Director, or perhaps the Director of Operations or Development, a quarterly audit of the top programs in order to identify the aspects that might prove most newsworthy.

  • Review services and events with the goal of pinpointing the larger social or educational issues that they address — literacy, job training or health services, as examples — for an under-served population or community.
  • List three bullet points that summarize the essence of each program in terms of its results and impact.

When you focus on those services that, on behalf of society, Save Time, Save Money or Bring More Joy to individuals and the community, the organization is on its way to attracting more news coverage that may draw donations, attendees and grants, as well as support from allied groups,the business community and elected officials.

My pro bono work with the Roosevelt Island Historical Society (RIHS), which holds lectures and tours promoting the history of New York City’s former Welfare Island, has challenged me to define the newsworthy angle of these events — with the goal to increase attendance and earned revenue.

The recent RIHS installation of the long-lost lamppost base, once a part of the Queensboro Bridge, represented a highly visual news opportunity. It was reported in 2001 that the lamppost base had been removed from the Bridge in 1976, and was missing ever since.

By linking the installation of the 6,000 pound lamppost base to the 30-plus year disappearance, the event became newsworthy, resulting in articles and photos in The New York Times and DNAinfo.com.

Your pro bono client may not have monumental news like this; still, you can create a context for its programs to be connected to a current or perennial social issue. Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s talk soon to help this group land its own news story. And if you work at a nonprofit, let’s review the programs together to create that news angle.

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Are You Find-able Online?

Maximize your online presence

An out-of-the blue email prompted me to consider how easy it is to re-connect with someone and what another person might find out about me online.

A long-lost acquaintance emailed me the same day my name, quote and photo were published in The New York Times. When I asked how she was able to get in touch with me, she responded that she conducted a search online and found my company website, which displays my email address (and phone number).

What about YOU?

Take five minutes NOW to conduct an Internet search of your own name. Your objective is to see which websites and social networks are listed in the search and make sure you appropriately connect those listings to your company’s or nonprofit’s website.

Start the search with Google.com, followed by Bing.com and then Yahoo.com; that adds up to 87.5% of global searches. (The remainder is Baidu at 10.2%, which is used in China, plus some minuscule search engines.)

Your LinkedIn profile probably appears first among the results. With its international database of 364 million members, LinkedIn outranks most websites.

Perhaps next on the list are your X (Twitter) and Facebook accounts; their enormous constituencies boost their rankings as well.

If you own a business or lead a nonprofit, a reference to your company’s or organization’s website might follow mention(s) of your name.

These personal profiles clearly list and link to your company or nonprofit’s website, of course. If they don’t, link them now.

Here are two ways to update your Personal LinkedIn Page:

Customize your LinkedIn Name/URL.
On your LinkedIn page, go to Profile and click Edit profile.
Under your photo, you have the link: www.linkedin.com/pub/xxx/1/234/56
Click on Edit.
Now you are in the panel where YOU control WHAT is VISIBLE in your profile.
Before you do anything with that section, look to the right and go to Your public profile URL.
Click on Customize your public profile URL.
Now you can type your name XXXX without the number /1/234/56 gobbledy gook that LinkedIn automatically assigns.
If there is a duplicate of your name in LinkedIn, you can use a hyphen or an underscore between your first and last names to differentiate yourself.
Then click Set Custom URL. You’re done !

Post your company website — and related resources.
On your LinkedIn page, go to Profile and click Edit profile.
In the lower right corner of the box, click on the Rolodex card labeled Contact Info.
Next to X (Twitter, click on the pencil and add your X (Twitter) account.
Next to Website, click on the pencil and select the category Other. Then enter the name (or description) of your company and link to the homepage URL.
You may add two additional websites; I selected the category Other to post Public Relations Tips and link to the Newsletter section of my website, plus Articles on Public Relations with a link to the Publication section.

This is also the place to post the name of your blog (category: Other) and link to it.
(Note: most people do not take advantage of this promotional space; if they do, they use the default setting of Company website and Blog, which is not particularly informative.)
Then click Save.

Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. It’s time to make yourself more find-able and more compelling online.

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Playing Politics. Telling Your Story.

Make sure elected officials know how you contribute to your community.

Nonprofits and small businesses can improve their visibility in the community by establishing a connection with local elected officials and telling their story.

Once these politicians are acquainted with you, they’re able to advocate for you and help you secure funding or assistance. But they can only do so if they know who you are.

Your goal might be requesting or keeping discretionary funds allocated by a city councilmember or state legislator, being invited to participate in community projects or gaining access to information and in-kind resources, such as staff training. Clearly, it’s vital to be on a first-name basis with the elected officials who serve your neighborhood — and especially with their staff.

On Memorial Day Weekend, East Harlem Block Nursery hosted a block party and celebration of its 50th anniversary. Government leaders from the state, city and community were invited to mark the occasion.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and State Senator Bill Perkins joined in the celebration. Each spoke to the attendees and read a congratulatory proclamation. In addition, Mayor Bill de Blasio sent greetings and a representative of Comptroller Scott Stringer presented a commendation. And, an aide of Public Advocate Letitia James and an administrator from the Department of Education also attended.

In sum, four of the top four leaders of New York City and Manhattan (and their respective staffs) were apprised of the existence and success of this nonprofit, and its remarkable 50-year track record.

Here are photos of the politicians and aides who participated in the momentous day.

The opportunity for the Executive Director, teachers, parents and students to speak with these officials and administrators, plus give them a personal tour of the school, was invaluable. In this first year of New York City’s Universal Pre-Kindergarten, funding for the program at the nursery is precarious, so building relationships with various arms of city government is a priority.

The fact that several officials sent their aides was not necessarily a disappointment. These public servants are likely to run for office themselves someday, so it makes sense to start connecting with them now. As an example, New York City Councilmember Vincent Ignizio, who once was an aide representing a Staten Island councilmember at an event, was later elected to serve that very district. From staffer to elected official — a lesson to remember.

Are your local officials acquainted with your business or nonprofit group? Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s consider how best to introduce you and get the attention of the appropriate elected leaders.

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Save Time. Save Money. Make More Money.

It’s not about you, but what you can do for them.

Recently, a nonprofit professional at a workshop on media relations posed this question: “How can I get a reporter to write a feature article about our group?”

My reply was, “Why should anyone else care about what your organization does? Let’s find something about your nonprofit that will capture an outsider’s attention and be newsworthy to the media.”

Consider: how does your organization, product or service help others to:

  • Save Time
  • Save Money or
  • Make More Money

This perspective on time and money works on two levels. First, daily, we look to save our personal time and money: a magazine subscription is cheaper than buying each issue from a newsstand; plus, a copy is delivered to the home, so we subscribe, never missing an issue.

Second, society seeks to save its time and taxpayers’ money: smart nonprofits (and companies) provide products and services that can produce savings for one individual and for many people.

In applying this newfound perspective, another workshop attendee spoke about Worksites for Wellness. The group advocates that companies provide rooms on the premises where female employees can privately nurse their infants or pump milk; the breast milk is refrigerated for a few hours, and then given to the child later.

Nursing mothers care about this issue, of course. Who else might support the group? And why should they care?

Look at how a lactation room saves time and money: Women employees are more productive when they can feed their babies or pump milk onsite. Their children are healthier, because they absorb the mother’s antibodies and resist bacteria and viruses. Consequently, these mothers take fewer days off to care for sick infants.

In sum, employers make more money. Someone who is not a nursing mother can recognize the upside and appeal of granting women privacy for an hour or so per day during a few months. Doing so, the company (and society) reaps the benefit of a more productive and loyal employee who is not distracted on the job or absent caring for a baby with a cold.

How does the save time, save money paradigm apply to your business or nonprofit? Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s brainstorm together.

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Why Your TV News Interview Never Aired

Sometimes stations butcher a news story.

In industry lingo, the news story was bumped, cut or killed.

Those are the terms that reporters (and Public Relations professionals) use to describe the assault on the fruits of their labors.

Typically, a television reporter visits an event, conducts an interview with the principal organizer of the program and talks with the engaged participants. She then gathers her notes and summarizes the activities on camera, weaving facts into the reason for the day’s event and the implications for the future.

Unless high priority or breaking news suddenly arises.

The evening news is like serving a pie to a large family; it has to be divided so that everyone gets a slice. With national, local and world news, plus sports, weather and scheduled features, some slices will be bigger than others.

Invariably, breaking news grabs the largest slice and the planned news stories are subject to:

  • Bump: the interview does not even take place;
  • Cut: the segment is abbreviated and relevant footage is not broadcast;
  • Kill: the story never gets aired.

War, fire, stock market gyration or a politician’s exploits may wreak havoc on the interview carefully planned by a Public Relations professional.

Recently, a report of an event was broadcast without an interview that had taken place on location with program staff of the New York Foundation for Eldercare. The segment was cut short by news coverage of an airplane crash.

When that happens to your interview or segment — and it will happen someday — make the most of the coverage that you did receive by sharing the news story wherever possible, including X (Twitter), your website and your newsletter.

Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s consider how to promote your TV news coverage, even if the interview was left on the cutting room floor.

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The Three R’s of Crisis Communication

Plan ahead, because when a crisis arises, there’s no time for planning.

A broken or malfunctioning product.

Poor judgment.

Lapse in supervision.

A crisis may take many forms; the appropriate communications response generally follows this format: Regret, Recompense, Reform.

Known as the Three R’s, and similar to the education basics of Reading, (w)Riting and (a)Rithmetic, this approach to communication in a tense moment provides guidance and reassurance to management (and employees) when facing hurt and angry customers, accusatory press and the prospect of regulatory investigation.

At the earliest opportunity in the crisis moment, prepare a statement that addresses the situation and incorporates the following, to the extent that the underlying facts are available:

Regret: Apologize, simply and directly, to those affected, their families and the community. We are very sorry that this occurred and extend our sympathies to those who were hurt by ____ (the accident).

Recompense: Indicate that a replacement, coupon or other object of comparable tangible value will be issued to replace the damaged item. Customers whose packaged meatballs have the product code 49B7 should return them to the store where they were purchased for another package or a full refund.

Reform: In anticipation of a possible crisis, you may have contracted a consultant of impeccable reputation. State, by name if possible, that this consultant has been hired to investigate the circumstances and recommend steps that will immediately be implemented to ensure that the situation will not recur. We have hired Company X to review the situation and, based on that analysis and recommended procedures, we will implement changes and do our very best to make sure that this incident will never, ever happen again. 

Using this formula, consider the most likely scenarios: tainted product, breach of computer security, employee malfeasance, accident and loss of life, among others. Like the fire drill required to be held in your office building, conduct a simulation at least quarterly.

Are you ready for a moment in the spotlight, with customers and reporters shouting accusations at your company or organization? Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s prepare now and trust that your practice session is never played out before a live audience.

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Why You? Why Now?

How to introduce yourself to reporters.

You probably recognize that reporters call people they know. They are less likely to call someone they have not heard of.

Reporters are professional skeptics. They will always ask two questions:

Why YOU? What makes you a credible and authoritative source?

Why NOW? You didn’t contact the journalist last week or last month. What is the reason anyone should pay attention to you now?

Here’s how to write an Executive Media Profile that answers these questions and establishes the same level of credibility as the competitor quoted last week.

1. In a five-line paragraph, summarize your areas of expertise. Select a few themes of interest to those who regularly seek your advice or services. This is not an extensive bio that lists your degrees and former job titles.

2. Make a list of three to five hot topics. Reporters focus on issues that affect readers and their businesses. In the best case, there is a clear bottom-line impact. Perhaps there is a change in the law or an industry regulation or a shift in consumer preference. Show your expertise and anticipate how this affects sales, operations and the market sector.

3. Use a bullet point format. Simply list the topics; do not use sentences and paragraphs. You’ll have time to elaborate on your ideas in a future conversation and interview.

4. Identify the publications read by your target market. Selectively contact the journalists who cover topics like yours with an email that answers the two questions: Why You and Why Now. Start by demonstrating you are familiar with their work: Your coverage of the ___ market prompted me to contact you and briefly share some thoughts on trends.

5. Follow-up with a call a week later. Reporters are as busy as yourself, so you’ll probably leave a phone message. Consider this a one-two punch and a foray into new territory. As Babe Ruth said, “Every strike brings me closer to my next home run.”

By establishing yourself as an authoritative and credible source, and by highlighting timely issues that readers need to focus on, you will place yourself in the reporter’s database for future reference, or even on a to-do list for a call today.

Ready to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard? Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770.A sample Executive Media Profile will be emailed so you can get started.

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Do The Right Thing

What goes around, comes around.

Some say Pay it Forward.

Others say Create good karma.

It’s a professional responsibility, for me, to be alert to news opportunities — even for former clients.

When Staten Island Legal Services (SILS) held a fundraising luncheon in April 2014, in part to mark its 10th anniversary, I spoke with the reporter from The New York Law Journal whom I had invited to cover the event. She asked to be notified of any celebration on the actual anniversary date, which was December 8. The project ended soon after the luncheon, and SILS and I amicably parted company.

Early in December, at my suggestion, SILS Executive Director Nancy Goldhill contacted the reporter and secured an interview. Goldhill used the opportunity to cite impressive statistics of the thousands of people whose cases SILS had handled over the years: families recovering property damage from Hurricane Sandy, victims of domestic violence, homeowners avoiding foreclosure and immigrants securing legal status.

Success! The news story in The New York Law Journal highlighted SILS and its 10-year track record. It even re-published a photo of Goldhill and the honorees from the April luncheon.

This article put SILS in front of New York attorneys, a key audience of current and potential supporters — thanks to my reminder to this former client.

You can join me and start (or renew) the habit to do a good turn, make a referral and introduce two acquaintances. Do it often and do it selflessly, with no thought of recompense.

Please let me know the unsought favor you’ve done. Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. They say I get half-credit for an assist in good karma.

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Networking Towards the King

One Degree of Separation from the King of Spain

Everyone knows someone worth knowing.

It’s true. I know someone who was in daily contact with a future king.

Years ago, Maria, a teacher at the Madrid, Spain elementary school the young prince attended, placed a newspaper ad for a roommate and I needed a place to live. Voila! Today, she would have used Craigslist or another online networking site that helps people with shared interests and needs make connections.

The Executive Director of a nonprofit where I performed pro bono work introduced me to a colleague, Greg Cohen of Cause Effective, who advises nonprofits on strengthening communities and fundraising. He later referred me to his contact, Nancy Goldhill; he thought my experience working with attorneys and my knowledge of Staten Island, where I had worked in Public Relations, would be helpful to draft a newsletter for Staten Island Legal Services (SILS).That project bloomed into media outreach and news coverage for the SILS fundraising luncheon.

Networking does work, when you work with it. If the traditional networking at events does not appeal to you, review these tips. Also, try reaching out to connections in the virtual sphere. Whether in person or online, networking may not lead directly to someone you want to meet. It does, however, put you closer to their circle of contacts and referrals.

Consider your own many connections and who might stand in their circles. Because you know me, you’re already only two steps away from el Rey Felipe VI; you’re also one step from a technology start-up’s CEO and from a musician who plays viola da gamba.

Together, let’s brainstorm how to reach out to someone who knows someone who knows that person. Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s bring you one contact closer to that potential connection.

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How Derek Jeter Managed the Media

To Answer — or Not to Answer.

How about a lesson in dealing with the media from Derek Jeter? The former athlete survived intense attention in the cut-throat baseball industry and with a company constantly in the spotlight.

“I learned early on in New York, the toughest media environment in sports, that just because a reporter asks you a question doesn’t mean you have to answer.” Derek Jeter

You, too, may face a tough question from a reporter. A journalist might ask you a leading question, in an effort to prompt you to repeat some colorful  — and potentially damaging — words in the question.

Here are four ways you can be like Jeter in your response:

  1. When a reporter tries to put words in your mouth, close your lips and swallow. Take the time you need to come up with a reply.
  2. Just say no. Don’t answer the question altogether. Ignore it. Move on to the next question.
  3. Answer the question you want to answer. Say, “That’s a good question and we are here to talk about the price of popcorn,” or whatever you want to speak about.
  4. Respond and give an answer that is not quotable or newsworthy.

You can receive more tips on media interviews by subscribing to this newsletter for pointers that will help you keep your eye on the ball when you get a nice or nasty question thrown at you.

When you’re ready, contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s practice hitting the question out of the park.

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This discussion has been lightly edited for evergreen content.

Your News Article is Just the Beginning

Capitalize on the moment.

Consider this: a trade newsletter publishes a rave article about your business or organization, like this one.

Congrats! Keep the momentum going by amplifying readership and thought leadership through one or several of the following suggestions, arranged from easiest to most time-intensive:

  • Create a few bitly links; shorten the article’s long URL, so that you can identify how many people clicked on each link to read the article and where they found it.
  • In your email signature, provocatively summarize an essential point made in the article and embed a link.

Regards,
   Janet Falk
Are Communications an Investment or Expense?

  • Post on your LinkedIn profile. Ask a question in your LinkedIn groups to spark debate or provide a solution to a recurring problem for customers. (The less self-serving the better.)
  • Summarize the article as a question to which your insights are an answer or case study, and mention it on X (Twitter), with yet a third bitly link.
  • If you maintain a company or nonprofit page on Facebook, post a link to the article there.
  • After you secure permission from the publication, which may charge you a fee, print the article as a PDF. Now upload the PDF to your website and post a link to it on the home page (for the next month or until it becomes outdated), as well as in the news section, and wherever else on the website might be appropriate.
  • Use the article as a calling card to introduce yourself to other reporters. Now that you are recognized as an authority, share your expertise and offer an update. Mention some ideas that were not discussed in the article, and are particularly relevant to this publication’s audience. Suggest another, related topic where you can offer insight.
  • If you often read and comment on industry blogs, reach out to those bloggers; present yourself as a guest writer or suggest an interview.
  • As a member of a business, industry or professional organization, get in touch with the chair of the Education or Program Committee. Propose that you and a client speak as panelists at a meeting to explore this topic in more depth, with examples and lessons learned.
  • Contact the editors of industry and membership association newsletters and offer to revise the article’s themes as a case study for colleagues.

You worked hard to get that news article; now make it work for you!

When you want to increase the impact of your media coverage, let’s review the best ways to build on its reach. Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770.

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Is Your Website Up to Date?

If your website predates 2011, then plan for a re-launch.

According to designer Peter Levinson, websites have a three-year design cycle, after which their designs look dated.

Having launched my website in 2009, I realized an update was long overdue.

But what finally prompted the re-launch was, admittedly, peer pressure. Other websites use a WordPress format. The clean minimal look, with lots of white space, apparently has become the standard since 2011.

Another concern was to respond to visitor behavior, based on best practices. And the website analytics for my site also played a role in the re-design.

Online activity has grown exponentially and users’ expectations are high. Creating a clear layout that would be user-friendly and conform to the market was a priority.

Once the process was underway, it became appropriate to update the content. Editing the paragraphs succinctly, as well as incorporating more recent projects and successes, were the next steps.

Finally, the re-designed website assembled multiple guest blog posts and newsletter articles that were dispersed widely.

You are invited to take a look and let me know what you think of the re-design.

If it’s been a few years since your website was launched or revised, sit up and see the site through a first-time visitor’s eyes. Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s consider the content and layout that might best serve your goals and engage your audience by means of a website audit.

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The Tao of How

A three-way discussion brings the mission to life.

How might day-in, day-out routine work command reporter interest? By focusing on the HOW.

Start-up company Ultranauts Inc.  provides quality assurance testing to the digital media sector, a labor-intensive process essential to the launch of every website, software program and app.

The company has a mission to employ testers who are high-functioning individuals on the Autism Spectrum. Their heightened abilities are an exact match for software testing — off-the-charts pattern recognition, attention to detail and tolerance for repetition.

This is an example of when the HOW — the tapping of a unique talent pool — makes a business a potential news story.

After I arranged for a reporter to speak with the founder about the company and its mission, I introduced an employee and a client to round out the story.

This was not the usual company and client case study I’ve described before. The participation of the tester was key to the success of this article, because the mission of the start-up is the employment of exceptional people.

Is it your HOW that makes your company or nonprofit distinctive? Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s talk about ways to position your mission to attract reporter interest.

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This discussion has been lightly edited to reflect the company’s new name, Ultranauts. Its mission remains the same.

It Takes Two: You and a Client

Let your clients do the talking.

Naming and defining a problem unseen by potential clients  — plus offering a solution — can be a powerful component of your Communications Plan.

Create an AHA moment by featuring a successful client engagement in your outreach. An example of your actual services and expertise is far more effective than hyperbole and self-promotion.

When pitching a story idea to reporters, I included two mini case studies of customers who had used the services of my client Independent Merchant Group (IMG) to audit — and then reduce — their credit card transaction processing fees and charges.

When hotel management professionals read the resulting articles in Hotel Online and Hotel News Now, they learned how other hotels saved thousands of dollars annually by lowering their credit card transaction processing fees. These prospects recognized the possibility of fee reductions for their own locations.

More than 800 hotel CFOs and finance professionals, from regional hotel chains and boutique properties, called IMG to learn more about this service.

You have customers who will attest to your terrific service or product. Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s find a way for your clients to talk for you and about you.

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Count on — Don’t Discount — the Intern Reporter

Make sure your pitch gets seen.

After identifying target publications for a new client, it was time to search the website of each newspaper and news service to locate recent stories on a niche topic and contact the most appropriate reporters.

Bingo! A weekly had covered a related angle six months ago. That good news was tempered by the realization that the author was not on staff, with an email on the masthead, nor a freelancer listed in a media database. He was an intern.

The problem: How to reach out, capture the intern/reporter’s interest and move the idea for news coverage forward?

His unusual name made it easy to locate the intern’s X (Twitter) account. A message referencing the prior article, and an offer of an alternative view of that subject, prompted an email reply.

My response, with the pitch sent to reporters at the other target publications, was copied to the News Desk. After all, the intern would not be granted authority to pursue the story without an editor’s okay, so this note would catch the editor’s eye.

It worked; all went according to plan. A staff reporter contacted me regarding the pitch forwarded by the News Desk’s editor. After that conversation, I sent additional background and introduced an attorney as the source for more details. An interview followed and here’s the resulting article.

Let’s find ways to put your name in front of more reporters, freelancers and media interns. Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770.

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Get Local Media Coverage, Even When You Are Not Local

Tailor the news angle for success.

How might a national organization or out-of-town company gain media favor with the hometown news?

Grow instant local roots. Show area reporters the relevance of your national campaign to their audience or share a local affiliation with your out-of-town operations.

Here are three examples where the local hook to a pitch caught the reporter’s eye — at a daily newspaper, a community-based weekly and a radio show.

A reporter from the Bangor Daily News was already planning to attend the Homegrown Maine trade show with 75 vendors in the medical marijuana market.

How did the New York-based website MarijuanaDoctors.com create a local presence? Its database includes doctors from Maine, prompting the reporter to request more details about the website.

On behalf of the New Jersey-based Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation’s national fundraising campaign, a volunteer in suburban Detroit spoke to a local reporter. The profile prompted additional donations to the cause.

On radio station WHNZ in Tampa, the Triple Negative Breast Cancer interviewee highlighted the six fundraisers held across the state of Florida.

Are you interested in generating local media attention to expand your geographic reach? Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s build a local presence worth talking about.

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No Photos, Please

Consider the downside of a photo in a news story.

Getting a company name or a cause in the news isn’t the goal. Indeed, having targeted audiences take action because they read about you is the name of the game.

The law firm Katz Melinger filed a sexual harassment case; the defendants included a top-rated cable television show, its production company and the network on which the show aired.

A summary press release was distributed, with a link to a pdf of the case filed in court. As expected, the celebrity news website TMZ jumped on the case and quoted some salacious details, prompting the show’s fans to post comments that degraded the client’s character.

In preparing their coverage of the case, two local newspapers contacted the law firm seeking photographs of the client. How would these requests be handled?

After writing about the photo that attracted 3,000 visitors, it might be surprising that my counsel was to not provide photos. Once the client’s image became accessible online, it could be manipulated in ways that could be personally demeaning and not helpful to the case. No photos were sent to the newspapers and the stories were published without them.

Simultaneously, Broadcasting & Cable reported the case objectively. Perhaps this article was more damaging, from the defendants’ perspective, than the gossip-style news stories. Advertisers are often skittish about adverse publicity that might affect them also, and networks assiduously keep their advertisers happy.

As a result of the media coverage, an attorney for a defendant contacted the law firm the same afternoon. That one phone call was the goal of the media outreach — and it was achieved without a photo.

Are you focused on the end game of driving target audiences to your phone or website, rather than media coverage for its own sake? Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s address the upside and downside of sharing your story and photos — consistent with your business strategy.

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PS As for The New York Daily News and The New York Post, they easily located other photos and images to round out their articles.

Is the NY Times the Best Media Outlet for Your Story?

Another media outlet may have more impact.

Consider: A company in a niche healthcare field was preparing to announce the first-ever broadcast of a TV commercial on cable networks.

By offering an exclusive story to a reporter on the media beat at Ad Age, who had written on a related subject, I secured top-tier industry coverage.

Plus, because of this extensive online platform, the article would link to the one-minute commercial on the company website, adding to the impact.

The news story was published on AdAge.com (and its sister website TVWeek.com); the press release was distributed, and the news spread like wildfire on  X (Twitter) and Digg. This activity led to follow-on stories on other online outlets: Gawker, The New York Business Journal, Huffington Post and USA Today, as well as news websites in Mexico and France.

As a result, there were more than 92,000 views of the video advertisement on the website in four days.

When the commercial aired, the phones rang nonstop.

Sometimes the conventional newspapers (The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal) are the most appropriate; when they are not, other venues can be highly effective in telling your story.

After you’ve seen the ad, you’ll get an idea of how sensational news might have to be to merit coverage in the NYT or WSJ, as noted by communications expert Sandra Holtzman.

Have you some vital news to share and need to identify the right publication and reporter? Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s review the angles and the outlets that make the most sense to promote your story.

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Build in Post-Marketing Success

Nine tactics to get more mileage and impact.

You’ve written a thought piece or client update; what should you do next?

Actually, you might have asked this question before you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

You can easily produce content marketing, client updates and communiqués that are geared to post-marketing purposes, including media outreach. Consider implementing these nine suggestions to make your write-ups more actionable and quotable early in the creative process, as detailed here in Maximize Client Alerts in the newsletter Marketing the Law Firm (February 2014).

At the moment of drafting the client update or alert, use an acronym, alliteration, rhyme or reference to pop culture to make the message more quotable. This phrase will resonate to current and potential clients receiving your latest insight and also to reporters to whom you as author are introduced as an expert source.

Similarly, a visual image or an analogy can help illustrate a technical point and more memorably reinforce it than a straight-forward, text-only statement.

Care to see more examples of how to build in post-marketing as you develop content? Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s talk soon about how to make your client updates more quotable, memorable and actionable, to truly maximize their impact.

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Do You Track Communications as an Investment or Expense?

How do you categorize your Communications costs?

At a certain bank, opening a new account in the system requires an input: How did you hear about us?

This is a company that calculates its Public Relations, Marketing and Communications dollars as an investment, and not an expense, unlike others.

By tracking the HOW question over time, and in six locations, the bank fine tunes its activity in SEO, media outreach, outdoor advertising and other platforms.

A marketing investment is any expenditure that creates tools that drive value and impact sales, even after the cost to create the tool is spent. Examples are websites, media relations, videos and social media engagement, to name a few. These marketing investments yield a long-term ROI, greater than any one-time ad.

Communications activity is magnified and extended in the digital arena:

  • Print news articles are accessible online, sometimes with extra visual and audio content, with no expiration date.
  • Client newsletters, blogs and product literature PDFs form part of the main website.
  • Twitter activity and Facebook posts by customers, staff and observers are always available.

Even when prospects hear about your company from a news story, a commercial or a referral by a colleague, they probably will conduct some research online — to confirm the basics of location, products and price range or to obtain more specific information on features, customer reviews and comparable products.

Invest in Communications and Marketing and you meet these prospects more than halfway. Your digital tools and materials await discovery; they live indefinitely, well beyond their initial cost, yielding the highest ROI.

Are you prepared to invest in Communications to attract more customers and supporters? Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s talk about allocating your budget to maximize the Return on Investment.

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Tell the Media — What Lies Ahead

Your Outlook for the New Year

Look in your crystal ball and tell the media what you see.

Everyone has an eye on the end of the year and wonders what the next 12 months will bring.

Think about the trends you’re anticipating in your industry or sector.

  • Who’s growing — and how?
  • Will the pace of consolidation continue, slow down or accelerate?
  • What is the forecast for demand for services?

You don’t have to go out on a limb. Simply consider:

  • what might happen;
  • why multiple factors will lead to the change ahead;
  • how it will affect market participants or clients.

Then, introduce yourself and your predictions to reporters and editors at relevant publications before December 11, to beat the publication’s deadline for year-end articles.

This was my plan of attack: Working with an attorney specializing in biotech, I emailed and called reporters, introducing him as source with insight into the IPO market.

A reporter at The Wall Street Journal exclaimed, “I need to talk to him; I was just assigned this story!” Naturally, I arranged the interview for that afternoon, resulting in a substantial quote in this article.

You can go wild with your outlook, or be reasonable, as long as your view has actionable and quotable insights.

Eleven months later, no one will remember how closely your predictions hit the mark. And you’ll have new ones for next year.

Is your crystal ball showing the future clearly ? Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s brainstorm how you can authoritatively share your views.

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(This discussion has been lightly edited for evergreen content.)

How Your Photo Can Attract 3,000 People

Photos Attract Prospects and Visitors

Every Picture Tells A Story.

People respond more strongly to websites and brochures with photos. “Our brains process visuals faster, and we are more engaged when we see faces,” according to the Media Psychology Research Center.

Here’s how to get started:

Show customers using the product in an eye-catching shot. People actively engaged with your product — holding it, eating it — are a powerful endorsement. Who enters a restaurant with empty tables?

Have an employee speak with a client (or stand-in) for a photo. Add a caption that cites the impact of an intangible service: it saves time, saves money or generates an uptick in sales.

Put people in the scene. Visitors at parks point admiringly at the view and museum-goers enjoy the exhibition.

Potential attendees will project themselves into the photo. If a couple is shown pushing a baby in a stroller on a paved garden path, a prospective visitor will consider visiting with a parent who uses a wheelchair.

Share the photo with the press. The reporter will quickly grasp the excitement of an event or the beauty of a location and its appeal to readers and viewers.

Having a photo in hand makes it easy for the editor to include it in the article, without sending a staff photographer to your premises.

Because a digital camera costs only $100, every business and nonprofit group should purchase one and keep it handy. Snap away to capture satisfied clients, visits by dignitaries, activities in progress, special occasions and more.

Ready to stage your story-telling photo? Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s talk about who and what might best promote your business in a photograph.

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PS Here is the photo that attracted 3,000 visitors to the Cherry Blossom Festival on Roosevelt Island.

Make Your Season’s Greetings Card Memorable

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Time to Send a Holiday Card.

You send a greeting card in December to clients, vendors, supporters, colleagues, VIPs and others.

Is your card having maximum impact?

Would the recipient notice if the sender was changed to Megabucks, Inc. or United Nonprofits?

Plan now to send a holiday greeting card that reinforces the brand and qualities that make your group distinctive.

Find a visual, design an image or take a photo that captures what is unique about your company or organization. Ideally, no one else could appropriate that creation and call it their own.

Use that image as the centerpiece of your holiday greeting, whether a printed card or an email message.

In January, when your recipient removes all the holiday cards taped to the office door, you can imagine her saying, “This is the card from the folks at DEF,” without opening the card to confirm the sender.

Or you may get an immediate email reply, in thankful appreciation of your distinctive note.

As a writer, I send an email with a Holiday Haiku. Most recipients recognize the difficulty of composing a 17-syllable seasonal poem and they remember reading it.

May I offer you some help creating a memorable visual or message for your holiday card, or your own haiku? Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s brainstorm some ideas that align with your group and your successes.

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Back to School — As a Teacher

Showcase Your Insights.

September = School, for students, teachers and parents.

Executives in business and nonprofits need to keep current with best practices and new developments, so they also go to class.

Consider how you might share your expertise with contacts, clients and prospects in one or more of these venues:

Networking group: Some groups incorporate a 10-minute pitch by members into their regular meetings. Your networking contacts will feel more at ease referring their favorite clients to you after they see you in action and hear the impact of your products and services.

Give a guest lecture at a contact’s course: Someone you know may teach a continuing education class. Offer to give insights from the field in a 20-minute presentation.

Center for management training: Peruse the quarterly calendar of workshops and then propose an interdisciplinary session for their target market. By straddling two content areas, you create a niche.

Small business center and economic development group: Government agencies at the municipal and state level offer a variety of business management classes to support small and medium-sized enterprises. These businesses may soon grow big enough to need your services as a consultant.

Webinar: There are companies whose sole line of business is to host webinars for speakers to give sessions and promote their businesses. If you’re shy about facing a room full of new faces, you might prefer the digital broadcast space.

You may join me at Managing PR and Communications on Top of Everything Else, on Thursday, September 19, 2013 at 9:30 am at The Support Center for Nonprofit Management in New York City.

Or tell another contact.

You will not be quizzed afterwards.

Have you got a timely subject for a class or workshop? Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s consider where you might teach a session and promote your business.

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Drive More Traffic to Your Website — Without a Blog

No Blog?
No Problem!

You can write as a Guest Blogger.

Companies that frequently post on a blog attract as many as five times more visitors to their websites than companies that do not blog.

If you do not have a blog, you still can participate in the blogo-sphere: become a guest blogger.

Do the blogs you read publish work by others? If so, as appropriate, introduce yourself to the blogger/host and offer to write a guest blog post.

After the post is published, create a short bitly link to distribute your idea in the social media universe in the format of a question via the LinkedIn Groups to which you belong, with a summary answer and a link to your blog post. The topic may generate some comments — as well as drive traffic to your website, where readers can learn more about you.

I submitted a guest blog post, When Nonprofits Fail to Communicate, to a colleague and then shared it on X (Twitter) and LinkedIn. The editor of an online publication read it; she not only asked permission to re-publish it on their blog, she invited me to submit my own articles.

Of course, I accepted.

Here’s how you can prepare for your next professional association meeting: Pre-Marketing Can Maximize Your Success at a Networking Event, as published on Philanthropy Journal‘s blog.

Have you got a hot topic to blog about? Let’s consider where you might write a guest blog to get your word out. Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770.

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Client + You @ Business Meeting = Speaking Success

Team Up for Speaking Success

What better testimonial of your expertise.

You belong to a business or industry professional organization, of course, to network with prospects and keep up-to-date on news and trends.

These monthly meetings offer an incredible opportunity for you — and a client — to showcase your expertise.

That’s why I suggested a client, Denise Shull, as a speaker to 100 Women in Hedge Funds, where I serve on the Communications Committee.

As a panelist, Denise promoted her approach to risk management: understanding feelings, senses and emotions can improve decision-making by hedge fund traders — and by everyone else.

Her anecdotes recounting the impact of self-awareness struck a chord with 200 women executives in the hedge fund industry.

Plus, she sold nine copies of her book Market Mind Games: Profiting from the New Psychology of Risk & Uncertainty.

Are you and a client ready to tell industry colleagues about your productive engagement? Let’s talk about where you might speak up for business growth and success.

Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770.

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Would You Rather Be Lucky or Good – A News Story Replay

News coverage and follow-up beget a replay.

Timing is everything in the marketplace.

After the March product announcement of PeriClean, a toothbrush designed to help people brush smarter for healthier gums, was published in Dental Products Report, the story was not posted in the online publication.

Every week or so, a quick website check, followed by a gentle email and/or phone message to the editor, kept the digital status of the article in play until it finally was published on the website in mid-April.

What a delightful surprise, then, to see the wrap-up of Top 5 new dental products for healthy gums in the online May issue included the PeriClean toothbrush!

Yes, it was lucky that the reporter focused on healthy gums and it was a good effort to have snagged the attention of Dental Products Report in the first place.

Perhaps it was killing the editor with kindness to get the product announcement online that made the replay of the news story happen.

In the trade-off between lucky and good, it’s polite persistence that wins.

You can improve your luck with news coverage simply by being more visible to reporters. Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770.

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Maximizing the BIG Name

Maximize the impact with media coverage in advance.

You’ve worked hard to line up a BIG NAME at a fundraiser, so make the most of their participation — even before the date.

Build attendance by notifying the media a few weeks ahead and provide access to the principals of the event for quotes.

Falk Communications helped Staten Island Legal Services sell tickets to their first-ever fundraiser with articles announcing an award and its presenter in the local and legal press. Of course, after the luncheon, follow-up articles reported the remarks of past New York State Governor Mario Cuomo.

If you’d like to attract more supporters to your fundraising events, and also increase awareness of your group, consider the impact of a BIG NAME in generating media coverage. Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770.

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Client Success Becomes a Case Study and Article

Turn a case study into media, marketing and promotion.

Everyone loves a success story: clients are ecstatic with the outcome, colleagues learn a lesson the easy way and you get the credit.

With the client’s permission, or referring to a generic identity (a cultural institution), draft a skeleton essay. State a theme and list three to five bullet points on the strategy, implementation and results of a recent client project that serves as an example of best practices.

Send this outline in an email to the editor of a relevant trade publication, and ask for the appropriate word count and deadline for an article.

After you’ve gotten the go-ahead, write the article to the required length and include your website URL and phone number in your one-sentence author’s bio.

Falk Communications helped Audrey Winkler of OMG! Organizational Management Group submit an article detailing a successful project. Upon publication, she extended her audience via X (Twitter) and LinkedIn activity, using a link to promote the article and her excellent results.

If you’d like to be recognized for your outstanding client success, I’d love to toot a horn for you. Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770.

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How to Correct a News Article. Yes, You Can!

Correct a News Article’s Error

Ensure the right contact information is in the news.

Falk Communications helps clients get news coverage and, as needed, will ask reporters to fix errors and ensure the details are perfect.

When a trade magazine published an article online with a typo in the client’s email address, it was time for quick action.

In an email thanking the reporter for the great article, based on an interview arranged a week earlier, I highlighted the actual spelling of the email address and politely requested a correction.

While traveling in India, the reporter notified the appropriate colleague and the change was made within 24 hours.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a correction, especially in an easily fixed online format.

This is an example of how Falk Communications will get you in front of reporters and take care of the details – from start to finish. Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770.

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Falk Speaks to NY 1 News

The key to a successful media interview is preparation.

Falk Communications encourages clients to write down three essential points to cover in a news interview.

With a list and examples of the issue, I was ready to speak to NY 1 News.

In the interview, I made sure to stick to those points.

Contact me; I will help you get and prepare for your next press interview.