Monthly Archives: April 2010

Playing with the big boys: Tips to get your story on the radio

If you’re marketing yourself nationally, then don’t be scared to go and play with the big boys.  Yes it can seem more daunting but with careful planning and the right contacts, if you have an exciting story to tell, go ahead and dip a toe in.

So said Catherine Warrilow, the owner of Publicity Oxford, in her latest blog post.

I agree and I want to talk about radio because it’s something I know a lot about. I worked for 15 years for the BBC in news and at Five Live.

I am going to share with you what it feels like to be on the inside looking out, which may help.

When you are working on a show,be it Five Live Breakfast or the Today programme, you have to attend a meeting for the next day/ day ahead. You are required to come to that meeting with ideas and they had better be good !

Every journalist who suggests a story is putting their reputation on the line with both colleagues and bosses. A weak suggestions will be hunted out and maybe even ridiculed, so if you want your tale put forward then the journalist in question needs to know as much about it as possible and how they are going to treat it, ie who they can get to talk about it.

By the time this meeting is happening there is probably less than 24 hours to get everything together. Contacts provided by you need to be available at short notice to travel to a studio; telephone interviews are really only a last resort and are acceptable for only the strongest items.

As with so many things, having a  niche for your story can really help.

The BBC Business Unit has slots to fill across all networks on a regular basis and needs stories that won’t tread on news’ toes, so it might help to find a good contact there. Likewise a show called ‘Up All Night’ on Five Live is always looking for stories that the ‘bigger’ programmes will not be covering. You can guess why from the title!

You will automatically think your story is brilliant, but that won’t always be the case with the cynical journos who have seen it all. You may think doing something for charity is enough but believe me they have seen thousands  of press releases from charities and compassion fatigue sets in.

Charities score best when they offer an interview with a big celebrity. It offers the network a chance to interview someone they might not normally get. One good example is when the Catholic charity Cafod put up Bianca Jagger. She does not normally talk, unless it is for a pet cause and the radio and TV networks are happy to pile in.

Knowing someone personally is a big bonus, so always make use of your connections in the media. If your business or company gets a reputation for coming up with great, timely angles and relevant guests, then they will want to work with you again.

Finally, remember how stressed these people are. They are trying to deliver the impossible against horrible deadlines over and over again. Sometimes they are rude! Don’t take it personally.

Good luck!

Catch Them Young:Social Media for Students

Ask any teacher and they will tell you how important it is to catch students when they are young.

I think 6th Formers would really benefit from an injection of social media training while they are still at school.

You might think that tutoring them in social media would be pretty pointless, after all most teenagers are already completely addicted and could probably teach us a thing or two.

But do they realise how much they could benefit their future job prospects and careers if they started taking it seriously now?

Students can get a real leg up by:

  • Using Twitter to build up connections in a chosen field. You can learn from the best in the business by following industry leaders, listening in to what they say and reading their blogs.
  • Look out for work experience opportunities. I have seen several internships in public relations advertised on Twitter.
  • Make yourself known to prospective employers by tweeting intelligently, asking direct questions and maybe eventually offering to help on a project. I noticed a student recently collaborating on Twitter with a professional. They were working on a new directory of influencers in their field. Once the work was done they made it available as a free resource to everyone and he got lots of the credit as well as making loads of contacts. Word of warning; do try to establish some sort of relationship before blagging that placement. If the person you are asking knows you first, you will stand a much better chance of success.
  • Start a LinkedIn profile and gather testimonials from work placements.
  • Avoid putting up material which will damage your personal brand in the future. By all means have a fun on Facebook with your friends but learn about privacy settings and use them.

Thinking ahead about social media for careers can give students a real advantage and set in train both good habits and lifelong contacts.

Tips To Build Firm Foundations For Social Media Success

Today I’ve been working with a great group of business people who want to use the benefits of social media to build their enterprises.

It reminded me how exciting it is, getting involved in social media for the first time.

When I started out with Twitter, I remember logging in with a racing heart to see who was following me. It seemed as though the world was wide open  and anything could happen.

And it has!

I have met some great people who I am now working with, others who I have collaborated with, but never met and I have learned from social media experts I didn’t even know existed.

If you are just starting out, create a firm foundation for this kind of social media success, by following these tips.

  • Make a note of what you are hoping to achieve with social media. Do you want to meet potential sponsors, clients or mentors? Are you hoping to link up with people in your area or does your business work across international boundaries? Refer to this to keep you on track when you forget what the hell it is you are supposed to be doing!
  • Set yourself some basic goals that you will be able to meet. e.g. Make two new online friends a day. Post two tweets a day. Ask for one new connection on LinkedIn every week. Join a group and post in it.
  • Once you are meeting your basic goals on a regular basis, step out of your comfort zone with something new e.g. Answer a question posed by a stranger. Ask a question. Send an @message on Twitter to someone you want to talk to. Start a discussion thread in a group on Facebook or LinkedIn. You don’t have to do all of them!
  • When you are ready, post a link to something you have written, an essay or blog that people may find useful. Hand over your knowledge and expertise; your generosity will be rewarded.
  • Monitor your activity. Are you engaging, friendly and useful with promotion low down in the mix?  Would you follow you? Read your last five posts to find out.

I hope these are useful suggestions. Let me know how you get on.

How To Reach Your Tipping Point

The Tipping Point is;

“The level at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable”  Malcom Gladwell.

It’s a fascinating concept, outlined by the popular sociologist Malcom Gladwell, in his book of the same name.

It’s the point when suddenly things seem to be going right.

Nick Clegg may be on the brink of one at the moment. People have begun to see his Liberal Democrat Party as a viable alternative in the British elections and the more the press talk him up, the more momentum he gathers.

We can learn from this when trying to reach our own breakthrough; whether it’s building a new social group, business network or getting a new venture off the ground.

When you first start to make connections with people, you might represent it as a map with lots of isolated dots spread all over the place.

The more people you meet, the busier the map becomes.

Then slowly, the dots start to link up as the first inter-connections appear. After a lot of work or time or both, the map looks more like a web.

This is the basis of any network and you can use social media to speed up the process.

With all these connections in place you can begin to move to your Tipping Point. B might introduce you to D who might know F who turns out to be a potential client. Or for the working mothers amongst us, C might know Z who not only goes to the same drama class as your child but can give them a lift; result!

According to Malcom Gladwell there are some other crucial factors.

You need key individuals, Connectors, who are brilliant at bringing people and ideas together. These people are naturals at what they do. If you know one or two you are lucky; befriend them!

He also talks about information specialists or ‘mavens’ and charismatic persuaders. These types also help to move ideas and networks along to the point where they tip over into mass appeal -they go viral.

I love Gladwell’s theory because it gives a rational explanation to a phenomenon which sometimes seems like luck or karma.

For anyone with a goal to achieve the lesson is; build and build and build. There’s no use getting disheartened after ten blog posts or an initial marketing splurge.

You really do have to keep at it, until eventually, the dots start to join up.

Photo or Logo: What’s Best For Twitter?

A couple of posts ago I talked about the danger of judging someone totally on  their image;  how they interact is far more important if you want them as a friend or indeed as a Prime Minister!

But we all do it and as you know, first impressions count.

So Twitter: Photo or Logo?

Up until recently I was convinced that faces were best every time.

Faces engage, personalise and attract. They give you clues about who you are dealing with and are re-assuring, especially when you are connecting with strangers.

Pete Cashmore from Mashable uses his own face to front his brand on Twitter , which happens to be a hugely successful techno blog. I am quite happy to have his face popping up in my Twitter stream all day while a Mashable logo might be irritating in a -“What do you want now?”- kind of way.

But imagine if you are BBC news?

Do I want a journalist’s face, a newsreader’s face, or do I want a clear logo to pop into my stream and tell me instantly that something of interest has happened in the world?

Now look at the fuzzy area in between those extremes.

Is there an instance where company logos are more efficient? Would a logo stand out in a sea of faces? Would a logo make more sense if you were only there to provide a clear, specific service, like information on the Olympics?

Twitter is changing all the time as new users mould it to their needs. As  more businesses come on board they may start to do things differently and there are no prescriptive rules.

If you are in any doubt about which way you should go, photo or logo, spend some time looking at a busy Twitter stream. As the logos, photos and Avatars spin by, make a note of how they make you feel. Are there any that really annoy you and if so why?

This can be really helpful in deciding how you want to appear online;  friendly, smart, sharp, trendy? Pets, cartoons and the default Twitter bird are all huge no nos but other than that, as long as you have thought about the issues, you are free to make your own choice.

Ash Cloud Leaves Us Up In The Air

I am struck by how few people in my Twitter stream are talking about the dramatic ash cloud that has grounded all flights over Europe.

I guess it’s because I follow so many US commentators, bloggers and marketers and they are just not that interested. If US aviation went down  it would be a different story but I’m not complaining; if your life is not touched directly then it is easy not to care.

I live in an area popular with pilots and crew because it is commuting distance to Heathrow and I have heard many stories.

There is the business man stuck in New York who was asked to pay £12,000 for the last ticket back to Europe (first class). He declined and missed his daughter’s birthday party.

There are the families stranded on holiday with kids due to take exams soon; a new school term starts this week. As someone said on the radio, it’s only a holiday if you choose it, to be held against your will is something closer to imprisonment.

While many pilots and crew are living it up in top hotels as they are forced to lay over for yet another night, there is the stranded stewardess who is due to get married this weekend.

Can we complain? We live in a globalised society and think nothing of travelling far from home on business and pleasure; but when the music stops on the global merry-go-round, we find ourselves trapped in all four corners of  the world.

I sometimes try to imagine how life would be without the technology we take for granted.

Well today those empty skies mean we no longer have to imagine.

Is Image Everything ?

The British election leadership debate was going to be all about image.

In the end, I believe, it was how the three leaders interacted that counted most.

Image is a tricky business. We are tempted to make snap decisions on things like clothing and facial expression, but that rarely tells the full story.

As with leadership debates, so it goes with Twitter and other social media.

If you make a snap decision on someone’s photo you may be deceived.

I was recently followed by a picture of a granny. “How nice” I thought, “to be followed by an elderly lady using social media.” My warm thoughts chilled when I realised she was a front for Shreddies.

The cereal brand is currently running a Facebook competition to find a new “granny”. I  tweeted about it because I’m unhappy that it’s encouraging my young children to want Facebook accounts, which they are clearly too young for.

On this occasion image was deceptive.

What of  the lady who looks like a “good time girl” but tweets intelligently about world events. Should she be blocked because she looks like a spammer ?

While every one of us needs to take care when choosing photos to represent ourselves in the online world, maybe we should also be aware of the dangers of snap decisions made on image alone.

Perhaps, like the three leaders, it is how we interact that really counts ?