How to Write Killer Blog Content-Timeless Advice from C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis' Advice is Timeless

C.S. Lewis never ceases to amaze me. For those of you who do not know C.S. Lewis, he was a renowned theologian who taught at Oxford and Cambridge Universities and authored more than 30 books in his lifetime, including the children’s Narnia series, Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters.

C.S. Lewis’ work is revered by many around the world. In fact, so much so that his life was portrayed by actor Anthony Hopkins in feature film “Shadowlands,” and his Narnia books such as “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” have been brought to the big screen. However, not only is his work memorable, he lived his life transparently and openly shared his thoughts and struggles through his powerful pen.

His work has had a profound impact in my life and I often re-visit his words when searching for answers about life circumstances. Recently I had such a time when I needed to heed his advice and as such, stumbled upon a jewel in regards to guidelines for creating incredible content.

Whenever I attend social media events, inevitably this one question comes up every time – how do you make content that others want to read? C.S. Lewis provides the answer.

In a letter written to a schoolgirl in America, who had written (at her teacher’s suggestion) to request advice on writing, here’s what he had to say. The letter is from December 14, 1959 and his advice is spot on for the 21st Century.

CREATING MEMORABLE BLOG CONTENT

C.S. Lewis’ 8 Tips for Writing Incredible Blog Content (Source: The Essential C.S. Lewis, edited by Lyle W. Dorsett)

  1. Turn off the radio. (Today that also includes the TV, Pandora, iPod, X-box, etc.)
  2. Read all the good books you can and avoid nearly all magazines. (This one is tough for me.)
  3. Always write (and read) with the ear, not the eye. (Excellent point)
  4. Write about what really interests you, whether it is real things or imaginary things, nothing else.
  5. Take great pains to be clear. Remember that though you start by knowing what you mean, the reader doesn’t, and a single ill-chosen word may lead him to a total misunderstanding. (Brilliant point)
  6. When you give up a bit of work don’t throw it away. Put it in a drawer. It may come in useful later.
  7. Don’t use a typewriter. The noise will destroy your sense of rhythm. (I think he wouldn’t mind the computer keyboards now.)
  8. Be sure you know the meaning of every word you use.

So don’t take it from me on how to write content that gets shared…use these 8 points from the literary master C.S. Lewis. Who if he were alive today, I’m sure would be answering every Facebook and Twitter post personally.  That’s the stand up man he was.

Off to do a bit more reading.

Cindy

 

 

TAKE A DAY OFF! It Works for Chick-fil-A

When Is Your Business Closed

Sundays are my personal days to be more human-like and step off the grid. I frown on forwarding and receiving business on this day of rest because I need to recuperate from the past week and get restored for the next. When I receive business-type tweets from others on Sunday, I feel really sorry the people who sent them for those tweets tell me that they are not resting. I rarely tweet on Sundays and when I do it’s about something that I found shareable that occurred at church or another social event. I rarely tweet out anything that I would normally do during a business week. Why?

BECAUSE EVERYONE NEEDS A DAY OF REST

In order to stay  balanced as well as mentally and emotionally healthy you need a day to rest from your electronic devices. You need a day to re-charge your batteries and chat on the phone with friends or go to a social event. Or just some time to do laundry or take a walk.

If you think by not sending business messages out seven days a week you’ll lose business think again. Look at how well does Chick-fil-A restaurants do on a six day work week. It was reported that last year the company’s annual revenue was $3.4 billion. Not too shabby huh.

In an interview with ChristianityToday.com VP of Chick-fil-A Dee Ann Turner said this about being closed on Sundays.

“It is doubtful that a public board of directors would allow Chick-fil-A to stay closed on Sundays…When we started in the mall business, Chick-fil-A always led all the restaurants on sales even though we were only open six days to their seven. I think that is still true even though the majority of the restaurants are now free-standing restaurants.

People always say to S. Truett Cathy (Founder of Chick-fil-A), “You could make so much money if you opened on Sunday.” His response is that we’ve been so successful because we have not been open on Sunday.

Truett’s children, two sons and a daughter, actually wrote a covenant that they would not do two things: 1) Sell the company or go public, and 2) Open on Sunday.

A lot of people believe the no Sunday practice originated due to Truett Cathy’s faith. And it did evolve to relate to that over time, but originally they closed on Sunday because Truett was exhausted. He needed rest. He said that if a person couldn’t earn a living in six days, then he needs to do something else.

It was about rest, but also about spending the time to rejuvenate and get strong again to serve his customers. As he hired people, he also realized how important it was for his employees to also have a day off.”

So what’s your philosophy on taking a day off? Do you agree with Truett Cathy? I do. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hluPrHZYC98?modestbranding=1

 

 

 

 

Social Media Day What A Success!

Thank you Orange County Register for hosting a Mashable Social Media Day event.

How did you celebrate  #Mashable’s Social Media Day? I celebrated it with my local social media club, Social Media Mastermind of Orange County (SMMOC) at the Orange County Register. For those of you who know me, you know that I love to support journalists and their publications, therefore, it was a win-win for me to be at the OCRegister.

Kudos to everyone who was involved at this local gathering. Employees at the paper, like Kevin Sablan, did an amazing job of lining up speakers, equipment, parking access and food vendors. The content that was provided was definitely “remark-able” and hopefully, a good time was had by all.

YEAH FOR SOCIAL MEDIA DAY

To help give you a flavor of what our day was like, I put some pictures together and produced a short video. The best thing about this day is the fact if you couldn’t make it to any event – you could still participate by following on the dozens of twitter hashtags that cropped up representing social activities throughout the world. It’s now becoming one of my favorite days of the year.

Enjoy!

5 Best 2011 Emmy Award Screeners

The Emmy Award Process Is Just That...A Process

The countdown to the Prime Time Emmy Awards has begun.

Well, the process began months ago, when producers/production companies and networks began thinking about which shows, actors and crew would be nominated for TV’s  highest awards. April 29 was the deadline for all entries and since that time, members like me have been inundated with DVD screeners.

THE PR POSTMAN COMETH

For you see, producers, production companies and/or networks, often create DVD screeners which are mailed during the nomination window of March to June 10.  These people think that by investing in screeners that their show has a better chance of being voted on for who in their right mind, besides a TV critic, is able to sample everything on air. It’s impossible.

For over 15 years I have been a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ and as such, I have received DVD screeners for that length of time. I love getting them and yes, I do watch them.  They prove extremely helpful when it is time for me to cast my vote. In addition to having an additional opportunity to catch particular shows, I love observing how each DVD is branded. Each has its own unique nuance and price point and so I thought I’d show the DVDs I was mailed this year. For examples, please view the video below.

 

TOP 5 EMMY SCREENERS

As you see, producing and mailing screeners are not a cheap endeavor, it is quite an investment.  However, if I was able to vote on which were the best, these would be my top five.

She's Literally "Torn" Between Them - Spot On Brand Marketing

(1) HBO – They packaged their series, documentaries and specials in easily identifiable box cartons. They use this same box design every year as they should because it’s brilliantly useful and its cover art is stunning.  It reeks of class and prestige and it showcases dozens of shows in a small space. Magnificent.

(2) THE GOOD WIFE - HBO may be my overall winner, but “The Good Wife’s” design and messaging was my top choice for a single program. I do not watch the show, but I am aware that the lead character in the series has been struggling deciding between two men in her life. Therefore, by having a spot in the middle of the package that you have to tear to open was brilliant. The tear literally separates the main character from the two men.

(3.) BIO – I thought Bio’s packaging was extremely smart and classy and compact. They included a page for each of their shows and bundled it all up with one nice case that had a magnetic clasp.

(4.) MODERN FAMILY – I have to give ABC’s “Modern Family” marketing team an A for ambition. They organized a separate photo shoot just for the DVD screener. All others just used gallery photos.

(5.) FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS’ DVD screener is a definite keeper. I have to admit my bias here…but I absolutely have loved every minute of this TV series. And its screener is spot on perfect in carrying off the tone and sentiment of the show. Fans of this series will not soon forget it and thanks to the producers, we don’t have to with this screener.  In addition to providing every episode of the last season, they have tucked away in an inside compartment small photographs of key moments and characters in the show.  This extra touch was wonderful just like the show.

Friday Night Lights DVD Screener Carried the Sentiment and Tone of the Show. Hopefully, Emmy voters will have clear eyes and full hearts so it can't lose.

Well, that about wraps it up for me with this post. I hope you have enjoyed this behind-the-scenes peek at the Emmy voting process. I have to be going now for I have a lot of  television to watch before June 24. That’s my deadline to send in my Emmy ballot.

Until next time,

Cindy

 

How Hashtags Improve Tweets

Talking Hashtags with Darin, Lisa and Kate McClure. Photo Credit:@Amykimesdesign

For those of us who are involved in the television industry, the rule of thumb has always been to put titles of TV shows in quotes whenever they are written about in releases or press articles. Therefore, if I was writing a press release about Fox’s hit show “Glee,” I would have it written with the quotes as I did in this sentence.

Yesterday I was looking at my Twitter stream of some of my media colleagues and I noticed that they were not using hashtags properly and in fact, really not using them at all.  For you see, these reporters are tweeting about specific TV shows, but they are putting the titles in quotes when they should be putting a hashtag instead.

Do you know what a Twitter hashtag is and are you using them on a regular basis?

In case you are new to hashtags, here’s how Twitter defines them: The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.

THE PROPER USE OF HASHTAGS

Corporate Media Strategist Darin R. McClure of Ready To Go Information Technologies is often overheard saying that search is not the problem with the Internet, its sorting the information which is the most difficult. He and his wife, Lisa, are advocates of Twitter and both have a in-depth knowledge about Twitter’s multiple uses for companies and users. If you follow their respective Twitter streams (@darinrmcclure, @lisamcclure) you will watch poetry in 140-character action. They are extremely gracious and informative and involved in organizing several high level Twitter chats (full blown regular conversations). I highly recommend you follow them.

I recently was able to catch up with both Darin and Lisa and interview them about the merits of using twitter hashtags.  That interview is below.

[youtube width="960" height="540"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1eJkVPo-Cug[/youtube]

HOW HASHTAGS ARE HELPFUL

1. People on Twitter use hashtags before relevant keywords to categorize their tweets so that a particular topic shows up more easily in Twitter Search.

2. If you click on a hashtagged word in any message, you will see all other Tweets in that category.

3. The most popular hashtagged words often become trending topics and if your tweet is re-tweeted a lot, it can become the top tweet for that topic.

Can you Over Hashtag? As a general rule of thumb, Twitter.com recommends no more than three hashtags per tweet. Anything over that number is considered  over-tagging and yes, they even call it hashtag spam.

IN SUMMARY

  • When tweeting about topics, use a (#) and not (” “).
  • Don’t start your tweets with an @ symbol. Put some letter or words before it…Like “Hi” and then address the person in the tweet. That way your tweet is open to your entire twitter stream.
  • Check out Tweetchat.com when wanting to connect with others who are passionate about your same topics.
  • And follow me, Lisa and Darin too. We’d love to continue this hashtag conversation with you!

Special thanks to videographer @jasontucker and photographer @amykimesdesign. Follow them too.

Cindy often uses #PR to sort her tweets.

About the Author: Cindy Ronzoni loves conversations on any platform. As an experienced communicator, Cindy often writes about devices or methods to promote people, places and products. She also is an active member of Orange County, California’s social media endeavors and as such, gets the privilege of rubbing elbows with such astute practicioners as Darin and Lisa McClure. Cindy also frequently writes about small business matters on her company blog at: http://socialspreadmedia.com.

If you feel like giving her some +klout support, feel free to put it toward #pr.

 

 

Can You Be A Brand?

A savvy award-winning marketing colleague of mine took me to task today regarding my incorrect use of the word “brand.” He especially brought attention to how I’ve been using the term “personal branding” wrongly, for according to his experience a brand is not a person, but an inanimate object. And as it turns out he’s right. Here’s the definition of “brand” from netlingo.com

brand

A logo, corporate image, or distinct product or service identity that can become firmly rooted in the public’s mind. Its purpose is to establish a meaningful, differentiated presence that will attract and retain loyal customers.

To drive it a bit more home, here are some illustrations for you.

Are You One of These Products?

Products are Individual Brands

Bleach and Clorox Are Co-Brands

*An Author is Not a Product, But His Books Are

So if brands are products, like the three to the left. Then what do people have, if not personal brands?

It was explained to me that people have reputations. They have personality. They have interests, desires, ambition, talents, integrity and passions.

They are not objects like Q-tips, or Valvoline Oil or bread crumbs or WordPress Themes.

However, as the definition states above, the purpose of brands are to attract and retain loyal customers. Couldn’t the same be true for individuals?

Let’s look at the case of real estate executives for they are a perfect example. Realtors often work for a firm, (i.e., First Team Real Estate), but they act as individuals and are chosen by consumers for a variety of reasons. They pick up clients via referrals, online presence, personality and/or knowledge of the area.  Like branded products, “trust” plays a major part of their sales. (BTW-Trust is important for every professional by the way.) So if there are branded products that we “trust” couldn’t we say the same for people that they have “trusted” brands as well? Or is it more correct to say that you “trust” a person’s reputation instead?

I thought this topic was delicious food for thought and one I’d love to hear your opinion on…Are We Brands or Not?

Do tell.

*(I recently attended a speaking engagement featuring super savvy and smart social business consultant Gary Vaynerchuk, hence, the reason why I used his new book “The Thank You Economy” as an example of a brand product. This was my way of giving him a nod and a way to promote his efforts. I’m a big fan and will blog about my him in upcoming posts.)

Best Kept Secret about Osama bin Laden

Isn’t it ironic that President Obama wasn’t able to keep the death of Osama bin Laden a secret last night yet the CIA’s secret mission that began in September never leaked? Thank goodness for that! I was beginning to wonder if secrets can ever be kept again now because of Twitter.

TWITTER IS SAVING THE WORLD

Yep, that crazy platform that only lets you communicate with 140 characters at a time is changing how we break news. CRAZY, huh!

According to Brian Stelter, a media reporter with The New York Times, the story of bin Laden’s death leaked on Twitter while President Obama was penning the speech he was going to give to the nation last night. It’s an interesting read and you can find it here.

But the gist of the article are these couple of key paragraphs.

At 10:25 p.m., while Mr. Obama was writing his speech, one particular tweet seemed to confirm it. Keith Urbahn, the chief of staff for the former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, wrote at that time, “So I’m told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn.”

Mr. Urbahn quickly added, “Don’t know if it’s true, but let’s pray it is.” He was credited by many on the Web with breaking the news, though he did not have first-hand confirmation.

This story just goes to show you that it’s time to take Twitter seriously. Reputable people use it as a news vehicle and as we saw in Japan’s earthquake, it enabled victims to communicate locations. It’s a viable communications platform and one that “smart” people are listening to.

Are you and if not how come?

______________________________________________________________________________________________

OLD GLORY IS GLORIOUS

Last night’s news of bin Laden’s death ranks up there in pivotal moments in history. It’s one of those instances when people will ask you where you were when you heard of his death.  Me, I was sitting in front of my computer writing a press release when I heard the surprising announcement.

I couldn’t believe how the news impacted me. I was stunned and then I started to realize its bearing on the world’s future. I also felt relieved for our military who persevered 10 years to capture that criminal.

Since the news was reported late in the evening,  I yearned to make a mark somehow to recognize the importance of this event.  The only thing I could think of doing was to hang out my flag in honor the troops, so that’s what I did.

You can see it here.

[youtube width="600" height="400"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmLlmhqD0Cg[/youtube]

How did you celebrate?

 

Fishing is a lot like PR

A big catch always makes your Day in PR.

While watching Discovery’s “Deadliest Catch” it dawned on me how fishing for king crab is a lot like pitching for media coverage. The similarities are astounding so much so–that I’m wondering now if I should start calling myself a fisher-person instead of a publicist. I’m not talking about sport fishing here. I’m talking about those individuals whose livelihood is bringing in big catches. Like us publicists, we receive our earnings too by the success of our takes.

THIS IS NOT ANOTHER FISH STORY

Think this is a laughing matter (wink, wink), just take a look at these occupational comparisons.

  • Fishermen use charts to find fish; publicists use media plans
  • Fishermen often go off of instinct to find fish; so do publicists as to who might like the story.
  • Fishermen need the right bait to catch particular fish; publicist must make sure that their pitch is news-worthy and right for that publication.
  • Fishermen can go through spurts without big hauls; the same is true for publicists.
  • Sometimes fisherman must play a waiting game for the fish to surface; ditto in the publicity realm.
  • Fisherman have to release smaller fish at times: publicists sometimes have to do they same in order to gain a keeper-a larger hit.

I could go on and on with the comparisons, and I did! Just take a look at this tongue in cheek PR fishing video below that I filmed last night.  (Note to self: Don’t ever use a magnet when fishing out of a metal pail. Boy that was dumb! lol)

Also, I must warn you – if you are ever trying to reach me and I’d don’t answer – now you’ll know why. I’ve gone PR fishing!

[youtube width="640" height="360"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUOEsviVeLM[/youtube]


I couldn't resist including this photo of me when I hiked Beverly Hills' Franklin Canyon Park. Behind me is the shooting location for the opening of "The Andy Griffith Show."

 

A NICE PR PRACTICE

Something that doesn’t get enough credit in the public relations arena and the world at large is when people are generally “nice” for no other reason or motive. When you stumble upon those times, which sadly are few and far in between, you cherish them.

I witnessed two such occasions of “niceness” in one day! And as such, it is a pleasure to tell you about them.

Masters Chairman Billy Payne Presents Hideki Matsuyama with 2011 Silver Cup Amateur Trophy Credit: Rob Brown/Augusta National

If you happened to watch the Green coat-award ceremony at yesterday’s 2011 Masters Golf Tournament on CBS Sports, you would have observed inspiring moments not only from its victor Char Schwartzel, but from its Silver Cup winner Hideki Matsuyama.

Asian Amateur champion Matsuyama earned the presitigous Silver Cup for Low Amateur scoring. He ranked in 27th place in the tournament, right in line with seven other pros like last year’s victor Phil Mickelson. Yes, it a great story how Matsuyama qualified for America’s most famous golf tourney, but, that’s not what I want to point out.  I was overwhelmed by his words in his acceptance speech. It was his acceptance speech that proved that this young 19-year-old college sophomore is a class act – a young man of great character. Why?

Matsuyama is a resident of Sendai, Japan – one of the cities that took a beating in the March 11 earthquake and the tsunami that followed.  Maysuyama attends Tohoku Fukushi University in Sendai, and although he won this coveted Masters honor, his heart and mind are on his country, his town and his friends, many of whom he still hasn’t reached.

In his acceptance speech he was  thankful for the honor, but now that the tournament was over, he was returning to his University’s dorm to see what’s left of it and to volunteer wherever needed.  He mentioned a couple of times how he was going to assist victims of the disaster and that was he primary plan moving forward.

Good for you Hideki. His actions were memorable and admirable.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

A CEO Who Encountered "Nice-ness" Every Step of the Way While Visiting Baja Fresh Franchises

My second “nice” surprise occurred again on CBS later that night when I was watching “Undercover Boss.” This weekly TV series profiles CEO of major companies as they go incognito in their own company. It’s fascinating watching how these C-level executives are unable to perform many of the tasks that their employees do, and also, how much they undercover to make their businesses run more efficiently.

Last night’s episode particularly touched a “nice” spot in my heart, when Baja Fresh’s CEO David Kim was moved by the stories of his employees. The employees that he shared shifts with were all extraordinary people…the show did a wonderful job in casting.

But, you couldn’t help but not like Kim for the show opened up with him sitting in his office which is a normal run of the mill cubicle. He doesn’t believe in corner offices, for as he said, he wants to be where the staff is and be able to hear their valuable input. Very smart indeed.

Kim took that same approach and open attitude to every one of the stops he made. He wore his emotions on is his sleeve and was deeply concerned about every person’s struggles.  Not only did these cashiers and managers have an applicable life lesson for Kim, but for the viewers as well.

One story after the other were about perseverance, dedication and quality performance.  So much so, that mid-way through the experience, Kim had to find a church where he could humbly bow down to God and ask for forgiveness for taking so much for granted. His humility toward others and his desire for self-improvement were nice touches to be seen from a CEO at a major corporation.

I will frequent Baja Fresh more now and whenever in Las Vegas, I’ll be be sure to patron the special franchise Kim provided to Jose who was featured in the program.  I also live near Cypress and might try and visit the Baja Fresh that Anthony works at…he was a marvelous 20-year who was taking care of his mother and brothers and sisters.

If you missed the program, you can catch it online by clicking here. It’s a well-worth 44 minutes or so of  ”nice” television programming. Definitely worth watching. Also, congrats to how Baja Fresh has taken advantage of the “Undercover Boss” tie in. Their website provides additional information and special coupons and really plays up the show’s integration. What a fantastic extension of the program.

Also, take a peek at Kim’s personal Facebook page. He is getting rave reviews from many kind TV viewers…I’m sure that Baja Fresh’s sales are going to grow exponentially from this experience.

Wow! What did you think?

 

A+ brand extension from TV show to website for Baja Fresh

 

PRESIDENTIAL FACEBOOK LIVE GATHERING

Honey, Hurry and Come Watch The Computer, The President is Speaking.

At 1:45 PM PT on Wednesday, April 20, I will be home sitting in front of my computer screen watching Facebook. My three favorite passions will all be in play with this event: I’ll be watching TV, engaging with Facebook and hearing President Obama live.

This is absolutely crazy! To think that a college student started up this multi-billion dollar Facebook company and  has turned it from primarily being a social network to a content provider. I love it.

President Obama’s former Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was rumored to be in play for a position at Facebook. Hmmm. I wonder if he had any part in this webcast? My gut thinks he did.

The Wall Street Journal seems to think that President Obama is using this platform to engage with the younger voting community. And that may be true since its time to start thinking about his re-election. This live event will definitely reach a younger demographic on a platform they prefer.

The reason why I think this is a fabulous idea as a PR pro is the fact that is sends a signal that Facebook is now mainstream.  I am astonished that I still rub against folks who think Facebook is a fad. This just proves its not.

I’m sure if this live streaming event goes well, Facebook will be receiving pitches from other news makers desiring promotion on the Facebook platform. It could soon become a “bonafide” news channel! Unbelievable.

WILL FACEBOOK REPLACE TV SETS?

It’s just the start of many things to come via Facebook and I for one am anxious to see how the video will look. Will there be annoying lags? Will the audio drop?

Knowing the perfectionism that Facebook has shown us thus far, I would gander to think its going to be fine and remarkable.

Kudos to the White House press reps for suggesting it and for Mark Zuckerberg for making it happen.

Will you be tuning in as well? If so, what do you think about it?

 

 

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