"I’ve got a press release – now what?"

I’m switching gears a bit with this newsletter by sharing some tips for my author clients. But this information applies to anyone who needs to get a press release out. And for my job seeker readers, remember one day you may be a business owner, or may publish an eReport or book, and will find this info useful.

But, for now, back to the authors in the audience....

So you’re ready to announce that new book launch or signing.  Or maybe you’re part of an anthology publication like some of my friends who were recently published in Florida Speaks.  Many authors stumble over how to get the word out.  They write a press release or hire someone to prepare it, but often they don’t use that release to its fullest potential.

So here are some tips I'd like to share and steps I follow when I write a release for a client, author or otherwise, and am hired to do the circulation and promotion:

  • Put the press release on an online press release circulation site (I use PRLOG) that generates a unique link for the release that can then be  shared across social media. (see a sample below where I talk more about PRLOG). Remember you can shorten links for Twitter  allowing you more room for your message or tags.  Two sites I’ve used to create shorter URLs are tinyurl.com and bitly.com.  They both allow you to personalize your URL too so you can keep your own identity or that of your news. 

But with that said, be careful about using shortened URLs  if you want to use PRLOG to track your stats because as they will tell you on their site, you must use the long form URL for accurate stat monitoring.

  • Send the full Word and PDF versions of the release, along with the PRLOG link, to  media contacts that include newspapers, magazines, radio stations and other contacts that I know will share and help promote the news. Keep in mind that some publications will only accept a release if they can cut and paste (like from a Word file). Now building a media list takes time.  Those of us that do this on a regular basis have put a lot of effort into building our list. Get started today on building your own list if you plan to do your own circulation. You can find contact information through web searches, in magazines, newspapers (both online and print versions) and on websites.
  • Push, push, push the URL on social media.  I can't stress how important this is. My favorites are LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. Also be sure to add it to your website, mention it in your newsletters and blog about it. This is when your network of social media connections is a huge asset. More than likely, your author/writer connections will help you share your news.  But don't forget them when it's their turn to share their news.
  • And equally important, once it’s on social media, get your connections and friends to share it. When working with a client I send it to my colleagues that I know will also share the news and I encourage my client to do the same.  This is especially helpful on Facebook.  I find that sharing with my Facebook writers’ group pages (like Florida Writers Association and Readers and Writers Unite) can really have a dynamic impact on getting the word out.
  • Follow up with online calendars.  Although I have several online calendar contacts in my media list, not all of them will automatically add the item to their calendar simply by receiving my email.  Often these venues require that you add calendar items through submission of an online form  accessible on their website, so follow-through is important!
  • Target local reporters or radio personalities (yes, there are people that still listen to the radio, especially with great apps like TuneInRadio out there) and make some direct contacts by phone or in person (if this is an option) to get noticed.  Let them know that you are available for interviews or feature stories.

If this sounds time-consuming to you, you are right – IT IS!  But if you want to get the word out, get your name and your event or new launch noticed, it’s the name of the game. If you don't have this time to invest, it may be in your best interests to hire someone that specializes in this type of work.  (hmm, wonder who that might be?!)

BTW, this method is not reserved for authors, of course; it works for any business that is hosting or sponsoring an event or has special news to share.

As far as online press release circulation, I like PRLOG.org where I use the free service that will include some ads in the final version on their site. There is also an ad-free paid service.  Either way, it is a great, easy-to-use tool that allows the user to insert logos, profile photos or book cover images.  To demonstrate, here's a link to a release I recently circulated for Flagler Beach author Becky Pourchot announcing her upcoming "Ghost Festival" - click here

The platform is easy to use, gives you a peek at stats for your release and allows for minor edits and keeps all of your releases in one place.  And if you place your news first on PRLOG, you'll get extra exposure. Now there are other sites out there, but I have not tried any of them yet, but when I do, I’ll update my readers.  You’ll find a list of some popular online press release circulation services  (some free and some paid) at this link:

I hope you find this advice on press release circulation helpful.  And remember if you need assistance with getting the word out, Words Etc. offers press release services, including circulation and online calendar submissions.  You can learn more at this page on our site or contact us.

Until next time, feel free to contact us with your comments and questions.

 

 

 

It's a New Year - that means focus on new goals - how about some new recommendations on LinkedIn?

Well, it's here - the New Year - 2014.  Hard to believe.  As I sat at my laptop early this morning thinking about what I've accomplished in the past year, my thoughts naturally turned to what lies ahead. With a new website design and launch coming soon, a new business partnership on the horizon with GetBookSavvy as I branch out to help authors as well as job seekers and business owners, I anticipate growth, new goals and positive professional relationships.

Those of you that follow this blog may remember that we've been talking about how to handle losing your job. If you are interested in seeing more on that topic, you may want to watch for my Words of Wisdom on Losing Your Job.  It will be available as a downloadable report soon and will include information from my previous posts on this topic along with additional tips and suggestions for transitioning from being employed to being a job applicant again. So be sure to watch this blog or your email for a future newsletter soon that will include that link.  As always, in the meantime feel free to direct your questions to me through our contact us form.

focus on new goals in 2014.JPG

So back to the New Year.  What's on your agenda to make it the best it can be? Maybe one item on your list is to refresh your LinkedIn Profile.  A good choice - whether you are currently employed, seeking new employment, a business owner or an entrepreneur, LinkedIn is a terrific marketing tool. 

You may want to start by getting a few more recommendations on your profile to make it more complete. Are you confused on how to do this? Well, you're not alone because LI doesn't always make it easy to do things, but here's some help just in case you're not familiar with the current process (as of January 2014)

  1. Login to your profile and scroll over your small profile photo in the upper right and click on “Privacy & Settings.”
  2. Under settings you’ll find a “Manage Recommendations” link.
  3. Click on that link to open a page where you can manage recommendations you’ve received or given or request recommendations.
  4. By clicking on the “ask for recommendations” tab you will open a page that walks you through the process of requesting a recommendation. You’ll see a page with several fields to complete. Hit send and your connection will receive a message through LinkedIn asking for their recommendation.
  5. Once your connection completes a recommendation, you will receive a message through LI asking you to accept it and make it visible on your profile. Be sure you take this final step! The recommendation will be added to your Recommendation section, and it will also be visible on the "giver's" profile, depending on the settings they've chosen on their own profile.

I always suggest requesting recommendations from your LI connections that can verify the quality of your work.  This is really important if you are currently a job seeker, but don’t wait until you find yourself in that position. You should be consistently seeking recommendations from those who can attest to not only the quality of your work, but also your ethics and communication style. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to recommend you, but don’t ask if you haven’t worked with them or for them in some capacity. Use common sense. And be sure to reciprocate if it is appropriate by recommending them back.

So what else can you do with this recommendation once it's part of your profile? Promote it! Here are some ideas:

  • Spread the word that you've received a new recommendation through social media.
  • If you are a small business owner, author or offer other services, be sure to add the recommendation to your testimonials website or blog page. If you don't have such a page, you should. So you may want to add that to your "to do" list for the new year.
  • Once you've created that testimonial on your website, take the url for that page and share to social media: Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc and add a link to it in your next newsletter if you have one.(Again, if you are a business owner - and authors remember you ARE business owners - think about adding a testimonial page if that is missing from your website or blog).
  • If you are a jobseeker and have created an online profile or a hard copy "brag book" as I've called it in the past,  (see my series of posts here for tips on that), be sure to add a testimonials component.

I've given you tips on how to use this tool, so don't wait - get started on improving your profile today.  It's just one thing you can cross off on your "to do list" for the New Year. If you haven't set some new goals for 2014, get it done soon. It's time to refresh and renew.

Watch for more tips soon and remember I'll be making that Words of Wisdom Special Report soon so watch for it. We also just launched our Words Etc. LinkedIn business page, and it's still under construction, but follow us there!

Words Etc. wishes everyone success and a new year filled with meeting new goals. Remember we are ready to help you with press releases, resumes, cover letters and LinkedIn profiles.  Contact us with your questions. We'd love to hear from you! And be sure to connect with Christine on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter!

So you're losing your job.... what to do next...


“You’re Fired!"

Somehow, it seems much more benign when Donald Trump says those two words at the end of every episode of The Apprentice. But when those words are directed at you, you may be shocked. What you do next, however, can make the difference in the length of time you’re unemployed, and how you fare financially.

Generally, you’ll be told of your termination in a face-to-face meeting. The meeting might be led by your boss, or it could be someone from human resources, depending on the size of the company. At this time, you’ll find out if you are going to receive a severance package.This may depend on the terms of your employment contract – that is if you have one.

So what should you ask for?

  •  Termination or resignation. Decide on whether you want to resign, or be terminated. This may seem like an odd issue, but there are circumstances when you may wish to resign instead of being terminated. If you are terminated, you may be eligible for unemployment compensation, benefits, and severance pay. However, you may choose to resign rather than have the stigma of “getting fired” on your record. (You will need to disclose that you were fired if you are asked that specific question on a job application. If you resign, you can answer “no” to the question.) In some instances, you may even be asked to resign rather than be fired. Make sure you carefully consider the pros and cons of each response before making your decision. For example, you may not be able to collect unemployment benefits if you resign.
  • Severance. Inquire about severance and outplacement assistance. Now is the time to negotiate, but don’t be pressured to sign anything if you’re not ready. Some employers won’t release your final paycheck until you sign a release, but that doesn’t mean you need to sign anything right away. Find out what’s available to you. Don’t be afraid to ask for severance.
  • References. Ask how reference checks will be handled. What will a prospective employer be told if they contact the company? Will your supervisor provide you with a letter of recommendation? Can he or she take calls for reference checks, or are those handled through the HR department? What information will be released to the prospective employer? (Some companies will only verify dates of employment, job title, and final salary and will not answer questions related to why you are no longer working for the company.)
  • Benefits. Find out about your benefits. You may be entitled to accrued vacation, overtime, and/or sick pay. Ask about these benefits, and how they will be paid out.
  • Health Insurance. If you have health insurance through your employer, they are required to provide you with information about continuing your health insurance coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) law. If the employer has more than 20 employees, they are required by law to offer health insurance coverage through COBRA to terminated employees for up to 18 months. However, you will need to pay for this coverage yourself. This gives employees and their families the option to continue group health benefits provided by your health plan for a limited period of time. (Keep in mind, however, that the cost of COBRA coverage may be higher than insurance you obtain for yourself; however, if you have a health condition, you may want to opt for COBRA coverage initially to keep your coverage in force. You can always cancel your COBRA coverage once you have new insurance in place.)
  • Retirement account. If you are enrolled in a 401(k), profit sharing, or other type of defined contribution retirement plan, you may be eligible for a lump sum distribution of your retirement money when you leave the company. You need to be careful about how you handle this distribution so that you don’t incur tax penalties. Retirement plan distributions have very specific requirements, so you may wish to consult a financial advisor before doing anything.
  • Final paycheck. Find out how — and when — you will receive your final paycheck from the company. (Again, you may be required to sign some paperwork before the final check is released.)

One of the hardest things about being terminated is that you may be asked to leave the building immediately and may be escorted off the premises (especially in mid-size or larger companies or organizations.) You may not get a chance to pack up your personal belongings yourself or even say good-bye to your colleagues.

While it may feel unfair, it’s a safety concern for the company. Some fired employees have taken revenge on the company by destroying files or making a big scene, and that makes employers wary of letting you pack up your own belongings. If you are missing items or need access to information after you’re let go, contact the HR office and/or your supervisor for resolution.

It can be difficult to do, but try to leave on good terms. You may end up back at that company again at some point or find yourself working with the same people in a future job. Plus, your future employer may contact the company for a reference and/or you may want a recommendation from your most recent supervisor.

Well, that's a lot to think about if you are fearful of a termination or forced resignation, but these are important points to keep in mind. Next time we'll talk about a few steps you should take once the termination or resignation has taken place.

In the meantime, remember we are here to answer your questions or help with strategizing with you to address your future career goals through a new résumé package or LinkedIn profile. Just send us a contact form with your questions.

 

Afraid of losing your job? You're not alone

At one time or another we all go through the fear of losing our jobs. 

In the current economy, it’s not unusual to find yourself without a job even though you are good at what you do. The economy, changes in the industry, mergers and acquisitions — all of these can affect your job.

In the first quarter of 2013, there were a total of 154,374 “separations,” according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). BLS defines “separations” as employees “separated from the payroll” during a specified period. This includes employees who left voluntarily (quit) as well as layoffs and discharges, retirements, transfers, deaths, or separations due to employee disability. With workers changing jobs an average of every five years (according to the BLS), it’s not unusual for some of those changes to come from layoffs or being fired. For more details, find the full report here.

Some signs that might cause you to be concerned about your job.

  • your company is bought or merged into another company  -- especially if there are duplication in job titles or functions within both companies
  • your company loses a major client or the industry as a whole faces a crisis
  • the company grapevine  -- if there is a rumor of layoffs going around, take heed
  • maybe you’re having a clash of personalities with your boss - another cause for concern.  It happens....

Although these are obvious signs, sometimes there are troubles that are not so obvious and you may be fired “out of the blue.” In hindsight, you realize you had started to be left out of key decisions or meetings. Or some of your workload had been shifted to other employees. But the changes were subtle. You can see them now, but you didn’t see them at the time.

 If you’re worried about losing your job, but you haven’t yet been fired, here are a few suggestions:

  1.  Create or update your LinkedIn profile, but be careful about doing too much at once while you’re still employed. It looks suspicious if you go from a new profile to having 200 new connections in a week. Don’t draw attention to yourself by populating your profile overnight. And be mindful of your privacy settings. Change the setting for notifications so that your network doesn’t get notices when you update information on your profile.  Actually whenever you are doing changes to your profile, this is a good idea so you don't start bombarding your connections with update notifications. You can always change it back to send updates later. To do this, just scroll over your profile photo on the top right in your profile toolbar, find the "privacy setting" tab in the dropdown and click on "review."  This will take you to the screen where you can make adjustments.  If you need assistance with this, just send me a message here.
  2. Lock down your privacy settings on your other accounts, especially Facebook. Be especially mindful of your posts. I suggest that you never post anything negative about your current job -- whether you are in fear of losing it or not.  It's just not a good idea.  Remember that even with your privacy settings at the maximum, anyone who is friends with you can take a screenshot of your post and share it with anyone else. So please be careful.
  3. Update your résumé. Getting a head start on collecting the information for the résumé will help you if you do lose your job. This may also give you a 2-3 week head start on your colleagues who haven’t kept their career marketing documents up to date.
  4. Start depersonalizing your office, but take things home gradually so that it’s not apparent that you’re removing items. Also, collect the information you’ll need for your résumé while you still have access to your company records. (For example, dates and names of trainings, copies of performance evaluations, sales records, etc.)
  5. Check out your company’s employee handbook and/or your employment agreement with the company to find out what’s owed to you. What is the company policy on accrued — but unused — benefits? Are you entitled to cash out unused vacation time, or is it “use it or lose it?” Also review the section that outlines what constitutes “termination for cause.”
  6. Tighten your belt (financially speaking). Are there expenses you can cut out for the time being?  Now is the time to start stockpiling an emergency fund for your living expenses, especially if you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck. Don’t wait until you actually lose your job to assess your financial situation.

You may also want to start searching the job market. Current trends show us that it is always easier to find a job when you have a job, so if you think your job really is in jeopardy, you might want to start looking now.

Next time, we'll talk about what steps you should take if the axe has been dropped.  In the meantime, please contact us with your questions.  As always, we love to hear from you and are always ready to help you with your résumé, cover letters and your LinkedIn profile. 

 

 

Your QR Reader app is really pretty smart

A little more on QR codes:

Last time I shared some info on incorporating QR codes into your job search or to help you promote your business. While playing around with my phone app, I discovered some great tools buried within the QR Reader app and thought I should share with all of you.

In the last post we talked about using www.qrstuff.com to generate QR codes, and this is certainly still an ideal choice, but if you have a QR reader app on your smartphone or tablet, be sure to check out ALL the features for it’s just not about scanning codes.

What prompted my research was my own newsletter.   I’m thinking okay, readers are receiving my MailChimp newsletter  and maybe reading it on their phone or tablet.  So they're  viewing the newsletter on their device and seeing the QR codes I embedded in the post, but how in the world can they scan the code while they’re using their phone to read the newsletter?!

And once again, my phone has proven how much smarter it is than me.  I have an iPhone 4S and use the QRReader app for iPhone.  Here's how it works on my phone with the QR Reader for iPhone:

  • If you’re viewing a message, newsletter, email, etc. on your phone or other device,  simply tap and hold your finger on the QR code image and a screen pops up allowing you to save the image to your photos.
  •  Then go out to QR Reader app, open up the option window (Hint the little icon on the  top left or right that looks like three horizontal lines) and choose “scan from photos.”  
  • Once you make that choice, QR Reader will ask to access your photos, and you will have to hit “OK.”
  • Next find the QR code image you want to view that you saved from the message or newsletter; choose it and the QR Reader scans it for you opening up whatever the code represents. (i.e. a website, LinkedIn profile, business card, etc)

In addition to this nifty feature, the QR Reader app will create QR codes from a variety of sources – like a URL, PDF or even your pasteboard.  This particular app also allows you to save your favorites  --  choose the  image to do that!

And to access a history of every code you've scanned, just hit the little (clock)  icon.....

Now, I’ve just touched on the tip of the iceberg here.  Get out your phone or tablet when you have some time and experiment with your QR reader app and see all that it can do for you.  And if you haven’t downloaded one yet, what are you waiting for?

As always, contact us with your  questions and comments.