4 reasons why PR pitching is an art form

By Scott Signore   This Post can Originally Be Found Here

Editorial pitches are opportunities for expression.

Artists have paint, clay, marble, video, mosaics, and many other media with which to express themselves. PR pros have email, direct messages on Twitter, InMail on LinkedIn, and plenty of other communications channels. Editorial pitching provides us PR professionals with a creative channel for securing a story.

It’s an art form, too, and here are four reasons why:

First, a PR pitch offers the practitioner unlimited creativity. You know the charge at hand and can accomplish your goal—connecting with a key writer or editor and seeing that they give attention to your story idea—in any manner that is appropriate.

The words you use count so much. You might be succinct or detailed, punchy or rich with metaphor or vignettes. Each pitch is a clean canvas and every outreach an attempt to inspire a specific reaction. It’s exciting, as every communication is another opportunity for success.

Second, like an artist working on a commissioned piece, it’s crucial that you consider the audience before getting started.

That’s typically both the audience (reporters) and the audience’s audience (editors and readers). The better you capture the imagination of the reporter with your initial outreach, the better the chances he or she will be inspired to “sell” the idea to editors and, ultimately, disseminate the story to legions of your client’s preferred readers.

Third, just as when you see a painting and are moved by what it attempts to convey, you know right away if your PR pitch struck a chord when you hear back (immediately and positively) from your editorial target. It’s a thing of beauty when your creativity captured the interest of your intended subject and inspired action.

Fourth, the preceding point is particularly true if your pitch was highly personalized for and delivered to a priority writer or editor, whose coverage often results in a landslide of other writers covering the same topic. It’s valuable to create the pitch that keeps on giving, paying dividends long after the client’s last check has cleared.

Can you think of other ways that editorial pitching constitutes an art form? Please off your thoughts in the comments section.

Scott Signore is the principal and CEO of Matter Communications. A version of this story first appeared on the agency’s PR Whiteboard blog

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HIRING A PUBLICIST? READ THIS FIRST…

by  This post can be originally found here

So, you’re the next incredible brand on deck and you’re ready to hire a publicist? Read this first:

Know exactly what a publicist does.

A publicist/PR pro is a public relations practitioner. And, public relations is the art of influencing public perception using strategic communication. “PR” is commonly used to describe the practice in general, not the practitioner. If your potential publicist refers to herself/himself as a “PR”, run.  It’s the equivalent of Metta World Peace saying he is a basketball. He didn’t say that, by the way.

Side note: Publicists don’t like to be called publishers either, unless in the rare instance he or she actually publishes books too.

A breakdown of a publicist’s tasks include:

Creating exposure: Your publicist should craft or oversee your Electronic Press Kit (EPK). Draft press releases to announce news worthy happenings. Pitch you to media and schedule interviews. Scan the media for new mentions of your brand, negative or positive.  Oversee your image and have a good relationship with a fashion stylist. Manage, plan or review your social media activity. Coordinate photo shoots and video shoots. Assist you on the red carpet, but not actually pose for photos with you. Assist with speeches. Plan events and press junkets. Make sure your branding is cohesive.

Brand protection: He or she should conduct media training for your print/radio/TV interviews. Manage a crisis, if one arises. Think Olivia Pope. Or, Judy Smith. Although most PR pros don’t soley specialize in crisis management, they should have a working knowledge to craft an effective plan in case you ever need it.

What’s your budget? 

Now, that you understand publicists aren’t hired to put your name on a list at a party, pick up your laundry or babysit your kids… know your BUDGET. Before you go to a car dealership, you have an idea of the amount you want to spend. Do your research before meeting with a publicist to avoid wasting your time, and theirs. If you want to hire a big time agency– who may actually assign a first year account executive to your account– expect to pay at least $10,000 per month as as minimum rate. Some big name publicists with boutique size firms and huge clients are also in this range.

Boutique firms and reputable freelance publicists charge around $5,000 per month on average, although more demanding clients may spend up to $10,000 per month. They may also take on a few smaller budget projects here and there if they believe in the particular brand, especially if the brand is a start-up, rookie, new artist, etc. On the flip side, corporate brands are hiring more and more boutique and freelance pros to ensure account attention and around the clock accessibility.

If a publicist is charging under $900 per month, what are the surrounding factors? Smaller geographical market? Seasonal or start up special? Scaled down services? Inexperience? Ask.

Oh, it’s not uncommon for publicists to ask professional athletes and entertainers to provide game/event tickets. It makes sense for them to observe you in your element. However, being in your element should not be a payment substitution.

Does the publicist have a passion for your field? 

Once upon a time a publicist with NFL clients asked me what a first and tenth was. That wasn’t a typo. Someone representing professional football players really asked what a first and tenth was. That’s like a book publicist asking what a book outline is. Or book hotline, to keep it consistent. Anyway, passion breeds research. Financial services & technology publicist, Samantha Savory, studies trends in the financial and tech world with the same intensity level she studies PR trends. Kristen Hopkins, who specializes in non-profit, knows her niche’s trends like the back of her hand.

It’s not unfair to ask for a fashion publicist’s thoughts on Isabel Marant’s spring collection to test their engagement level. Or, ask a sports publicist to pick Ovechkin or Crosby. If I were a musician, I would want my publicist to have a favorable opinion in my genre. Or, understand the complexity of current political issues before running my political campaign. A film publicist shouldn’t be required to have Roeper level movie knowledge, but a Varietysubscription shouldn’t sound far fetched. Regardless of the niche, it doesn’t hurt to check out your potential publicist’s tweets. If it’s truly a passion, they can’t help but talk about the subject.

Goals.

During the first meeting with your potential publicist, 80% of the conversation should be about your brand and its goals. If a publicist gives you a million ideas prior to hearing the brand’s goals, run. If you believe your brand is unique and trendsetting, PR ideas should be tailored. The publicist may have a few initial ideas, but the exciting ideas should be in the proposal you receive after the consultation. Even if the publicist knows all about your brand through research, hearing your goals is the main objective in the first meeting.

Side note: Speaking of the consultation, some publicists charge an hourly fee similar to attorneys, some do not.

Ask to see his or her portfolio. 

Don’t be afraid to ask to see their work. Even a newbie should have a portfolio with entries from internships.

Look at the types of brands included, the level of media exposure, writing skills, and the quality of the presentation. If their brand isn’t represented well, why should you trust them with yours?

How to Write a Rockstar Twitter Bio

By: Amy-Mae Elliott This post can originally be found here

Twitter-profile-web
What does your Twitter bio say about you? Don’t think in terms of cold, hard facts — what does it really reveal about you to others?As we’ve recently discussed on Mashable, your bio is one of the major factors that people take into consideration when deciding whether or not to follow you on Twitter, but it’s even more important than that.

Your bio is searchable within the Twittersphere, meaning you need to think carefully about keywords. It will show up in search engine results for your name, so it has to represent the true you. It’s also how you choose to present yourself to Twitter’s 230 million users, so it’s worth giving it some serious thought.

The Bio as an Art Form

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Whether or not you agree with the The New York Times‘ rather grandiose statement that the Twitter bio is a postmodern art form, it’s certainly a skill to distill the essence of your complex, multifaceted personality (or so we’d all like to think) into 160 characters.

Embrace the space available. Don’t think of the allowance as a limitation; think of it as an opportunity to be concise. When you write your bio, actually compose in the window Twitter allows. This will help with structure.

Are you creative or commercially minded? If you fall into the commercial camp, it may help to think of your Twitter bio as a a copywriting exercise. The product is you and you have 160 characters not just to summarize it, but sell it to an indifferent, anonymous audience.

If you’re more creative, you might enjoy approaching a bio as you would a poem. Every word you use must justify its place on your limited canvas, add meaning, appear in the correct order and work as a whole.

The Bio as a Cliché

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“Coffee expert. Twitterholic. Internet advocate. Music aficionado. Wannabe entrepreneur.” This might read as a totally believable Twitter bio, but it is in fact gobbledegook: made-up, buzzword nonsense from the “Twitter Bio Generator”.

Developed by Josh Schultz, the generator was designed to poke fun at the list-based bio format so beloved of key-word-minded Twitter users.

“I created that site a few years back just for fun, when I noticed a lot of similarities among Twitter bios,” Schultz explains. “Folks using short, punchy phrases to describe themselves, including an inordinate number of ‘social media experts’ and all manner of ‘mavens.’ It was actually a bit of a joke: I included bits that could describe practically anyone on the Twitters, and threw in a few silly things, for flavor.”

Could your bio be easily interchangeable with A. N. Other’s Twitter bio? Could something you’ve written in your bio appear in the Twitter Bio Generator’s database? Then you need to think of ways to make yourself stand out.

Bio Basics

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This should be obvious, but from the amount of typo-ridden bios out there, it bears repeating. Your bio must have perfect spelling and grammar. There are no excuses for mistakes. Run your text through a spellcheck tool or get a buddy to check it for you, but be sure what you’ve written is error-free.

Secondly, be consistent. If you are going for the list-based format, decided whether you’re separating words with commas, periods or vertical bars, and stick to that. Capitalize consistently by choosing to write the entire thing in either sentence case or title case. The same goes for if you’re mentioning usernames or using hashtags (e.g., @JohnSmith or @johnsmith, or #Football or #football) — keep to the same format for every example.

Learn From Others

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Don’t create your bio in a vacuum. Do some research, study the different styles of bios out there and read what other Twitter users have written — especially ones with large followings.

When you’ve followed someone on the strength of his or her Twitter bio alone, consider what it was that prompted you to hit the “Follow” button.

Sarah Milstein, the 21st user of Twitter and co-author of The Twitter Book, has the following straightforward advice: “Look at a bunch of Twitter bios, notice which ones you like best, write a bio that imitates those.”

Find Your Unique Sell

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From a professional perspective, make it clear exactly what it is that you do. This helps differentiate you from others with similar bios. Don’t just state you’re in a sales role, mention the industry in which you work. If you’re a recruiter, what kind of candidates are your speciality? Do you work in marketing? Which industry sector?

“Your Twitter bio should position you as an expert in your field who serves a specific audience,” states Dan Schawbel, author of Promote Yourself and Me 2.0.

“The objective is to position your personal brand so you’re using the right keywords and clearly showing what your focus is so people read it and know exactly what you do and whom you serve.”

As well as widening your appeal for potential followers, Schawbel suggests this tactic may help your future job prospects.

“I did a study with American Express and we found that 65% of managers are looking to hire and promote subject matter experts. The problem is that most people position themselves as generalists or ‘Jacks-of-all-trades,’ and that won’t work in this economy,” he says.

Consider SEO

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The words you use in your bio don’t just add up to create a picture of you, they carry some serious SEO juice. Tools such as Followerwonk can search Twitter bios on a keyword basis. Carefully consider what topics you’d like to be discoverable under, as you never know who might be searching for just those subjects.

“Followerwonk helps users find people through bio search, which is incredibly powerful for niche audiences and building brands,” says Erica McGillivray, social community manager for Moz, the company that created Followerwonk.

“On Twitter, it’s all about first impressions, while finding the right audience, whether you’re reaching out professionally or just looking for new friends. By optimizing your bio to give the perfect details — your interests, location, job, company, love of cupcakes — you’re telling the world why they should follow you. Why you’re important,” she says.

It’s not just Twitter search you have to consider, but wider searches from third-party engines. “Write a bio that will motivate others to follow you on specific topics, those you most often tweet. Use keywords and be direct,” says Michael Dobbs, group director of SEO at digital marketing agency 360i.

With news that Google Search has recently made moves to include hashtag searches, Dobbs also suggests: “Consider adding hashtags on keyword topics you’d like to be discovered against.”

Be Unusual

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“The idea behind your bio is that you want to provoke enough interest so that somebody will follow you back,” Mark Schaefer, author of The Tao of Twitter, says. “Be honest and give at least a hint of what you do in the real world. Then, add something unusual or funny to stand out. For example, I identify myself as a consultant, author and social media bouncer. That often starts a conversation!”

On an online platform of over 200 million users, it can be hard to stand out, so don’t be afraid to let your quirks show and don’t hesitate to use humor in your bio. If you have an unusual hobby or a niche passion, include it, especially if it’s something you’re likely to tweet about.

“Your bio should reflect who you are, your values and what you have to offer others,” statesLouise Mowbray speaker, coach and branding consultant.

Most importantly, use your bio to let people know what you’re going to bring to their Twitter streams — how following you is going to enrich their Twitter experience. After all, as Mowbray says, “Twitter is all about giving something of value to others for free.”

Image: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

PR Pros: Choosing Clients’ Causes Carefully

By: Toni L. Rousell                   Original Post can be found here

Your advice is not only valued, as a hired PR professional, wise counsel is required.

So, how do you help your clients choose the causes they support? Being driven by emotions or going with what’s popular, is sure to be a recipe for disaster.

Discouraging clients from seeking alliance with causes they really have no sincere desire to support, or no real understanding of, should be number one priority.  It can be hard to steer them in a more beneficial direction, avoiding self-destruction of their brand, but it’s responsible and necessary.  They’ll thank you later and you’ll sleep better at night.  Throwing support to a cause they don’t truly believe in, will only lead to their support waning, which will consequently reduce the value of their endorsements as they appear “flaky”, or even unstable, in the public-eye.

Local vs. National

It can seem convenient to offer support to the largest, most visible organization when it comes to “giving-back”, but could a local organization, requiring more hands on support, be more beneficial to your client’s long-term philanthropic goals and public image?  Analyzing the organization’s mission, do results support that mission?

Local organizations will allow for your client to see the lives their efforts effect. They will be able to look directly into the eyes of those benefiting from their donations and volunteering, and will also be more likely to give to those in their hometowns who directly affected their success, which makes for excellent public relations.  This encourages a more faithful, less “fair-weather”, connection.

Alternatively, national organizations offer the opportunity for clients to give-back to multiple communities at once.  If your client lives or their primary business is based outside of their hometown, this choice would allow them to give-back to their hometown community, as well as to the new community that has embraced them. There should be no lack of effort on the client’s part to make their presence known, even when the cameras are off or not around.  A national organization will also be more likely to have consistent PR representation, affording a better grasp on public support of the cause and offering more flexible events your client can join.

Making the Commitment 

Sometimes a client desires to support organizations with a focus that may require a little extra effort for educating the public or validating the connection. Is the client truly committed? This is where your client’s genuine beliefs will come into play. The work required will expose the true intent: is it pub or love?

One example of true commitment is that of Actress Ciera Payton. Being raised, until the age of 13, by her grandmother and drug addicted (now incarcerated) father, Ms. Payton wanted to align her brand with organizations that would allow her to connect with youth growing up in an environment similar to herself: children of incarcerated parents.

But how understood is this cause?

Most children of incarcerated parents are misunderstood and, in many cases, ignored.  Many can site statistics, and some can actually admit they’ve become a statistic, but Ms. Payton’s focus is clear: share the fact that she has overcome the statistics.

By welcoming audiences in, sharing some of her most painful moments growing up in a life-threatening environment, Ms. Payton reaches those who can relate, finding those in need. She credits the Arts for saving her life, and not only commits funding, but diligently focuses on giving-back to youth facing the same battles she’s faced by mentoring.  She has chosen a mix of both local and national organizations to support, allowing her to give back to her hometown of New Orleans as well as her new home of Los Angeles.

Maya Angelou quote (pic)

PR and Publicity vs “Puff and Fluff”

While announcing the partnership, be honest with the public.  Don’t puff up your client to be more than what they are or try to fluff up their support to be more than what it is.  Instead, once the choice has been made, be sure to connect with those who genuinely share in the cause.  Reach out to those who are long-term supporters, whether celebrity or not. This will not only increase the support base for the cause, but will also strengthen your client’s alliance.  Joining forces and sharing ideas for creative support, increases public awareness and makes the difference between superficial “puff and fluff” and careful PR and publicity.

Remember, it’s the man who has more that gives more and philanthropic efforts are what keeps many in need going and feeling encouraged.  Giving back for the cameras is bound to be exposed and never worth the backlash.

PR pro: Don’t call us marketers

By Kevin Allen The original post can be found here
Earlier this year, I published a piece that may have suggested that PR is a “fallback” career for journalists. The piece garnered 50+ comments; clearly, some PR folks are easily offended.

List Brian Kilgore among the easily offended. He recently penned a piece for The Huffington Posttitled, “Don’t Insult PR People by Calling Them Marketers.”

The offending part is the Globe and Mail, which called CBC’s new boss a former “marketing and public relations executive.”

Marketing and public relations are different, Kilgore asserts.

The piece is actually more of a 101-level “This is what PR is and this is what marketing is—see, aren’t they different?”

I think Kilgore seriously mischaracterizes the approach of a modern brand. Social media has changed everything. The most successful brands don’t function within an old school model under which PR, marketing, and advertising function in their own silos and it’s up to PR to pitch journalists.
Sure, you can still function in that model, but a coordinated approach—with PR, marketing, and advertising functioning as fingers in a fist, with social media as the thumb—can spark much more influence than any department working on its own.

PR people shouldn’t be offended by being perceived as marketers any more than marketers should be offended by being seen as public relations pros. We should all recognize that the lines are blurred in the new paradigm—it’s only when the efforts are coordinated that the best things happen.

Tips for PR pros planning a 2014 editorial calendar

By Carrie Morgan  This post can originally be found here

If you’re the kind of uber-efficient PR pro who organizes Outlook into client-specific folders, keeps client folders for years after they’ve evaporated, and alphabetizes books and CDs, this post is for you.

If you’re a new PR professional still learning the ropes, this might help.

It’s October. If you aren’t thinking about 2014 editorial calendars, it’s time to shift into gear.

I’m talking not about creating editorial calendars for your blog or social content, but about the traditional PR tactic of using editorial calendars created by magazines, trade publications, and other media for securing placement opportunities. Newspapers and broadcast media generally don’t provide editorial calendars.

Editorial calendar searches are a basic PR skill, but one that way too many pros gloss over, only do annually, or forget entirely. That’s a mistake, given how aligning your pitches to an editorial calendar bumps your success rate way up.

It’s time to kick off the process for next year. If you wait much longer, it will be too late to pitch January/February issues. You don’t want a client calling to ask, “Why am I not in this issue? It’s a perfect fit for what we do.”

For newbies

Magazines and many other media outlets, as well as the larger blogs, publish an annual calendar of upcoming articles or topics they’ll be covering. It’s a smorgasbord of opportunity and a foundational public relations skill. It’s also an opportunity for you to let your PR skills shine, because most agencies and PR pros don’t spend enough time with them to gain maximum benefit.

1. If a team is handling the client, ask whether editorial calendars have been collected, and what agency or department procedures typically are for handling this part of PR. You don’t want to re-invent the wheel if someone is already on top of it, but you do want to show everyone that you are getting the foundation in place for fantastic results, that you are covering the basics.

2. Assuming you’ve already built your client media list and/or a list of publications you’ll be targeting, check their website first to see if it is available for download, then contact every outlet on that list and ask for a media kit. Generally this includes the editorial calendar, demographic information about readership, ad sizes and specs, and ad due dates. Why is this better than asking for just the editorial calendar? Because the ad due dates tell you when the publication goes to press. It helps you plan the timing of your pitch so it isn’t too late to be considered.

3. Keep a spreadsheet so you can easily track whom you’ve spoken with, which ones you have, and which ones you are still waiting on. It also gives you a tickler file to get started on the next year.

4. Print out the editorial calendars, put them in a clearly labeled folder and keep it on your desk. Plan on referring to it often. Tuck a copy of your spreadsheet in the folder, too.

5. If you don’t already have a relationship going, contact each publication individually to discuss their print schedule. When do they typically close out their issue? How far in advance should you pitch them? What is too late? Do they prefer to be pitched via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or phone? Do they have special issues with different print schedules? If it’s a blog or e-zine and not a print publication, look at their website to see if they prefer post submissions that are ready to publish. (It’s usually an obvious page.) Note all this information on your spreadsheet.

Next steps for advanced PR pros and newbies alike

6. Spend time going over each editorial calendar and writing down story ideas to pitch. Match the ideas to the issue, and then schedule each individual pitch in Outlook. Don’t assume you’ll remember; schedule it as an appointment using the timing determined in No. 4.

7. You’re not an Outlook user, or you want a secondary tool to be sure important dates don’t slip your mind? Create your own calendar that flags specific dates and publications you should pitch, and look at it every Monday so you know what’s coming up in the next week or two.  Print it out and pop it in that folder with the printed editorial calendars; make it a habit to review it frequently.

8. Every time an Outlook alert goes off and it is time to pitch a specific issue of a publication, glance over the entire folder anew to see what opportunities you have for that month. This might seem too often, but it helps you get intimately familiar with these magazines and their upcoming topics. It also helps inspire creativity, because you’ll notice something new or gain fresh inspiration with every review. Many pros look at their editorial calendars once or twice a year, which isn’t nearly often enough. It also forces you to plan far in advance.

9. If you supervise a team, sit down and review the editorial calendars together. Brainstorm or review their story ideas that the editorial calendar stimulates, then don’t forget to look at the actual pitches. It seems like far too many agencies don’t supervise the team or work with them to improve their tactics—an epic failure for everyone involved. Pitches and the processes we all use are not a big secret; they should be continually improved and fine-tuned for optimal results. Don’t hesitate to get involved.

 

10. Start collecting next year’s editorial calendars in early fall. This helps you to avoid missing out on great opportunities early in the year simply because your timing is off and you start too late. Magazines, trade publications, large blogs, and e-zines—round ’em up and get those opportunities scheduled.

Time to share. What tactics do you use for editorial calendar searches? Any fabulous tips?

Carrie Morgan is a 20-plus year public relations veteran based in Phoenix, specializing in digital PR. A version of this story first appeared on the Rock The Status Quo blog.

Pros and Cons of Keeping Your Personal and Business Social Media Life Separately

Posted by  to Social Media

Somewhat recently I have been seeing a trend developing with professional accounts on social media sites. They have been becoming more personal, and that line that was once so clear between personal and professional life is being blurred. People are even inviting their clients, bosses, coworkers and professional contacts onto their personal social media profiles. Something that was extremely rare in the past.

Does this signal a change in how we view those two part of ourselves on the web? Is it becoming more natural to combine the professional and personal into a single world? Or is it just a coincidence?

For the most part, I believe it is a personal choice. So let’s look at some of the pros and cons of keeping your social media professional and person lives separate.

Duplicate Original

Pro – You can be open without fear of offending a professional contact.

We are all more open with our views, likes, dislikes and opinions on our social media profiles when they are only personal. Some are a little too open, as a matter of fact. But that is your right, as it is your own space where you are free to discuss anything you find appropriate. When you allow people from your professional life to take part in that space, you are more limited.

You have to watch what you are saying and posting, and have to keep in mind that what you would say to your buddy isn’t the same as you say to a client. It also leaves you unable to rant, which is a good way of occasionally blowing off steam. After all, do you really want your boss knowing he made you angry when he spoke to you about proper image for having a crooked tie with a booger hanging out of his nose? Probably not.

Con – You have to have two accounts.

Let’s be real: maintaining more than one social media account takes a lot of time. Which doesn’t stop us, of course. I will bet you have a profile on several different platforms that you use on a regular basis. But that doesn’t stop it from being a bit of a hassle, and with a professional and private account each? Well, that just adds a secondary account to every social media site you sign up for. That means you will be twice as busy trying to keep track, unless you use a program like a social media dashboard. In which case, you have to be careful not to confuse.

Double

Pro – You won’t be held professionally accountable for your personal views.

Most of us like to be able to freely express ourselves on other sites. Sites which are generally signed into using social media of some kind. By having two separate accounts you can freely comment without it being linked back automatically to your professional persona. Of course, this isn’t always the case. We have seen many examples of people who have made offensive comments on the web under personal accounts and had it traced back to their professional one. But hopefully you won’t be trolling sites or saying anything outrageous or cruel anyway. As long as you are a rational human being, you will probably be fine.

Con – You are splitting your target audience.

I can’t tell you how many times I have had a personal friend or family member share out my content to their massive lists, with a personal recommendation. Which ended up bringing me much more visibility and a surge in visitors for the day. When you have two accounts, the likelihood of this happening is slimmer. Which means you are effectively cleaving your audience in half, and missing out on the opportunity for sharing through people you know face to face.

Meeting In The Middle

In my opinion, the best thing to do is meet in the middle – which is to say, I think you should choose what side works best for you, while recognizing the difference between social media sites. For examples, LinkedIn is for professional use rather than personal as well as Facebook is rather for your personal life (yes, many people won’t agree with me here). So sometimes you won’t have to figure if you need two accounts. YouTube is likewise a good one for professional use, as you are unlikely to need a personal account for commenting. Or Pinterest, which is a fantastic place to merge both the professional and personal with little risk.

How do you handle the separation between those two parts of your life on social media? Let us know in the comments!

16 networking mistakes that can derail your career

By Jim Dryburgh This post can be found here

Networking is a skill that can help you develop long‐lasting business and social relationships.As with most skills, you can network well or poorly—perhaps to the detriment of your career.Here are the 16 most common networking mistakes to avoid:1. You think you don’t know anyone.

You are connected to more people than you realize.

Take 10 minutes and write a list of past and current work colleagues, industry contacts, friends, family and acquaintances. You will likely be surprised by how many people you know. Store these names in a file and add new people as you meet them.

Once a month, go through your list. Call at least one person, and email three. The key is to stay in touch. Find out what’s new with people personally or professionally, react to news in your industry or set up a lunch. Put a note in your files to remind yourself what you talked about.

Now check out some social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, which are powerful ways to expand your network. If you have a blog or website, check out who’s been corresponding with you lately.

Continuously reach out to new people and you’ll see networking possibilities grow.

2. You wait for a reason to network.

A network is a social and business resource that you must cultivate and nurture.

Your network supports and sustains you in good times, but is the key to your survival in bad times. Too often people start networking only after they need something. Imagine a friend or relative who only calls when he needs money. Do you take his call? Do you look forward to hearing from him?

Effective networking means creating contacts and relationships now. Dig your well before you’re thirsty, as Harvey Mackay says.

3. You fail to create a networking script.

Avoid fumbling and stammering for the right words by practicing what you’re going to say about yourself, your job or another topic of interest.

Practice it. Practice smiling as you say it so people get a sense of excitement and energy about you. Then think about questions that might come up and how you’ll respond.

Whether you call someone or talk in person, consider what you want and what you can realistically expect from the person. Think about the purpose of your conversation—is it to find out information or seek other contacts? Being clear about what you want will be a more effective use of everyone’s time, and will create a better impression than a rambling speech. Be aware that the person may not be in a position to do much; be gracious if all he can offer are ideas, advice or experience.

Requesting a job isn’t appropriate at this stage, and may result in you losing the contact. For networking emails, be personable and upbeat, but make sure your tone is appropriate to the person you are contacting. For example, don’t go into networking mode if you are just reaching out to an old friend.

[RELATED: Ragan’s new distance-learning site houses the most comprehensive video training library for corporate communicators.]

4. You’re unprepared.

Thinking you know what you want is not the same as knowing it.

Treat networking the same way you would an appearance at Carnegie Hall. Practice your pitch as well as your answers to questions that might arise.

Knowing what you want to get out of a conversation will make the best use of everyone’s time. Do you want a new job? Sales contacts? Information about a competitor?

If you don’t know what you’re after, you’ll either embarrass yourself or walk away having accomplished nothing.

Do your homework and plan ahead to avoid arriving unprepared. If you’re meeting with someone or attending an event, know why you are going and the types of people who will be there. Research specific contacts who may be there and prepare some conversation topics ahead of time.

5. You talk about yourself too much.

When networking, listen to what everyone else is saying. People help by offering advice; they’re not interested in hearing how much you already know.

While a big part of networking is marketing yourself, it’s important to know where to draw the line. Give others some room to get a word in. Prompt them to tell you a little about themselves. This way, not only will they feel like they are part of the conversation, but you’ll learn a little about them. The more you know about them, the more you’ll know what they can do for you, and-brace yourself-what you can do for them.

6. You monopolize someone’s time.

At a networking event, everyone wants to mingle and meet different people. Although making a connection with someone and getting into an interesting discussion can be a great experience, you should keep conversations at networking events short and sweet.

If you’re networking over the phone or by email, remember that the person you’re speaking with has a life beyond you and your needs and interests. A good rule of thumb is that if the person is carrying less than half of the conversation, it’s time to move on.

7. You lack etiquette.

Etiquette can extend from table manners to punctuality to your approach to social networking. If you think people don’t notice, you’re wrong. Committing this blunder is self-destructive, so mind your manners!

There are a number of things that violate networking etiquette:

  • Showing up late.
  • Interrupting people when they are talking.
  • Talking for an extended period of time about yourself.
  • Not asking other people who they are and what they do.
  • Barging into a group when it is clear they don’t want to be disturbed.
  • Blatantly looking for the next person to talk to.
  • Drinking too much.
  • Talking with your mouth full.
  • Not keeping your emails and your social media profiles professional.
  • Sharing a person’s contact information without his permission. (This is a huge no-no that will quickly land you a top spot on the blacklist. Always check with people first, even if you’re doing them a favor.)

8. You forget to bring business cards.

In one of his books, Jeffrey Gitomer argues that the main purpose of a business card is to get the other person’s card. When you hand people a card, they usually want to do the same. The key is to get their cards so you can respond after the meeting with a note that connects you and the conversation you had.

Always carry business cards with you—especially if you’re attending a networking event. It’s unprofessional to give out your contact information on a scrap piece of paper or napkin. Doing so may discourage a contact from getting in touch with you in the future.

9. You have an unprofessional email address.

Your friends may know you as “Daddys1Girl,” “HotStud4U,” “Cougarlady” or “RumAndCoke47,” but when you’re building a network, use a serious email address—preferably one with your real name. And when you use this email address, make sure you have a complete signature at the bottom.

Make it easy for people to remember and contact you later. Your email, LinkedIn profile and standard messaging are key parts of your brand. Consider getting a website and using your email as the address. You can do this for the cost of one business book, and it’s another way to expand your brand.

10. You forget you only have one chance to make a first impression.

Dress sharply when you attend an event. Give firm handshakes, stand up straight, make good eye contact, repeat names back to the owners and show respect to everyone in the room. Never say anything negative about any person, event, company or organization, regardless of your personal views.

Remember that a networking event can be like a first interview for your next job, but no one will help you get your foot in the door if you put forth an unprofessional or negative attitude.

11. You don’t know how to work a room.

Men and women with contacts and power meet many people, but they only remember those who stand out from the crowd.

If you “just aren’t very social” or if networking “just isn’t in your personality,” then be someone else for the networking event. Be assertive and act like a leader you admire. How would your hero handle this situation? Communicate self‐assurance and confidence. Don’t let your introverted preferences get in the way of building the network or career you want.

The good news is you can learn how to network. The news you probably don’t want to hear is that in today’s communication‐driven world, just about everybody has to do it. There’s no sense trying to avoid it.

12. You don’t ask follow-up questions.

If you’re networking for a job opportunity and someone says, “I wish I could help you, but I don’t know of any openings right now,” take a minute or two to ask some follow-up questions:

  • What’s the outlook for the future?
  • Do you know anyone else in the industry who might have something?
  • Do you have any thoughts on what my next step should be?
  • Who would you contact if you were in my shoes?

Follow‐up questions show interest and may help the person you’re networking with come up with ideas he might otherwise have overlooked.

13. You lie.

Would you ever recommend someone who you knew stretched the truth?

A wise man once said, “Always tell the truth. That way you won’t ever have to remember what you said.”

It’s tempting to say, “So‐and‐so gave me your name and told me to call.” It might even get you a meeting. But eventually such‐and‐such will learn so-and‐so did not tell you to call, and you’ll have burned not one, but two, bridges.

Building relationships is all about building trust. If you don’t trust someone, you’ll hesitate to contact him when it’s time to make an important business decision. You don’t want someone to hesitate about you.

14. You don’t follow u p.

You’ve gone through all the trouble to make a contact, so why let it go to waste?

You need to follow up after every meeting or job interview to reiterate your interest and ensure you remain at the front of the person’s mind.

Remember, people are busy, and you probably aren’t their top priority. But they are your top priority. Make sure they know it.

Always thank a contact for her time and advice via a handwritten note or follow‐up email or call. Let your contact know whether her suggestions panned out. You may think your networking is over, but your paths may cross again.

Don’t be afraid to get back in touch with someone. Send her an article or notice of an event that might interest her. Keep in touch through social media or drop her an occasional email telling her how you are.

What goes around comes around. Follow up with contacts who helped you. Keep them up‐to‐date about the company you are now working for or whether the information or leads they provided you were helpful.

This will help you to maintain people as contacts in your network, and allow you to return the favor when they’re in need.

15. You don’t tie up loose ends.

Too often when people in your network help you and give you the opening you need to achieve your goal, you think “It’s finally over.”

Not quite.

After any business meeting, you should document what actions people committed to—particularly you. In most cases, sending a note regarding your commitments will make you look professional and competent. You will probably need those people again in the future.

Write the person a thank‐you note for her help, and let her know what you ended up doing. Don’t just do this for the person or people who helped you find a job or a client. Do it for everyone who offered to, as well.

16. You don’t pay it forward.

Networking is a two-way street.

If you reach out to your contacts every time you need a something—a job, sales lead or favor—without ever giving back, people will stop being so willing to help. A good networker is ready and willing to help their contacts whenever they can.

Did you meet someone who would be a great contact for your colleague? Introduce them! Do you know of a job lead that might be perfect for your contact’s unemployed son? Hook him up!

If people see you as a resource, they’ll be more inclined to nurture and maintain the mutually beneficial relationship.

If you know what not to do, you can network with purpose, add value to your network and become outstanding at the art of networking.

Jim Dryburgh is president and founder of The Balanced WorkLife Company. A version of this article originally appeared on Careertopia.

Video Catches Publicist Rudely Denying Interview

By Matt Wilson  This post can originally  here

Big events where PR pros accompany clients can be really stressful. Sometimes, the pressure can have an adverse effect on one’s mood.That seems to be what happened to ID PR’s Bryna Rifkin, a publicist for stars including Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, and Michelle Rodriguez, among others, at this year’s Toronto Film Festival. As she accompanied Oscar winner Marion Cotillard down the red carpet, French-Canadian reporter Catherine Beauchamp asked for a quick interview with the actress.Rifkin shut the reporter down with a heaping helping of condescension, and it was all caught on video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=SxtbBeFPcno

When Beauchamp says she was told she could ask one question, Rifkin replies: “Nobody told you that. Either way, I’m saying no.”
Rifkin’s rudeness has made her the center of the story. Business Insider called her smirk near the end of the video “cringe-worthy” and Defamer commented, “Let’s hope this behavior doesn’t continue.”

Reporters can seem like pests sometimes, but they’ve got cameras and recording equipment. If you swat one away, odds are you’ll see or hear a recording of it somewhere online soon after.

Instead, as the song goes, “try a little tenderness.”

Sold Out Summit Brings Women In PR From Around The Country

After a successful, sold out, intense, but very educational Women In PR Summit in Houston, Texas at the Doubletree Suites Galleria.

Women In PR is known for providing a way for students and professionals to learn what it will take to succeed in the public relations industry. Many PR professionals have been eager to give back as a keynote speaker or participating on the panelist.

This year the summit was about the business of PR. Topics that were discussed was everything from social media profiles to how to find sponsorship money.

A highnote was Nicole Garner of The Garner Circle who gave the closing keynote address Running In Heels. Providing tips on how to be successful in the beginning and how to become the publicist that you imagine yourself to be.

This year panelist included Cher Jones, the social media guru, Ruth Ann Wiesner of Raw Marketing, Aerial Ellis and Perri Dugard-Owens from Dugard Ellis, Raven Robinson of PR2Politics, Julie Griffith of J.Griffith Public Relations, Kristi Jackson of Women CEO Project, La Shawn Thomas of Miami Entertainment Law Group and many more.

Women In PR is glad to announce the next Summit will be in Chicago in August 2014. With the continued success of the summit we are ecstatic to go to the windy city next year. Women In PR passion is to teach what can’t be learned in the classroom but by real life experiences.

For more information about the Women In PR Summit http://www.wiprsummit.com

Co-Founder of WIPR Anje Collins and Attendees

Co-Founder of WIPR Anje Collins and Attendees

Co-Founder of WIPR Anje Collins and Attendees
Keynote Speaker Nicole Garner of The Garner Circle

Keynote Speaker Nicole Garner of The Garner Circle

Panelists Kristi Jackson of Women CEO Project, Ruth Ann Wiesner of Raw Marketing, Anje Collins of Women In PR, Julie Griffith of J Griffith PR and Perri Dugard Owens of Dugard Ellis PR

Panelists Kristi Jackson of Women CEO Project, Ruth Ann Wiesner of Raw Marketing, Anje Collins of Women In PR, Julie Griffith of J Griffith PR and Perri Dugard Owens of Dugard Ellis PR