Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How to Raise Your Profile Through Personal Public Relations

By Jennifer Ransaw Smith

Early in my career, I learned one of life’s toughest lessons: if I didn’t define myself, others would do it for me.  Like many women of my generation, I grew up a people pleaser. I was taught to be a team player and that boasting was impolite. I learned that I shouldn’t take credit for every idea, even if they were all mine. So, that is exactly how I packaged myself—the nice girl with creative ideas that you wanted on your team.

But, do you want to know the problem with being the “nice girl?” They often get stepped on and are afraid to say ouch!

I spent years coming up with stellar ideas that others took credit for, I spent years nicely advancing my career but watching others advance theirs at mach 10 speeds. Then, one day I woke up. I mean I really got it. I was never going to have an advocate stauncher than myself; no secret genie. I was it—the Publicist and Chief Marketing Officer of Jennifer Ransaw Smith, Inc. — and it was time that I earned my titles. So that’s precisely what I did.
I learned the hard way that a “job well done” doesn’t speak for itself; I had to speak for it. And, so do you. Here are a few tips to help you along your own personal public relations evolution and journey as an entrepreneur and as an author:

Uncover your differentiators and highlight them: Just as companies spend millions of dollars and heavy brainpower to highlight what separates them from their competitors, so should you (minus the million dollar investment of course). Take the time to find out what makes you you. Are you funny, resourceful, a person with an innate ability to immediately put others at ease. Whatever your "it" is, bring it out and use it to your advantage.

What are your long and short term goals and what is standing between you reaching them? Do you need more training and education, or maybe another certificate or two? Get clear about where you want to go so that the path becomes more evident and the coaches along the way more obvious.

Know the industry players: It doesn’t matter if they work inside or outside your organization, you should know them and they should know you. Keep a file of who’s who, subscribe to the industry publications and highlight the key players. Drop them a congratulatory line on their latest achievement, acquisition or award, or send them an article of interest and introduce yourself on personal letterhead. Be strategic and fearless. Recognize the value of creating relationships with superiors who have the power to promote you.

Toot your own horn regularly and loudly
: Look for opportunities to sing your own praise both internally and externally. Send updates to your company newsletters; send releases about your accomplishments to your local paper and business journal. Keep the higher ups in the loop through frequent updates.

Network, network, network. Women need to realize the importance of networking with everybody—junior, senior, and even people you don’t like. By strategically planning your career, there are going to be many people you wouldn’t necessarily want to hang out with, but who will prove to be extremely beneficial to your career advancement and positioning and that’s okay. It’s just business.

Once you take complete charge or your career and manage your personal brand accordingly, the sky's the limit.

Jennifer Ransaw Smith is CEO and Chief Visibility Strategist for Brand id│Strategic Partners, a full-service personal branding agency that helps women entrepreneurs and executives leverage their skills and talents and position themselves as Industry Rock Stars. She works with clients who are ready to “be known.” You can find out more at

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Looking for "Home Writing Made Easy"

by Bonnie Daneker

This Christmas, I received a voice from the past.  1928 to be exact.  My friend presented me with a nearly perfect copy of “Home Sewing Made Easy,” by Laura I. Baldt, A.M.

Stay with me now… Although sewing may not be everyone’s cup of tea (like it is mine), wearing clothing for comfort and protection is in everyone’s interest.

So, back to Laura Baldt. The A.M. after her name (Master of Arts degree) credentialed her to become an Assistant Professor of Household Arts in the Teachers College of Columbia University. In 1923, this was all highly uncommon: a woman going to college, earning an advanced degree, holding a professorship position—AND publishing.  In addition to this work, she wrote for magazines, contributed to the Department of Agriculture and Federal Board for Vocational Education, and penned textbooks. She wrote her life, and the wisdom in this treasured old book about creative expression is still relevant.

In her “Foreward” (sic), she shares:  “Some women have either a native or acquired ability to artistically design and construct clothing; others have the ability to construct, but not to design; still others know little or nothing of designing or construction.  Give to the first group of women some cloth, shears, tape measure and pins, and they, through spontaneous inspiration or carefully thought out design, will evolve a charming garment. The other groups – and they form the vast majority – seem not to have this creative genius.”  For them, it’s about education, dedication, and determination.

We understand that it is a biological need to cloth oneself, and some would argue that expression is also a biological need.  At the very least, written expression begs to be utilized, inspiring others and instilling feelings of fruitfulness in the creator.

If we applied Baldt’s exercise to writers – giving them a laptop, and plenty of paper and ink – some would showcase their native talents by producing an impossible-to-put-down suspense novel. Others of us would need to search for experts, follow their lead, and work diligently to learn the craft: as Baldt suggests in her next line, to find an “excellent way of achievement through the patterns of today.”

While the roster of my sewing teachers has been limited to four (including the fiercest, Experience), the roster of my writing teachers probably features 40 times as many educators. I’ve found that there is no “Home Writing Made Easy” book written just for me; instead, I’ve learned from others formally and informally. Each gives me opportunities to grow as a writer and a consultant to help other writers.

I’d encourage you to stop searching for the Holy Grail of all writing instruction materials and instead build your network of academic pros, literary pros, and colleagues to hone your craft. Be open to their wisdom, “their patterns of today.” What a great message from Baldt in 1928: Whatever your starting point, you can learn from others and produce a quality product with time.

As CEO of Write Advisors, Bonnie Bajorek Daneker helps clients express themselves digitally and in print. Author of The Compassionate Caregiver Series®, Bonnie released her seventh book, CLIMB, in November 2010, with Sandy Hofmann, President of Women in Technology (WIT). Her most recent book, Publishing as a Marketing Strategy, is co-written with five other contributors and was released November 2011. She holds a BA in Journalism from The Ohio State University and an MBA in Strategic Planning and Entrepreneurship from The Goizueta School of Business at Emory University.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Write What You Love

Passion. Desire. Excitement. Exhilaration. You probably felt all of these emotions on your first date with your significant other. But do any of these words come to mind when you sit down to write your book? If not, you might consider how much love you have for your book project. After all, your book should be one of the most exciting things in your life, not one of the most dreaded. If you approach your writing sessions with anything less than enthusiasm, perhaps you’re going about it the wrong way. Of course, that isn’t to say you shouldn’t write your book and get it published. But perhaps you need to shift gears and write what you love.

When you have a passion or desire for something (or someone), your entire disposition towards it is that of excitement and exhilaration. The before, during, and after aspects are all linked with a sense of desire and curiosity. You look forward to doing that thing. You enjoy the process (even if there are some snags here and there). And you feel rejuvenated and satisfied afterwards. That’s how it should be as you write your book.

You know the signs that you’re not really “feeling” what you’re writing: procrastination, avoidance, dread, frustration. But do you know the signs that you’re writing what you love?

How do you choose a genre or topic that’s right for you? And beyond that, how do you write compelling content that you love? I’ll offer two suggestions for selecting the topic of your next book and for writing content you love. 

1. Determine what resonates with you. Writing about what resonates with you is like meeting your soulmate. It’s sweet and fresh, interesting and thrilling. Every moment spent with him or her is one that could last forever. The same is true for the topic of your book. It’s the “aha moment” when you know you’re onto something. Think about those aha moments you’ve had. You know the ones when your head snaps forward, your eyelids pop open pullled up by the rising of your brows, the corners of your mouth reach towards your ears, and your gaze is a focused dreamy-ness that finds you resembling a deer in the headlights. Yep, that’s it. You’ve got it. That’s the aha moment when you’ve mentally stumbled upon a topic or idea that you love. 

Turning that idea into content for your book can be just as exhilarating as the initial moment when the idea was conceived. As with your relationship with your soulmate, you have to keep the love alive. Think about that topic and your content all the time. Jot down notes throughout the day. Read books and articles that are similar to what you’re writing about so you’ll keep the mood fresh and interesting. Talk about it with friends. And if you need help building the content beyond structured writing sessions, consider journaling. It’s a much more relaxed and therapeutic way to approach writing content for your book. For help, get a copy of my book, Write Your Life: Create Your Ideal Life and the Book You’ve Been Wanting to Write

2. Know what will capture the hearts and minds of your ideal readers. To know this, you must first know who your ideal readers are. This is like buying a gift for your soulmate. You have to first know his or her likes and dislikes, needs and wants, preferences, fears, and even those things that just freak him or her out. From an author’s perspective, who are you writing this book for? You might find it surprising to realize this, but for most authors, their ideal readers are people just like them. 

Most would never admit to it (which always suprises me), but authors and professional writers most often write for people with similar interests, concerns, challenges, fears, needs, and experiences as theirs. Don’t avoid this most logical audience for your book. By and large, authors write what they know because that’s what they like, have learned, are knowledgeable about, and wish to share with others. So go for it. If you find that your ideal readers are people just like you, then think hard about the words, stories, examples, and tips that caputure your own heart and mind. Give the readers what they want. That shouldn’t be so hard, because, after all, it’s what you want too. And to get to that, once again, I suggest journaling.

Really, it’s not so hard to write what you love. You just have to find the passion and cultivate it. So, what do you love to write?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Errors in Your Writing Can Be Costly

by Tippi Hyde

To stand out in a fiercely competitive market, entrepreneurs and other professionals have been encouraged to showcase their expertise by writing books. In fact, books have been called the new business cards 1. If someone you just met gave you a business card with several errors on it, you probably would not rush to do business with him or her. You might infer that the person is unprofessional, lazy, and does not pay attention to detail. These same judgments could be made about you if your book (or other work) is full of errors and inconsistencies.
Your image and income can be negatively affected by errors in your writing. Readers may feel that it is not worth wading through mistakes in your document to get to your point or to learn more about what you have to offer. You will never know how many people have (or will) put down your book, click away from your blog or website, or choose not to do business with you because of their negative assumptions about you based on errors and inconsistencies in your work.

If your writing is being published, you are a writer, regardless of your primary profession. As a writer, you should care about knowing writing-related rules and producing quality documents. Take time to review grammar, usage, and mechanics, and commit to reading at least one grammar or other writing-related book per month. Grammar and usage are taught simplistically in most SAT II Writing and Praxis I PPST preparation books, and the books include plenty of exercises. The following websites are also excellent resources: Purdue Online Writing Lab 2; Grammar Girl: Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing 3; and Guide to Grammar and Writing 4.

After reviewing your manuscript with your newly learned (or relearned) skills, hire an editor. In addition to a basic proofread (which includes checking for typos; errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics; and style consistency), an editor may rewrite for clarity or brevity and fact-check. An editor also ensures that what you intend to convey to your readers is what you actually convey.

Ironically, most professional, classically trained writers would not consider having their work published without having an editor review it, yet many untrained writers believe that they don’t need an editor and that publishing error-free work is not important. Each of the hundreds of manuscripts and other lengthy documents that I have reviewed during my 10 years of editing has needed a full edit, no matter how skilled the writer was. Granted, hiring an editor for short, time-sensitive works (like some blog posts) might not be feasible because of time or money. Before publishing these types of works, have friends or family members review them, and do not skip your own edit.

For books and other major works, however, do not think of hiring an editor as optional; consider it a necessary book-publishing expense. Something priceless is at stake: your credibility.

1  See “Is a Book the New Business Card?” in SmartMoney Magazine (
2 Purdue Online Writing Lab:
3 Grammar Girl: Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing:
4 Guide to Grammar and Writing:

Tippi Hyde is a freelance editor who also coaches doctoral students through the dissertation editing stage. She is currently developing online classes in grammar, usage, mechanics, and style, which will be free for the first 10 readers of this blog who inquire. If you are interested, e-mail her at

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

5 Ways to Repurpose Your Content

An author recently asked me how she could get more mileage out of her book. After all, she put a lot into the writing and production of her book, and she’s very proud of it. Currently, she sells her book at speaking engagements and appearances. She sells it on her website. She even gives it away to organizations as an incentive for membership renewals. But beyond that, she wondered what more she could be doing to get her message out in unique ways. My answer: Repurpose your content.

Who says the content of your book has to remain in your book after it’s published? There are numerous ways to repurpose the information contained in your book. The notion of repurposing isn’t new, but with social media and other technologies, there are more ways than ever to give new life to the concepts, stories, examples, tips, and advice in your book. Here are just a few:

Blog it. Take sections of your book and turn them into blog posts. Choose excerpts that are timely and give small bits of information your blog followers can use. One easy way to do this is to create lists similar to this post: 10 ways to do something; 5 reasons you need something; 8 things to avoid when going someplace. 

Post it. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, FourSquare and numerous other social media sites offer great exposure to your target audience. But it takes time to develop fresh ideas for engaging posts that get likes and retweets. Use some of the content you’ve already developed in your book for your social media posts. Be sure to make it brief and engaging.

Speak it. If speaking engagements are part of your business development strategy, pull from your book content to create compelling speeches and instructional talks. You could take the main points in just one chapter of your book to create a keynote speech that’ll leave the audience wanting more -- in which case, they’ll want to buy your book!

Teach it. You wrote your book to teach what you know, right. Whether you’ve written an autobiography, a memoir, a self-help, or a how-to book, you’re teaching a lesson or a concept. Why not develop a course, teleseminar, or workshop based on the very content you’ve already created for your book.

Share it. Why not give it away? That’s right; give away the content in your book by creating a one-sheeter with tips, charts, tables, lists, maps, links, or other useful tools. Offer this one-sheeter as an incentive for people to sign up for your e-newsletter, as a thank-you for those who attend your seminars, or as a leave-behind when you call on potential clients.

Even after your book has been published and several copies sold, there is still life in the content. Keep your book alive by repurposing the content and offering it to your target audience in creative ways.

What are some ways you’ve repurposed your book’s content?