Archive | March, 2011
business news journal

Hot On The Presses…

Having your content published in the newspaper or a quality trade journal can add credibility and exposure for your professional expertise, but how should you go about selecting a readable topic, developing a story idea and pitching your story to an interested editor?
 
Here are some quick tips inspired by great questions from one of my clients

Read first …

If there is a publication you admire, feel is well suited to your ideas or has an ideal subscriber base for you to reach, scan through several recent editions. Get a feel for the kinds of articles and columns the publication covers. Get a sense of the tone and pitch of their stories: are they deep and detailed, or light and breezy? Do they reference a range of other sources or simply provide “top tips” and practical ideas? What are the hot topics or themes in the area you wish to write about?

Figure out what you might have to say…

Before you write anything, have a clear idea of what you might want to write about and what might be of interest to your target reader. If your topic has been covered recently, how can you build on what has been published already? Where can you add a new or slightly different perspective? Can you bring additional concrete examples or “how to” steps into the discussion?

Why should anyone read it? …

Once you have thought about what’s already been written and what new slant or perspective you might be able to offer – think about what the reader might have to gain from reading your article or listening to your ideas. While an article is a potential soapbox for providing your point of view to a wider audience, it should also provide a call to action and leave the reader better for having taken away some of your ideas. What are the 3-5 points that someone will learn as a result of reading your piece?

Write the Abstract …

Now write a “pitch paragraph” or abstract rather than the full article. This will save you a lot of time and wasted effort writing an article that struggles to find a placement, or rewriting an article which hits the right notes but is not best suited to a publication’s audience. Use 300 to 500 words to outline your core theme, highlight the main points your article will touch on, and an overview of the leave behinds you will deposit in the mind of the reader.

Show where it fits…

If you can, show how your article will fit into the landscape of the discussion topic (i.e., x writer recently referenced this, this article will go beyond that idea to discuss y & z in more detail and demonstrate how n happens …).

These are just a few ideas on how to get your content noticed by editors.  I’d love to hear your hot tips for getting ‘on’ the presses.  

fear

Go Fast, Turn Left…

The topic for this weekend’s #USBlogs post “What are you afraid of, and (more importantly), what are you doing about it?” was suggested by @donfperkins

Like many, I share a few traditional and customary fears:

  • I have a healthy interest in keeping my feet on the floor (rather than attached to the end of a fully stretched bungee cord or beneath a billowing piece of silk)
  • I am mildly arachnophobic, which I reportedly share with up to 55% of western women and 18% of western men.
  • I prefer not to walk in unlit areas late at night
  • I have to look the other way when being punctured by a hypodermic

But none of those things really interfere with my day to day or professional life.

The number one thing I am afraid of is that when all is said and done, what I have done won’t make a lasting difference.

As a parent, I worry about the impact I have on my kids, and how I can make sure that they become all that they can be. We are all doing it (parenting that is) for the first time, without a backup plan. To counteract my fear, I long ago wrote myself a guideline for the kinds of adults I hope my kids will become : caring, nurturing, intelligent, questioning, hard working etc. It made me realise the values I wanted to instill in my kids and the personality traits I would most admire in them as adults. The minor arguments and challenges over things that don’t really matter; like finishing all the food on their plate, drinking another can of pop or what clothes they wear, now get weighed against how that particular battle will contribute to the kind of adult they will become. Having a goal-plan allows me to focus on the bigger picture and not get drawn into every little scrap. From a professional standpoint, and as leaders, we all need to learn to do the same. Focus on the bigger picture and allow the noise and distractions that happen around us every day to colour our actions only to the extent they have an impact on our future.

The other thing I am afraid of is getting too comfortable and set in my ways.

The more success we achieve professionally, the more vital it is to acknowledge the enormous value of learning and stretching in areas where you are least comfortable. Paradoxically, it is also when we feel most pressure to be infallible. As a Director, VP or even a C-Level executive, you still cannot afford to stop learning and growing from those around you. That said, you do need to maintain a presence with your followers which inspires their confidence and loyal commitment. Over the last few years I have done a few things to ensure that I don’t fall prey to the silencing pressure of my own accomplishments. I have worked with external mentors to candidly explore areas where I could stretch and grow. My mentors have ranged from those I have worked with in the past to those I have actively sought out to purposefully chart unmapped areas of expertise. I have placed myself in relationships of trust to openly discuss where inexperience and hesitancy might be holding me back. The value of a third party perspective to the learning opportunities you might find yourself in enable you to extrapolate to general rules and methods to use again and again.

My Son, skating recently in Toronto

Some of the best learning opportunities come from facing fear and pushing yourself all the way to the point of failure! Only then do you know just how far you can go. That is why many of us put ourselves in extreme situations, to see just how capable we really are. I do this in my life by taking on new skills outside of my professional capacity, to stay grounded to the need to learn and grow. The skill I took on this year was speed-skating. My son took up the sport in 2009 and I decided it was time for mum to stop sitting in the stands and start taking a more active interest. Our club has members from age 6 to 78 and one of our older skaters only started speed skating at age 70 and went on to win a slew of medals! Having barely strapped on a pair of skates before, I took to the ice last September. I cannot profess to be record-breaking fast, but a few months later I am proudly traversing the ice in crouched position with smooth sideways strokes and cross-overs, accomplished only because I learned to let go and push myself to beyond the point of failure (with several bruises to show for it)! Next year I may even quell my fears long enough to enter a race or two!  I find learning new skills where I have to fail in order to succeed a great lesson in humility and a constant reminder to stay fresh in my thinking at work. How can I push past the point of comfort to unveil new methods. What’s my workplace equivalent of Go Fast, Turn Left…?

In her famous book “Feel the fear and do it anyway” Susan Jeffers shared 5 Truths about fear:

  • Truth 1. The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow
  • Truth 2. The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it.
  • Truth 3. The only way to feel better about myself is to go out and do it.
  • Truth 4. Not only am I going to experience fear whenever I’m on unfamiliar territory, but so is everyone else.
  • Truth 5. Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness.

I am proud to fear… It inspires me to keep learning. How do your fears push you?

This post is part of the #usblogs: Week 5 Round-Up Topic of the week: “What Are You Afraid Of? More Importantly, What Are You Doing about It?”

Check out these other blogs in the network series: