Ready for a Fresh Start?

Are you ready for a fresh start? Well, the truth is – so am I. This year, 2016, marks DreamSpinner Communications 13th year in business. Over the course of more than a decade, I’ve reinvented the company’s focus several times, and we’re about to do it again.Feb 2015 043

Fresh Start Success: How to Reinvent Your Work, Reimagine Your Life and Reignite your Passion is our new book for 2016. Forty-two stories about incredible people – just like you – from all different industries who recreated themselves and their careers from a brand new, successful, Fresh Start.

GM-FSS-Amazon-2Here are the amazing entrepreneurs profiled in Fresh Start Success: Lauren Randolph, Oksana Gritsenko, Debbi Dachinger, Lisa Manyon, Lisa Jendza, Tamara Green, Sheri Fink, Stephen Hobbs, Barbara Edie, Wendy Woodworth, Dr. Cha-Zay, Danielle Ratliff, Christine Bove, Grace Kelly, Sheevaun Moran, Dawn Fleming, Gail Watson, Teresa DeGrosbois, Sharon McRill, Lisa Woodie, Christine Hassler, Marla Goldberg, Amber Alle, Poonam Gupta, Karen Kessler, Sherri Richards, Lisa Minnini, Patryk Weznowski, Debbie Peterson, Melissa Darnay, Dr. Susan Sklar, Katana Abbott, Pierette Simpson, Wendy Ida, Mike Jaffe, Jo Dibblee, LeeAnn Shattuck, my amazing co-blogger Faith Monson, as well as my story and that of my husband and business partner, Larry Martin.

Maybe you recognize some of those names, and maybe you don’t—yet! Over the course of this year, you’ll get to know these fantastic, visionary people through this newsletter, this blog, and of course, through the Fresh Start Success book, which will be published later this year.

When I interviewed the Fresh Start Success folks, I asked everyone the same nineteen questions. What amazed me was how different each person’s path was, yet how many things they had in common although they are from different countries, belong to various age groups, and work in a wide range of professions.

101They told me what they trained to do, what career path they set out to follow, and what they loved—as well as what made them crazy. They remembered what the last straw was that made them decide to make a big change, how they got the courage to take a risk, and what they did to prepare for their Fresh Start Success. They were candid about what went well, where they ran into setbacks—and how they overcame both obstacles and nay-sayers.

You’ll be surprised in the variety of answers to ‘how long did it take to become successful’, and you’ll probably see yourself in some of the ways these folks decided what was most important to them as they reinvented themselves and their careers. You’ll find out what they learned the hard way, what attributes they consider key to a successful reinvention, and how reimagining their work and life made them a different person. You’ll even find out what kind of superpower they’d like to have!

Here are a couple of things that really made an impression on me.

• Although all of my interviewees consider their reinvention successful and most are making as much or more as they did before their shift, the decision to change wasn’t about the money.
• Despite the setbacks and the hard work necessary to start over (sometimes in a completely different area of expertise or even a different country), there were no regrets. Every single person talked about how essential personal branding and marketing was to achieve their Fresh Start Success. I’ll have more to share with you as we get closer to the launch date.

In the meantime, why not get thinking about how you can make 2016 your year for a Fresh Start Success? Ask yourself these questions to get started:

1. What do I love about what I’m doing now? What makes me crazy?
2. What do I feel I was born to do? How close am I do making that happen?
3. If I could do anything else for a living, what would I do? If it’s not what you’re doing now, why not? What would it take to make the jump?
4. What is your personal brand? How you are marketing yourself to make the leap to your next success?

If you feel stuck on any of those questions, Larry and I would be glad to coach you through the process. Watch for some all-new Fresh Start Success programs and packages coming to help YOU reinvent your work, reimagine your life and reignite your passion!

Choose to LIve Meme

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Creating PR Opportunites with Blogs, Radio and TV

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

Blogs are another often-overlooked opportunity for news. Bloggers, like newsletter editors, are often business people who are sharing insights on topics related to their area of expertise. They blog to discuss ideas, not for the purpose of reporting news or promoting other people’s products—but if you approach them right, they may find your information to be in line with their purpose, and feature you, your comments or your services. Blogs also feature Web audio and video and digital photos, but the material must be compelling for its content and not heavily promotional.

What’s the trick to approaching online newsletter editors and bloggers? Respect. These gatekeepers don’t see themselves as traditional reporters, and they usually don’t have a formal journalism background. They are driven by a need to share helpful information, and they’re often very protective of their readers. The key to winning over newsletter editors and bloggers is to create a relationship first, and then ask if there’s a need to supply content. You can begin that relationship by sending an email about a post or issue that you particularly liked, or by becoming a regular, positive commenter to posts and issues online. Make sure your real name, company and email address are included in all of your comments. Write comments that support and amplify what the editor or blogger has written, and make your input thoughtful and meaningful. If you have the opportunity to meet the editor or blogger at an event, make it a point to introduce yourself.

Ease your way into offering highly targeted, infrequent and on-the-mark news or guest posts. If you get a “yes,” don’t abuse the privilege—it’s not an invitation to spam them with everything you’ve got. Carefully nurtured, these vehicles can be a very powerful and credible way to spread your news online.

Broadcast and satellite radio aren’t your only options to be a featured guest. Internet radio sites have sprung up all over the Web and some established shows reach tens of thousands (or millions) of dedicated listeners. Sites like BlogTalkRadio feature talk radio shows that are delivered via the Internet. Since these shows have none of the overhead of broadcast radio, they can focus on highly specific topics, niche audiences and targeted interests that deliver a valuable focused audience. Don’t worry too much about the size of their listenership—if the show delivers your ideal target audience, even a few hundred dedicated listeners might produce a nice spike in sales in exchange for a few minutes of your time. Consider subscribing to RadioGuestList.com’s regular emails highlighting which Internet radio shows are looking for guests.

Podcasts are very similar to Internet radio. Listeners can visit the podcast site to hear the show online, download to an MP3 player, or subscribe so that they never miss a future show. Most podcasts are also distributed (often for free) via iTunes, making them available to a broad audience. The majority of Internet radio shows also offer a podcast for listeners who did not catch the show live.

Podcasts and Internet radio shows often have a page that describes how to contact the host and pitch yourself as a guest. Make sure to read and follow these guidelines if you want to be considered. Think carefully about your suggested topic, to make sure it fits the audience and has the ability to inform and entertain. Position yourself as an expert, and include a (very short) bio to support your credibility. For a great ebook on how to pitch yourself to radio hosts, I recommend Wayne Kelly’s OnAirPublicity.com.

Online publicity opportunities abound, but they require the same respect and professional approach you would accord to traditional media. Because the Internet never sleeps, online media creators have an insatiable need for news, information, interviews, product/book news and multi-media, but it must meet the needs of their very targeted audiences. Take the time to approach these outlets right and your news could rocket to the top of the search engine results.

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Set Your Sights on Multi-media Publicity

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

In today’s online PR and marketing world, your opportunities for promotion go far beyond newspapers, magazines, TV and radio. Some people believe that online media is somehow inferior to “traditional” media. Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, online media is gradually supplanting many traditional forms of media, such as printed newspapers, due to cost constraints and changes in consumer taste and consumption patterns. Ignore online media at your peril—it’s definitely the wave of the future.

Most newspapers and magazines now have some form of online presence. Some permit the general public to read all or most of their contents, while others offer expanded and premium content for subscribers only. Realize that free content reaches a much broader audience than the publication’s subscription base. That’s really good for you, and for your press release, because you gain two important advantages: a larger readership and an online mention that boosts your search engine presence.

As publications move online (or new online-only publications are created), they are no longer limited by the costs of traditional printing. Adding one or one hundred new pages online has a negligible cost. The 24/7 nature of the Internet news cycle also puts editors under pressure to constantly update their sites or lose “eyeballs” to sites with fresher news. That means that newspapers and magazines must add additional online content beyond what fit in the physical publication in order to compete.

Editors need more news content, more articles, more lifestyle features, more events, and more content—helpfully supplied in large part by press releases and article pitches from companies like yours. The additional benefit of online content is the ability to include a video or audio snippet, or to share color photos of an event or product. Consumers like multi-media, and so do editors. If you can supply video, audio and digital photos, make sure to mention this at the bottom of the release (either embed links or add a line that says “photos, video and audio available upon request”).

Online newsletters are also fertile ground for press releases and article suggestions. All kinds of business newsletters are posted online, uploaded to Facebook, and linked to Twitter in addition to being sent out to permission-based lists of thousands of readers. The editors of these newsletters are constantly looking for news, interviews, products or books to review, opinion pieces and industry information, as well as quips and quotes.

Where do you find these newsletters? Everywhere. Your clients, vendors and suppliers create some of these newsletters, and they also can recommend good produced by other businesses. Trade and professional associations have online newsletters, as do Chambers of Commerce, membership organizations and industry thought-leaders. Few of these newsletter producers can create as much content as they need by themselves. Today’s online newsletters can also feature Web audio and video as well as digital photos. Newsletter editors are open to good sources, but wary of being deluged by press releases that don’t hit the mark.

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Creating the Magic Media List for Your Topic

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

As you’re invited to be interviewed or be a guest blogger, create a spreadsheet of reporters and key contacts. This will come in handy as you ramp up your public relations efforts. I would suggest building your media list in a spreadsheet like Microsoft Excel to make it easy to view and update. Here are the key elements your media list should include:

  • Reporter/blogger/host name
  • Contact email (best if it is directly to the reporter/host and not a general “info” email)
  • Phone number for follow up calls
  • Web site
  • Notes to help you target the right news to the right person.

It is absolutely essential that you have a name for the reporter/blogger/host you want to reach. Nothing turns off a reporter more than to get an email addressed to “Dear Sir or Madam” or “Dear Editor”. (By the way, unless it is the only contact person named and it’s a very small publication, don’t send your news to the publication’s editor. Find the individual reporter/blogger who handles that topic.) Remember that successful PR isn’t about blasting out releases to the largest list possible; instead, it’s about cultivating win-win relationships with gatekeepers and consumers who share your information because it is valuable to their audiences.

Without a contact email, you won’t be able to send your press release. I’m not a big fan of email forms on Web sites. I much prefer a real email address. However, if your only choice is a contact form and the site is a good match for your topic, send a preliminary email explaining your need and ask to whom you should send your information. Assuming someone is minding the store, you should get a response directing you to some other email used for press releases.

Phone numbers should be used sparingly. I’ve had many professional reporters and radio/TV hosts tell me that it takes a minimum of seven contacts to get a reporter’s attention. The majority of these contacts should come via email to be less intrusive. However, if you have sent your release and followed up several times via email, and it is an important newsworthy item (not just important to you, but to the target audience), then it’s OK to make a brief follow-up call. Give your name and company name, and no more than a one-sentence recap of the release, mentioning that you had emailed it and wanted to make sure it was received. Offer to re-send it if they did not receive it, and leave your name, phone number and email address. Don’t beg or threaten or go into sales mode. If your news appeals to them, they’re likely to call. If not, just assume that it wasn’t a good fit this time, and try again on the next release.

Visit the Web site to make sure that your topic hasn’t been recently featured, and to get a feel for the style and tone. Review what the site covers and the slant it takes to confirm that it is a good fit for your audience and this particular release. You don’t have to send every release to everyone on your media list. Build a reputation for being a good news source by only sending releases to the people most interested in the topic, and avoid cluttering up the inbox of reporters who won’t be interested (they’ll remember, and not in a good way).

In the “notes” section, jot information to help the next round of releases be more successful. For example, find out how often the site/blog updates with new material. If you missed the deadline this time, make a note of it for next time. If you have a conversation with a reporter/blogger via email or phone, write down what you learned about upcoming topics being researched and things they don’t cover at all. This will help you send the right material next time, which builds trust and credibility.

If the site has information that documents their target reader or listener, review it, but don’t believe everything you read. Unless the information is formally audited, there’s no way to know for sure. However, the way the site describes its audience should make sense given what you see on the site itself. Don’t base your choices on age and income alone. Be on the lookout for sites that really focus on your niche.

For really big news, send the release to a national audience. Compiling the list yourself is a large and time-consuming task. Media people change jobs frequently, so your list may be outdated by the next time you need it. I suggest paying the money to send out a national release via sites like PR Newswire. These sites are in business to send out releases successfully, and they have the manpower to keep their lists updated.

Remember that online PR must meet the needs of the consumer as well as the reporter. Make the news valuable enough to both move the reader to action and encourage the reader to share the information with his or her network of friends and followers. Focus on user benefit (without going into sales language) rather than listing features. If you have a special discount, promotion or bonus, make sure to mention it. Provide a link to the product page (which should have a “buy now” link) and not just to your home page. Make it easy for a consumer to consume your product!

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Make the Most of Social Bookmarking and Boilerplates

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

When you use Social Bookmarking to draw attention to an article, blog post or news release, or when you create the “boilerplate” company information at the end of a press release, remember that you can use a link to pages beyond your home page. Search engines actually reward you for doing this, as it drives traffic deeper into the site, encouraging readers to stay and decreasing your “bounce rate.” Customers like links to specific pages that feature the item mentioned in the article or release because it saves them the time of hunting around on your site to find it.

The same principle works for your web address on social media sites. Defaulting to your home page may not always be the best link if there would be another page more focused to the interests of that particular target audience. For example, if you’re an author and you use social media sites targeted to readers, publishers and other writers, consider using a web address for a page on your site that talks about your books. A speaker might want to encourage readers to visit the event booking page.

Your email or blog post signature block can also change depending on the audience. When you comment in blogs, groups and forums, consider using a link to the page on your site best suited to the topic. Readers have very little patience for rummaging around a web site looking for relevant copy. Keep them engaged by taking them right to the good stuff.

 

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Your Home Page Portal

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

With social media, your home page actually becomes a portal, a gateway web site that lets viewers start at a central location and then easily find a wide variety of information. From your home page, in addition to the standard web information such as an About Us page, a page of products/services, and perhaps an online purchase page, you can feed your main blog, Tweets and even a podcast into your site to keep it relevant and fresh.

One of the main reasons many business owners have outdated web content is because of the cost to have their designer update the pages. Shifting your main web site to a WordPress blog platform makes it easy for you to post updates about your speaking engagements, open houses, book signings or educational programs and you will be able to make changes quickly and inexpensively.

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Back to Web Site Basics

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

Take a hard look at your existing site. Is it outdated? Is your photo and bio current? Does it showcase your most recent accomplishments and accolades? Do you have badges for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to help your web visitors meet you on social media?

A great way to get twice the impact out of your writing time is to have your blog and your Twitter page feed content to your homepage. That way, every time you post a new blog or Tweet, your home page gets updated content. Your home page always looks fresh, and search engines like sites that are frequently updated. It’s a winning solution!

You can also embed YouTube videos or posts from Instagram, Tumblr or Flickr photos into your web site. This is another great way to get more productivity out of your social media time by making each element work for you in multiple places. The YouTube videos you create with your cell phone won’t look studio quality, but that’s OK. If your content is good and the short videos are lively and packed with personality, viewers will have the feeling that they’ve met you, which is a great way to take the online relationship one step forward.

Audio is another way to personalize your site and let visitors get to know you. AudioAcrobat.com is one of my favorite tools because it’s easy to use and versatile. You can record a personal web audio so that you greet every visitor to the site, and then easily add the audio to your home page. Consider having a different personal audio greeting for every page. (Remember—you can add a link to the audio on your Facebook page and in your Twitter bio as well!)

If you’ve always wanted to be on the radio, consider doing a podcast. A podcast is a lot like a radio show, except that it is recorded, not live, and is broadcast via the Internet. Podcasts can be anywhere from five minutes to two hours in length (I’d suggest fifteen minutes or less). You can record a daily tip or insight, or invite guests like a radio interview. Podcasts can also be fed to your web site (and to your other social media sites as well), creating yet another interesting element, and an additional way for prospects to get to know you. It doesn’t require a lot of equipment or technical knowledge to podcast, but it can be a great cross promotional tool as well as a way to connect with a broader audience and share your expertise.

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Social Media And Your Web Site

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

What does the world see when it comes to your web site? After all, most social media sites allow you to list one or more home pages or blogs. It’s not uncommon for someone who meets you on Facebook or Twitter to hop over to your web site to learn more. You probably do the same thing when you’re thinking of asking a contact you met on social media to provide a product or service.

Many web sites sprawl like an untended garden. Few people have a clear idea of what they want from their web presence before they put up a site (at least, their first site). Some site owners just add pages for new material, but pay little attention to update or remove old information. Other sites are essentially abandoned, having been posted and then ignored.

Your web site is your virtual storefront and business card. Rightly or wrongly, people will judge you by the quality and content of your site. This is especially true if the information they see on social media about you doesn’t seem to match the web site when they visit. When a social media friend makes the effort to check out your web site, you’re one step closer to closing a sale. Don’t let them slip away at the front door.

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Don’t overlook online PR

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

Don’t leave it up to the event organizers to publicize your upcoming appearances. When you book an engagement, write a press release and upload it to the many free online press release distribution sites. Every release increases the number of places your name shows up in search engine results, and those links can help drive traffic to your site. Then Tweet the links to your releases, post them to the Social Bookmarking sites, and add them to your other web sites and social media pages.

You may also want to create a blog just for your news releases, and a separate blog for your upcoming appearances and have both feed into your web site and other social media pages. It makes it easy and inexpensive for you to add to your releases and events without requiring a designer’s help, it keeps your schedule and news prominent and fresh on your sites, and it makes your effort and links to triple duty.

When you’re working the local media in the city where you’ll be speaking, don’t overlook locally-based Internet radio shows, event posting sites tied to the newspaper or ZIP code that allow you to upload the event announcement, and the load-your-own-news option now available on my online newspapers and TV/radio sites. You could cut your own inexpensive Video News Release (VNR) with a friend playing the anchor and a digital video recorder and make it look like a TV interview, then upload it. (Note: The intent is to create an informative item in a news-like format, not to mislead the viewer to believe that they are watching a clip from an actual news show. Always attribute your company as the producer in the clip credits.)

Use your social media to find new ideas for events and bookings. Set Google Alerts not only for your own name, book titles and company name, but use it to see what your competitors are doing. Add the names of the top five speakers in your topic/industry and see where they’re speaking. That may give you new ideas for the local or regional chapters of the same organizations, or for a presentation that is similar but not repetitive to pitch to that group next year. If you subscribe to sites like eSpeaker.com or other online speakers bureaus, be sure to use the forums and member profiles to make your own connection to other speakers. Introduce yourself and forge alliances where you both share research, contacts and tips about events. You can also use Facebook and LinkedIn to do the same with the speakers you meet at the conferences and events you attend. Remember? Social media offers a great chance to wow event planners before they ever pick up the phone.

Now through December 31, 2015 the Kindle edition of 30 Days to Social Media Success is specially priced at just $5.99!

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Promote your upcoming events

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

Event planners also love speakers who help them put the word out about their events. When you contact groups to speak, be sure to mention if you’ve accumulated a large number of Facebook fans or Twitter followers, and if your opt-in newsletter list is in the thousands, that’s also a terrific plus. Talk up the event and encourage your followers to attend for the chance to meet you in real life.

If you will be traveling, contact Meetup groups in the area and invite them to join you at your next event if the program is open to the public. If you can’t invite them to the main event, see if they would like to do a coffee get-together or fireside chat with you during time in your travel schedule that would otherwise be wasted. You can also connect with the local chapters of national organizations of which you are a member or which pertain to your topic (groups such as eWomenNetwork, National Speakers Association, NAWBO, etc.) and issue the same invitations.

Don’t forget to connect via the online groups on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for all of the same groups to invite them to attend and share tips related to your speech content. Talk about your upcoming programs on your own Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages, not from a hard sell, but in terms of the valuable content you’re looking forward to sharing. You may find that some of your existing contacts will be in the area to attend, or have friends they can send your way.

Promote by Tweeting live from the event. Don’t just Tweet about your part—let everyone know how much fun you’re having, how valuable the speakers are, and what a great event it is. Tweet about the people you meet and the workshops you’re attending. Take photos from your cell phone and upload them right away.

Promote after the event (great for being asked back again) by blogging, Tweeting and uploading after you get home. (Make sure you’ve copied the organizer who invited you so he/she can see how much free publicity you’ve provided.) Write an article for your newsletter and then share it on your blog and in sound bites on your Twitter feed. Carry your digital video camera to the event and create a videoblog scrapbook, then post it on YouTube. Tweet the link, add it to your other social media sites and be sure to use Social Bookmarking to share it. When you send follow-up emails to the other attendees and speakers you met at the conference, include the links to your video and other promotion so they can also bask in the afterglow. Link to the organizers, speakers and attendees you’ve met on Facebook, Twitter and other sites, and choose the very best connections to add on LinkedIn.

Send a note to the speakers you met at the event extending that contact and offer to have them as a guest on your blog or podcast. Now you have another reason to talk. This can be a great way to share referrals to other possible speaking engagements or opportunities for collaboration for both of you. Of course, if you’re hosting a guest on your site, that’s yet another reason for social media promotion!

If you’ve got names for key contacts in the city to which you’re traveling, whether those are reporters, radio hosts or business contacts, look for them on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and LinkedIn and make a connection. Let them know you’ll be in the area and would like to talk or meet for coffee. You can also marshal your LinkedIn contacts near your event city and ask them for referrals to local media or connections to the kinds of people you’d like to meet. Make your travel dollars stretch further by piggybacking extra mini-events or meetings onto your events.

Now through December 31, 2015 the Kindle edition of 30 Days to Social Media Success is specially priced at just $5.99!

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