Tuesday, December 29, 2009

`Sampling' Wins Confidence, Then Clients

Whenever I am asked for tips about breaking into journalism or public relations, one piece of advice that I emphasize can be applied to just about any endeavor: the importance of showing your value, not merely talking about it.

And over the course of more than a decade of self-employment, I have learned that winning new clients comes by way of winning their confidence. That assurance comes when they can see, first hand and not only from client testimonials or my charming personality, how I can help them.

How can they see it? One way or another, I provide them with tangible support, no strings attached, the very first time I meet them.

It may be advice about how to improve their biography, or it might be identifying a part of their story that they've never thought to tell but which I know the media would find absolutely compelling.

And sometimes they can literally "see it," when I shoot a video that helps them promote who they are and what they do. That's what I did a few weeks ago when I met a bright investment advisor, Ted Barnhart, at his office in Oak Brook.

During our meeting, I shot two videos, which I later edited and uploaded onto my YouTube channel for him to review.

I also told Ted how to create his own channel, Barnhart Advisory, which is where the below segment can be found after he selected it over the other clip:

If someone is going to invest their hard-earned money in your service, you want to take some proactive steps to provide them with a sample of what they can reasonably expect in return.

"Sampling" works at grocery stores, at the department store perfume counter and with Inside Edge PR--and it can work for you, too.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Fun, Feel-Good Story For Christmas

Heart-warming, feel-good stories are great to share all-year round, but especially so around Christmas.

That's why one of my favorite activities this month was telling the story of one local family that moved back into their home after nearly a year away, to accommodate workers building an addition.

One of Inside Edge PR's clients, McAdam Landscaping, helped the mom put a festive, creative touch on the moment.

You can read the story here at Triblocal.com and see a related video below.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 14, 2009

5 Things I Know About Tiger Woods

Millions of words have been written about Tiger Woods over the past 18 days. And billions more will be expended in the time to come.

Here I will share five things that I know about the man and the saga that is unfolding:

1. Tiger's life, as it relates to the press and, more specifically, the tabloids and paparazzi, is forever altered. He will be shadowed, stalked, followed and hounded for at least the next decade.

2. What's more shocking than the revelation of his infidelities is that he kept it under wraps for so long.

And what's even more shocking than that is he thought he could keep it all bottled up forever, particularly since it's looking more and more like he did not confine his extramarital activities to only one woman (to say the least).

3. Amid all the PR counsel flying about, the most important piece is this: Tiger shouldn't lie to the media. So rather than commit that offense, he has circled the wagons and communicated only through written statements.

Insufficient to satisfy the media wolves? You bet.

But at least he hasn't compounded his mounting PR problems (to say nothing of his other woes, marital and otherwise) with outright lies. Half-truths and veiled language, perhaps, but that's to be expected when you're between a rock and a hard place.

4. This story in GQ, written in 1997 by Charles P. Pierce, explains much that the world either didn't realize, or chose to overlook, about Tiger.

5. I bet Tiger wishes he could turn the clock back to, oh, July 2000. That's when Time magazine dispatched me to the Western Open to provide some background reporting in preparation for a cover story that staff writer Dan Goodgame penned later in the summer.

An excerpt from my reporting:

"Teen-age girls with two-inch thick heels. Pubescent boys seeking autographs and climbing up trees for a better view. Blue-collar, white-collar, tank-top and Izod—all bobbing heads, straining their calves as they go on tip-toes.

Some are golf aficionados, having grown up in the sport with Arnold Palmer and, a short time later, Jack Nicklaus. Puffing on cigars, they frown in disdain when Johnny-come-lately fans move en masse because their favorite has sunk his putt, either not caring or not realizing that it’s a breach of etiquette when one or two others have yet to finish the hole.

Others barely know the legendary names of Palmer and Nicklaus, and just about none of the names or backgrounds of today’s top golfers. They seem oblivious to their faux pas, interested only in getting a good vantage point for the next hole.

This is the diverse face of Tigermania."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Let's Face It: A Key Part of An Interview's `Art'

Someone recently asked me for some tips on the "Art of the Interview."

From a journalistic perspective, I have led all-day workshops on the topic and feel like I barely scratch the surface. So my ambition in this small space will be confined to one key principle that is as elementary as it is overlooked these days: the in-person Q & A.

That's right--I am talking about that old-fashioned, quaint practice of actually being with the person you are interviewing.

In an era where phone calls seem to be viewed as "going the extra mile," I realize that it may seem revolutionary to recommend you go to all the trouble of being in the same physical space as the person with whom you are talking. Especially if it means getting into some mode of transportation and traveling more than a few miles to make it happen.

But it's a really, really powerful thing--whether you are a journalist chasing down a story, a publicist working on crafting a news release or developing a communications plan, or anyone else seeking to foster a relationship. After all, success (or failure) hinges largely on our ability to develop trust in our relationships.

And that's pretty hard to accomplish when all you've got to work with are words on a screen or a voice on the other end of a phone.

I've written extensively on this topic, so if you are interested in more tips, drop me a line at Matt@InsideEdgePR.com

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Super Shopper Spotter: The Commercial

Usually, my PR work involves more time on the keyboard and less time dashing to and fro in public while wearing a cape and red boots.

With that in mind, if you were in the Downtown Oak Park area a few days ago, you might have seen some especially bizarre behavior, even by Super Shopper Spotter standards.

Thankfully, Joe Kreml, producer of the Village of Oak Park's Cable Channel 6, swiftly created this 52-second segment to help explain Triple S's antics: