Tag Archives: writing

Disaster Planning for Editors Part II

Web Editors

In last month’s post, I reviewed some of the ways editors can prepare for natural (or national) disasters. This month, let’s take a look at disasters of a very different kind.

Public relations disasters
Public relations disasters are, of course, on a far smaller scale than acts of war or mother nature. PR disasters don’t cause loss of life, but they do cause loss of business, reputation, and possibly revenue. A PR disaster might be a precipitous drop in your company’s stock price, the resignation of a CEO, or a scathing customer review that goes viral. Here are some ways you can prepare ahead of time so when disaster strikes, you’ll be able to react quickly:

  • Think through scenarios. List some scenarios that are likely to happen to your company. Some examples might be: Your company stock sinks; your CEO, owner, or president resigns; stockholders complain about…

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Writing Content that Customers Want

Image courtesy of Kheel Center for Labor Management, Cornell University

The following is an excerpt from our upcoming book, The Little Book of Social Media: 60 Ways to Create an Amazing Customer Experience. I’m excited to say that we will be launching the book next month! In the meantime, here is a sneak peek of one of our tips:

Tip #26. Give them what they want!

Certain content types tend to be more popular with users. Here are some tried-and-true options:

Solve a problem. Is there a common issue your customers face? For example, if you are a pest control company and it’s mosquito season, can you post some tips to help your customers combat mosquitoes or film a video showing customers how to pest-proof their yard?

Teach or educate. Help people learn about something they’re interested in. For example, if you’re a history-related organization, talk about a historical event that happened on this day 100 years ago. Or if you sell foreign language software, post a new vocabulary word or translation each day.

Provide a list. Everyone loves a list (articles that  are made up of lists have become so popular that they have a nickname – “listicles”). Sites like Buzzfeed deal almost exclusively in lists. For example, you might post an article called “5 Ways to Save Money on Your Car” or “The 10 Best TV Comedies.”

Interview someone. Whether your subject is one of your employees or a famous person in your industry, interviews tend to be popular because people are naturally curious about other people.

Use statistics and quotes. Readers often respond to quick, easily digestible facts like statistics about your industry (or about something fun and trivial). Inspirational quotes are also popular.

More stories to share with your fans and followers:

  • Causes or charities your organization supports, and why those causes are important to you.
  • Stories that customers have given you permission to share with others (for example, inspirational stories about overcoming personal adversity or ingenious new uses they have found for your product).
  • Experiences that have inspired your team to be creative or have taught you valuable lessons.
  • Profiles of pioneers in your industry.
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Five Things I Learned from Publishing My First eBook

It’s been a few months now since I released my first eBook, The Wished-For Country: Stories of American Courage. The book tells the story of heroes like Fannie Lou Hamer and Jacob Riis, people who did risked their lives to help others but who aren’t remembered by many Americans today. This book was a personal obsession that started with a Tumblr account a few years ago and ended up in book form because I wanted to expand on it and create something more permanent. Currently I’m working on a second eBook (about content strategy and management — due to arrive in September) and there are five things I learned from my first eBook publishing experience that will influence my second book:

  • Plan and execute a bigger launch campaign. I promoted The Wished-For Country on my various social media accounts, but I did not plan a proper campaign. Why? Probably because it was a little bit scary to put such a big chunk of my writing out there, but also because I approached my first eBook as a labor of love (which it was), rather than something I was trying to sell. But even a labor of love that comes with no expectations of income deserves a full-on campaign. In this case, I really, really want readers to discover the people I wrote about, because they deserve to be remembered by more people.
  • Give free copies away sooner. I joined the KDP Select program for my first book. As part of this special Amazon program, you can give your book away for free for a few days, which helps spread the word. Now, my book is only $3.99, so I wasn’t sure how much of a difference it would make to make it free for a few days. But when I did it (three months after I published it), more than 1,300 copies were downloaded in three days. That was far more than had been purchased in the months since it had been released. If I had done this when I first launched it (in partnership with a more strategic marketing campaign), I am sure the book would have gained a wider audience.
  • Publish on more platforms. With my first book, I targeted only one platform — Amazon. This was partially so I could try out the KDP Select program (which requires you to publish only on Amazon for the first three months), but also because Amazon is such a monster in the space that I figured it was the one platform I should focus on. Formatting was a bit of a hassle, although I followed video instructions posted on Amazon. Take it from me — don’t follow Amazon’s instructions. Instead, use a guide like Guy Kawasaki’s APE book, and format your manuscript via InDesign so you can easily export it into multiple formats. For my upcoming book, I am going to release it to Amazon, Apple’s iBookstore, and Barnes and Noble, as well as in PDF form on the book’s soon-to-be-published website.
  • Go the extra mile with editing. As a professional writer and editor, I know as well as anyone how important editing is. And while I’m a pretty great editor, I’m not so great at editing my own work. I should know this, since I’m often telling my clients that it’s hard to see mistakes in your own writing. I did review my manuscript several times, and each review was weeks or months apart from the previous review, so I was able to catch most of my errors. But I am sure that I missed some. So this time I am going to have one of my eagle-eyed friends review it and help me make it as great as it can be.
  • Be more confident. There are a lot of eBooks that have been slapped together in a couple of hours, are very poorly written, and adorned with very amateur-looking covers. In contrast, my book, like many others, was put together with care and reflects months of work. But like most of us, I’m uncomfortable blowing my own horn. It feels wrong to try to promote something I’ve created. But it’s okay to be proud of something you’ve put time and care into — and if you don’t talk about it, nobody will discover it!
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