Monday, January 30, 2012

15 Ways to Help

Okay, that was a bit of a rant.

I know people are just trying to help, and marketing ideas are always welcome. But there are lots of ways to offer more substantive help. And I have asked -- in mass emails and hundreds of individual emails and messages as well as Facebook posts and actual letters and conversations and blog posts and other things.

So here, for the record, are 15 ways to help with the book (all but two of them cost you nothing but a little time):
  1. Buy a book. Available on Amazon or for $5 off at the book's website using the code "act5."
  2. Buy multiple copies of the book and give them out to people, as several loved ones have done.
  3. Like the Facebook page, and occasionally comment and even posts there if you want.
  4. Follow me on Twitter, and retweet things you like to your followers.
  5. Subscribe to the blog, and Like or comment on posts you enjoy.
  6. Circle me on Google+ and ... do whatever it is the few people who are active there do on Google+.
  7. Share a link to the book's website with your friends, followers, connections and others on any or all of the aforementioned sites. A number of people have done this.
  8. Email three people you know who you think might like or benefit from the book.
  9. Recommend me as a speaker/presenter to the HR Department or events manager where you work or to the organizers of a club, association or other group you belong to. A friend put my name in the hat with a group she belongs to and now I'm flying to Denver in March to be a keynote speaker.
  10. Tip me off to a favorite TV show, news segment, radio show, newspaper, industry journal or other thing you watch/read. Recommendations from friends tipped me off to a weekend show on WGN radio and Martha Stewart's radio network. Another asked me to write for his company's blog.
  11. Do you have a relationship with a reporter? Hook us up!
  12. Encourage your local library to order the book. A Facebook friend did this unsolicited.
  13. Do you know a college professor? One of my Facebook friends is using the book in his classes this semester. Another asked me to send a book to a professor friend, which I was happy to do.
  14. If you read the book and enjoyed it, write a review on Amazon.
  15. Write a testimonial.
I'm sure there's even more that I haven't thought of, but that'll do for now.

And, yes, ideas are always fine, too ...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sorry you asked?

People and their ideas.

They want to be helpful, I'm sure, but it's a little aggravating.

"You should get on radio in other markets." "You should travel around to the cities within driving distance to do TV." "You should approach all the local chambers for speaking opportunities." "You should market to university alumni associations." "You should approach bookstores to do readings." "And libraries, too." Etc.

All of these ideas are wonderful. If I had three of me, working full time (and by that I mean 24 hours a day, seven days a week with no sleeping or eating) devoted solely to marketing and doing nothing else for six straight months then I will have accomplished possibly one-tenth of all that could and needs to be done in marketing the book.

Yup, it's that simple.

This is what I think about constantly. It's what I do when I'm not doing anything else, and much of the time that I am doing something else. Not 3 minutes of my day goes by where I'm not crafting a new talking point in my head, or practicing a part of a presentation, or reading an article or website with a mind to how I would pitch my story, or thinking about a group I could approach about speaking, or dreaming up some new marketing tactic, or drafting an article in my head.

Literally. I think about in the shower, I think about it on the bus, I think about it when I'm walking around town, I think about it when I get up and before I go to bed and every moment in between. I'm thinking about it at dinner, I'm thinking about it while I'm watching your show and when I'm at the movies and when we're having a conversation about something else. I'm thinking about it at many points when my focus should clearly be on what I'm doing.

But that's it. I'm doing absolutely everything I can. I'm not sure how to do any more -- I punish myself enough already for not sitting down and grinding out letters and proposals and pitches every single spare minute of every evening and weekend hour. So you're right, I could be doing more. I could always be doing more.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Three strange days

Yesterday I conducted an Act Like You Mean Business workshop for two dozen young PR pros. I tried out a lot of new material and it went over very well. Many of them barely touched their smartphones.

I really like young people. They're enthusiastic, energetic, and they make me want to steal their youth and beauty.

Then today I moved on to my first booking of the year, a print job in which I played a pharmacist. And not just any pharmacist. Oh, I had the pressed white lab coat and the neutral wardrobe in soft grays and blues. But I also had to slide down a fire pole. Or at least appear to do so. Here's a crew member, working on the pole. (Yeah, lots of great Facebook feedback on that one.)

It was a great shoot, even though they made me shave. (They said they picked me because of the warmth in my eyes when I smile. Once again, acting!) And this summer I will be in countless thousands of drug stores across the country. Crazy.

Day three, tomorrow, will be consumed by the third pillar, of sorts, of my career: client work. Meetings all morning on some speeches. And, this just in, I'm creating concepts for public service videos that will star an actress on one of television's most popular comedies. If they like the ideas, I'll have to actually write some scripts tout suite -- they film next week!

Friday I would just like to do some laundry or something.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Cooler by the lake

Kind of a stressful weekend of work on a project from hell. On call the whole time with almost no control over my schedule. Hour-long burst of work followed by unknown minutes or hours of waiting, repeat ad infinitum.

One thing I managed to do for myself is take a quick walk to the lake. I've said it before: I would not be living in Chicago if not for the lake. And I don't ever want to live anywhere here where I can't walk to it.

It's different in every season, but through cold and snow and sweltering heat it always brings me the same thing: peace.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Revving along

Work has really picked up in the New Year. Work-work, that is, which is good but it's making it harder to market the book. It seems everyone wants their stuff now, now, now.

On the other hand, some of the marketing investment I've been making is paying off. I did a speech to about 60 people on Tuesday and it went really, really well. I've boiled it down to something that really moves and snaps and the audience was pretty into it.

I didn't end up selling a ton of books, but one audience member is talking to me about speaking to her company and possibly teaming up on some future media training workshops. Awesome. Just as it's supposed to happen.

And I've had a flurry of auditions -- five in the last six days -- and booked my first acting work for the new year: a print job shooting next week.

Happy, though frenetic, new year so far ...

Monday, January 16, 2012

No thanks

I canceled an audition today.

It was kind of crazy. A commercial shoot for a major theme park that pays a very modest session rate per day and an extraordinarily low buyout. How low? Lower than I've been paid for a 13-week local spot. And this was national. And waaaay beyond 13 weeks. Forever, in fact.

I understand all the parks work this way. Apparently they can find any number of people -- actors and non-actors -- willing to be whisked off for essentially a free "vacation." The shoot could go on for days or even more than a week, so the session rates would start to add up, for sure. And if they book your whole family, then you're really talking about some money.

Still, I think they should just stick to real people. I just couldn't, on principle, give it away like that. And I'd be a "fill-in" anyway, shoved into some family unit whose father/husband wasn't interested in participating.

I've done that before, trying to bond with a wife and her kids and make it realistic. Let's just say a lot depends on the wife and kids. (The dog loved me, I'll say that much.)

So I said no. Because aside from the money, I'm not sure I could take 10 days or two weeks away. Not to mention I'm really not a fan of rollercoasters and rides that turn you upside down three in different directions at once.

As I type this, of course, I'm starting to wonder if I'm crazy. Ten days all expenses paid in some warm state in the middle of winter? Am I nuts?

No, I'm principled. At least, that's what I'll be telling myself when I see my friends post pictures of themselves riding the flume in bathing suits while I'm dodging slush puddles.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Social Network(s)

I've never been a huge networker IRL. I have a network, I work on working it, but my circles (again, IRL) are pretty tight.

I will never have 10,000 Facebook friends or LinkedIn contacts. Hell, I'm only now getting up to around 400 Facebook friends and that's mainly because they are all pretty much friends. People I know and have met in real life. But I'm starting to step things up a bit. Here are the main places I go and what I do with them:
  • Facebook. I know it's trite, but I love Facebook. Outside of the official Act Like You Mean Business page, I'm there mostly for social purposes. If I do any business on it, it's acting stuff, as probably a third-to-half my FB friends are actors. I try to limit friends so I can feel free to say what I want without too much editing or messing with lists. And yet, Facebook has been very good for the book. And not just the official page. I've gotten lots of leads, feedback, opportunities and sales just among my friends. But mostly I just like spouting off, spleen-venting and over-sharing. And the Timeline is a narcissist's dream!
  • LinkedIn. I read all the how-to articles and do everything I can to "optimize" my LinkedIn profile for searches and such, but I still use it mainly as a place to have a profile and as a rolodex for business contacts. I have tried and tried various LinkedIn groups to interact and network with PR industry people, but most of the groups are huge and unwieldy and full of spam and off-topic posts.
  • Google+. I've done very little with Google+. I feel like it has a lot of potential, but right now the only people I see who are really active on it are social media types and Internet marketers, so you get a really skewed sense of the place. It seems every third post is people touting the power of G+ as if they have a personal stake in its success. Which they may. Right now I've got a profile up, circle people occasionally and post maybe once or twice a week. Everyone there is predicting it's going to hit Facebook like a tsunami, but I'm doubtful at this point.
  • Twitter. Oddly, after all this time, I'm starting to get into that most ancient of social networks, Twitter. I never much liked Twitter because it's so ... non-visual. I like threaded conversations (like Facebook and G+) and I like pictures and links you can see without clicking. (Though various platforms have made it a better, more visual experience and Twitter itself is improving its own platform.) Up to now I've used it mainly as a news feed, to see what's going on in the PR industry or to track commentary on a specific issue or event that comes up. I thought with Google+ I could wait it out but it doesn't look like Twitters' going away any time soon. And most PR people are on it. So I'm getting on board in a more serious way. I'm never going to be one of those people who retweets 20 articles a day, which are retweeted by 20,000 other people, but I hope to use it mainly for quipping purposes (short little quirky comments, some related to the book and some not), keeping up with the news and reaching more industry people.
I know that's just scratching the surface. There's Flicker and Instagram and Pinterest and Reddit and a bunch of other things, but I don't know how people who are on all those places get anything done at all.

Feel free, btw, to Friend, Connect, Follow or Circle.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Looking back one more time

You know, as I think about it a little more holistically, it was a pretty damned good year.

I published a book! I spent the first half of the year finishing the editing and working with the publisher on the design and it got published in September. That's very cool. Having a book is neat. Something that captures my philosophy and approach all in once place. And the fact that a lot of people seem to like it is icing on the cake. Not tens of thousands, mind you, but people nonetheless.

I did my first speech on the book. Not to mention my second, third and fourth. And booked others for the new year. That is completely awesome. If I can make a third career (or, at least, revenue stream) out of that, combining the stuff I know best (corporate communications) with the thing I love best (writing and performing), what could be better than that?

I did my first TV and radio interviews based on the book. With more to come. I've done interviews before, but they were usually about the death penalty or consumer fraud or other related topics from the Attorney General days. I do enjoy the spotlight, so this is also good.

I had a pretty great year acting. And not just the money, which is nice. I did some quality projects, like Scottrade and Monosol and HCR Manorcare for some good brands. And I do like seeing myself on the TV.

And business, in the first half of the year, at least, when I wasn't full-time marketing the book went well. Some nice big projects.

Probably the most satisfying thing is that all of this stuff has pretty much come from me. Yes, my agents book my work and get me into auditions, but I started the acting thing 10 years ago (next month) out of absolutely nothing but a desire to do it, spending hundreds, thousands of hours taking classes, auditioning, performing, learning, striving, packaging and positioning.

And the publisher certainly lent lots of insight, expertise and resources, but nobody asked me to write a book. Nobody assigned me the topic. And nobody from the media is beating down my door asking me to write articles and do interviews and give speeches. Most of that is coming from me.

That's all very satisfying, certainly. And yet ... it's just that. I feel satisfied. A little proud. Not doing cartwheels or anything. Because there is still so much more to be done. I'm just on the second or third rung of a very big ladder.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Resolutions are for dummies

I don't make resolutions.

If there's something I want to change I change it when it needs changing, irrespective of the calendar. For a lot of people, New Year's resolutions are less a chance for a fresh start than an excuse to put off self improvement. Feeling overweight in October? Might as well wait for January to start doing something about it.

And most resolutions are proscriptive. Stop overeating, stop nail biting, stop watching so much TV, stop skipping the gym.

I usual set goals, but they're positive and usually business-related. Book a national commercial, find a new agent, get three new clients, etc.

Most of my goals this year are book-related. I want to book more speeches (just scheduled my fourth for the new year) and more media. I want the opportunities to get bigger and bigger (from local to national) and I want them to add significantly to my income stream.

I've had pretty good luck so far doing this mostly on my own but I think I'm going to need help to take it to the next level. I'd like to get representation with a respectable speaker's bureau. I've had conversations with one that sought me out, but nothing has really come of it and so it's time for me to get strategic about it.

The ideal would be traveling around giving a half-dozen or so speeches/workshops a month, and booking local TV and radio wherever I go.

That's where I'd like to be by year's end -- either there or within striking distance of it.

I think this is going to be a pretty big year ... for a lot of things.