Thursday, May 31, 2007

Increasing Your Media Quotient (MQ) - Part Two

By Thomas Murrell MBA, CSP - International Business Speaker

What happens when your MQ, or what I call Media Intelligence drops?

Does this fall over time or because of your actions or behaviours.

I believe poor decisions can lead to actions and behavious that decrease your MQ.

This in turn impacts on your reputation.

Think low MQ people and the names Paul Wolfowitz from the World Bank, Ben Cousins from the West Coast Eagles and Paris Hilton come to mind because of their recent actions that have eroded goodwill with their stakeholders or fans.

Understanding how the media works is vital in gaining successful coverage for your organization and raising your MQ.

What does the media want and how can you increase you chances in obtaining coverage?

Here is part two of the three part series on increasing your MQ.

Interviewer: Do sending pictures with media releases help get publicity?

Thomas Murrell: Yes, you can add them and they are useful for web releases and print but a waste of time for TV and radio. Don't show your ignorance of how electronic media works by making this blunder.

My rule of thumb is to add a line at the end of the media release for print and web that says "pictures can be provided on request".

There are exceptions of course. Take for example the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) which has both a radio and TV network and now an extensive oline news portal where they publish pictures because a visual image both in print and online can add to the impact of a story.

Of course you can also send a Video News Release (VNR) to a TV station.

While expensive compared to the cost of a traditional news release, they allow you to provide information the TV station may not have the resources to collect themselves.

An example would be a remote minesite or even computer generated graphics for a new stadium, transport development or oil and gas project.

Any element that is graphically appealing that could add value to the story.

Slick packages made to look like news with a reporter are commonly used unedited by small regional television stations that have limited budgets for news production or are understaffed.

While some stations have a policy of not using VNRs, it is good public relations practice to provide professionally shot video clips designed to be used as stock footage.

Some critics of VNRs have called the practice deceptive or a propaganda technique, particularly in cases in which the segment is not explicitly identified to the viewers as a VNR.

So it is a grey area and one to be careful of. At the end of the day you need to weigh up the costs of doing it versus the potential return on investment.

If you only have a small budget, I would avoid a VNR and just use a standard media release.

Interviewer: What other aspects are important in putting together a media release to help get it to publication/to air?

Thomas Murrell: Accuracy, timing and the quality of your distribution list. And of course you will have more success if you have a personal relationship with the journalists or editors concerned.

Sometimes having a coffee or lunch with select media can be just as successful in getting media coverage than just blasting away to a list that you have no relationship with.

Media get bombarded with hundreds of releases a day. If you can target specific sections - health, business, education with specific angles you will have more success.

Interviewer: I have heard lunch works well!

Thomas Murrell: Lunch is good - but often media are time poor. You must pay and never have any expectation that anything will come of the luncheon.

Interviewer: Can you give us any tips for leveraging your ideas?

Thomas Murrell: If one person has questions about your area of expertise, then there will be many others with the same questions.

Interviewer: Can you expand a bit more?

Thomas Murrell: Turn all these questions into titles for articles and media releases you are going to write.

For, example - with your permission, I'm going to take all the questions you've asked in this global online forum and my answers and I will turn them into at least three articles.

These articles will be pitched to health professional trade magazines, websites wanting articles and of course my own eZine, Media Motivators read by 8,000 professionals in 35 different countries.

I could then take seven of these articles and then turn them into a white paper or free eBook.

This could be given away as a downloadable PDF on a website or other online forum.

You see providing tailored content that provides answers to the questions most commonly asked by your prospects is the new currency to promote yourself as a recognised authority.

I call this the gravity effect of a strong personal brand and positioning yourself as the 'go to' person.

By attracting prospects to your business by this powerful and invisible force, you not only have more qualified leads which will increase your conversion rate to sales, but you will also have less wastage.

Traditional marketing reaches out to people through the push approach, but the gravity approach uses information to pull people to your business.

Besides being interviewed on an online forum, here are five other ways I leverage my expertise:

1. Writing articles for eZines, websites and trade magazines.
2. Turning these articles into an eBook, white paper or traditional book.
3. Interviewing other experts for an article, book or podcast.
4. Reading other books and doing a book review with key points. You learn and then leverage with others.
5. Record presentations and turn them into a product or break them up and broadcast them as a podcast or video on YouTube.

So you see I've spent an hour in this forum and yet have written three articles at the same time! So thank you for asking me to take part.

Part three of this three part article will be in the next edition of Media Motivators.

Want more skills in dealing with the media? Come to our seminar:

Tuesday, June 12th 2007, The WA Club, Perth Western Australia
Winning The Media Game Book now.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Increasing Your Media Quotient (MQ) - Part One

By Thomas Murrell MBA, CSP - International Business Speaker

You've all heard about personal intelligence or IQ and Emotional Intelligence, EQ. But what about MQ, what I call Media Intelligence?

Managers, leaders and entrepreneurs with a high MQ tend to be on the whole more successful than the general population.

They understand that the media can be a powerful vehicle for increasing awareness of themselves and their organisations.

Think high MQ people and the names Sir Richard Branson, Donald Trump and Dame Anita Roddick come to mind.

But how can you increase your MQ or Media Quotient and how can you have control over your message?

I was recently a guest on an international forum with the theme of MQ and was asked the hard questions about the soft skills required to increase your personal or professional MQ.

This article, part one of three, provides answers to the most common questions people around the world have about increasing their MQ or Media Quotient.

Interviewer: How, as individuals or companies involved in a professional services type of business ... such as communications skills training, can we get media exposure?

Thomas Murrell: The most important aspect is to position yourself as "the go to person" in your area of expertise.

I call this "expert" power - this is where you are the expert in your field. Other forms of power are personal and referential, which comes from your Title and position.

Once you have established yourself as an expert, you then need to engage with the media. The best way to do this is through a stylised piece of writing called a media release. This must be newsworthy and not promotional!

Interviewer: Can you give an example of newsworthy writing?

Thomas Murrell: The most newsworthy stories are those that contain the most conflict, drama, and consequence. Proximity, relevance and prominence are also important news values as is human interest.

So these are the criteria that journalists and editors base their decision making on. If your media release is not newsworthy, the media will not be interested.

But your style of writing and format is also important. A good media release should have a strong headline of no more than five words that summarises the story. The first or lead paragraph is also critical and should capture the media's immediate attention and summarise what the story is about.

Interviewer: I have read that in the United States media companies trawl the web for stories, so that putting media releases on your website can get attention. Is there any evidence that this happens here & elsewhere?

Thomas Murrell: Yes, this is good for search engine optimisation. Go to overture.com, use their research tool to find out what keywords people are searching for, then pepper these words in your headline and lead paragraph - writing an online media release is different from writing a normal news release for traditional media.

Interviewer: Have you ever got media coverage this way, or have you directly generated your own media releases?

Thomas Murrell: Yes, I got my media release in the Top 10 ranking on Google for a search on the phrase "effective public relations".

I deliberately and consciously used these phrases in both the headline and first three paragraphs because the overture tool showed me that this was a common search term. When I say "common", I use the benchmark that more than 15,000 people per month are putting this particular term into search engines to search for information or a solution to their issue or problem.

And remember, business is all about providing solutions to people's problems.

Interviewer: You said you have to write media releases differently for your website, are there other tips you can give?

Thomas Murrell: Have your personal name, and name of your business in the headline and first paragraph because when people search for these, if they see your media releases come up they will read them and this will re-enforce your position as the expert.

It can generate a lot of traffic back to your website.

Part two of this three part article will be in the next edition of Media Motivators.

Want more skills in dealing with the media? Come to our seminar:

Tuesday, June 12th 2007, The WA Club, Perth Western Australia
Winning The Media Game Book now.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

How To Give A Great Speech: Microphone Technique 101

By Thomas Murrell MBA, CSP - International Business Speaker

Imagine you are an elite athlete, at the peak of your fitness and paid a quarter of a million dollars a year by the top premiership-winning team.

You have played the game of your career against your hometown rival in one of the biggest matches of the year.

You're exhausted, elated and asked to come to the podium to accept the medal for best player in the match.

With a live, nationwide television audience watching, including hundreds of thousands of children to whom you are a role model and hero ... you utter the following words in your acceptance speech ..."let's have a f...ing good year".

This was midfielder Michael Braun from the West Coast Eagles who was fined 5,000 dollars for swearing in public after being awarded the Ross Glendinning Medal after the western derby in Perth recently.

This one remark uttered in the adrenalin rush of sport has done irreversible damage to the brand and reputation of both the West Coast Eagles Football Club and the Australian Football League (AFL).

This is why the AFL Commission met with the Eagles to deal with issues relating to off-field player behaviour.

The Eagles have been put on notice that if they appear before the Commission again they will be subject to the full force of the 1.6 rule of conduct unbecoming which can lead to a fine, suspension, loss of draft picks or premiership points.

So what is the point of sharing this story with you, especially if you have no idea what AFL is, who the Eagles are and who Michael Braun is?

Well, it demonstrates the importance of choosing your words carefully when giving a speech.

It reminded me of the golden rules of microphone technique.

Here are ten tips on microphone technique to maximise your message, and not ruin your reputation, when giving a speech.

1. Never Swear In Front Of A Microphone

I learnt this golden rule whilst a broadcaster at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Never ever swear in front of a microphone because you never know when it is on!

This mistake can cost you money, such as $5,000 but your personal or professional reputation is priceless.

Remember you can never take it back so it is better to be disciplined in the first place.

2. Use A Microphone If More Than 30 People

The human voice is a delicate instrument.

Treat it with respect. Do not strain it because you can do long term and irreversible damage.

Always ask for and use a microphone if there are more than 30 people in the audience.

Explain to the organisers what type of microphone you want well before you speak.

I usually have a set of AV requirements that I send to a conference organiser at least six weeks before I present. This includes my preferred type of microphone, lighting and how I want the stage set up.

3. Work Out The Best Microphone For The Situation - Impact, Peace of Mind and Hassle Free

A podium microphone is going to give you maximum impact for a Presidential style presentation where you use the podium as an anchor point.

The benefits of using a podium microphone are peace of mind and a hassle free speech because you can set and forget.

4. Work Out The Best Microphone For The Situation - Impact, Freedom and Mobility

A lapel microphone is very small and uses a clip to attach to clothing of the presenter.

If you want to move around and away from the podium it takes the place of a more static-position microphone.

The lapel microphone is plugged into a console which is attached to your belt and can amplify your voice without you having to hold onto it.

They are often wireless and linked back to the main PA system.

This is my preferred style of microphone.

As you get more experienced you learn to ignore the microphone and even use the tilt and angle of your head to vary your volume, tone and timbre into the microphone.

One trap for people. If you are using a lapel microphone, make sure you have turned it off before you go to the toilet.

I've heard of speakers relieving themselves only to find out the whole audience heard everything because their lapel microphone was still on and broadcasting to the whole auditorium!

The headset microphone is a variation but I've found headsets a little cumbersome and intrusive to work with.

5. Work Out The Best Microphone For The Situation - Impact, Impact and Impact

There is no doubt a hand held microphone gives you the greatest vocal range and control.

This is why it is so popular with entertainers and performers.

As a professional public speaker I find I like to use all my body for kinaesthetic speaking and find holding a hand-held microphone gets in the way of my body movement.

6. Be Familiar With The "On and Off" Switch

Even seasoned professionals can get caught out and it reflects badly on you as a presenter.

Spend time becoming familiar with the on and off switch. I've lost count the number of times a speaker looks unprofessional when on stage they say "how do you turn this thing on" or some variation.

7. Watch For Feedback

Feedback is really annoying for the audience.

Walk around the stage and room checking for feedback spots and adjust accordingly.

8. Use The Clenched Fist Rule

Again, I learnt this at the ABC with legendary broadcaster and speech coach Arch McKirdy.

He taught me the best way to position the microphone in relation to your mouth and lips is to make a clenched fist and this is the optimal distance the microphone should be from your mouth.

9. Speak Directly Into The Microphone

Broadcasters hate to be "off mike" because the sound quality is poor.

Always speak directly into a microphone. Use a windsock if external noise or to avoid popping with the letter "p".

10. Always Do A Sound Check

Do a sound check before you present.

Check the whole stage for feedback spots.

Treat the professional sound crew with respect, introduce yourself and explain clearly what you want to do and rehearse especially for a complex presentation.

Thank them afterwards. Once you are ready to go on turn the microphone on.

Want more skills in public speaking? Come to our special seminar as part of the Australian Innovation Festival.

Tuesday, May 8th 2007, The WA Club, Perth Western Australia
Powerful and Persuasive Speechwriting
A great way to use speeches to grow your business! Part of the Australian Innovation Festival. Book now.