Get Organized And Be A Better Writer

 

To begin an assignment, I write down everything about the subject. Then I arrange the information in a coherent way.

I ask questions about the information you’ve collected:

Is there a better word that I can use here? Does this sentence work better here or over there? Do I move this paragraph up or down? What’s the best way to say this? Can I draw my reader in here? Is the reader bored over there? Is this phrase or word repetitive?

Writing is a process. Many new writers don’t seem to realize that stellar writing comes about after producing revision after revision after revision. I arrange the words for impact.

I enjoy the polish the most. I love to lose myself in the words.

Examine your work as both a whole and line by line, sentence by sentence. Then check for spelling, grammar and punctuation. Is it finished? Put it away in a drawer for awhile. Then go back and review it. You’re sure to make changes.

In my mind, a piece is never completely finished. There’s a deadline to be met. So, I work to deliver the best piece that I can (to polish it until it gleams) within the allotted time frame.

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Successful Event Planning

Begins By Preparing for the Unexpected 

 

Over the years, I’ve organized and managed countless educational workshops, media events and television segments. Each time, I either visualize every detail or develop a workback schedule.

Something unexpected often happens when event planning.

A long time ago, I figured out that, when event planning, it’s important to be prepared for the unexpected. Why? You just can’t account for every contingency because you don’t know all the variables when you’re inviting an unknown human or group of humans into the mix.

Years ago, while working on a media event with the provincial government, on event day, a dignitary asked to officially open the building with scissors and a ribbon. The building  had already opened to the public so the event team hadn’t planned to officially open the building. At the last minute, we sent an eager intern out to buy ribbon and find scissors.

I also remember models dressed as wedding brides who failed to show up on time for a live television segment. They were caught in a snowstorm. The producers switched the segment to the back end of the show to allow more time for the models to arrive.

More recently, I arranged for a gift of books to be sent to an address for my literacy workshop. But when the books hadn’t arrived as scheduled, I made a flurry of phone calls and fired off emails. That day, I learned that, in that instance, Canada Post delivers to the Post Office Box and not to the building. Something to think about next time someone provides me with a mailing address.

When disaster appears to loom, my heart may beat faster in my chest.  But I’ve never seen the point of panicking. It’s a waste of energy. I take a deep breath and think things through. How can I turn this setback around?  Who do I need to speak with to get things done? What is my end-goal?

I focus on calmly, thinking my way through the details of the situation to deliver a polished and successful event, every single time.

 

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Connect With Customers With Strong Storytelling

A lot of people seem to choke when they’re asked to write or produce a story with a purpose. That’s something I’ve never been able to understand.

Humans are natural storytellers. And most people have been telling stories of one kind or another since they first learned to talk.

When storytelling to promote a brand, product or service, your goal is to tell a story that connects with the people who are your customers and future customers.

When a story has to be written, perhaps in blog form, people often choke on grammar, spelling and punctuation. They think back to their experiences with former English teachers and sweat the details.

Writing doesn’t have to be difficult. With some care and attention to detail and the help of digital tools: spell check; an online thesaurus; dictionary and a grammar site. But there are other ways to tell a story. You can also use video and a variety of social media platforms.

When you’re promoting a business, service or personal brand , tell stories about what you’ve produced; your team; how your customers responded to your efforts and how you’re constantly working to develop your product knowledge and improve your offering.

Connect with your audience on an emotional level by revealing what drives you to do the work that you do. Offer your customers a unique experience and it’s more likely that they’ll emotionally connect with your brand. Also, tell your audience about the value you bring to the world with your product, service or business.

So, when telling a story, it’s important to understand a few key points:  Know your audience. Find out where the people you want to reach, hang out and communicate with them there.

Capture your audience’s imagination and connect with them on an emotional level. In this way, their experience with your brand will become a valued and memorable part of their lives.

 

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angled star

 

Recognize The Best In Your Team Members

Celebrities are honored with awards all the time. But the real stars are the employees and team members who work hard every day to deliver their best efforts to their organization’s clients and customers.

No matter the organization, whether non-profit, business or government, it’s the people who make all the difference.

Through their customer service, their leadership, their initiative, their commitment to learning and development and their many contributions, the right team can attract and keep clients and customers happy. That’s why it’s so important to recognize the individuals and the teams that make up your organization.

A health-care client asked me to help promote the good work of team members for a provincial awards program. I reviewed the organization’s annual report; strategic plan and Executive Director’s blog.  I interviewed candidates, conducted research and wrote and polished award nomination submissions with precise word counts.

A non-profit wanted to acknowledge individuals for their past year of service. I coordinated with their communications team and assisted in planning and organizing a recognition event. The goal: To help staff understand that their contribution was valued.

Whether through success stories, personal profiles, award nomination submissions or recognition awards and events, it’s important to let the people on your team know their efforts have been noticed.

How do you honor the individuals and the teams that stand out at your place of business? Your staff members give their time, their energy, their service and their creativity so that your clients and customers will get the very best that your organization has to offer. What are you doing to let your team members know they’re appreciated?

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Photo by Heather Beaumont

Photo by Heather Beaumont

Gong Hay Fat Choy!

I was invited to pitch an idea for an 800-word piece on Lunar Chinese New Year for a newspaper’s special section.

After conducting some online research about Chinese New Year I came across information on the Lion  Dance, and I knew I’d found a topic that would be interesting for me to research and write about. The Chinese Lion Dance would definitely attract readers.

A brief pitch is all it takes. I wrote up the details that I had quickly researched on the Lion Dance and forwarded them to the editor in an email. I mentioned that I wanted to learn more about the dances, the symbolism, the costumes and the dancers’ skill.

The editor gave me a go ahead with a deadline that left me lots of time to conduct research, to interview, write, edit and polish the piece. I emailed and spoke to preliminary sources to find my subjects and then set up interviews. Then I coordinated a photo session for a photographer and provided detailed information to the photographer.

It’s tradition in Chinese culture for the lion to visit local businesses and stores to wish everyone good fortune in the new year. The lion chases the lucky lettuce then spreads the good fortune of the lucky green to the assembled audience.

Centuries ago, a male Kung Fu master performed the Lion Dance, but today women and people from different cultures perform. And they’re not necessarily all Kung Fu Masters.

I interviewed the Si Fu or Master of Northern Legs Southern Fists for my article and attended a recent performance at Holt Renfrew. As the Master banged a powerful drumbeat that symbolizes one universal heartbeat, the lions chased the lucky green. And when the lions caught the lucky lettuce and scattered it among the crowd, to spread the good fortune, the lettuce hit me right smack on the left arm. So now, I’m looking forward to lots of good fortune in 2016.

At this time of year, Lion Dances are performed in the local Chinatowns, business communities and stores and schools. If you have a chance to see a Lion Dance and receive blessings and good fortune, this Chinese Lunar New Year, don’t miss out!

 

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christmas-tree-collection-vintage_GyOjFYuO_L

There’s A Reason  For The Season

As far as sales go, December can be a big month for retail merchants and other businesses.

December is a time when many of us are reflecting on the year that’s almost done. What did we do right? What could we have done better? It’s also a time to think about the year ahead. A brand, spanking new year to shape just as we want. What will we do differently?

But December is also a great time to connect with customers and remind them how special they are to you.

Reach out to your customers this month. Wish them a wonderful holiday. Express your wishes for the best of the new year to them. Whatever you do, connect. Remind them that you’re more than a business. You’re a place of business with a team of one or more people, who care about your customers as individuals.

So, call. Mail a holiday or New Year’s card. Send e-greetings. That personal touch is an important part of doing business. And it’s just good business sense.

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By Heather Beaumont

By Heather Beaumont

All Charged Up & Ready To Go

 

According to Statistics Canada, over 80% of Canadians own a cell or Smart phone.

Mobile phones are an important part of many people’s lives. We constantly check our phones for calls, text messages and for those of us with Smart phones, we’re looking for email updates.

Cell phones have made it a little easier for most of us to reach out and touch someone we care about. They help us to feel connected to family, friends, loved ones and even our work.

With cell phones, we communicate with each other more often. We can now slip away from that colleague in the next cubicle to find some privacy; make that all-important personal phone call; contact friends when we’re running late; immediately connect with a loved one when we think of them.

The most maddening thing about cell phones, other than fixed-term contracts and upgrade options, is that customers have to remember to keep their phones charged. Otherwise, there’s the inconvenience of running out of juice.

Some shopping malls have solved the problem by providing their customers with charging stations.  And more recently, a local mall began loaning portable chargers to its customers.

Visitors can stop by Guest Services where they’re supplied with a portable charger. The chargers’ service an iPhone or an Android – and they’re free and available on a first-come, first serve basis. Customers can walk freely through the mall, browsing, shopping and snacking to their hearts’ content while charging their phones.

It’s a little thing. But it’s the little things that mean a lot. What are you doing to make your customers’ lives a little easier?

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LinkedIn

Photo by Heather Beaumont

Stand Out With A Rock Star LinkedIn Profile

Every few seconds, each day, individuals and companies are posting profiles to LinkedIn. The LinkedIn networking site currently adds value to the professional profiles of 12 million Canadians.

Founded in 2003, the online business network boasts close to 400 million members worldwide.

LinkedIn provides members with free and convenient opportunities to showcase their value to the business community; stay informed about industry developments, and connect with customers, colleagues, suppliers and future customers.

At a recent Ellevate Network Toronto event, Jennifer Urbanski, Account Executive, Marketing Solutions for LinkedIn offered her expert suggestions to new and experienced profile owners.

Whether you’re writing a profile to establish awareness of your company or personal brand, take note of the following key steps and put your best digital footprint forward on LinkedIn.

  • Upload a professional photo. Images are 14 times more likely to be viewed.
  • Make a lasting impression, personalize your background image.
  • Assist searchers, customize your LinkedIn URL with your name; company name or professional skills, ie. www.linkedin [dot] com/in//contentmarketer
  • Create a compelling headline to inform readers what you do and how you can help them.
  • Identify your business community, ie. Writing and Editing.
  • Write an authentic, three-paragraph summary. Indicate career highlights in the first paragraph. Provide details about your current position in the second paragraph, and describe hobbies and interests to make yourself more memorable in the third paragraph.
  • Add Rich media photos, video and presentations to appeal to visual site visitors.
  • List 10 skills so you don’t overwhelm readers.
  • Endorse others; ask for recommendations; share updates, photos and long form posts. Engage with connections to showcase your expertise and stand out.

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Blacks Photography

Photo by Heather Beaumont

Adapt and Thrive

I grew up in a family where seasonal holidays, family vacations, birthdays and other milestones were recognized as Kodak moments.

My first camera was a portable Kodak Instamatic with a handy wrist strap. I remember picking up the processed prints a week after dropping a roll of film off at the store. I’d hold my breath anxiously waiting and wondering how many prints had actually turned out.

It’s been years since I dropped a roll of film off at the local Blacks store.

These days, I take more photos than ever before with the camera on my cell phone.

Digital technology and Smart phones have left a negative imprint on camera, film and processing  and accessory sales.

Blacks’ brick and mortar stores, once humming with customers, closed last August.

Today, customers can find Blacks online to make connections with staff;  discover craft ideas and order prints for cards, calendars, photobooks and keepsakes.

Digital technology, the changing retail market and shifting consumer needs have forced Blacks and other retailers to change. In marketing, this is known as the product adaptation strategy. The objective is to get customers to take another look at a traditional product.

What are you doing with your business right now to ensure that future and current customers will stop and take a second look at your offering?

If customers are aware of your product, that’s the first step in the sales cycle.  So, go on, take another step toward your customers. Distribute fresh content and engage them.

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