By Guest Blogger Alison Luterman (Plus a poem!) – with my video commentary on how to make a movement go viral — from Erica Mandy’s Show, The News Worthy
I was walking up the street minding my own business when a superhero jumped out in front of me. He landed in a wide-legged stance, arms outstretched, head thrown back in true Olympic superhero style. He was about three feet high and was wearing sneakers that lit up with flashing lights when he moved.
“I’m magic!” he announced.
“You are magic–I can see that!” I said.
It had been two weeks since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and I was still in a funky mood. Events, both national and personal, had been clouding my ability to see the magic in life. But here it was, on a bright Tuesday afternoon when the dogwood was blooming.
“I’m also the fastest runner,” the super-hero went on. “Wanna see?”
He tore up the sidewalk, his sneakers flashing.
“Wow, you are super fast!!” His Dad was leaning up against the family SUV, chuckling.
“He’s actually the fastest runner in the world,” he clarified. “It’s not everyday you get to see something like that. I can understand if you’re overwhelmed.”
I put my hand on my heart and staggered back. “It’s going to take me awhile to recover.”
In truth I hope never to recover from the magic of children. It may be our only hope as a species.
Like so many other people, I’m still blown away by the power of the young students speaking up now for gun control, especially Emma Gonzalez, the shaven-headed, bisexual, Latinx student (president of her school’s Gay-Straight Student Alliance), who rose up out of the smoke and spilled blood of the Parkland massacre, and has been speaking truth to power like a lioness.
If you haven’t seen the video of her making an impassioned plea for gun control while wiping away tears–weeping freely, but making her points with fierce accuracy, including the amount of money the Great Pretender accepted from the NRA for his campaign–go watch it. (Spoiler alert: 30 million dollars.)
Watch the way she feels deeply, but also has facts and figures at her command, and uses them. That’s not easy. When I’m crying my voice shakes, or it knots up in my throat, my chin quivers uncontrollably, and I feel foolish and naked. I’d prefer to hide under the bed than let people see me like that.
But it’s the job in front of us right now–all of us. Find our deepest feelings and speak from that vulnerable, exposed place.
It turns out many of the young activists effectively challenging Senators and Congress are drama club kids. I was a drama club kid. It was the ultimate safe space for queer kids, outcasts, weirdos. The energy and passion, the intense bonding love that gets generated backstage can be used for so many good things. You can put on a play, you can read your poetry at an open mic, you can start a movement and take your message to Congress.
Art teaches us to be brave. And we need a lot of courage these days. And a lot of love. Hold your friends and companions, fellow-artists, fellow-activists, children and the young at heart extra tightly. And don’t stop speaking truth to power even if it makes you cry.
Watching the Giraffes
The baby giraffe stands
in the shadow of the tall
both of their astonishing
with a perfect mosaic pattern
like kitchen linoleum.
How close the gods come to
Then the tallest one
who has been gazing off into
his small head atop that
like a long lonesome train
high above everything,
lets loose a Niagara of
and another giraffe ducks
a swanlike neck down,
to catch a deep, hot
mouthful of urine,then undulates back up,
gulping and swallowing.So that too is part of it.
How they take
what they are thirsty for
as I am drinking in the gentle
of the child’s small trusting
leaning against my arm
on the bench at the zoo,
both of us watching the
without saying anything.
Alison Luterman’s three books of poetry are The Largest Possible Life; See How We Almost Fly; and Desire Zoo. Her poems and stories have appeared in The Sun, Rattle, Prairie Schooner, Nimrod, The Atlanta Review, Tattoo Highway, and elsewhere.. She has also written an e-book of personal essays, Feral City, and more than half a dozen plays, including Oasis, Saying Kaddish With My Sister, Glitter and Spew, Touched, and two musicals, The Chain and Nasty Women. She performs with the Oakland-based improvisation troupe Wing It! and has given writing workshops all over the country, including at Omega and Esalen Institutes.
She teaches memoir at The Writing Salon in Berkeley, and is available for private coaching in writing or creativity, both in-person or on-line. She also loves to teach easy accessible theater games and writing prompts to groups. For more information, please visit her website at www.alisonluterman.net.
Getting media attention – especially the right kind of attention – is something of an art. Whether you’re a celebrity, a business owner, or a politician, it’s all about finding an angle. And not just that – you have to be able to get a reporter’s attention in the first place. This can be easier said than done.
Bear in mind that reporters and media journalists are solicited hundreds of times a day. Their email inboxes are virtually overflowing. So if you want their attention, you need to go about it in the right way. You need to stand out from the crowd – even if that means taking an unconventional approach.
Google is an amazing resource to unearth useful information about the reporter, what they cover, and how they like to be approached.
A good place to start your ‘Googleathon’ is social media. See how they interact with others online, and whether they regularly interact with others pitching them ideas. You can also look to their work bio to see if they specify preferences.
There are different schools of thought on the best way to approach a reporter with an idea for a story. They may prefer email, Twitter, or a good old-fashioned phone call. In the unlikely event that they aren’t present on social media, you can defer to phone or email.
HOT TIP: look out for any pet peeves they regularly complain about. Take note as well of the current issues that they’re tweeting or retweeting. See if there’s any common ground you can use to help build a connection. Maybe you have a product that might help? Or maybe you feel the same way about a social issue?
Ultimately, if you already have a feel for the reporter and what s/he likes and dislikes, you have a better chance of reaching out to them successfully.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that attempting to reach out and get the attention of a reporter is much like modern dating. Thanks to online dating, we often have a chance to find out about someone before we decide to approach them. When we do decide to make a move, the opening line is critical.
Tinder lines can be hilariously terrible. They can also be downright dull. Mastering the art of a good opener is paramount if you’re serious about looking for love online. And if you’re serious about getting your story picked up by the media, then it’s equally crucial.
‘Hey, how are you?’ is a great way to get ignored by a journalist. It does nothing to spark their curiosity. It lacks creativity and fails to disclose your reason for getting in touch.
Powerful subject lines for an opening email are:
Remember, your pitch must immediately rouse the reporter’s interest. An effective subject line really is half the challenge. Check out these top 10 email subject line formulas for inspiration. You may be surprised to learn that in some cases, “profanity f*cking works”.
Journalists also love data — so put your best foot forwards and give them some awesome data for free. Running an ecommerce business? Why not send out some surveys to your customers via social media and email to find out more about their habits? From family life and holidays, to food habits and leisure — there are plenty of useful insights and stories lurking out there.
Play it cool
Yep – the online dating metaphor still stands. When you’re building a relationship with a reporter, timing is important. Journalists are busy people with full schedules, and your clinginess will not be appealing to them.
Be respectful of what the reporter already has on their plate. Realize that when you send them a pitch, they’re probably not going to be able to respond right away – unless you’re very lucky and caught them at exactly the right moment. Give them at least a few days to respond before following up.
If the story is especially time-sensitive, then you need to make this clear when you reach out to them first time around. Conveying urgency is another great way to get a reporter’s attention.
weird ways to get a reporter’s attention. source: pexels
Send them a video
Video is changing how we create and consume news. Journalists know it, and if you can help them source quality video content, then they’re going to be very happy with you indeed. Here in 2017, video content represents 74% of all internet traffic (Source).
So if you want to give your story a boost and make it more likely to hit the headlines, consider sending a video along with your pitch. 4X as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it – and the same goes for news stories. News publications love video because it encourages readers to stay on the page for longer.
Making a vaguely professional-looking video doesn’t have to be hard. There are lots of great apps out there for making videos, including iMovie, PowerDirector, and LumaFusion.
Be willing to let it go
With time stacked against them, most reporters will probably require a follow-up a few days after you’ve pitched them your story. In most instances, they’ll probably appreciate the reminder — always with added ‘new’ information that’s of value to them — not, “Did you get my email about…”.
However, if you’ve already chased them a couple of times and received nothing but stony silence in return, you might need to try a different approach, angle, or twist on the topic. You can also ask if your pitch might be a better fit with someone else at their organization.
The risk is that you may not necessarily get the answer you’re looking for. But by putting it out there in a gentle way, such as “seems like this wasn’t a perfect fit for you – unless I hear otherwise, I will run a different idea by you soon.
If you are looking to promote something time-sensitive like a product launch or a new ecommerce venture, you are going to have to plan ahead and be mindful of editorial deadlines you can tell them that you’re offering it to them first. And if they pass you can move on to the next top person on your media list. Whether you build a store from the ground up, or invest in a readymade one, make sure that your branding and content is on-point enough to appeal to busy journos. A good pitch from a badly formulated brand may go to waste — so make sure you cover all bases.
Of course, if all else fails, and you really will stop at nothing to get that reporter’s attention, you can try one the following:
Hire a banana costume and do a little dance outside their office window
Pay a movie theater to play a pre-recorded video of your pitch after the ads at a movie you know they’re going to see (because they posted about it on social media)
Accidentally bump into them on the bus while holding a basket of kittens
Heroically save them from falling into a pond
Disclaimer: These methods are not tried and tested. I hold no responsibility for them going wrong.
We need the attention of reporters for all sorts of reasons. Maybe you’re trying to make a story or piece of content go viral. Perhaps you just bought an online business and you want brand coverage. Possibly you’ve found yourself in the public’s bad books, and you need a bit of good publicity. Whatever the reason, it helps to know how to go about it. Hopefully these suggestions have been useful.
Vicky is a freelance writer and ecommerce marketing consultant. She loves being part of the brand growth hacking process and producing real, measurable results. In her spare time, Vicky shares her knowledge by writing for a variety of digital publications.
I was taking a walk with my good friend, Tricia about six months ago and we were talking about our dreams. (Not nighttime dreams, but the “this-is-what-I-would-love-my- life-to-look-like dreams.)
At one point in the conversation, we realized that whenever we talked about our dreams, they were always “over there” or “far away.” They were places in our lives we hadn’t gotten to yet. They were accomplishments or goals we hadn’t yet reached.
Our dreams were outside of our lives.
I remember us literally stopping, looking at one another, and saying, “This is not right. What if right now, right here, we began to look at everything about who we are and what we are doing as part of our dream lives?”
What if we are living the dream now, but perhaps it is the tiniest seed of the dream? Still, it is the dream and we can recognize it as such. Like if we were growing lettuce and we just planted a small lettuce pod. It wouldn’t look like lettuce and we couldn’t yet eat it for dinner, but we’d know for certain it was lettuce.
We would love our little lettuce pod by tending to it. We’d learn about the best ways to nurture it— how much sunshine, nutrients, and water it needs— and then we’d do whatever it takes to help our lettuce thrive. We wouldn’t whine or cry about not having lettuce for dinner. We’d know that it’s growing in our own backyard. Right here. Right now. Our dreams are just like that.
That one conversation changed my life.
Practice who you want to be daily
Living my dream life is a practice, not a goal
When I got home that day, I started a practice I call, “Livin’ the Dream,” which is an intentional daily practice of noticing and noting the myriad ways in which everything I want in my life already exists.
Here’s an example: My work in the world is about helping people celebrate themselves and the people they love. I created something called a Love List, which is a no-cost, all-love gift that someone can give which details all the reasons they love and appreciate someone.
Before I die, I want 1,000,000 people to give Love Lists as gifts because of my writings/teachings. Every day that someone writes to tell me that created a Love List for someone, I take a screen shot of that letter and I pin it on a secret Pinterest board called “Livin’ the Dream.” I write a little note about how happy I am that one more person created a Love List and one more person received a gift of love they will certainly cherish forever.
That one Love List does not make me someone who has yet inspired 1,000,000 lists. But it is a part of that larger goal, isn’t it? And we’re on the way.
I also pin things that underscore my good health, happy relationships, and creativity because each of these things plays a role in having exactly the kind of life I’d always imagined.
We live in a culture that is focused on what’s wrong and what’s missing. Advertising and news encourages us to look for the negative. What if, instead we took charge of our own happiness and started scanning all the time for what is right, what is working, how love is showing up in our lives, and the ways we are living exactly the life we’d always dreamed about?
Sherry Richert Belul says write love lists and shows you how
Don’t tether your happiness to something outside yourself
Right now I’ve got myself on an “advanced course” of learning for the Livin’ the Dream practice. I’m awaiting news on something that is deeply important to me. I spent about six months last year focused on writing a book proposal to submit to a contest for Hay House, a publishing company that I absolutely love.
This is a BIG dream of mine to be an author for Hay House. I truly did my best on the book proposal and spent a lot of time imagining myself as one of their authors. Even as I write this, I feel the adrenaline pulsing through my body. I want it so bad! But what if I don’t get it? I want it. But what if…?
As you can imagine, my monkey mind wants to have a field day with this. It wants me to believe that winning the book publishing contract IS the dream. And if I get it, I’m living the dream. And if I don’t, I’ve lost the dream.
My practice is this: I am livin’ the dream, no matter what.
I refuse to let my happiness be tethered to something I have absolutely no control over.
Here’s what I do instead: I am spending every moment of every waking hour living as if I am already a Hay House author. What would a Hay House author wear to lunch with a girlfriend? What would a Hay House author write in her newsletter? What would a Hay House author have for lunch?
Create a custom celebration book for someone you cherish
Do you see?
I get to have the experience of being a Hay House author by inviting in all of the feelings and experiences NOW. Because it’s not about achieving “the thing.” It’s about having the feeling of getting the thing. And not just for one moment, but sustained, over moments, hours, days that then turn into a lifetime.
Truth be told, why is it a dream to be a Hay House author? Because I want to have a wider reach. I want to be more engaged. I want to have an audience of people who respond to my work. I want to have a community of writers with whom I share ideas and support.
When I keep the “why” in mind, it allows me the room to step into that vision right now. I simply ask, “How can I have a wider reach today? How can I touch more people?” And I listen to the response that life gives. Then I go do what it says. Voila!
Suddenly I am engaged and participating in exactly the way I dreamed. But it isn’t outside of myself. It isn’t over there. It isn’t “I’ll do that when…” It doesn’t rely on someone outside of myself to choose me.
He tells the story of a man who wants to own a department store, but right now all he has is a newsstand.
Wallace says, “Do not get the idea that there is some magical method by which you can successfully operate a department store on a newsstand capital.”
This isn’t about thinking that if we want something badly enough, it will come to us.
But the point is, if you are dreaming about a department store and you have a newsstand right now, you can choose to show up completely and wholeheartedly to your newsstand every day. You choose to do everything you can to make this newsstand as successful as possible. If you don’t hang your head low and think, “all I have is a newsstand,” if you go to work whistling, serving everyone with a big smile and great service, chances are your newsstand will grow bigger. And more successful.
Chances are the way you tend to that newsstand (like the lettuce pods!) will yield the growth you desire. Wallace says, “make every act and thought constructive.” He believes that if we stay positive in our acts and thoughts, if we always speak from the place of our dreams and visions, people will be drawn to us. He calls this a “place of increase.”
“Consider that your newsstand is one department of the store you are going to have; fix your mind on the department store, and begin to assimilate the rest of it. You will get it if you make every act and thought constructive.”
One day, it will be a department store.
What if it doesn’t grow and thrive the way you had imagined?
Think about it. You are still living in the seed of your dream. You still have a beautiful newsstand that attracts customers because you show up every day with a smile and kind word. You still have the essence of your dream — which is having work that enables you to serve people and impact their lives on a daily basis. You are happy. You love your days.
Whether your newsstand grows into a department store or not, or whether it takes twenty years longer than you had imagined is not the point.
The point is: can you love the process of showing up each day to tend to the dream of who you are and the life you want to live — no matter what?
Can you train yourself to scan for what is, instead of what is missing?
Wish for what you have
My son taught me one of the most beautiful lessons about all of this.
When he was three years old, it was his birthday and we had a chocolate cake for him. I lit the candles and whispered to my son to make a wish before he blew them out.
I watched him close his eyes, and blow out the candles.
His dad and I clapped and then I leaned in and whispered, “What did you wish for?”
My son whispered back: “a birthday cake.”
Talk about instantly stepping into a place of having what we want. We need to see that it is right here, in front of us.
When we are livin’ the dream, we learn to focus on what is on the plate in front of us. We see it, taste it, appreciate it.
Customized tribute books
One small step
Today, can you practice with this? Can you wish for something you already have and watch how good it feels to “get” it?
Can you take one small action step that is in service of a bigger dream and feel in your bones that this small step is a part of the dream? You are not outside of it.
You are livin’ the dream. You’re in it. It’s already yours.
In the midst of everyday life, it is easy to forget how extraordinary — and fleeting— our lives are. Thus, Sherry believes in a simple philosophy: make moments into gifts. She helps people appreciate who they are and the people they love through customized tribute books and other one-of-a-kind gifts that inspire us to celebrate, share, and build beautiful relationships. Don’t wait; say it now. Find Sherry here.
I remember when my friend Diana and I were on the island of Molokai, the former leper colony, and we were hiking in a deep ravine. We came to a place where we couldn’t go any further without leaping over a vast expanse with rushing water beneath. I was terrified.
Diana, a former ballerina, is fearless. She leapt like a proverbial gazelle over the gulf and there I was shaking and sweating on the other side. “Come on!” she called impatiently.
But all I could think about is what would happen if I didn’t make it in the one big leap. Lacerated calves. Crushed ribs. A shattered skull.
I couldn’t quite get my head around the IDEA of getting to the other side. I had to shake off my old notions of can’t, impossible, no. And put on the cape of possibility.
Then I leapt.
In that moment I had a whole new notion of myself.
Yes, sexuality is fluid and wild and unpredictable. She fell in love with a man. She fell in love with a woman. She leapt into love both times, full heartedly. I admire her commitment to creativity, curiosity, and love in whatever shape it comes in, no matter how unexpected.
There are all kinds of bravery.
My friend Andrea Scher marks her brave acts in her blog. And she’s giving a course in how you, too can be brave in blogging about your declarations, your descriptions, your destiny.
There’s also bravery in allowing ourselves to earn what we’re worth. My friend Tommi Wolfe (with her lilting South African accent) has some advice about that.
Then there’s bravery in how we think, what we say and what we do.
I may not do it every day, but I’m looking for ways that I can inch my way toward a braver life. I was invited to submit a proposal for the Aiki Extension conference, about Aikido in action in our everyday lives off the mat — and then was paralyzed when they accepted it. The other presenters are third, fourth, fifth, sixth dans (degree of black belt) and I’m the only one who is just a first degree black belt (Shodan).
Aikido high fall
My topic: How to use verbal Aikido in business and media interviews. I’ve never created such a workshop before and since I’m terrified I’m over preparing. Which is how I cope. I challenge myself to think of everything that can go wrong and then I map out what I would do in such a circumstance.
Does this bolster my bravery? No. But the actual doing of it it will. It’s only the doing of it, the getting it into your bones that inches you toward a braver life.
So I’ll continue in my little inchworm ways in challenging myself to do brave things so eventually I’ll become a more courageous person.
On Media Coaching Monday, I’ll show you exactly what you need to do to mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually to prepare for specific types of media appearances, including written print interviews, phone interviews, radio appearances, TV appearances, speaking engagements, Podcasts, panel events, and more. Tune in every Monday to get your sound bites set for your time in the spotlight.
On 10 Line Tuesday, I’ll read a short poem—just ten lines—from Maya Stein or one a bit longer from Alison Luterman, two friends of mine who use language in an extraordinary way so you can expand your thinking about how you speak and think. Even if you don’t think that “poetry” is your “thing,” I encourage you to listen to at least one of these 10 Line Tuesday episodes… because inspiration for your business can often come from unexpected places. Like poetry! Tune in every Tuesday for dazzling diction surprises.
On Work Your Story Wednesday, I’ll walk you through the specific, nitty gritty storytelling steps that you need to take in order to get noticed by the media, get invited to appear in the media, and my secrets to getting invited back. We’ll also chat about the 3 ps. How to Prepare, Package, and Position yourself before you email or pick up the phone to pitch the media. Tune in every Wednesday for tips about how to pitch producers and editors so they email or call you back ASAP.
And then on Fly Your Freak Flag Friday, we’ll discuss how to keep steady and be yourself during a radio, TV, or print or podcast interview or whenever you’re in the spotlight or under pressure. I’ll show you how to let your spirit and personality shine through in any situation — without selling your soul. Tune in every Friday for ways to stay original, keep your quirks and live into what Dr. Seuss says which is, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out.”
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