Sunday, January 10, 2010

Learning to Love Cold-Calling

Cold calling leaves many of us cold. Especially perhaps in public relations. I'm drawn to the field because I care about people and enjoy helping others, talking to others, and connecting others. A late bloomer, who used to be painfully shy, I love the limelight, and have to curb the tendency to grab the podium and make an audience of whomever will listen. I suppose that's part of the beauty of blogging. One presumes the audience is 100% voluntary.

So, that brings me to one of the areas of my PR duties that I don't always feel warm and fuzzy about. That's cold calling. I am predominantly a writer, before being a salesman on the stump. I would prefer to select and hone words and let people pick through them at their own leisurely pace. Like the rest of us, I loathe unsolicited telemarketing calls. I appreciate the serene silence of no phone calls, no matter how adorable the ringtone.

And I suppose a wee bit of that vestigial shyness kicks in before I pick up the phone--or these days cut and paste a number into the Skype calling number field. But once I get on the phone, it's actually a pleasure, meeting that real person on the other end. Before long, I've got a new friend, and I'm volunteering to help them with their mission, whether an editor I want to help save the dying industry of newspapers or a librarian I'm secretly in awe of for their commitment to this misunderstood profession, or a fellow blogger that I end up chatting with about what's going on in their neck of the world. Like working out, or other habits that take getting used to for us to enjoy, I suspect I am going to start loving cold calling. Achoo!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Kaizen: It's not just for rocket scientists

One of my favorite words is a Japanese concept that has wound its way into the English language—kaizen. It's like a little mantra I come back to now and then to remind me that, though my life and habits may not be perfect, I can always take incremental steps and make better at whatever I want to change.

It's actually a pretty simple formula:

改 ("kai") meaning "change" or "the action to correct"
+ 善 ("zen") meaning "good"
= 改善 kaizen, Japanese for "improvement"

All of us at times find ourselves frustrated when we arrive at situations in which we realize our abilities or coping is limited by our current knowledge or experience. At these times, it's helpful to summon the magic of kaizen.

Kaizen can be an attitude, where we realize we can incrementally tackle our ability gaps. Combined with resolve and patience, kaizen can help us master new languages (learning three words a day in a foreign tongue), commit to a new fitness regime (add 5 minutes to a work out on a treadmill when you want to recommit to the gym), or develop a technical competency like working with a digital camera or web design program.

While similar to "practice, practice, practice," the kaizen outlook allows us to approach our desired behavior or problem area with secure knowledge that continuous, incremental improvement is our goal. It's the attitude set that makes the difference between grudgery and a delightful personal challenge.

Pat yourself on the back on that new task with a newfound kaizenitude.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Keeping it up...Got the blog blahs?

It's just past Christmas. On blogger, on dasher, and vixen. Actually, it just past new year's. Time is flying by! And many of you are found with some type of blog-related activity on your list of resolves.

As I believe I mentioned in an earlier blog, sometimes it's better to call new year's resolutions intentions rather than resolutions. My intention is to add a little to my blog, if not every day, then not let too many days pass without sharing here. My goal is to help others and inspire YOU to make the best of your time here on the planet. To achieve YOUR goals.

If one of your goals is keeping up with YOUR blog, read this and take heart. Commit to your blog. Like a real relationship, it takes commitment and communication. A blog is much like a plant or an infant, and thrives with care, thought, and the nourishment of your attention. Like a journal, it can help you be being a repository for thoughts. Hopefully it doesn't become much of a dumping ground for your discontent, but if need be, so be it. Blogs can be sharing places to group-vent at times, and perhaps in doing so, to problem solve through the synergy of shared ideas and experiences.

Some reasons to blog? Blogs are great open-door cocktail parties for networking as well. Unless for some reason you've decided to make your blog a private, secluded affair, you can meet incredible folk that cause your synapses to sing.

One of my favorite reasons for blogging is to share all the groovy, yummy, funny, motivating, an/or entertaining tidbits and resources I discover as I surf from day to day.

Today's show & tell offering is a kick-in-the-pants list of the Dumbest Excuses for Not Blogging from Joan Stewart's "The Publicity Hound's Tips of the Week," an ezine featuring tips, tricks and tools for generating free publicity. Subscribe at and receive by email the handy cheat sheet "89 Reasons to Send a Press Release."

If you aren't blogging yet, or you've stopped blogging, you can't use these three excuses:

  1. --It takes too much time.
  2. --I don't know what to say.
  3. --Nobody comments at my blog.
Joan addresses these laziness rationalizations one by one:

1. Of course it takes time. She says if she'd have to choose just one social media tool, she'd probably choose a blog. It positions you as an expert in your field far better than noisy sites like Twitter and Facebook can.

2. You don't know what to say?
Finding content is one of the biggest complaints I hear from Publicity Hounds. But once you know about shortcuts like creating Google Alerts and checking them each day for topics you can write about, you'll have more content than you'll ever need. That's what I do.

3. Nobody's commenting at your blog? It could be because your content isn't compelling. Or perhaps you aren't feeding your blog into sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, where thousands more people can share your information with friends, followers and fans. Or maybe you aren't ending your posts with questions like "Am I wrong?" or "What's your take?" or "Share your best tip here and let's see how long a list we can create."

Good luck with your blog, and keep checking back here on Catapult when your motivation lags.
PS...thanks to www/