Category Archives: Reviews

How to Apply for Media Entry at Conferences and Events

Writers, did you know that you can scoop great industry stories at conferences just by asking conference coordinators for media passes?photo (20)

Visit Your Favorite Conference for the Price of a Story

In most cases, you’ll need to be a staff writer, videographer, or photographer for a credible news organization, blog, or online journal.  Even freelance writers selling stories to publications, magazines, or newspapers can qualify.

About IRCE Media Badges

Maura Bruton, Internet Retailer Press Assistant, says that you need to be a writer

“for a publication, as far as whether that’s a blog or whatever, we are looking for people who are coming to cover the show or the exhibitors.  Sometimes people are looking for a press badge in more of a sales capacity and those people do not get press badges.”

IRCE is a great show to cover topics in e-commerce, selling b-to-b, or technology. Bruton adds,

“There are a lot of stories here.  There are a lot of spokespeople, whether for companies, keynotes, speakers, or presenters.”

If the journalist asks for assistance, IRCE will provide images and arrange interviews with speakers.  Quite often speakers and companies hunt down the press at the show for free coverage.

photo (19)Credit, of course, must be given to the show and speakers for images, videos, and quotes.  IRCE offers a full-service press room during the show, coordination with speakers prior to the show, press releases, and a complimentary conference badge. The press can take pictures and videos, if speakers approve, but press tags must accompany cameras.  Online credit should be linked back to the IRCE website.

To apply for a press badge for an IRCE event, go to IRCE.com and contact the press coordinators.  They’ll review your application and get in contact with you. Bruton suggests looking at IR Events Group to find shows that fit your upcoming conference calendar.

The Perks of Writing

Even if technology isn’t your beat, many other conferences and events provide free entry to members of the press in exchange for your content creation and distribution.

Hey, you could even go to Disney World for two days on a Hopper Pass if you can prove that you write for a travel blog or are affiliated with an established news organization.  Live in New York?  Start planning your Macy’s Day parade coverage by applying for a New York press pass.

If you write for a living (or just for the fun of it), go find budding stories in your interest areas by attending conferences and special events.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Audience, Conferences, Editors, Marketing, Reviews, Writing Careers, Writing Resources

Appointments with Heaven – a Worthwhile Read

Choosy Writers Choose Good Books

Are you choosy about the books you read?  I am.

My high school English teacher used to scold me when I found excuses not to read. She’d blink her eyes, sigh, and pinch her nose, “Good writers make time to read.”

Well, she’d be proud.

I read a book over spring break that was worth my time and attention. It was edifying, truthful, and inspiring and there’s a back story on how I received the book, which I’ll share in a moment.

Appointments with Heaven bills itself as “the true story of a country doctor’s healing encounters with the hereafter.” At first, I thought.  Boy. Do I really want to read a bunch of creepy stories about people dying?  (The book was given to me shortly after my mother’s death in 2013.)

I’d seen a lot of death and well, eh.

But, my sister-in-law raved about the book and she’d experienced loss, too, so I figured it had potential.

Heaven’s Southern Setting & Faith Theme

heaven coverMy family packed up our van and headed south to Florida. Dr. Reggie Anderson’s story is set in the rural South.  So literally, my journey included representations out the window of the places described in the story – Alabama on the way down and Tennessee on the route back up. What I discovered is that the story isn’t really a book about death — it is about finding faith in life.

Soak in that statement for a moment.

It’s a book about faith. Your life has purpose and it affects eternity.

Do you believe that? Like I said.  It’s a book about faith.

There are times, even if you believe there’s a higher purpose, when truthfully, you’re just not seeing how the dots connect. You lost a friend, a job, or an opportunity.  You’re stuck in what seems to be a mindless and pointless routine.  You’re disillusioned because of awful events or situations. This book addresses whys.  Does anyone even know we’re here?  Is God real?  Why do bad things happen?

Even if you have answers worked out for yourself, Dr. Reggie Anderson’s perspective, because of his scientific expertise in medicine and his own early disillusionment, is unique. This book find has the potential to be a future workbook and video series for small groups.  The Kendrick Brothers or some other producer ought to take a good look at it.

About Heaven’s Ghost Writer

If you’re a writer, it’s a study on the art of ghost writing.  Truly, the story’s organization, running motifs, theme, voice, and flow were so well constructed that I beamed for Jennifer Schuchmann, the book’s ghost writer. And herein is how I received the book.

Jennifer and I met at a conference in 2010.  She was already a published writer, managing a young family, and at the start of a promising career.  We became Linkedin and Twitter contacts. In September 2013, I was in the midst of managing a big work project, while organizing household moving details for my family, when my mother passed away. With those plates spinning, I accidentally sent an email to Jennifer that was intended for someone else. When I realized my mistake, I sent Jennifer a note asking her to disregard and delete the email.  She did, and then we quickly caught up. I asked her about her current projects and she shared.

“I’m primarily doing collaborative books with people who have stories to tell but don’t have the time or ability to tell them. I’m either hired by them or by their publishers. I’ve released two new books this year.

“Taylor’s Gift” is the story of parents who lost their 14 year old daughter in a skiing accident, donated her organs, and then met the organ recipients.

“Appointments with Heaven” is the story of a country doctor who lost his faith, found it in a dream of heaven and now catches glimpses of heaven when his patients die (he can feel their soul leave their body, smell the scents of heaven, and feel a warmth in the room). Both are good books.

Good to hear from you even if it was a mistake!”

I then confided that my mother had passed away two weeks earlier and that her Heaven book sounded relevant.  She wrote,

  Oh, I’m so sorry!  Send me your address and I’ll send you a copy of “Appointments with Heaven.” Writing that book changed the way I view death. Maybe that’s the whole reason we reconnected was so I could give you a copy of this book.

When my copy arrived, she’d personalized it with a note, “I hope this brings comfort in your loss.”

If you’ve ever lost someone, you know that the cards you receive in the following weeks are thoroughly appreciated.  This was the first time anyone had sent a book.

I read a few pages and stopped. I felt called to send a copy to each of my siblings, but I personally wasn’t ready to digest the book.

By spring 2014, I was ready.

Let’s be clear, I’m not getting paid to write this post for Appointments with Heaven nor am I doing it because I know Jennifer.  I know plenty of authors.  I just like the book and feel it’s worth my time.

I hope it’s worth yours, too.

Yesterday, I interviewed Jennifer about her ghost writing techniques.  Read Tips for Collaborative and Ghost Writing Success, for the back story on how Dr. Anderson’s Appointments with Heaven was written.

1 Comment

Filed under Authoring Books, Conferences, Favorite Websites, Reviews, Women Writers

Content for Less- Fat Brain Toys Involves Customers in Content Creation

By My Web Writers

Toys that Use Words

Fat Brain Toys doesn’t play around when it comes to website content.  Owner, Mark Carson, has always supported written content on the site’s category and product pages; but, Matt Hansen, Director of Marketing, says that it was only about three months ago that the educational toy retailer really started developing blog content.

It seems like many marketers attend webinars and read articles that explain the importance of content to conversions and search engine rankings, but then they return to work and leave out the paragraphs.  Why?

Content creation is expensive.

Blog Sales Powered by Writers

Hansen says that Fat Brain Toys “employs three in-house writers with a variety of skill levels, but listens to feedback from many internal and external stakeholders.”  You can sense the community when you visit the site.

Play is Fat Brain Toys’ blog.  Each week, the writers add videos, newsy snippets, and creative articles around a theme.  But, how does the company curate so much content without straining their budget?

play

In a green box at the top of the Play blog, writers click and find a call for

 “content from leaders in the toy industry, leaders in the world of raising children, and great thinkers who believe in pure play. Each piece of content will be shared with HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of visitors. As a contributor to PLAY, you’ll be given full contributor/byline credit with a short bio listing. We will also actively encourage link sharing. Fat Brain Toys will share a link to your site, and we hope you’ll share a link to your published PLAY content on your site as well.”

Who Would Write for Free?

The secret to securing inexpensive content is to embrace loyal fans and toy industry leaders, who want to build authorship profiles by using Play as their publisher.

The potential sales win-fall for Fat Brain Toys is notable. Many writers will write for article bylines just to increase exposure of their own personal brands, products, books, and speaking portfolios. Google authorship gives incentive for many writers to secure their personal brands this way. Between the free content and social sharing by writers, Play is revving up a sales engine.

This is the content creation model that many business leaders are thinking about and talking about at conferences and in meetings, but few are making it happen.  Fat Brain Toys is connecting and creating the model.

If You Can’t Buy It, Build It

Mark Carson also created the company’s unique review system.  He and his in-house team built an automated content contributor under each toy’s product description.

FBT Reviews

Consumers find content that details available options and hazards, linked articles from Play, related products and categories, accessory options, and other consumer reviews and rankings of age/gender usage. All of this data aggregates and moves the products up or down in the “new”, “shop by age”, or “shop by gender” sections of the site.

Google wants valuable content and this system offers it to parents.

Parents Help Parents with Special Perspectives

Carson also invented another consumer-generated content resource that is highly-valuable to the special needs and elderly populations.

Special needs

Parents, teachers, and caretakers explain how they use the toys with children and adults with special needs. There is a ranking system for the toy’s value index and the toy’s IQ that helps shoppers evaluate how their child or adult might use the toy.

Toy IQ

Again, the content offers value to shoppers and there’s a community of trust and interaction being built with the brand through the content interaction.

The Future of Content Creation

If you love or believe in a brand, chances are you won’t care about getting paid to promote it. You’ll contribute for intrinsic rewards like attention or the sense of helping others.

Fat Brain Toys knows that its core consumers are passionate about educating children and contributing to a better world through play and it has tapped into these passions.

Does this totally remove the need for in-house or freelance writers and editors? No.  Someone needs to curate and optimize the content.  The in-house team fills in where the consumer leaves off.

Your website still needs writers and editors who are masters of brand positioning, product knowledge, spelling, grammar, sentence structure, usage, and search engine optimization.  Fat Brain Toys hasn’t lost sight of that fact, but it does demonstrate how to involve your audience.

What would inspire your shoppers to interact more with your website’s content?

~Jean


Other Posts:

What is Google Authorship and What Do Writers Need to Know About it?

How do I write content based on buyer personas?

Ten Tips for Starting a Social Media Conversation

Prioritize Your Social Media Channels

Twenty-five Effective, Call-to-Action Phrases for E-commerce Content

12 Comments

Filed under Audience, Blog Writing Tips, Business Strategy, Capturing Audience, Content, Content Marketing, E-Tail Category Content, Editors, Favorite Websites, Local, Product Descriptions, Project Management, Queries & Articles, Reviews, Social Media, Time Management, Writing Careers

Generate Traffic with Killer Consumer Reviews

By My Web WritersLeaving a Review

From buying a car to picking a restaurant, reviews are a useful tool for helping us to make purchases both big and small. Web sites and entire social platforms have been created with the intent of providing valuable and useful reviews right at our fingertips. This also allows us the opportunity to voice our opinions and share our experiences with other potential customers. But the quality of this content relies heavily upon our own ability to write helpful reviews. Here are just a few of the most important concepts to keep in mind the next time you go to craft a glowing review or constructive comment.

Keep the details relevant

When relaying an experience you’ve had with a product or service, it’s easy to get caught up in the details. To you, giving a play-by-play of information may seem relevant, but to someone else reading the review, it just seems long-winded. Keep your review concise and to the point. People often skim the information or only read the first part, so be sure that the most important and relevant details can be found in the first couple of sentences.

Choose your words carefully

When you’re trying to describe an experience with words, much can be lost in translation. Remember that your definition of “good” can be vastly different from someone else’s. To write the most useful review, stay away from ambiguous words that could be misinterpreted. If you’re going to say a service was “good” be sure and further qualify this statement with a description as to what actually occurred. Why did you consider it a good experience – and not exceptional or mediocre, for example.

Keep things in perspective

The purpose of a review is to share your opinion, so it’s easy to get carried away with the thought that your opinion is the only one that matters. To write the most useful review, it’s important to keep things in perspective. If you had a terrible experience at a restaurant, at least consider the other side of the story. Ask yourself what factors led to such an experience. Was is due to one bad server, was it a problem with the management or was the food overpriced? Offering readers both sides of the story will help boost your credibility and the credibility of the review.

Find a balance of negative and positive

The most valuable reviews combine negative and positive aspects of the experience or product. Just as we mentioned telling both sides of the story, you also want to consider both pros and cons when writing your review. A glowing review has room for constructive criticism just as a terrible review should include at least one positive remark. If you can’t think of a single pro, consider offering a way in which the product of service could be improved. This balance boosts the credibility of the review and shows a sense of fairness.

The bottom line when creating a review is to put thought into what you’re writing and to always consider whether you would find this review helpful if you were reading it as a potential customer. Though this is an opportunity to voice your opinion, it is not necessarily a soap box for you to stand on. The most useful reviews communicate critical information with both balance and perspective.  ~Stephanie


Other Posts:
Niche Blogs With Quality Content

How Can I Better Manage My Company’s Social Media Accounts?

Improve Customer Service & Reduce Complaints with Content

Video Basics: Hosting, Sharing, and Content

1 Comment

Filed under Local, Reputation Management, Reviews

Niche Blogs with Quality Content

by My Web Writers

From tech talk to celeb gossip to political pundits, there is an audience for almost anything on the Web, and that’s good news for niche bloggers. But in recent years, so many bloggers have hit cyberspace with their specialty knowledge and interests that it can be difficult to find quality content. And like anything else on the web, content and utility are key. So we’ve gone surfing to find some hidden and not-so-hidden gems in the blogging world. Here are the niche bloggers who have captured our interest and keep us coming back for more.

Desserts for Breakfast

While dessert for breakfast may sound more like a child’s dream than a grown-up reality, blogger Stephanie S. manages to strike a balance with recipes that are both elegant and indulgent. Each post pairs a decadent breakfast recipe with an array of stunning images of the finished product and effectively showcases Stephanie’s talents as a food and travel photographer. Salt roasted pears with cajeta, Concord grape sorbet, apple cider doughnuts, and lemon fritter-sticks and nutmeg pudding are just a few of the treasures on this site. If you don’t like to cook, Desserts for Breakfast is worth a visit simply to enjoy the artwork, though not a site to view on an empty stomach. You might get hungry.

Cool Hunting

This trend-tracking blog looks at the latest in technology, fashion, travel, food and culture. It is described as a place for creative minds to splurge on inspiration. But it has definitely become the spot to get a jump on what’s in and what’s not. What the site does well is generate current content using eclectic forms to showcase the products along with vibrant graphics. One recent post interviews Garrett Colton, the owner of the store St&ndard Goods in LA, while another reviews moleskin luggage tags ($10) and the Oaxacan duffle bag ($495). Part of the draw is that you never know what will show up, but it is predominately high-end items. With this wide variety of ideas explored, organization is key. Older blogs have been archived and users can easily search past posts from the highly organized menu bar. This site also earns stars for its integration of media, specifically the mini-documentaries posted weekly.

Marketing to Women Online

Holly Buchanan is generating useful content for online marketers targeting a female audience. Buchanan’s posts explore female communities that are under or misrepresented in online marketing. She offers food for thought about groups of women with buying power that are often overlooked. Likewise, the posts consider problems with current advertising practices. Her post, “Women Mock American Apparel ‘Plus-Size’ Campaign”, is a tutorial in what not to do when marketing to plus-size women. Her own insight is enhanced with media links and sources. This kind of thoughtful and confident material provides a good platform to market her book and consulting services.

 A Hamburger Today

After a quick perusal of the A Hamburger Today blog spot, visitors will find that the hamburger has far exceeded its station as the crowning glory of the fast food world. To the novice, the blog is an educational source bringing readers up to speed on important terminology and categorization in the burger world. A more seasoned visitor will have not trouble identifying various regional burgers, distinguishing the slider from the mini burger and so on. They may use the blog as a resource for recipes instead. For those in the know, this site offers reviews on new menu items in restaurants across the country, discusses grilling styles, and even provides a forum for discussion. Needless to say, the content is solid and generates interest from advertisers.

These are the blogs we’re buzzing about, but we’re on the lookout for more, so feel free to share your favorites with us.  Of course, if you’re in need of an article writing service for your blog,  we can help.

~Lindsey

3 Comments

Filed under Blog Writing Tips, Reviews, Web Writers

Improve Customer Service & Reduce Complaints with Web Content

by My Web Writers

Resolving customer issues is a reactionary approach to customer service. No matter how quick you respond and how pleased the customer is with the solution, you still had a service issue that inconvenienced the customer and cost you money.

Too many companies still think online customer service is providing a toll free number, email address or online chat.

Let’s move from resolving to reducing customer complaints by using service-focused website content.

Make It Simple to Find Your Hours and Location

I was meeting a colleague for lunch and went to the restaurant’s website to find the address. Their beautiful home page had an email address and phone number at the bottom. Why make the customer call or email and add an unnecessary customer contact? Or worse yet, lose a potential customer because they gave up.

After scouring the page I found a “Facility Info” link that led to the information. Eliminate the issue by putting the hours and location on the home page or at least change the “Facility Info” link to the more clear “Hours & Address.”

Idea: Make the right website content easily available. If the customer can’t find it, it’s as if it was never there.

Provide Helpful How-To Website Content

I was vacuuming recently. Then the handle wouldn’t lock in place. I tried several ways to fix the problem. No luck. Went online and searched for “XXXXXX handle won’t lock”. An independent store website detailed the simple fix. Three minutes later I was back in business. They now have a good chance of getting future business from me. That’s superior customer service.

Idea: Anticipate a customer service issue and make the solution available 24×7 online. Don’t make me call or bring it to the store for a simple fix. You ultimately may fix it, but you would have inconvenienced me.

Don’t Assume You Know Your Customer Complaints

Our roles grow as our company grows. We used to handle all the customer interactions ourselves. Now we are busy with vendors, hiring, payroll and many other demands. Make it a priority to schedule regular time to listen to your team.

How are they resolving customer complaints?

How would they eliminate the problem from occurring in the first place?

What is being said online about your company?

Do you make it easy for your customers to contact you personally? In-store and online?

Idea: Develop an early warning system to find customer complaints. Identify the top 20% reasons that cause 80% of complaints. Address customer confusion reasons with new website content designed to make the purchase decision and buying process easier.

There’s Not Enough Time in the Day

“Everyone already has too much to do. How do we develop new content and keep the business running?” Bring an experienced, skilled writer to the project. You’ll get a fresh perspective and content that leads to a better customer experience.

Idea: Visit My Web Writers to learn how to get started.

~Don

5 Comments

Filed under Business Strategy, Content Marketing, Customer Profile, Reputation Management, Reviews, Time Management

Tips for Writing Online Product & Service Reviews

by My Web Writers

Effective reviews for online products and services express an air of authenticity, contain accurate and detailed information and maintain professional quality and businesslike mannerisms, throughout the analysis of the product or service being reviewed. To achieve these requirements, authors of reviews will benefit from the following tips, which are employed by educators, business professionals and marketing specialists. Common strategies for effective review writing include developing clear organization, separating fact from fiction or opinion, expressing accurate and thorough knowledge of the product or service, and communicating clearly and succinctly throughout articles reviewing products and services being considered by consumers for consumption.

Know the Company:  Prior to writing any product or service review, it is necessary to know about the business behind the product or service being recommended or refuted, in a professional analysis of it. There are several reasons to investigate and research the company for which reviews are written, among them is to authenticate viewpoints expressed therein. Poor business practices lead to unsatisfactory consumer relations, regardless of how good a product or service may appear individually. By considering a larger scenario, one that includes overall customer satisfaction and loyalty, reviewers are able to provide potential consumers of a specific product or service, with more thorough and accurate data, informing them of a broader range of pros and cons to consider, before exchanging funds for the product or service being reviewed.

Set the Tone:  As a professional writer, it is important to set a businesslike tone when composing product and service reviews. Therefore, approaching each review as an individual writing assignment, as opposed to a retailer or consumer sales pitch, is necessary for author credibility. Introduction paragraphs for reviews should remain unbiased, laying a foundation and setting a tone where readers will engage in the article, filled with thoughtfully considered, detailed information. By constructing a product or service review in this manner, authors empower their audience, so they can openly form personal judgments based on sound and accurate information, provided by the author throughout the review.

Be Genuine and Authentic:  It is hard to fake being genuine and authentic. Product and service reviews purveying an authoritative message, indicate a particular clarity and passion about the item or service being weighed against its competition.

While these reviews should remain professional in tone, they also are required to express a certain legitimate and trustworthy disposition, one that if challenged, proves to be valid, reliable and without prejudicial sentiment.

Express Knowledge-based Familiarity with the Product or Service:  Product and service reviewers should avoid filling their reviews, with lots of fluff and meaningless product or service details. Instead, the primary focus should consist of useful information that will encourage and allow consumers to become informed about the product or service, incorporating consequential specifics, which will ultimately impact product or service consumption. Details like functionality, durability, customer satisfaction and warranty information should be stressed primarily, with less emphasis being placed on purchasing information, product or service features and ascetic qualities.

Summarize the Purpose of the Product or Service:  Quality product and service reviews answer the who, what, where, when, why and how of the product or service in question, within their article.  Effective reviewers are seasoned researchers, maintaining the ability to leave prospective consumers with full knowledge about the item or service being discussed, which requires answering essential questions buyers need and want to know. Therefore, genuine reviews will tailor their articles to the intended target audience, describing what is being sold, where and when it can be purchased, why or why not it should or shouldn’t be purchased and how it will or won’t benefit prospective consumers.

Describe the Product or Service:  Product and service descriptions inform potential buyers with precise detailed information about the product or service being reviewed. This information should include product size, features, assembly requirements, included or excluded items like batteries, hardware and light bulbs, service timelines and availability, pros and cons related to product or service, consumer expectations, product or service dependability, as well as scam alerts related to similar products or services, authenticating the particular product or service being reviewed.

Analyze Intention and Effect of Product or Service:  Carefully constructed product and service reviews include an analysis of the intention of the product or service, with its potential to achieve that intention, and its ability to live up to developing a reputation and following for the product or service.

Company intention must be considered when analyzing a product or service, so that an accurate assessment pertaining to its effectiveness can be made when critiquing it. If a company makes bold claims about a product or service, reviewers should make a concerted effort to determine if those claims are valid, thereby providing telling information about the effectiveness of the product or service in question.

Provide an Honest and Fair Critique of Product or Service:  Conclusions for reviews must add an honest and fair critique, based on the above stated information, backed up by facts, research and personal reflection, which weighs both the pros and cons, as well as positives and negatives, while considering the value and worth of the intended product or service for potential consumers. This is the reviewer’s stamp of approval or mark of dissatisfaction, intended to influence prospective buyers, of the product or service being reviewed; it must be stated with authority, remain professional and be irrefutable for the author of the review to substantiate credibility with businesses and consumers alike.

~MJ

Leave a comment

Filed under Product Descriptions, Reviews