Friday, February 12, 2010

What Did We Learn at BlissDom? Wisdom Workshops Notes and Information

Last September, I had the pleasure of attending the TypeAMom Blogging Conference, and it certainly whet my appetite for attending other blogging conferences as often as I could.  I made several posts about my experience there, including on that was very information heavy with links to notes taken at the sessions: TypeAMomCon Recap, Part 1

I have a feeling I will be making several blog posts about Blissdom, but I wanted to make sure a few were the sort that brought together as much educational information as I could find for you!

Blissdom 10 - Wisdom Workshops

Wisdom Workshop 1 – Say What you Want to Say
What’s Your Story?

photo courtesy of Mishelle at Secretagentmama
Shortly after arriving, I attended a media training workshop called "Say What You want To Say", given by Dan Barber and Jessica Smith @jessicaknows from Fleishman-Hillard International Communcations.
notes provided by Sami Cone at Econemic Living

 Message Points
Message points are a few carefully prepared, concise and memorable thoughts that closely align with your brand and business objectives; the thoughts you most want your audience to remember – above all else. 3 or 4 bullet points

-Message points are your brand – use your brand
Your messages aren’t just for the media; every form of communication is an opportunity: flights, elevator rides, cocktail parties
*About section of blog/website
*Partnership/business discussions
*Speaking opportunities

-Purpose of Message points:
*Define your agenda and help you focus
*Once you have the cues down, you have them in place to tell your story
-make it easy for you to “tell your story” and for others to remember it
-Give you a life raft to cling to if the waters turn rough
-Ensure you’re delivering a consistent message over time
*If you want them to work, you have to stick with them

Good Messages are:
-Concise, simple and specific
-Memorable, genuine and personal

Strategic (Call to action)
*Why are you doing an interview? What do you want someone to do after hearing you? Media is just a means to get to the audience you want to reach
***Talk to local media about shared content – create stories with a business objective in mind
***Paid to Pitch – Product Reviews by bloggers Draw Scrutiny – Blogola: The FTC Takes on Paid Posts***
(AP – press releases)
Key to paid relationship: even though there’s compensation involved, you still have to believe in it. Find your own voice and the way you feel most comfortable

Media Relations: The foundation
-Reporters are looking for “news”
*Controversy and conflict
*new, unique and unusual
-Your job: make your messages stand out
*Have an agenda for every interview
*Be ready for the well-prepared as well as the ill-prepared reporter
-Be smart
*There’s no such thing as “off the record”
*If you don’t know, don’t speculate (Never lie to the media)
*Don’t confuse media relationships with friendships

Setting up the Interview

-When you contact them
*Do your homework
*Remember the “New, unique, unusual” – and local!
*Think of what’s in it for their readers/viewers/listeners

-When they contact you
*Never leap in, start by asking questions
--What’s your deadline? What’s the story you’re pursuing? Who else are you talking with? I want to make sure I can help you and I’m the right person for you

*If it’s a good opportunity, then buy a little time
-“I’m wrapping something up…” What am I going to say? Take advantage of this opportunity. Collect your thoughts
*Prepare and practice
*Call them back or meet them when you said you would – do what you say you’re going to do
The interview: anticipate the questions

*Be ready for:
-The first question (softball question – hit a homerun! Set a table of contents for the rest of the interview with your message points)
-The “Gotcha” questions
-The dreaded questions
-The last question
*Use blocking and bridging to get from the question to your message points
“Does anyone have any questions for my answers?” –

-definition: The use of smooth connecting phrases to move the conversation from an off-agenda area (unproductive, hostile, irrelevant, etc) to your messages
***Tonality is the key to effective blocking & bridging***
“The great thing about all the attention is….” (What you want to talk about is great because it allows me the attention to talk about what’s important to me…)

SAMPLE Blocking and Bridging Language:
-“I think what you’re really asking is…” (rephrase the question)
-“That speaks to a bigger point, which is…” (when they’re in the weeds, talking about something miniscule)
-“That demonstrates how complex this can be, but I think what it all comes down to is…”
-“You’d have to ask them, what I can tell you is…”
-“Those things are true, but I think the real news here is…” “What I think is really important….”
-“I’m not the right person to talk about those issues, but what I can address is…”
NEVER SAY, “no Comment”

Another way to think of using messages:
-Tell them what you’re going to tell them
*Take advantage of the opening ?
-Tell Them
*Follow up with your proof points (why you’re unique and uniquely effective
-Tell them what you told them
*Take advantage of the closing questions to bookend the interview
*Never give them anything you don’t want to use

More Interview Specifics
*Control your answers
*Be repetitive, but not robotic
*Use easy to understand examples or stories to illustrate your point
*Say what you want to say and then stop talking! – Enjoy the pause
*You can call a “time-out”, it’s OK to pause
Control Your Answers
-Remember, if you don’t know, don’t speculate
-Be careful with humor and sarcasm (often lacks context-Always keep your cool
-Never repeat a negative
-Think of an interview as a business transaction – be polite but firm

-Let others know a reporter is coming
-Limit distractions as best you can
-With video/photos think of the backdrop

-Clothing neutral unless it helps to tell your story (don’t wear something to distract from the interview)
-Body language:
-Make eye contact
-Find a good balance between enthusiasm and calmness
-Gesture naturally: let the camera and microphones find you

Tweets I noted that were sent out during this workshop:

@AngEngland    "If your message doesn't fit in less than one page you aren't ready to put yourself out there."

@HeatherSolos   "Even when given a message to relay, as a spokesperson you must believe it yourself"

@RealLifeSarah  "Never confuse media relationships with friendships!!"  Dan Barber

@debontherocks  "Thank interviewer even interview was antagonistic. You may get to follow up & have a long relationship w/that interviewer"

@JennFowler   "If you have time, research the reporter so you know their veiwpoint."

@DomesticChicky "Want to get your blog noticed? Start local-let your local paper know what you're doing."

@AngEngland    "The second credibility goes out the window, the value goes out the window"

Herstory - Wisdom Workshop 1, Writing Track

The first of several Wisdom Workshops I attended that day was the HerStory Wisdom Workshop – The Powerful Art of Telling Your Stories.  This is the writeup done by Aliza Sherman as a descriptor for the workshop: 

"As girls, we were taught to be quiet, polite, not draw attention to ourselves. As women, we often fail to acknowledge our own achievements, especially in public. Based on the storytelling arts of indigenous peoples, this interactive, inspirational workshop guides us to tell our stories, to articulate our successes. You have the power. Let’s hear you roar!   Led by Web pioneer and motivational speaker Aliza Sherman, founder of the first three web sites for women – Cybergrrl, Webgrrls and Femina - and still making HerStory online every day."

These are Aliza's notes from the workshop that she and  Maya presented for us.

Go around the room and ask people to introduce themselves in 1 sentence.
Explain afterward: Women always define or limit ourselves by our occupations. But it will be interesting to see if anyone breaks ranks, meaning that if the first person says: Hi I'm Jane and I'm a writer" then chances are each woman will define themselves by occupation. If someone says "I'm a mom" then many will identify themselves by familial ties. The challenge is to see if anyone introduces themselves by their dreams, aspirations, personality, qualities, etc. If not, point this out.

Have women fold a piece of paper and then write on the outside what they do for a living today.
Then ask them to open the paper and inside write what they dreamed of being when they were a child.
Then fold the paper again and look at the outside. Then open and look at the inside to contemplate how close or how far to their dreams they are.
How many women wrote the same thing on both sides?
How many women are happy with where they are?
How many women would like to take a new path in their life or work?

Write where you are today on left side of a piece of paper (Point A) and on the right side (Point B), where they want to be by the end of this year and have them makes 3 dots in between then to NAME the dots from point A to point B.
1. What internal obstacles must you overcome?
2. What external obstacles must you overcome?
3. What single action can you take to move forward?
These 3 points become the arc of a story line.
Homework: They can craft their FUTURESTORY. It is up to them to fill in the words.

To think of something they did, heard, saw, felt or learned as a child and how it still impacts their life and work today. My story that I tell is of a candle. Short version: I used to love lighting a candle at night when I was quite young - maybe 9 or 10. One nite my dad woke up and I blew out the candle and hid it under my bed. He turned on the light and asked what the smell was. And I lied. His reaction has stuck with me to this very day and had kept me from lying since a young age, so much so that I'm almost too painfully honest, even in business and yet I firmly believe in the power of honesty.
Tell your childhood lesson story.

If you were to write your life story, what would your title be?
Aliza's Title: "From Gunpoint to Motherhood: Moving from Fear to Acceptance".  Maya's Title: "Learning to Love Myself: Letting Myself Fly and Sharing the Flight With Others"

photo courtesy of Aliza Sherman

Inspirational Writing - Wisdom Workshop 2 - Writing Track

photo courtesy of Casey at Mooshinindy
Sarah Mueller – @HallmarkSarah, Casey Mullins – @MooshinIndy, Molly Wigand – @hmkmollyw, Stephanie Precourt – @babysteph.  

SEO and Counting What Counts- Wisdom Workshop 2,   Geeked Out Track 
Speakers Kelby Carr @typeamom and Angela England @angengland

Writer's Craft - Wisdom Workshop 3, Writing Track

 Writer's Craft - Wisdom Workshop with speakers Amber Haines @amberrunsamuck, Megan Jordan @velveteenmind,  Deb Rox @debontherocks, and Arianne Segerman @tothink

Social Media and the Women Who Love it (Advanced Social Media), 
Wisdom Workshop 3 - Business Track
speakers Susan Getgood @sgetgood, Shelly Kramer @shellykramer, Lucretia Pruitt @geekmommy

Notes provided by Sami Cone at Econemic Living

Google timeline-  Who, what, when, where, why, how
Use multiple tools to reach multiple people – 
consistent voice (twitter, facebook, newsletter) – 
be the same everywhere
Facebook is where the fish are – always fish where the fish are
Group vs. Fan Page (business equivalent of your profile)
-anyone can start a group
Email newsletter
Constant contact, mail chimp, blue sky factory
Free email newsletter through feedburner

Huge thanks to all those who spoke at these workshops, to Casey and Mishelle, the photographers who captured the moments, and to Aliza and Sami  who submitted notes for the sessions!

If you attended these workshops and have notes you would like to add, please email me at and I will link them in the main body of this post.  I am hoping that this can be a resource to share!  Thanks!


Jana said...

did you know im an info junkie? I am so excited about this post, but I figured I should actually tell you that. Frellicious you are by far the best communicator I have ever met! Thanks for doing all the work on this post for me! xoxo

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