Volume 36 | Number 5
May Meeting Preview
April Meeting Recap
Article: Don't let the Competition
May 05: IWOLF Lunch
May 09: May Meeting
May 04: IWORP Breakfast
May 25: IWOOP Lunch
Spring is in full swing, tulips, daffodils and spring cleaning! What to do with all the paper left over from tax time, all those receipts from client meetings and the napkin drawings of your next greatest project? Reduce the clutter and scan them – of course!
But what is the best way to do that? Warm up your desktop scanner, fire up the scanner software on your lap or desk top, place each sheet on the glass and wait for it to scan, upload and show up on your computer…or just take a picture with your smart phone?
I have been using my smart phone and its pre-installed photo app to take pictures of stuff that I want to save or remember. It does not sort nor file well and while I can do some markup of the photos, it is cumbersome at best. I thought that someone may have already thought about that and decided to search the web and see what else is out there.
All cost much, much less than a desktop scanner.
I found many scanning apps are available but that's about where the similarities end. All of them use the camera function to capture the document but differ from there. Some are free and some are not. All cost much, much less than a desktop scanner. Some have better filing systems, edge detection, editing features, storage, etc. Dropbox has added the ability to scan documents directly. Paperbox is free for both android and i-Phone and has organizing abilities.
When making your decision, it seems that what you need, are willing to spend and how often you need to scan documents are factors to take into consideration. I decided to go with Scanbot. The price was low ($5.99), the storage optimal (can use the my i-Cloud account) and editing features are decent. For more information, here are some links to the reviews:
Do you use or recommend a different scanning app? Please let me know.
If you would like to contribute an article to Stet or be featured in an upcoming IWOC member profile, contact me and plan to submit before the monthly deadline of the 15th. Thank you.
- Cynthia Tomusiak
IWOC’s upcoming program in May will offer an excellent bird’s-eye view, along with down-to-earth advice, on how to obtain freelance-writing success in new and different markets—something that’s relevant to both experienced and beginning writers alike.
The program features a panel of five experienced IWOC writers, each discussing a different writing-market segment. Each will present a variety of “nuts-and-bolts” ideas on how to succeed in one specific writing market, in which he or she already specializes. The topical areas include advertising, article writing, company-business writing, niche-writing, and translation services.
The panelists will thus offer practical advice based on real-world experience that works in getting results, including:
The panel includes: Brent Brotine, advertising; Vladimire Herard, niche-writing; Diana Schneidman, corporate writing; Jeff Steele, article writing; and Scott Spires, translation services. These topical areas clearly reflect each respective panelist’s specializations.
The topical areas include advertising, article writing, company-business writing, niche-writing, and translation services.
For example, Brotine’s IWOC listing says that he specializes in advertising, marketing and direct response, including areas such as finance and insurance, which entail writing brochures, collateral materials and web-site content. Likewise, Herard says she is a niche-oriented health freelance writer, focusing on topics related to health, and serving non-profits and small businesses, specifically in the coverage of senior long-term care, aging, the pharmaceutical industry, and related consumer issues.
In contrast, Schneidman offers freelance writing and research related to general business, as well as for the insurance and asset-management industries. Also, she has authored a book, specifically for freelancers and consultants, which focuses on marketing strategies designed to get work in 30 days or less.
If you want to learn how to launch your freelancing into new directions for more dollars, creativity and fun, then be sure to show up for this program.
Offering yet another specialty, Steele specializes mostly in article writing, having published more than 3,000 articles in various newsletters and trade publications. He also offers corporate communications, finance, journalism, travel blogging, case histories, employee communications, fund-raising appeals, and company newsletters.
Spires says that he is a linguist, published writer, and editor with experience in legal and general translation, print, and TV journalism. In offering his writing and editing skills for corporate clients, he also promises to provide “versatility and an international perspective.”
So, if you want to learn how to launch your freelancing into new directions for more dollars, creativity and fun, then be sure to show up for this program. And be sure to jump into the discussion yourself-- audience interaction is strongly encouraged!
The IWOC meeting will take place Tuesday, May 9th, in Room 4F (4th fl.) at the Gratz Center, 126 E. Chestnut St. / 115 E. Delaware, Chicago, just west of Michigan Ave., adjacent to Fourth Presbyterian Church. Discounted parking (after 5 pm, with validation) is located at the 900 N. Michigan Ave. garage. Networking at 5 p.m. Main program, 6 p.m. IWOC members admitted free and do not need to register. Nonmembers, $15. ($10 if pre-registered at http://www.iwoc.org/event-2383738. Following the meeting, attendees are invited to a nearby restaurant for a buy-your-own dinner to further discuss writing-related topics or to continue networking. For more information, call 800-804-IWOC (800-804-4962) or visit www.iwoc.org.
IWOC is a nonprofit professional association of freelance writers living in the Chicago metropolitan area whose clients range from local to global. Together, IWOC members represent a broad spectrum of writing talents, consultation services, and specialties serving large corporations, small businesses, and not-for-profit organizations.
- Tom Lanning
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Shortly before IWOC’s March meeting on public relations, United Airlines blundered into one of the worst PR nightmares in recent memory. To free up a seat for a late-arriving United crew member, security officers dragged a ticketed passenger down the aisle on his back while he screamed in pain. The removal was so violent the man ended up in the hospital. The cell phone video of the incident controlled the news for days.
As public relations professionals, our panel speakers Tim Frisbie of the Shared-Use Mobility Center, Luke Cushman of the Wilks Communications Group and our own Betsy Storm reacted strongly to the way United Airlines handled the problem. The airline’s bumbling presented a textbook case of how not to do public relations. Ignoring the emotional impact of the video streaming into American homes, the airline issued a statement apologizing for the need to “re-accommodate the passenger.” This inauthentic statement, intended to sanitize the situation with emotionless language, backfired.
We are the audience members for public relations practitioners. Unfortunately, we are mostly aware of PR work when a company fails to handle a crisis well. However, public relations practitioners also work the positive side of communications. “Seventy-five percent of news originates with a PR person,” Storm said. Cushman agreed, adding that among different sources of news the percentage probably falls between sixty-five and eighty-five percent. He advised writers of press releases to think more about writing news than just turning out a press release. If you want to sell it to the news providers, it should be news.
However, public relations practitioners also work the positive side of communications.
Journalists respond to a writer’s interest in their publications. It suggests a shared interest in the publication’s brand, which can make journalists more receptive to your story ideas. “There’s an eighty percent click rate by journalists on emails with a subject line like, ‘Hey, loved your article about X’,” said Frisbie. PR relationships should include communications that aren’t strictly pitches.
Today’s PR professionals also create content for companies that communicate directly with the consumer. “In this case, the communication is more about content, frequently interactive content, than news.” Cushman said. For example, a consumer with a Chevrolet may receive a monthly email summarizing on-board diagnostics, like whether or not the tires need air. One consumer’s tires are hardly news to world, but the car owner cares what he rides on. This content creates a relationship between customers and brands.
“Tell the truth, tell it yourself and tell it first.”
Panelists also discussed new media, which give more and more people the chance to affect public perceptions. Twitter claims to add 135,000 new accounts every day, and our panelists report that internet estimates on new blog startups can be as high as 10,000 per day. Many people creating new content lack journalism training and respect for the fairness standards expected from traditional media. Panel members advised writers representing maligned companies to: “Tell the truth, tell it yourself and tell it first.”
Click here to access the meeting podcast!
The United airlines incident shows how communications lacking in genuineness and concern for the community can make a PR disaster worse. PR writers build a story about a company and open lines of conversation about the brand with the public. They need to think about the audience they want to reach and how that audience interacts with the brand they are promoting.
- Korey Willoughby
I have to say, I do like the sound of that headline. Especially because – ok, maybe with only slight exaggeration – it’s true! I’m referring to IWOC’s presence at the 2017 Lake FX Chicago on April 21. What the heck is Lake FX? In case you haven’t heard, it’s a free event that takes place annually at the Chicago Cultural Center, where everyone who “creates, produces or performs” comes to show their wares and share their expertise and knowledge. We’re talking writers, artists, musicians, actors, dancers, designers, photographers and more. A hulking creative schmoozapalooza, if you will.
Where exactly does IWOC fit into this?
As it turns out, people involved in every one of those fields have one thing in common: they want publicity. They want to know how to promote whatever it is they’re promoting. In sum, they want to know how to write an effective press release. Voilà! For the third-straight year, IWOC has come to the rescue with a one-hour crash course on “Press Release Basics,” given by vice-president Jeff Steele, former president David Steinkraus and yours truly. Not only has it been well attended each year, but it has been one of the most popular draws, so much in fact that the City invited us to participate in the ACCESS Labs, the new adjunct to the Lake FX event where we gave one-on-one press release critiques and consultations. It was quite an honor to be asked, and already we’ve received quite the fantastic feedback by attendees.
That in itself was immensely rewarding. But what really made our day was the people we met. Their enthusiasm about their art, their craft – their life! was contagious, and no doubt the reason for the palpable buzz that permeated the atmosphere.
But what really made our day was the people we met.
There was Susy Lucero, the effervescent Mom and “marketer extraordinaire” of Cielito Lindo (cielitolindo.com), an Hispanic-American Partridge Family who has performed on Chicago Tonight and everywhere from Navy Pier to Allstate Arena. (Papa Juan Lucero will be featured as one of the “Cool Dads” in an upcoming Parent Magazine.)
There was Full Armour’s Karen Stally (wearefullarmour.com) visiting from the UK, who has become smitten with Chicago and wants to make this her home. Her creativity and spirituality resonated and overwhelmed me.
There was charming John Ludwig – a Process Control Engineer at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. But whose real love is songwriting (songsbyjohn.com). We had much in common.
To hear, in turn, how we’ve inspired them to promote their creative endeavors was more than gratifying; it reaffirmed the importance and practicality of our organization.
And there were so many more. It was a true privilege meeting everyone. From Janet Austin (janetaustinart.com), a sculptor who has recently been transforming dead trees into works of art, to Dru Phelps, who has turned the children’s ditty “Jack & Jill” into a just-published self-help book for grownups, the experience was eye-opening. To hear, in turn, how we’ve inspired them to promote their creative endeavors was more than gratifying; it reaffirmed the importance and practicality of our organization. To great “FX.”
- Laura Stigler
P.S. We’re considering scheduling “Press Release Basics” as a program for one of our monthly meetings. Please let me know if you’d like that!
Understanding the competition is a very good thing . . . maybe.
We can pick up product and marketing tips and use what we learn from others to develop our competitive edge. But we also risk using what we learn to chip away at our own self-confidence.
It has happened to me.
Too much competitor research is dangerous. You risk over-focusing on their strengths. And worse yet, you risk overlooking your own strengths.
Believing in yourself is much more powerful than comparing yourself to others . . . especially if you are subject to twinges of intimidation.
Believing in yourself is much more powerful than comparing yourself to others.
You’ve got to remember when you are reading a competitor’s website and marketing copy or hearing about them from your network, that you and those who recommend them to you are only seeing the final product. You can’t see how many websites and other marketing efforts over the years have preceded the current version.
It looks like these people really have it together because you are comparing your insides to their outsides. Not a fair comparison.
The problem is more intense when you are bitten by the copy-envy bug. Everything you write about yourself, from tagline to contact info, feels inferior to what they have written. You keep rereading theirs and you lose sight of how to improve your own without simply stealing their stuff.
It’s also a problem when you overly focus on only one or two competitors. Just because a few people cross your own radar more frequently—they may live near you or belong to IWOC—does not mean they have cornered the market.
I’ll read listings of top international bloggers and top businesses and I’m always surprised by how many names near the top of the list I have never heard of. It’s because the internet covers the globe and the globe is a pretty big place. It’s got room for a lot of talented people and businesses.
There’s another question you need to answer: Are they as good as they say they are? Lots of experts look wonderful in print but they are not as responsive as you would imagine in real life.
The answer is to spend less time focusing on the competition and how you can differentiate yourself and to spend more time understanding your unique strengths..
Some of them are so busy (that marketing stuff works!) that they are not keeping up with the work and staying in close contact with customers and prospects. Or they may not be so busy but they are still not strong on follow-up.
The answer is to spend less time focusing on the competition and how you can differentiate yourself and to spend more time understanding your unique strengths.
Studying your own positives puts you in touch with the power of what you offer. It suggests more meaningful ways to improve your business and its marketing and inspires you to move forward.
Plus, self-understanding builds your self-esteem, helping you sell your abilities and your services more easily and more effectively.
Understanding the competition can be helpful, but understanding—and valuing—your own strengths is even more important.
Diana Schneidman is an IWOC member and the author of Real Skills, Real Income: A Proven Marketing System to Land Well-Paid Freelance and Consulting Work in 30 Days or Less, available on Amazon.
- Diana Schneidman
Please welcome IWOC's newest members!
Becky Maginn - Distance Member
Pearce McCoy - Professional Member
- Pam Colovos
Laura Stigler (President), Jeff Steele (Vice-president), Claire Nicolay (Secretary), Brent Brotine (Treasurer), David Steinkraus (Parliamentarian), George Becht, Tom Lanning, Diana Schneidman, Cynthia Tomusiak
Copyright 2011–2018, Independent Writers of Chicago
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Chicago, IL 60604-4434