The only REAL way to get more Twitter followers

A few times a week, I’ll get followed by someone on Twitter and will check out their profile. They’re a marketing person. Usually from the US. They don’t look familiar at all. But they have 162,000 Twitter followers. Impressive at first glance, right? Well, not to me. Not anymore. If you dig a little below the surface, you’ll find that it’s all smoke and mirrors. BS. They’ve purchased fake followers to make themselves ‘look’ like an authority on a topic. One of the ways to tell is to check out the engagement on their tweets. For an audience of that massive size, their tweets will have very few likes, comments, retweets, etc. This is the WRONG way to get followers. It’s empty, it’s shallow, it’s short-sighted and it makes you look like kind of a desperate social media loser.

In this video, I talk about the way I’ve grown my audience. Today it stands at around 3,200 followers or so but I’ve grown it one at a time over the course of the last 10 years. No bots. No purchased followers. They’re real people - people I’ve met through my client work, speaking at conferences, speaking at colleges, etc. And after every one of those talks, I spend some dedicated time connecting with every single person. If you don’t believe me, go to ‘tweets and replies’ on my Twitter page and scroll down.

In my opinion, this is the only way to create a real, true, authentic audience. One at a time.

Why are people not doing practice interviews before speaking to the media?

One of the sad truths I’ve come to realize doing media training sessions in Canada and other countries is that the typical smart, career-minded professional will put WAY more work and preparation into a short, in-house presentation than they will for a media interview. I have my theories about why that is - namely, that they’re seeing it more as a conversation with the reporter than what it really is - an on-the-record interview that will be archived online forever.

I have this saying when it comes to media interviews, that ‘the first is the worst’. By definition, the first time you do it should logically be the worst. Most people do that first interview with a reporter though and they leave a lot of upside on the table. But what if you tried doing the first version of an interview with your in-house media relations person or with someone like me? Then you got some real, pull no punches feedback and tried it again. The second version of that interview will be significantly better than the first. Then, you do it with the reporter. The result is better media coverage.

Don't use "we're in a boring business" as an excuse for weak social media efforts/results

One of the common cop outs for organizations to excuse their anemic social media efforts is to say, “we’re in a boring industry” or “what we do doesn’t translate well on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook”. It’s exactly that - a cop out. What your organization does has no direct impact on your ability to rock it on social media to further your mandate and connect with your audiences. There are a lot of ‘boring’ businesses out there that are doing an excellent job with their social media work (I refer to two of them in this video). There are also a lot of businesses in “sexy'“ industries that are seriously dropping the ball (I mention one of those here too).

It all comes down to leadership. For a decision-maker in the organization to say “this is something important that we need to be doing” and to then support that commitment with resources, training, equipment, etc.

The other important point from this video is that, even in 2019, it’s not too late to start.

You can't rewrite yesterday's headlines

You can't rewrite yesterday's headlines

Interview regret…

It’s that nagging feeling, right after you’ve given a media interview, that you didn’t quite nail it. That you could have done a better job.

If only I had answered that one question differently. Did I say ‘um’ too many times? Could they see that I was sweating? They’re not going to put that last thing I said in the story, are they? If they do, our competitors are going to have a field day with it. What’s my boss going to say?

Cue anxiety. Self doubt. Interview regret.

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My day with Wayne Gretzky - 20 years ago today!

In my bio or when I get introduced at conferences, I often reference the fact that I got to be Wayne Gretzky’s PR handler for a day in 1998. It was a really cool and memorable experience. The Great One was (obviously) one of my childhood heroes and, growing up in Sault Ste. Marie, we were lucky to have him play for the Greyhounds for a year. Anyway, I’ve never really talked publicly about that day or what took place. It was a charity event that he was in town for. I was there as media relations support. I got to hang out with and observe Mr. Gretzky (that’s what I called him all day) for most of the day. I learned some valuable lessons about handling yourself in public and media relations on that day. People say don’t meet your heroes because you will be disappointed. This was not the case on December 8, 2018. He was gracious, friendly, professional and cool. He actually also offered to sign something for me so I ran down to the Hockey Hall of Fame and bought a book about him. I got him to autograph it to my dad and that was my dad’s big Christmas gift that year. I also made a bit of a rookie mistake on that day. Near the end of the event, as he was leaving, I stopped doing my job for a few seconds. I let my mind wander. And it led to a bit of an awkward situation that I describe in the video. Thanks for watching!

7 tips to being a memorable wedding MC

7 tips to being a memorable wedding MC

Being asked to serve as Master of Ceremonies for a friend or relative's wedding is a huge honor. But there's a lot of pressure that comes with the job too. Contrary to popular belief, you're not up there to be the center of attention or to be the official wedding comedian. You're the host of the event and it's your job to keep the proceedings on time and to make sure everyone is enjoying themselves. I had the honor of serving as the MC at my sister's wedding a few years back. It was the fourth time I've pulled MC duty over the past 20 years and I've learned some valuable lessons about

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The camera is always on...

Your media interview doesn't start when the reporter asks their first question. It starts the moment the phone rings, the moment you walk into their building or the moment they walk into yours.  And the interview isn't over when they say thank you and ask you how to spell your name. It's over when you've hung up the phone (and confirmed that you've hung up), when you leave their building and hear the door click behind you or when you see the journalist driving off into the distance... This unguarded, 'hot mic' moment of Sainsbury CEO Mike Coupe singing 'We're in the Money' is now part of his professional legacy. And it was totally preventable. 

Why you owe it to yourself to get proper media training this year

Why you owe it to yourself to get proper media training this year

Most companies and executives are obsessed with the idea of 'getting' media coverage. They send out news releases, pitch reporters, buy ads, create events/promotions and throw thousands of dollars at PR firms in the hopes of securing interviews. Far fewer, however, take the appropriate steps to prepare for the actual interview itself. The result....

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One of the biggest reasons people mess up their media interviews

It's the Achilles heel of way too many spokespeople. And it's completely preventable if you know what to do. The #1 reason why people underperform in media interviews is that they don't make the time to prepare in advance. You don't need a ton of time. Just 20-30 minutes. But for whatever reason, spokespeople seem to think they can improvise a media interview and have it go well.

Lose the teleprompter!

Take a leap of faith and throw the teleprompter away (or at least sell it on eBay). When your executive does a corporate video reading from a teleprompter, they look stiff and stilted. There's something about reading from a screen that just takes the soul out of your videos. I know you want to stick to the script. But there's a better way.

Your video doesn't need to go viral to be a success

Just a quick post to help manage expectations when it comes to producing/sharing videos for your company or association. Don't obsess about hits, clicks, views and shares. If you put out great video content on a consistent basis - video that's useful to your audience - those metrics will follow.

Should we ask a journalist for a correction?

You did an interview with a journalist but you or someone at your company didn't like one of the quotes in the story or didn't like the way your company was characterized. Should you go back and ask for a correction? Here's my take on that question.

The Art of War in media relations

There's a line in The Art of War that says every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought. I really believe this is also true in media relations - a point that I expand on in this clip. I also give a real-life example of an interview I did a while back with The Canadian Press and how I put these techniques into practice (and how you can do it too).

Want the media to pay attention to you? Think more like a journalist!

"Is there any way to make your association's good news story more appealing to journalists?" Someone asked me this question after my talk on media relations at the CSAE National Conference in Newfoundland. Here's my take on getting reporters to pay attention to your media pitches... FYI, I reference my sister a few times in this clip. Just for context, so you know who I'm referring to, my sister is Carly Weeks, a health reporter at The Globe and Mail.

Funny moment from a social media training session

Flip phone?? 

I was going through some video from the summer and found this clip from the very beginning of a talk to a group of divorce lawyers and mediators in Niagara Falls. I was trying to figure out which kinds of phones everyone was using (as context for the talk) and there was an unexpected exchange with one of the audience members. Videotaping your talks means you get to preserve funny little moments like this one.

Advice to media relations pros: "Never stop learning"

The media landscape is always changing. When you think you've seen it all or when you think you're done learning, you'll be putting yourself and your clients in a vulnerable position. Keep learning. Pay attention to the changes from things like social media. Continue to adapt to the changing media environment.

Great key messages aren't enough

In less than 30 seconds, here are the two things that every great spokesperson brings to every single media interview! 

Great key messages (by themselves) are not enough. You need to have the skills to excel at the 'chess match' of the interview as well. You need to have both of these things firing on all cylinders.

The wrong thing to think just before your media interview begins

"I hope this goes well..." That's the last thing most people say to themselves just before they're interviewed by a journalist. It might be a nice sentiment, but from a media relations standpoint, it's a losing proposition. A great spokesperson will be much more intentional and proactive about what they want their quotes/coverage to look like.