I recently signed on to help promote a summer literacy campaign, for a local non-profit called WordPlay Cincy. The organization asked me to chair their summer "closing the gap campaign," in hopes of raising dollars to enroll 200 children this summer in some really dynamic reading and writing programs. WordPlay Cincy gives young boys, girls and teens a supportive environment to tell THEIR STORIES. While they do this, these young scribes strengthen their reading and writing skills. We know that illiteracy keeps the cycle of poverty going, but this innovative organization, breaks that cycle.
So all I had to do was talk about it on my social media network, sign solicitation letters, you know just general support. But I did something a little different. I made a short video in my house, in front of my sons' bookcase talking about why I FELT the organization was so important, and I added a personal anecdote on how discovering the world in a book changed my life.
That video was viewed more than 1,500 times. Not because it was slick, because it wasn't. My 10 year old son was standing on a chair holding my IPHONE and the lighting was terrible. Still it was viewed so many times because the message was from the heart, it was authentic and spoke about a universal truth that anyone, no matter what station in life they are in can connect with.
Remember that when you are developing a message to connect to your audience. What's the universal truth, what is the most authentic experience you can share? Then tell it. The results will be far reaching.
Recently I was asked to give a speech ( see the link below) about the revitalization of Downtown Cincinnati, and my role in it as a journalist and ambassador for the cultural arts community. It was the first time that I was able to sit down and write my thoughts, my honest thoughts about the journey this city has taken and my ride along with it. And I was nervous. How honest could I be? How much of my truth could I tell? How much vulnerability should I show? I decided to be my authentic self.
As I wove my way around my 11 minute story, I could feel the audience join me in the highs and lows of my story. I was speaking truth, and audiences always connect with that. Universal themes, emotions and experiences allow the listener to step into your shoes and experience your message with you, and not just listen to you.
When preparing for a speech any speech take a moment and pinpoint the universal truths in your message and start from there. Be honest, be vulnerable. Be your authentic self. It's someone we all can relate to.
Let's face it, how people get their information today comes in a million different sources. It's challenging to find the right vehicle to deliver your message to your specific audience. A solution is plugging into creative and unique megaphones which broadcast above the noise to deliver your message RRight Now.
Sharlee Adams is the owner of Tre's Belle Studios, but she also has a unique gift of helping women uncover their authentic look which gives them confidence to shine in the work place. She could pitch this unique approach to personal branding and style to the papers, or spend a lot of dollars on an advertising campaign but there was another opportunity that would yield a quicker return on investment.
We connected Sharlee with the Founder of the Black Career Women's Network , who was organizing her first National Conference in Cincinnati. We booked Sharlee as a presenter to get in front of an audience of more than 100 Black Career Women to talk about personal styling, branding and creating your own authentic look. When the presentation ended, Sharlee had a line of people waiting to ask her more questions and learn more. She actually couldn't get to the door to leave because so many people wanted to know more about her and her message. She connected her business, talent and message to her specific audience, the RRight Now way. Remember to think broadly at the opportunities that are available to connect your message quickly. RRight Now Communications is linked in to those opportunities that are designed specifically for you. And with us, you'll definitely see results RRight Now.
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A recent client needed help connecting their message to the community about their 100 year old organization and their upcoming gala to celebrate this milestone. In a news cycle where everyone wants to know about the NOW, it took some strategy to find the right way to make this message relevant to every day folk.
Through the right pitch to the right media messenger, we found media outlets who could educate the public about this civic organization while genuinely putting out a call to action. To do that we had to make sure they would "get" the bigger story. You see, a 100 year old organization is kind of interesting, but a 100 year old organization that has changed, adapted, and stayed relevant throughout those 100 years is VERY INTERESTING.
We knew how important it was to find the right media messenger when a Morning Anchor asked my client not the usual questions but rather, " not much is still around from 100 years ago, but your organization is, how are you still relevant?" I can't stress how important it is to make sure the right people are asking the questions.
What happened next, is just what we wanted, our clients didn't feel like they were being "interviewed" they felt like someone was curious enough to ask the real questions, and the "interview" then turned into a conversation. A much more effective communication tool.
RRight Now Communications, identifies that universal truth in your message, connects that message to the right media outlets who can help you communicate it effortlessly to your audience and get them to act. So, let's start the conversation.
Nothing drives a reporter crazy, more than a long press release, than maybe a long press release that doesn't convince them to care about the topic. If it's long and complicated, you might as well have emailed yourself. If you want results fast, make it easy for your Media outlets to understand and even CARE about your story pitch.
I ask my clients a series of questions about their event, program, topic before I make a pitch, they may seem like obvious questions but I find that most of the time the client hasn't truly articulated these answers on paper or out loud. It makes a difference.
1.) Why is this XX important?
2.) Why should someone take time out of their day to support or pay money for XX?
3.) If you were to describe xx to a 6th grader, your son, mother or husband, what would you say?
4.) Why would anyone care about this? Why should anyone care about this?
Of course these questions change in variation depending on what I'm pitching but you get the point. Make it completely simple right off the top why media outlets should invest their time to connect your story to the public. If you can't communicate it passionately? Why SHOULD they? By all means take the time to clearly explain the WHO, WHAT and WHERE, but spend a considerable amount of time on the WHY. In this day and age when reporters have little time and less resources, it gets results. Simply.
This March I was invited by the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio to give the keynote speech to 600 Girl Scouts during a Broadway Education program at the Aronoff Center. Students Live is an award-winning Broadway Education Company in New York, they create interactive programming across the country that re-inspires young people to discover the importance of theatre and the arts. They asked me to speak about the impact of theatre and art on my life, my career and general words of advice to the young ladies. I had 15 minutes on a Saturday afternoon before the matinee performance of Wicked, here is some of what I said.
"Baby, you can be anything you want in this world if you put your mind to it." My mother must have said that to me every single day when I was about the age of some of you. In fact, as early as kindergarten and throughout college that is what I heard daily, or at least that's what it seemed like. I held on to it even if the world told me otherwise. After all I did not come from money, by any means. I was the free lunch kid. I was short, I was chubby, (thick if you're from the black community) and I had horribly crooked teeth, and I was often the only, the only black girl in the class, the group, the club, the workplace. But I could do anything, my mother told me if I put my mind to it. And a high school Drama teacher put that to the test, she asked me to join the debate club and then try out for the school play. The moment I took the stage, it became real, there was no blending in or standing back, front and center was where I was born to be, and communicating stories to the public was what I wanted to do. I knew I could do it if i put my mind to it.
"Life and death is in the power of the tongue." It's one of my favorite proverbs, it means your words can create or destroy. What you say has power, if you say you are beautiful, smart, creative, capable, and fabulous, YOU ARE! So try it on for size, see how it feels, say " I am BEAUTIFUL!" " I am SMART" "I CAN DO IT!" " I CAN defy gravity!" Feels good doesn't it? Speak life into your situation, speak love onto yourself, because Baby YOU CAN be anything you want in this world if you put your mind to it. Words have power use them carefully.
"You are loved." Remember that always, no matter where you come from, what your challenges are, what people say to you or about you, YOU ARE LOVED. So be brave and find a way to express your authentic self. A perfect place to start is through the arts. Music, dance, visual art, theatre, are all perfect vehicles for you to create something special with your gifts, and say something wonderful about yourself and create something meaningful for the world. While I didn't know it then, theatre helped me discover my gifts, the ability to show people the beauty around them and the beauty within themselves. Use the arts to discover your gifts, wrap around you the truth that you are loved, understand that life and death are in the power of the tongue, and if you do all of that, you'll know without a shadow of doubt that "Baby, you can be anything in this world IF you put your mind to it."