1. App Downloads and Requirements
Zoom is available as a desktop app from https://zoom.us/download for your laptop. Your browser will automatically recognize if you are using a PC/MAC. You will have to create a login with zoom.
Alternatively Zoom is available from the iOS store and for Android. It is free. It is preferential for you to be on a laptop (If you are hosting you will not be able to record your meeting from your ipad/iphone) and a number of video options are not available.
A useful and more in depth guide to zoom is available here.
2. Internet Speed Test.
If you get the chance, please check your internet speed before starting participation in your Zoom using https://www.speedtest.net or the Ookla Speedtest app on your iphone/ipad. Your upload speed is the most important (…and significantly usually the speed which is most throttled by web providers!
3. Framing and Lighting
Please make sure you are in a good bright place for your Zoom! Natural light is the most flattering light source and dark areas will suffer from greater noise and breakup than those that are vivid and bright!
Please think about the background you are broadcasting from – if the location is your home, then please think about what is (…or isn’t behind you). If you are in a location away from home, try to think about whether your background adds or detracts from what you are saying. If you are a doctor broadcasting from a hospital, try to find a background which makes it clear where you are talking from!
If you are using your phone (not preferred): Please make sure if you are using your phone that you come onto the Zoom horizontally and not vertically. That means turning your phone 90 degrees so that the long edge is on the bottom!
IF YOU CAN, THEN PLEASE REST YOUR PHONE ON A SUITABLY STABLE SURFACE, SO THAT THE PHONE DOESN’T MOVE DURING YOUR Zoom!!
- Headroom – Please try to make sure that you leave enough headroom in your frame so that your head doesn’t touch the top of the screen! Please leave about 10% of your frame as ‘headroom’ and make sure you are sitting in the centre of the frame!
Below are two examples. On the left is an example of a frame which has a good amount of ‘headroom’ and on the right an example with insufficient ‘headroom’!
- Eyeline – Nobody looks great being filmed from below their nose! Prop your laptop up on a pile of something like books so that the camera is at the same level as your eyes. That will give you the best perspective and make you look your best!
I thank my AAJA colleague, Shako for inspiring me to use her tutorial for every Zoom conversation I record.
You have to write a press release, and you don’t know where to start.
Or you’ve written some, and no one has responded to you.
I’ll share a few tips with you that will make your release a more robust story and get a better response from reporters.
Here’s what you can expect from me...how to:
First of all - many media companies and reporters are inundated by requests, to begin with. WRITING IN ALL CAPS does not make them want to open your email, necessarily - your genuine story will.
Find the journalist who cares about your piece
When I was in TV news, a pet peeve is a press release that is clearly a blast. There was no personalization, outside of, “Hi Mega.” Now - if you’ve done a blast like that (I did make that mistake once) - it’s okay...here’s what you can do moving forward.
If you’re like - that’s a lot of work. It is.
There are tools to make this process a bit easier.
HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out. It sends out email inquiries of what reporters are writing about, and you can pitch yourself as a source. It’s an incredible tool, I highly recommend it.
“Cision empowers communicators to identify influencers, craft and distribute meaningful stories, and measure the impact.”
“Muck Rack is the new standard in public relations software. Easily search for journalists, monitor news, and build reports.”
Get them to open your email
Personalization is key here. The first touchpoint you have is that email subject line.
Keep it short and simple, and personalize it to the journalist you’re talking to.
Adding their name in the subject line is a good start.
Essentially, the subject line should answer the journalist’s question: “why should I care?”
How to get them to respond back
This is my favorite part. This is where storytelling comes in to play. (But spare all the details. I’ll touch on that shortly)
Let’s start off with questions your email should answer.
Journalists often don’t have time to read everything you’ve written - you’re trying to get their interest so they can respond to you. Write effectively by including necessary and important information. If it’s not crucial to the story - leave it out for now.
Of course, include contacts that they can have a recorded conversation.
The last piece depends on the type of reporter you’re pitching to.
This is all basic stuff. I can't personalize your brand story in one single blog post. Every reporter, industry, and type of story is different. Schedule a call with me, paste your press release draft in the form, and let's work on it together.
Here's my made up example of how it would look like put together.
As a small business owner myself, I’m tempted to push this blog writing off to “tomorrow.” Making time to write for a blog can seem taxing. But if you’re a fan of writing - I believe this is one way to start developing a website strategy. (Another option is to have someone help write your blogs for you).
“Is having a blog critical to businesses’ success?”
If that’s a question you’re asking - it really depends on your goals. Does it make sense for you to write a blog? Who is your audience? And what would they want to read?
If you are sure you need a blog, here’s some food for thought.
Let’s take took a look at how the pandemic affects our global economy, it shows just how much we rely on the internet...and how connected we truly are.
If it makes sense for your business to have a blog, it can potentially:
81% of B2B companies use blogs as their primary content marketing tactic, according to a report compiled by the Content Marketing Institute (2016). This number speaks volumes on how effective blogs can be in making a business profitable and highly-engaged.
Here are the reasons you should consider it.
1. Blogging helps your business become more competitive
While no two companies are ever really the same, we can make an educated guess that there are plenty who are similar and serve similar audiences.
Blogging can be one way to show your personality and share information that is unique to your brand. This helps distinguish your brand from the rest.
If you want your target audience and prospective customers to remember you and put you on top of their mind, starting a blog is an excellent way to do that.
2. It provides a platform that allows you to communicate with your customers
Communication, I believe, is the foundation of our life. A blog is one way to communicate with your customers...and that’s huge!
A website is typically one-way communication, and adding a blog allows two-way interaction. Think about the comments and messages that could lead to a stronger relationship.
Having a business blog allows you to share your content in a more personal manner and actually communicate with your audience.
3. It helps you understand your audience better
I believe that a customer is the driver of the business. that’s why I love companies who are customer-obsessed, like Nike, Apple, Porsche, and Amazon (I know, some are debatable).
Blogging allows you to understand your audience better. How? Through surveys, polls, questions, and messages. You will see through the website analytics, shares, engagement if people do care about the information you’re putting out there. Better yet, if the content gets comments - you’ll know exactly what the customer is asking for. This is gold, really, because it will provide insight into what your customers want & need...and you can continue to deliver content that they’re looking for.
Why should you care about what your customers think?
Well - it’s all about that relationship, right? If you and the customer are on the same page...learning from each other…they will be more likely to come back to you for more advice and guidance. This will help increase your reach and promote brand loyalty in the process.
4. It improves SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial when it comes to business success. Increasing your page ranking and landing on the first page of Google searches make a huge difference considering how impatient most people are nowadays when looking for something online.
Heads up: an effective SEO strategy does take a long time to develop.
By creating a blog and posting once every year, doesn’t mean you’ll get on the first page of Google overnight. What it will do is improve your rankings over time as bots crawl through the pages. It gives you ranking kudos, essentially, when it finds fresh content, relevant keywords, and fulfills the audience’s wants and needs.
I have a free website audit tool for you. It will give you an analysis of the health of your website. Give it a go and let me know what questions you might have.
Click to set custom HTML
5. It positions your business as an expert in your niche
There’s a lot of content out there. When I say “a lot” I mean….A LOT.
But your opinions, experiences, and thoughts matter. There’s a lot of noise online, and you can present a fresh take or a new perspective.
Blogging allows you to share what you know, what you think, and how you feel about your niche / service / product / topic.
The most important takeaway I hope you can take from this is to understand what your customer needs and how you and your business can add value to their lives. This is crucial, because without trust - I can confidently say that we won’t have any form of relationship.
I’m excited to hear about what you decide - blog or no blog? Either way, I’d love to hear from you.
Mega is based in California with her husband & three dogs: Fluffy, Simon, and Charlie. Mega started her career as a TV news reporter and transitioned into marketing and data science. Her vision is to solve problems through storytelling and data-driven strategies.