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Do Ghostwriters make you a Phony?

January 8th, 2015 by
By

Chelsea Irwin

I hate to break it to you, but most of what you’re reading online was written by the man behind the curtain…

If you really think that CEOs and VCs really have the time to sit down, with no interruptions, long enough to actually write some of the articles that they are posting online… you’re either naive, or have witnessed this first hand. I have witnessed this first hand, and work with CXOs who not only write their own content but enjoy writing it… I also know that this is rare.

(My hat is off to every executive that is as involved in the content creation process as the C-level team at Golden Mailer is.)

So what are you actually reading most of the time?

It starts with an idea. Usually something the “author” came up with in the shower or while his/her eyes were starting to glaze over at yet another employee’s birthday calibration. (I’m shocked the ice cream cake didn’t hold everyone’s interest for at least 15 minutes… especially those of us with lactose issues!?)

Then they get all ramped up about this idea. This is the fun part…? They want it published in Forbes.com! “There’s no reason it shouldn’t be, it’s an excellent idea that probably NO ONE has ever written about before.”

This is when the content writers (or “ghostwriters”) come in…

ghostwriters blog, Golden Mailer, Chelsea Irwin

First, you talk them off the ledge. Let’s start with a meeting. Hash out some talking points, possibly some analyst support, and then we can send you a mock up.

“FORBES!”

Yes, I understand. Let’s get what ever it is in your head down on paper first. ALWAYS RECORD THE BRIEFING CALLS!! These are high profile people and they read and meet with powerful connections multiple times a day. It’s almost like herding cats. First remind them of the topic. (By this point they have already thought of 10 more ideas – It should be a series!) You take what you can from the call; apply it to the topic at hand, and as a professional content writer, the rest is up to you.

You research and read and hopefully come across some of the material that sparked the initial interest in this topic. It’s your job to make “brilliant verbal diarrhea” sound great. You listen to the call over and over. Google some of his key phrases – BUT DON’T PLAGIARIZE! Attribute phrases if it fits. I have NEVER been afraid to attribute anything. It shows that I’m not plagiarizing and I did my research, or at least it shows that the author has.

This is a topic that could go on for pages. But I have two very important takeaways:

  1. As the writer, you have a responsibility to reflect the author’s opinions and point of view with facts and clear concepts.
  2. As the author, you have a responsibility to provide the writer with clear information. Not everything you have learned in the last 20-years. You must stay on track and stay focused for at least 15 minutes. You also have a responsibility to yourself to read EVERYTHING that is published with your name on it. Otherwise, you have no one to blame but yourself.

But no, I don’t think having a ghostwriter makes anyone a phony. I think most content writers would agree. They simply turn an idea into something you can share with other people.

After posting this discussion on LinkedIn

I was very surprised with how many people disagreed with me. When I really looked at the responses and why these people were disagreeing with me, I did find a common theme. “Writers” and “Journalist” – not just “Content Writers” – have a strong attachment to their words; it’s their intellectual property! The respondents that were fervent believers that putting your name on something you didn’t write is, “plagiarism, simple as that,” are the same writers that develop their own ideas and inspiration. Not to mention, many of them are book authors. I would agree that credit is due when someone ghostwrites a book.

I disagree that publishing a book about your life, which you didn’t necessarily write, but has your name listed as the author, makes you a liar. Many people make a living as Ghostwriters. They don’t have the name recognition to get a book deal, but they have the skills to help readers understand the author with words, the way the “subject” would want people to view them.

Maybe we can get into outsourcing your social media and engagement next time… That’s another can of worms!

Part 3: SEO’s Impact On Customers & Online Reviews

November 14th, 2014 by

Part three of this five part blog series explains the essential need for business owners to understand the increasing influence SEO has on how customers receive and perceive online reviews on sites like Yelp & Angie’s List.

Even if you’re not ready to be on the Internet, your customers aren’t always on your timetable. As you can see below, almost 100% of Internet users read reviews and they affect almost all of their decisions.

Golden Mailer, SEO and Online Review Blog

According to a Channel Advisor survey, ‘Through the Eyes of the Consumer’:

  1. 92% of US Internet users read online reviews
  2. 46% of consumers were influenced to purchase based on reviews
  3. 43% of consumers were deterred from purchasing based on reviews
  4. 3% of consumers reported their decision was unaffected by reviews

Understanding the impact SEO has on online reviews & ratings…

A huge part of properly managing SEO for your online pictures, profiles, blogs, and websites is linking them all to your company. Every directory submission, description, and summary you issue are vital keys to your company branding. Consumers are regularly browsing through sites like Google Places where they will find photos, links, and bios of your company… and your competitors. If you don’t properly leverage SEO for all the content and graphics that you post online, your company will get lost in cyber space while your local competition is showing up in every search and on every site.

…Especially the impact online reviews have on customers.

All these graphics and summaries get linked to various review sites. Local customers rely heavily on these sites to provide them with the best possible information before hiring a company. While you can ask your customers to go online and provide a review for your company, typically the only customers that have the motivation to take time out of their day and review your products or services are the ones that feel you went above and beyond, or the very opposite, the customers feeling that they got burned.

There are multiple ways to look at a negative review:

Although it can be an emotional hit, bad reviews should be handled with care; they should never be responded to rashly or emotionally. Chances are the bad review is about a particular experience, not you as a person.

Look at any negative reviews as opportunities to showcase your company’s excellent customer service, and dedication to quality. Negative reviews can be good PR if you handle them tactfully. These complaints can also serve as a guide for things your company can improve on, because hey, nobody’s perfect.

How to respond to a review?

When responding to a review the best thing to do is to engage the customer. It is important that your tone is not defensive or confrontational; rather it should be one of concern. Be nice, be courteous, and genuinely try to help them. Know that it is incredibly hard to win an argument with a berated customer. Do not try; it will most likely reflect poorly on you and your company. Take the higher ground. Try to understand what went wrong and make every effort you can to put the situation right.

You can read more from the full blog here: “How to Handle A Bad Review

Why are reviews SO important?

One of the first places potentials customers look when searching for local businesses are review sites. Not to mention sites like Yelp and Angie’s List are so well optimized that they rank incredibly high in search engine results. Every review is important. If you can tell a customer isn’t satisfied before the job is finished, take the extra time and money to fix it before they cost you dozens of potential customers with a negative review.

A recent blog on Bnetworking.info stated the following: “Reviews – First of all, do not attempt to make reviews. Internet users will immediately know that they are not true. Reviews are really important in local citations. They are very similar to site linking since they give search engines as well as citation sites the notion that your business is just as excellent as you state it is. You can even find citation sites that will not list you in generic searches if you do not have a favorable review. Thus, once you are done with your profile, spend time to build reviews.”

Local residents search for a business that is in their community, affordable, and trustworthy.

This is why online reviews are so important. You can’t be afraid of the criticisms people leave. You should face these reviews head-on. Never ask a customer to remove a review. And most importantly, you must understand that even if you’re not ready to be on the Internet, customers aren’t always on your timetable.

Don’t hide from bad reviews…

The worst thing is being afraid to deal with it. I’ve worked with some business owners and they didn’t even know that they had dozens of reviews on Yelp. This is customer engagement at it’s best. It’s raw and real. Embrace the good and the bad because that’s what makes you human and that’s how customers trust you.

About this series…

This five part blog series takes a deep look into highly competitive industry landscapes and tips to successfully compete as a locally owned business.

How to Handle a Bad Review

August 19th, 2013 by
Close up of vintage typewriter machine

It is commonly said by people that they would love to receive some genuine feedback from customers. That said it still hurts to receive a bad review about your business or product. Although it can be an emotional hit, bad reviews should be handled with care; they should never be responded to rashly or emotionally. Chances are the bad review is about a particular experience, not you as a person.

A common mistake is to delete bad reviews. As a consumer it isn’t too hard to recognize the times that this happens, and it turns people off the product or business. Why? Deleting negative comments shows a lack of integrity—an important factor people consider when shopping for services. Your actions should always demonstrate the best qualities of your company. However, there are times when it is okay to delete comments. If a comment is racist, particularly offensive, or just plain vulgar; then it would be okay to remove the comment so other people do not have to read it.

Look at any negative reviews as opportunities to showcase your company’s excellent customer service, and dedication to quality. Negative reviews can be good PR if you handle them tactfully.  These complaints can also serve as a guide for things your company can improve on, because hey, nobody’s perfect.

When responding to a review, the best thing to do is to engage the customer. It is important that your tone is not defensive or confrontational; rather it should be one of concern. Be nice, be courteous, and genuinely try to help them. Know that it is incredibly hard to win an argument with a berated customer. Do not try; it will most likely reflect poorly on you and your company. Take the higher ground. Try to understand what went wrong and make every effort you can to put the situation right. Even if a customer has a bad experience with your company, there is a chance they will return to give you business; try and help them out. Responding to reviews this way will show other customers that you have the ability to handle complaints professionally, and aim to provide excellent customer service.

Keep it short. Do not write more than a paragraph. Never write a huge essay; it is off-putting to see such a lengthy response. Make it genuine and specific, not automated. If there is new and relevant information to share, then share it. Let the customers know the ways in which you have improved, or plan on improving because of their feedback. Last thing, don’t be a salesperson. People who leave bad reviews were already customers and don’t want to be sold on anything. Now is the time to focus on your customer service skills.

If you do all these things, you will show to the world that you are level headed, have integrity, and want to give excellent customer service. People who read the review will see that any dissatisfaction was unintentional, and likely a misunderstanding. As a consequence they will be more likely to choose your company over another that has received poor reviews and did not respond to them, or didn’t respond to them well. Good luck!

Book Review: Good to Great – Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t

August 6th, 2011 by

Good to Great – Why some Companies make the leap and Others Dont By Jim Collins

What made Good to Great standout to me was how the book was based on years of collecting and studying data. Five years of research went into finding out what differentiates good companies from the great companies. Collins even put a section in the back of the book to answer the toughest critics most asked questions.

I was very impressed with how the book combined simple explanation, true stories and interviews to tie in the factorial finding all in an easy to follow format.

Level 5 leaders primary ambition are the success of the company and not of themselves. This idea of person humility, a savvy business mind and strong work ethic gives this leaders an advantage over their ego centrical counterpart. A good leader knows that he can’t make a company great by themselves and that they need to have a team that will stand with them. First who and than what, you need to concentrate on getting the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus before you can concentrate on where to take a company. If you can’t trust that a person will do the job they were hired for, maybe they should be placed in a different position or maybe they are not in right for the company. We all need to Confront the Brutal Facts. For example we all know that our economy is not at its best. That is a fact, however we do know that one day the economy will start to get better. We need to rise above unrealistic optimism by acknowledge simple facts that are around us without forgetting that in the end you will prevail! You may not know when or where but at some point you will prevail. Once you have the right people then you can start evaluating if your company is staying true to its Hedgehog Concept, A hedgehog concept is simply three circles. Circle 1. Be the best in the world for what you do. Circle 2. Can your business economical support the idea and Circle 3 Are you passionate about the business at hand. The concept is so profoundly simple that it seems almost silly not to practice the hedgehog concept, dont you think.

I came away from reading this book Inspired and Motivated, Jim Collens gave me the tools and the hope to improve our business.
I look forward to hearing the ideas that you got out of this book as well.

Book Review: Power of Full Engagement

July 1st, 2011 by

The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal By James E. Loehr & Tony Schwartz

I would recommend this book to just about anyone; from a CEO to a business owner to a housewife. It looks at the whole picture of time management and not just small portions. With the use of real life examples, questionnaires, and simple to read principles, the authors help you start seeing the areas in your life where you may able to make changes that allow you to be more productive.

They suggest 4 basic principles that will help increase your energy:

1. Manage your energy, not your time There is nothing we can do about how many hours there are in a day. We gather energy from four separate, but very much related, sources: Physical, Emotional, Mental and Spiritual We must try to nurture each energy source; this book does a good job at helping you see why each source is important, as well as helping you find the sources that will be meaningful to you.

2. You must take time to recharge Loehr noticed that top ranking tennis players would take the time between each set as they walked back to the service line to lower their heart rate. This brief moment allowed players to sustain a consistent playing level throughout their game. He suggests that you must schedule moments in your day to recharge your energy. This could be as simple as deep breathing, listening to music while eating your lunch, or going for a quick walk.

3. Train like an athlete Athletes push themselves a little bit further with every practice, yogis move deeper into poses with every breath. The end goal is to accomplish a little bit more with every workout. Why should life be any different? Stress should not be considered a bad thing, just a chance to strengthen a muscle. Make sure to push yourself, but allow yourself time to recover.

4. Routines will save you on energy and keep you focused A routine will allow you to move through specific times during your day without putting too much thought or energy into what you’re doing. The ritual aspect of it can also help you create your strength and define your values. Loehr explains that is also okay to change your routines to help keep you excited and energized.

“The Power of Full Engagement” is broken up to two parts: Part One discusses the major premise and theories of the book in easy to read and understand sections. Part two is a guided process with questionnaires and worksheets you can start to find your own methods for your best performance.

The book is written with great examples and real life stories. I found it very easy to follow along and got a lot a great ideas on how I can make changes in my own life. I love when I find a book that can make an impact in my day to day way of living. The goal now is to apply what you have read and to stick to it. I will definitely read this book again.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this book, and if there are any other books you’d like to suggest for review, please let us know!

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