Monday, April 2, 2012

Is Your Business Card Costing You Business?

The public relations firm that I work for, MEDIA CONNECT, is a division of Finn Partners, a Ruder Finn Co.  We recently renamed ourselves (formerly Planned Television Arts) upon celebrating our 50th anniversary this past month.  As part of our new branding efforts, it was decided that our business cards would include our individual photo on the back, spanning the full size of the card. 

Surprisingly, our staff was split over the idea.  Some felt a business card shouldn’t have photos.  After all, we are not a real estate business!  Others, like myself, felt it was a nice touch.  We are in the people business and a personal feel is important.  Besides, who can be in PR and be shy?

People see our faces all over the place—on our Web site and on one’s social media profiles and pages, etc.  I don’t get too many business cards that contain photos—and I collect a lot of cards.  But I think most people don’t think of putting a photo on or don’t want to lay out extra money to do so.  I see it as an advantage to have my photo on there, but perhaps if one has concerns about their looks, age, or that one will see their demographic makeup from viewing their photo, they should avoid the photo thing.  If you’re in the Witness Protection Program, don’t put your photo on the card.

What I don’t like about business cards is this:

·         Ones with airbrushed photos or outdated Glamour Shots are tacky.
·         Oversized cards are dumb—if I can’t put it in my wallet, it goes in the garbage.
·         Cards that lack key information such as Web site, email address, or phone (do you want me to   contact you or not?).
·         Cards with too much information—three cell numbers, four websites, and a bunch of Facebook pages (no one is checking out all this crap).
·         When the card is not easily readable—small font, distracting background, not enough white space.
·         When the card is too thin and flimsy—if it feels light you’re a lightweight.
·         When the card lacks texture, raised printing, or color—cheap and boring.
·         Gimmicky attempts to desperately convey an image that is not consistent with who you really are.
·         People who cross out information or cover it with a label—how lazy are you?

I once was contacted by a vender about creating 3D cards with photos.  What’s next -- a halogram?

Cards can have slogans as long as they don’t sound like a Chinese fortune cookie saying.

And if you are one of those people who say they ran out of business cards, I can only conclude one of three things:

(1)   You’re so busy that you need to print more cards up (wow!)
(2)   You really forgot them (shame on you)
(3)   You don’t want me to contact you ever again (sigh)

Some think they don’t need them, that paper cards are as fashionable as owning a printed encyclopedia.  But no matter how green or cool you hope to be, you still need a business card.

A business card is one of many things that make impressions upon another and contribute to influencing whether our relationship will continue and develop.  When you first meet someone you quickly assess many things, such as:

·         The firmness of their handshake.
·         If they look you in the eye when talking.
·         If they sound genuine—or genuine bullshitters.
·         Their energy level.
·         The harmony of their voice.
·         Dress appropriateness.
·         If they are attractive.
·         Their vocabulary range.
·         Their sense of humor.
·         Their overall trustworthiness vibe.
·         If you feel a connection.

Ok, so you’re not dating or banging every person you meet, but let’s face it—you want to like those whom you do business with.  So remember to make sure your business card is special.  Consider adding a photo of yourself—or Photoshop someone more attractive and slap it on your card.  If people really like you, chances are they won’t look too closely at the photo.  And if you decide someone is not card-worthy just tell them, “Sorry, I am fresh out of cards.”

New Rules For Authors

The New Book Publishing Landscape

The “Big Six” in book publishing has, for a long time, consisted of:

·         Random House
·         Harper Collins
·         Simon & Schuster
·         Penguin
·         MacMillan
·         Hachette

But they have steep competition from self-published authors, new e-book publishers, and those who publish with Amazon Publishing, which consists of six imprints:

·         American Encore
·         Amazon Crossing
·         The Domino Project
·         Montlake Romance
·         Thomas & Mercer (Mystery)
·         47 North (Sci-fi)

It remains to be seen what the book publishing landscape will look like in the future.

Interview With Dianne Ochiltree, Children’s Author, Freelance Editor and Writing Coach

1.      As a children’s book author, what do you make of the new publishing landscape? My first book for children was published way back in 1998, so I’ve had a chance to see all sorts of changes, large and small. The impact of the ‘Harry Potter’ series on children’s publishing was huge.  Before that, children’s books were not in general thought of in terms of best sellers that could be lucrative franchises, or would be read by adults as well as kids.  Now the bar has been set very high for children’s book titles, in terms of sales figures, sub-rights potential, and becoming a product that can be offered to consumers as movies, games, or apps for mobile devices.  When you add in the elimination of smaller presses over the years---or their absorption into a larger media conglomerate---you can see how heightened sales expectations and fewer publication slots has made the field far more competitive than it had been.  The biggest creative challenge right now is how will authors adapt their working styles to the needs of the emerging digital publishing marketplace. It’s all storytelling, but the storyteller must adjust to fit the new formats and how today’s reader processes information. 

2.      What advice do you have for struggling authors? First, get used to struggling---whether it’s your first book or you’ve been published many times, each project you send out to the world will have its share of struggles before success. It’s all part of the process. Don’t forget to celebrate small victories along the way to that big book deal: the better-than-average rejection, the encouraging notes from a critique partner, the story or poem that won a local competition.  Work on your craft every time you sit at the keyboard.  You’re your first reader, so why not craft prose that will knock your socks off?  

3.      What is your newest book about? My upcoming picture book, MOLLY, BY GOLLY!, is a re-telling of the legend of Molly Williams, who is said to be the first known female firefighter, according to firefighting lore.  It is illustrated by Kathleen Kemly, and will be published in September 2012 by Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills Press.    

4.      What inspired you to write it? I was doing research on historical firefighting methods for another historical fiction book and kept running into Molly’s legend.  I loved the spirit of volunteerism and bravery within her tale.

5.      What do you love most about the process of writing for kids? Pretty much everything: the challenge of making each word count… the joy of creating wordplay that kids will love…the emphasis on action…the freedom to be silly sometimes.

6.      What makes for a great children’s writer? The ability to allow yourself to think and feel again as the young characters in your story, rather than the adult whom you are now, is the key to creating successful stories for young readers. 

7.      Which skills must a children’s writer possess? A successful children’s writer must possess all of the technical skills needed to write for any readership: inventive vocabulary, interesting sentence structure, believable dialogue, compelling characters, vivid settings, strong plotlines.  Layer on top of this
the necessity to make all these story elements age-appropriate, intellectually and emotionally, for a child or teen---and the storyline or topic is one that is of genuine interest to the age of the intended reader---well, then you have the challenge of writing for young people in a nutshell.  It’s one of the most complex, and satisfyingly joyful, writing I’ve ever had the privilege to do. 

For more information, please consult:

Realistic Book Marketing
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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