#506DE- -30-

August 14, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

It’s only fitting that I headline the ending blog post in a course about writing for new media with an old media notation that is all but forgotten, hence the “-30-.”

No one really knows the origin of -30-, at least not conclusively, that I ever heard.  It’s likely a hold-over from telegraph days when the telegraph operator ended his transmission with XXX–30 in Roman numerals.  Some say it goes back to the days of writing in longhand.  X meant the end of a sentence.  XX indicated the end of a paragraph.  And XXX signified the end.  Whatever it’s origin, it’s end has come and gone in the computer age.

And now #506 has come and gone.  And I’m writing about (glorifying? pining for?) an arcane old symbol from an industry that has been decimated by the very new media that is the focus of this class and master’s program.  (It would  be politically correct to say the industry has been “changed,” rather than “decimated,” but Zinsser and Kalm have reinforced that there’s nothing to be gained from writing weakly     weakly stated thoughts are weak writing is boring and there is much to be gained for the writer and reader when positions are written strongly and with passion ;strong, passionate writing will keep your readers reading.)

The bottom line is no matter how much the the world has changed in terms of journalism and the way we all communicate with one another, writing well remains the key to success.   I fancied myself a decent writer before this class and I certainly appreciate the feedback I received (although, like all writers, I’m certain I would have benefited from more frequent feedback).

I certainly have a better handle now on what it will take to establish a personal brand online.  I remain a bit reluctant to dive in because I do understand what it takes to write well consistently.  At the moment, it’s about available time, or more precisely the lack of available time, to do my personal brand justice.

Clearly, this class has confirmed for me that if and when I find the time to establish that online brand, I could do it.  At the beginning of the term I responded to an email from you and said:  “Sometimes I even have the arrogance to think I might actually have something to say that will interest more than the few people who know me.  But not yet.  So, I’m in the ICM program to prepare for that day.”

I’m not backing away from that sentiment, which comes from a frustration and distaste for much of what is self-published on the web.  But this class, by forcing me to write, convinces me that I really could make a positive contribution to the public discussion in my niche.  As I re-read my blog entries, I liked much of what I wrote.  This class helped me crystallize my plans for my capstone project.  That’s no small accomplishment.

As your blog entries eloquently taught, writing is self-discovery.  Writing forced me to analyze and capsulize.  It forced me to fortify my musings with logic and facts.  The not-so-simple act of writing forces you to hone opinions into reasonable arguments that, one can hope, go beyond mere pontificating to perhaps adding some light on issues.  For that, this class was extremely valuable.

I will continue to write, but probably not on the blog until I can fully commit to creating and maintaining an online presence.  When I’m ready, I hope I can contact you for advice on maximizing my presence.


Social Media Campaign

August 8, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

Being the dinosaur that I am, this assignment–to critique a current social media campaign–took quite a bit of research. Frankly, I spend very little time on Facebook, even less on Twitter and I am virtually unfamiliar with most others. So, I suppose I’m not exposed to a lot of social media campaigns. I’m not saying that social media isn’t a good thing. I have experienced several Facebook reunions, etc. that have been a real kick. I’m just a novice.

I know businesses are trying to capitalize on social media to advertise their companies and I’ve read about some efforts, but frankly the write-ups concentrate on the “coolness” of interacting and are slim on any data proving the efforts have boosted their bottom line. Especially when you consider that to maintain a vibrant social network presence on Facebook or Twitter takes constant effort (that is, an employee) it seems a lot of folks haven’t quite figured out how to make it work for them. In my field–news–TV stations and newspapers are trying desperately to use social media, but viewership and circulation continues to drop. I’d love to see more examples of true success stories and was hoping this program might provide that (but that’s a topic for another day).

All of that long, curmudgeonly preamble sets up the fact that I found a social media campaign that blew me away for its “coolness” and its potential to really affect revenue. Of course I didn’t know about it until I was doing research for this assignment, but I’m not in the target demographic, so why would I?

Ford is about to introduce a new car in the US at the end of this year, the Fiesta. It’s a subcompact and has been selling in Europe for a few years already. The target audience for this car will be young drivers, 20-somethings, the so-called millenials. At some point, Ford will use traditional advertising on TV and in print and they’ll have Car & Driver review the car, etc. But in advance of that and in advance of the car’s US debut, Ford has given 100 20-somethings a Fiesta to drive for six months

The lucky 100 were chosen from 4,000 who applied to be “agents” for the Ford Fiesta Movement Campaign. The applicants had to show they had a substantial online presence.  The winners get to drive the car for six months and are expected to update, blog and tweet about their life with the vehicle on their own accounts and on the Ford-sponsored Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr accounts.

How many people can cram into a Fiesta? 14. From Flickr.

Ford has promised to keep hands off and let people really write what they think.  This will be an effective way to cut through the advertising glut.  What is written by fellow-20-somethings will be regarded as more genuine and more trustworthy.  Even though they are being given the cars for six months their tweets and blogs and videos will be seen as unbiased and real and has the potential to build real buzz for the Fiesta when it goes on sale in a few months in the US.

Brand agents also are being directed by Ford to take their Fiestas on assignments–to clean up parks, etc–and then to blog and tweet or produce videos.  It all builds the “cool” around the car from the auto-maker that used to be joked about as FORD–Fix Or Repair Daily.

This campaign is (potentially) brilliant.  The photos, blogs and videos, seem fun, which is in itself a positive image for Ford.   Of course we’ll have to see if it really pays off in terms of revenue, but I suspect this campaign will go a long way to convince 20-somethings to at least look at the Fiesta.

Perhaps I can take a page from this campaign if and when I launch TVNewsTalent Coach.com.  If I give away some free coaching sessions or at least offer a cut rate in exchange for young reporters blogging, Facebook and Tweeting about my services, that might bring in some extra business.  In addition I would explore getting my reporting tips blog entries picked up by industry newsletters, like NewsBlues and TVSpy.


August 1, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

Not surprisingly I did a video.  You can see it here.

And here is the script:

Hi.  My name is Paul Lewis.  I want to tell you about an exciting new web site and business called TV Talent Coach-dot-com.

Quite simply, TV News Talent Coach will help you become the best reporter or anchor you can be.

If you’re ready to put in some time and effort—to invest in yourself—I will work together with you to give you the tools to become a confident, passionate and effective storyteller.

I see three main audiences for this website and business:

-Broadcast journalism college students who will soon graduate and look for employment,

-Young working journalists hoping to move to the next level,

-and print reporters who are learning how to tell video news stories.

If you’re in your junior or senior year of college or in a graduate program, TV News Talent Coach is for you!  You–and your parents–have invested perhaps as much as $200,000 on your education.

Don’t cheap out now!  Now is the time to top it off with practical advise from a veteran News Director who has hired more than 100 people.

You might ask: Why do I need TVNewsTalentCoach.com when I have my professors who are critiquing my work?

Let’s be honest…when was the last time your professors were actually in a newsroom?  How many reporters and anchors have they hired?  Some will be great, but if you are really committed to making it in this business make just a small investment in yourself through TVNewsTalentCoach.com.

You’ll get brutally honest feedback and practical tips that will help you hone your skills.  You’ll see a dramatic improvement quickly and you will be ready to search for–and find–your first job.

If you’ve already got two or three years under your belt or even 10 or 12 years, and you’re ready to move to the next level but can’t seem to make it happen, TV News Talent Coach is for you!  Sometimes it takes an outside eye to identify just a few things that will elevate your performance.  If you’re a seasoned veteran you know that sometimes you just need a little inspiration.

You also know that virtually every station has slashed its budget.  The few stations that used to have formal talent coaching just don’t do it anymore.  The bottom line is it’s up to you to invest in yourself.   I’ll work with you to maximize your skills.  I’ve got a proven track record of success.

If you’re a print reporter, struggling with new demands to tell your stories with video on your website, it can be a daunting adventure.  It’s not what you signed up for but you know you’ve got to do it to keep your job in a shrinking industry.  The good news is it’s not brain surgery.  It’s not easy but there are things you can do to make your video stories more effective.  I can show you how.

So what will the website be?  First of all, it will be simple and easy to navigate with just a few pages.

On the “About” page, I’ll talk about my background.  I’ve been a broadcast journalist for more than 30 years.  I’m proud to say I’ve won a boatload of awards, from

A-P awards to Emmys to a Peabody.  I’ve been a News Director since 1996, so I know what News Directors are looking for when they hire reporters and anchors.  I know what it takes to stand out and I can get you there.

Can you get Talent coaching elsewhere?  Sure.  But most of the time it’s either very expensive or it’s offered by talent agents—many of them lawyers—who are really focused on finding you a job so they can take 6 or 8 percent of your salary as commission.  I’m not a talent agent and don’t want to be.  I’m just a News guy who loves the business can make you better at your craft.

On the “How It Works” page I’ll lay out the simple process.

Send me your DVD or links to where you’ve posted your work.  I’ll review it and we’ll set up a meeting by Skype.

Telephone conversations are OK, but I want to see your face and you’ll want to see mine as we drill down on your work.  I can have you read scripts and practice stand ups all by Skype.  I’ll send you off with concrete suggestions and you’ll put them into practice on your next piece.  We’ll meet again by Skype to review your next piece and I’m telling you will see an improvement.

So how much is all this going to cost?

Just 100 dollars.  That’s right, only a hundred bucks for a review and two Skype meetings.

I’m pricing it so low because I know students and young reporters don’t have a lot of excess cash lying around.  Think of where you throw away 100 bucks—a couple of nights at the bars, video games, whatever.

Isn’t it worth this small investment in yourself?

You’ll be able to see testimonials from several reporters and anchors from around the country who will talk about the value of my coaching.  These reporters are in medium and large markets like Hartford, Albany, Kansas City, and Philadelphia.

TVNews Talent Coach.com will also have dozens of links to other industry websites and a blog where I will comment on current issues, trends and challenges arising about broadcast journalism.

Getting people to this site will take some work, but I am pretty well plugged into the industry and will spread the word of this new site by contacting my friends and colleagues at industry newsletters and blogs and Facebook when it is launched.  I will also work with a network of journalism faculty around the country and use my extensive contacts in the print world to spread the word of -my new service.

TVNewsTalent Coach.com will provide a service that is sorely needed at an incredibly affordable rate.