Advertise Here / 412-628-5048 - Joann Quinn-Smith   Positively Pittsburgh Live Magazine   Pittsburgh Calendar - Find out what's going on around you!  

Video Tutorial: What is a Page and how do I use it?
Video Tutorial: How do I view shows and listen to audios?

Publish date:12-26-2013 15:31:00
Content Marketing Express

  Subscribe to this Page's Posts:
via Email
Subscribe via email | via RSS Right-click the orange icon and click 'Copy the Link Location' (Firefox) or 'Copy Shortcut' (IE). Then paste it into your Podcatcher


CONTENT MARKETING EXPRESS Hank Walshak of Walshak Communications is an expert in both personal and business branding. Find tips here to keep your brand consistent and also learn about BRAND JOURNALISM>


Death by Cultural Censorship

Being in the public relations and content marketing business, I'm hyper sensitive to the potential damage a client's impolitic, public remarks can wreak on one's reputation and that of the company he or she represents.

Here in the United States, our government doesn't censor what we say. But embedded in our culture lurks a censorship force ready at a moment's notice to pounce and bite the hell our of anyone who dares utter words that offend against race, religion, or gender.

Our cultural censoring strikes like a cobra. It's immediate, fast, sure, viral, and filled with venom. Bodda boom, bodda bing. Anyone, especially high-profile personalities,  who verbally treads beyond politically correct norms gets the bite.

We don't send the offenders to a gulag or stalag. But when cultural censoring smacks, the remarks go viral, and the unsuspecting verbalizers go down, buried in heaps of bad mouthing. Offenders then go all humble and apologize or explain "what they really meant to say."

As you know, A&E has put Phil Robertson, star of its reality series, "Duck Dynasty," on hiatus because he made inflammatory remarks about homosexuality in a  GQ magazine interview. And PR exec, Justine Sacco, was fired from her job as a PR executive for InterActive Corp., because her racist-sounding tweet went viral. 

Here in the United States, our government doesn't censor what we say. But embedded in our culture lurks a censorship force ready at a moment's notice to pounce and bite anyone who utters words that offend against race, religion, or gender. 

This censoring nature of ours strikes like a cobra. It's immediate, fast, and sure. And smacks anyone who verbally treads beyond the unwritten bounds of politically correct. When it does, the remarks go viral, and the unsuspecting verbalizers go down, covered in heaps of bad mouthing that buries them. 

Those who suffer the cultural-censorship bite apologize publicly. This does little or nothing to staunch the negative reactions

Our cultural censorship should make all of wary of what we say in public--whether our remarks find life in social media or traditional media.

What do you think?


Archived Episodes
Publish Date: 07-18-2013 18:55:00
The tussle beween George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin formed the tragic event and its truth. Based on all the evidence, the prosecutor and the defense attorney each created and told a different story about the evidence  to prompt
jury members to accept their individual interpretations. The verdict hinged on the stories the attorneys narrated.

Few, if any of us, tell stories under the adversarial conditions of a trial. But we do tell stories in presentations about our businesses, products, and services. And the best stories contain key elements that trial attorneys and we can't compromise on. For example:

1. Stories need to be plausible, and as truthful, as we can make them.
Audiences have good noses for people who tamper with truthfulness. They can smell them like bloodhounds. And if your stuff is on the Internet somewhere, your truthfulness or lack thereof, is out there for all to see. And it's out there forever.

2. Stories should ring emotional chimes among our audiences. They need to feel something when they hear the stories we tell. When they do, they'll more likely connect with us and what we offer them.

3. Make sure your stories are easy to understand.  This makes them easy to remember, to repeat, to share, to Tweet, etc. These qualities give our stories life long after we've finished telling or writing them.

4. Appeal to the multiple senses of your listeners. Some listeners are more visually oriented to information; others are more aurally attuned; still others connect more kinetically with incoming info. Paint verbal pictures that accommodate all three kinds of listeners.

5. Include a call to action. The point of good stories is to change listener's minds about something and ultimately to change their behaviors. That's why it makes sense to give them something new to behave about. A call to action does that.

Because we, like attorneys, create stories with words, it's worth remembering that words are abstractions--one step removed from realities--not the actual realities themselves. Hence, the need to relate our stories as close to realities as we can with plenty of sensory qualifications.


Publish Date: 05-24-2013 18:12:00
As I meet with business people, I'm amazed when they tell me their clients or customers don't use social media.  Or only use social media sparingly. "Therefore," these business people say, "I don't have to use social media either.

Well, the fact is, everybody these days uses social media. If you're not integrating your traditional marketing with social media, your marketing is, in fact, broken. 

What's more, using social media goes hand in hand with innovation.if you're using social media, you're considered innovative. If you don't, you're not. 

The better news is that social media enables you to reach prospects with useful information for them in more ways than ever before. And to guide them to the hub of your marketing mix--your website.

What's better than that?


Publish Date: 04-27-2013 16:10:00

Friday, April 30, 2013

How Women Make Friends with Each Other and How Men Befriend Each Other

Recently, I had the pleasure of being present as two women executives, who knew each other slightly, met for a second time. I stepped back to allow them linguistic space to get to know each other better. As luck would have it, the two women hit it off, and had a strong give and take with each other.

One part of their conversation impressed me in particular. Their talk soon turned to light, but bothersome, health-related annoyances. One spoke of the problem she was having with a
sinus condition for the last few days. The other reciprocated by relating the trouble she was having with a sore throat that seemed to be going away.

Afterwards, I reflected on my observation with one of the women about their health related discussion. "I talked about that because I wanted to share and to make friends," she said.

I thought this an interesting facet of the subculture of women -- sharing a vulnerability and concern with someone she had just met for the second time.

What a difference from the way us guys talk. We could be friends with one another for a century, but each time we talk, it's just the facts. We banter about what we're doing, have done, or going to do.

But talking about health-related stuff? Not on your life. Far be it for us to venture into that strange land of vulnerability.

I could be experiencing the worst day of my life. But on meeting another guy, even someone I knew, the last thing I'd talk about would be any kind of vulnerability. To the question of how I were doing, my reply would go something like, "Doing fine. Having a great day. Busy as hell, but happy. How's your day going?"

Given my subcultural upbringing, it would likely never occur to me to reveal a vulnerability.


Publish Date: 04-26-2013 15:58:00

Make Content Marketing Conversational

 Marketing content, or information, used to be a pushy, one-way street. We called this process outbound marketing. We delivered content to journalists at traditional media. They, in turn, moved the gist of your content to their, and your, audiences. Your content sold you.

This was, and is, what outbound marketing is all about. The information moves in one direction outbound from you to your audiences. Social media changed all that. Now, we talk about inbound marketing. You need your content to attract your audience(s) back to you, to your website and blog.

To get this done means having a new mindset and taking a radically different approach to writingto prompt an ongoing give and take between you and your audiences. Here's how:

Make your copy conversational. If nothing else, writing for content marketing and social media is best done with an informational, conversational style that invites other people to contribute their thinking. Content marketing is about conversation, first, last, and always.

Write for the ear. Doing so makes especially good sense when you're writing for social media. Your copy should read well, of course, but above all, it should sound conversational. After all, that's how you get a conversation going, isn't it?
Be timely and relevant. When it comes to social media, people want to involve themselves in what matters to them now. They come first. So you'd better know what they consider to be timely and relevant. Observe and listen to what they talk about in real time and on social media.

Hijack the News.  Keep up with what's going on in the world. Find ways to tie your business and what you do to what's going on. Because your audiences will be tuned into large events and issues, relating your stuff to these events and issues will help them pay attention to what you communicate about.

Headlines matter big time. The people who make up your audiences are on the go. They don't want to take time figuring out if your copy is something they should spend time with. They have to know right away. Strong, grabber headlines help them to get into your narrative without having to think about it.

Use visuals whenever possible. Visuals”photos and graphics”draw people right into your content. Isn't that what you want?

Newsiness is the new norm. Look at it this way: On the Internet among social media, everybody is a reporter. If your content is newsworthy to them, they'll spread the word by tweeting colleagues and other people they know, and will write about it on Facebook and other sites.

Step away from the formulaic. Doing so ranks as important as newsiness. Your copy should be fresh, new, different, and express your personal and professional take on things, not someone else's. Find the style that sets you apart.

Master the art of the short. If the Internet and social media are about anything, they are about writing short, pithy content that involves readers in the blink of an eye,, gets to the point with useful information, keeps them coming back for more, motivates them, to offer their inputs.


Publish Date: 03-15-2013 10:08:00

Last month, I went to my dermatologist  to discuss the results of a routine body scan. I'll call him Dr. Flesh to keep his true name anonymous.

For no particular reason, I was feeling up, the kind of up when all's right with the world. After checking in, I took a seat and leafed through a copy of Newsweek and Time.

But not for long. The admin assistant called, Mr. Walshak, handed me the file with the doctors notes about my  past visits and motioned for me to accompany her to one of six waiting rooms.   The doctor will be with you shortly, she said as she closed the doctor on her way out.

Curiosity bettered me as I sat in wait. I  opened the file and leafed nonchalantly through this and that. And
then BANG! I saw the word you never want to see or hear at a dermatologist's office.
MALIGNANT! , screamed out at me. Malignant!

I looked away and the  back. Away and back again. After a moment or so, my body calmed down, thanks to my diaphragm breathing, and logic kicked in. The doctor had never used this word with me. Surely, I thought, a mstake.

When Dr. Flesh entered, we exchanged amenities, and Icalled his attention to the word. He scanned through his notes and confirmed my logic.He grimaced. This is a coding error, he said, and left to get the word excised from his notes. On his return, he assured me the error was corrected. Malignant was gone from his notes.

The moral: Remember that the context words are used in can heighten the emotional intensity on readers and listeners.The other moral: Make a habit of checking your doctor's notes.

As I was leaving, good Doctor Flesh offered a cheery bit of trenchant humor. This is your lucky day, he said. At least, you don't have skin cancer.


Publish Date: 02-18-2013 19:20:00

Traditional approaches to marketing aren't working as well as they once did.  That's because traditional marketing always focused on what's called marketing speak to prompt behavior changes or actions by customers and clients.
You know: Buy this. Go here. Call us. This is what author Seth Godin calls interruption marketing.
People today are fed up with advertising and marketing speak and filter out marketing messages.

Delivering content  used to be a pushy, one-way street. Not any more. Now it's about having conversations, not selling.

Now a well-told story stands out as one of the best ways to get your messages across.
Brand journalism involves telling stories journalism-style about a company, that make readers want to know more, stories that have conversations with customers or clients, giving them original, helpful content they can relate to.