Press Release Update

I wanted to touch base with you guys one more time about press releases, because I myself just recently experienced the power of this little tool.

The owner of the publishing company I routinely work for wrote a book himself recently, and he asked me to write a press release for him.  He submitted it to one site online.  Did you catch that?  One.

The result?  Three radio interviews, increased sales, and now Amy has a new book to write, as a follow-up for his first one.

There are mixed reviews about the use of press releases for books; however, I have only seen good results, this being one of the best.

Don't be afraid to use press releases to promote a new book.

Don’t be afraid to use press releases to promote a new book.

Three Reasons Why My Child Has a Cell Phone

girl phoneEvery once in a while, I find myself being criticized for providing a cell phone for my daughter, Miki.  Now that she is nine, I find this happens less, but a few years ago, I seemed to encounter this frequently.  The topic came up again recently, so I thought I would address it here.

When I first thought of purchasing a cell phone for Miki, I put quite a lot of thought into it.  After all, she was only seven, and I can understand the question “Why in the world does a seven-year-old need their own phone?”  This is certainly an individual decision, and different circumstances may deem a cell phone for a young child a good idea.  I did not like the idea of complete access to the outside world that a cell phone brings, however, so I purchased one with usage controls, and I use them. For along time, I was the only one who could call or text her, and she could only access me and 911.  She has a little more freedom now, but not much more.

Here are my three reasons why my child has a cell phone:

1. I was looking for a creative tool to facilitate practicing her spelling, reading and writing skills.  At this time, she did not like spelling AT ALL.  Miki had always been fascinated by my phone, and loved to type letters on it, so I thought if she had her own phone, it would be fun to practice spelling words on it.  It worked like a charm.  I would call out the spelling word, and she would send me the spelling of it via text (I turned off the auto-correct feature). If it was incorrect, I would text her, and she would respell it.  This quickly progressed into her texting  me little messages, and having to read and respond my text messages.  Great practice, and very effective.

2. Land lines are becoming less popular in homes, mine included, and I wanted to make sure she was familiar with cell phones and comfortable using one in the event of an emergency.  I have no qualms there.  Technology almost seems to be second nature for children today.

3. At the time I bought her the cell phone, we lived in a small neighborhood in Cheyenne, Wyoming where it was appropriate for the kids to walk around the block or ride their bikes together.  If she was out of site, I wanted to be able to communicate with her. As loud as I can be, hollering for her from the front yard didn’t work so well and gave me a headache.   The cell phone proved to be very useful for emergency situations as well.  Twice, a friend of hers wiped out on his bike and injured himself, so she called me immediately both times to come help.  Another time, she was riding her bike with a friend and was around the corner, when the wind suddenly picked up.  Now, for those of you not familiar with Wyoming winds, they can be very sudden and very strong. Well, the wind was too strong for the girls to ride their bikes or push them home, and she called for a  mommy rescue.

Whether or not parents want to provide cell phones for their younger children is an individual decision.  Not everyone needs one, and not all parents like the idea.  Take a look at potential reasons, and determine if the reasons are compelling enough to justify the expense, and go from there.  If you do purchase your child a cell phone, please be aware of safety considerations, use parental controls, and teach them to handle it responsibly.

If you have any children-and-cell-phone stories, I would love to hear them.

Free Sites to Submit Your Press Release

If you are relatively new to writing and publishing your work, your marketing budget is probably relatively small and you want to get the most for your dollars.  Free resources are a find, and there are a number of them available for press release submissions. Here are 25 of them: press-release dude

Some of these sites also offer paid submissions that they combine with other services that you may want to explore.

Remember, submitting material online is also an opportunity to boost your search rankings–use keywords and make your press release SEO-strong.

If you have had experience with these sites or others, please share with your fellow writers.

Creating an ADHD-Friendly Home for Your Child

family-circus-6-9-11I ran across a post on Facebook recently that asked about managing the chaos that having a child with ADHD can create in the home.  It is important to remember that ADHD is classified as a disability because it interferes with day-to-day living; therefore, just as with physical disabilities, you may will want to make some changes at home to accommodate your child’s ADHD and to create a less stressful environment for everyone.  I would like to offer you some tried-and-true suggestions.

1. Create boundaries.  Accommodating your child at home means finding ways to be supportive, positive and sensitive to your child.  This is one of the most loving things you do. Being supportive, however, does not mean that there are no boundaries. On the contrary, clear boundaries are important because they help create order in a disordered mind. All children respond best to positive reinforcement, and children with ADHD are no exception. Consequences are appropriate as well; however, consequences should be a logical result of the action, not an unrelated punishment.  The idea is to teach, not frustrate. Keep in mind that a major symptom of ADHD is difficulty remembering things; therefore, children with ADHD will need repetition to remember boundaries, especially if you are setting some new ones.  Writing down the boundaries, or rules, for the home where everyone can see them is an excellent additional support.

2. Establish routines and schedules. Routines and schedules that are written down provide a sense of control and reassurance that children with ADHD need. Routines for getting ready for school, routines for dinner time, routines for homework time, and routines for bedtime are some key areas that both you and your child will benefit from establishing. Schedules, even if they change from day-to-day, help a child with ADHD by providing predictability and advanced notice of things to come. Children with ADHD to not handle the unexpected well, and routines and schedules reduce the risk of frustrating your child. As with house boundaries and rules, put it in writin, and keep in  mind that routines and schedule should be helpful and enjoyable, not tedious. Include your child in establishing these routines and schedules as much as possible.  Identifiy the nonnegotiables, and allow your child to have some input. Review the next day’s schedule the evening before, and point out any deviations from normal routines.  My own daughter likes to write our routines down and decorate them before we hang them.  The whole process has become fun for us, and I hope you are able to reach this point as well.

3. Provide space to be ADHD.  Ideally, a home should be comfortable for everyone. A child with ADHD does not do well in a home that is full of “don’t touches” and decor such as white carpet, furniture that stains easily, or has breakables everywhere.   Children with ADHD move a lot, are prone to spills, and are not known for being orderly and neat. Reduce stress in the home by furnishing it and decorating it comfortably. Provide a place for everything, easily identifiable and accessible, keeping in mind that the goal is better organization, not perfection. Reality means there will be some clutter and mess. Set up a bulletin board to keep track of important papers, throwing out the rest. Schedule regular times to thoroughly clean out rooms and closets, with your help, and get rid of unnecessary items–broken toys or toys they no longer play with, clothing that is torn or too small, and other unnecessary items.  The more a child with ADHD has to keep track of, the harder it will be.  Create 5 minute pick-up times scattered throughout the day, and make them part of the routine. This decreases build-up of clutter and reduces longer clean-up times that are more difficult and frustrating. Make it fun–have a mini-contest or turn on music.

Providing space also includes designating areas of your home, indoors and out, for activities such as art and rowdy play. I am fortunate to have a very large basement area that is perfect for rowdy play, especially in the winter when Colorado weather may not invite outdoor play. My daughter and I also have an area for art supplies.  She loves to garden, so we have a garden and flowers; however, there is plenty of room to run and play, and a ball in the flowerbed is not devastating.

Final thoughts:

Although I have ADHD as well, I am a completely different animal than my daughter.  I prefer order, with everything put away and neat.  My daughter, the typcical child with ADHD, does not.  One of the most important changes I made in our lives was to relax.  It wasn’t easy, and still is not, but I had to  learn to find balance, for her sanity and mine.

I would love to hear your stories on establishing comfort and order in your home, and if you have additonal suggestions for managing children with ADHD at home, please do share.


How to Write a Good Press Release

press-releaseDoes the phrase “press release” make you draw a complete blank or simply make you nervous? It shouldn’t. A press release is a powerful marketing tool that is surprisingly underutilized. Some journalists protest writers using press releases to market a product or a business, but the effectiveness of this oldie but goodie method is still there.  Press releases may be submitted online as well, falling right in step with the digital age.

So, just what is a press release?

A press release is a formal announcement of something new going on in your business, like a new book, new employees, a new service, expansion or an award.  A press release draws attention to your business and product, and ideally should hook the journalist to learn more.  While press releases used to be distributed in print, the digital age created a new platform for easily and inexpensively–often free–distributing them.

So, how do you write a press release?

Press releases have a standard format, and deviating from it creates a rather high risk of having your news ignored. Always note in the top left corner of the press release in capital letters FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE or HOLD FOR RELEASE UNTIL…  Do not use exclamation points or capital letters for emphasis. A press release is not sales copy, it’s news and is written for journalists, not consumers. You want the journalist to want to write a story, and this will be directed at consumers.

Below are the components of a press release:

1. Title: approximately 100 characters in length, and should reflect the news you are sharing.

2. City, State/Country, Date

3. Summary: approximately 250-300 characters in length and should contain a few sentences that summarize the what the press release is about

4. Body:  the main part of your press release  that provides details about the news you just shared, especially the who-what-when-where-why, but not everything, creating enough curiosity for more details that will drive the reader to your business, website, event, product, etc. to learn more.

5. Quote: from you or someone relevant to the story

6. About the company:  end your press release with a short paragraph providing an overview of your company.

7. Contact info: this includes name, phone number, email, website, and physical address.

8. End with ###:  indicates the end of the press release.

A press release is a  business communication and should be treated as such. Informal speech, jargon, or slang should be saved for blogs or text messaging.  Please check your spelling and grammar. WARNING: Don’t get so locked in to focusing on business writing that you forget important components such as engagement. Make it interesting, and keep it short.   You may want to include more information for editors, such as photo opportunities, other relevant information about your company, pictures or interviewees that are available. Keep it short and to the point–journalists have very little time, and yours is not the only press release sitting in their email or on their desks.

Stay tuned for how and where to submit your press release in my next post…  press-release icon