Much to blog about.

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How training a blind author on social media helped me see my role through new eyes

December 18, 2014 | by Victoria Walden

As a publicist, I’m often asked, “So, what exactly do you do?”

Most publicists, if not all, experience these types of questions, and explaining ourselves has come down to a routine statement summarizing the very barriers of our day-to-day life, usually surrounding commentary about being a ‘Samantha Jones’ or ‘Olivia Pope’. Don’t get me wrong, I would do anything to be Olivia Pope, but on a typical business day I’m not helping the president win an election, unfortunately. But, I digress.

At Bohlsen Group one of the services we offer our clients is social media training, where we winnow, create, and edit work on different online platforms. We handle a variety of clients, including politicians, musical events, sports teams, and in my case, authors.

To truly understand the underworks of a publicist with many scrolls, I will expound upon how a publicist can help with the social media side of any business, product or person by sharing the story of a favorite client, Homer Page.

Homer is an author, public speaker, and political and history enthusiast with one major challenge encompassing his life: he’s blind. Though Homer has been completely blind for most of his life, he has written a new memoir, It’s My World Too. While writing a book has its own challenges for anyone, Homer wanted to expand upon his experience even more and master the social media world, one platform at a time.

Being blind since birth, it would be easy for Homer to take the back seat in life. Rather than make excuses for himself, Homer was determined to be a part of the game. After establishing Homer’s brand by creating strategic documents, understanding his background and personality, and finding current angles, our social media campaign began.

Over the phone, Homer and I had weekly trainings, where I taught him how to operate three major platforms: Twitter, Facebook, and a blog. Week by week, I would call Homer and start our training by discussing what he wanted to learn that day. After dedicating his training to a specific task, we would begin. Homer’s “smart-computer” as what I called it, would list loudly the options he may choose per site and I would listen intently to help him navigate.

I would teach Homer all the useful tactics, strategies, and quirks for each platform, as we do for all social media training at Bohlsen Group, and his patience and perseverance astonished me. Throughout the week, Homer would practice daily, memorize the tools I taught him, and then inform me on how he was doing on his own with the sites. During the next training we would go over anything he had trouble with on his own, ensuring his success. By the end of his social media campaign, Homer was able to write and publish his own blogs, access and post on his own Facebook profile and page for his book and send personal and professional tweets, all on his own.

At Bohlsen Group we experience clients from all different backgrounds and with different kinds of challenges worldwide, but teaching a client like Homer truly was a new experience that helped flourish my career and experience. Understanding the importance of clear communication and patience made not only Homer’s experience and accomplishments prodigious, but my techniques for trainings have completely changed since our work together. Everyone has something to teach us and though we, at Bohlsen Group, research and practice every day to improve our skills, Homer taught me more than any webinar, article, or innovative speaker ever could.

Since Homer, when answering the question, “So, what exactly do you do as a publicist?” My routine statement has changed, because it usually surrounds his story. Sorry, Olivia Pope.

Bohlsen Group Case Study

Case Study: Author Jan Whitmore

December 16, 2014 | by Jordan Overton

Jan Whitmore is a well-travelled Christian indie author who has devoted her life to her faith for more than 24 years. Her new book, “Sow What?” facilitates a discipleship experience and spiritual growth for either personal or group study. Our work on her behalf secured a 2014 Pinnacle Award of Honor for Social Media.

Challenge: Prior to her six-week social media campaign, Whitmore had no understanding of how to use social media, specifically Twitter (@jan_whitmore), Facebook, and blogging, for personal or professional use. Our task was to show Whitmore how to broadcast her message to her target audiences. Our key challenge was that we had a very short amount of time to work with her. In six weeks we had to gain a comprehensive understanding of Whitmore and her new book, develop a brand for the campaign, set a timeline, execute our strategy, and train Whitmore how to use her social channels effectively.

Solution: Once the campaign officially launched, Whitmore received one-on-one hour-long trainings with a publicist each week. We started with the basics of Twitter, Facebook, and blogging, covering items such as how to tweet and post, what to search for, and whom to follow. We gradually advanced through more complex functions.

After Whitmore became comfortable on social media, we covered advanced features such as live tweeting, Twitter chats, and scheduling posts. These functions put Whitmore’s messages in front of a very specific audience. By using these tools, we were able to create and grow a significant social media presence for her in a short period of time.Whitmore’s active involvement in the campaign was very beneficial because it allowed her to learn as we moved through our trainings. As social media is constantly changing, we evaluated what we had accomplished and what was working. This helped us see if we needed to alter the campaign’s focus and move forward strategically.

Results: In the six short weeks that we worked with Whitmore, she blossomed from an author with no social media experience to one with a mastery of her blog, Facebook, and Twitter who was capable of building her own audience without ourhelp. We launched the campaign with zero followers on each of the three accounts and finished our six-week campaign with more than 300 followers on Twitter, 104 likes on Facebook, and 540 views per month on her blog with 33 blog followers. Whitmore continues to be active on all three platforms and has grown her Twitter following to nearly 450 followers.

Download this case study

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Recapping #Read26Indy

December 11, 2014 | by Jaymie Shook

Books are kind of my life.

In elementary school, I sometimes went through the entire lunch line with my nose in a book, leaving the lunch lady at the cashier station to prod me to go back and get some food.

While completing my undergraduate degree at Indiana University, I devoured literature classes, especially the Shakespeare and ancient writings courses.

In utero, my firstborn heard the entire collection of Calvin and Hobbes read aloud to him (he can only now truly enjoy Calvin’s many facial expressions and Hobbes’ artistic pouncing)

And professionally, I work with authors every day to publicize their books through both traditional and social media. Reading a wide variety of literature helps expand my creativity and knowledge about the world, which plays into my pitching ideas for those authors with whom I work.

All this to say, when Indianapolis Star reporter Michael Anthony Adams challenged Hoosiers to read 26 books in 2014, it was right in my wheelhouse.

Five of my favorites are below: (Click here to read the list of books I read in 2014.)

Dad Is Fat
By Jim Gaffigan

  • What it is: A humorous memoir from this comedian about parenting his five children
  • My review: Anyone with young children will annoy people in the same room by laughing aloud constantly as they read Gaffigan’s book.

The Narcissist Next Door
By Jeffrey Kluger

  • What it is: A nonfiction research project from this magazine columnist about studies of narcissism
  • My review: Kluger’s writing style is the same one that entertains me in Time, and his use of modern famous examples, not strictly historical ones, go a long way toward keeping the reader invested.

The Returned
By Jason Mott

  • What it is: A literary fantasy about people coming back from the dead that spawned a television series
  • My review: Far from a zombie story, The Returned is a poignant look at loss and what ifs.

What Alice Forgot
By Liane Moriarty

  • What it is: A women’s fiction story whose main character gets a bump on the head, amnesia, and a chance to restart her marriage
  • My review: Moriarty is a genius at getting real women’s emotions down on the page, in this case feelings about aging and moving among the stages of life.

Broken Pieces: Nothing is Wasted
By Ross Alan Hill

  • What it is: A Christian banker’s code to life
  • My review: I found this book to be a moving collection of stories that show God’s grace.

How did you do this year? Did you #Read26Indy? Tell us what was on your list

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5 tips for a successful book launch

December 4, 2014 | by Bohlsen Group

By Spencer Hotz, Courtney Alvey & Heidi Harmon

Public relations professionals are frequently asked to become experts on whatever their client does in order to be the best representation possible. Here at Bohlsen Group, we consider ourselves experts on many different things, but our entire staff has experience with author publicity.

One of our biggest clients is Penguin Random House Company and self-publishing giant Author Solutions, but we also work on several other accounts that involve author publicity services. You can’t be an author without a published book, so as you can imagine, book launches are our bread and butter. When we take on each book, we have found there are a few key steps that work really well and produce great results. What kind of friendly fellow PR pros would we be if we didn’t share them with you?

Get to know your author: What are your author’s goals for his book? What does he feel is unique about the book? What is his professional and personal background? What outreach has he already done? Has he built an online presence yet?

The more questions you ask, the more you will know and be better prepared to speak with the media about the book. This also opens a line of communication between yourself and your author that will be essential when the campaign is live.

Think ahead: The best timing for a book launch is not always obvious. For a book written on cancer survival, media outlets are more likely to be receptive around National Cancer Survivors Day (June 7) than they might be any other time of the year. Take time to research awareness holidays or other events that link to the themes of the book.

If there’s no obvious link, can you see where you could make a connection without stretching it too far? Many offbeat holidays exist that can easily connect with different topics. Take National Evaluate Your Life Day (Oct. 19): what in your author’s life can you evaluate? Finances? Family time? Career goals? If the book encourages readers to evaluate a part of their lives, your message will be considered more timely to media. Sometimes odd or unique connections can have the greatest outcomes.

Brainstorm, Brainstorm, BRAINSTORM: When you are planning for a book launch you will likely have a vast number of your own ideas right off the bat, but don’t rely solely on yourself. Always take the book to a few coworkers to see what stands out to them.

An outsider’s perspective can inspire alternative pitching techniques like ready-to-run articles, quiz pitches or something entirely unique to add variety to your planned outreach. Different audiences require different approaches; don’t be afraid to try something a little off-the-wall.

Don’t get a big head: While it’s understandable that your author would love to be on “Ellen,” keep in mind that smaller opportunities—an interview on a cable access channel or a guest article for a hometown newspaper, for example—can prepare an author for publicity opportunities with more prominent outlets in the future. Always aim to reach the little guy; they are generally more responsive and appreciative of your outreach anyway.

Also keep in mind that the most obvious media outlets may not be the best way to reach your audience. If your author has written the ultimate guide to Monopoly, for example, “Games” magazine is likely to reach a more substantial number of possible readers than a CNN news report would.

Be prepared for last minute changes: Public relations is dependent on trends and current news, so we must be prepared for things to change without notice. In our case, it could mean the publisher has decided to change the title of the book because a similar title was just released, or that something big has happened in the news and the book launch has been pushed back a month.

Flexibility is essential when it comes to a book launch. Keep an eye on the news, social media, and other trends so that you are able to adapt your launch releases to the current market.

Many of the concepts above apply to public relations across the board, but when it comes to working with an author, your personal relationship can become the biggest factor in success. This is their baby, and they’ve brought it to you for help!

Use these tips to best prepare for your next book launch and your author will see a hardworking, caring company and staff that they can trust. Add in a dash of luck and the media will see it too.

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Holiday entertainment in Indy is just around the corner

November 26, 2014 | by Jessica Redden

As the holiday season sets in and colder weather is around the corner, we have some great alternatives to staying inside with a cup of cocoa (though let’s be honest, we’re all about that, too). Check out some exciting shows just around the corner in Indianapolis this season!

The Indianapolis Symphonic Choir will present four performances of the annual Festival of Carols December 7 at the Scottish Rite Cathedral in downtown Indianapolis, and December 20-21 at the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. The 200-voice choir brings the audience timeless holiday songs highlighting the magic of the season. Following sell-out runs in both 2012 and 2013, Festival of Carols continues to be a tradition in Indianapolis each holiday season. Grab tickets before they’re gone at indychoir.org. (And, grab your copy of their latest Christmas CD – The Best of Festival of Carols, Vol. 1 is available at indychoir.org or on iTunes!)

Based off the popular holiday comedy film, ELF: The Broadway Musical is the must-see show about Buddy the Elf, an orphan child who mistakenly climbs into Santa’s bag and is transported to the North Pole. After growing up and realizing that he is actually not an elf, Buddy travels to New York to find his true identity while helping others to remember the true meaning of Christmas. A show for the whole family, ELF will be at the Murat Theatre at Old National Centre December 16-20. For tickets and more information, visit
oldnationalcentre.com.

Mannheim Steamroller will present the best the holiday has to offer this season. The group will perform live for one performance only in Muncie, Ind., at Emens Auditorium on Wednesday, December 17, 2014. This year also marks the 30th Anniversary of the Christmas Tour and release of Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, an album that revolutionized the Holiday Season music category. Grammy Award® winner Chip Davis will direct and co-produce Tour performances with MagicSpace Entertainment.  The show features classic Christmas hits and multimedia effects in an intimate setting. In addition to being a holiday tradition for many families, the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Tour regularly attracts repeat attendance from multi-generational guests and is one of the longest running tours in the music industry.

Happy Holidays from the Bohlsen Group family to yours!