How does one become a ghostwriter?
Well, a new profile of yours truly shares the secrets to my success. Here’s an excerpt:
“Rick’s opinion writing appears regularly in places like the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, C.N.N., U.S.A. Today, and Fast Company.
“There’s just one catch: His byline rarely appears on the op-eds.
Wikipedia has a lot of rules. And if you don’t know them, you’ll have great difficulty adhering to them.
As a Wikipedia consultant, I encounter the following conflict every day: Everyone wants a Wikipedia page for themselves, their C.E.O., or their organization, yet no one knows what it takes to create one.
Indeed, half my job consists of counseling clients on what’s possible and what’s not. In that spirit, I’ve developed a checklist for those considering a plunge down the rabbit hole.
Why you should send emails when you’re angry.
“Count to 10.”
“Breathe from your diaphragm.”
“Stick with ‘I’ statements.”
Most advice about anger management comes down to this: Don’t act when you’re angry.
Allow me to offer a contrarian viewpoint: When it comes to email, do act when you’re angry. Received a nastygram? Respond in kind. Hand a mike to that voice inside your head that’s shouting, “What a jerk this guy is!”
Let me explain.
By reframing a hostile question.
A few days ago, the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca announced a coronavirus vaccine that’s cheap and easy to make. Yet shortly afterward, the company was forced to disclose a critical mistake.
Making matters worse, AstraZeneca chose not to publicize the mistake, as it had done with its initial results. Instead, the company notified regulatory officials and Wall Street analysts in private conference calls.
Predictably, the story soon spread, which prompted a reporter to ask the obvious:
Why didn’t AstraZeneca share the negative news with the public?
Before your client asks what you can do for him, ask him what he can do for you.
“My computer crashed.”
“My password doesn’t work.”
“I can’t connect to the internet.”
In our Age of Gadgets, such complaints are inescapable. Yet the language we use to describe them is exasperatingly vague.
Every word counts — and none more so than your first few.
You only get one chance to make a first impression.
That seems obvious, right? Yet you’d be surprised by the number of people who disregard or downplay this advice when writing a cover letter.
In our business-writing course at the University of Maryland, we teach the art and science of writing a cover letter. We explain how to create a hook. We present ideas for personal connections. And yet, every semester, some students believe that it’s ok to launch this critical document on the strength of a weak opening line:
“Dear Mr. McGarry, My name is C.J. Cregg, and I’m writing…”
If ever there were a wasted opportunity, this is it.
If you want to speak with the media, then you need media training.
Never confuse a reporter for a friend.
This conflation is often the first — and most damaging — mistake that people make when engaging with the press. After all, it’s tempting to get chummy with a reporter. He’s a professional listener who’s eager to quote you. In the glare of the spotlight, you get seduced by his charm and let your guard down.
But here’s the thing. Reporters have a job to do: To serve up the news in a way that’s interesting. You, too, have a job: To promote your side of the story. Inevitably, those two missions will clash.
A flack who doesn’t pitch is like a gas station without a tire pump: Annoying and avoidable.
There are two types of PR people: Those who write op-eds, and those who pitch op-eds. Rare is the pro who excels at both.
Why the bifurcation? Let me be blunt: Pitching is a pain. You’re at the mercy of editors whom you’ve likely never met, whose inboxes are inundated, and who are famous for being unresponsive. Indeed, a successful pitch can take one email or a dozen; you never know.
And yet, I’d encourage every PR pro reading this to bite the bullet. If you can’t pitch, you can’t do PR.
Because it lays the groundwork for your résumé.
Many people think cover letters are optional.
The smartest job seekers know that writing a cover letter — even if it’s not asked for — brings with it a bushel of benefits.
If your corporate policy is inflexible, cushion it with compassion.
In March, the federal government announced unprecedented news: It would give every American a stimulus payment of up to $1,200. Yet the check came with a catch: If you opted to have the money deposited into your bank account and your account is overdrawn, then your bank might keep part, or even all, of the payment to make up for your negative balance.
Leave aside, for the moment, whether this action is right or wrong. Instead, consider the diametrically different statements from two of the banks: