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Everyone will be thinking about the holidays for the next few months.  Many people will be focused on the difficult aspects of the holiday season.  Especially, this month between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Many struggle with the change in the weather, increased social events, marriage and family problems, memories of loss, and finincal issues to name a few.  This is the time when many of these constant feelings raise their ugly head.  A therapist can help talk about the specifics of your feelings.  Therapists are trained in many different type of treatments that can give you an understanding on where your feelings are coming from.  Many of the issues you may have are steming from old feelings, that have been masked for years.  Reach out to a local therapist now. Your have options! Find-a-Therapist is an online Directory that can help you find a therapist in your area.

“Pitching” the Media

Learning how to pitch the media can be one of the most helpful things you can do.  It will help you become their friend, and their “go to” person when they are in a bind.

Be Prepared for Last Minute Interviews

You may get a call from an editor at 4:00pm from a national magazine wanting quotes for a story due by 4:30pm.  A TV show may expect you to fly out and be on the air the next day.  If you’re not willing to ‘drop everything’ for opportunities, then publicity is not for you.

Treat the Media Like a Boss

In any coverage situation, the media is in control. They can change interview times. They can decide not to use your quotes or your product in a feature.  Their job is to put out the best possible stories and they are not concerned whether your business gets exposure.  Do not be difficult.  Cater to their needs.  Understand if you don’t fit into a particular story.  If you want to control a story or insure your product is featured, then you must use paid advertising.

You have no control  over what they say.

You may be featured along with three or four of your competitors in the story. They may do a review that turns out unfavorable. We cannot proof read an article for those print. You can’t force them to include your biography for complete information. Understand that free publicity means zero, or how they will portray you in this.

Become Someone the Media Will Love

Put some time and effort into media training.  The media want guests with charisma! Practice providing information in a clear, concise and compelling manner.  Your goal is to become a go-to expert, study other correspondents or regular guests.  Listen to their soundbites and watch their presence.  How can you infuse your unique qualities into becoming a guest the media will love?

This is reprinted with permission from an article by C.J. Hayden and is geared toward a general audience. Some of her suggestions may not  be appropriate for therapists, so use your best clinical judgement when deciding whether they are OK for clients.

All economic indicators say we are in a recession. Consumer and business spending is down; unemployment is up. It’s natural to wonder whether perhaps this is a bad time to be marketing your business.

Since I’ve been self-employed for over two decades now, I’ve seen several economic cycles come and go. What I notice about these “down” periods is that people who frequently struggle to get clients typically think these are bad times to market. On the other hand, people who have been consistently successful at landing clients seem to believe that there is never a bad time to market. Personally, I’d vote to follow the lead of those who are succeeding.

Professionals who have built successful long-term businesses have learned that continuing to market pays off in both the best of times and the worst of times. But you may not be able to produce new results by marketing in the same old way. Here are six suggestions for how to keep your marketing up when the overall business climate is down.

1. Turn up the volume. When people are distracted by bad news or economic concerns, you may need to communicate more often or more visibly. Where an email might have done the job before, now you may need to pick up the phone or send a postcard. Instead of just one follow-up call, you may need to make two or three. If your business is slowing down, make use of the extra time you have available to ramp up all your marketing efforts.

2. Become a necessity. When clients are cutting back on discretionary spending, they need to perceive your services as essential. Look for ways to “dollarize” the value of your services. How can you help your clients save money, cut expenses, or work more efficiently? Will your services help them gain more customers, increase their income, or experience less stress in tough times? Tell your prospects exactly why they need you, and why they shouldn’t wait to get started.

3. Make use of your existing network. It’s always easier to get your foot in the door when someone is holding it open. In a slow market, referrals and introductions can be the key to getting new business. Seek out opportunities to propose repeat business with former clients, too. Uncertain times encourage more reliance on trusted sources and known quantities, so warm approaches and existing contacts will pay off better than cold calls or mass mailings.

4. Explore partnerships. Working with a partner can create more opportunities for both of you. By sharing contacts, you each increase the size of your network. Together, you can multiply your marketing efforts and share expenses. A partner with a complementary business can allow you to offer a more complete solution than your competitors can. A photographer could team up with a graphic designer, for example. And you can help keep each other’s spirits up, too.

5. Meet people where they are. In a down economy, prospects are even more price sensitive than usual. Instead of slashing your rates to get their business, propose a get-acquainted offer. A professional organizer or image consultant could offer a reduced price half-day package for new clients. A management consultant or executive coach could propose a staff seminar instead of consulting/coaching work. Once clients see you in action, they’ll be more willing to spend.

6. Find the silver linings. When companies cut back on staff, opportunities are created. With fewer people on the payroll to handle essential tasks, downsized organizations present possibilities for project work, interim assignments, and outsourced functions. Economic changes beget other needs. People who are out of work need resume writers and career coaches. Folks concerned about their finances need investment advisors and financial planners.

Landing clients during a down period requires not just more marketing, but more strategic marketing. So instead of getting depressed by the news, get inspired by it. When you hear about coming layoffs, consider how your services could benefit those companies. When you read about negative consumer attitudes, use those words to better target your marketing copy. When prospects say, “not this year,” craft a proposal that ensures your place in next year’s budget.

For the successful independent professional, there’s no such thing as a bad time to market.

Copyright © 2008, C.J. Hayden

I usually don’t write about my childhood stories, but this morning I was inspired by a dear friend who saw a picture of me at 10 years old. How far back does that go!

My father was an entrepreneur, although I don’t know if he knew what the word meant. A self taught man, there was nothing he couldn’t do, nothing he wouldn’t try, and I never recall him saying no to me if I needed or wanted his help with something. He liked that I was smart and although he would never say it, the smartest kid of 3 in the family; smart and appreciative, and so he had fun when we worked together.

One snow packy winter day, perfect for snowmen, when the lawn mowers are itching to come out of their winter hibernation, he went outside after breakfast and proceeded to build what I thought was a snowman. Well, after hours and hours he invited me outside o see the most beautifully sculpted snow horse I had ever seen. Every curve of its flowing white mane, every rippling muscle, nostrils wide and flaring, looking at those he was running at top speed.

I immediately began to cry. I had always loved horses, but we could never afford one, so this was my next best thing.  His name was Silver, not even a hint of a question about that, and he was the fastest horse in the world. Every morning and every night I covered him with a fresh coat of ice water to preserve him as long as I could.

Snow horse

Neighbors stopped by to comment, people driving by in cars slowed down to “ohhh” in wonder at this marvelous creation, and the local newspaper even did a feature story with pictures on my Silver and how it all came about. I loved that horse and I loved my father so much for such an amazing gift straight from his heart. I don’t know what prompted him to do it. I was only 10 and didn’t think to ask or know how to formulate the question.

But, good things too come to an end; and the day came in April when the sun rose too high in the sy and no matter how much ice water I used I couldn’t keep him from beginning to show the telltale drips that meant he was melting. I sat with him outside as one would keep vigil with a sick friend,  begged to sleep outside in case he needed me – “No, it’s too cold, Judy, you’ll freeze.’ From the wisdom of my mother. From my father, a tear – he understood but reality won out.

In the morning I raced down the steps and outside to see a shell of Silver, trying to stand proud, and melting. In 30 minutes it was over – he was gone.

I didn’t know at the time it was possible for a child to cry that much. I sobbed for hours, first hanging onto him and then in my bedroom. My heart was broken for the loss of the most gracious gift, the unexpected loveliness of it all, the hours we played together, and the possibilities of what might have been, the unrealized dream that has never died.

Exhausted finally from the tears and emotion, I went to sleep and dream t of my darling Silver, my father, herds of horses and love beyond measure.

Now what does this have to do with marketing, you ask. Of course, everything. Marketing never ends – building relationships never ends. Keeping your name “out there” never ends. You my dear therapists are providing such a marvelous service, helping people end their anguish and suffering. If you are good, you know it in your bones. Please share that expertise with others. My father kept that marvelous talent hidden for over 20 years – a terrible waste of a gift. And then one day, it burst forth – it was as if the world was too small for him all of a sudden – he HAD to share it.

He periodically did things like that as time went by – amazing, delightful surprises. He owned three businesses in his lifetime – all successful. And as I watched, and listened and learned, I watched him first build the trust which takes time. He was willing, more than willing. One of my very favorite tips he used – another grocery story opened their doors close enough to ours to be a real threat. A bit newer, more modern, but my dad had trust already stored up for years. When mom sent the kids to the store for a loaf of bread, they had a choice – newer or trustworthy. They always chose him. He      taught me his secret. When the got an ice cream cone, he gave an extra dip. When they got candy, same thing–”a little extra on the side for you, he’d say.  And countless other stories. It rubbed off…more value to the customer whenever possible, keep building the trust and he always shook their hand and said good-bye, come back now and called them by name.  I loved that man so much and never , ever told him enough. “Do you hear me now dad?”

Here’s what makes solitude so sweet

Unlike the readers of my last post, who were so articulate and insightful about the sweetness of solitude, many professional researchers have had a much harder time recognizing that solitude can actually be beneficial. Maybe part of the reason is that psychologists – especially social psychologists – are so attuned to humans as social animals who need and crave connection with other people. In fact, the title of a journal article that has attracted much attention over the years is “The need to belong.”

I don’t dispute the social needs of humans. I just don’t see them as incompatible with an appreciation for solitude. To get a sense of psychologists struggling with the notion that time alone can actually be a good thing, consider these two examples of titles of journal articles:

  • “When the need to belong goes wrong”
  • “Finding pleasure in solitary activities: desire for aloneness or disinterest in social contact?”

Titles such as these seem to suggest that if you spend time alone, there must be something wrong with you. Maybe your need to belong has “gone wrong.” Maybe you don’t really want to be alone, you are just anxious and avoiding other people. But that’s not what the studies show. Some people really do want their time alone and regard it as something positive and constructive; they are not skittishly fleeing scary humans.

In a study of fifth through ninth graders, Reed Larson found that over time, the older children choose to spend more time alone. What’s more, their emotional experience was improved after they had spent some time on their own. Those adolescents who spent an intermediate amount of time alone – not too much, not too little – seemed to be doing the best psychologically.

The psychologists who really do get it about the sweetness of solitude are the ones I mentioned in my last post – Christopher Long and James Averill. The title of their key theoretical article is “Solitude: An exploration of the benefits of being alone.” No apology. No befuddlement that humans might actually benefit from their time alone.

Here’s how they characterize solitude:

“The paradigm experience of solitude is a state characterized by disengagement from the immediate demands of other people – a state of reduced social inhibition and increased freedom to select one’s mental and physical activities.”

Many readers made similar observations in the comments they posted to Part 1. Although there can be benefits to spending time with others, there can also be rewards to “disengagement from the immediate demands of other people.”

There is research (again by Larson) in which people are beeped at random times during the day and asked about their experiences. Unsurprisingly, people report feeling less self-conscious when they are alone than when they are with others.

Other than the welcome emotional respite, what’s so good about feeling less self-conscious? Long and Averill think that it is good for creativity. They note findings from other research showing that adolescents who can’t deal with being alone are less likely to develop their creative abilities.

The theme that resonates most with me is the argument that other people can be distracting and taxing. I’m not talking specifically about being with people who are annoying and demanding. Instead, the idea is that just having other people around – even wonderful other people – can sap some of your cognitive and emotional resources. You might, even at some very low level, use up some of your psychological energy wondering about their needs and concerns, or considering the impression you may be making on them (even if you are not insecure about that), or maybe even just sensing their presence when you are sharing the same space and not even conversing.

There is a freedom that comes with solitude, and (as Long and Averill note) it is both a freedom from constraints and a positive freedom to do what you want and let your thoughts wander. Here’s another quote from them that I especially appreciate, as it showcases their perspective that spending time alone and getting something out of it can be a strength, rather than a cause for concern:

“the (positive) freedom to engage in a particular activity requires more than simply a freedom from constraint or interference: it also requires the resources or capacity to use solitude constructively.”

Antarctic researchers, who have chosen a pursuit that requires spending a lot of time alone, score especially high on a scale measuring “absorption.” The scale assesses enjoyment of experiences such as watching clouds in the sky, and becoming particularly absorbed in a movie you are watching.

In solitude, Long and Averill suggest, we sometimes think about ourselves and our priorities in new ways. Our thinking about other matters, too, may be more likely to be transformed during times of solitude.

The particular intersection of solitude and single life – like so many other aspects of solitude – has yet to be studied in any detail. My guess is that people who are single – especially if they are single at heart – like their solitude more than people who crave coupling do. I’ll end with one more quote from Long and Averill. They were not discussing single people when they said it, but it strikes me as relevant:

“…cognitive transformation can be threatening rather than liberating. At the very least, in order to benefit from solitude, the individual must be able to draw on inner resources to find meaning in a situation in which external supports are lacking.”

References:

Long, C. R., & Averill, J. R. (2003). Solitude: An exploration of the benefits of being alone. Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior, 33, 21-44.

Larson, R. W. (1997). The emergence of solitude as a constructive domain of experience in early adolescence. Child Development, 68, 80-93.

Bella DePaulo is author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After. She is a visiting professor at UC Santa Barbara. belladepaulo.com

Published on March 20, 2011 by Bella DePaulo, Ph.D. in Living Single

You poor thing – you’re ‘alone’ – you ‘don’t have anyone.” I’ve been railing against this use of the word alone to describe single people for a long, long time (here and here, for example).  To say that single people are alone, in this sense, is to believe that unless you have a spouse or romantic partner, you don’t have anyone. By this manner of thinking, all of the other important people in our lives, such as friends, relatives, neighbors, mentors, and colleagues, just aren’t anyone at all.

There is another meaning of alone, though, that also gets pinned on single people, and in a bad way. That’s the time that we spend with no one else around. More than 31 million of us live alone. (That’s a striking number, but because more than 100 million Americans are divorced, widowed, or have always been single, it falls far short of the majority of us.) Of course, even living alone does not preclude the possibility of having other people around – even lots of them – but it can add up to lots of time spent with no other hovering humans.

Solitude

Those who would pity us for the time we spend alone think of our experiences as loneliness. That’s the negative sense of being by yourself – having no other humans present with whom you can connect in a meaningful way, but wishing that you did. Surely, there are singles who feel lonely when they are in their homes (or even out and about) on their own, just as there are coupled people who feel lonely when their romantic partner is not at their side. But there is far more to the experience of being alone than feeling miserable and lonely. There is a reason (actually lots of them) why solitude is so often called sweet. We just don’t hear about that as often.

Researchers in psychology need to own up to their fare share of the blame in this equation of spending time alone (or living alone) with loneliness. Type solitude into PsycInfo, probably the most comprehensive database for scholarly articles in psychology, and you will get 592 references. Doesn’t sound so bad, until you take a close look at them and realize how few are based on empirical research (those articles are tagged as phenomenology, psychoanalysis, narratives, and spirituality, among other categories) and how many construe solitude in a bad way. (For example, #13 of the 592 is about “anxious solitude.”) Now type in loneliness, and you get 5,128 references.

Slowly – very slowly – this is beginning to change. Christopher Long and James Averill wrote an article that provides the theoretical grounding that future empirical researchers can use as a guide. “Solitude: An exploration of the benefits of being alone,” appeared in the Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior in 2003 (vol. 33, pp. 21-44). Now, when I check back to see if anything new on solitude has popped up in PsycInfo, I am sometimes pleasantly surprised.

Notwithstanding all of the psychologists fretting about loneliness, real people living their real lives often seem to crave time alone, then savor it when they get it. That’s my sense, based mostly on unsystematic observations. (For example: A 2008 post, The American psyche: Tipping toward solitude?, has been one of my most popular. A more recent one, Extraversion and the single person, has also been popular.)  It is time for researchers to show us the numbers.

It is not only when you are home alone that you can experience solitude. Solitude also happens in nature and even when you are alone in a crowd. I’m withholding Long and Averill’s definition of solitude for now, because it would give away too much of what I’d like you to think about while I work on the second part in this series. If you like this topic, generate your own ideas of what’s so sweet about solitude. (Post them in the comments section if you are willing.) Think not just about emotional aspects (though those surely matter a lot), but also cognitive and intellectual ones. (For example, are you smarter or more creative when you are on your own?) Consider, too, the big questions of who you are and who you want to be, what (and whom) you believe in, and what you think is most important in life. Is solitude especially good for that sort of pondering? Don’t dismiss the little or mundane things, either. Is there something special about making your way through your everyday routines when you are on your own?

Let’s take back our time alone! It is about sweet solitude, not just loneliness.

Bella DePaulo is author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After. She is a visiting professor at UC Santa Barbara. belladepaulo.com

Working with the Media

Whenever you are lucky enough to work with the media, remember the Boy Scout Motto, “Be Prepared.” Do your homework in advance, research your topic, ( of course if it’s yours you should know it inside and out.)   One trick I learned is to prepare a set of questions and quiz myself on them and practice until my answers are short, crisp, pithy [love that word] – the kind that make great soundbites.

1.  Tell them what kind of information you will be able to provide so they know you will give them good content.  NEVER, NEVER  sell on radio or TV. You will quickly get on their “never call” list again. If you provide good content and are good on camera, you will most likely become one their ‘go to’ person for you area of expertise.

Some producers and editors will call you all the time if they know they can count on you.

Interviews

2. Be easy, show up early and have your soundbites worked out.

3. Send an email and tell them your company name. Include your name, address, phone, fax, and email address. You be amazed how many people forget to include it. Most likely, they will have it misspelled or won’t even have it at all. If you have a hard-to-pronounce name, make sure to tell them how to pronounce it.  The producer will probably cut and paste all   that information into the reporter’s copy.

Practice deep breathing exercises in the car on the way to the studio. This isn’t the time to practice your talk; if you don’t know if by now, it’s too late, But being as calm and as clear headed from deep breathing can work wonders.

Watch for next time’s tips where we polish off this list – and good luck!

Angela Jia Kim
Founder, Om Aroma & Co.  |  Co-Founder, Savor the Success

Judy Gifford
CEO, Find-a-Therapist, Inc  |   Founder , FindHealthPros