“If you just build it, They might not come: promoting events in Second Life” (3)

by Caledonia Skytower

3. Words matter. So does how you use and share them

Every time you begin considering promoting anything you will need what is loosely referred to in the trade as “collateral.”  Promotional collateral comes in two primary forms: words and images.  You need both to successfully draw people to support your efforts.  You them for a number of reasons, the primary one being that people are different and respond to different informational stimuli. (see post #1 – “Blasting the Myths”).  So you want to attract people’s attention by using both appealing images and impactful words.

Think about the advertising you see everyday:  “the promise”, “be curious”, “experience live…”.  Those are just a few that I saw easily from my computer screen just now.  You need words, phrases, even whole paragraphs that help people understand what you are doing and where they might fit into your scheme of things.  It is important to think of these words as variations on a central theme, and one that you command.  You need to be consistent: use concise phrases for social media posts or group IMs, those same phrases should be reflective in larger communications.  The shorter words are relatively easy. This post is focusing on what people trip up on most: the larger words.

In our respective positions as former columnist and present blogger, Inara and I have discussed many times how people will organise something and expect that (because they know you) somehow you know what their plans are and should cover it.  They genuinely get upset when you don’t dig up all their details and whip up a mighty mess of journalistic prose to fulfil their dreams of effective press coverage. In fact, when I started writing for the SL Enquirer back in 2010 I made it a point of letting anyone I knew in the virtual arts know that I was writing, and asking to send me information about what they were doing.  Crickets – that’s what I got.  The sound of crickets.  In over a year of writing that column, only once did anyone ever contact me about what they were doing.  That person was not even someone I knew!

NEWS BLAST: bloggers, reporters, etc only report on information provide for them.  Otherwise, it is far to time consuming to sift through all the possible “what if’s” for news.  It goes farther than that, you also need to make your news easy and interesting to cover.  You need to make your news newsworthy.

“That’s cheating!” you say, “they are supposed to be the journalists. They are supposed to delve into the truths of our time.”  WRONG!  Release the 1950s television illusion of the hard-boiled investigative reporter.  Most contemporary writers and bloggers are just trying to sift through all the dreck that pretends to be news trying to figure out what is really worth the time and coverage.  That is a full-time job itself.

Like the family pet, nothing gets the affection of the media more than showing you care for them
Like the family pet, nothing gets the affection of the media more than showing you care for them

Several years ago I went to a workshop a colleague was hosting for small theatre companies which included several speakers on a number of subjects.  One of them was a member of the local press – an arts reporter, in fact.  He was the first presenter and he came in wearing a full dog costume (not unlike what I am wearing in the photo, sans spiked heels) and sat himself comfortable in an overstuffed chair that had been provided for him, took a big sip of his coffee and set it down before crossing his arms (paws?) and saying, ” If you want me to behave the in way you’d like, you need to take good care of me.”  He went on to enumerate press release formats, timing, the need for images, etc.  His opening comment has never left me.

Your objective is to make the job publishing your information as easy as possible.  Don’t think of it as enticing reporters to write about you; think about it as writing the article for them.  The ease and accessibility of your information increases your likelihood of getting the release picked up.  If someone has the time to delve farther, they will.  If not, your information/message still stands a chance of getting out there and in the very form you designed.  85% of the virtual press coverage I get for the things I do are direct reposts of my press release.  The other 15% liberally mine information, quotes, links from what I provide.

Look at where people are looking for information – blogs, virtual media, information and special interest groups.  I resuscitated my press list a few years ago when a fairly well attended artistic project posted a list of the press they had gotten for that project.  It was big!  I grabbed it, researched it with the help of a friend, and it became the basis of the list that I use now (it’s not about stealing, it’s about recognizing what is worth stealing – that group made it public!).  I update the list every time I send out a release, and you should too because these contacts change rapidly and contacts can become stale faster than you think.  We’ll talk more about building networks and relationships in a later post.

No matter how you choose to communicate your information, whether you choose to adopt a more traditional press release format or not, whatever you send should have this basic information at the very top:

  • Issue date – when it was sent
  • Release date – when it is okay to post it
  • End date – when is it no longer news
  • Who to contact, the sponsoring organization, an email contact (the last is optional, but I assure you that you increase the possibility of additional coverage if you have a contact that is outside of missed IMs and lost note cards)
  • A headline or title … your “What”
  • “{Region or estate where this is happening}, Second Life”
Getting a consistent, easily- understood format for your press release, together with providing the information within it, can go a long way towards getting your news reported
Getting a consistent, easily understood format for your press release, together with providing the information within it, can go a long way towards getting your news reported

Continue reading ““If you just build it, They might not come: promoting events in Second Life” (3)”

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The Yorkshire Moors in Second Life

The Yorkshire Moors; Inara Pey, February 2016, on Flickr The Yorkshire Moors (click any image for full size)

It’s no secret I’m from the UK. In fact, while I now reside in the southern half of the country, my family has its roots in the north, and I have an abiding love of Northumberland and a deep affection for North Yorkshire.  So it was with interest that I heard PinkRayne had modelled the region on which her store is located after The Yorkshire Moors.

Now, I’ll be honest here. The Yorkshire moors have always been set in my mind as the rugged, rolling countryside with short, tough grass and oceans of summer heather one passes through en route to Pickering or Whitby in the summer months. A landscape split by meandering streams and dry stone walls and over which stone built farms outhouses are scattered. As such, I was a little surprised by the overall flatness of the region; I had expected to see something perhaps a little more undulating.

The Yorkshire Moors; Inara Pey, February 2016, on Flickr The Yorkshire Moors

Which is not to say the region does reflect the open countryside of Yorkshire; as you enter the region, Pink’s store behind you, there is no mistaking the parallels. The grass here is tough and tufted, many of the trees bend their backs to the wind, while the landscape is cut by dry stone walls behind which sheep and horses graze.

Towards the south-east corner of the region stands a single lighthouse, it’s Cyclopean light roving over land then sea, back to land again, reminiscent of the Flamborough Head lighthouse. Between it and the store, a meandering stream opens into an area of flooded land which offer a nod towards the North Cave Wetlands.

The Yorkshire Moors; Inara Pey, February 2016, on Flickr The Yorkshire Moors

A single path winds through the landscape from the store in the north-east, looping southwards and then back to the north before eventually arriving at a little rocky cove on the west side of the region.  A rowing boat sits on the water here, offering a place to sit for individuals or couples; one of several places people can sit and enjoy one another’s company or look out across the beautifully bleak and windswept landscape, the view uninterrupted by hill or rise, bringing the flatness of the region into its own.

With the ambient sounds matched to the landscape, the windlight suggesting a late autumnal evening, The Yorkshire Moors makes for an atmospheric visit, offering excellent opportunities for photography. And for those looking to add to their wardrobe, there’s also Pink’s store for a little after-visit shopping.

The Yorkshire Moors; Inara Pey, February 2016, on Flickr The Yorkshire Moors

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