Archive for March, 2013

Confession: I love my iPhone camera

City_Hall_750HI was a little slow coming around, but count me among the fans of the camera on the iPhone (or any mobile phone for that matter). While it lacks the firepower of a SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera or a good point and shoot, it certainly has a place in your photography toolkit.

My iPhone now accompanies me on all walks, and it has produced some nice photos, including those you see here. Additionally, photo apps let you manipulate your images quickly and easily. I used Snapseed to modify the clock tower image, left. It was my first time try with the app, and while there was likely some beginners luck involved, the process took only a couple of minutes.

I recently joined Instagram, which has fast become one of my favorite social media outlets (look me up at JohnLamb1). You can shoot, upload, edit, and post a photo in minutes. In addition to being quick, it’s very easy to learn. Give it a try.

Know your limitationsDoor_750H
Yes, there are downsides to a camera phone. The flash lacks the power to light a dark, indoor scene, and focusing on moving subjects is nearly impossible.  That said, the convenience of a camera on your phone opens a world of possibilities.

Learn the camera’s strengths and limitations, mix in a dose of creativity, and you’ll be please with the results. For example, if you’re at a sporting event, or a child’s play, try to shoot when movement is minimal. Bonus: sometimes the best shots are away from the action.

As with anything, the more you use the camera, the better your images. I try to shoot at least one nice image during each walk.

Digital Duct Tape
In addition to taking great images, a camera phone boasts a list of duct-tape-like uses that grows almost daily. Here’s a dozen to get you started:

  1. Take a photo to remember where you parked.Railroad_crossing_750H
  2. Document a fender bender.
  3. Photograph household items and receipts for proof during insurance claims.
  4. Photo and send documents or recipes to friends.
  5. Photograph your shopping loyalty card and store them in an app such as Key Ring.
  6. Photograph an item you’re thinking of buying.
  7. Photograph and post items on eBay, Craig’s List, etc.
  8. Take photos with ZZ Top when you see them in L.L.Bean at 1 am.
  9. Post vacation photos on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  10. Sneak a photo of your camera-shy aunt who still thinks your mobile phone is only a phone.
  11. Impromptu photos in a restaurant, mall, dog park, etc., anytime you don’t have your full camera.
  12. Impress your date by creating a slide show of your evening.

Your turn. How do you use the phone on your camera?


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What makes an item newsworthy?

I’m often asked to pitch stories to media. Some are terrific and easy to promote; others are a stretch.

So, what makes a story worthy of media attention? It could be a number of factors — sometimes the topic is enough to draw reporters, other times you have to create news around it to gain coverage.

Be Objective
The biggest tip I offer is to be objective and look at the topic from a reader’s or viewer’s perspective. Just because you or I think the latest widget is extraordinary doesn’t mean the media or public will agree. Ask yourself: Will people find this information interesting?

Consider the impact
How many people are affected, positively or negatively, by your product or service? Cancer impacts more people — and more seriously — than hair loss, for example. A new procedure that offers hope for breast cancer patients is more newsworthy than a treatment for baldness.

An often overlooked impact is the number of jobs created by a new product, location, expansion, etc. So, if you’re opening a new gas station, talk about the jobs you’ll create, not the additives in your gasoline.

Cool is good
Apple has built a reputation — and loyal following — because of the wow factor of its products. Every new launch brings anticipation, creates buzz, and stirs lots of talk at the water cooler. You may not have the allure of Apple, but your product could be interesting to many. For example, selling a new type of shovel isn’t that exciting, but suppose you learned a local doctor recommended it to her patients with back problems.

Newsmakers make news
Well-known people are often good media draws. The list ranges from local Olympians and university presidents to the governor or mayor. If you can create an event and incorporate a celebrity presence, your odds of coverage increase.

Pictures tell stories
This is important. While you may be able to secure some coverage in newspapers without any visuals, good images are required when working with television news. In the manufacturing field, identify employees the camera crews can film making your product. If you’re a chiropractor, reporters will want to record you working with a client. Think of “action” shots that help tell your story.

Be nimble, be quick
Remember, the first three letters in news are N-E-W. Unlike the tortoise and hare, speed does matter. Be ready to act (or respond to calls) on a moment’s notice. Reporters generally call more than one contact, and the first one prepared to respond usually lands the interview. You’ll also build a reputation as being a reliable resource.

If a newspaper already reported on a new service offered by a competitor, you’ll need to come up with a different topic to pitch. It’s not enough that you do that service differently or better. The story is done. It’s old news.

What else is going on?
When thinking about the newsworthiness of your story, consider what other items are in the news. Late October and early November means elections, winter brings blizzards, etc. Are there legislative battles in your state, or a big court case that’s a priority for media? If you can tie coverage into these, great, but if not, you might face a much tougher pitch and may want to wait a bit.

Find a local angle
Let’s say a fire in Boston destroys a historic building. Media in Delaware might be interested in speaking with your fire department or an owner of a hardware store about checking smoke detectors, replacing batteries, etc.

If you own a bike shop in Ohio, and a bike helmet saved the life of a national personality in New York City, call your local media and offer to speak about bike safety.

Focus on people
Viewers like stories about people. For example, celebrating your antique store’s 20th year in business is certainly exciting to you, but would that be newsworthy? Probably not. But, if you had the same group of employees for all 20 years, and perhaps two of them married, and their twins girls now work at your store in the summer … that’s a good story.

Another good pitch would be a small-town woman who overcame cancer to sing the national anthem before a Red Sox game.

Know when to say when
Too often, I see people trying to force a story. Media relations is about building relationships, and that means accepting that one story doesn’t work, but keeping the door open to another. If you push a story idea too far and lose credibility with the media, your next pitch will be that much harder.

Your turn. What tips to you have for people who want to pitch stories?

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Quotes that make you think

Some of my favorite quotes, seen and gathered over the years.

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything.”
John Wooden, Legendary college basketball coach

“Life is not a spectator sport.”
Jackie Robinson, Baseball Hall of Famer

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
– Abraham Lincoln, 16th President

“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”
– Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President

“If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.”
Mark Twain, Author

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Nelson Mandela, Former South African President, activist, revolutionary

“I don’t give in, don’t give up, and never take ‘no’ for an answer.”
Doris Roberts, Actor

“Never do things only half-way; give it your best effort every single time. You will be noticed – and appreciated!”
Tess Gerritsen, Best-selling author

“Never put an age limit on your dreams.”
Dara Torres, Olympic gold medalist

“Practice. Practice. Practice.”
Lee Trevino, Hall of Fame golfer

“In life, try to be kind to everyone and I think you’ll be surprised at the results. In work, find your passion or you dream and stick to it.”
Jim Nabors, Actor and singer

Your turn. What are quotes do you like or find inspirational?

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