In this series, I sit down with writers from the world’s top digital publications. Today, I caught up with Cheryl Conner from Forbes.
Here’s what she shared with me…
1) Can you share your backstory with us?
I’ve been in the work of publishing and public relations for 32 years. I actually began as a writer and editor for a publishing project for IBM in the early days of the personal computer. After that project, I tried to apply to Novell as a documentation writer, but through accident or destiny ended up being routed to the public relations department instead.
I was chosen to communicate the company’s tech speak into layperson English, but within 90 days was made the company’s PR Manager. I made the jump to entrepreneurship when the position required too much travel and too many late night hours away from my children and tripled my former pay overnight.
I’ve co-founded three agencies and my current company, SnappConner PR, is the organization I’ve launched and led on my own, with an amazing group of 16 A-plus players.
2) How has writing for Forbes enhanced your personal brand and career?
I had no idea the opportunity my national columns would be. I took them on as a way to show my clients how much better their own materials would be if they would write on topics and in a style that is compelling to readers instead of writing to promote their self-interests and voice. But in the process, I learned a great deal about successful thought leadership writing and developed a large following. Now I’m regarded as a global expert in Crisis PR and reputation management.
I’m asked to keynote, to give webinars to other organizations and am at this point a book author as well—my first was Beyond PR, a Forbes eBook. My newest book, upcoming, will be about the most recent strategies and developments in Crisis PR.
3) Can you take us through your process for creating new content for your column on Forbes?
My columns come about in many ways, but there are ideas everywhere. The best ideas come from my readers. Although I get hit up with scores of pitches every week, the vast majority are “mass pitches” that have been given to hundreds of other writers as well. They’re way off base from my assigned topic and at least 97 of 100 are bids for me to feature someone, profile a person or company and are motivated by the subject’s desire to be promoted.
But the giant secrets that few people get is that my desire and my assignment is to meet the needs of my readers by providing new ideas to advance their own PR. They want to read about ideas that come from the candid experiences of other entrepreneurs, not about someone’s hero accomplishments or their current ICO or crowdfunding bid (in fact that kind of promotion is strictly forbidden by Forbes). I publish five times a month, so a little more than once a week.
4) What is your top piece of advice for aspiring writers who would like to contribute to a major publication?
Aspiring writers should learn strong journalistic writing. They need to know how to tell a good story, and they need to write clean material that will benefit readers. They also need to understand and adhere to journalism rules about proper citation, the requirements to avoid conflict of interest, and to know the things that are required for complete and fair treatment of the people and subjects you choose.
5) Which social media channel do you find the most effective for your brand and why?
There are three social media channels I use most but they have differing purposes. LinkedIn is probably the very top for business connections and obtaining new clients (and article ideas). Facebook is a more personal and entertaining platform.
It’s where you will find me the most, and it’s where I get to connect and really get to know people both within and outside of my professional life.
And it’s entertaining. Twitter is the third, although I’m getting increasingly jaded about the amount of negativity and even outright business bullying and slander that I’m seeing out there. Improving the rules of engagement for Twitter (and Facebook as well) is one of the next horizons I’d like to help to improve.
People’s lives and reputations have been destroyed by the things people post to hurt others. Businesses are ruined as well. We need to teach or enforce some better ground rules to harness the real power of the platforms in an environment that supports appropriate behavior for all.
6) What’s next for Cheryl Snapp Conner and where can my readers follow you?
Thankfully, due to the length of time I’ve been publishing you can find me by simply searching on my name in Google. My primary body of column work is on Forbes.com, but there is plenty of interest you can get to easily in Google. You can also find me through my agency website.
I’m always happy to connect on social media, too. My next big projects? Our online version of our Content University course for current and aspiring columnists and content writers is formally launching in the first of June. And I’m writing a new book – perhaps the book — on the current strategies and best practices of Crisis PR.