Monday, March 20, 2017

Why a Children's Book Author is Marching for Science!


Earth Day is April 22, 2017. What on earth will you be doing? I plan to be Marching for Science.

A post shared by March for Science (Official) (@sciencemarchdc) on Mar 18, 2017 at 6:05am PDT




"I'm an author, advocate, educator, and cancer survivor. My award-winning children’s book "Nuclear Power: How a Nuclear Power Plant Really Works!" was released in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The book and I received harsh criticism from people who literally judged a book by its cover. It was the STEMS who defended me. The book is a creative spin on a schematic found in some science text books. Fear and fake news are fueled by misinformation and a lack of knowledge." #scienceisknowledge #sciencemarch #nuclearliteracy #childrensbooks #nuclear #scienceeducation Thanks to Amelia for sharing why she's marching for science. Want to share your story on the sciencemarchdc Instagram? Send your picture and a description to us at sciencemarchdcinsta@gmail.com!

     


Nuclear Power How a Nuclear Power Plant Really Works! and Tickles Tabitha's Cancer-tankerous Mommy are now available on Kindle. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

How to Nuke the Easter Egg Hunt!




If you haven't planned your Easter egg hunt or purchased your Easter basket goodies yet, there's still time! With that in mind here's an update on an article I wrote previously.

Remember nothing makes an Easter basket glow like a children's book about Nuclear Power!  

It goes without saying; Go Nuclear and Environmentalist for Nuclear did not bring me on board due to my engineering expertise, but rather as an advisor for public relations/marketing and education as it pertains to nuclear power.  The technicalities and politics of nuclear power can leave me feeling overwhelmed and under qualified, but I have noticed some people feel the same way about PR and marketing. 

At STPNG 1980's
Over the years I’ve implemented marketing events of all types and scope, in venues as diverse as the causes and organizations I represented.  One thing they all had in common was that they were an opportunity to educate and inform about my cause while providing my target audience with a good time.

Since Easter is approaching, I thought I would share one of my favorite, least expensive, and- because most Americans are familiar with the concept- easiest, marketing events to implement: the Easter Egg Hunt. 

It can be adapted for any age group, used to raise funds, or promote a cause; but there’s a big difference between holding an Easter egg hunt and nuking that Easter egg into a marketing event that promotes your objective! It calls for careful planning, hard work, and CREATIVITY!

Get ready to brainstorm; success hinges on your marketing pitch.  The marketing pitch is what can take an ordinary Easter egg Hunt and what in some circles is the yawn-provoking topic of nuclear power or any other yawn-provoking topic, and turn it into a Nuclear Powered Glow Party. 

When Nuclear Power:How a Nuclear Power Plant Really Works! was published my daughter, Tabitha came up with the bright idea (all my puns are intentional) of  making our annual neighborhood Easter party a glow-in-the-dark Easter Egg Hunt to celebrate my book’s release.

That year the Easter Bunny got his eggs from Nukie Nuclear Power Plant!


When we held our first nuclear powered Easter egg hunt we made our eggs glow using dollar store glow-in-the-dark wrist bands. They looked fantastic, but it is not always easy squeezing them into plastic Easter eggs. Recently I saw on Pinterest where someone used flameless battery operated tealights.  This may be a quicker alternative, but which ever method you use, make sure you test it out before the Easter egg hunt.


I know my colleagues in the nuclear industry are rolling their eyes at the cliche regarding  Easter eggs or anything else obtained at a nuclear power plant would glow in the dark. 

This observation and an invitation to attend a glow-in-the dark Easter egg hunt is just the sort of marketing pitch that can be used to shine some light on a topic like nuclear energy! 

Here’s ten ways to radiate a Nuclear Powered Easter Egg Hunt:

              
1.      Create your Pitch



The pitch, either written or verbal,  is the invitation/advertisement you use to capture your "target markets" attention to convince them that they want what you've got! Competition is fierce in today's social media savvy world. Your objective is to come up with an idea that will tie your event to your product or message in a creative way that gets noticed!


The moment  your pitch leaves your real or virtual mail box you are setting the mood for your event.



Here we took a  plastic hard hat resembling the ones worn at a nuclear power plant and turned it into an Easter Basket! My book's cover is adhered to the front, and I  included a character from the book!  You could easily insert your invitation into an egg. This would be a great way to invite a classroom or civic organization to your event.



I usually pitch the media via e-mail.  If possible I always include a visual with my pitch. You have about 15 seconds to grasp their attention!

To set the mood for our nuclear Easter egg event, I used an illustration from Nuclear Power: How a Nuclear Power Plant Really Works! and the following verse in my invitation:






This year the Easter Bunny had some help from:
A Pretty Blue Bird , a White Lab Rat, and Red-furred Cat
who got their Easter eggs from Nukie Nuclear Power Plant.

Nutcracker Publishing invites you to:  Hop on Over!
We are Cracking Open Easter eggs that Glow in the Dark.
Join us for a Nuclear Powered Easter Egg Hunt that Radiates Brilliance!

2.      Target your Market

What is it that you really want to do?


Educate your Community
Let people know your company/product exists
Raise Awareness
Raise Money
  
Who do you want to do it to?

Pro Nuke Colleagues
Anti-Nuke Neighbors
People on the Fence
Media…who will reach all of the above.


Parents at 1980 STPNG Easter hunt

Inviting children to your Easter Egg Hunt does not necessarily mean you’re targeting children.  One of the first things I observed while working in the nuclear industry is that parents would use their children as an excuse to educate themselves about nuclear energy.  The elementary school program I created was frequently requested and presented to community civic clubs.

An Easter Egg Hunt that begins after dark can easily be adapted into an adult party.

If your objective is to raise awareness go ahead and invite your anti- nuclear neighbor!  BUT if you are trying to raise money DO NOT invite or ask for a donation from anyone who does not support your cause! 

If you are targeting the local media, find out if they have children or grandchildren.  When you contact them with details about your event invite their children to participate in the egg hunt.

If you had to work weekends wouldn’t you appreciate an assignment where you could bring along the kids?

3.      Figure out your Budget


Only you know what you can afford, but the thing I love about an Easter Egg Hunt is it does not have to cost a fortune.  Plastic eggs along with glow-in-the-dark sticks can be obtained at the Dollar Stores.  You can ask volunteers or even the people you invite to bring cupcakes/cookies/plastic eggs etc. 

It’s been my experience that when you’re hosting a neighborhood or community event open to everyone that people are grateful that someone is doing all the planning and legwork.  They are happy to donate eggs YOU can stuff and hide.   

Seek out a sponsor who supports your cause and ask them for donations.  Easter supplies are not expensive, and it is easier to ask for and receive Easter eggs or bunnies than money. 

If asked, local businesses will often donate their products or service in exchange for advertising.  

Your goal is to be Memorable not Expensive.

4.      Recruit Volunteers



Talk to the local school/college/church.  In today’s competitive world I’ve found that high-school or college students are often happy to do a volunteer gig that earns them a letter of recommendation that can be listed on a college application or resume. Don't overlook younger children. They complain less than adults! As you can see from the photo above they enjoy helping. 

Make the big decisions BEFORE you recruit anyone to help you.

There will be plenty of opportunity for disagreements on the smaller decisions- like cupcake flavor.

The more planned out your event is before you recruit your volunteers the smoother it will go.  This will make your job look easy, fun, and glamorous to anyone on the outside, who is wondering how you managed to work yourself up to such an enviable position.   With luck, next year you will be able to congratulate them on their promotion as chairperson and let them head up your Easter Egg Hunt.

5.      Pick your Date/Time/Venue and  Pick your Rain Date/Time Venue

Notice I placed this after recruit. 


Easter often coincides with Spring Break so it’s a good idea to make sure the majority of your volunteers will be able to make the date/time/ venue of your event, and are not in a condo on the beach somewhere.

Once the arguing has subsided and your date, time and venue has been programmed into everyone’s smart phone, you need to come up with a rain date.  Perhaps it will make you feel better to know that despite always doing this, I have never had to use a rain date for an Easter event.

Snow is not a deterrent for a nuclear powered glow-in-the- dark Easter Egg Hunt!  It might even be an advantage.  You will not need to wait until dark to hide your Easter eggs!   If you do not bury them too deep, they will radiate that nuclear glow right through the snow.

6.      Props, Prizes, Food, Entertainment


Get ready to spend your budget money.  

Props
You will want as many plastic Easter eggs filled with glow in the dark items that you have the funds, time, and energy to stuff and hide.

Here is how we “nuked” our eggs.   We purchased glow-in-the dark bracelets, activated a bracelet and then inserted it into a plastic Easter egg.  I got eggs and glow sticks from the dollar stores.  Making the eggs glow was not expensive…

 OR EASY! 

The glow will not last forever, so we had to wait until just hours before our hunt to activate the bracelets and stuff our eggs.  Also the bracelets were a tight fit inside the egg.  So nuking (stuffing) our eggs took longer than expected.  So find the largest eggs and smallest glow item you can, and  check out the tealight alternative I mentioned earlier.

I have noticed that today you can purchase glow-in-the dark eggs, but I would advise doing some research and reading the reviews before you do. 

When it comes to decorative props I usually purchase items that will decorate my venue, but later I can hand out during and after as prizes.  Such as:  Easter baskets, large stuffed Easter bunnies, floral arrangements, decorative jars filled with jelly beans, even Easter flags.


Prizes
Whatever you purchase to decorate the premises with can usually be used as a prize that participants can win.  People love to win. Spread the love and opt for a lot of inexpensive prizes vs. one big ticket item. 

Even adults can guess how many jelly beans are in a jar, or participate in the Bunny Hop or Raw Egg Toss.  Children love to see their parents participating.

Sometimes guests will show up without an Easter basket to gather their eggs in.  Make sure you have some sacks or plastic buckets with your company logo on them that can be used.

Food

My favorite thing about any party is the food!   So when I plan a party I plan on giving myself an excuse to eat all those fattening treats I usually avoid.  However, some people have will-power and /or health concerns.  It’s a good idea to have diet drinks, gluten free something and anything that might illicit an allergic reaction labeled.

Even if the party is for children, you need to feed and satisfy the adults as well.





Entertainment



The competition of the hunt itself is usually entertainment enough.

However, you will also need something that will keep everyone occupied while waiting for dark, and your volunteers hide those nuclear powered eggs.

Like pin the tail on the bunny, and dancing to the bunny hop.

Or the video you see here. 




It’s entertaining, educational, and self-promoting.

This is your opportunity to get your message out in a way that is fun. If you squeeze it between your video and a dance party;  make it fun, call it a game, and offer prizes to the winners you will find that no one minds a dose of self-promoting Trivial Pursuit or nuclear fun-fact Jeopardy.  

7.      Costumed  Characters/ Visual Interest




Whether it’s the Easter Bunny, a company mascot, or a storybook character like Tickles Tabitha,
Someone is going to have to dress up and that’s all there is to it!

Plan far enough in advance to make sure you get the Easter Bunny and not the Easter Chicken.

Journalists and especially TV journalists want to see both a compelling story and colorful visuals.  Let them know you can provide both when you send them your pitch.

A costumed character provides a great video and photo opportunity.   When they are posted on Facebook it will help get the word out about your organization. 

I would suggest creating a backdrop out of an old sheet that has your company logo/ and or website address.  Strategically place a bench where the bunny can sit in front of it and have pictures made with attendees.

8.      Competition

Easter Bunny Competition.


I will never forget my first corporate Easter Egg Hunt.  We failed to mention that the grand prize was random and NOT going to the kid who collected the most eggs. It was a parent free-for -all as they literally ran over each other’s children to make sure their own child got the most eggs.   I was twenty-something, child-less, had zero tolerance and much disdain for those parents.  It took about a decade and having two children of my own before I had any empathy.

Even if you are having a friendly neighborhood fundraising event, announce your ground rules prior to the hunt and make sure you have volunteers stationed to enforce them.

Here is the way I have handled the stampede.  Let the youngest participants go first and every minute or so let another age group join the hunt.

The cat won!

9.        Marketing your message:   Nuclear powered eggs should be served over-easy! 



An Easter Egg Hunt may provide a captive audience of excited participants, but it is not the time for a lecture on the technicalities of nuclear power or any other lecture.

While most local reporters enjoy attending and reporting fuzzy bunny tales like your Easter party, it is not a breaking news event. 

Make sure someone writes, films, and photographs your party.  So later, if the media is a no show, you can express regret that they missed a great party, and send along your own stories and photographs for publication.  Most will appreciate it, and often will publish something you have sent.

If the local media does not, the social media experts attending your hunt will!  Thanks to Facebook just about everyone is a social media expert these days. 


As any five-year-old knows the best parties are the ones that give the attendees something fun to brag about later to the kids that didn’t go, and a yummy goodie bag to take home.  The same can be said for grown-up marketing events. 

So give your participants a memorable event, and send them home with a goodie bag filled with conversation provoking marketing  materials...like  maybe a picture book about nuclear power! Wink, wink.  


10.   Follow up

This is the section of marketing 101 that distinguishes a PR expert from a marketing amateur. It contributes to how people perceive you, your company, and your message. It will make it easier to keep or recruit volunteers for the next event.   It indicates your level of professionalism.  It will help promote your message.

Saying THANK YOU!




Say it, write it, and most of all mean it!

I was horrified to discover a story I sent a journalist several years earlier, that I thought had never been published, had made several regional papers where I lived near Raleigh, NC.  It was the second time that journalist had published a story on me, and probably would have been the last- even if she had not left journalism for another job. She did me a huge favor and I had not bothered to say thank-you.  I didn’t become on expert on any of these tips without making my own mistakes along the way, and I hope you can benefit from my mistakes.

Although it is the final step on my blog, it should be at the top of a “To Do” list.  Even for an informal event I have written down a verbal thank you to say the day of, have composed thank-you notes, and a letter of recommendation that can be personalized with the names of volunteers who helped out.

Thank everyone publicly during any welcome speech the day of the event, including the people who show up to hunt eggs.
Say a private verbal thank-you to volunteers afterwards.
Post your thanks on your own and their social media pages.
E-mail a thank you to colleagues.
Write and deliver a letter of thanks and recommendation on your company’s or organization’s letterhead for your volunteers. 
If the media attends send them a thank-you via whatever social media you used to contact them ASAP. After your story is published or airs send them a handwritten thank-you note.  If possible, one that pictures your company’s logo.

Sadly, the only time some people adhere to this advice is when they’ve spent mega bucks to hire a PR consultant who offers up what my mama told me free of charge:   Use your manners, show some class, and say Thank you!

So….thank-you, for reading through my rather lengthy nuclear powered Easter blog. 


Happy Hunting! 


Monday, February 13, 2017

The Sweet Life

I’ve spent the first couple of months of 2017 doing what matters, and asking myself—why is it that anything that matters to me is so much work?

You’d never guess it by the number—or rather the lack—of blogs I’ve posted, but I’ve spent the last month on writing projects.  I can tell because my clothes fit snugger.  I can’t write without chocolate and coffee. 

The projects I’ve been working on pertain to cancer awareness and nuclear literacy.  One day soon I hope to share them, but until then here’s a look behind the scenes at the sweet life of a writer and some of its technical aspects. (The reasons I need coffee and chocolate.)

The author’s desk:                                            Coffee table where I really work:














 Reality:                                                                         Author Pic: 



        

                                                         

Since relocating from North Carolina to Tennessee via a detour in Alabama, I have neglected certain aspects of my writing career. 

2017 Goals:



I spent last year transferring my website to a new server. Living off-the-grid without an internet connection in Tennessee does not make these projects easy, or my Verizon bill cheap. 

In 2001, when Tickles Tabitha’s Cancer-tankerous Mommy was first launched, Kindle, Publish on Demand (POD) and social media as we know it did not exist. It wasn’t until 2014 that Amazon invited authors to publish children’s picture books on Kindle.

I may have learned a thing or two since my first book was published. I’m pretty sure the guy I hired to help update and format the Tickles Tabitha book wishes I were still clueless.  I feel as if I’ve nitpicked him to death.

My real goal is to have it all automated, so I can concentrate on other things. Like watching the contractors working on the house… in case I have to dial 911. 








Seriously, working on the side of a mountain is not for wussies.  Our Tennessee home is finished, but the outdoors is a work-in-progress. 






 It ain’t easy gazing into a computer screen when I could be looking at this:

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Do Something Meaningful: See YOUR Calling!


Surfing through my Instagram feed I saw that my entrepreneuring friend Elizabeth Braswell had taken on a new venture, so I scrolled through to see what she was up to this time. The beautiful photo above and the following post caught my attention:




Sometimes that thing you're called to is just staring you in the face...day after day after day. This was our mantle for two years. A white buck. A gathering sign. A clock. The time had not come yet...but when it did it came fast and furious. If  I was a betting girl...I’d bet some of you are sitting on couches and club chairs...journaling and contemplating that call on your life...and it's probably right there...in front of you...staring at you until at just the right time you SEE IT. Like really...REALLY see it. #mountainlife#lodgelife #whitebucklodge....Elizabeth Braswell


From the couch where I was sitting I rolled my eyes and thought to myself, “You’re so full of it!”  and felt annoyed because… well,  I had been contemplating my life, feeling in limbo, and at odds with myself! Only my calling wasn’t right in front of me. My life was just never that easy.

Feeling piqued, I returned to the article I had been working on for a cancer awareness magazine.  There staring at me in the words I had written and reread a few hundred times was my own calling and mantra for 2017. 

Do Something Meaningful


This is not a new calling for me, and a few paragraphs later I had also written an explanation for why I all too often choose not to SEE IT!  

What I thought I wanted and what I was meant to do were often at odds.




January doesn’t just usher in a new year for me, but also my Breast Cancer Anniversary.

This year it will be 23 years since I was first called to Do Something Meaningful and got shoved by cancer down a path to becoming an author, publisher, speaker, and advocate.

In 1994 my Do Something Meaningful meant watching my children grow up, and if –God forbid– I didn’t get to, to leave them something that would remind them how much their mother loved them.

There were days when Do Something Meaningful meant having the courage just to get out of bed and face the world. (🎶 Mama said, there’ll be days like this…) So much has changed, but this still holds true. 

This year I have resolved once again to quit wasting whatever time I have left and to Do Something Meaningful with it. Meaningful is such a beautiful word, and like art its beauty and significance is in the eye of its beholder.

This beholder plans to write more often, worry less, and try to find the courage to get out of bed and do what I was meant to do even though it’s all too often NOT what I thought I wanted!

Here’s to finding meaning in 2017!

The awe-inspiring Elizabeth Braswell and her husband Keith, traded rat race for slow pace, city life for mountain life, titles for time, stress for rest....Now they are following their calling and RE- igniting a mountain lodge in Moravian Falls, North Carolina. Follow their journey at WhiteBuckLodge.com.

More info about me, can be found at Nutcracker Publishing.Com