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6 Reality TV Skills That Will Get You A Promotion

You won’t find this in any Warren Buffett book on how to become a billionaire, but from the Suzanne Boyd file – learning how to be successful at your career is as easy as studying one of the most mind-numbing reality shows.

 

“Big Brother” is the CBS guilty pleasure that puts strangers in a house without TV, internet or any connection to the outside world. They live there for up to 3 months, voting each other out and the last man (or woman) standing gets a $500,000 prize. All you have to do is watch the characters on the show to realize: what wins Big Brother also wins in real life and could land you that promotion you’ve been hoping for.

Make Yourself Valuable

In the Big Brother house, the person who cooks and cleans usually stays longer than the slob who expects everyone to clean up after him. Same at work. Learn how to do as much as you can. There’s nothing a boss wants to hear less than “that’s not my job!”. Be the first one there and the last one to leave. When your boss gives you an opportunity – jump at it.

Create Alliances

This is one of the most important aspects of winning the Big Brother show. Those who create alliances – no matter how strange – go further in the game. That holds true at the office. Find out who can help you at work and create an alliance with them. I have my go-to photographers, assignment editors, producers and managers at CBS 12 – the people who have my back and vice versa. Even the receptionist – who holds the keys to the coffee and the front door – calls me her “sister from another mister” because we’re always looking out for each other.

Fake It Til You Make It

Your boss asks you to do something, but you’re not really sure how. Don’t say you’re clueless! Ask someone. Get it done. You think anyone in the Big Brother house really knows how to “play the game”? They don’t! They figure it out as they go along.

Play the “Social” Game

Be funny. Be nice. Lighten the mood when things get too serious. Listen to someone when they have a problem. Notice people when they aren’t being noticed. Compliment them. These are all social traits that work well when you’re competing on a reality TV show *and* when you’re competing for a promotion at work. Bottom line – bosses want to keep people around who are positive and make the office a happier place.

Don’t Cause Drama

Don’t let your personal issues spill into the workplace. It’s okay if you have a bad day once in a while, but leave the drama at home. Reality show producers love those who create drama because they make good TV, but they don’t make good employees and they rarely win the game or a promotion.

When You Leave, Go Graciously

This is HUGE! You’re probably thinking – I’m leaving, so who cares if I say nasty things? Well, on Big Brother – one housemate who gets kicked out wins $25,000 based on America’s vote. Those who are gracious almost always win that prize.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years – no matter the profession – you will see and deal with some of the same people over and over and over again. NEVER burn a bridge.

How To Write a Press Release That Will Get My Attention

My inbox is daunting. I get hundreds of e-mails a day. Most of them are pitches for a story or a press release about a future event, but 90% of those press releases get an instant “delete” before I even open them because they are junk. In order to send a press release that will be read and even better, acted upon – you need to get inside the mind of a TV reporter/producer. (It’s a scarey place!)

This is a typical day for me: 550 unread emails.

This is a typical day for me: 550 unread emails.

Most of us are ADD. We have the attention span of a 2-year-old. Think shiny. Think one-word. Think attention-grabbing.  But first – let’s talk about what you should NOT do.

DO NOT:

1) Use the words “Media Release”, “Press Advisory” or anything of that nature in the subject line.

2) Use an email with “press release” in the address.

3) Use “press release” or “media advisory” ANYWHERE in the e-mail.

Got that?

DO:

1) Write an attention-grabbing headline/subject line.

Political groups have some of the best press releases out there. I ALWAYS get suckered into opening them up. Here’s an example of an attention grabbing subject line:

photo 2(2)

What works about this is that they used my name – so it seems like the e-mail is just for me and then they used an attention-grabbing headline. Make me care about the e-mail enough to open it.

2) Tell me a good story.

Okay – once I open the e-mail, I need to see a story pitch that I can put on TV. Don’t tell me about an “event”. Tell me about the story I’m going to get out of that event. So if you’re pitching a fundraiser, don’t tell me about the dinner and auction. I want to hear why I (and our viewers) should care about the fundraiser. Tell me who’s going to benefit from that money.  Sending a kid to college? Tell me about the 16-year-old who is homeless but still manages to go to school everyday and get straight A’s. Funding breast cancer research? Show me the working mother with 3 kids who struggles through chemo but still puts a smile on her face every night when she puts her children to bed. Make sure these people are willing and able to go on TV and speak to reporters. Find the story – and then write your press release.

And trust me – everyone has a story. I was recently talking with JP Hervis, a former news reporter who founded his own PR firm, Insider Media Management. He said he got an art gallery as a client and found out the owner had a heartbreaking story of how she started painting. Normally, no local TV station would cover an art gallery opening, but local stations covered this one because of Hervis’ press release which focused on her story.

3) Keep it simple and short.

Get to the point quickly. Remember – we have very short attention spans. Please, no releases longer than one page. If you can’t say it in less than a page – you need someone to help you edit.

4) Make the reporter’s job easy.

Provide any statistics or numbers to back up your claims or story. Also – make sure you have everyone ready to go once you send out your release. If a reporter calls that day and wants to talk to someone – that person needs to be available or you may lose your shot.

5) Proofread your press release!

This is my biggest pet peeve. There’s nothing that hurts your credibility more than having misspellings or grammatical errors in your release.

Writing a press release is easy. Writing a press release that will get a reporter’s attention is not. But remember – focus your release on the one thing that is surprising to you and it will likely surprise a reporter too.

 

 

 

 

 

Shiloh the Magic Pony and Me

I’m not sure if Shiloh the Magic Pony is a he or a she, but I do know *it* is one good looking pony. Shiloh has a perfect tan, deep blue eyes and a silky blonde mane. We have a lot in common, too. We both love live music, especially the Dave Matthews Band. And we both like to tweet (me: @SuzanneBoyd; Shiloh: @ShilohthePony).

Shiloh on the set with me

Shiloh the Magic Pony is like the Flat Stanley of the music world — traveling around the country in women’s purses and men’s fanny packs to attend concerts, take pictures and then move on. I’ve been begging Shiloh’s owner to send the pony my way ever since I took a picture with him/her this summer at the Dave Matthews Band Caravan shows in Chicago. I think he (Shiloh’s elusive owner) was nervous about sending the pony to a non-music venue.

But finally this week — Shiloh arrived in West Palm Beach from Seattle in a small box. And ever since it got here — I have been showing the pony the time of his/her life. Shiloh has watched me write stories, learned about the weather from our meteorologist, John Matthews and was on set for a few newscasts. Shiloh has stayed at my house, hung with my children, been to Delray Beach – it even went to bikram yoga with me.

I get your skepticism. You say, “Why is a grown woman so excited over a tiny toy pony?” Many of my Facebook friends and Twitter followers who aren’t familiar with Shiloh the Magic Pony are wondering if I’ve gone off the deep end or they say I have too much time on my hands. Neither is the case.

Imagine being Shiloh: strangers allowing you access to their lives, their jobs, their fun. There’s no awkwardness, no threat, no feeling that you’re overstaying your welcome.  Shiloh is very different from me — the pony can pack up and go whenever it wants, wherever it wants. No strings, no job, no children. That intrigues me.

But – as I said – we have a lot in common, too. I don’t take life too seriously. And neither does Shiloh. It’s been fun hanging with a plastic pony for a week. Maybe you should try it.

 

 

Two Flat Tires in One Day

I got two busted tires today. At the same time.

Here’s how it went down. Returning from a trip to Tar-jhay with my 19-month-old. He’s hungry, he’s tired and I’m trying to get home as quickly as possible. I turn around to console him and…. WHAM! Curb. It was a big frickin’ curb, too. You should see the gaping holes in my front *AND* rear passenger-side tires. I think the rims might be damaged, as well.

So I called my husband and said I had good and bad news. The good news, you ask? We have insurance. TGIF.

Honkgate

I don’t have many pet peeves. But unnecessary honking really gets my goad. There are reasons cars were given horns. Someone is backing into you – you honk. Someone is veering into your lane – you honk. Someone is not moving fast enough at a green light – well…. let’s talk about that.

I was stopped at a red light the other day with my 5-year-old daughter in the backseat. We were headed to her ballet class. Next thing I know, the driver behind me is laying on his horn. This was not a gentle tap. This was a full-on honk! I was so startled I jumped in my seat.

The light had *just* turned green. In fact, my brain hadn’t even had time to tell my foot to get off the brake, before this crotchety man decided I needed to get moving. I have no doubt his hand was on his horn ready to honk once he saw the light turn.

Now — there are two extremes to handling a situation like this. You can do the adult thing and move on or you can go all road rage on the guy. I’m embarrased to say, I reacted somewhere in between. I started to feel the anger move up my gut and into my throat. And as if he could hear me, I screamed at the man. Then, threw my hands up and just sat there with my foot on the brake. Real mature, I know.

In my fit of anger, I had forgotten my daughter was in the back seat. And it wasn’t until she said, “Mommy, what’s wrong?” — that I realized how stupid I was being. What was I thinking? Granted, the only weapon this man looked like he was carrying was a cane, but that’s not the point.

The way we react to a difficult situation can be the difference between it ending well and ending very badly. After leaving my foot on the brake for an extra 5 seconds (I really let him have it!), I continued on to my daughter’s ballet class. And he to his early bird special.

FHP campaigns are designed to remind us all to be responsible. I learned my lesson that day. I wonder if he learned his.

Florida Highway Patrol has a campaign for everything these days. There’s “Click it or Ticket” to encourage drivers to wear their seat belts. “Operation Safe Ride” targets aggressive drivers and “Over the Limit. Under Arrest” for drunk driving . But I would like to propose a new campaign for those drivers who think their horn is an extension of their mouth — “Think before you Beep”.

Why I Chose Broadcasting Over Bugs

I have a confession to make: I went to bug school. Actually, my dad says it wasn’t bug school, but that’s all I remember about it, the bugs.

I was 13 years old and my father wanted me to scout cotton on our family farm in North Florida as a summer job. Scouts walk a pattern through the field, inspect the plants and determine what bugs are invading the cotton plants. This helps the farmer determine what pesticide he needs to spray on the crop.

My dad sent me to a training school for scouts in Tifton, Georgia. (I swear I was the only girl there!) And for two days, I saw more slides of bugs than I care to remember: worms, caterpillars and something called a boll weevil. They all looked the same, except the boll weevil which has a pointy snout and can be extremely damaging to cotton plants.

I returned from Tifton and started working with two other guys in my father’s fields. I didn’t see many bugs, but when I did, I could just ask the guys what to write on the log.

Pretty soon, though, I was scouting cotton on my own. By this point, the cotton plants had grown very tall. I am pretty tall now: 5′ 8″, but at 13, I was a squirt. I was barely 5 feet tall. The cotton plants towered over my head. My parents had to stick a long flag in the back of my pants, so if I ever got lost in the field, they would be able to find me.

I was terrified! There were snakes and bugs and boll weevils in those fields. I would basically run as fast as I could from one end to the other. Sometimes I would check a plant or two, but I didn’t know what I was looking at, so I would make up bugs to put on my log sheet.

I must have fudged the log for weeks before finally confessing to my mother. I really didn’t think it was that big of a deal at the time. But looking back on it, I can’t imagine how many unnecessary pesticides my father sprayed on the cotton because of my fake logs.

My father fired me. Actually, my dad is the only employer to ever fire me. I was a darn good soda-jerk, pharmacy cashier, babysitter, I even bailed hay one summer. But I found my passion in broadcasting. I’ve been doing the news for 15 years now. I believe that if you do what you love, you’ll do it well. I am not and never will be a good cotton scout.