About Joan Stewart

Publicity expert Joan Stewart, a PR mentor aka The Publicity Hound, works with small business owners who need free publicity to promote their expertise. She shows you how to establish your credibility, enhance your reputation, position yourself as an expert, and sell more products and services. To receive her free DIY publicity tips twice a week, subscribe here. See all the ways you can work with Joan. Or contact her and ask a burning question about PR, self-promotion or social media.

How a sink of dirty dishwater sparks my creativity

Cute girl washing the dishesWhen I can’t think of a clever idea for an article that’s due tomorrow, and my brain is stuck in neutral, I leave the office in my home and head for the kitchen.

I squirt Palmolive into the sink and fill it with hot water. Then I reach for my scrub brush and start working.

Twenty minutes later, I have my idea!

Sometimes it pops into my head as I’m concentrating on only one task: scraping the dried gunk off the bottom of a casserole dish. Other times, it comes to me when I’m scrubbing the sink with cleanser.

I think of ideas for blog posts, new products, fun promotions and compelling items for my newsletter about free publicity. I think of people to interview, projects to start and clever ways to solve problems that have been bugging me. 

There’s nothing quite like a sink full of sudsy water, dirty dishes and some elbow grease to make the creative juices flow.

Why I Don’t Own a Dishwasher

When I moved several years ago from a house that had a dishwasher into this one, which didn’t, I put off buying one until I remodel the kitchen. That project hasn’t happened yet.

But all those ideas have. So why ruin a good thing?

It took awhile—a few years, in fact—to understand that my inspiration comes when I’m in or near water, usually in front of the sink. And washing the dishes, my Number One creativity exercise, is faster and more efficient than driving to the day spa mid-afternoon for a dip in the pool.

Researchers say I’m not alone.

Why Water Makes Us Better at What We Do

Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist and conservationist, has explored the connection between humans and water. He calls it “blue mind,” the mildly meditative state our brains enter when we’re exposed to water. Scientists have also discovered that the brain, which consists of 75 percent water, prefers the color blue above all others and that water helps us focus.

Why does being on, under or simply near water put us so at ease? Why does it open our minds to creative ideas?

Dr. Nichols says our overstimulated brains filter and process information fed to us on screens that are everywhere—on our living room walls, on our our desks, on our laps and in our hands.

“They’re sending information and emitting sounds,” he says.

Being at or near water, without a screen in front of us or other distractions, gives our brain a chance to rest.

“But it doesn’t go to sleep,” he says. “It keeps going and working on your stuff. It becomes creative.”

blue-mindHe is the author of Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do.

It combines cutting-edge neuroscience with compelling personal stories from top athletes, leading scientists, military veterans and creative artists. They explain how being near water improves their performance, makes them calmer, diminishes anxiety and leads to their professional success.

Ours too. Here’s a clip from “CBS This Morning” that features Dr. Nichols and his research.



Oliver Sacks, a brain researcher and writer, has said he gets his best ideas swimming. He keeps a waterproof notebook nearby on a dock in the lake, or on the side of the pool so he can write down his new theories and ideas. 

Authors and writers, what sparks your creativity?

Artists, what do you keep nearby, inside your studio, that inspires you?

Entrepreneurs, what triggers your ideas?

Scientists, researchers and engineers, if you don’t  jump in the pool to spark creative solutions to problems, what do you do? 

The Comments section awaits….

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Releated Articles:

10 Creative People Share What Inspires Them

What Inspires the Most Creative People We Know

25 Inspiring Quotes for Creative People

Characteristis of Highly Creative People

Dog Tweets of the Week– #AmazonCart – Add items to your Cart without leaving Twitter

twitter birdHere are my Top 10 tweets from this past week, great for retweeting! If you missed these, follow The Publicity Hound on Twitter.

#AmazonCart – Add items to your Cart without leaving Twitter.
#AmazonCart is easy to use – when you discover a tweet with an Amazon.com product link, simply reply to that tweet with “#AmazonCart”, and the product will be added to your Amazon.com Shopping Cart.

How ‘offline’ PR has changed
It’s not enough to only concentrate on the task at hand anymore. Try to always look ahead and see how you can combine offline and online PR to always stay relevant in your community’s mind.

Tips for Making Sure Editors Don’t Skip Over Your Email Pitch
Take some time to research the writer you are emailing. Find out what type of writing style they prefer, and tailor your subject to their interests. At the same time, avoid being too friendly. If an editor is offended, annoyed, or otherwise bothered by your emails, he or she will blacklist you. Getting sent straight to spam is a very bad thing if that person is the gatekeeper to a major digital publisher.

5 Things Visitors Don’t Want From Your Author Blog
Don’t waste your time doing things on your author blog that turn your readers away. This post gives you five things your readers don’t want from your author blog.

Surviving Dangerous Personalities
What does modern PR stand for? Brian Solis says its People and Relationships.

5 Ways to Grow Your Blog Without Relying on Google Traffic
One thing often overlooked: getting that traffic is only a part of the game – you still need to know what to do with it. Remember that you’ll need to focus on maintaining that traffic – so focus on creating an ongoing conversation and way to continue the dialogue. Landing pages are key here, providing you a quick way to get information from and to your reader.

Weathering the Storm
Healthy Niche Newspapers and how they’re staying in business.

5 outdated PR tactics and their modern equivalents
From circulation numbers to embedded URLs, event attendance to social presence, and direct mail to text messages, PR is evolving.

Your Business Blog Sweet Spot: How-to get it and keep it
Good content builds momentum and always has an objective. Therefore your content needs to trigger an action. That’s the way you engage readers to respond.

5 Things You Can’t Blog Successfully Without
Blog successfully and you can smile all the way to the bank. Your website traffic will grow, your company will flourish, and your reputation could swell to the point where business finds you.


The biggest publicity mistake most people still make

Man praying against a blue night sky with the words "Enough Already with 'Spray and Pray' Pitches

If you’re new to publicity, I’ll bet you’re making this mistake.

You’re “spraying and praying.”

That’s the phrase we use to describe DIY publicity seekers who spray a pitch or a message to the winds, or to a list of 300 contacts from a big media list, and then pray someone responds.

Often, there’s silence.

That’s because you’ve sent the pitch to hundreds of people whose target audiences are very different. If you think the pitch will appeal to everyone, it will actually appeal to no one.

That was one topic I discussed when Pat Lynch interviewed me for a show on WomensRadio. It’s less than 10 minutes. Listen to How to Get Promotion Tips and Tricks from The Publicity Hound.

What to Do Instead 

Slide showing Free Publicity Tip 41 about the importance of sending a customized pitchAs I mentioned during the show, you’d be far better off targeting only three journalists, bloggers, reviewers or websites that might be interested in your story or content. But before doing that, take the time to do your research so you know a lot, or even a little, about the person you’re going to pitch.

I’ve written here about how to research magazine journalists by Googling their names. I even demonstrated how to find the name of a blogger’s dog or cat in less than 60 seconds and weave that information into your pitch. You’ll find a lot at this blog on how to research before pitching.

When Pat interviewed me, I shared one of my favorite tools for creating content and killer headlines. We also discussed why anyone who needs publicity should become an expert and promote their expertise.

Enjoy the show and let me know what you think.

The show, by the way, is powered by Audio Acrobat, a subscription platform that lets you do dozens of things with audio and video, from recording a simple phone call to posting audio and video to exclusive WordPress sites. You can take a 30-day test drive using this affiliate link.  

5 Tips for Selling Books or Products on Radio

On Air radio sign

Radio can be a goldmine for you if you have a book or product to sell, you can pitch a good hook to get onto the show, and you can give the station a compelling interview.

And you don’t have to appear only on big stations. Shows devoted to niche topics have loyal listeners. 

Here are 5 tips on how to get onto radio shows to sell more books and products.

1. Tie into a hot topic in the news.

Pay attention to the headlines. Right now, hot topics include terrorism, Ebola, the election, patients’ rights, skimpy school cafeteria food and immigration. 

Your product or your book might not be a good fit for any of these, but if you train yourself to be aware of what people are discussing, you’ll be in a better position to think of interesting hooks that are perfect when the topic ties in to what you’re selling.

2. Piggyback onto the weather.

Years ago, after a long stretch of rain and flooding in the Midwest, I heard a talk show on a big Milwaukee radio station that caught my attention. It featured an entrepreneur whose company made engines that suck moisture out of basements.

At the time, homeowners with flooded basements were worried about removing the water and preventing mold.

The interview lasted more than 10 minutes. I remember thinking how smart the guest was to pitch that show. And I’m guessing he did many more interviews like it on stations throughout the Midwest. 

What are the chances that he could ever have landed a radio interview on a big station without tying into the weather? Almost none.

3. Shine during the pre-interview.

If you pitch a radio station and they’re interested in booking you as a guest, they might call you first to chat.

The conversation might last five minutes or 15 minutes.

You might think the host or producer is being friendly and doing a little researching before interviewing you on the show. What you might not know is that this is actually an audition.

The interviewer wants to see how well you do during a simple phone interview. If you ramble on or sound boring, you’re toast. After the call, you’ll never hear from the station again.

If you pass, and you’ve convinced the host you’ll do well on the air, you might be booked on the spot.    

4. Have a website URL that’s easy to find.

Unusual spellings, or a company name that sounds different than the way it’s actually spelled, can cost you a lot of money. URLs that include numbers can also be confusing. If you say you’re at 5CornersPizza.com, will people type FiveCornersPizza.com into the browser?

5. Be helpful without making people buy your book or product.

Listeners and hosts hate it when the host asks the guest a question and the response is “You’ll have to read chapter 7 of my book to find out.”

Offering free tips and advice will help you win the audience’s trust. Work it out ahead of time with the host on how your book will be promoted. Follow the host’s advice to the letter and don’t try to slip in  free commercial for your book or product while you’re on the air.  

More Free Training Thursday, Nov. 6

Learn dozens more tips during a free webinar at 2 and 7 p.m. Eastern Time this Thursday, Nov. 6. Steve Harrison will interview a self-published author who will share the system has has used to get booked as a guest on 1,264 radio shows, land more than $4.5 million in free airtime and generate more than $1.5 milion in direct sales.

Did you know there’s a secret online forum where radio producers share good guests? Steve will discuss it on Thursday.

Register for How to Sell Your Book or Product as a Guest on Radio Shows Nationwide. (This is an affiliate link. Even though this call is free, I earn a commission from Steve’s company if you buy anything from him later.)

7 things your 2015 Publicity Plan must include –free training Oct. 15

7 Things Your 2015 Publicity Plan Must Include Free Training Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014If someone has a problem and they’re searching online for a way to solve it, but they don’t know you, have you made it easy for them to find you?

Too often, people who want publicity spend the majority of their time on outreach—hunting for journalists, bloggers and others who they can pitch. They seldom spend enough time making it easy for the same people they’re pursuing to find THEM.

Making it easy for people to find you, and contact you, is one of the seven most important things your 2015 Publicity Plan must include if you want major publicity. It isn’t enough anymore to look for and pitch others.

I’ll review the other six critical elements of a killer Publicity Plan when I host the free webinar “7 Things Your 2015 Publicity Plan Must Include.” It’s from 4 to 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, Oct. 15.

This free training is perfect for publicity newbies as well as for do-it-yourself Publicity Hounds who have been promoting themselves for awhile. Publicists, even though you think you know all the tricks, you’ll pick up something new from this training. Register here.   

Here’s a sneak peek at what you’ll learn:

The Truth About Press Releases

Press releases shouldn’t be the bedrock of your publicity plan. They’re important so you can get your information on the record, to be found by people who are searching. But they usually won’t get you the major publicity you’re seeking.

Journalists who know that you’re spoon-feeding them all the same news won’t be enthusiastic about sharing it with their audiences. But if you send a customized pitch that ties into something their audience cares about, you’re increasing your chances for coverage.      

Stop Looking for the Magic Bullet

Too many people refuse to accept the fact that self-promotion must be ongoing and consistent.

They want that one big appearance on The Oprah Network. Or they want to be featured by a top blogger. Or they want a big story in The New York Times. I know people who have appeared on Oprah and received other top-tier media covered, but little resulted from it.

Publishing a Book Can Waste Time and Money

Everyone can be a publisher these days. It’s easy, with the wide variety of tools and templates at your fingertips. The problem is that too many people who want exposure are wasting time and money on books without first understanding the confusing world of publishing.

They write books before identifying their target market. They know nothing about book distribution. They don’t realize that even if they can attract the attention of a major publisher who offers them a contract, the publisher will only be responsible for a portion of the publicity.   

I’ve seen authors spend three years writing a book, and $20,000 or more on vendors who prey on authors and turn out to be wolves in sheep’s clothing.     

Win Free Consulting with Me

At the end of the call, I’ll choose one attendee at random who will receive a half hour of free consulting with me. If you’re the lucky one, you can use the time to brainstorm story ideas with me, or help me identify your best targeted media, or give you instructions on how to pitch.

Seats are limited. Register here