March 2007  
All of your business needs. One easy solution.
3/9/2007           Volume 4 Issue 3   www.offassist.com
Celebrating milestones.

Ah... March! This March is a pretty special one for OffAssist.

This month marks the fifth year that I've been working for myself. Wow, time sure does fly! I'm quite proud of what my little company has grown into over the past 5 years. We definitely aren't so little anymore!

My birthday is in March and, no, there will be no sombrero pictures this year!

This March I get to celebrate 14 years that I've been married to Tom - Happy Anniversary and thanks for standing by me with everything I do! It has been a year since we began working together full time, and we still have an anniversary to celebrate, woo-hoo!

March is also the month people who haven't done so begin to think about their taxes. I'll repeat what I said last month: Start your taxes NOW if you haven't already done so! Don't wait until April. Trust me on this. You and your tax professional will be glad you did!

In this issue...
  • Everyone deserves their 15 minutes of fame. Here's how to get yours.
  • This month's important tax deadlines.
  • The Spotlight is on Jeff Crilley this month.
  • Got a question?  Read Quickbooks Q&A.
  • Stop staring at that "Prt Scrn" key. Learn how to use it here.

TV Reporter Shares the Secrets to Getting Covered on the News

- by Jeff Crilley, Author, Free Publicity

Do you have a great idea for a story, but no clue how to get it in the news? Are you tired of pitching press releases the news media simply ignores?

After twenty years of beating the street as a TV reporter, I have a scoop for you: the media needs good stories. But most stories are pitched so poorly, they are lost in the blizzard of faxes that blanket every newsroom.

So, here are five steps to increase your chances of getting covered that even some PR pros don't know:

1) BE UNUSUAL
The old adage about "Man bites dog" still holds true. The news doesn't cover what's normal. We cover the abnormal.

PR whiz Carolyn Alvey knew this when she was trying to raise money for a charity several years ago. Instead of holding a garage sale, she sent out a press release announcing a "Celebrity Garage Sale." Everything from Bob Hope's old golf clubs to Roger Staubach's long-neglected neckties were for sale. By making an ordinary garage sale extraordinary, the media was instantly sold on the story.

2) BE VISUAL
Reporters tell stories with pictures. If the pictures aren't there, chances are the reporters won't be either.

Even the most non-visual story can be made visual if you're creative. A dog biscuit business? Boring. A dog birthday party complete with doggie guests and party hats? Now you're barking up the right tree.

That's what Michelle Lamont did to boost her dog biscuit bakery. She began baking huge dog biscuit birthday cakes and inviting the media to cover the parties. She's had reporters hounding her for stories ever since.

3) CHOOSE THE RIGHT REPORTER
Perhaps the most common mistake even some PR pros make is trying to sell a good story to the wrong person. Most reporters have a specialty, like "crime" or "business."

So, seek out the reporter who will have the most to benefit from your story. Start studying the news. Before you call a TV station or try and pitch the paper, become familiar with a reporter's work. Don't try and sell an investigative story to a reporter who covers entertainment.

4) WRITE LIKE A REPORTER
If I were going to send a press release to a reporter, I'd write the kind of headline that a newspaper would run. And I'd make the rest of the release so conversational that a TV anchor could read it right on the air.

Why is this so important? A major market newsroom gets hundreds of press releases every day. Often the decision on whether to cover your story is made in a matter of seconds. Many times that well-crafted sentence in the third paragraph of your press release is never read.

5) WAIT FOR A SLOW NEWS DAY
The holidays are the slowest "news times" of the year. When government offices are closed, so are most of our sources. Take advantage of it.

In fact, take out your calendar and begin circling government holidays. If the government isn't making news, we reporters are scrambling to find something to cover. Pitch even an average story on a day when the media is starving for news, and you're much more likely to get coverage.

There you go. Now you're armed with knowledge that even some well-paid public relations professionals don't practice. If your idea is unique, visual, and pitched to the right person when the supply of news is running thin, you're in!

Jeff Crilley is an Emmy Award Winning Reporter and author of Free Publicity-A TV Reporter Shares the Secrets for Getting Covered on the News. It's available at bookstores everywhere or online at www.jeffcrilley.com
QuickBooks Q&A
Q: I have an invoice from a vendor and there are several accounts to which I should allocate the amounts. Is there any easy way without getting a calculator, to figure the amount?

A: Since QuickBooks is an accounting program, you can do most calculator type functions when you are in an "amount" cell - invoice, check, journal entry, or bill entry.

If you are in the amount cell, you can simply type the numbers and the calculator function required and arrive at the total for that account line. It will be easier if you are using your ten-key pad that has the (/) divide, (*) multiply, (-) subtract and (+) addition key.


In honor of my birthday this month...



 
Important Tax Deadlines
March 15 - IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for February issued payroll

March 15
- U.S. Corporate Income Tax Return , Form 1120

- U.S. S-Corporation Income Tax Return, Form 1120S
March 20 - Texas Sales & Use Tax Return due for monthly filers

April 17
- U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, Form 1040

- U.S. Fiduciary Income Tax Return, Form 1041

- U.S. Partnership Return of Income, Form 1065
April 17 - IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for March issued payroll

April 20 - Texas Sales & Use Tax Return due for monthly and quarterly filers

April 30
- Employer's Quarterly Payroll Tax Report(s) Form 941

- Employer's Quarterly TWC (Texas Workforce Commission)
Spotlight On...
Jeff Crilley

Are you trying to put your business in the spotlight? Do you want to know how to get the press to notice your press release? This month’s spotlight subject, reporter Jeff Crilley, is a man who can help.

As an Emmy-winning reporter in Dallas, Jeff noticed a lot of people trying to get noticed by the media (print or television) without success, and took the time to learn why. Then he wrote his book on how to get media attention, Free Publicity.

I met Jeff when he spoke at a conference I attended last October and his session was awesome. Jeff Crilley still works as a reporter, but, when he's not working, he travels Texas and the rest of the country giving his presentation on how to get free publicity to business owners, charities, and anyone else who wants to hear it. Jeff does not charge to speak, so if you can cover his expenses, he'll come to your event.

Jeff is also, incidentally, the author of this month's informational article. For more information on Jeff Crilley, his book, or how to arrange to have him speak to a group, check out his website at www.jeffcrilley.com

Have you nursed a secret longing to be in the spotlight, center-stage, all eyes on you?

Let us help you fulfill that dream! OffAssist is currently seeking businesses who would like to be featured in our monthly spotlight column. A number of our past spotlight subjects have told us their business increased after the newsletter came out and their web rankings got a boost from the increased traffic.

If you would like to be featured in the OffAssist spotlight column, and have not been featured in the past twelve months, contact Candy@OffAssist.com and we'll see if we can put you in the spotlight in 2007.


Can You Find the Missing Dollar?

Three sailors decided to share a motel room for $30 a night or $10 each. After they've checked in the manager feels guilty for charging so much, so he gives the bellhop $5 to take to the sailors. The bellhop is mad at the sailors for not tipping him, so he keeps $2 and gives each man $1.

Each sailor now has paid $9. For a total of $27. Add the $2 the bellhop kept and we have $29. Where is the other dollar?

Give Up? Here's the solution

Tech Talk With Tom...
What the Heck is the "Pert Scern" Key for?

We've all seen it. There is a strange little key labeled "Prt Scrn" on our keyboards. We've pushed it, we've prodded it, we've stared at it to no end, yet still it seems to do nothing. What is that thing for?

The truth is that this little button used to instantly "Print Screen" back in the days of DOS. Today this functionality no longer exists, however it can still be very nifty. Writing a report and you need to include a picture of your desktop? "Prt Scr" can help. Want to include a picture of your website in an e-mail to a client? "Prt Scr" can help here, too.

To create an image of what you are viewing on your desktop, do the following:
  1. Make sure that what is visible is ok to share. "Prt Scr" makes a copy of everything you can see.
  2. Hit the "Prt Scr" key.
  3. Open the document you would like to include the picture in
  4. Hit "Ctrl-v" (paste)
There you have it. If it is in a Word document you can resize the picture to your heart's delight. "Ctrl-v" the image into Paint or any other graphics program and you can edit it however you like.

Though "Prt Scr" has lost a lot of the functionality it had back in the "old days" of DOS it still remains an easy to use tool for sharing information with friends, co-workers, and clients. It's too bad Microsoft doesn't include any documentation on how to use it. But then, if they did, I'd be out of a job.

Tom Beauchamp is the marketing and tech expert behind OffAssist. He can be reached at tom@offassist.com.

Solution:

They first paid 30.00, with each man paying $10. The room was reduced to $25 ($25). The bellhop tipped himself $2 ($27) and gave each man back $1 for a total of $3 ($30). There is no missing dollar and each man has now paid $9 for the night.

 
Have an article you'd like to write for our monthly newsletter or want to be spotlighted? Have a QuickBooks question or something you'd like to see in the Tech Tip?

Email candy@offassist.com.