Jun 4, 2021

Trade Tips: Save Your Time - Use Automated Transcription

If you write for a living, you likely conduct interviews.

And you probably record those interviews.

Which means you spend a lot of time transcribing interviews.

I don't know about you, but I hate transcribing.

Because... I suck at typing.

It takes me twice as long to transcribe an interview as it does to conduct the interview in the first place.

Typical transcription process:

Hit play. Start typing. Fall behind. Get frustrated. Backspace. Backspace. Pause audio. Correct typos. Resume. Stop caring about typos. Get more frustrated. Backspace. Continue...


But then, my ah-ha! moment

In a previous Trade Tip, I told you about my text-to-speech reader discovery. If we can use artificial intelligence to convert the written word to audio, there must be options to convert audio files to text, right? 

Why in the -blank- didn't I think of that before?

Googles "automated transcriptions."

Magic. Gained hours of my life back.

Now I use Rev.com to convert audio interviews into text documents. 

It's $.25 per minute for a rough (automated) transcription. Yes, you will have to correct a few words here and there, but it's a heck of a lot faster than typing. 

You can also pay a bit more for a transcription by "a professional human" if you're looking for a more polished document. 

Big bonus: there's a pay-as-you-go option (in other words, no monthly contract required).

You can use speech-to-text to generate video captions and foreign subtitles, which is great for making your content more accessible.

You'll save time and money. And you can enjoy doing interviews again!

If you find this helpful, feel free to pass it along and share (or trade) this tip with your fellow writers.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

May 20, 2021

Trade Tips: Proofread With a Text-to-Speech Reader

What's your best tip for proofreading your own work?

I've tried so many tricks: read it aloud, read it backwards, print it out, touch each word with my finger while reading...

But I still miss things. Whole words, in fact. 

My brain fills in everything that I was supposed to type. No matter how hard I tried, I could never be confident I caught every typo (or miss-o, as it were). 

That was until Pamela Grow introduced me to my favourite new proofreading tool: text-to-speech readers. 

(Thank you, Pam. I owe you a beer or your beverage of choice when we get together someday). 

Text-to-speech readers are the coolest thing. You copy and paste your text into the tool, and it reads it out loud. Not only does it help me find missing words, it helps identify clunky portions of text, too. 

I use ttsreader.com. But there are several free versions out there if you Google speech to text readers.

You can choose from several voices, accents, and languages. 

My new proofreading partner is a UK male. And while he may be computer-generated, he's a great writing buddy (plus, when he reads my stuff in his British accent it always sounds smarter).

So, that's my trade tip for you. Feel free to pass it along to your fellow writers.

I'm looking forward to hearing your trade tips, too.

Image by Lorenzo Cafaro from Pixabay 

Sep 14, 2020

What's the Secret to Fundraising Copy that Makes More Money?

πŸ‘‰ Fundraising Copywriting + Phil Psych

It's a proven equation you'll discover in the Certificate in Fundraising Copywriting course taught by copywriting expert Tom Ahern and philanthropic psychologist Professor Jen Shang.

Four weeks of intense, boot camp-style learning and direct, one-on-one coaching from both Jen and Tom.

I just completed the course, and it was outstanding!

Insert shameless self-promotion here πŸ˜Š >> 

As a member of the premiere Certificate in Fundraising Copywriting cohort, I am the first Canadian east of Alberta to have this unique training. 

And you can get this excellent training, too. It's worth your time and energy, I promise!

What the heck is Phil Psych?

Summed up: it's growing the love of others to grow giving.

As Jen explains it, "Very often, we get thank you letters from charities and the first sentence that you read is, 'Thank you for your generous gift.' Instead of saying that, you could have said, 'Thank you for your generosity,' or 'Thank you for being a generous person.' The little difference there is, where is your eye? Is your eye on the money? Or is your eye on the person?"1  

If you're ready to learn more about the course and about Phil Psych click here

To Jen, Tom, and my Certificate in Fundraising Copywriting classmates across the globe - I'm sending you huge congratulations and gratitude! It's been incredible learning alongside you in our virtual but close-knit first cohort. I'm eager to stay in touch, and I can't wait to celebrate your future successes. 

And to my friends, clients, and colleagues - I'm excited to put my new training to work for you! 

Shoot me a message if you want to chat more about how we can use the profound discoveries of Phil Psych to:

  • Help you raise more money
  • And grow your unconditional love for your donors. 

Thank you all for your support and encouragement. I'm grateful for each and every one of you.


(1) https://www.marketplace.org/2019/12/26/the-psychology-of-giving/

Jun 19, 2020

A Maritime AFP Chapter Seeks to Eradicate the Fundraising Ick-Factor

Foundation Magazine March/April 2020

"Raise your hand if you think fundraising is icky.”

Every one of the nonprofit board members lowered their eyes and raised their hands.

“It’s okay. You’re not alone,” I assured. “I’m here to show you how to put the fun in fundraising.” Thankfully, someone chuckled at my groan-inducing pun. 

I led the group through a Fundraising 101 presentation. We reviewed the operational tools needed for fundraising success and I stressed the importance of a compelling case for support. Heads nodded. A few people scribbled notes. But when I brought up a culture of philanthropy, heads raised and cocked to the side a bit. A culture of what?  Read more in the Mar/Apr issue of FOUNDATION Magazine...

Aug 17, 2018

Advancing Philanthropy - Summer 2018

I'm excited to share that the Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation's Medical Dragons' Den article I wrote is in the summer 2018 issue of AFP's Advancing Philanthropy Magazine!

Click here to check it out >> Realizing Genuine Donor Engagement

Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) members automatically receive a subscription to Advancing Philanthropy as a member benefit. There are over 30,000 AFP members worldwide.

I'm just thrilled to have an opportunity to spread the word about the innovative fundraisers and generous donors here in the Saint John region and across New Brunswick.

Apr 18, 2018

Wise Words

As I sit, wasting time on social media, the little voice in my head says: "It's time to get off yer ass and do some laundry so you'll have something to cover yer ass tomorrow." Wise words.

Feb 9, 2018

It's Complicated

Oh, Saint John. Most times I love ya. But sometimes I hate ya.

I hate when you get stuck in the past.
But I love when you find innovative ways to respect your heritage.
I hate when you bitch and complain, and hold back progress.
I love when you stand up for what's right for all.
I love your grit, but not your grime.
I hate when you act entitled, expect handouts, and dump on those who've worked hard to earn what they have.
But I love your generous, caring side, and your genuine willingness to share with your neighbours.
I hate when you don't appreciate yourself.
And I hate when you can't see your value because you're distracted by pain and poverty.
I want to pick you up and hug you.
I want to give you a kick in the butt.
I tried to leave you, but you drew me back.
You're my home.
I want you to grow, and spread your wings, and reach your full potential.

Okay, I never really hate you.

Feb 6, 2018

Things Hidden

The writing prompt was:

"Give me a story that includes these five elements: a crack in the sidewalk, rat poison, rust-colored corduroy pants, leftover lasagna, and Einstein."

Things Hidden

At the very bottom of her mother’s cedar chest, under a wool blanket, was a faded Polaroid photograph. One glance set the reels of her memory archive in motion.

There was no point begging her mother to let her get pants that actually fit. Better to grow into them than to grow out of them, her mother would argue. She’d just have to roll the legs up.

School was a 20-minute walk. Even if she hurried, she’d be late. Her mother didn’t like mornings, and getting ready was always rushed and unpleasant. Her stomach grumbled. She thought about the peanut butter sandwich in her blue plastic lunchbox.

She was so embarrassed of that stupid lunchbox. It used to be her brother’s and it had a picture of Einstein on it. Why couldn’t she have a Barbie lunchbox like the other girls?

Her brother was sick for a long time. He always had nose bleeds and bruises – lots of bruises. After her brother died, the kids at school would tease her and say her mother killed him with rat poisoning. If she asked about him, her mother would slap her face.

The lunchbox. She forgot it at home. Too late to go back now. And she’d wake up her mother. Maybe her best friend would share.

She’d often daydream about food. She’d imagine the whole world was lasagna and she had to eat a path to school. She loved lasagna. She had leftover lasagna one time at her best friend’s house. Her mother had stomach ulcers, so they never had anything like it at home.

She stopped to pull up her brand new rust-colored bell bottom corduroys, then jumped with both feet on to the line between the squares of concrete sidewalk.

Don’t step on a crack, you’ll break your mother’s back.

Sometimes she hated her mother.

The photograph: A 9-year-old girl looks into the camera. No smile. New school year. New outfit. Earth tones were all the rage.

Jan 26, 2018

The Big Top

The writing prompt was...

"Harvey, supervisor of the Loading Dock and ABC Trucking, hates to delegate. His new employee, Albert, is frustrated. Harvey’s boss, Bert, is getting ready to write Harvey up for poor performance because Harvey’s employee, Albert, who is untrained, keeps messing up. Albert has already sent a shipment of propellers to an obscure warehouse. Bad idea.

Is this a story? (One hint. Harvey shows up with a fake beard one day. Hmmm. Why does he do that? Clearly, this is not stereotypical business behavior.) What happens next?"

The Big Top

"Who knew it was necessary to stipulate ‘trained’ on the job description? Never in my wildest dreams…" Harvey’s voice trailed off. He realized he was talking to himself. What am I doing here? This place is a circus.

Harvey reached for the bucket at his side. What the –? He scanned the floor and turned 360 degrees. He had put the bucket down just a moment ago. Where did it go? He rolled his eyes. So much for that enchanted childhood notion of running away with the big top. He pursed his lips and took a deep breath through his nose. He immediately regretted the deep breath.

Redirecting his attention to the task at hand, Harvey leaned his shovel against the wall near a steaming pile of dung on the floor and went off in search of the missing bucket. As he turned a corner, he heard the handle of the shovel slide down the wall. He waited for the sound of the handle hitting the hard warehouse floor. Instead, it sounded like the handle hit something soft. Figures, he thought. Shit.

Mar 27, 2017

The First Rule of Good Customer Service Is...

We've all been on the receiving end of poor customer service and left feeling underappreciated and dissatisfied. Why is it, then, that we often can't see how our own actions (or inaction) leave our customers feeling undervalued?

In my years of managing consumer affairs and public relations, the two most important guiding rules I've learned are the Golden one and the Gratitude one

The Golden Rule was drilled into my head early: Treat others as you would like them to treat you. It's solid, timeless advice, and something I aspire to apply to every interaction.

But it wasn't until I entered the fundraising world that I really began to appreciate the Gratitude Rule and how important it is to both corporate and non-profit businesses. 

Good fundraisers know that the simple act of saying thank you is one of the most important, yet often forgotten, tools in the fundraising tool box. Donors want to feel their contributions are recognized, so every communication should reflect appreciation for what donors have given, and for their interest and involvement in the cause.

To ignore the Gratitude Rule is to miss an opportunity to connect and build a relationship with clients.

Has this ever happened to you?
  • You thank the cashier for giving you back your change, even though you were never thanked for your purchase.
  • You offer your time and talents to an organization, but the response was tepid and left you feeling like you inconvenienced them.
  • You send honest, constructive feedback about your product experience directly to a company, but never receive a reply.

What if it went like this instead?
  • I bought these fabulous boots on sale and the folks at the store made a point of telling me they know I had many choices, so they really appreciated me choosing to shop with them. 
  • I expressed interest in volunteering with a local non-profit, and while they didn't have a Board opening right now, they told me how much they appreciated my passion and my contributions to our community. 
  • I advised my favorite brand that I'm having trouble locating their product. They wrote back to tell me they've alerted their sales team, suggested other stores to try, and thanked me profusely for my loyalty.

The simple act of expressing gratitude can be the difference between leaving a client feeling indifferent about your business and building a lasting relationship that will bring you more business.
"Most people return small favors, acknowledge medium ones and repay greater ones -- with ingratitude." -Benjamin Franklin 

Mar 21, 2017

Creating Mystery in Support of Saint John Arts Centre

Anyone for a little art, mystery, intrigue (+ great food, beverage, and people)? Then you need to know about What's in the Box - the Saint John Arts Centre's annual fundraiser event.

What: Participating artists will donate original artwork to the Saint John Arts Centre where the pieces will be concealed in ‘mystery boxes’ in anticipation of the event.  

Guests at the event can enter a draw for a chance to purchase one (or more, if they choose) of the 50 ‘mystery boxes.’  By choosing to take part in the draw, guests commit to buying one of the ‘mystery boxes’ of art for $100 if their ballot is drawn - and they won’t know what they’ve won until they open the box! 

When: Thursday, 20-April-2017, 7:00 pm

Where: Saint John Arts Centre, 20 Peel Plaza, Saint John, NB.

Why: Funds raised will support Saint John Arts Centre programs, including the important Artists’ Rights Fees program for artists who display their works in the Saint John Arts Centre’s galleries.

Tickets are $75 each and are eligible for a $25 tax receipt. Wine, beer and food are included in the ticket price. Tickets can be purchased online, by contacting me, or by calling the Saint John Arts Centre at (506) 633-4870.

Mar 10, 2017

Getting Excited About The ECMAs

Since returning to Saint John, I’ve been lucky to have played key roles in helping to advance a number of inspiring organizations in our community. And now, through Way Up, my freelance communications business, I'm always learning new skills, and continuing to make new connections.

For the past months, I've been working with the East Coast Music Association as sales as community engagement manager for the East Coast Music Awards Festival and Conference in Saint John - April 26-30, 2017.

This five-day, non-stop musical celebration showcases and recognizes the best of East Coast artists and music. Hosting this esteemed event will be a major contributor to growth and development in our community, and I'm thrilled to be part of ensuring its success!

There's lots of excitement leading up to the event.

  • Several Uptown businesses have decorated their storefronts with East Coast music flair to show their support and appreciation for awards nominees and festival participants. 
  • The ECMA storefront in Market Square (Level 1) is your destination for ECMA apparel, information, and event tickets.

By-the-way, tickets are going fast. Don't miss out! Purchase your tickets here, or call me at 343-5154.

Nov 29, 2016

The Chamber's Member Success Stories Series

Let's celebrate, support and encourage our local entrepreneurial successes!

Each month, the Saint John Region Chamber Member Success Stories series highlights one of the many entrepreneurial leaders in our community.

The idea behind the series is to get everyone talking about how Saint John is a great place to both do business, and to be in business.

I hope you'll take a moment to read, share, and, most importantly, spend at our many locally-owned businesses. Each dollar we spend locally results in more money returned to our economy when those businesses increase their purchasing and hiring power.

It's up to all of us to ensure there's a steady stream of success stories in our future.

If you'd like to submit your business to be featured, or you'd like to suggest a business to feature, get in touch with The Chamber today.

Nov 16, 2016

Luna C's Post-Spaycation Postcard

Well, that sure was a trip!

I've been working my tail off  keeping up with busyness here at Way Up Strategic Solutions, so I was really excited when Chris told me that she was sending me on a spaycation.

Thing is - and don't tell Chris - but I don't remember a thing about my spaycation. I do remember stopping off at the vet - probably for pre-travel shots - but after that, nothing.  I don't know how long I was gone, where I went, or what I did.

And I have no freakin' idea how my belly fur got shaved. Must have been one wild party. But, at least I didn't go too crazy - I mean, I didn't get married at some Elvis-impersonator wedding chapel, and I didn't get an I Love Tom tattoo, so all's well. Belly fur will grow back. I just hope it grows back fast, before Chris notices.

Oct 12, 2016

Celebrating the Energy Outstanding Businesses Bring to our Community

For the past three years, I've been having a great time as a member of the Saint John Region Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Business Awards Task Force.

#OBASJ - it's all about celebrating the energy and enthusiasm that our region's many successful businesses, organizations and individuals bring to our community.

Our lucky all-volunteer committee gets to plan and execute one of The Chamber's signature events (and the most fun event, I might add... but I may be a bit biased.)

In addition to a lot of fun, it's also an opportunity to live my Way Up values of helping to ensure our community members feel supported and celebrated as they grow their businesses, spread their wings and achieve their dreams.

Congratulations to all the winners and finalists. You're all stars and it's our honour to recognize your contributions!

Event details:
2016 Outstanding Business Awards
Thursday, Oct 13th
Saint John Trade and Convention Centre
Reception: 5:30pm
Dinner 6:00pm

There's still time to get tickets!
Go to The Chamber website for details.

Sep 23, 2016

New Partner at Way Up Solutions

Hi, my name is Luna C, and I'm Chris' new busy-ness partner at Way Up Strategic Solutions.

(I know! I thought that was an odd way to spell it, too, but Chris said it perfectly describes what I do.) I'll leave the playing with words to Chris. I'm more into playing with string. 

Enthusiastic and with a keen attention to every minute detail, I also bring an exceptional ability to climb Way Up high on just about anything for a ten thousand foot perspective. I'm very flexible in my approach to problem-solving. I will, literally, bend over backwards to reach my goals.
I don't always work, but after I do, I take a nap.

I'm known for my insatiable curiosity. Present something new to me and I'll get to know it from every angle - even if it means I have to rip it open to see what's really inside. Chris says I should remember what they say about curious cats. I say my tenacity will ensure she keeps her communications and crisis management skills honed and at the ready 24/7.

If you need communications, marketing, crisis management help for your business, call me. Er, scratch that... Call Chris. I'm not much into answering the phone. I'm more of the keyboard and mouse type. (ClichΓ©...I know, but I couldn't resist.)

So, let me say that again: If you need communications, marketing, crisis management help for your business, call Chris. She'll take good care of you, just like she does with me. 

Sep 22, 2016

UP to "some good" with POWER UP!

Brenda Murphy and Vicki Cosgrove at the Saint John Women’s Empowerment Network asked for my help to create promotional materials for a new train-the-trainer program they’ll offer in spring ‘17. The program is open to women across Canada interested in offering POWER UP! leadership empowerment training in their communities.

The Saint John WEN's POWER UP! program has empowered over 300 local women in the past 7 years, and helped them be successful in taking their next steps in life.

Way Up Strategic Solutions and POWER UP! – sounded like a perfect match! Count me in!

I wrote, designed and created this promotional sell sheet that can be printed, shared on social media or emailed and my clients can make modifications on their own going forward (saves them time and money). My talented partners at Rod Stears Photography shot the photos of Kathy and Trish, two POWER UP! graduates featured in the materials.

You can learn more about this powerful community success story at www.sjwen.caon their Facebook page or by contacting Brenda Murphy at the Saint John Women's Empowerment Network  by email or phone: (506) 642-9033.

Are you looking for help with a communications or marketing project?  Get in touch! I'd love to find solutions with you. Reach me at by email or by phone (506) 343-5154.

P.S.: Everyone at the SJ Women’s Empowerment Network would greatly appreciate your help to spread the word about this new program. If you know of anyone who might be interested in the POWER UP! instructor training course, or if you have contacts around the country who might be willing to share the sell sheet with their networks, please let Brenda know.

Sep 1, 2016

Look Up. Waaayyy Up.

For many fellow Canadians, before All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulguhm, there was The Friendly Giant.

Dressed in our footy pajamas, we'd perch on our living room floors with our faces so close to the boxy black and white television set that we could almost climb in. We believed the castle really was so big that you had to look waaayyy up. And we watched right to the very end to make sure those three wooden chairs got put back exactly where they belonged before the drawbridge closed.

Friendly, Jerome and Rusty
Much has changed since the days of rabbit ears and two channels, but one thing that will never change: the value of a well told story.

Friendly Giant taught us, in his quiet, thoughtful way, to use words, pictures and music to not only tell, but to show stories.

There's always more to learn, but most of what we professional communicators really need to know, we learned from Friendly, Jerome and Rusty.

Oh, and while poking around the internet thinking about this post, I stumbled upon this:

Look Up – Way Up! The Friendly Giant
The Biography of Robert Homme by Grant D. Fairley

In case you're wondering... hell yeah, I bought it!

Aug 24, 2016

What Does a PR Professional Do?

I'm a communications and PR professional. I've been in the industry for years. And for years, my parents have asked: Christine, what is it exactly that you do, anyway?

I was glad to learn that I'm not the only one with this identity crisis.

As Amanda Laird wrote in her CNW Newswire article: "Whether you’re still slogging your way through PR school or you’ve been in the business for years, you know how difficult it is to explain what exactly it is that you do."

Mom and Dad, if you're reading this...