During this thanksgiving season, I've been taking stock and thinking about all of the ASBPE-related people and things I'm thankful for. So in no particular order, here's my top 10:
1. The 2009 ASBPE Digital Conference and Amy Fischbach. ASBPE's National Vice President Amy Fischbach has been instrumental in planning and working through the logistics of having a separate national award and educational conference devoted to digital publications each fall.
2. The ASBPE Foundation and Rob Freedman. Rob presided over the launch of the ASBPE Foundation this summer in Kansas City. He continues to press the case for the need for journalism schools to focus on the business and trade press.
3. ASBPE's Logistical Wizards: Janet Svazas and Holly Lundgren. Like baseball umpires or football referees, if no one notices Janet or Holly at a conference it's because they're doing their job right. Thanks for doing all the hard work that is necessary our annual awards program and conference.
4. ASBPE Blog Mistress Tonie Auer. Tonie is the engine that drives the ASBPE's national blog. Along with juggling work and family, Tonie tirelessly ensures that new posts are added at least twice a week. The ASBPE's national blog continues to be an effective platform for discussing the latest issues and trends.
5. Regular ASBPE Bloggers: Erin Erickson, Howard Rauch, Martha Spizziri , and Katy Tomasulo. All of these busy professionals consistently produce insightful and informative posts for ASBPE's national blog.
6. Editor's Notes and Robin Sherman. ASBPE's Associate Director and Newsletter Editor, Robin Sherman does a terrific job of producing the Society's bimonthly newsletter. The last edition, which featured pointers from former Wall Street Journal reporter Roy Harris on covering economic slumps, was particularly strong.
7. The ASBPE Website Revamp and Lisa Lupo. For the past year, ASBPE has made detailed plans for improving its Web site. This effort, which is headed by Minneapolis/St. Paul Chapter President Lisa Lupo, remains on track.
8. ASBPE Webinars and Warren Hersch. ASBPE's last Webinar, which featured Harry McCracken and Joe Pulizzi, was a huge success. New York City Chapter President Warren Hersch has been instrumental in spearheading ASBPE's Webinar initiative since it began a couple of years ago. (Remember: ASBPE members qualify for a 15% discount from our Webinar vendor Beacon Services. Members can follow this link and log in for details.)
9. ASBPE's Ethics Committee and Spring Suptic. Kansas City Chapter President Spring Suptic is doing a great job implementing ASBPE's new Ethics Advisory Program. Under the program, the committee provides timely guidance to members on editorial or advertising practices.
10. The ASBPE 2009 Awards of Excellence Brochure and Katy Tomasulo. D.C. Chapter President Katy Tomasulo stepped up this year and took on producing the 2009 contest brochure. As per usual, Katy produced a nice finished product.
Oh yeah, here's one more thing I'm thankful for: All of the things and people I've failed to mention.
Azbee Awards of Excellence Expand
First up is the Print Azbees, with an entry deadline of Jan. 30, and its associated two-day National Editorial Conference with the Print Azbee Awards of Excellence banquet. Both are set for July 15–17 at the Marriott Washington in Washington, D.C.
The Digital Azbees will have an entry submission deadline in late summer and a one-day digital conference and digital awards banquet set for fall 2009 on the West Coast. Members will be notified when digital submissions may begin.
One advantage of separating the print from the digital is the creation of additional award categories that match the actual work that editors and artists do every day, especially on the digital side.
“By offering a separate digital awards banquet and conference, we can recognize the hard work that editors are doing to not only publish a quality print publication, but also to drive revenue and encourage reader interaction through online projects,” said competition and conference committee chair Amy Fischbach.
The fall 2009 Digital Azbee Awards banquet will allow ASBPE to develop an associated one-day digital conference, yet another educational opportunity for editors. The event likely will feature beginner and advanced tracks.
While the digital conference will focus solely on Internet-related topics, the print conference largely will explore the interrelationship between print and digital.
The July Print Azbee awards ceremony will acknowledge the two Magazine of the Year winners while the Digital Azbees will honor the Web Site of the Year and the Multi-Platform Presentation of the Year.
After rolling out the online entry process for the first time last year, ASPBE asked competition entrants and judges for comments about the process. Responding to requests to make online application even easier, ASBPE is looking to expedite the payment and receipt process. Entrants will also find instructions on how to make a low-resolution PDF and will be informed of a successful upload. For better entry preparation, a well-written mission statement, geared for judging purposes, will be posted.
Although entrants can still send hard copies, most categories will now be available for PDF submission, including design entries. Some categories, such as those needing entire issues, will still require hard copies.
On the print side, four new categories have been created. To recognize more freelance business writers and editors working on custom publications, and to separate these publications from other B2B magazines, Best Custom Magazine and Best Custom Newsletter categories have been developed.
Unlike previous Azbee contests, custom publishers may only enter in these two new categories. A Best Humorous/Fun department and a Most-Improved Publication category have been added to the editorial division. Details about digital categories will be announced later.
All of ASBPE’s editorial categories have a design component for judging purposes, and the design categories have an editorial element as well. Rather than printing a Call for Entries brochure this year, ASBPE will instead email the entry form to publications nationwide. Reminder postcards with the URL of the online entry system as well as the deadline for the competition will be mailed.
Submitting online will carry a lower entry fee than those who submit hard copy:
- For members, a fee of $75 will apply for entering online and $90 for entering hard copies.
- For nonmembers, the fee is $85 for online and $100 for hard copies.
- Fees for the Magazine of the Year are slightly higher.
In advance of the national and regional awards banquets, all entrants will be notified by email of the finalists and their posting to the ASBPE Web site.
National awards will be presented during the ASBPE annual National Editorial Conference the evening of July 16 at the Marriott Washington, Washington, D.C.
Regional awards will be presented at ceremonies around the country sponsored by various ASBPE chapters. Regional ceremony dates will be announced later.
Watch our website for further details as they develop.
Labels: Azbee Awards
Chicago Produces Top-Notch Member Programs
ASPBE Past President
Several ASBPE chapters are known for their powerful program planning. But it would be hard to top the work done by the Chicago chapter in designing this month's half-day workshop titled "B2B Survival Strategies for Difficult Economic Times."
Featured speakers at the Nov. 7, program, held at Columbia College in the Loop, were
Marina Dock Age and Boat & Motor Dealer editor Peter Gallanis discussed how to use interns to your greatest advantage. Addressing multiplatform editorial strategies were Telephony editor-in-chief Carol Wilson, Time Out Chicago web editor Scott Smith and Pierce Hollingsworth, president of his own marketing consultancy. Just seeing a variety of websites up on the screen and the different way editors handle making them work for readers helped produce insights. Carol's dedication to devoting slower afternoon hours to getting stories ready for early-morning runs, for example, pays off by giving other outlets good material from her site to be picked up during the day. That brings Telephony an extra promotional benefit from such stories.
As impressive as the firepower that Chicago leaders called in to discuss survival, though, was the careful thought that they gave to the program lineup. By making the first topic of the day ethics—the discussion I was honored to moderate—they took note of how vital it is that publications maintain the trust of their readers, especially when times are hard and the financial challenges are greatest.
It was clear to all the attendees—when the examples started pouring in during the Q&A—that newsroom ethics are far more than window-dressing. And that editors are the ones on the spot, not just for training writers in ethical behavior, but for confronting publishers who may be tempted to go over the edge when advertiser pressures mount. It is more and more important, in fact, as the advertising dollar looks to some companies like the ultimate goal, whereas we know that the goal must continue to be reader service.
I was proud to be able to point out in Chicago that ASBPE's redesign of our ethics code has provided useful guidelines for editors to follow in examining ethical questions and finding answers to practical questions. The proof has been in the response we've had since we installed a redesigned ethics program that uses a standing Advisory Committee to deal with inquiries reflecting real-life quandaries. We now get answers back to member questions within three days, and stand ready to back them up with their publishers, if that's required. And I was glad that the 30 attendees seemed so eager to learn how the code has been working of late under its new committee chairperson, Spring Suptic. The one-word answer: effectively.
For chapters seeking a model for programming, I suggest getting in touch with Chicago Chapter President Nikki Golden, or with Vice President Erin Erickson, who managed the program so well. Congratulations, Chicago.
Roy Harris is senior editor of CFO magazine.
Highlights from New-Media Webinar
ASBPE Web Editor
"Anyone can launch a media brand. The time is right now, especially because buying behavior has changed." That's the judgment of Joe Pulizzi, who copresented the ASBPE webinar "A B2B Journalist’s Guide to Creating the Next New-Media Resource" on Monday.
Pulizzi is founder and chief content officer of the content-marketing community Junta42. He also launched Junta42Match, a service for matching up buyers and sellers of custom publishing services. Presenting with Pulizzi was Harry McCracken, the former editor-in-chief of PC World, who left that publication to start the personal technology blog Technologizer. The site launched this year with zero traffic, but was getting 950,000 monthly page views and 400,000 unique visitors per month by its second full month of operation.
Although both presenters offered advice for editors who want to start their own ventures, most of their suggestions would be just as helpful to existing media companies planning to introduce a new-media property. Pulizzi explained how buying behavior has changed, and what that means for those who want to provide B2B information online. "More than 90% of business purchases begin online. So you have to find out how they’re using that information and become part of that process." Here are some of the other tips he and McCracken shared during the webcast:
Know where the money will be coming from before you start. Joe Pulizzi says a three-tier revenue model works in any market - that is, a new enterprise should be able to get revenue from at least three groups of people. Usually there are a main group or audience and a few ancillary groups.
Copy a model from another industry. Pulizzi used Digg as a model in starting Junta42. eHarmony and AgencyFinder were the models for Junta42Match.
Leave your job with a job. If you're striking out on your own, Pulizzi advised, continue to write or consult for their old companies while getting a new project started. Harry McCracken seconded this advice, noting that he's still a contributor to PC World. The writing he's done for that publishing franchise not only helped keep money coming in as the site ramped up, but it's great publicity for Technologizer.
See all the posts by and about McCracken and Pulizzi on our blog.
Treat your audience like editorial staff. Your audience contributes to your site in the form of blog comments and discussion forum posts, McCracken notes, and many of those participants may know more than you do about certain topics. What's more, based on their input to your site, you might even get to know users you'll want to hire to write for you. "Don’t think of your community as a database that you can sell to people. Do lots of polls and surveys. Find the best people and highlight their work – and even pay them," McCracken said.
Use free tools, even if you're a big media company. Big companies often bog themselves down in processes or tools. McCracken noted that there are many free tools now that are easy to use and comparable to products companies used to pay tens of thousands of dollars for. (For how to avoid getting burned when dealing with free web services, see this post from Technologizer.)
Don't bother with traditional search engine optimization. That's Harry McCracken's advice, and he admits it's unorthodox. But in his opinion, if you write good content and promote it via the social web, you'll rank high on Google. (For more, see this post from the blog McCracken on Media.)
McCracken and Pulizzi also discussed specific tools and marketing strategies they used, how to find writers when you're on a tight budget, and revenue streams beyond advertising. An archived version of this webcast will be available to attendees. Watch ASBPE's webinar page for updates on availability of the archived version, as well as updates on upcoming webinars.
Your Former Staff Job Makes You a Desirable Business Magazine Writer
To all the laid-off newspaper or magazine writers looking for work – if you’re thinking of freelancing, consider business publications.
While it’s not the perfect time to be hustling for work as an independent writer – more supply, less demand – your status as a former staffer gives you some leverage. I say this not only as a long-time freelancer who’s made writing for trade publications a specialty but also as a former daily newspaper reporter and a one-time trade magazine editor.
When it comes to writing for the trades, ex-staff writers have advantages over freelancers who’ve never worked in-house at a publication before. Here’s why:
Editors can relate to you. Because you’ve been a staffer, you’re perceived as part of the fold. Editors will take it for granted that you know how to research, do interviews and write news or feature stories, but also do things like write story budget lines, suggest heads and decks and hustle after artwork – making them more willing to assign stories to you than to a freelancer without a similar background. This can be a double-edged sword. Since they expect you can do all of those things, you'd better be able to deliver.
You’re responsible. Whether you worked somewhere one year or 10, getting yourself into a newsroom or your home office day after day shows a potential trade magazine client that you have enough self discipline to deliver what you say you can. Make sure you spell this out in a resume or letter of introduction.
You’ve worked a beat. You know how to mine sources and do other research to generate story ideas, something that can come in handy if you to want write for a particular business magazine on a regular basis. Again, be sure to hit on this point in a letter of introduction or query.
You understand deadlines. That is to say, you know that if a story’s due by the end of Monday that’s when you’ll turn it in, if not before. And if you can turn assignments in early, do it – editors love that and will remember you the next time they’ve got extra work to hand out.
You have connections. If you’re planning to continue writing about subjects you covered as a staffer, you have experience and an established network of sources to draw from. That translates into a shorter learning curve for any business magazine editor who’s considering assigning you stories.
Writing for the trades might not be as high profile as writing for national women’s magazines or glossy shelter publications. I have freelance friends who write for both of those, and based on the stories they tell, the high per-word rate doesn’t make up for the equally high pain-in-the-neck factor. Trades may not have the same cache – though some definitely do – but they offer steady, interesting work at competitive rates, and ex-staffers would be smart to use their experience to capitalize on that.
Bonus tip: If you are interested in writing for business publications, check out Magazine Health Watch. The Website is a regularly updated, interactive database of advertising pages and revenue for consumer and business magazines. It’s run by Inquiry Management Systems, a publishing service company. Here’s why I like it: freelancers can examine the listings to find the names of trade titles in specific business categories they might be interested in writing for. It can also be used to track how healthy an individual publication is based on the ad pages run or revenue collected in the most recent quarter – good information to know in these financially precarious times.
Michelle V. Rafter is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore. She has spent more than 20 years covering business and technology for magazines, newspapers, wire services and Websites. She also writes the WordCount blog on freelancing in the digital age.
More Than Ever Before ... Editors Are Miracle Workers
President of Editorial Solutions, Inc.
The realization that editors must wear many hats first started picking up steam almost 20 years ago. At that time, the big deal was management urging editors to play a stronger role in marketing affairs. The situation prompted me to create my first “miracle worker” self-scoring profile, which I subsequently introduced at an industry workshop. Back then, I listed ten diversified roles editors were being challenged to play. Under those circumstances, we had every right to consider ourselves to be miracle workers!
Today, especially in view of our website involvement, our list of roles clearly has expanded. But the key question is still the same. Are we willingly prepared to play each role to the hilt? To that end, here’s my newest miracle worker profile. For each role described, rate your capability. If your final score falls below 80, consider which factors inhibiting your performance can be improved.
Part I: For each of the ten roles below, rate your performance on a 1-7 basis, seven being best.
Magician. Consistently delivers top-quality content, even though frequently saddled with a restricted budget. SCORE: _____
Assassin. Candidly assesses editorial strengths and weaknesses vs. competition, then provides evaluation results to the marketing group. SCORE: ____
Marketing wizard. Periodically recommends special projects/supplements that have promising ad potential to marketing group. SCORE: ____
Technology expert. Rarely baffled by computer/website glitches. SCORE: ____
Graphic guru. Conjures up snazzy layout ideas. Also battles proposed design ideas by artists that are esthetically interesting but are less than reader friendly. SCORE: _____
Show business star. Always a star performer before an audience and constantly in demand to appear on industry programs. SCORE: _____
Teacher. Personally involved in training/providing feedback to all staff members. Accepts the reality that training is a never-ending task. SCORE: _____
Industry maven/statistician. Data-adept in terms of creating, interpreting and publishing surveys addressing ground-breaking issues. SCORE: _____
Customer service specialist. Adheres to a written policy describing productive ways to handle editorial complaints. SCORE: _____
Visible editorial contributor. This role is especially critical for the editor-in-chief whose contribution per issue rarely goes beyond an editorial column. Maximum score is possible only for editorial managers who always byline important features. SCORE: _____
Part II: For each of the two roles below, rate yourself on a 1-15 basis.
Webmaster in every sense of the word. Maintains a timely, fast-paced, easily navigated site. Capably traffics readers back and forth between e-newsletters, websites and publications. Constantly delivers exclusive website material. Evaluates strengths/weaknesses of own site vs. competitors. Somehow capably executes this role while fulfilling all other responsibilities in exemplary fashion. SCORE: _____
Management problem solver. Website involvement has heightened the importance of this role. Frequently, without benefit of any “upsizing,” editors regularly update websites, generate one or more e-newsletters and simultaneously deliver a regular publication. This accomplishment is indeed a miracle. SCORE: _____
Did I leave out any miracle-working roles? If so, please let me know. Maybe top management needs to know as well.
Howard Rauch is president of Editorial Solutions Inc., a consultancy focusing on B2B magazines. Rauch is the 2002 recipient of ASBPE’s Lifetime Achievement Award. You can contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Editor as a Marketer
Chicago Chapter President
I asked over on the Chicago Chapter blog a few weeks ago: Where does innovation come from? My question stemmed from the fact that editors have some really great ideas, and yet a lot of the time, they’re unable to make the case for them to be implemented because we’re not used to putting a monetary value on our thoughts. If we have a journalism degree, our training is mostly rooted in the basics of reporting, writing and editing, with maybe a design class sprinkled in, maybe a class in creating a business plan for starting a new publication, but at the time, it was so drenched in theory, who thought it would be useful information 10 to 15 years later?
So it was with interest that I read Jonah Bloom’s article in Ad Age, “Despite Claims to Contrary, Magazines Still Rooted in Past.” The article refuted Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s comments to the American Magazine Conference a few weeks ago. He said that it was the job of the magazine to cut through the “cesspool” of information online and be its audience’s filtration system. Bloom’s argument is that most magazine titles — and he’s referring to consumer magazines, but I believe this is just as apt for B2B titles — are not even close to the first five places its readers look for information. His argument is that most publications have not established their brand beyond the printed format.
He writes: “But magazines are not marketed like brands. They spend little advertising themselves to either consumers or the marketers that support them, and when they do, their messages tend to be focused on the content of the publication. In other words, their marketing isn't brand marketing; it's customer-acquisition marketing.”
I don’t think anyone could have put it better. Just as editors are not trained to monetize their ideas, we also are not trained to be marketers. In fact, marketing is a dirty word, right up there with salesperson.
But that needs to change — and fast! We need to focus on what will make us top of mind for our industry, not just in terms of being the go-to person for national consumer media, as Tonie Auer wrote, but for our readers. When there’s a crisis in the industry we cover, we want them to visit our Web sites and look to us to sort the information out, not The New York Times or CNN… or our competitors.
If we cover products, we need to figure out a way to allow our readers to find that product without feeling as if we’re giving something away. Our readers don’t care if our sales team sells product links and this manufacturer didn’t purchase that, so we don’t include a link. All our readers care about is that they want to find this product and can’t. We need to be thinking of how we can engage our readers in ways that our convenient and necessary for them.
Print is still important, but it needs to be looked at as part of a whole, and we, as editors, need to start thinking of the broader picture. How do the Web site, conferences, Webinars, podcast, your Facebook page all complete and complement your print offering? That’s the question the industry has struggled to answer. But if we continue to struggle much longer, we will lose.
You Be the Judge
ASBPE is looking for a few good judges for the 2009 AZBEE Awards of Excellence. What's in it for you? Judging will give you the insights you need to get an inside track to winning an editorial or design award. As a judge, you'll quickly learn which entries' mission statements and essays work and don't work. You'll also further develop your sense for identifying the intangible qualities that separate a good article from a great one.
During my time as a features article judge, I've noticed how some publications have an uncanny ability to pick topics that I find interesting despite my almost complete lack of previous knowledge about the industry they are covering. This has helped me come up with interesting ideas for articles and identify stories that are likely to appeal to judges who might not know my industry.
Besides allowing you to gauge trends and hot topics, judging is good way to learn about new reporting techniques or design ideas. This will help you to improve your publication and boost your career.
Serving as a judge in the last five competitions has given me an invaluable education and has heightened by respect for the trade and association press. Every year, it reinforces my belief that despite the obstacles most specialty publications face, they consistently produce high-quality design and editorial content.
At the awards banquet, it feels good to know that I played a key role in picking the winner of one or more of the categories.
If all of that isn't enough, there's more. ASBPE is one of the few organizations that pays its judges. Each judge receives $75 in "ASBPE bucks," which may be applied toward membership dues, fees for chapter events or the national conference, or ASBPE books.
Of course, not everyone can be a judge. ASBPE is looking for people who have a proven track record of success in the B2B publishing industry. Find out if you have what it takes by e-mailing me at b2beditor AT gmail.com.
A B2B Journalist's Guide to Creating the Next New-Media Resource
|On Nov. 17, Harry McCracken and Joe Pulizzi will give advice on launching a successful new-media venture. Read posts by and about McCracken and Pulizzi on the ASBPE National Blog.|
Time: 1 pm Eastern time
Duration: 60 minutes
The advent of the Internet has made it easier and less costly than ever for writers and editors to connect with a niche audience. It also has dramatically increased the value of their skills, enabling smart writers and editors to reach millions of people, as well as make money doing so, without the backing of a large media company.
During a 60-minute Webinar brought to you by ASBPE, you'll learn from Harry McCracken, the former editor-in-chief of PC World who has since founded the personal technology blog Technologizer, and Joe Pulizzi, founder and chief content officer of the search community site Junta42, how to:
- develop an effective marketing strategy to promote your content;
- identify, and participate in, online conversations that can help draw audiences to your work;
- use social networking Web sites to reach out to online communities who are likely to value your expertise;
- leverage the power of "free";
- and build successful permission-based marketing initiatives.
Update, Nov. 4, 2008: Registration is now open. Get details and register here.
Charge: This Webinar is $10.00 for all ASBPE members and $35.00 for nonmembers.
About the Moderator
JOE FLEISCHER has more than 12 years of experience as a writer and editor covering a wide range of topics related to customer care. He is a sought-after speaker and moderator at leading customer care events. He has developed and moderated numerous conference sessions, workshops and Webcasts, with the aim of helping companies to improve their communication with customers.
With Brendan Read, Mr. Fleischer is the coauthor of the book The Complete Guide to Customer Support.
About the Presenters
HARRY MCCRACKEN is the founder and editor of Technologizer, a Web site and community about personal technology that reaches 400,000 unique visitors a month. Prior to launching Technologizer in July 2008, he served as editor-in-chief of PC World, the world's largest computing magazine, and its Web site, from 2003 to 2008. McCracken earned American Business Media's Timothy White Award for Editorial Integrity in 2008. He was named to Folio: magazine's Folio:40 list of media movers and shakers in 2008, and was one of min Magazine's 21 Most Intriguing People in 2008. McCracken's PC World editorials won American Business Media's Jesse H. Neal award in 2008.He has appeared as a technology expert on ABC, the BBC, CBS, NBC, the History Channel, and many other TV and radio outlets, and has written for Family Circle, Popular Science, Slate, USA Today and other publications.
JOE PULIZZI, a thought leader, speaker, writer and evangelist for content marketing and custom publishing, is founder and chief content officer for Junta42, a content marketing and custom publishing on-line resource, helping businesses of all sizes learn how to create valuable, relevant and compelling content. Voted American Business Media's "Custom Media Innovator of the Year," Joe is also president of Z Squared Media LLC, a content marketing consulting firm for marketers and publishers. In addition, Joe is coauthor of the book Get Content. Get Customers, which helps teach businesses why and how to create their own compelling content to drive their businesses.