RIP Reed Titles
DFW Chapter President
By now, we've all heard the news about Reed Elsevier shuttering 23 B2B pubs. I don't think anyone is all that shocked any more. But, what does this mean for B2B publishing? Folio has its take and former ASBPE president, current TABPI president and editorial director of Hotel & Motel Management magazine Paul Heney has his:
"I think that this is one more indication that the b2b publishing world is moving away from being dominated by a few enormous entities. Our future lies more with smaller companies that truly love and believe in the niche(s) that they serve. Many of the Reeds of the world became little more than faceless earning machines for venture capitalists. Now the pendulum is swinging back toward favoring individuals who are passionate about mining or pharmaceuticals or engineering. This also serves to remind each one of us that a brand may be 40 or 50 or 60 years old, but nothing is too big to fail if editors, publishers and salespeople ignore the shifts in media habits — both on the reader and the advertiser — that we’re seeing today."
Fortunately a few titles have been saved and maybe some others will be resurrected as well. Time will tell.
We Grow Media: In-the-Trenches Help
Business-to-business editors often feel pulled in many directions in order to meet deadlines, often leaving the Web ignored. But Dan Blank, founder of We Grow Media, is looking to change that. Blank wants to bring back passion into the media world, and help us learn from each other – across all industries. The company was officially launched in December 2009, but started to take shape the third week of April.
“I talked to b-to-b editors, publishers, family and friends, and the common thread was that people felt overwhelmed,” Blank says. “These are really smart experts, and I want to help them leverage tools to create meaning, drive careers and fulfillment.”
Blank adds that too often those in the media have been reacting instead of creating. Instead of creating a YouTube channel because you feel like you have to, Blank says, b-to-b editors need to look at what the ultimate goal is. And We Grow Media is there to help determine what the goal should be, and how to accomplish it.
We Grow Media provides tips, in-the-trenches information, and works directly with individuals. In addition, the company will offer virtual courses: structured courses and one-on-one work. Blank wants to personalize what people need.
“Not just learn, but create. What are we creating?” Blank says. “I know they are overwhelmed and burned out, but they believe in what they’re doing. This is an opportunity for you as an editor. So many are reacting; what are your goals?
We Grow Media has a blog and daily newsletter discussing “in-the-trenches” information. For more information on the company or to contact Blank, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (973) 981-8882.
Webinar: Ten Trends that Could Make (or Break) Our Editorial Careers
Join ASBPE's next webinar on Thursday, April 29, to hear Jim Sulecki, director of e-media at Meister Media Worldwide, describe 10 trends that could make or break our editorial careers. In this webcast, he ll have advice on how to make sure these trends do the former.
Among the 10 trends to be covered:
1. We and our publications will be measured.
2. Our content will become co-creative with our audiences.
3. Editorial content will focus predominantly on analysis and exclusives.
4. We are in the entertainment (and information) business.
5. We (not publishers) will be the primary marketers of our content.
6. No one will pay us or our publishers directly for our content.
7. The fading bright line between editorial and sales may grow dimmer.
8. Content will be read on mobile devices as often as on computer screens.
9. Print content will go the premium route.
10. The Millennials will want our content, but in different packages.
Date: Thursday, April 29th, 2010
Time: 12:30 to 1:30 pm EST
Location: Your desktop computer.
Cost: $20 for members, $45 for non-members
Option 1: Pay online. Use the web form at www.asbpe.org/webinars to pay online via credit card or PayPal. Instructions for obtaining webinar access will be emailed to you once you have paid.
Option 2: Use PayPal via email. Go to PayPal and use the Send Money tab to send the proper amount to email@example.com. Instructions for obtaining webinar access will be emailed to you once you have paid.
Option 3: Pay by check or pay for multiple registrations at one time (regardless of payment method). Fill out the registration form posted at www.asbpe.org/webinars and return it to Holly Lundgren with your payment by April 28. Webinar access info will be provided once you have registered.
Questions? Contact Steven Roll at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Jim Sulecki
Jim Sulecki has more than 25 years of editorial, publishing management and sales/marketing experience in business-to-business and consumer media. Currently he manages Meister Media Worldwide s 20 brand and custom websites, 12 branded e-newsletters, custom e-media, webinars, and online video/audio, crafting sales and marketing strategies and developing online content and search engine optimization programs. He was named Innovator in Business Media: Online Executives by BtoB Media Business magazine in June 2009.
20 High-Value Blog Posts Offer 143 IdeasYou Can Use
- How can your publication succeed online?
- What points should a social media policy address?
- What challenges will face us as we convert our magazine from print to digital only?
We combed through posts from the blog's three-plus years of existence to compile some of the best. In choosing these posts, we had specific criteria in mind. We wanted to highlight posts that provide actionable, “how-to” material in an easy-to-use format (blogs with bullet lists and checklists were favored). We also wanted the posts, as a group, to cover a variety of topics.
With those considerations in mind, here are 20 of the best ASBPE National Blog posts, roughly in reverse chronological order.
- Two posts by past ASBPE president Steven Roll address social media guidelines. One is “It's Never Too Early to Adopt a Social Media Policy”; the other is
- “Got a Social Media Policy?”
- “President’s Letter: It’s All About Brand at the Symposium,” by current ASBPE president Warren Hersch, reports on ASBPE’s November 2009 Digital Symposium.
- “5 Things To Consider When Converting To Digital Only” is a Q&A with Sara Zailskas of Housing Giants on her publication's experience of the process. The piece was contributed by Chicago chapter board member Erin Erickson.
- “McCracken: Experimentation Vital to Web-Launch Success” is another report from the Digital Symposium, this time on a session presented by Technologizer founder (and former PC World editor in chief) Harry McCracken.
- “6 Ideas To Boost Revenue, Readership, or Recognition” contains advice from ASBPE Washington, D.C., chapter president Katy Tomasulo.
- “SEO Best Practices” was contributed by former Website Magazine staffer Maureen Alley.
- “Twitter Tips for B2B Editors,” another post from ASBPE officer Katy Tomasulo, features advice specifically for those of us who work at business, trade, professional, and association publications.
- “Top 10 Strategies To Drive Traffic To Your Blog” was contributed by Michelle Rafter, a long-time freelancer on technology and other topics. Rafter writes the very popular blog Word Count, aimed at freelance writers and editors.
- “Seven Reasons Why You Should Start Your Own Blog” was contributed by Steve Roll, who did just that with the Latin America travel blog Travelojos.
- “No Matter How Painful, Editorial Productivity Should Be Analyzed” came from Howard Rauch, an editorial consultant and chair of ASBPE’s ethics committee.
- “No Solid Answer To ‘What’s Next For B2B?’” reported on a roundtable hosted by ASBPE’s Cleveland chapter.
- “Want To Learn HTML? Get Your Feet Wet” offers basic coding tips from ASBPE web editor Martha Spizziri.
- “We Are Already Marketers” is Christina Pellett’s argument for why editors shouldn’t balk at requests to help market their publications. Pellett is now editor of Agent Sales Journal.
- In “Building Your Wings on the Way Down,” Technologizer's Harry McCracken gives advice on starting a new publishing venture.
- Joe Pulizzi, founder of the custom publishing marketplace Junta42 Match, contributed three posts with advice for freelance writers. “Getting into the Custom Game” tells freelancers how to break into custom publishing (aka content marketing);
- “The Freelance Writing Retirement Plan: Create an Asset” gives advice for maximizing income; and
- “You Are What the Web Says You Are: Writers and Social Media” explains how many writers’ online presences are lacking.
- The advice in “Making Time for Print and Online” comes from Dan Blank, director of content strategy and development for Reed Business Information. (Dan also blogs at danblank.com.)
- “Sure, ’09 Will Be Tough. You Can Tell the Grownups, Though: They Think Rationally” comes from consultant Thomas H. Temin, It still holds up in 2010.
The Journalist's Toolbox
DFW Chapter President
I've been on a roll, talking about professional development and making yourself indispensable. Now I'm going to lead you to another valuable resource to make yourself look like a genius to your boss and colleagues: The Journalist's Toolbox.
This is a hodgepodge of great links for how to find information on topics ranging from multimedia editing tools to editing and fact-checking references. If you need to find a clearinghouse of information on weather, military or even foreign policy, there's a link for that information, too.
It all goes back to being the go-to person in your office. The publisher's administrative assistant needs to find the ZIP code of some head office in Walla Walla, Wash., but she isn't the greatest at figuring out how to find it. So, make yourself invaluable and be able to offer her that assistance. She'll remember it. Trust me.
Make Yourself Indispensable
DFW Chapter President
Covering real estate in a down economy makes story creation a bit limited at times. But, I’m taking the advice that a commercial real estate broker gave some “young guns” at a recent event: make yourself indispensable. He told them that the key to success is making sure that your team needs you on every deal. Be a go-to person. The same is true in B2B journalism as well.
How do you do that? Be creative, for one. Find the stories that need to be told instead of rehashing the same tired topics over and over.
A great example in the commercial real estate world in Dallas is the use of Jones Lang LaSalle’s SuperBowl blog. They took their top dog — who just happens to be Hall of Famer and former Cowboys QB Roger Staubach — and paired him with his broker son to write it. So, now they've taken something that really has nothing to do with JLL and made themselves relevant.
With the SuperBowl coming to Dallas in February 2011, they have something to generate the interest, and the person to make it interesting. Tie in the real estate world and voila.
But, Tonie, we don't have a Roger Staubach or a SuperBowl to get people interested, what do we do? Find something that makes you relevant to your target audience. Are they all wondering about unemployment? Industry regulations? healthcare reform impacts?
What's on your readers' minds? Ask them. Make your blog relevant to them and their needs. Maybe create a forum for them to ask each other questions. Christianity Today has a blog for its Your Church magazine. From information that is pertinent to its readers — church leaders — and from its comments section, the editors have developed cover stories that relate to what their readers are asking about. Let your readers guide your topics from time to time. What a novel concept? I don't think so. It's time we got back to basics in our coverage. With scaled-back budgets and staff, we may have no choice.
But, we have to make and/or keep ourselves relevant to our readers. Remember, make yourself indispensable. If you come up with the good ideas, your publisher, editor, board of directors (whoever) will remember that.
I think I know more colleagues who are unemployed than gainfully working these days. That is pretty depressing. If you're a member of the Fourth Estate, you probably find yourself looking over your shoulder a little more these days than maybe in years past. And, rightfully so.
What can you do? Not much. But, one thing I would recommend is taking advantage of professional development opportunities. Want some suggestions?
- ASPBE has inexpensive webinars that don't require you to even leave the office. For the cost of a luncheon, you can eat your sack lunch at your desk and do something good for your career. We posted a list last Monday of the next few webinars.
- Join some local writers' organizations or check your local public library for writing courses. They may not be B2B, but improving your writing in any fashion can't be bad.
- Check the local professional organizations from your local ASBPE chapter to the Society of Professional Journalists, International Association of Business Communicators or even the Public Relations Society of America for networking or improvement opportunities. Relationships are still the best way I've found to get a job. Its how I got my current gig.
- The Donald W. Reynolds Center for Business Journalism, like the SPJ, offers regional workshops for nominal fees, or even free in many cases.
Tonie Auer is the DFW reporter for Bisnow on Business; the DFW ASBPE Chapter president and the ASBPE blog czarina. She can be reached at email@example.com
Sound Off Now About Daunting Editorial Workload
Ask any editor about their current workload and you’re sure to get an earful. Tales of woe usually focus on the unfairness of triple-threat job descriptions involving print, web and digital publications. Individuals are quick to add that job descriptions have expanded in the face of staff cuts and salary freezes.
The truth is ... nobody (yes, that includes top management) is happy about the situation. Further, the publishing industry is not alone in being walloped by the economy. The typical editor’s problem in making the case for relief is an inability to describe existing job functions quantitatively. In other words, how long does each facet of your job take to complete from start to finish in a given month?
This is no easy task. Different functions of a typical editorial job load may be spread out across several days into small time components. Melding the parts into a whole is challenging, to say the least.
Well ... we really can’t wait any longer. A time-oriented performance study is long overdue. So I’ve decided to give it a shot. The objective of this study is not to bemoan our circumstances. Instead, we need to seek possible shortcuts that will speed job fulfillment. And I am inviting you to participate in a two-phase study that’s just begun.
Phase I involves completion of a questionnaire asking you to analyze your work schedule. Most of the 15 questions are easily answered. Others will require that you put on your thinking cap. For example, question (7) asks you – on the basis of 100 percent – to estimate the time component breakdown for print vs. web. Question (8) challenges you to create a multicategory job description for the web portion. In a preliminary meeting between me and ASBPE webmaster Martha Spizziri, we came up with a dozen possible categories. Now we’re interested in comparing notes with you. Question (11) is the toughest to tackle. Here is where you prioritize the list created in question (9) from most time-consuming down to least time-consuming. If you’re up to the challenge, we can work through the questionnaire together. Later on, in Phase II of the study, we’d have a follow-up interview to make sure everything’s been covered.
Here are other things you ought to know about this pioneer project:
(1) The results will be presented June 17 at an ASBPE webinar I am cohosting with fellow consultant John Bethune.
(2) Survey participants will receive a special tailored summary of study results.
Interested? For more information or to receive a copy of the questionnaire, call me at (201) 569-7714 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Six Ways To Salvage a Bad Interview
You’ve got that sinking feeling – you’re interviewing a source, but it’s not going well. You need the source’s perspective for your story and have got to try to pull a rabbit of your hat before it’s too late.
All too frequently, sources ramble off-topic, repeatedly don’t answer your questions, won’t let you get a word in edgewise or force you to pull information out of them one word at a time. Whether you’re an editor, on staff or a freelancer, it happens to all of us. But with time – and budgets – tight, there’s less room in the schedule to find another source or try to work around an interview that’s a dead loss.
While it’s not always possible to salvage every interview – a few here and there are likely to be a waste of time – there are some ways to get around even the most recalcitrant source and seemingly hopeless interviews. Here are some tips:
1. Set the Stage. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, we’ve all done it – failed to prepare for an interview or scrambled around two minutes beforehand, trying to think of a few pertinent questions. But like any other endeavor, you get out of an interview what you put into it. Before the interview, think about what information you need from the source and the best way to get it.
If you absolutely haven’t had time to prepare or your questions are falling like a lead balloon, think on your feet and try to regroup, advises Holly Ocasio Rizzo, a freelance writer. “Quick-check that your questions are worded to elicit thoughtful, lively answers instead of PR lines, statistics and such,” she says. “Think about what you fundamentally want to bring the reader from it, and take the interview there.”
2. Go Big Picture. Your source may be so caught up in the little details of what you’re looking for that he or she doesn’t know what to say. Try to back up and give him or her a sense of the overall story and where you’re going, says freelance writer Judy Schwartz.
“If an interview isn’t going well, I assume it’s my fault and that I haven’t properly conveyed exactly what I’m looking for,” she says. “I shift gears and go ‘meta,’ explaining to the source what I’ve envisioned for the final piece and inviting him/her into the process of getting there. Once I do that, the source often gets it and gives me just what I need.”
3. Get Specific. If I had to pick the one thing that is bound to drive me mad in the course of an interview, it’s the source whose input is so generalized that it’s absolutely useless. Or maybe it’s the source who tiptoes around a subject, refusing to confirm or deny that the sky is blue. It’s a toss-up.
Try to drill down by asking for specific examples of what he or she has done in a given situation may work. Asking for advice as to what other business owners/executives have done is a neat trick too – few sources can resist offering advice.
4. Get Down to Brass Tacks. Sometimes, being a nice guy or gal doesn’t cut it. To shake up the conversation and get it moving in a different direction, “ask a contentious, difficult question and hold their feet to the fire,” says Erik Sherman, a freelance writer, artist and photographer.
5. Cite a common problem. Sometimes referring to a common issue, or problem, in an industry can loosen tongues, notes freelance writer Cathleen McCarthy. “If someone is wandering off point or being too vague, I’ll say something like, ‘I’ve noticed in talking to other people (who do what you do) that X has become a big problem lately,’” she says. “Referring to someone’s colleagues and a common problem often loosens sources up. I think it’s a combination of competiveness – I’ve spoken to their colleagues – and the familiarity of an inside topic – I know the scoop.”
6. Cut Your Losses. If all else fails and the source just won’t respond or give you anything you haven’t heard 1,000 times before, it may be time to call it a day. Tell the source you have five more minutes and make one last ditch attempt to get something – anything – you can use for your story. Worst case, “if the wording is dull but not the points, paraphrase,” suggests Sherman. “If the person is only making points that others have made, use the interview as cover material, adding an additional voice and freeing up another source to say something different.”
Editor’s note: This blog post is a counterpoint to a piece Buttell wrote for financial advisors, “Six Tips to Work Better with Reporters.” That post appeared on the Financial Marketing Wire blog.
Amy Buttell is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Journal of Financial Planning, Hospitals and Health Networks, American Executive, Better Investing Magazine and Savingforcollege.com as well as many other publications and websites. She reports on a variety of trends and industries including finance, healthcare, legal and real estate. In 2009, she earned an Advanced Certificate in Accounting from the Walker Business School at Mercyhurst College. Her book, Personal Investing: The Missing Manual, co-authored with Bonnie Biafore and Carol Fabbri, will be published in May. She lives in Erie, Pa., with her two sons and two cats. Her online home is at www.amybuttell.com, her e-mail address is lecreative@ mac.com and you can find her on Twitter at twitter.com/lecreative.