B2B Editors and Publishers Definitely Get It

By Robert Freedman
ASBPE Foundation President

It's true. If you build it, they will come. Last week in Kansas City ASBPE formally launched its tax-exempt educational foundation and the results are in: two dozen contributions from institutions and individuals. We're well on our way to reaching our first-year goal of $30,000.

Everyone I talked to at the launch and throughout the national ASBPE conference said the same thing: a foundation dedicated to ending the stature gap between b2b and the consumer press in our university journalism programs is long overdue. Our plan to endow the country's first b2b journalism chair at one of our country's top universities and to offer generous scholarships to students committed to b2b journalism resonated more than I expected, and I went into the meeting with the highest hopes.

Of course, the foundation isn't just about curriculum equality in our schools; it's about helping editors today master the new-media skills they'll need tomorrow to stay in the driver's seat as content increasingly is delivered on platforms other than print. I talked to more than a dozen people about the role of the foundation in providing continuing education to b2b editors and each person nodded in agreement that editors must master video and other new-media resources or risk losing control over content as the migration away from print continues.

What's clear is that editors and their publishers aren't just agreeing to the need for the ASBPE Foundation; they're committing themselves to making it happen. Questex Media in Cleveland and CFO magazine in Boston (part of The Economist Group), Access Intelligence of Rockville, Md., and the BNA in Washington, D.C. — these are just a few of the institutions that stepped up as founding donors. My employer, the publications group of the National Association of Realtors, has also donated, along with Adobe (which made an in-kind donation) and the Stephen Barr family (the sponsors of ASBPE's Stephen Barr award for exceptional work by b2b journalists), among others.

Particularly inspiring, though, is the level of the individual donations we've seen. I hesitate to list them all here for fear of leaving someone out, but I can say we received generous contributions from professionals in our industry from every region of the country, giving me confidence that as word about the foundation spreads, we'll see its support grow.

To me the logic of the foundation is clear: give publishers, editors, and others in our industry a vehicle for making charitable contributions that they can write off on their federal taxes while helping their own industry increase its professionalism and position itself for the future.

Thanks to the strong response to the foundation at its launch, I can say that the rationale for the foundation is clear to others as well. Everyone in our industry gets it, and we're on our way to repositioning our profession for the future as a result.

I look forward to letting our members know of other contributions from publishers and individuals as they come in. If you'd like to make a tax-deductible donation, you may do so online.

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Stay Tuned: ASBPE Conference Follow-Up

Photo: Tonie AuerBy Tonie Auer
ASBPE National Blog Chairwoman/DFW Chapter President

On the heels of the ASBPE National Conference in the city of fountains - Kansas City - we all came back armed with great information, networking leads, tips to improve ourselves and our publications as well as an invigorated feeling for what we do. That is most certainly true for me.

I discovered some shortcomings - such as my lack of technical savvy - and I discovered some strengths. At the last minute, I was tapped to lead a roundtable discussion. Nervous and anxious, I prepared as quickly as I could and it went very well (at least I think it did.)

Various ASBPE members will contribute blog posts in the coming weeks on the various topics covered from the examinations of the award-winning magazines and websites to how to interview better. So, be on the lookout for those informative, news-you-can-use blog posts.

For now, as I'm still recovering from the trip, I would like to offer two issues that involve common manners that apparently aren't so common.

1. Please turn your mobile device to mute or silent during conferences, awards dinners, etc. It is common courtesy. And, if you are expecting a very important phone call that can't wait, please excuse yourself to an area well outside the event. Nothing is ruder to a speaker (or other conference attendees) than to sit through a mobile phone ringing - getting louder as the device owner fumbles through his briefcase to find it and turn it off or answer it.

2. Please refrain from talking during conference sessions or awards ceremonies. I was appalled at the lack of manners coming from a particular table at our Azbee awards celebration. Throughout the entire event, a group of four people - two in particular - chatted themselves up complete with loud guffaws while awards were being presented. I was embarrassed on their behalf.

So, take those tips with you into your next conference event or even when you go to a movie or church. They're simple good manners.

The blog will return to good B2B info on Thursday. Please note that these are MY opinions and not necessarily those reflected by the organization, staff or other board members.

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Doctored Photos

Photo: Tonie AuerBy Tonie Auer

DFW Chapter President

A story on Editor's Weblog about a new software program that can detect doctored photos transported me back in time to one of my early journalism jobs at a small six-day-a-week daily in rural Oklahoma. I don't want to name names because it is all too obvious whom I'm writing about anyway (if you were in Oklahoma in the early 90s). But, no reason to throw someone under the bus like that. But, I digress.

At this daily paper, we had a tremendous photographer. Because the staff was small - one editor and two news reporters - we all shot pictures and wrote stories. This man was particularly gifted with a camera and even more talented in the dark room. His photos were amazing. They were also doctored.

We would enter APME contests as well as Oklahoma Press Association, etc. He dominated the category for newspapers our size. I found it disgusting and fought back the bile and the urge to report him because I needed the job. I just remember sitting in class during many ethics discussions by my Baylor J-school instructor, Doug Ferdon, and my stomach would turn. What did the reporter/photographer do? He would super-impose flying birds into sunset pictures. He would add images that weren't there before to create more drama.

What I wouldn't give for something like this software back then.

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Industry Forum Is Key Benefit, Don't Waste It!!!

By Howard Rauch
President, Editorial Solutions, Inc.

When you need advice about practically any editorial matter, ASBPE's industry discussion forum benefit for members is a great source! At no cost, you can poll the membership and receive several useful tips from your peers.

As a former ASBPE board member who has spent the past 18 years in the consulting arena, I'm somewhat surprised that the forum is not used more often. Perhaps this benefit is not promoted sufficiently. Or maybe members are too busy to network with other knowledgeable sources. Another possibility: the forum needs a more formal structure.

I've been mulling this for a while because I check forum inquiries daily. If there's a question I can answer, it's done right on the spot. And if a peer offers an equally good or better answer to that question or others, I benefit by learning something new.

Anyway, here are some assorted thoughts about new paths the industry forum might take:

(1) Create a panel of members with expertise in a specific area. Then circulate a weekly or monthly schedule indicating which of those members are "on duty" during a specific day. For example, if you want to discuss an editorial performance problem, log on Tuesday and state your case. If website management snarls need clarification, check in on Wednesday. Looking for ideas on editorial training? Your day is Friday.

(2) How about the availability of a panel where all members are ASBPE Lifetime Achievement Award recipients? Each panelist is assigned a day to monitor the forum and reply to questions specifically addressed to him or her.

(3) Finally, let's consider the possibility that members don't wish to air their concerns in an open environment. The promise of privacy would encourage them to use the forum more often. In that case, ASBPE could consider an arrangement where somebody with a question calls a panel member directly. You have a certain time period – like 45 minutes – to state your case and then brainstorm with the panelist. No fee is involved. Now there's an offer even senior management at publishing companies might bite at. But first they'd have to join up!!! I've actually used a service like this offered by another association where the input I received was indeed valuable.

So there you have it – some different approaches to information-sharing that would more than cover the current cost of membership. Meanwhile, the industry forum as it exists now is still a valuable benefit. Don't waste it!!

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The Value of Working as an HPT

By Nikki Golden
Vice President, ASBPE Chicago Chapter

As I read about CIO’s recent controversial move with LinkedIn, what struck me most was not that any ethical guidelines might have been crossed but that the editorial staff had no knowledge of this partnership until the links appeared online.

To reiterate, the partnership apparently was so confidential that although the links were being tested on a public site, the editorial staff was not aware of what they were. What was learned from this was, according to CIO Editor-in-Chief Abbie Lundberg, there should have been internal conversations about what the links were.

As I read this, I was reminded of a redesign I was involved with at a magazine that was in an industry going through financial difficulty, so pages were disappearing, as were jobs. The redesign was not just a redesign of the look and feel of the magazine but a re-engineering of content strategy as well. To say there was a lot of uncertainty during this time period would be an understatement. The launch, however, was done during a very busy time of the year, the editors didn’t see what the magazine was going to look like, the production people weren’t apprised of the content changes being made and basically, the pages were being sent to the printer and approved at 4 a.m. When the issue, which should have been a triumphant relaunching of 100-year-old property, came out, all that remained was bitterness among the staff and blame being passed around for any mistakes that made it into print.

What this all brought me back to was an overall planning session this year at the National Association of the Remodeling Industry this year. Participants were given an article to read about high-performance teams, a concept I think can serve the publishing industry well.

The basic concept is that all successful groups do well in these eight areas: participative leadership, responsiveness, alignment on a purpose, communication, task-focused orientation, problem solving, shared responsibility and innovation.

Is your magazine functioning as a high-performance team?

A high-performance team involves people from all groups involved in your publication’s future, because the salesperson who is out there talking to your advertisers every day might be saying something very different about the industry than your editors’ sources are.

Communicative should be a no-brainer, but is it? Do you have a standing meeting with your staff, in which future projects and current issues and ideas can be discussed? This often will lead to innovation, another high-performance team characteristic.

Since this industry has started the downsizing trend, many people within every organization have had to take on more responsibility, and time is at a premium. However, because this industry is at a crossroads, it's even more important than ever to make the time now — and start working together in a more functional manner — to put together a plan for the future.

Nikki Golden is the vice president of ASBPE’s Chicago chapter and communications manager of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, where she oversees the magazine The Remodelers’ Journal.

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Finding/Keeping Star Editors: Reality Check

By Howard Rauch
President, Editorial Solutions, Inc.

Finding and keeping star editors clearly is of greater concern today. Multi-tasking – as in being required to add website tasks to existing job descriptions – has stirred turmoil at all editorial levels. Circumstances are more tolerable when senior management actively takes steps to enhance editorial careers. I was fortunate to work at such a company before starting a consulting business 18 years ago. Here are some positive practices we adhered to during my tenure as VP/editorial director:

Show them the money. Anyone who believes that financial growth is not a prime motivator when it comes to staff recruitment is nuts. Moreover, any ad you run that doesn’t mention a specific salary – as opposed to posting some ridiculously wide range – is a time-waster. At our company, we talked dollars during the first interview. For recent graduates, we outlined a three-year growth plan, including salary hikes and title changes along the way. In my current business, I hear frequently from college grads as well as experienced people seeking advice on career direction. Many of them tell me that discussions about money are deliberately deferred until follow-up interviews. This is an error, especially if you are stalling until you’ve seen lots of applicants before you fix a specific salary to the job.

Use an interviewing checklist when screening applicants. My list itemized 13 characteristics I evaluated during every meeting. During the discussion, I scored the candidate on a 0-3 basis for each factor. This analysis often was a useful tie-breaker when it came to deciding among several equally-promising potential stars.

Make life interesting right from the start. During performance analysis projects, I often find that obviously talented beginners are buried in grunt work. It doesn’t take long for them to seek greener pastures. Incidentally, that decision has nothing to do with money.

Create new jobs for talented up-and-comers who are stagnating in their current roles. Such positions, of course, should be accompanied by a salary upgrade. At our company, we built in specialty slots where editors focused on such areas as management and security. One very bright editor was promoted to corporate Washington editor. She wrote five or six articles per month for various magazines, frequently based on face-to-face interviews with legislators and authoritative department heads. Another idea that worked well for us was assigning a bright guy to be our East Coast field editor. This position obviously reflects a willingness to travel our editors, a policy apparently less common today.

Set aside training time and never vary from that schedule. No staff is too small when it comes to a regular dose of training. When I was editor of a magazine where my “staff” was another person, that individual received a one-hour orientation every day during his or her first ten days on the job. I continued to follow that practice in subsequent top editor roles.

All of the above activities occurred during an exciting surge for our company. While I was there, we increased our stable from five to 20 publications. Thus, we were in a position to deliver on all our promises of growth. Several people who joined us as trainees moved up to editor-in-chief jobs within five years. In an environment of stagnant growth or downsizing – such as 2008 – several of my policies might encounter resistance. However, all of them have some merit, no matter what your current situation.

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New Leader Takes the Helm of Reinvigorated Ethics Committee

Photo: Steven RollBy Steven Roll
ASBPE President

Spring Suptic, Kansas City ASBPE Chapter President, was named chair of ASBPE's Ethics Committee last week. Formerly heading the committee was ASBPE's Immediate Past President Roy Harris. One of Roy's primary accomplishments during his tenure was breathing new life into ASBPE's Ethics Code as part of a ethics initiative that began in mid-2005.

ASBPE's Ethics Code now addresses several Web-related ethics dilemmas. Perhaps more importantly, the new code contains a continuing review mechanism that hadn't existed before--including the establishment of a standing committee to address new issues that arise. The ASBPE Ethics Code links to other codes and encourages other publications to adopt their own ethics guidelines or to adhere to ours. In any event, ASBPE urges business, trade, and association publications to publicly note that they adhere to some ethics code.

The results of ASBPE's ethics initiative have been encouraging. Over the past two years, ethical issues like the use of hypertext links to news stories on Websites (which is not a practice that follows ASBPE's guidelines) were brought to the ethics committee's attention. Some magazines actually dropped hypertext links after the committee announced that the practice was not sanctioned by ASBPE's ethics guidelines. Roy Harris, the chair of the committee was quoted in a few publishing industry articles about hypertext links. Also, because the guidelines were so effective, and widely discussed, ASBPE was honored for them by Folio: magazine last year.

Fortunately, Roy will remain as a member of the ethic's committee. The committee includes Jeff Seglin, a journalism ethics expert who produces "The Right Thing" ethics column for the New York Times. Rounding out the committee are Past President Paul Heney, Past Vice-President Portia Stewart, and Associate Director Robin Sherman.

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Regional Azbee Award Finalists Announced

Reserve your spot now to attend your regional banquet.

All regional and national finalists in the Azbee Awards of Excellence — those who will receive Gold, Silver, or Bronze awards — have been notified, and the names of finalist publications in the regional competitions have been posted. But finalists won’t learn whether they’ve earned a Gold, Silver, or Bronze award until regional awards ceremonies take place.

Click the links to see list of finalists for a region or to get more information on a regional banquet.

  • Central-Southeast region finalists
    Awards banquet:
    Washington, D.C., July 17.

  • Midwest region finalists
    Awards banquet:
    Chicago, July 17.

  • Northeast region finalists
    Update, July 9: There will only be one Northeast region banquet this year:
    New York, July 9.

  • Western region finalists
    Awards banquet:
    Kansas City, July 23.

  • See a map of the four regions.

    The national awards banquet will take place July 24 in Kansas City during our National Editorial Conference. A full list of national finalists will be posted soon.

    Questions? E-mail awards coordinator Holly Lundgren at hlundgren@integrated-solutions.com.



    Keeping Your Employees Happy

    Photo: Tonie AuerBy Tonie Auer
    DFW Chapter President and National Blog Chairwoman

    While my husband has been out of work for two months, it has been a reminder that the economy is, indeed, hitting some hard times. As a freelance writer, many of my writing gigs have dried up or cut back on what they pay. Couple that with the number of layoffs in the newspaper and magazine industry and the pool is even harder to dive into because of all the people swimming in it.

    However, there are many of us still looking for bigger challenges and brighter horizons (man, am I a cliche-factory today or what?). So, Colleen Eddy, the career center director at Poynter, offered some tips on how editors can maintain their top talent with Retaining Top Performers During Difficult Times. Great advice for bosses in all industries, as far as I'm concerned.

    My favorite tip on her list is:
    Recognize that we all need feedback -- positive as well as corrective. I find that praise goes a long way in encouraging good performance to continue.
    Working for a go-getter editor who was very talented, but had little "people" skills, I could appreciate that. This boy-wonder would pass out "editor notes" every Friday throughout the newsroom. Essentially, it was his list of mistakes we all made throughout the week. There were no positives in the list, only criticisms belittling our efforts. I can assure you that morale was at an all-time low despite the quality of our product improving. Yeah, he was a great editor who made some wonderful changes in the newsroom. He just managed to kill much of our spirit at the same time. I became the newsroom heroine when I told him - in not so kindly stated words - to kiss a part of my anatomy that wouldn't be bared in public after he berated a colleague in front of the entire newsroom.

    The amazing part of all of that was that I kept my job, got a raise and a promotion after that. *shrug* I sometimes think he was hoping one of us would show a little backbone, but I don't know. Regardless, I'm still keeping afloat. My husband is still looking for a job and I think editors should appreciate the talent they have in the newsroom.

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    ASBPE chapters announce regional awards banquets for 2008 Azbee Awards

    Received an award letter for the 2008 American Society of Business Publication Awards but not sure what you should do with it? Look no further.

    If you're planning to attend your Region's reception, you'll need to RSVP. We've listed each region's banquet information below. You can also click the link and be taken to that chapter's blog:

    Midwest Region Chicago
    To reserve your space, please fax the following information (or click here to download and print) to Kelly Quigley by July 10 (Fax: 312-329-8811; this is a private and secure PC Fax) or print and mail this information to Kelly Quigley, 430 N. Michigan Ave., 9th Floor, Chicago, IL 60611-4087

    Street Address:
    City, State, ZIP:
    Daytime phone:
    E-mail address:
    Number of people attending with your party: ___ Members ___ Non-Members
    Payment: $85 for each member (spouse/guest may attend at member rate);$95 for non-members

    ___ My check, payable to ASBPE Chicago Chapter, is enclosed
    ___ Type of credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express)

    Full Name, as it appears on card:
    Credit card number:Expiration Date:
    Signature:_____________________________________________________________________________________________Questions? Questions? Contact Chicago Chapter President Renee Pas at reneepas@ameritech.net or 630/832-8313. Please remember to save a copy of this form as your receipt


    Central-Southeast Region Washington, D.C.

    Event details: Thursday, July 17
    Cocktail/networking reception: 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
    Dinner, awards, guest speaker: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
    Location: Tivoli Restaurant, 1700 N. Moore St., Arlington, VA
    (Located directly above the Rosslyn Metro Station; complimentary parking also available.)

    Cost: $65 for ASBPE members; $75 for non-members; Buy a whole table (8-9 attendees) and receive the member rate for all!

    RSVP by July 3!
    Email Katy Tomasulo at asbpedckaty@gmail.com to register.
    (Advance payment required; a registration form will be sent upon receipt of email.)
    Questions? Contact Katy at asbpedckaty@gmail.com or call 202-736-3303

    Northeastern Region New York

    When: Wednesday, July 9th, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

    Where: Trattoria Dopo Teatro 125 West 44th Street (off 6th Avenue) New York, NY

    How to attend:
    To reserve your place, send payment (credit card or check payable to ASBPE) by July 1 with a completed reservation form (72K Word doc) to the contact listed on the form.
    If paid by July 1: $59.00 for ASBPE members; $69.00 for nonmembers. Groups of 5 or more receive a $5 discount per person.

    If paid after July 1:
    $69.00 for ASBPE members and journalism students (with current ID); $79.00 for nonmembers.
    Northeast Region Boston

    Date: Wednesday, July 16, 2008

    6:00 p.m. social hour/cocktails
    7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. dinner, followed by speaker and awards

    Location: Papa Razzi, 16 Washington StreetWellesley, MA parking info

    Cost: $60.00 for ASBPE members; $65.00 for nonmembers. Tables of 8: $425

    How to attend:
    To reserve your place, send payment (credit card or check payable to ASBPE) by July 10 to ASBPE Chapter President Alan Earls, 222 Pond StreetFranklin, MA, 02038

    Call Alan at (508) 528-6930 or email him at alan[dot]earls[at]comcast[dot]net)

    Western Region Kansas City

    The Western Region award winners will be recognized at a banquet on July 23 in Kansas City, Mo., the day before the ASBPE National Conference begins. We’ll enjoy a meal from one of Kansas City’s finest restaurants, see the winning entries, give out awards and hear the story behind one of the award-winning articles.

    After the banquet, we invite you to make your way back to the Intercontinental Hotel Kansas City for the launch party for the ASBPE Foundation, which begins at 6 p.m. (You can sign up to attend this reception for free on the registration form for the National Conference.)

    When: Wednesday, July 23, at 3:00 p.m.

    Where: Plaza III Steakhouse, 4749 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO 64112, (From the Intercontinental Hotel Kansas City, walk north on Wornall Road over the bridge. Turn left on to Ward Parkway. The Plaza III is at the corner of Ward Parkway and Pennsylvania Avenue.)

    Cost: $50 per person for ASBPE members and their spouses/companions, $60 per person for nonmembers and their spouses/companions, $375 for a table of eight

    How to attend: To reserve your place, send payment (credit card or check payable to ASBPE Kansas City Chapter) by July 16 with a completed reservation form (www.asbpe.org/chapters/asbpeks-2008-awards-res.doc) to the contact listed on the form.

    For people flying in to Kansas City: When booking your flights, please allow for an hour to get from the Kansas City International Airport to the Intercontinental Hotel. The restaurant is a short five-minute walk from the hotel.

    Questions? Call Carrie at (913) 967-1991 or e-mail her at carrie.parsons@penton.com

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