Social Media Etiquette from

Photo: Erin EricksonBy Erin Erickson, ASBPE Chicago Vice President

Time for another post from a social media geek at ASBPE.

This post, compliments of, offers seven tips for career-related social media etiquette.

Some of the tips include not joining every social media service there is, understanding the rules or regulations of the site and make sure you "hone your profile."

Read the entire article, Seven Tips for Social Networking Online, on now and let us know: what tips would you include?

Labels: ,


ASBPE Poll: How worried are you about your job?



McCracken On Media: A Digital Media Blog That Goes Against the Grain

Photo: Steven RollBy Steven Roll
ASBPE President

Harry McCracken, former editor-in-chief, of PC World, and editor of the recently launched personal technology blog Technologizer, recently started another blog featuring his observations on the media business. It's called McCracken On Media.

McCracken said he intends to use his blog to:
share the lessons I'm learning, as well as other stuff I've discovered over a couple of decades in the media biz. I'll also comment on major news that transpires during this most interesting, surprising, and ultimately rewarding time to be in the media industry. I hope you'll enjoy reading McCracken on Media (feel free to call it MoM for short); just as important, I hope you'll contribute,too, by commenting on my posts.
Learn more from Harry McCracken at our Nov. 17 webinar

Harry will share tips about how writers and editors can start their own media ventures at our webinar, A B2B Journalist's Guide to Creating the Next New-Media Resource. ASBPE guest blogger Joe Pulizzi will also be a presenter.
So far, I would say the flavor of MoM is one part Seth Godin (the ultra hip marketing guru), with a teaspoon of Lifehacker (limitless source of cool Web apps.), and a pinch of Malcolm Gladwell (riffs on counterintuitive observations).

His first post highlights how critical it is for any content Web site to focus on building a community. To do this, McCracken explains, it is critical to make it easy for people to participate. A free Web application that accomplishes this goal is Poll Daddy, he says.

Another post takes aim at the myth that there is a cadre of young media professionals known as "digital natives" who are especially suited working on all things digital. The real digital natives are sixteen, McCracken says. He notes that this makes the rest of us digital immigrants.

McCracken also casts doubt on the conventional pearls of wisdom that Web activity should be focused on mornings and weekdays, and headlines should be stuffed with key words.

Hopefully, the RSS feed I've subscribed to from the McCracken on Media blog will keep my Bloglines account full of unconventional observations about digital media.

Labels: , ,


The Tear-Out Factor

Photo: Katy TomasuloBy Katy Tomasulo
Washington, DC Chapter President

I'm a magazine junkie (and in this industry, I'm not alone, I'm sure). But I also live in a tiny apartment, so keeping shelves of my favorite consumer pubs is just not an option. Over the years I've developed a system for dealing with my addiction, a combination of detox and organization.

My personal magazines get divided into two groups: those that entertain and those that help me live a better life. Those that entertain get read in bed or at the gym and promptly recycled. Of those that help me lead a better life, I tear them apart. Decorating ideas from Real Simple go into one binder for future reference; new recipes from Cooking Light go into another; cool hiking trails from Backpacker go into yet another; and so forth.

In b2b, our readers are faced with just as many choices on their desks, with stacks of industry magazines from us and our competitors, along with general business pubs. Problem is, we don't have the luxury of two groups. No one is going to read us for the pure entertainment value. We must fall into the tear-out group.

One of the best compliments I ever heard was at one of my old publications, soon after a redesign, when a reader told our editor that his latest issue of the magazine was torn to shreds. He'd ripped out pages to file away for later or to share with his workers. I can't think of a better way of telling us that what we were doing was exactly what he needed.

I feel like, in the simplest terms, the tear-out factor is our ultimate mission. We have to give readers something they can learn from, turn around and implement, or base an important decision on. We already know this, but I think it's sometimes easy to lose track of it. Take a look at your current slate of stories and at the presentation of those topics. Is it not only understandable, but useful and relevant? Does it solve a current problem? Is it actionable? Simply: Will it help your audience do their jobs better?

Every time I sit down at home to rip apart and file away a stack of back issues, I can't help but think about my day job. Are my readers doing the same thing? Are my words and decisions inspiring them into action? Is what we're providing them so helpful that they save it for future reference or photocopy it for the rest of their crew? Ultimately, that's my No. 1 goal.

Labels: , ,


There's No Defense for Cute Headlines

By Howard Rauch
President, Editorial Solutions Inc.

One thing that makes life interesting in our field is opposite schools of thought on various aspects of editing practice. Those on both sides of any issue will argue vigorously in defense of their position. Lately, I’ve encountered a spate of grumbling during discussions about what headlines and decks are supposed to do. Maybe I’m part of a shrinking minority. You be the judge!

The point of contention is “cute” headlines. These usually take the form of three-word pun-like efforts. Are they amusing? Yes. Do readers of business magazines leaf through our issue in hopes of being amused? I doubt it.

Cute headlines rarely convey a threat, benefit or any other clear form of reader value. Hopefully, an accompanying deck will clarify the article’s instructive value. Even so, the preceding three-word head is a wasted opportunity.

I’ll admit it; I can’t say anything useful in three words. My headlines must highlight a specific example of instructive value to be found in an article. I take comfort in the fact that I am not alone. Quite often, cute headlines are a product of design. During a competitive analysis project involving industrial magazines, I discovered that my client’s competitor did a terrific job writing full-benefit headlines. Meanwhile, our three-word headlines were the pits. The following conversation occurred during a brainstorming session:

ME: The opposition is clobbering you in the headline-writing department.
EDITORS: We know.
ME: These mini-heads you write are killing you. Do you like three-word headlines?
EDITORS: No. We hate them!
ME: So why do you keep using them?
EDITORS: The art director likes short heads. It’s part of the redesign.
ME: Oh??!! Have you ever thought about changing over to something you prefer?
EDITORS: Duh!!!!

Recently, another client sent me an impassioned e-mail pointing out that a new design calling for cute heads was copied from layouts used by popular newsstand magazines. I was not sympathetic. Perhaps our readers expect a greater immediacy in terms of value as opposed to what they’re seeking from mass media.

One more thought pertaining to urgency. My mentors always stressed the importance of loading headlines with hot numbers. Can you work hot numbers into a three-word head? Maybe. But in some recent headline reviews involving 50 magazines and hundreds of headlines, I found only two that used numbers. Another headline/deck snafu is overlap. In this case, both elements convey the same message, as opposed to the deck expanding on the headline focus.

Cute heads are one of seven obstructions to informative headline writing. Perhaps that’s a subject for another blog post.

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

Labels: ,


Boost Your Productivity with These Tips from Lifehacker

Photo: Steven RollBy Steve Roll
ASBPE President

One of my favorite blogs is Every day it offers an abundance of productivity tips. While some of the tips are aimed at the technically proficient, there are still plenty left over for rest of us. In fact, there are so many tips that sometimes I need to remind myself that I usually make up for the time I spend perusing the multiple posts by finding truly game-changing Web applications or productivity ideas.

So it was as a loyal fan that I purchased the second edition of the book authored by Lifehacker's founder Gina Trapani. Upgrade Your Life: The Lifehacker Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, Better contains many of the same tips that were included in the first edition of Trapani's book, which was published in late 2006. The second edition's cover claims to have "more than 50 new & revised tips!"

Here are a few of my favorite tips from Upgrade Your Life:

Set up a morning dash. Dedicate the first hours of your day to accomplishing an important task. The key is to do this before checking your e-mail or going to any meetings. I am not a morning person, so it was hard for me to implement this tip. But once I got into the habit, it has increased my work output.

Remember the Milk. This free Web site allows users to keep to-do lists for work, home, or any other activity they would like to track. Deadlines may be assigned to each task and notifications of each day's agenda can be sent via text message or e-mail. This is a great service because it helps close the open loop of thinking about something that needs to be done and then forgetting about it. Whenever I think of something I need to do (for work or at home) I send an e-mail to RTM and it's on my to-do list.

Automatically back up your hard drive. Like life itself, it's not a matter of whether or not your computer hard drive will crash, but when., an online backup service, will automatically backup your files for about $5 per month. More expensive plans are available to businesses.

Use multiple sites as your web browser's home page. Both Internet Explorer and Firefox allow users to open multiple tabs. This trick allows you to save time by starting out with multiple tabs already opened as soon as you launch your browsers. To do this open the tabs with the pages you would like to save. Then, go to the homepage option, which is in "Tools" for both Explorer and Firefox, and click the "Use Current" button.

Google by Keyboard. Over time, even little things like using keyboard shortcuts can improve productivity. One of the main advantages that the Web browser Firefox offers are its open-sourced applications. One that I have been using is Google by Keyboard. After going to the search menu by pressing "control -K", I can then scroll through the hits using my keyboard.

Although only about 20 percent of the market is using Firefox, I believe the abundance of open-source software applications available for it make it the best browser. (Almost 80 percent of the rest are using Explorer). I've noticed that Google's Chrome is also supported by open-sourced applications. But it seems like it will probably take some time for them to catch up.

Labels: , ,


Help a Reporter Out

Photo: Marissa PalmieriBy Marisa Palmieri
Senior Editor
Golf Course Industry

Via Seth Godin’s blog, I came across this relatively new give-and-take service for journalists and sources called Help a Reporter Out. I hear it’s similar to the PR Newswire/Profnet service, which I have never used myself, but what I like about Help a Reporter Out is its grassroots-ness. Founded by a publicist and run as a free service, HARO allows journalists to query the site’s database of some 23,000 potential sources. These folks have signed up to receive HARO’s query e-mails, and they’re supposed to honor an unofficial code that says “don’t waste a journalist’s time if you aren’t an expert on a requested topic.” I can’t attest to how well this service works yet – I just came across it today – but it seems uncomplicated and useful. I’m curious if any ASBPE members have ever used it?

Labels: ,


What the Scoop of the 2008 Presidential Election Says

Photo: Steven RollBy Steven Roll
ASBPE President

The biggest scoop of the presidential race was broken by a b2b blog: Democratic nominee Barak Obama’s selection of running mate Joseph Biden. [Hat tip to b2b press blogger Paul Conley for his Aug. 28 post about this].

According to Adam Timworth’s blog about blogs, here is how Jon Ostrower of Flightblogger got the scoop:

He knew that the candidate's planes go into shop for repainting around the time of the announcement. He put a call out to his readers to keep their eyes peeled — and they came back with details of a flight which gave away the identity of the running mate.

This is a great example of crowdsourced journalism and the effective use of Twitter. Tinworth said Flightblogger’s readers used Twitter to convey the latest information.

Poynter's Web Speak blog defines crowdsourcing as taking a task traditionally accomplished by a professional journalist and outsourcing it to a large group through an open call.

Twitter is a free service that allows users to send and read text messages called tweets. Sometimes referred to as microblogging, Twitter also offers social networking features by allowing users to follow other user’s messages.

ASBPE has a Twitter feed that Twitter users can follow. Tweets alert ASBPE’s followers by sending short text messages about developments such as the posting of CIO’s video on best practices on ASBPE’s group page on Facebook.

Crowdsourcing is an especially useful technique for b2b publications because they serve readers who are passionately interested in narrow topics (e.g., the brand of aircraft that the presidential candidates are flying) that would render most others comatose. Who else would have known or found it interesting that Obama’s plane was due for a new paint job?

But for all the clever use of new technologies and emerging journalism techniques, there were real shortcomings to Flightblogger’s story. Flightblogger complained that it failed to receive credit for breaking the story from a prominent blogger, CNN, and Fox.

Paul Conley says that Flightblogger has only itself to blame for the lack of recognition because Ostrower’s:
…posts are, well, sort of vague. Even he uses the word "speculation" to describe his findings. More importantly, he buries the lede. The "news" is at the bottom of continually updated post. And you have to read pretty closely to see that he's actually on to something important. Even the headline is lackluster — "Presidential Picks and Planes." His tweets are no better. At 8:22 p.m. he writes that he "may" have the story: "NetJets 863 MDW-ILG may point to Biden as Obama VP. Look for a return flight."
These problems are probably mostly attributable to the immediacy of Ostrower’s reporting. Given that Ostrower was reporting each small detail as it came in, his apparent urge to avoid overstatement is understandable.

Philip Graham, the late publisher of the Washington Post, once said that newspaper reporting provides a “first rough draft of history.” Perhaps blogs and the crowdsourced text messages that fuel them are the new notes for this first draft.

Labels: , ,


Teach Your Children Well

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

I keep humming the Crosby, Stills and Nash (was Young there still?) tune when thinking about this blog post title. But the song just entered my brain and hasn't left after reading a piece written in Philadelphia Weekly about a college professor who feels conflicted about bringing students into an industry in turmoil. I think he's right to feel conflicted. I honestly remember going into job interviews my senior year of college wondering why no one had told me I'd get paid so little in this field. I probably would have reconsidered my career path had I known this in my sophomore year. Would I have been as happy with my profession? Probably not. But, I wouldn't have a framed print in my laundry room that shows a dude holding a sign that reads "Will write for food."

Editor's note: Sorry for the lightheartedness of this post. Labor Day created a short week and crept up on me.

Labels: ,


Building Your Wings on the Way Down

By Harry McCracken
Editor, Technologizer

“You’ve got to walk up to the edge of the cliff, jump off, and build your wings on the way down.” I didn’t hear Ray Bradbury say that until I saw him interviewed in late July, nearly two months after I left my job as editor in chief of PC World to launch Technologizer, my own Web site about personal technology. But the great man neatly summed up — better than I ever could — why I quit one of the best jobs in technology journalism to build something from scratch.

Learn more from Harry McCracken at our Nov. 17 webinar

Harry will share more tips about how writers and editors can start their own media ventures at our webinar, A B2B Journalist's Guide to Creating the Next New-Media Resource. ASBPE guest blogger Joe Pulizzi will also be a presenter.
Actually, when people asked me what the heck I was thinking, I did have a ready answer: “I want to scare myself.” I loved PC World—I’d spent nearly fourteen years there, starting as an associate editor—but it was successful before I got there, and I knew it could thrive without me. Being a good steward of an existing brand is hard; jump-starting an entirely new brand is a harder, more exciting challenge. Moreover, I believed that the Web, open-source software, free services, and ad networks made it possible for a smart editor to reach millions of people and make money doing so, without the backing of a large media company. So I resigned from PC World (while remaining a contributing editor) and got to work on Technologizer.

As I write, it’s been about six weeks since I began posting content on Technologizer in earnest. That’s way too early to gauge the success of a new media brand, but I’m extremely happy with the site’s progress. Its monthly traffic now numbers in the hundreds of thousands of page views. Its most popular stories receive tens of thousands of views. It has a growing community of visitors, and the technology industry I cover has been tremendously supportive.

And every day, I feel like I’m building my wings on the way down—taking risks, experimenting, and learning as I go. Yes, it’s scary. But it’s also the highlight of my career to date.

Herewith, some advice to any journalist who’s intrigued by the idea of going it alone:

Don’t do it if it sounds awful. If you launch your own business, you’re going to need to pour your heart into it. If you love what you’re doing, that’s a joy; if you don’t, why bother?

Use everything you know. I’ve been in this business for seventeen years, and I use every bit of my knowledge about journalism every day—including plenty of things I learned when my words appeared on dead trees. Much of the art of pleasing readers is the same whether you’re working at the world’s largest magazine or the world’s smallest Web site. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Focus on creating compelling content. Plenty of Web gurus will tell you to obsess over search engine optimization or other technical matters. None of them matter much unless you’re producing articles, video, and/or audio that captures the imagination of the type of people you want to reach. I work far harder to optimize Technologizer for smart human beings than I do to optimize it for search engines, and it’s paying off.

Understand your traffic. On one level, building a successful Web site boils down to one rule: “Figure out what people want, and give them lots of it.” Use tools such as Google Analytics ( to see what your readers do — and don’t — find interesting enough to click on.

Join conversations. It’s easiest to attract visitors to content that’s newsy and which links to other discussions of the topic at hand elsewhere on the Web. Link to sites you like, and you’ll often find that they link back to you, bringing new readers to your material.

Be part of the community. That means building community features into your own site and participating in them. Technologizer, for instance, includes a full-blown social network, using the Ning ( service. It’s also worth introducing your site to new readers by participating at other sites where people who might like what you’re doing hang out. (To that end, I’ve guested on several podcasts since Technologizer’s launch.)

Leverage the power of free. So far, I’ve incurred two major expenses: I hired a lawyer to help me incorporate my company and deal with contracts, and I bought a nice new notebook. Otherwise, I’m feasting on free stuff. I use services like Google Docs and Gmail, hop on free Wi-Fi networks whenever possible, and generally try to avoid paying for anything when a solid no-cost alternative is available.

Find good partners. At the moment, I’m Technologizer’s sole writer and designer, but I knew I couldn’t do everything. In particular, I needed help on the advertising front, so I signed up with Federated Media — one of a growing number of companies in the business of handling ads for independent blogs and other small sites. I also partnered with Automattic, creators of the WordPress blogging platform, to host my site. When the day comes that I get hundreds of thousands of page views all at once, I want to be ready, and nobody knows more about handling massive amounts of traffic than Automattic does.

Be patient. Building a site that has enough readers and advertisers to be a self-sustaining business can’t be done overnight. Create a business plan that’ll get you there—and make sure that you know how you’ll pay your bills along the way.

I still run into folks who are surprised at my new adventure, and even skeptical. And I wouldn’t recommend that every journalist do what I did. But a few years from now, I think that going it alone will be entirely commonplace—and that the world of journalism will be far better for it.

Editor's Note, added Sept. 18, 2008: Inspired partly by writing this post for us, McCracken today launched a blog featuring his observations on the media business. It's called McCracken on Media.

Labels: , , ,