Will Blogging Go The Way of The Dinosaur?

By Jyme Mariani
ASBPE National Treasurer

Let me start by being honest.

I don’t usually blog, at least not willingly. Every month, my job forces me to post two entries, on the first and third Tuesday of the month. After that, I’m pretty much blogged out.

I don’t regularly read anyone’s blogs. I read newsletters that are delivered to my inbox, but that’s about it. I don’t have the time to troll the blogs to find as my assistant editor calls them “interesting tidbits.” Like a bad date, I’m just not “into them.”

Anyway, I received a tip on Wired from ComNtell, a newsletter I receive titled Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004. Take a look and see what you think -- and if you agree.

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When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Creative

Photo: Katy TomasuloBy Katy Tomasulo
Washington, DC Chapter President

In my industry, construction, publishers are facing a double-downturn problem: the one that’s hitting all publications plus the housing market crash that’s taking an added toll.

But that hasn’t stopped some magazines and sponsors from keeping up on innovation and continuing to communicate with customers when seemingly few are doing so. One bright spot in particular comes from my sister publication, Tools of the Trade. The truck pictured below isn’t merely a work vehicle. It’s a gleaming, hulking mobile marketing program that, at least in my opinion, is an indicator that even in a down market our advertisers still understand the value of impactful marketing tools and our readers are still interested in hearing about new products and programs.

Outfitted with all kinds of tools, gear, and high-tech features, the Site Commander Ultimate Work Truck is pretty much designed to make Tools of the Trade’s core audience — professional contractors — dream big. Three versions of the truck are currently touring the country, stopping at home centers and job sites where those pros will get first-hand exposure to the products and services on board. Readers who can’t see it in person can read about the new technologies through extensive coverage in the magazine and on the trucks’ Web site. At the end of the tour, one of the trucks will be given away through a sweepstakes.

While this is not the first year this program has run, it is by far the most ambitious version to date and it is the only one to be launched in such a tumultuous time in the housing market.

What does all this have to do with editors? To me, it’s further proof that we should never stop innovating and that we play a vital role in creating great ideas that sell — even though we do so while still respecting the church-and-state line. The Ultimate Work Truck idea originated with Tools’ editor Rick Schwolsky and a former publisher. This year, that idea is a revenue-generating bright spot that is a win-win-win for the magazine, the sponsors, and the readers. And, as Schwolsky says, “not only do we get to create programs and products tailored exactly by our intimacy with our readers’ needs and interests, but we turn it all into original and exclusive print and Web content with home-field advantage.”

As editors, we’re not doing the selling. But we do know our audience best and that means we’re best suited to come up with those fresh ideas — whether they be work trucks, show homes, magazine supplements, or Webinars — that will make customers — both vendors and readers alike — want to take part. We have to find new ways to partner and create packages of print, Web, and special programs that suit individual needs while still satisfying our ever-ultimate goal: providing value to our audience.

Even during tough times, vendors still have a message to get out. In fact, some say it’s more important than ever since there are fewer customers to be had. Schwolsky compares this year’s Site Commander to the scene in the movie Forrest Gump when Forrest’s shrimp boat is the only one still left working in the aftermath of a hurricane. The bounty was plentiful because it was the only one going to market.

At the risk of being cliché, more than ever now really is the time to think outside that proverbial box.

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Blogs Worthy of Your Time

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

What makes one blog more worthy of your valuable reading time over another blog? John Brandon over at Computerworld talks about his criteria for a good blog and then goes on to list his his Top 10 Best Written Blogs. Just like reading good writing makes your writing better (wow, that is a weird sentence) ... checking out good blogs does help you know what style of writing, what topics and what designs are appealing to readers.

So, what makes your blog worthy of a reader's time?

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ASBPE Poll: How familiar are you with social media?

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Credit Crisis May Be Good and Bad for B2B Journalists

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

While just about everyone is biting their nails and waiting to see what shenanigans Wall Street and the Fed may get into, one of the side effects is the rising interest in business news.

For most of us B2B writers and editors, this isn't that significant. But, it could be. One thing you might want to consider is positioning yourself -as the editor of your trade pub - as an expert in various fields. Perhaps shoot an email or make a phone call to the local newspaper or TV station or even the local office of CNN or Wall Street Journal. Let them know that you're available for commentary on mergers, construction, supply chain, whatever it is that your magazine specializes in. For one, it increases your importance at your company. Not only are you providing your skills and talents as an editor, but now you're marketing your publication, too. Additionally, you are elevating your status within your organization.

Make yourself invaluable. I know time is precious and this is one more thing on the to-do list. But, it really won't take up that much time. Sit at the computer and do a web search for the contacts while you eat a sandwich for lunch. If you do this for a week, by Friday, I'm confident that you will have marketed yourself to at least five to 10 different organizations.

Do it for yourself and do it for your publication.

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Key Dates and Deadlines Set at National ASBPE Board Meeting

Photo: Steven RollBy Steven Roll
ASBPE President

The entry deadline for all print editorial and design categories in the AZBEE Awards of Excellence is Jan. 30, 2009.

For 2009, something special is planned for all digital editorial and design awards. The details will be in ASBPE's Nov./Dec. Editor's Notes.

As in 2008, entries for most of the editorial categories may be submitted online. For 2009, the online submission process will be available to most design categories as well.

For those looking for a primer on how to win an editorial award, there is an ASBPE Tip Sheet on the subject featured on the member's-only section of the Web site.

The ASBPE National Conference will be held in Washington, D.C. in mid-July. Watch the blog for specific dates.

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B2B Editors Respond: What obstacles do you face when it comes to learning new job-related skills?

Your publisher is asking you to do more for your website, but you'll need training. Unfortunately, obstacles are preventing that training from happening.

According to our poll, What obstacles do you face when it comes to learning new job-related skills?, money proves to be a big issue when it comes to training followed up with time and lack of encouragement.

Keep reading the ASBPE blog to find out free tips and tricks for getting on-the-job training.

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Words Are Important

By Paul Heney

As this election season drags on, I’m hoping for a politician who will rediscover the power of words.

Over the past few decades, there has been an increasing resentment towards intellectual thought and speech in our society. A lot of it seems to have come through in attacks on the left by the right, but I don’t see this as strictly a one political party thing. Some of it is due to the dumbing down of America by the mass media and some of it is a result of our intellectual laziness.

In her new book The Age of American Unreason, Susan Jacoby explores many of these issues, and it is a fascinating read. She begins by skewering the use of seemingly harmless words and phrases, and I’m not sure I’ll ever look on some of them in quite the same way.

One example is the term “folks.” I’ve used it for years, and it has a feel of wholesomeness, almost an old time, Americana vibe. But Jacoby explores how the use of casual colloquialisms like folks in our national political discourse is the antithesis of serious, respectful debate and conversation.

Her pleas sound like that of a grumpy old grammar teacher, until she provides examples of speeches by FDR calling for wartime sacrifices and George W. Bush reassuring the American people after the 2005 London terrorist bombings. Insert Bush’s frequent use of "folks" into FDR’s fireside chats, and you realize how overly simplistic our politicians have become. (In the interest of partisan fairness, do some Google searching … you’ll find "folks" being bantered about by Democrats, too, from Joe Biden to Nancy Pelosi to Michelle Obama.)

The other fascinating term being used a lot by the media is "troop" (and "troops"). Jacoby digs into this, as well. I’ll confess that for the longest time, I didn’t quite understand what these words meant exactly, and rather thought that troop was a collective noun (rendering "troops" rather grammatically challenged). I suppose I was perhaps confusing the word with platoon or regiment. But commentators on the nightly news simply use the term troop and troops in place of soldier and soldiers.

I’m not sure how this started, but one thing is clear: Soldiers are much more readily identified as individual human beings. Troop is so much more generic and anonymous sounding. Hearing that 28 troops were killed last night in a war zone sounds bad, but hearing that 28 soldiers were killed certainly has a more immediate effect on me. Perhaps this is yet one more way that we choose to shield ourselves from the horrors of what we see on the news every night.

In this new area of Facebook and LinkedIn, I sometimes wonder if our language will be further dumbed down into text-messagelike snippets. As much as I embrace these new social networking sites myself, I sometimes have to tell myself to pick up the phone or meet someone for dinner, so we can have more of an intellectual conversation. Something that’s about more than sound bites and gossip — something that’s real.

[Editor's Note: For more book reviews and recommendations, see the ASBPE Bookstore — or visit the ASBPE GoodReads group, where you can see members' ratings and reviews and add your own.]

Paul J. Heney is editorial director for Questex Media's Hotel Group, which includes Hotel & Motel Management, Hotel Design, and Luxury Hotelier. A member of the ASBPE Cleveland Chapter board, Heney served as national president of ASPBE from 1999-2003. He is also president of TABPI, an international B2B think tank that promotes B2B journalism and professionalism.

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Every B2B Publication Needs 5 Fear Factors

By Howard Rauch

“Pre-emptive discouragement of a direct competitor should be a key focus.” This comment was the closing statement in an editorial planning report recently submitted by a top B2B editor to senior management. He added: “If I had to summarize our editorial focus, it is to raise the ‘editorial bar’ so high that it would be extremely difficult for a competitor to emerge.”

Take it from me . . . this guy is on the money! The existence of strong editorial “fear factors” is always a concern when I evaluate existing publications serving a given market. My quest: to find a situation where a start-up could easily vault my new magazine into a leadership position.

So how strong is your fear factor? Is your editorial leadership position sufficiently fortified to the point where potential competition is scared away? Here are five practices that would shake my resolve if I were thinking about invading your field, especially if all of them were in play.

1) High-profile editor in chief. This individual always is sought out for speaking assignments at conventions sponsored by key industry groups. In every issue, he or she writes an important feature that reflects insider status. Editorial columns always address important issues as opposed to habitually parroting the contents page. Several staff members are active participants in association affairs – to the point of being officers, directors or committee heads.

2) Constant stream of original research. You can count on this publication to maintain a strong statistical presence throughout the year.

3) Generous travel budget. The editorial staff seems to be everywhere. A new magazine with limited bucks to support field trips clearly wouldn’t stand a chance. This fear factor alone would be sufficiently imposing at a time when so many editorial travel outlays have been slashed.

4) Dynamite at-show issues. Several blockbuster features are in the lineup. Event previews are enterprising . . . not just the typical combination of exhibitor list, workshop blurbs and expanded product item write-ups.

5) Authoritative columnists. Regular contributions from recognized industry experts reflect a solid knowledge of the field in question. These authors always provide charts or useful checklists. Their value is easily established when matched against typical “shotgun” columns that lack tailoring and easily could appear in hundreds of magazines.

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 howard@editsol.com.

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ASBPE Poll: What obstacles do you face when it comes to learning new job-related skills?



Fear Factor: Are B2B Editors fearing for their jobs?

Photo: Erin EricksonErin Erickson,

ASBPE Chicago, Vice President

Last week, the ASBPE National Blog conducted a quick poll on the level of worry B2B editors were feeling about their jobs.

With 2 percentage points separating the Worried but not Stressed and the Terrified, I'd say there's cause for concern amid B2B editors.

Only three percent reported picking up new skills that could help get a new job if necessary.

What are those skills and how can you worry less about your job? The ASBPE blog will help you through it every step of the way. Stick around and keep checking back often.

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Help ASBPE Help You By Asking About the Ethics of an Editorial or Advertising Practice

By Steven Roll and Spring Suptic

After launching our Ethics Advisory program last week, the new ethics initiative has caught the attention of FOLIO:, Paul Conley, the Pulse (BusinessJournalism.org), MinOnline($), and MediaBistro.com's FishbowlDC.

The way the program works is when an ethical question arises about an editorial or advertising practice, an ASBPE member can send an email to ASBPE's Ethics Committee at ethicsquery@asbpe.org. The committee will review the matter and issue an ASBPE Ethics Advisory within 10 business days.

To make this program work, we need to hear the ethical quandries of our members. Sharing the questions you have about specific editorial or advertising practices will allow us to help you and other trade and business publication editors and writers.

Often, B2B editors need to explain to sales staff and other interested parties what is in the best interest for the long-term health and survival of the publication in print and online. This is an important, but difficult task, especially given the current economic situation that many business publications are facing. As publications struggle to survive, the temptation to cross editorial-advertising boundaries has never been stronger. Paul Conley recently noted on his blog that ASBPE's Ethics Advisory Program "comes at what is likely the perfect time. As the economy deteriorates and traditional publishers continue to suffer, I've noted a surge in editors reaching out to me for help with ethical issues."

The Guide to Preferred Editorial Practices provides a strong base guideline for editorial staffs to refer to when making decisions. When a specific issue arises, editors can bring their issues to the ethics committee. The ethics committee, which is chaired by Kansas City ASBPE president Spring Suptic, includes ASBPE immediate past president and senior editor with CFO magazine Roy Harris. Also on the committee are Jeffrey L. Seglin, a sydicated ethics columnist for the New York Times, and Robin Sherman, ASBPE's associate director and newsletter editor.

The ethics advisories we issue assess the situation and provide our findings. The advisories will not disclose the identity of the person requesting it or the parties involved in the situation.

The editors can then take this additional information into account when setting their own internal policy on an issue. We will post each advisory on the Members Only section of the ASBPE Web site. We expect the ASBPE Ethics Advisories to be a useful resource for finding answers to questions about ethics that arise as a result of new media initiatives.

Online is one area we expect a lot questions about. There’s a lot of uncharted territory there—for editors, as well as advertisers and our readers. When we start something new, we have to quickly get the lay of the land and establish markers and guidelines for how we’ll conduct our brand in this new realm. Central to that is a solid ethics policy for your publication.

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