How Twitter Can Help Make You More Employable

Photo: Erin Ericksonby Erin Erickson, Chicago Chapter Vice President;
Creator of Me Media: Social Media for Non-Techies

This post is adapted from Me Media: Social Media for Non-Techies

How Twitter Can Help Make You More Employable

Twitter. Of the most-often used social media sites used by the masses, Twitter is the newest.

In its simplest terms, Twitter is a free microblogging site allows its users -- people, businesses and websites -- to post updates in 140 characters or less.

How can you use Twitter?
On a personal level, you can use Twitter post your whereabouts, plans or whatever other thoughts pop into your head. I've seen groups of people use it to check in at conferences and post updates on an upcoming, spur-of-the-moment meet-up.

Professionally, Twitter can be used to post company news or recent additions to a website.

How does Twitter work?
After a simple sign-up procedure, you can write, or post, as many updates as you'd like. It's so easy even my mom has signed up for Twitter account.

In addition to posting updates, you can also "follow" people, groups or websites. Likewise, people, groups or websites can follow you. Big fan of the New York Times? Use the "Find People" tab, type in New York Times, select "Follow" and you'll receive instant updates from the New York Times. Odds are, you'll know a few people on Twitter. Simply type their name or website and begin following.

You can update your Twitter profile to include the area you live or a website you may be affiliated with. If you've got a blog, this is a perfect place to include your URL.

Why should you care?
At first look, Twitter may seem like a silly little tool that teen-agers and 20-somethings use to demonstrate their angst toward their parents or employers.

Upon closer inspection, you'll find Twitter can be a useful tool for finding and posting your own news. Sandwiched in between two friends' laments about the election, you may find a news posting that serves as a great lead for a project you're working on.

How Twitter Can Help Your Job
In addition to serving up leads on projects, you will have created a network of past, present or future colleagues.

To make Twitter work for you, you need to reach out and follow people or groups and let them follow you.

Communicate with other Twitter followers and engage in conversations with them. You never know when someone might be looking to fill a position you would be perfect for.

Me Media: Social Media for Non-Techies ( is a how-to blog geared toward teaching non-technical people how to create, use and manage social media. The blog is written by Erin Erickson, Chicago Chapter Vice President and former print editor who taught herself HTML and social media to in order to work in online media. She is a Senior Web Editor at Putman Media.



For Many Editors, Brevity is Still a Foreign Language

By Howard Rauch

Be brief! That’s the focus of most search engine advisories that address “writing for websites.” Use short sentences and short paragraphs. Leads should make an important point within the first few words. Don’t let vocabulary get out of control, etc.

Following this advice should be duck soup for most editors. But that’s hardly the case. On the web — and in magazines, too — long-winded writing still lives. Parades of endless sentences are the rule rather than the exception. And here’s a puzzling thing: In some cases where a magazine’s news section is appropriately fast-paced, website copy written by the same staff is plodding.

So why does this happen? Any seasoned editor reviewing typical errant copy should immediately see that several 40-word sentences need deflating. Since a lot of news material has the flavor of press release rewrite, perhaps time pressure discourages necessary revision. And how about those puffy quotes often included in announcements of mergers, financial results, personnel appointments and other jazz? Why do we let many of the platitudes therein escape the editorial axe?

Rather than rave further, here is a list of seven pitfalls that inevitably subject readers to long-sentence fatigue. If you avoid these bad habits, your endless sentence problem may go away:

1. First sentence of article is too long; it exceeds 25-30 words. Reason: Information overload.

2. Individual’s title and affiliation combined produce a word jumble.

3. Event identification and location lumped together requires too many words.

4. Basic, long compound sentences are not immediately split during the editing process. Is there any excuse for that?

5. Long introductory clause traps author into writing even longer sentence.

6. Press-release babble, especially when housed in long quotes, is allowed to survive unedited. We need to plead with PR contacts to simplify their quote selection.

7. Sentence involving a direct quote provides source’s name, company and title (which may be mouthful) in one gulp. A better way is to split the attribution so that person’s name and company name appear in one sentence. Full title (often overly long) appears in the next sentence.

Finally, a piece of advice on the need for “speedy” leads. Take a hard look at your website and magazine news intros. How many words are used before a key story point is made? I still see too many “minus 20” and “minus 30” leads. This means that 20 or 30 words were wasted before the real story started. Our goal today – especially for e-news – must be no worse than “minus five.” “Minus one” would be fantastic!

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

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Sure, ’09 Will Be Tough. You Can Tell the Grownups, Though: They Think Rationally

By Thomas R. Temin

It must have been about three years ago that I was having coffee with a former assistant managing editor at the Washington Post. We met just after the first of what would be several waves of layoffs and buyouts at the paper. Her staff had been cut by about 10 percent. She was realistic about the situation, and had told her staff, “Let’s face it. The blanket doesn’t quite cover the bed anymore.”

The blanket doesn’t cover the bed.

That’s become the condition throughout the publishing world — maybe the entire economy — in the last few months. The resources to do what we used to do, they just aren’t there. So now is the time to think realistically, rationally. Not scared and hair-trigger.

My friend’s response was simple but rational: Narrow the focus a bit and concentrate on doing what remained as well as possible. Eliminate some nonessential nice-to-haves, but keep the meat on the bones.

If only that was the strategy of all publishers. To be sure, not many monthly business-to-business, controlled circulation magazines can afford eight or nine full-time editors and writers, plus copy editor, art director and makeup person. It’s not, say, 1989 in the computer industry any more.

The problem is too many publishers are not merely trimming the blanket, they are slashing it down to a Barbie-doll size. They are not thinking rationally. In a growing number of titles, you can see the effects of overstretched editorial staffs. Both print and digital products suffer.

Matching resources to the business you really have makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is cutting so much that the product suffers and then wondering why the market seems to be disappearing. No, that’s the way leveraged roll-up outfits operate, but not committed, passionate publishers. Don’t be like the airlines and declare war on your customers by diminishing your product.

Remember how expensive color was once upon a time when each shade required the art department to cut a Rubylith and entailed stripping and plate charges at the printer? During one recession, I promised a crusty publisher I would slash color — and color costs — right away. He steamed: “Don’t just cut color! You’ll have a dull book!” Better, he told a then-young EIC, spend on color where you’ll get the most impact, trying to reduce overall costs. Do it rationally, in other words.

Here are a few pieces of advice for 2009:
  • Be a little ruthless in your appraisal of what you can afford to print and what you need for a good web site. Both can’t be all things to all readers. But print is not dead, and in some highly visual markets it never will be. Approach the print-digital challenge for the constantly shifting balance it is. Talk of “dead tree” editions is irrational. Using print as efficiently as possible in terms of frequency, format and content — that’s rational.

  • Take care of your franchise players. If the staff must be smaller, don’t expect a top-notch publication from a bunch of cheap kids. For a recognized and high-performing chief editor or senior editor, what, in the end, is the real cost of having them leave as opposed to giving them a $5,000 bonus? Remember, we’re still in the journalism business, and expecting great editorial on the cheap is daydreaming. It’s like sales. Nobody ever went broke paying sales commissions.

  • Look for cheap n’ easy digital solutions to your need for interactivity and social networking on your site. I know one title that grafted its logo onto a Google group and created a nearly free reader-interaction site. At least it buys time.

  • Don’t be squeamish about third-party content. It’s a long way from judiciously augmenting your staff and freelance work with third-party content, and turning your site into a mindless, RSS-driven link-fest. Again, think rationally.
Thomas R. Temin is a consultant with 30 years of publishing experience in media and information technology products and services. He is also co-host of “The Federal Drive” with Tom Temin and Jane Norris, a weekday morning news and talk program on Federal News Radio AM 1500 in Washington D.C. You can see his weekly column on the op-ed page at and contact him at

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10 Reasons Why You Can't Afford to Miss the Jan. 30th AZBEEs Deadline

Photo: Steven RollBy Steven Roll
ASBPE President

During tough economic times it's only natural to prepare for the worst. Expenses once taken granted such as contest entry fees or association memberships are given a second look. Plans to expand or introduce a new product are often shelved or deferred to the distant future.

While assuming the crash position might feel right for the short term, it's probably a mistake to remain in it too long. In fact, there's probably never been a better time to work hard to distinguish yourself and your publication. Entering the AZBEE Awards of Excellence is a great way to do just that.

Here are 10 reasons why you can't afford to let the Jan. 30 entry deadline for the AZBEEs pass you by:
  • You will probably have a better chance of winning than in previous years. There are typically fewer entries in a down economy. Publications are either going out of business or cutting costs.

  • It's never been more important to achieve the recognition that comes with winning a coveted editorial or design award. Hopefully, your job is secure. But if it isn't, it can't hurt to add the phrase "award winning" to your resume.

  • Your subscribers need to know that they're paying for a quality publication that is worth the cost. Nothing says that like an AZBEE Award.

  • Your advertisers want confirmation that their dollars are going to a top-flight publication.

  • You need to demonstrate to your company's executives that your publication is valuable and should not be placed on the chopping block.

  • It's never been easier to enter the AZBEE Awards. Entries for most categories may be submitted over the Internet. Gone are all of the copies and plastic pages that had to be submitted in the past.

  • New categories such as "Most Humorous" and "Custom Publications" increase the amount of content eligible for entry.

  • The National Awards Banquet will be held in Washington, D.C. An exciting place to be lately.

  • The regional awards banquets are among ASBPE's most popular networking events. There a few better opportunities for receiving recognition and getting to know your colleagues in the trade or business press.

  • It's important to know where your publication stands. Winning is nice. But losing is often more instructive.
Emerge from the fetal position and start preparing and submitting your entries. Come July, you'll be glad you did.

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ASBPE National Blog: A Look at 2008

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

Looking back on our first full year of our ASBPE national blog, I think we've seen some wonderful firsts. We've had some incredible guest bloggers with big names from Harry McCracken to Howard Rauch.

What we have found looking back on the first year is that the big names tend to draw the biggest numbers.

For instance, our top blog post of the year - garnering 6.64 percent of all our hits in 2008 - went to Getting into the Custom Game by Joe Pulizzi. He offered tips for writers looking to getting their collective feet in the door with custom publishers.

Our second most popular post - getting 5.24 percent of the year's hits - went to Building Your Wings on the Way Down by Harry McCracken. In the post, he talks about how he walked away from a great job to start his own business and offered advice to others about doing it, too.

Another big name in the industry drove the third highest hit count - with 3.84 percent of the year's blog hits - with For Sale by Thomas H. Temin focusing on the sale listing of Reed Business Information. And, the fourth most popular post - with 2.4 percent of the year's hits - went to a post by our national president, Steven Roll called Paul Conley Links-In to Another B2B Ethical Debate, which questioned the ethics of magazines in regard to editorial and advertising overlap.

I wanted to give you just a taste of what 2008 offered with promises of more to come in 2009. We hope to continue offering you the latest in B2B publishing news and tips while keeping you in the know.

Happy 2009. Keep coming back every Monday and Thursday and let us help you keep your skills and information on the top of the heap.



Enter the 2009 Azbee Awards of Excellence!

ASBPE is now accepting entries for the 2009 print Azbee Awards of Excellence! Go to to enter the awards online and to download this year's entry brochure, which includes information, instructions, and a Tip Sheet. All entries are due January 30. No extensions will be given.

Highlights from this year's competition:

Print and Digital award programs separated. ASBPE has elected to separate out its Digital Awards of Excellence into its own program and event. Subsequently, a second call for entries will go out in the spring for our new Digital Azbees. The Digital Azbee winners for these categories will be announced during ASBPE’s new Digital Conference in November.

Enter online and save! This year, online entry is available for editorial and design categories. Entering online is easy and fast. Plus, online entries in most categories receive a discounted rate.

New categories for 2009! New editorial categories are "Most Improved" and "Humorous/Fun/Human Interest Department." Also new this year is a special section for custom publications with two categories: "General Excellence, Magazine;" and "General Excellence, Newsletter."

New award for high-impact journalism. This year ASBPE will present its inaugural "Journalism That Matters Award," which will recognize a journalist whose work brought about change within his or her particular industry. Nomination forms are included in the entry packet.

2009 Young Leaders Scholarship. ASBPE will once again recognize rising stars in B2B with the Young Leaders Scholarship. Winners receive free admission and accommodations for the 2009 ASBPE Editorial Conference in Washington, D.C.

Information on all of these programs and entry forms for the Journalism That Matters and Young Leaders awards are included in the entry packet PDF at

Winners of the 2009 Azbee Awards will announced at regional conferences in early summer and at the National Editorial Conference on July 16 in Washington, D.C.

Don't miss out! Enter today!



Women in Periodical Publishing's Women's Leadership Conference Slated for Jan. 23

U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, 12th Congressional District, California, will keynote the Women's Leadership Conference, produced by Women in Periodical Publishing's (WIPP), on Jan. 23 at The Westin in San Francisco.

Jackie Speier was sworn into Congress on April 10, to fill the unexpired term of the late Congressman Tom Lantos. In addition to including an impressive political career, Speier's story is a powerful one of survival.

After earning her Juris Doctor degree from UC's Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, Speier joined Congressman Leo J. Ryan's staff as his legal advisor in Washington, D.C. In 1978, Speier accompanied the congressman to Jonestown, Guyana, to investigate claims that constituents were being held against their will at the People's Temple by the Rev. Jim Jones. While Speier and Ryan escorted defecting cult members to their plane, they were ambushed by gunmen.

Congressman Ryan and four others were killed, including an NBC reporter and cameraman, and a photographer for the San Francisco Examiner. Speier, then 28, was shot five times and left for dead.

For 22 hours, Speier lay bleeding on the Guyanese airstrip waiting for help to arrive. This was a defining moment in her young life, as she told the Washington Post: "I think the experience in Guyana just made me more fearless … Once you have looked death in the eye, you're just not nearly that afraid."

During her political career, including 18 years in the California State Assembly and Senate, Speier authored more than 300 bills that were signed into law by both Democratic and Republican governors. Her four-year crusade to protect consumers' financial privacy from the invasive practices of banking and insurance companies led to passage of the landmark California Financial Privacy Act, which was hailed by Consumers Union as "the strongest financial privacy legislation in the nation."

Upon her election to Congress, Jackie Speier was picked by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to serve on two influential committees: The House Committee on Financial Services, chaired by Congressman Barney Frank, and The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, led by Representative Henry Waxman.

When asked for her philosophy of life, Speier often quotes Winston Churchill: "Success is never final, and failure is never fatal."

"Congresswoman Speier's life and career are an inspiration to women everywhere,” says Thea Selby, principal of Next Steps Marketing and co-chair of the Women's Leadership Conference. “We're fortunate to have her speak to us about leadership, what it means in good times and in more difficult times."

Speier will join up to 150 women coming together at the first-ever Women's Leadership Conference to be educated, inspired, and empowered. Other speakers at the conference include Michela O'Connor Abrams, president and publisher of Dwell magazine; Jan Bruce, publisher of Body & Soul; Barb Newton, president of Sunset Publications; and Madeleine Buckingham, COO of Mother Jones.

The one-day event ($199) includes breakfast, luncheon and Keynote address, and cocktail hour. Register at

Women in Periodical Publishing (WIPP) was founded in 1999 by five women looking for an organization that met the needs of women in print and online periodical publishing. Out of this need, WIPP was formed to accomplish two goals: to educate, empower and support women in print and online publishing and to educate, empower and support women through the power of print and online publishing. In just a few short years, WIPP has built a strong and diverse community, consisting of nearly 100 individual and corporate members throughout the U.S. and internationally. Visit for more information.



Travel Restrictions Limit Our Ability to Deliver Top Content

By Howard Rauch

Any claims that you deliver top editorial content are groundless if you lack a decent travel budget. Yet many staffs today are “restricted to quarters” in terms of field trips. When I talk to editors around the country, I hear a constant “we can’t go anywhere” litany. This is particularly troublesome in those cases where only a token editor is permitted to attend an industry’s major convention.

Yes, we could blame this situation on the current economy. However, some editorial staffs were always chained to the desk as a matter of cost containment policy.

Maybe I was spoiled when growing up in the B2B business. In my first job as a mere assistant editor, I was instructed to plan several field trips to meet my readers. Later, I landed a spot as managing editor for a small tabloid where the publisher was determined to build a bigger magazine. He wanted me to be everywhere! At one point, I attended regional association meetings across the country almost every week. Ultimately, this face-to-face content helped us to rise from industry upstart to industry leader. Before becoming a consultant, I spent 21 years with another travel-oriented publisher. At one point, I traveled at least 80 days a year.

Is frequent travel glamorous? Hardly! It’s a tough proposition. Will it provide a more authoritative view of real life in your industry? Absolutely! But truth be told, many editors never wanted to travel in the first place. So for them, today’s restrictions are just fine.

There’s another side to this coin, of course. Where editorial travel budget is available, it’s not always used wisely. That’s why you must prove to management that your staff travels productively. In my VP/editorial days, my company used a separate travel expense voucher for editors. The form required them, among other things, to itemize all coverage emanating from any trips and the issues in which it would appear. Every six months, I prepared an editorial travel summary for my management group. It showed such things as travel activity broken down into convention visits versus other fieldwork. We could tell at a glance who our most productive travelers were as opposed to those who were clearly wasting travel bucks.

Finally, I think that every editorial staff member should be visiting the industry every month. That visit could be a swing in your local area. Surely that wouldn’t bust somebody’s budget!

It just seems that we are so focused now on website content that maybe we’ve forgotten how B2B magazines built authoritative images long before the internet. If there is anything you can do to boost your field presence time, do so. Competitively speaking, it’s a smart move!

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

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