Join the Social Media Conversation with ASBPE

Photo: Steven RollBy Steven Roll
ASBPE President

Becoming involved with ASBPE is a great way to learn about and experiment with new social media technologies. Limiting your early interactions to your colleagues in the business press allows you to avoid making costly mistakes. It also helps you to build up enough confidence to begin using these applications for work.

Paul Heney, an ASBPE past president, sent me an invite to join LinkedIn sometime in 2006. Not knowing what it was about, I decided to go ahead and sign up for it. I did this more out of deference to Paul than genuine interest in the Web site.

Today, I can see that Paul was really on to something. I just started a LinkedIn group for my publication. It's a great way to communicate with our subscribers. Having been involved with setting up ASBPE's LinkedIn group, I learned enough about it to convince my boss that we should start one for our publication.

This cycle continues to repeat itself. A few years ago, ASBPE's New York Chapter President Warren Hersch and I began conducting Webinars on editorial topics for ASBPE members. I helped to promote them and moderated some. I also became familiar with the technical aspects. Since late last year, I've been using these skills to promote and moderate Webinars for my employer.

More recently, ASBPE started a Twitter account. Just to go along, I started using Twitter too. After using it for about a year now, I finally feel comfortable enough with it make a formal proposal to use it to promote my publication.

Have some fun and invest in your career by joining the conversation with other ASBPE members in the social media world. Follow me on Twitter at @b2beditor. If you slip up and accidentally send me an inappropriate message, none of your subscribers will be the wiser.

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When It Comes to Being an Editorial Giant, Size Doesn’t Matter!

By Howard Rauch

Last week, an editorial giant invited me to join him at the Neal Awards. I gladly accepted. Among other reasons, sitting through an awards presentation – be it Neals, Azbees or similar occasions – is a learning experience.

It reminds one of all the great content B2B editors strive to deliver every day. Industry involvement, creative thinking and hard work are qualities that shine through. In those respects, the description of the Neal winners delivered fully.

But there was one other realization that occurred. Many folks believe that when it comes to awards events, magazines with the biggest staffs and plenty of other resources will always walk away with the honors.

Not true … as my giant proved in two cases. The person I’m talking about is Jim Prevor, one of my earliest clients. He is editor-in-chief of Phoenix Media Network headquartered in Florida. For years he has blazed a trail of editorial leadership for Produce Business, his flagship magazine. He was at the Neals to receive the 2009 Timothy White Award for Editorial Courage and Integrity. Moreover, Produce Business was a finalist in the Best News Coverage category for a publication with gross revenue up to $3 million.

By Neal standards, Jim’s company was one of the smallest represented at the event. But in terms of editorial excellence, he was as much of a giant as any other Neal Award recipient that day. When I first met Jim, he made it clear he was a guy looking for new ideas. Even then – over 15 years ago – it was obvious that he had achieved insider status with his industry. He was and continues to be a shirtsleeve guy, even though he’s built his operation into a four-publication company.

Actually, there are plenty of editorial giants around who are not award winners. In many cases, their magazines have limited space that prevents them from devoting the blockbuster space typically required to, say, contend in a best feature category. Even so, their information packages are consistently high value.

Are you an editorial giant? Here’s a quick self-scoring profile quiz that will clarify your achievement level. Each question can be answered with a “yes,” “no” or “maybe.”

(1) My editorial columns always address key issues that reflect my status as an industry insider. Never is my editorial merely a recitation of the issue’s contents.

(2) I publish important original research reports at least twice a year.

(3) I’ve met hundreds of industry movers and shakers who have become my friends.

(4) Important sources call me constantly to offer angles involving important news stories.

(5) I always write at least one important feature story for every issue.

(6) I am in demand as an industry speaker as well as a recognized information source always sought out by the media.

(7) I travel as often as possible to meet new readers as well as old friends.

(8) I believe training of staff members is an important responsibility that deserves my personal attention.

(9) I’ve organized an editorial advisory board of key industry movers and shakers who constantly provide important guidance.

(10) I enter editorial excellence competitions and have even won a few awards.

So … give yourself ten points for every “yes,” zero for every “no” and five points for every “maybe.”

If you score at least an 80, consider yourself an editorial giant. This kind of accomplishment doesn’t come easy … but it can happen if you’re determined enough to make it so!

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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Trade Show Coverage in the Web Era

Photo: Katy TomasuloBy Katy Tomasulo
President, Washington, D.C., Chapter

I recently returned from my industry’s largest trade show, and I couldn’t help but reflect on how different reporting from trade shows is now than when I went to my first one nine years ago. The work days used to be long — get to the show at 7 a.m. for press conferences, walk the exhibit floor and attend seminars all day, attend media events or sales dinners in the evening, and then finally take the shoes off at 10 or 11. But now they’re absolute marathons: The shoes still come off at 10, but now we sit in our hotel rooms and write Web articles into the wee hours. What’s more, we forego 15-minute lunch breaks to sit in the press room writing up seminars and we precariously walk the show floor aisles while typing Twitter updates into our cell phones. Times have changed.

Networking and gathering sources and future story ideas is no longer our sole purpose at trade shows. We must generate daily coverage for our Web sites.

Unfortunately, there’s not much of a solution to the new 17-hour workdays. But here are some tips I picked up over the last few years. Please add yours in the comments section. (Note: This is separate from those of you who have trade show dailies.)
  • Divide and conquer: If you have multiple staffers and/or multiple sister publications headed to the same show, plan out in advance who is covering what. Then share everyone’s stories, as appropriate, on all of the magazines’ Web sites.

  • Share content: As mentioned above, share content across related publications. There’s no point in duplicating coverage, and there’s plenty to go around. Devise a system for alerting fellow editors about new articles or agree on a Web tagging system that will automate everything. This way, each magazine’s Web site can dedicate—and fill—a space for show coverage.

  • Boost traffic with social media. My fellow editors and I jumped head-long into Twitter this year, and this allowed us to publicize our coverage and to create a sense of community among those in attendance and those following along at home. We Tweeted links to posted articles and we commented on what we were seeing at booths. It was also helpful in reverse: I subscribed to text notices of those folks who I knew were at the show and received a couple of helpful Tweets of great products to go see. Be sure to use (or create) a hashtag for the show so that your Tweets and that of your industry peers can be searched and seen all together.

  • Don’t force a story when there isn’t one. There's nothing more frustrating than spending 90 minutes in a seminar and coming out with nothing to write up for the Web site and nothing to turn into a future story or contact. Accept that not every session is perfect or follows the description in the show guide. And remember: Readers don’t want to hear that you were in a seminar. They want to hear what they would have learned if they had been in the room. If there isn’t advice, research, or valuable job-helping information for your reader, don’t waste their time or your time forcing it into an article.

  • Keep it short. No one wants to read a 2,000-word seminar recap. Give them the actionable information and skip the fluff.

  • Use multimedia. Enhance your coverage with video. My colleagues used video more than ever this year. Here are some tips:
    a) Plan ahead: We met several times to discuss strategy, devise a schedule, and learn the equipment. Discussing tactics as a group helped us brainstorm what might work and what wouldn’t work.

    b) Work together:
    Chances are, there aren’t enough cameras to go around, so help each other and share information. Designate a few people to be in charge of the filming and have other editors feed that person products, people, or news to film. This also reduces the number of people to be trained and eliminates the hassle of having to shuffle expensive equipment.

    c) Look for variety:
    We ended up with several styles of video: Impromptu product demos at booths, sit-down interviews with prominent experts, and recaps of news conferences. In all three cases, clips were kept short.

    d) Be willing to spend a little money. For a few hundred dollars, we had an in-house staffer on site to edit and post videos. This saved editors the time of having to email huge video files back to the home office and resulted in getting more videos up, faster.
  • Promote your coverage before you get there. Is this economy, fewer readers can attend all trade shows, so they will be happy to hear that you’re going to be their eyes and ears. Let them know beforehand so they’ll turn to your site when the show begins. Plug your coverage in show preview articles, on Twitter and other social media sites, and in e-newsletters.

  • Put the coverage to good use. Drive traffic to your content by sending a special edition of your e-newsletter. Promote the coverage in any follow-up articles in print, as well.

  • Save some for later. The demand for on-site coverage does not eliminate the other benefits of trade shows—fostering relationships, finding new contacts, and researching future stories. Keep that hat on too.

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Editors: We Are Already Marketers

By Christina Pellett

I’m stubborn. My natural tendency is to resist whatever unofficial job duties are foisted upon me, claiming “I don’t have time to do that, too!” or, “I’m an editor, not a _________ [sales rep, marketing manager, accountant, etc.].”

Lately, the area where our editorial staff has been asked to help them most is in marketing. I often hear editors balk at requests like these, much like I instinctively have in the past. They say they’re journalists, not public relations specialists. It’s not their expertise. And to that, I cry, “Bull.”

Much of our job as business-to-business journalists (and journalists in general) already involves marketing. We market our publication to contributors and readers when asking them to add their voice to our pages and our Web sites. We market to public relations specialists when trying to drum up sources. We market again to readers when showing them why they should even read our magazine when they have 10 other trade titles coming to them in the mail every month.

We market to Web users when they wonder where to go for their how-to information and news. We market the stories inside our publication when we write teasers for the front page, and we market them again when we write the headlines, and then another time when sending email reminders on the useful contents of our new issue. And indirectly, we market our publication to potential advertisers when we let our sales department know what we’re covering in the next issue and why readers will be all over it.

It’s not like we’re not already doing it. So when our editors or publishers come to us asking for fresh ideas on how to grow our brand and market our benefits, we should not only be eager to do so, but we should have plenty of ideas in no time. After all, coming up with fresh ideas is what we do every day, all day when dealing with editorial issues. As business-to-business editors, our jobs depend on thinking outside the box and doing more with less. And that’s never been truer than it is right now.

Clearly you don’t want to overstep any boundaries and become involved in murky waters – for example, going on sales calls or offering and condoning pay-for-play editorial/advertising arrangements. But when your unofficial duties don’t put you in a precarious position, and when your intent is pure and focused on how it will benefit your readers in the short and long run, by all means, step up to the plate. Don’t sell yourself short. You’re a great marketer, and you owe it to your publication to find out just how true that is.

Christina Pellett is the managing editor of the Agent’s Sales Journal, a business-to-business publication for life and health-licensed insurance agents published by Summit Business Media. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism in 2002 with a focus in magazine writing and editing.

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Getting Your Market's Economic Scoop in Tough Times

Date: Friday, March 27
Time: 1:00 p.m. Eastern time
Duration: 60 minutes

Webinar Overview

Business-to-business editors generally are skilled at covering day-to-day happenings in their industries. But their reporting often falls short when exploring the effects of an economic downturn and the measures that business undertake to deal with the resulting squeeze on their balance sheets. In this webinar, panelists Roy Harris, senior editor, CFO, and Steve Ross, editor, Broadband Properties, will examine how editors can cover the current economy in their publications. Attendees will learn what questions to ask of sources, how to analyze their markets, and what tools editors can use to find additional information.

What You'll Learn...
  • What questions to ask sources who work in the markets you cover.

  • Which tools, third-parties and online resources to consult when pursuing your story.

  • How an understanding of key accounting ratios, among other considerations, will help you to judge whether a company can survive bankruptcy.

  • How to analyze and interpret the answers you get about the companies and industries you're researching.

  • What actions companies might take because of the contracting economy or their own deteriorating financial situation.

  • What your readers most want to know and how to convey your findings for maximum impact.

Webinar Details

Where: Your computer. You will need a dial-in number, URL and access codes to participate.

How to register: To reserve your place, you must complete two steps:

  1. submit payment; and
  2. visit the web page where you will actually register.

Payment (credit card or check payable to ASBPE) should be submitted to the contact listed on this form (72K Word doc). Upon receipt of payment, you will receive an e-mail with the online registration link. A second e-mail will follow identifying the dial-in number, URL and access codes needed to join the webinar.

Charge: This Webinar is $10.00 for all ASBPE members and $35.00 for non-members.

About the Panelists

Roy J. Harris Jr., a senior editor for The Economist Group's CFO magazine, has been a journalist for some of the nation's most respected news publications for four decades. From 1971 to 1994 he served as a reporter and editor for the Wall Street Journal, including six years as deputy chief of its fourteen-member Los Angeles bureau. During his 12 years in Boston with CFO, he served from 2006 to 2007 as national president of the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He also serves as vice president of the ASBPE Foundation. But he has retained his passion for the newspaper business, regularly contributing articles on the Pulitzer Prizes to the web site of the St. Petersburg, Florida-based Poynter Institute. He has also taught journalism as an adjunct professor at Emerson College. He is additionally the author of Pulitzer's Gold, the first book to trace the ninety-year history of the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

Steve Ross has combined a career in teaching, writing, consulting, and technology. He now edits a trade/professional magazine (Broadband Properties) and teaches business writing at the Harvard Extension. From 1985 until mid-2004, Ross taught full-time at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, where he was an associate professor of professional practice, teaching new media, national, and computer-assisted reporting. Since 1994, Ross has been conducting the nation's largest surveys of journalists' use of online services including (but not limited to) the World Wide Web. Among his 19 books are works on business, the environment and planning, multimedia, finance, statistics, product safety, and toxic substances. He is now under contract with The McGraw-Hill Companies to produce textbooks for analytic journalism and new media.

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11 Copyblogger Posts That Will Change the Way You Blog

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
“11 Copyblogger Posts That Will Change the Way You Blog”

I've referenced Copyblogger as one of 5 Websites that Taught Me A Lot About Social Media

Not only does Copyblogger have a great blogging business model, but its content is relevant and timely, especially to new bloggers. I often find myself tagging the posts to refer back to later, which is why I'm posting a list of my 11 favorite blog posts. (Why 11? Because 10 is too typical and I hate to be typical.)

The Lazy Blogger’s Guide to Finding Great Post Images. Want a surefire way to capture readers' attention? Include images in your posts. Post writer Sonia Simone explains easy ways to do it.

Five Grammatical Errors That Make You Look Dumb. As a professional editor, this one really hits home to me. I'm guilty of some of these mistakes sometimes although I wish I weren't!

10 Effective Ways to Get More Blog Subscribers. Copyblogger founder Brian Clark offers great ideas including offering 'bribes,' becoming a guest blogger and cross promoting.

How to Be Interesting. Sure we all think we're interesting. I hope I am sometimes. Post writer Jonathan Morrow offers great advice in this post including my favorite: "Unleash your Inner Dork."

How to Change the World Using Social Media. This is a relatively new post, but as an aspiring social media consultant, it resonates with me. Check it and chew on the insights.

Are You Blogging With Purpose? (If Not, 5 Ways to Fix That). When I write, I like to think that I'm being informative and serving a purpose. There's a chance I'm wrong and completely pointless. This post reminds me how to write meaningful posts.

Landing Page Tutorials and Case Studies. This page is helpful not only for what I aspire my blog(s) to be, but also for my job as a digital editor at a publishing company. Many SEO consultants will tell you that landing pages are one of the keys to effective SEO. Truth be told, I'm still working on this one for my own sites.

Ernest Hemingway’s Top 5 Tips for Writing Well. I love Ernest Hemingway. His writing was intellectually stimulating and concise, as are the tips in this post.

Six Ways to Instantly Find the Right Words. Regardless of if you blog or not, this post hits home with anyone who depends on good writing for their job. The post starts off with the most poignant question: Do you have a point?

Time Is Not on Your Side: Time Management Tips for Writers. As I've mentioned, I am an editor by day so this post is tremendously helpful to my job. The post offers helpful PDFs you can download to determine if you're a time waster and what you can do about it.

Do You Make These Mistakes With Your Blog? Another blog post that is even more helpful if you have any sort of digital media job. Includes links and topics such as writing for SEO, writing for a niche and crafting the perfect headline.

Me Media: Social Media for Non-Techies ( is a how-to blog geared toward teaching nontechnical 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.

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Want to StumbleUpon Some More Web Traffic?

Photo: Steven RollBy Steven Roll
ASBPE President

After completing the "about" page of the blog I was about to launch, I noticed something funny. I had almost 70 page views for the day even though I hadn't written a single post yet. What happened? Someone "Stumbled" my "about" page and sent it to some friends on the social bookmarking Website StumbleUpon.

At the time, I had heard about StumbleUpon, but didn't understand the point of it. I had downloaded the SU tool bar on my Web browser. The tool bar's most prominent feature is a button that says "Stumble!" When you click on the button it takes you to a random Web page. I still don't see the point of this.

Sudden Spike in Page Views Got My Attention. But I gave SU a second look when I saw the spike in Web traffic to my blog after someone Stumbled it. You "Stumble" a site by clicking on the "thumbs up" sign on the SU toolbar. To really make an impression, you need to designate sites as your "favorites" and write reviews.

You can start out by giving a "thumbs up" to your own Web site, favoriting it, and writing a review. But here's the catch: You can only Stumble your own site so many times. Endorse your own stuff too often and you'll be locked out of the system.

What you need to do is to build a community of friends on SU. Do this by favoriting and reviewing Web pages and blogs that you like. Eventually, you'll notice that the same people are reviewing many of the same pages you are depending on your particular interests. Send friend requests to these people.

Twitter and Stumble Upon. Another way to meet people on SU is through Twitter. If someone Tweets with a link to a blog post they just wrote, reply back letting them know that you just Stumbled it.

If they don't know what SU is, send the link to their Web site to a few of your SU friends. More often than not, they'll be so impressed by the increased page views that they'll become a devoted friend and SU user.

Once you've acquired some friends on SU, you can use the tool bar to send them your Web page or latest blog post along with a request to Stumble it. SU users know Stumbling is a two-way street so most of these requests are enthusiastically accepted.

Acquire enough friends and you'll be a pretty influential person on the Web. Not only will this help generate page views on your own Web site or blog, but it will give you the ability to send traffic to your friends' sites.

The creators of SU are pretty clever. I think most people -- myself included -- start using SU by trying to game the system. All we really want is more Web traffic. But to make friends on SU, you need to "favorite" the sites you like. What I've found is that I've come across some worthwhile content and interesting people in the process.

Connect with me on SU at

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Free Four-Day Program on Retirement Issues in the 21st Century

Fast-changing financial conditions have pushed retirement further into the future for some, and made it impossible for others. Many current retirees have been forced to cut expenses or go back to work – or both. The National Press Foundation is offering a four-day, all-expenses-paid seminar for journalists. The seminar explores the transformed world of retirement investment and the impact of the international financial crisis. We’ll look at the outlook on retirement and how Americans may plan for it in the future, as well as the demographics and basic terminology needed to write about retirement issues.

Business, consumer and lifestyle writers and editors, as well as editorial writers, will take away a wealth of new story ideas, sources and methods.

Topics under consideration:
  • What do I do now? New financial strategies in retirement;
  • Long-term outlook for entitlement programs;
  • Changing lifestyle expectations in retirement; Women’s issues in retirement;
  • Writing about financial issues for broadcast; and more.
Journalists will have on-the-record access to experts from the federal government, AARP, the Brookings Institution and other reputable think tanks, and will visit appropriate Washington venues. Interested fellows may attend a reception at Nationals Park during a game with the San Francisco Giants, courtesy of the funder, Prudential Financial, Inc.

Please submit the application form, a cover letter explaining your interest in the program, a brief bio, three clips, and one letter of recommendation from a supervisor. Visit our web site for more information and application form. This program runs May 31-June 3 in Washington, D.C. Apply by Monday, April 6.

The National Press Foundation is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that develops issue-based training programs for journalists around the world.

Contact: Maha Masud, Program Assistant at 202-663-7285 or email at

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Niche Media's Rise Does Not Come at Newspapers' Expense

Photo: Steven RollBy Steven Roll
ASBPE President

The mainstream newspapers that once covered Capitol Hill have been overtaken by niche publications that deliver content aimed at a particular business or industry. That was the finding of a recent report issued by, the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Besides a column from media columnist Howard Kurtz for the Washington Post, the general reaction to the report seems somewhat muted. Perhaps it's because the report confirms what journalists in the specialty or trade press have known for some time now.

Unfortunately, the report implies that the rise of the niche media has come at newspapers’ expense. While the decline of newspapers is lamentable, it’s more likely the result of a faulty business model than the success of specialty publications.

Disparaging Tone. The report’s disparaging tone toward niche media is hard to overlook. It begins by harkening back to the days when “mainstream media journalists — and much of Washington itself — looked down upon the work of these publications as both boring and peripheral to the ‘real’ challenge of covering Washington politics.”

But there is a wealth of good news in the report for B2B journalists willing to withstand the author’s barbs. The report notes that:
  • Hudson’s listings of specialty magazines, newsletters and periodicals jumped up by roughly one-third between 1985 and 2008 and by nearly 20 percent between 2004 and 2008.

  • Between 1986 and 2007 there was a 61 percent rise in newsletters with Washington bureaus or staff.

  • Edwin Chen of Bloomberg News will become the president of the White House Correspondents Association in the spring of 2009.

  • Niche publications have broken major stories involving malfeasance that were picked up by the mainstream media.
Grudging praise has to be one of the most sincere forms of flattery. Unfortunately, the report also:
  • Suggests that the proliferation of niche publications is undermining the democratic process because only lobbyists and other corporate interests can afford their high subscription fees.

  • Says the niche media is “more known for its ability to report exhaustively on narrow, complex issues, than for aggressive investigative or what some call public service journalism.”

  • Characterizes as absurdly narrow the coverage of specialty publications such as ClimateWire, noting that “online newsletter devoted more than half the stories to the new Obama presidency, but it did so solely through the prism of climate change.”
The last criticism begs a question. If a specialty publication’s readers expect them to information about climate change, why would it cover a different topic?

America's Fourth Estate. A mainstream press that serves as a watchdog for government or corporate malfeasance is a critical component of democracy in the U.S. It earned the title as America’s Fourth Estate by breaking monumental stories such as Watergate.

But this vital institution has failed to successfully adapt to the recent advances in communications technology that has spurred niche publications’ success. Change is hard. An important first step would be to work towards adopting the business models and journalistic practices that have worked so well for the niche media.

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