2009 ASBPE National Editorial Conference

Concerned about the current state of the economy? Wondering what skills you need to propel your career in the rapidly shifting B2B publishing industry? Now more than ever, B2B editors need to expand their expertise and lead the push for innovation. As budgets continue to shrink while Web technologies continue to explode, do you have the tools to remain relevant? Learn the skills to survive and thrive in today s challenging economy and evolving digital age at the 2009 ASBPE National Editorial Conference in Washington, D.C., July 15-17.

This year's conference features a lineup stacked with respected industry veterans and brimming with helpful advice and insights.

Session highlights:

Keynote: The Future of Publishing
What does the future hold for B2B? Veteran publishing industry consultant, blogger, and commentator Bob Sacks will examine the industry s next steps and the implications of technology advances for B2B editors. Learn what you can do to prepare for the ever-changing digital era while balancing new roles with maintaining editorial quality.

Panel: Innovative Responses to Today's Troubling Times
Peter Goldstone, President, Hanley Wood Business Media
David Silverberg, Founding Editor, HSToday
This session will explore: What types of ideas work best in a down market? How can magazine staffs work together to develop new ideas? How can you leverage technology to create and deploy new programs?

Panel: Keeping Print Relevant in Today's Digital Age
Abbie Lundberg, President, Lundberg Media, former Editor in Chief, CIO
Bill Mitchell, Leader of News Transformation and International Programs, The Poynter Institute
Richard Creighton, Principal, The Magazine Group
Is print dying or is it merely transitioning? The concept of what works is changing as a new generation of readers looks for shorter pieces and more web interaction. In this session, you will learn how to keep your print product relevant in an era where the Internet is getting all the attention.

Case Studies: The 21st Century Workflow
Wyatt Kash, Editor in Chief, Government Computer News and Defense Systems
Raju Narisetti, managing editor, The Washington Post
Michael Protos, Production Editor, 1105 Media.
This session will explore how to plan and schedule for Web-first publishing and implement Web 2.0 strategies amidst existing publishing demands. Editors successfully publishing in print and online will offer lessons learned in making the transition to a full-scale dual-publishing format.

  • The Print/Design Relationship
  • Using Social Media to Advance Your Brand
  • How to Sell Your Ideas to Company Executives
  • 20 Ideas That Make a Big Impact
  • Case Studies: 2009 Magazines of the Year
Event Details:

July 15-17, 2009
Washington Marriott, Washington, D.C.

31st Annual Azbee Awards of Excellence Banquet
July 16, 2009, 6 p.m.
Washington Marriott, Washington, D.C.

Register by July 3 for a $100 discount!

For the complete schedule, fees, and registration information, download the full conference brochure and registration form at www.asbpe.org.

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Leveraging Your Freelance Staff

By Matt Bolch

During this time of economic upheaval (especially when the chairs around you are no longer occupied because of cutbacks), it makes perfect sense to leverage your freelance staff to a greater degree.

I’ve been freelancing in the B2B space at least part-time for nearly 15 years now, and the best relationships I’ve had with editors have been just that — relationships. I may not get a story every month or every issue, but I know that when assignments are available, I’ll be the first to get a call. In return, I keep my eyes open for news events and ideas to send an editor’s way and make myself a valuable resource.

Here are a few ways you can get more out of your freelancers:

1. Share the style sheet. Most magazines have their little style quirks, and if an editor tells me what those quirks are, I can write in the appropriate style. I had written for a magazine for nearly a year when I noticed that its style for state names was different from AP, which is my default style. When I asked the editor why she didn’t let me know, she said, “You write so well that it’s not a problem to change those few things.” I replied, “But if you’d let me know, you wouldn’t have to change them!”

But at the same time, don’t send me the entire manual. I’d bet there are only a half-dozen variations among magazines, which can be summed up with: “said/says,” two-letter state names, percentage vs. %, serial commas, numbers under 10 and second-reference attribution. Just tell me enough to make your job easier.

2. Give clear assignments, but leave wiggle room. Do you really want the assignment as written, or can I do the reporting and see where the sources take me on a particular topic? My best clients give me leeway to prepare the story as I see fit, but I always check in after discovering the assignment is going in a different direction.

3. Is this deadline real? Sometimes Joe or Sally Source is on vacation, out of the country at a conference or swamped with work, but that person really should be in the story. Can I have another day? Another week? A good freelancer will get you the story on deadline day, but you could have a better story by waiting a little longer. Just let me know up front.

How you can help your freelancers:

1. Develop a relationship. If you like the work, hire me again. You’d be better off with a small stable of freelancers you use all the time than a huge stable you use infrequently. Many of us are generalists and can write with authority on a variety of topics.

2. If you want photos and captions, say so, but don’t leave that detail until the last minute so I have to follow up with sources.

3. If you can easily answer a question yourself (by doing a quick Internet search), please do it. It often takes more time and effort to call or e-mail a question and wait for a response than it would to look it up yourself.

4. Keep me paid. Turn those invoices in on time and keep after the accounting department if necessary until the check goes out.

5. Recommend me to your friends. I know how I obtained each client, and those made through referrals only make me more loyal to the person who recommended me.

Freelancers can be a fresh set of eyes and ears on your industry, but you must maintain a healthy relationship with them.

Matt Bolch is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and editor. After a long career in newspapers (including nine years at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution), Bolch became a full-time freelancer in 2002. He currently is managing editor of CDHCSolutions and EmployersWeb.com magazines and writes for a dozen mainly B2B magazines. He graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 1987 and has been a member of ASBPE since 2002. Bolch has been an Azbee Awards judge for three years and is a regular attendee at the national conference. His Web site is MattBolch.com and his e-mail address is mbolch@mindspring.com.

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Best Magazine Publishing Companies to Work For

Last call for nominations for Publishing Executive's third annual Best Magazine Publishing Companies to Work For study.

Submit nominations at: www.BestMAGCompanies.com.

The registration deadline is this Friday, June 26th. Registration and participation in the study are free.

Even nominated companies that don't make the final list of Best Magazine Publishing Companies to Work For benefit from a free "Participation Report."

The report provides the company with anonymous feedback from its employees on 8 data points essential to positive work environments.

Publishing Executive's Best Magazine Publishing Companies to Work For study finds and recognizes the best companies to work for in magazine publishing. Each year, Publishing Executive partners with Best Companies Group, which specializes in identifying and recognizing outstanding workplaces all over the country.

The 2009 list of the Best Magazine Publishing Companies to Work For will be published in the November 2009 issue of Publishing Executive magazine.

See the 2008 list.

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Editorial Complaints Are Here to Stay! Are You Prepared to Make a Friend or an Enemy?

By Howard Rauch

Maybe it's my imagination, but it seems to be getting tougher to resolve complaints with the business world. Many times, people who claim to be "managers" are ill-prepared to settle disputes in a customer-friendly way.

Recently, I ran into a wave of incredible dumbness, which prompted me to think about spats arising in my own business. Some of the experiences have been no less than remarkable. The prize case, arising shortly after I started Editorial Solutions, involved a row with a well-known restaurant chain. Somehow, a genius in that organization managed to have my fax number printed on all purchase order forms. Suddenly, every Wednesday and Thursday, my phone delivered a slew of fax screeching. Ultimately, I realized this was no fluke, switched my fax and phone jacks, and discovered the problem. What was happening was twice a week, every store in my region was faxing in to Editorial Solutions orders for uniforms, paper towels, food, checks and everything else. Yes, I eventually solved the problem. But a member of the brass at the chain was hardly apologetic. He was angry at me for creating a problem. This was all my fault!!?

I'm sure anyone reading this column can recall battles with so-called customer-service types. But let's think: how good are we when it comes to complaint-handling? Does your company have a policy covering all the bases? Do you view complaints — no matter how outrageous — as an opportunity to make friends? Try the accompanying self-scoring profile. Be tough on yourself. Assign a score of one to ten for the 12 factors described, ten being best. Maximum score achievable is 120 points. If the total score for your operation falls below 90, your complaint-handling policy needs adjustment.
  • I respond to all complaints within 24 hours. SCORE: _____

  • When a complaint is received via telephone, I take careful notes and read them back to the complaining party. SCORE: _____

  • I inform management of all major complaints immediately. SCORE: _____

  • I confirm in writing all assignments to outside authors. Special emphasis is placed on payment terms and deadlines. SCORE: _____

  • I always obtain all available legal documentation before writing about lawsuits and other related matters. Articles are not published until a judgment has been issued. SCORE: _____

  • I try to make amends to advertisers as readily as I would to other complaining parties. In anticipation of possible advertiser editorial gripes, my staff keeps logs of all attempts made to contact sources for roundup articles. SCORE: _____

  • During my initial response to a complaint, I give a deadline by which I will have further information; I then stick to that deadline. SCORE: _____

  • I save all notes and other source material related to each editorial item for at least six months. SCORE: _____

  • I have a system for checking carefully the spelling of names and titles of executives and all quantitative data provided during an interview. SCORE: _____

  • In the event of an error that is clearly our fault, I have a policy pertaining to retractions or scheduling of compensatory editorial. SCORE: _____

  • I take care not to lift material wholesale from website sources unless permission to do so has been granted. SCORE: _____

  • All policies pertaining to complaint-handling are included in a memo that has been Bulleted Listcirculated to my editorial staff. SCORE: _____
At some point, I foresee a separate self-scoring profile on complaints stemming from e-news snafus. Please incorporate some alerts into your own policy if one already exists.

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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Educational Opportunity for Medical and Scientific Writers

The Greater Chicago Area Chapter (GCAC) of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) will offer four workshops at its 2009 conference on Friday, July 31.

The workshops are open to both AMWA members and nonmembers. Courses offered will apply to certificates in science fundamentals, pharmaceutical, and editing/writing disciplines. An advanced course will also be offered.

In Basics of Epidemiology for Biomedical Communicators, participants will be provided with the ABCs of data interpretation according to basic epidemiological concepts. Measures of disease occurrence, research designs, and causality development will be discussed.

Statistics for Medical Writers and Editors is designed for participants who have little or no background in statistics. Emphasis will be placed on understanding statistical presentations and on reporting statistical information, not on calculations or mathematical explanations.

Improving Comprehension, Theories and Research Findings is for writers interested in exploring research into written communication. Participants will consider how readers make sense of a text, examine the factors that promote or inhibit this sense-making, and discuss how theories of composition, communication, and cognitive psychology and their associated research findings can improve the quality of written communications.

The advanced course, Understanding and Reporting the Performance Characteristics of Diagnostic Tests, will introduce participants to the most important characteristics of diagnostic tests — sensitivity, specificity, likelihood ratios, predictive values, receiver operating characteristics curves, and so on — as well as to other, related, concepts, such as the meaning of "normal," the treatment of equivocal results, and Bayesian statistics. Participants will learn how to interpret and report diagnostic tests in the biomedical literature and will practice applying a set of detailed guidelines for reporting various test characteristics.

The instructors are:
  • Tom Lang, author of How to Report Statistics in Medicine: Annotated Guidelines for Authors, Editors, and Reviewers, is an international consultant and educator in medical writing and scientific publications. He teaches for the University of Chicago's Medical Writing Program and is adjunct professor of biomedical writing at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, as well as past president of the Council of Science Editors, a fellow of the American Medical Writers Association, and treasurer of the World Association of Medical Editors.

  • Bart Harvey, MD, PhD, MEd, FACPM, FRCPC (Community Medicine) is an associate professor with the Department of Family & Community Medicine and the Graduate Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Toronto. He has been the principal or co-author on dozens of papers published in peer-reviewed biomedical journals and has presented peer-reviewed and invited papers at national and international scientific conferences. Dr. Harvey also currently serves as one of 24 investigating coroners for the city of Toronto.
Workshop fees range from $95 to $120 for members and from $195 to $220 for nonmembers. Registration for the all-day event, which costs $55 for members and $95 for nonmembers, includes a continental breakfast and networking lunch. All attendees are invited to sign up to attend a social hour and dinner after the conference at Yan Hunan's Inn in Waukegan. The registration form and fees must be received by June 22 for the advanced class and by July 6 for the other course offerings.

To received credit toward a certificate, registrants must be enrolled in a curriculum program and submit completed homework by July 2 for the advanced workshop and by July 17 for the other workshops. The core curriculum enrollment fee, good for six years, is $150 for AMWA members and $275 for nonmembers. The advanced curriculum enrollment fee, good for eight years, is $175 for AMWA members and $290 for nonmembers.

Date: Friday, July 31, 2009

Time: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Location: Abbott Laboratories, 200 Abbott Park Road, North Chicago, Ill.

Registration is open now. Details are posted on the GCAC AMWA Web site: www.gcac-amwa.org.

In addition, the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences will administer its certification exam on Saturday, Aug. 1, also at Abbott Laboratories, beginning at 9:00 a.m. Interested applicants must contact the BELS registrar. Details about exam registration are available on the BELS Web site, www.bels.org.

To learn more about AMWA’s education program, call 301-294-5303 or visit www.amwa.org.

About the AMWA

The American Medical Writers Association (AMWA), based in Rockville, Md., was founded in 1940 to promote excellence in medical communication and provide resources to support that goal. Through an extensive educational program, various publications and unparalleled networking opportunities, AMWA enables members to extend their professional expertise.

The Greater Chicago Area Chapter (GCAC) comprises more than 300 biomedical communicators who live and work in Illinois and southern Wisconsin, including over 100 self-employed and freelance members. The chapter’s diverse membership represents biomedical communicators who work for hospitals, health care associations, marketing and public relations agencies, pharmaceutical companies, medical publishing firms, Web publishing venues, and medical schools.

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Social Media and the Introvert

By Maureen Alley

To be successful online, branding and self-promotion is a must. But for most editor and writer types, this involves pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. It’s not news that most editors and writers are typically introverted or at least behind-the-scenes kind of people. We are different than our sales counterparts. So how do we balance the uncomfortable feelings of putting ourselves out there and being successful?

I admit, I always second guess what I write when I know the content I’m writing has the possibility of being viewed by anyone who access to the Internet. I stagger over the “publish” button before executing. Here are a few steps to keep in mind when moving around the online landscape.

Step one: Write about topics you know. Being confident in the topic you’re writing about will make you more comfortable knowing other people are reading what you’re writing. And if you write about things that you aren’t confident of, say it. Generally people like when they can relate to other people. We all have insecurities, so owning up to them isn’t a crash course to failure.

Step two: Accept that you won’t please every person who reads your content. Just as when you’re writing an article in a magazine, you will never meet everyone’s expectations. We all see everything through our own prisms and experiences. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean your point of view doesn’t have value.

Step three: What is important to you? Do you want to become a name brand in your industry or stay unknown? If putting yourself out there is too much for you to handle, then staying unknown is your path. There is nothing wrong with this, but accept that you will never be known in your industry.

Step four: You are an expert in something – determine what it is and go for it. It’s easy to think that everyone knows more than we do when we read all the blog posts throughout the Web. The saying we were taught in school, “ask a question because it’s likely someone else has the same question,” applies here. It’s impossible for everyone to know everything. We’re all at different learning stages, so it’s most likely that you’ll help someone else with your advice.

Step five: Rely on each other. Read fellow editors’ and writers’ posts. Reading what they have to say not only makes you more educated and aware, it also shows you that other editors/writers are out there.

Maureen Alley is managing editor for Website Magazine, a trade publication dedicated to Web professionals. She was formerly managing editor for Residential Design & Build magazine, a property of Cygnus Business Media. Alley graduated with a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and is currently attending Roosevelt University in Chicago for her Masters of Science in Journalism. She has been a member of ASBPE since 2006 and was a judge for the 2009 Azbee Awards program. She writes a blog at www.maureenalley.com about young journalists and new media. Contact her at malley13[at]gmail[dot]com.

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What in the World is a Magazine Editor?

Photo: Tonie AuerBy Tonie Auer
DFW Chapter President

A day in the life of a journalist is seldom routine or boring. I find myself switching gears from covering the construction industry in Texas to commercial real estate nationwide. And, then there is the occasional challenge of engaging children and telling them what it is like to be a B2B magazine writer and editor.

I spoke to the fourth-grade classes at my children's elementary school as part of career week in May. They always seem amazed at what goes into being a writer and editor and I'm always thrilled to share about what I do.

I have done career-day talks at elementary and junior high school campuses for almost as long as I've been a journalist. For teachers, they can be a wonderful asset to support many of the things they want to teach children, from the importance of deadlines to good grammar. These are skills students need for the classroom — but really, in almost any profession that they choose.

A valuable asset I have found that helped prepare for career day talks is a short presentation ASBPE board members put together several years ago. I keep a copy printed out in my files for easy reference. The What in the World is a Magazine Editor? presentation is simple and can be used with an overhead projector or distributed to the teacher to use for a classroom aid later in teaching about writing and editing. There is also a PowerPoint version. The final page of the presentation has an outline for what to take and tips for engaging students. This has been a great resource in helping to prepare for these talks. I've always managed to keep children interested easily for 30-60 minutes following this career day outline.

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Need Free Digital Editorial Training? Join the ASBPE Web Team

Photo: Erin EricksonBy Erin Erickson
ASBPE Web Content Committee Chairperson, Chicago Chapter Vice President

When I first joined ASBPE, my first reaction was to find my local chapter (Chicago) and see if I could find a way to work on the website somehow. I was hungry to learn digital media so that I could secure more work.

Fate intervened and as luck would have it, the Chicago chapter and national board were considering launching blogs. I quickly hopped on board the teams and learned -- and taught over time -- how to work successfully in a digital media position.

The committee work was so helpful that it helped me parlay my print editor job to a digital one in under a year.

Given the current environment of publishing and economics, consider what I'm about to write a kin to an occupational life jacket.

I'd like to invite you to join the ASBPE Web Committee.

We're wrapping up an awesome redesign of the ASBPE site. However, we're going to need all hands on deck to keep things afloat (pardon the boat metaphors). That's where I'd like your help.

ASBPE was instrumental in helping me develop my digital career and I'd like for it to have the same effect for others.

Join the ASBPE Web Team and learn basic HTML, webcasts, how to Twitter for a brand, create or maintain a Facebook page, develop a wiki, write blog posts, maintain online events.

The best part? Our training is free and simple. We won't tell you "No, that's the web team's job" because we are the web team.

Interested? The web team would love to have you. All you need to do is send me an e-mail and let me know what you're interested in doing (or learning) on the web team.

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B2B Writing in a Crummy Economy

Photo: Tonie AuerBy Tonie Auer
DFW Chapter President

Just last week I was part of a conference call informing me that the publication I've been writing for since October 2005 has virtually eliminated all of its editorial staff. Now, what had been handled by more than a dozen staff writers and editors along with a stable of freelancers is down to two editors and three freelancers.

I managed to dodge the bullet - again. This was the second round of layoffs since October. A few months ago, several editors I've worked with since 2001 were laid off, as well. And, just a few weeks ago, a regional business journal eliminated its staff and expanded the duties for existing editorial staff at a sister publication.

I'm wondering how thin can editorial staffs be stretched before the end-product is done irreparable harm. There are only so many hours in the day to complete the work. Yes, most of these publications are cutting back and the issues are much thinner than they've ever been. At what point will readers simply say, why bother?

In a time when we're all competing for the all-mighty dollar, what will keep these readers from deciding their subscription money is better used in some other fashion? We're already seeing this when it comes to various meetings. I, for one, have cut back on my professional development to save a few bucks.

What are editorial staffs doing with reduced manpower, fewer trips to trade shows and smaller budgets to continue putting out quality products that readers want to read? To borrow a phrase, inquiring minds want to know. If you have a few comments, feel free to post them here. If you have advice to share and want to create a blog post, email me at tonieauer@gmail.com. B2B publishing plays an important role in helping those industries we support and I don't want to see it become another casualty of this economy.

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Do-It-Yourself Roundtable

If you're in or around the Chicago area on June 5, it may be worth your time to attend the Chicago ASPBE chapter's first Do-It-Yourself Roundtable discussion.

Why do-it-yourself? Because we realize that more heads are better than one, and what better way to learn than from your fellow publishing professionals! You pick the topics, we provide the moderators.

The format is simple: We will have four roundtables, each with its own topic and moderator to get the discussion rolling. After 45 minutes, we will switch, and you can go to another table (and topic) or stay where you are. Each moderator also will be taking notes, which we will then distribute via e-mail and the Chicago chapter blog after the meeting.In addition, we will have again have the option to continue the networking at lunch after the workshop.

The details:

When: June 5, 2009

Time: 8:30 a.m. to noon (we would like to start the roundtables promptly at 9 a.m. to get the full 45 minutes in at each table).

Where: Reed Business, 2000 Clearwater Dr., Oak Brook, IL 60523

What topics will be covered:

Ethics in a Digital World

Social networking (How are you using it for your publication? What do you need to know about it to make you more marketable? What do you need to be careful of with using it to make sure you don't jeopardize your job?)

How to Create Your own Web site
How to Make Yourself More Invaluable--or Marketable (In today's business climate, the ones who keep their jobs or land new ones are the ones that demonstrate they're integral to the publication. What are you doing to demonstrate that value to your bosses or to potential bosses?)

Price: $15 for members/$20 for non-members

To register, visit the Chicago chapter blog at asbpechicago.blogspot.com to download the registration form.

Networking will continue over a buy-your-own lunch at Houlihan's. Please indicate on your registration whether you will be joining us there so we can get a head count.

Questions? Contact Nikki Golden at lucy_njr@yahoo.com or 630.204.7651.

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