Friday, August 22, 2014

The weekend read

Did you put out fires this week, communicators? Or just get hosed? I've sifted through the ashes to save my finds of the week, shared on Twitter and curated here just for you. Rise like a phoenix and get the weekend started:
I've got workshops coming up and they're not as taxing as what the fire-fighters go through. Are you in?
  • I'm launching a new workshop, Speechwriting for Communicators, in Washington, DC, on October 9. If you find yourself writing speeches, remarks and talking points, but have never learned how to do it, find out what you may have missed in this one-day session--including how to do more with boring speech occasions. Every participant gets an online toolkit of resources, too. You can save 15 percent by registering by August 29. That's just a week from today, kids.
  • My subversive workshop on women and public speaking, Be The Eloquent Woman, takes place October 23 as a pre-conference session at the European Speechwriters Network conference, being held on October 24. Americans traveling from the US to the conference can use code "eloquentwoman" to get a 200-Euro discount.
I get a warm glow just thinking about the way you keep showing up here on Fridays. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Which way do you go in a transitional time for video?

We're still in a transitional time when it comes to easy-to-manage video production. Smartphones have great recording quality, but are unwieldy--and stand-alone cameras still offer amazing advantages. Are you casting your lot with the smartphone, or sticking with the latest camera options? Here are options that reflect these transitional times and offer you the chance to rev up your video:
  • Put a handle on it: The iOgrapher Mobile Media Case for the iPad Mini was developed to solve a basic problem for those of you trying to record with smartphones: Getting a grip on them. Part handle, part case, this tool lets you attach microphones and lights, and can be mounted to a tripod. And the price is reasonable. Here's the New York Times review of the iOgrapher, and you'll find tutorials and more at the iOgrapher site.
  • Cube it: Polaroid has a new cube shaped mini HD video camera coming out this fall. An intriguing list of options for mounting the camera--as a pendant, on a helmet and other configurations--is included at the link. At 35mm tall/wide/deep (or just over 1.3 inches), the Cube is truly pocket-sized.
  • Get creative with your GoPro: GoPro HERO3+ is a workhorse camera that's inspiring all sorts of creative approaches to video. Its small size and portability have taken it underwater, into space and more, and with GoPro Tripod Mounts, you can keep the camera in place for a change. Check out the video below, where makers were challenged to create ways to make videos never before seen, using the GoPro--it's a great source of ideas.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The weekend read

It doesn't really matter that your week was loaded with lemons, does it, communicators? The weekend's ahead, fit for making lemonade. I've squeezed all the goodness out of my finds this week on Twitter, strained them, and am pouring this curated mix into a glass just for you:
Time to get serious about these two workshops coming up in October. The discounts will disappear soon: 
  • I'm leading my workshop on women and public speaking, Be The Eloquent Woman, as a pre-conference session before the European Speechwriter Network conference in Amsterdam this October. Both sessions are worth attending, and you get an early discount for signing up before August 15, aka today. And if you're an American attendee coming from the U.S. to the conference, you can get a 200 Euro discount with the code "eloquentwoman" when you register at the link above.
  • I'm launching a new workshop, Speechwriting for Communicators, in Washington, DC, on October 9. If you find yourself writing speeches, remarks and talking points, but have never learned how to do it, find out what you may have missed in this one-day session--including how to do more with boring speech occasions. Every participant gets an online toolkit of resources, too. You can save 15 percent by registering by August 29. 
You put the zest in every week for me when you show up here on Fridays. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Are you ignoring published research because it's not embargoed?

Ivan Oransky's Embargo Watch blog just gave a bigger platform to an open letter from a biochemistry communicator to her fellow press officers who refuse to promote unembargoed research papers. It's a letter that's not to be missed, communicators.

Angela Hopp, of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, deals in research published online, without embargoes. She hears press officers refuse to even consider publicizing these studies, and has put her finger on all the excuses she hears. She anticipates your complaints and addresses them. And she acknowledges you're busy and under pressure.

What she doesn't say is this: The practice of embargoing research articles has made some communicators, well, lazy, or at least unwilling to approach the mountain of available papers because it's too big. It's easier to stick with embargoed papers which are by definition fewer in number. So you say "we only promote research under embargo" or, as Hopp is hearing, "The press office will not consider a paper for a press release after it publishes.”

Really? So when that paper gets a Nobel a few decades after publication, you're not doing a release? Or when Buzzfeed picks it up, you're not going to retweet that? If a congressional committee gets its hands on that paper and highlights it in a hearing, you're not touching it? I didn't think so. No, you can't publicize everything, and no one is asking you for that. But you could figure out faster, better ways to make it available and help reporters make sense of it, even if it has been published already. And yes, that might take work, the reason they're paying you.

I get to say all that because I've worked on every side of embargoes: As a reporter abiding by them; as a communicator abiding by, setting, and enforcing them; and later, as a communicator who decided to abandon them for journal research once my publisher went to immediate online publication. But that was well over a decade ago. Why hasn't your policy changed to fit the times? Communicators are quick to cite the publishers with embargoes as setting the policy. When the publisher says "no more embargoes," why not follow that policy? The research that's being published hasn't changed, has it? Maybe you're finding it just too tempting and convenient not to make that change, particularly when you're under pressure to get results and overwhelmed by those productive researchers.

Trouble is, neither a lack of embargoes nor already published status will get in the way of making news. Oransky's post quotes my 10 big myths about embargoes, one of which is the myth that reporters won't cover your story if you don't embargo it. He's got good data on that, too, in case you are dubious. In a nod to your workload, he also notes that promoting a study doesn't require a press release (which is a time-consuming product you should be cutting back on, anyway).

If I were a research communicator right now, I'd dig deep and rethink my approaches before too many more journals stop issuing embargoed research and too many researchers just ignored me on their way to making things public. There's some great research hiding in that pool of published-but-not-embargoed stuff. Where will you be with that "no promotion after publication" policy when all the embargoes are gone? I can work with you on strategies to revamp your process and your policy in a way that works better. Email me at eloquentwoman[at]gmail[dot]com to get started.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Richard Eriksson)

I'm launching a new workshop, Speechwriting for Communicators, in Washington, DC, on October 9. If you find yourself writing speeches, remarks and talking points, but have never learned how to do it properly, find out what you may have missed in this one-day session--including how to do more with boring speech occasions. Every participant gets an online toolkit of resources, too. You can save 15 percent by registering by August 29. 

Friday, August 08, 2014

The weekend read

How did your week sound, communicators? Like a rock 'n roll symphony or nails on a blackboard? Let's mix it up and make real music to greet the weekend. I've engineered a collection of curated finds of the week that I shared on Twitter, with the best ones right here in our Friday studio for you. Yes, the songs are linked in the post titles if you want to stretch this out a little:
Join me for two workshops coming up in October, with good discounts if you book this summer:
  • I'm leading my workshop on women and public speaking, Be The Eloquent Woman, as a pre-conference session before the European Speechwriter Network conference in Amsterdam this October. Both sessions are worth attending, and you get an early discount for signing up before August 15. And if you're an American attendee coming from the U.S. to the conference, you can get a 200 Euro discount with the code "eloquentwoman" when you register at the link above.
  • I'm launching a new workshop, Speechwriting for Communicators, in Washington, DC, on October 9. If you find yourself writing speeches, remarks and talking points, but have never learned how to do it, find out what you may have missed in this one-day session--including how to do more with boring speech occasions. Every participant gets an online toolkit of resources, too. You can save 15 percent by registering by August 29. I've already got clients signing up in teams for this one, so don't delay.
Thanks for keeping me in the mix on a Friday, communicators. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Don't call us: The public catches up with reporters' pleas

In the NPR story, Not-so-social media: Why people have stopped talking on phones, you may have missed a little echo of what reporters have been saying all along: Don't call us.

If we're talking millennials, they don't even want to leave voice messages. Baby boomers, used to the phone as a primary channel, have the toughest time breaking this habit, but a basic truth yearned for by reporters remains. From the story:
"I used to think the millennials were wrong about this, but it is an imposition to call someone and say put aside whatever you were doing and give me 30 minutes of your time," says Neil Howe, president of LifeCourse Associates, which consults with corporations about generational attitudes and behaviors. As Boyd points out, communication is a two-way street. Both parties in the pair have to agree to a plan. Fewer people are willing to engage in a phone conversation, which not only eats up more time than texting but has to be done in that very moment.
Both parties in the pair have to agree to a plan. Sounds like embargo-setting, among other transactions with reporters. I'll be the first to defend institutions' right to announce their own news, but when you assume agreement about your methods of disseminating news--whether it's a call to a consumer or one to a reporter--it's worth stopping to check those assumptions before you proceed.

It needs to be said that the idea of both parties agreeing to the mode of contact really should apply to everything else when you're in contact, from email to direct messages on Twitter. Need more ideas for what to do instead of a phone call? Check out how to pitch reporters on social media.

I'm launching a new workshop, Speechwriting for Communicators, in Washington, DC, on October 9. If you find yourself writing speeches, remarks and talking points, but have never learned how to do it, find out what you may have missed in this one-day session--including how to do more with boring speech occasions. Every participant gets an online toolkit of resources, too. You can save 15 percent by registering by August 29.