Wednesday, October 26, 2005

science writing and blogs

This weekend, at the National Association of Science Writers conference in Pittsburgh, we heard a great panel of science journalists talk about their blogs, including Amy Gahran, Joel Shurkin, and Carl Zimmer, whose blog has won science journalism awards. Amy has posted a Podcast on her site here, so you can hear the discussion and question-and-answer session. It's a great session with introductions and insights into blogging from journalists' viewpoints, with useful information for communications pros as well as writers.

an untapped medium?

More than 48 percent of bloggers surveyed in a recent Edelman/Technorati poll report that they never hear from companies or their public relations representatives, and another 30 percent report contact less than once a week. At don't get caught, we're against news release proliferation, but the survey suggests better ways to reach bloggers -- and we do recommend them as the Web's version of word-of-mouth communication. Bloggers also report that they trust other bloggers' recommendations most when seeking product information, as evidenced by the genre's tradition of ranking highest those blogs to which most sites link. The all-around winner today is a blog called Boing Boing, and a perennial favorite for news commentary is Daily Kos.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

bloggers gain traction

...as the White House, and more recently, the National Press Club have moved to officially credential them, providing access to the advance information that traditional journalists already enjoy. The Press Club voted this month to admit bloggers as associate members. Communications pros should already be strategizing how to amend their own policies to encompass bloggers and considering them as useful outlets in any media strategy. Will you admit them to your press rooms? Give them access to embargoed information? Put them on your regular media lists? We welcome hearing examples and experiences from anyone experimenting in this area; just email us at info@dontgetcaught.biz.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

take five: blogging to reach reporters

Today, don't get caught President Denise Graveline speaks to the Capital Communicators Group about new ways to reach the news media through blogs. While this is a little-used approach, we expect it to take hold in the next year or so, and you could be ahead of the curve. Take these five factors into consideration before you do:
  • Good blogs are like a great rolodex: Reporters seek a fresh and frequent supply of news, tips, background and information, and that's what a good blog contains. Blogs are best for those tidbits of information that don't warrant a release, but can still help reporters cover your topic -- just be ready to post frequently, ideally more than once a day, for your beat reporters.
  • Use blogs for bursts of news: Consider using blogs for short-term but intensive media feeds -- during a convention, a campaign, or a crisis -- then delete or archive the blog when you're done. They're easier to update quickly and fast to read.
  • Put bling in your blogs: We mean golden nuggets of information, not jewelry. Give away information and tips. Tell reporters when an announcement will be delayed, what five sources can corroborate or challenge your view and how to reach them, help them plan for in-depth or difficult coverage with bits of background. Just as with other blogs, giveaways attract attention and fans.
  • Create the ultimate collection of links: If you were covering your topic, what resources would you need? Put links to those sites on your blog for reporters, and include some that all journalists use: Associated Press and other wires, thesauri and other references. Make it easy and useful for them to hang out on your blog.
  • Users, competition or your best plug? They may be users of your blog, but reporters often have their own blogs -- and bloggers are increasingly credentialed as reporters. So get to know your beat reporters' blogs well, and be sure to promote your blog to other bloggers on the topic (find them on www.technorati.com using a topical search). If your content is top-notch, you may find them referring other users to your blog...or borrowing liberally, which, after all, is your goal.

We're helping clients from book authors to government agencies think through how to use blogs to reach many audiences, including news media. To find out more, contact us at info@dontgetcaught.biz.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

blogging your next meeting

As a media relations strategy, consider creating a blog -- even temporarily -- if you expect reporters to cover your organization's next conference or meeting. A blog will allow you to show links to important background materials or papers, and to web sites on related topics; biographical information about speakers; immediate updates on changes to room locations, news conferences, and other last-minute logistics; and small tidbits of background information that wouldn't warrant a news release or news conference, but could help reporters covering you, both on-site and remotely. Because blogs are simple to update quickly, you can be faster and more flexible in your updates, compared to publishing the information on your organization's web site. Consider as a model ABC News's "The Note," which began as a web log by ABC producers covering the presidential elections, first for internal use, then -- due to demand from other reporters -- on the web for all to see. You'll see they mix commentary, updates, calendar items, and the best rundown on what announcements are and are not expected each day, as well as background on players in politics. (You should be reading the Note daily if you work in or around politics, or need to know quickly what other groups' major announcements are likely to dominate the news.) For more ideas on blogging to reach reporters, contact Denise Graveline at info@dontgetcaught.biz.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

blogging workshop

Because we've heard from so many readers interested in learning how to use blogs in their business -- especially writers and communicators -- don't get caught is developing several workshops that will cover blogging basics and better writing for blogs. We'll cover how to develop and write compelling content, how to choose topics that serve your clients and potential clients, and how to balance marketing with meat when it comes to content. For more information or to pre-register, contact Denise Graveline at info@dontgetcaught.biz.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

active writing in a tale of grief...

...can be found in The Year of Magical Thinking, writer Joan Didion's forthright memoir of the year following the death of her husband, novelist John Gregory Dunne. At the same time, her adult daughter, Quintana, lay in a hospital in a coma brought on by septic shock. The book turns her typical honest eye on her year of family trauma, piecing together what happened along with her memories. We studied Didion's essays in journalism school (try The White Album or Slouching Towards Bethlehem, for preference) because her writing demonstrates what we try to teach in our writing seminars and coaching: Use powerful nouns and active verbs instead of adjectives and adverbs to strengthen your writing. Consider this excerpt from the new book, powerful not only due to the subject, but the construction:

I remember trying to straighten out in my mind what would happen next. Since there was an ambulance crew in the living room, the next logical step would be going to the hospital. It occurred to me that the crew could decide very suddenly to go to the hospital and I would not be ready. I would not have in hand what I needed to take. I would waste time, get left behind. I found my handbag and a set of keys and a summary John's doctor had made of his medical history. When I got back to the living room, the paramedics were watching the computer monitor they had set up on the floor. I could not see the monitor so I watched their faces. I remember one glancing at the others.

We recommend this new read, but note that our favorite bookstore, Politics & Prose, is already having trouble keeping this in stock and predicts another printing soon. You can order from them online -- they'll ship anywhere, and are a winner of Publisher's Weekly's "Bookseller of the Year" award. Ask about our writing seminars and coaching at info@dontgetcaught.biz.