Tuesday, January 24, 2006

you don't say...

We love to collect new ways to say "no comment," a phrase you'll never hear cross our lips when we're serving as the spokes-folk. Yesterday, it was Britain Prime Minister Tony Blair's turn. Answering questions about a case in which British diplomats are accused of spying on Russia, he said, "I'm afraid you are going to get the old stock in trade: 'We never comment on security matters,' except when we want to, obviously." The New York Times carries the quote in today's account. He's right -- exceptions are always made -- and the self-deprecating reference helps forestall protests from reporters by acknowledging a reality. And he still accomplished his goal: saying no comment without saying no comment.

a sniff test for science?

Nicholas Wade has been covering the recent revelations of scientific fraud in stem cell research for the New York Times, and in today's Science Times cover article, demonstrates with words and pictures just how photos can be altered -- and how some journals are using Photoshop to detect fraud in images. In addition to checking for edits and enhancements in images, at least one journal's considering software checks that use algorithms as a detection tool for other changes. The technology has drawn interest from eBay customers, people answering personal ads and more. We say: while technology gives you the power, don't get caught using it for fraudulent means.

Monday, January 23, 2006

give me the guitar feedback, any day

"Feedback, as any rock guitarist can tell you, is not always a pleasant-sounding thing," writes New York Times business columnist David Carr today, as he analyzes the issues around reader comments to blogs in the wake of the Washington Post's announcement that it would no longer allow comments. The move was a response to hundreds of angry, personalized and even "foul" comments posted in response to an item from the Post's ombudsman. Carr's column looks at how other media sites have handled similar issues, and notes that even popular blogs like Boing Boing have turned off their comments sections for similar reasons. We can help you think through how you will handle and respond to comments before you activate that function on your blog, and create a comments policy for you. Email us at info@dontgetcaught.biz for more information. (And note that Carr elicits reader comments at the end of his column...via the somewhat more manageable snail-mail system!)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

looking for a few good government blogs...

In our workshops on blogging for your business, several government executives attended to learn about blogging in the federal space, as some in Washington like to call it. Many agencies have blogs under consideration, and a few -- like the U.S. Government Printing Office -- have blogs for specific projects, including the Future Digital System (here). We're interested in finding more good examples of how government agencies and nonprofits are using blogs for their business, to communicate with public audiences or internal ones. Send us your leads to info@dontgetcaught.biz, or post a comment below. We'll compile the best examples for a future posting.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

bloggers hit the road, and some get caught

Today, as we're teaching our second workshop on "Blogging for Your Business" at the National Press Club, you may want to read about business travelers who blog...some of whom get caught because, like many bloggers, they feel their online diaries are seen by them alone. Today's New York Times article, surveying the business-travel-blog scene, quotes one blogger saying "After word got out about my blog, a lot of people from work started reading it...I felt as if I lost my anonymity." No kidding. We say plan ahead when you blog, to consider who may read your posts and how they'll react. Today's blogging workshop is our last one for January. If you wanted to attend, but couldn't make it, email us at info@dontgetcaught.biz to get on the list for the next round of workshops, coming soon.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

seats are still available...

...for our January 17 workshop on "Blogging for Your Business," to be held from 9:30 am to 1 pm at the National Press Club. Some comments from the previous session:

Terrific seminar. If you can teach a non-techy lawyer this stuff, you can teach anyone...Very hands-on. Pace was fabulous...I was fully engaged the entire time...Very informative, easy to follow and helpful...Thorough and fast-moving. Adding the interactivity of creating your own blog was good. This definitely piqued my interest...Extremely thorough...walked us through developing a blog step-by-step...I wanted to know if there was something useful I should be doing and now I see many applications--thanks.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

great quotes: shopping with a dictionary

Today's Washington Post story on the new food labeling laws, now in effect, contains an example of a quote with color. "This means that people with food allergies won't have to go grocery shopping with a dictionary," says Anne Muoz-Furlong, founder of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, a nonprofit advocacy group. "We are thrilled." We're thrilled, too, to see someone create an amusing and apt word picture. Send us quotes that made you pause -- for good reasons or bad ones.

check your credibility...

...but not at the door. That's the golden rule in reputation management for nonprofit organizations, and many major nonprofits are finding themselves under intense scrutiny by professional groups, the Congress and other regulators. A recent example: The Council on Foundations has placed the J. Paul Getty Trust on probation while it investigates charges of misused funds, excessive travel and entertainment spending, inappropriate compensation for the CEO and potential self-dealing. At the Nature Conservancy, a major board overhaul took place last year, prompted by an investigative article in the Washington Post; the fallout includes an IRS investigation into misuse of funds and self-dealing. <don't get caught President Denise Graveline will speak about The Credibility Checklist for Nonprofits at the February 7 meeting of Washington, D.C.'s American Marketing Association nonprofits special interest group. For more information, contact organizer Jennifer Bolick at jennifer@richfieldproductions.com.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

a class(room) act

Later this week, we're debuting our "Blogging for Your Business" workshops (register here)at the National Press Club's computer classroom in downtown Washington, DC. Located in the club library, the classroom is equipped with 15 high-speed computers with Internet access, as well as an instructor computer, digital projection system,and a dry-erase whiteboard. With a convenient downtown location near the Metro Center stop on DC's red line, and close to a host of restaurants, hotels and offices, it's a gem of a resource. Both members and non-members of the club can rent the facility, and you can find out more by calling or emailing Jennifer Yost at 202-662-7564 or jyost@press.org. Some slots are still available for our workshops on Wednesday, January 11 and Tuesday, January 17, both from 9:30am to 1pm.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

special discount for fit friends

Friends of don't get caught who are based in the Washington area can take advantage of a special discount offered by the gym that keeps us fit, City Fitness. Located in Cleveland Park on Metro's Red Line, it's a neighborhood gym -- not a chain -- that offers personal training, cardio equipment, a wide range of free weights and machines, and more than 40 classes in outdoor trekking, boxing, tai chi, yoga, aerobics and more. A woman-owned business, the gym also gathers members for parties, cook-offs, and walkathons. Check out their website for short films of some classes, background on the outstanding trainers (ours is Tom Brose) and the schedule of offerings. If you mention that you were referred by Denise Graveline, you'll get $50 off the initiation fee -- and find yourself in one of the best networks in town. Can't get to the gym? City Fitness also brings fitness classes to your workplace, doing so for clients that include the Supreme Court, among others. For more information, feel free to email Denise directly at info@dontgetcaught.biz or call the gym at 202-537-0539.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

the sticky wiki of online references

Wikipedia, the grassroots encyclopedia of the online world with 895,000 entries to date, gets a strong defense as an online resource from George Johnson, here in the Science Times section of today's New York Times. Wikipedia made the news last month when longtime newspaper journalist John Seigenthaler revealed that an entry about him in Wikipedia said he was involved in the John F. Kennedy assassination plot, which is not true. Johnson, who uses both Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica online, points out the wide range of "facts" and errors that can be found in both, and argues for the self-policing (and constantly changing) content of Wikipedia. We say, when it comes to any reference, check it out and compare it with more than one source...when you look for what Johnson calls an "information fix," remember you may well have to fix your information. What's on Wikipedia about you and your organization?

choosing a writing coach

When you consider training options for yourself or your team, consider a writing coach. You'll get individualized instruction that's tailored to your level, needs and issues, something that off-the-rack training sessions rarely accomplish. You can set -- and meet -- goals with coaching over a three- or six-month period, or longer. And coaching can combine group and individual training: We often train a group of 4 to 5 writers on one staff in the morning, then spend the afternoon in one-on-one sessions with members of the group, an effective way to gain shared knowledge as well as targeted help. Here are some of the challenges that have prompted don't get caught clients to seek our writing coach services:
  • I want my editor to make fewer red marks: We can help you stop repeat errors and learn to self-edit to make your results (and your editor's job) better.
  • I have a new, high-profile assignment writing for the CEO: When you're tapped to write for a leader, we can help you brainstorm style points and review techniques that matter in leadership writing projects.
  • My writers need help sharpening the focus of their stories: Finding the core of a story takes more than a snappy lead. We offer workshops and individual instruction on brainstorming, focusing and exploring a story core to give writers a system that works.
  • We need better headlines: "Microcontent," such as headlines, captions and call-outs, take on more importance when writing appears on the Web -- and make all the difference in capturing reporters' attention on news releases. We can help you write and edit crisper, more informative headlines for all sorts of content.
  • I rely on cut-and-paste for my content: And you're cutting and pasting in others' errors, voices and spin, too. We'll teach you how to edit cut-and-paste to make it your own, fitting your needs while making use of this common resource.
  • I can't stop rewriting: Then we say: Plan ahead. Learn our techniques for gathering information and creating a content-rich outline before you start, to limit the need for rewrites. Our self-editing steps make the best -- and last-- draft, far better than another rewrite.

Sound familiar? For more information on our writing coaching services, contact Denise Graveline at info@dontgetcaught.biz.

Monday, January 02, 2006

mother says she loves you? check it out

If your mother says she loves you, check it out was the motto of the now-defunct Chicago City News, a 24-hour wire service focused on police and "ambulance chaser" stories. Its run ended with the turn of the new year, according to an item here in today's Washington Post. Such top writers as Seymour Hersh and Kurt Vonnegut learned how to report in detail, and its reporters were encouraged to note the colors of dead infants' eyes or the socks of corpses. Is your writing that full of detail? Do you check your facts with rigor? Don't make these traditions that departed with 2005. Ask us about our writing coaching services at info@dontgetcaught.biz.