Tuesday, February 28, 2006

can the government blog?

A noted Harvard blogging expert has said “Once you get to the point where lawyers review everything in a blog, it ain’t a blog anymore.” If that’s true, can a government agency have a blog? Don't get caught president Denise Graveline will review the state of government blogging – a small universe – on May 23 at the 2006 Communications School conference of the National Association of Government Communicators. Graveline will offer models and examples of blogs that federal, state and local governments can adapt to communicate with a variety of audiences, including consumers, scientific reviewers, stakeholders, regulated entities and the news media. She’ll offer tips and resources for getting started, as well as a “manifesto of missed blogging opportunities” for government communicators.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

why blog?

Today's Washington Post business section columnist Frank Ahrens -- who writes a weekly "Web Watch" -- repeats a discussion from Slate, earlier in the week, about whether blogging has peaked, in his article "30 Million Blogs and Counting." Ahrens wonders:

...there's a survey Web Watch would really like to see: Not how many people are blogging, but why they're blogging. And how that has changed, or will change, as the blogosphere matures.

Oddly enough for a business columnist watching web trends, Ahrens' column ignores the business blog -- and repeatedly suggests that all bloggers are twenty-somethings, diarists or pundits. Our recent workshops on "Blogging for Your Business" at the National Press Club show a somewhat different demographic: Seasoned professionals, working in fields as diverse as insurance, home improvement, fashion retail, high technology, public policy, book authorship, public relations, trade associations, nonprofit charities and several government agencies. And we have a waiting list for our spring workshops, to be announced soon. We'd like to see that survey Ahrens posits, above, but would caution that blogging for strategic business reasons is already alive and well and moving into a wider variety of sectors than just the embattled major international corporations.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

insider's guide to backgrounders

Oft-used in Washington, background briefings -- interviews or actual news briefings in which the official speaking is not to be identified by name or title -- are a slippery slope for organizations wanting to disseminate information to the media. Today's Washington Post offers a good overview of backgrounders and how they are used inside the Beltway. "We allow off-the-record conversations and backgrounders way too often here," says Andy Alexander, Washington bureau chief for Cox Newspapers, who points out that such anonymity rarely is asked for in state and local government agencies. If you are tempted to go on background, ask yourself why -- or contact us at info@dontgetcaught.biz for advisement.

every organization has its day...

...week, or month, now 12,000 strong, according to Chase's Calendar of Events, the best source you can find for keeping this crowded field in sight. Savvy communicators use Chase's several ways: To see what their messages will compete with in a given week or month; to target media releases to specific themes (in February, highlighting heart disease news or black history, for example) so they can ride the tide at a time when coverage is likely; or internally, to argue against the proliferation of more special days, weeks and months in a competitive market. For ideas on how to make the most of your organization's special event, contact Denise Graveline at info@dontgetcaught.biz.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

un-blogging, revisted

During our workshops on "Blogging for Your Business" in January, we helped participants set up blogs in 10 minutes or less, using www.blogger.com as a host site. We promised that participants could, if they wished, delete their blogs completely by the end of the session, and many chose to do so -- an empowering step that also made it safe to put their toes into the ever-growing blog pond. Some of our students saved their blogs, but want to move on to a better product. For them, we'll repeat the destruction instructions: Log into blogger.com, go to the "dashboard" and click on the "settings" tab. Scroll all the way to the bottom, where a button option is available for deleting the blog. You'll be asked to confirm whether you really want to delete it, then get a confirmation. As many bloggers post once, then never post again, we recommend you delete the blog if you don't intend to maintain it. And yes, we're planning new blogging workshops this spring...stay tuned!

Monday, February 13, 2006

the most successful valentine message...

...appears in a Hallmark card that sells five times better than the average valentine. An Associated press story reviews the market research that goes into planning Hallmark's valentines; for the first time, they analyzed data comparing sales in various cities and found that card V330-5 was the top seller, no matter the location. The winning message appears inside a card titled "For the One I Love," and says "Each time I see you, hold you, think of you, here's what I do ... I fall deeply, madly, happily in love with you. Happy Valentine's Day." We're celebrating Valentine's Day in part by guest lecturing on effective presentation skills at the Corcoran College of Art and Design here in Washington, and looking forward to seeing what the next generation of graphic designers would do in a valentine.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

face time

Part of the game around the State of the Union involves next-day quarterbacking about the performance itself, appropriate given the speech's wide audience. At least one critic points out that you need to practice composing your facial features just as much as the words on the page. "Teleprompters are a crutch to lend presidents easy eloquence, but the camera can be an underminer, revealing what rhetoric seeks to conceal. Mr. Bush spoke confident, even defiant words, but he looked defensive," wrote New York Times television critic Alessandra Stanley today. The problem's compounded by the camera's tendency to make your features seem more dour and flat than you feel, which is why it's useful to practice in front of a camera whether your next speech is televised or just before an audience.

Check out our sister blog, The Eloquent Woman, for more on giving great speeches and presentations and become a fan of The Eloquent Woman on Facebook.

hope your release didn't go out yesterday...

...which was the 'perfect storm' of a day, destined to obliterate all but the most topline news. You had four major competitors yesterday: The President's State of the Union address and its preview coverage; Senate approval of Supreme Court Justice Alito; the Oscar nominations; and the death of Coretta Scott King. All but King's death were scheduled long in advance. Yet we still see many organizations releasing information on these busiest of news days, and they're often surprised when the release doesn't yield the hoped-for coverage. Both news organizations and good communications pros can determine ahead of time what your competition will be on a certain date. (A downside for those releasing bad news on such a day: You may be accused of doing so to avoid attention.) For more about how to plan the ideal release date, contact us at info@dontgetcaught.biz.