Wednesday, September 27, 2006

science writers hear the blogging buzz

Tonight's DC Science Writers Association session on "Blogging: Beyond the Buzz" drew a sold-out crowd of 85 journalists, communicators and freelancers, eager to hear and talk through blogging issues. As before, I heard from many frustrated would-be government bloggers, but just as many other potential bloggers who've wondered about it and not felt comfortable trying it out. My great insight came when I asked the crowd who could do one less email a day -- because a blog post is as easy as writing an email -- and only one person raised his hand! Surely, folks can rethink that.

My fellow speakers had wonderful insights to share. Matthew Nisbet, author of the "Framing Science" blog, a newcomer to Washington and an American University faculty member, walked us through how scientists, strategists and journalists use blogs. His observations of the audiences we all seek online: Most people are "cognitive misers" who seek information shortcuts and summaries...the "just tell me what I need to know crowd," which bespeaks brevity and value in content. Tamara Zemlo, executive director of the Science Advisory Board, a network of 31,000 life scientists, has launched six blogs for and with her members. Some 75 percent of the SAB's website is member-contributed to begin with, and her blogging goal was to facilitate more conversation between scientists and their high-tech suppliers. Her five lessons-learned, after a mixed experience with some successful and not-so-successful blogs:

- Organizations that blog need to participate more in the larger blog community;
- Organization blogs need to connect with their audiences -- no matter how small and focused;
- Considering less-frequent posts may be a more viable option for many organizations;
- Encourage and nurture subscribers via RSS and other ways to push forward your content; and
- Don't tune out readers by losing interest in your topic over time--choose a topic about which you can write with passion in your blog.

making the case for a blog

Many of our clients want to blog for their businesses, large or small, but fear they can't make the case for a blog to their management or colleagues. This week, two articles offer you ammo: In the Wall Street Journal this week, Gwendolyn Bounds covers "How to Get Attention in a New-Media World," focusing on small businesses using blogs (and other techniques) for cost-effective public relations. And today's New York Times provides this short data summary on who's blogging, business-wise, which notes that more than 80 percent of both corporations and small businesses say they do blog or intend to blog, but only 10 percent of small businesses have incorporated blogs into their marketing plans. That's followed by a longer article -- "Blogging the Hand that Feeds You" -- on bloggers who are and are not encouraged to publish by (and about) their corporations. It's helpful when making your case to note that Microsoft, at last count, purportedly has some 15,000 employees blogging about the company in some way, but no internal policy or controls forbidding or limiting what they say. Even if your organization isn't ready to go that far, it's useful to have these examples of the blogging landscape when you make your case.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

AFT public affairs director search

The Washington-based American Federation of Teachers is seeking a senior communicator for its Director of Public Affairs position. Candidates with significant public affairs experience -- particularly a familiarity with the labor movement -- are preferred. Find the position description here, and send your resume and cover letter referencing posting #57-11-806 to, or by snail-mail to the Director of Human Resources, AFT, PO Box 2090, Washington, DC 20013-2090.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Why businesses should blog

We asked Brian Brown of Pajama Market -- who reviews a "small business blog of the day" -- to give us his best advice for businesses considering blogging. His reply: "Get started." You can see some of Brian's picks in today's USA Today article, "Blogs Put Businesses on Web Search Map," just as brief as Brian's advice, with a few more of our fellow "blogs of the day." Denise Graveline's Vegetables for Breakfast blog was similarly singled out by Pajama Market last month...and she'll share more tips in our October workshops on "Blogging for Your Business."

Monday, September 18, 2006

registration open for blogging workshops

You can now go here to register for our October workshops, "Blogging for Your Business I and II," to be held at the National Press Club's computer classroom. Previous attendees have called this a “terrific seminar…very hands-on…informative, easy to follow and helpful...thorough and fast-moving.” Some have changed their business models, stopped publishing print newsletters, or reduced their promotion and publishing budgets. Join them and find out why -- or, if you've already taken part I, try the advanced version.

Friday, September 15, 2006

blogging workshops set for October

Don't Get Caught will once more hold its popular "Blogging for Your Business" workshops -- this time, with a beginners' part I and an advanced part II, each one half-day -- on Monday, October 23 and Tuesday, October 24, in Washington, DC, at the National Press Club (which is not a sponsor of the workshop). The part I workshops will be held in the morning on both days, and the part II in the afternoons, allowing you to take both workshops in the space of a single day. Here's what to expect:
Blogging for Your Business I: With strategies, examples, and hands-on practice, this workshop helps you start (and make the case for) a blog, create content, use it to promote your business, build an audience, handle comments, and drive and measure traffic.

Blogging for Your Business II: More hands-on practice and strategies for improving your blog's visual appeal; adding links, sound and photos; promoting your blog to wider audiences; and more creative uses for business blogs.
Each half-day workshop costs $150, or just $110 if you are a National Press Club member. We'll have registration pages on this website soon. Please email us at in the meantime if you have questions or need more information.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Pajama Market shares our blogging tips

You can glean our tips and perspectives on blogging for your business in this interview with Don't Get Caught president Denise Graveline at Pajama Market, a blog about small business blogs. Pajama Market named our other blog "Vegetables for Breakfast" the "small business blog of the day" recently, and PM blogger Brian Brown interviewed Denise about this unusual approach to blogging. You'll also find our tips for business bloggers and get a sense of who else takes our popular blogging workshops. Stay tuned for October dates for our next blogging workshops in Washington, DC!

blogging buzz explained

Don't Get Caught president Denise Graveline will speak to the D.C. Science Writers Association later this month in a panel discussion on "Blogs: Beyond the Buzz," Wednesday, Sept. 27, 6-8 p.m., at the Genetics and Public Policy Center, Berman Bioethics Institute, Johns Hopkins University, 1717 Massachusetts Avenue, NW Fifth Floor. Speaking on "Why Blog? Benefits for Science Writers," Graveline will join these panelists:

Science Blogs: Intersections with the Public, the Media, and Politics:, Matthew Nisbet, assistant professor, School of Communications, American University and author of the Framing Science blog, also columnist, Science and the Media, for Skeptical Inquirer Online.

Launching Science Blogs: Successes and Challenges: A representative from The Science Advisory Board, an online community of over 30,000 life scientists based in Arlington, Va., will describe the varying degrees of success achieved by the organization's six different member-authored blogs that describe everything from daily life in the lab to the frontlines of cancer research.

The event costs $15 for members, $20 for non-members for light hors d'oeuvres and beverages, free for the program only, which starts at 6:30 p.m. RSVP: By Sept. 25, via Evite to members or on the DCSWA website.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

posting video online? keep it short

A new Associated Press-AOL Video poll has found that just 20 percent of those who've watched videos online -- about half of all Internet users -- has downloaded a full-length movie or television show. As with videos shown to groups in convention halls or even those you see at home in your living room, shorter means more popular:

News clips were the most popular, seen by 72 percent of online video viewers, followed by short movie and TV clips, music videos, sports highlights and user-generated amateur videos.

Survey respondents noted that the accessibility of online video had not changed their TV viewing habits, and a third said they were watching more video online than a year ago.