Monday, October 30, 2006

the gender gap in presentation skills

When Harvard president Lawrence Summers suggested that fewer women reach high-level positions in science due to differences in innate ability or innate preference, he created a firestorm. One thing we know after decades working with top women who work as scientists, engineers, physicians, attorneys and public officials: Women in all professions have specific advantages and challenges when it comes to public speaking, presentations and media interviews. To help them build on their gender advantages, we're developing new workshops for professional women on presentation skills, covering effective messages, physical movement, appearance and dress, and more. Let us know your greatest challenge, biggest fear or best moment in presenting or speaking with an email at -- you can help us shape the workshop content now! Look for these new workshops to debut early in 2007...or call us sooner for a consultation now.

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.

the art of blogging for your business

You may not be able to hang them on a wall or see them in a gallery, but blogs can be artful communications tools for businesses of all sizes, a concept we teach in our "Blogging for Your Business" workshops. And while some participants choose to delete the blogs they create in our workshops, many go on to put them to immediate use -- with immediate results. An artful -- and art-filled -- case in point is the blog created by workshop participant Julia Morelli, deputy director of Washington's Nevin Kelly Gallery. She started the gallery blog in last week's workshop because
the blog is a great strategy for letting our friends and clients know about news and goings-on at the gallery in a more timely manner than monthly website updates and emails.
Both Julia and gallery owner Nevin Kelly will be posting on this blog, which makes good use of photos of art in current and forthcoming shows, gallery staff and the resident dogs. We especially like such posts as "Does Art Scare You?", which engages the reader by explaining the gallery's efforts to be a welcoming and comfortable space, pointing out that -- far from stuffy -- they even welcome you to bring treats from the neighboring bakery Cake Love into the gallery. (And it suggests that readers can make an afternoon of visiting the gallery and area eateries, just one of the content techniques we review in the workshop.)

Most important: Proving that blogs rise to attention online extra-fast, the gallery's new blog -- considered a first for DC art galleries -- has already gained notice by DC Blogs and Mid-Atlantic Art News, all in less than a week after the blog was begun. What are you waiting for? Contact us at to find out about smart blogging strategies for your communications efforts.

top ways to publicize your book

Don't Get Caught president Denise Graveline joined science author and blogger Carl Zimmer and News Generation president Susan Matthews Apgood this weekend to help members of the National Association of Science Writers strategize about book publicity at NASW's annual meeting in Baltimore. The session was moderated by author Julie Wakefield, and titled "Book PR Boot Camp: What Your Publisher Won't Tell You," and included participants ranging from seasoned authors to those with books-in-progress, and few who dream of publishing a book, and lots of compelling topics such as the brain, health-care costs, eating disorders, and the impact of media on very young children. In an active session, our advice for effective book publicity included:

- providing your publisher with materials demonstrating your ability to actively publicize your book: a "media resume" of previous media coverage and appearances; tape of any broadcast interviews; a summary of any media training you've had; a list of speaking engagements you've lined up about the book.
- use your website and blog as free communications tools to build an audience, sell copies of your book (from retailers, or autographed by you), create email lists, and keep readers interested in your next project.
- use radio tours and releases as more efficient and less time-consuming ways to reach millions in markets all over the country; it's a great alternative to the traditional book tour.

We're looking forward to bringing you news of new books from the authors we talked to on Saturday -- they're a dedicated bunch. You can read highlights from other sesssions at the NASW meeting here.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

publicity on a budget, redux

Here's where you can finally see our letter to the editor of Inc. magazine, challenging some assumptions in its advice this fall to a CEO comparing the costs and benefits of firms and full-time communications employees. (We posted about it earlier here, before the current issue was released online.)

the chill of government blogging

The chilling effect on government blogs -- either from agencies or by their employees -- just got colder: Federal Computer Week reports that the U.S. Department of the Interior's chief information officer has banned employees from reading blogs, and his quotes imply he disapproves of employees writing their own blogs, although the latter activity should be protected under their First Amendment rights. The article notes:
Interior banned blogs mostly because of fears of information leaks and the inability to know who is writing a particular blog.

“Blogs just scare the pants off me, particularly when Interior people want to launch blogs and take ownership of those types of things.” Tipton said. “We don't allow people to go to blogs unless we know where they are, who they are and what have you.”
The ban, prompted by a crackdown on employees looking at inappropriate websites on taxpayer time, including pornography, puzzles observers when it comes to blogs, which may contain content that's useful for the government to monitor -- or can serve as an effective communications tool to reach special audiences.

We've just completed this fall's "Blogging for Your Business" workshops at the National Press Club. Our advanced "part II" class allowed participants to build on and expand the blogs and skills they built that morning in part I, and we're looking forward to highlighting our participants' blogs once they're ready for prime time. A favorite comment: "Before the class, we knew we needed a blog, but didn't know how to do it or think it through. Now we're ready!" This time around, we worked with PR firms, trade associations, professional membership groups, journalists, publishers, a delivery service, an art gallery, government contractors, consultants and more to advance their blogging skills.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

new year's resolution: get coached

Whether you're a communications manager who'd like to see your staff writers improve, or a writer who wants to advance to the next level, consider planning now to offer -- or take advantage of -- writing coaching in 2007. It's a new year's resolution that will deliver results, and works as well for beginning writers as for seasoned pros. A one-on-one form of customized training, writing coaching allows individuals to get private advice and practice that pinpoints their specific challenges. You'll work with the coach and independently on assignments, techniques and challenges we set for you. If a group of writers needs coaching, we offer half-day group trainings, with one-on-one sessions scheduled after lunch, so that each writing team member gets both a consistent level of training with her peers, as well as individual help. Find out more about our individual coaching in writing, presentation skills, media interviews and more here on the website, or email us at for advice on how to structure this important and effective training option to meet your needs.

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.

initiation fee waiver for National Press Club

If you're interested in joining the National Press Club here in Washington, get thee to a cocktail reception at the Club on Thursday, November 2 -- for this event only, they'll waive the initiation fee if you join the Club. The event will take place from 6pm to 8pm, in the Murrow Room, 14th floor of the Club building at 529 14th Street NW. While it's primarily for newsletter editors and writers, any potential member may attend. Or, if you can't attend, the initiation fee waiver applies for the entire month of October -- it will be extended into November only for attendees of the reception. For more information, or to RSVP, contact Sarah Driggs, Director of Membership Recruitment, National Press Club, at 202.662.7511 or

communicating science news

One of our favorite online resources has just been reformatted. It's called Communicating Science News: A Guide for Public Information Officers, Scientists and Physicians. Published by the National Association of Science Writers, the guide is especially useful if you've never handled communications or PR for a scientific organization at technical meetings, for example -- and a wonderful resource to hand to scientists, physicians and other technical clients who may not understand how the process of public relations works. (It also handles deftly some common situations that communicators face when working with reporters.) You can catch Denise Graveline, don't get caught president, at the forthcoming NASW annual meeting in Baltimore at the end of this month, on a "Book PR Boot Camp: What Your Publisher Won't Tell You" panel. (Please note that registration is now closed for the meeting, at which 400 science journalists and communicators are expected!)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Washington PR Woman of the Year...

...finalists have been announced for this coveted Washington Women in Public Relations honor, and they are:
Kristen Grimm, President and Founder, Spitfire Strategies,
Margery Kraus, President and CEO, APCO Worldwide, and
Marilynn Deane Mendell, President, Win Spin CIC, Inc.
As tradition requires, all three finalists must show up at the WWPR annual luncheon on Wednesday, November 15, to find out who wins the ultimate honor -- a great way to add suspense to a luncheon. Newscaster Maureen Bunyan is this year's keynote speaker. Don't Get Caught president Denise Graveline is a former "PR woman of the year" and judge for the award, and this year joins with other authors of The Capital Buzz, our newest blog, as a benefactor sponsor of the event. You can order tickets for the luncheon online now, and we hope to see you there!

a new blog for DC communicators

If you work in communications in or around Washington, DC, check out our latest blog -- a group effort -- called "The Capital Buzz: Survival Tools for DC Communicators." Don't Get Caught president Denise Graveline joins four other "boss ladies," all women entrepreneurs on several sides of the communications business, in keeping you up-to-date in real time on networking events and opportunities. We blog before and after events, so you can stay updated even if you don't attend, and you'll notice a variety of views and discussion questions. The Capital Buzz will be a sponsor of the upcoming Washington Women in Public Relations "Washington PR Woman of the Year" luncheon; look for our "survival tool kit" in the goody bag at that event!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

inc magazine on reasonable PR rates

In August, Inc. magazine's "Ask Inc." column tackled the question of a small business CEO about whether to hire a PR firm, even though retainers seemed high to him. Should he just tackle the PR tasks himself? The magazine (and another CEO) recommended hiring a fulltime publicist at a $36,000-per-year salary instead, comparing that favorably to a scenario in which one might spend $4,000 per month in retainer fees. DGC President Denise Graveline's response appears in the current October issue, which unfortunately, doesn't yet appear on Inc.'s website (the September cover is shown here). Here it is for you:
Inc.'s response to Michael Wolverton's question about hiring a PR firm offered incomplete advice. Hiring a $36,000-a-year in-house publicist may actually cost more than the $4,000 per month ($48,000 per year) in retainer fees for an outside firm once you add up training, taxes, insurance, and an operating budget. You also missed the opportunity to suggest several money-saving options, including asking for other pricing models besides retainers and finding smaller PR firms that charge lower rates.