Thursday, November 30, 2006

top 10 communications keys for 2007: #1

1. Learn how to use a blog strategically.

Why blog? It will move up your organization in any search engine result faster than any other method…can replace newsletters, news releases, or even your web site...let you update your site without technical help…and introduce you to the wide world of word-of-mouth marketing. And because blogging platforms are free, you may be able to redirect your publishing budget to accomplish more, while using this low-cost option.Don’t get caught behind the blogging curve. Instead, join the ranks of early adopters who are turning this new tool to strategic use in their communications efforts. We can teach your team how to blog, help your organization craft a blog strategy and policies, and help you develop content – or create the blog for you. At a minimum, you'll come away with an understanding of why you should, or should not, try our favorite communications tool. Update: In 2007, we're offering our popular "Blogging for Your Business" workshops twice each month. Find out more and register now here.

top 10 communications keys for 2007: #2

2. Shake up your traditional outreach methods.

Still doing magazines and newsletters sent by mail? Relying on a website you update once a month? Holding regular press conferences? Using news releases as your primary media relations tool? Communications methods are changing – and offering communicators myriad options to deliver their messages in ways that save time, budget and effort for everyone. Don’t get caught without a review of your current offerings to learn whether you can expand your offerings within the same budget, reach a wider audience faster, or simply save staff time. We offer audits and reviews of communications methods and can help you plan to revise, revive, or regroup in the face of new technologies and options.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

top 10 communications keys for 2007: #3

3. Hire a coach for your communications challenges.

When you – or one of your team members – need to improve specific skills based directly on individual needs, and can’t find the solution in an off-the-shelf training course, don’t get caught without one-on-one communications coaching. We can focus on your particular needs and issues, customizing training to achieve faster, more effective results. Among the coaching options our clients request are: writing and editing skills; presentation and speech delivery; media interview skills; communications management skills; and interpersonal communications skills. We combine in-person confidential sessions with telephone follow-up, and can also combine group trainings with one-on-one coaching for each group participant. Choose a few sessions, or, for more lasting results, a longer-term arrangement. Find out why our clients rave about this personalized training option.

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.

top 10 communications keys for 2007: #4

4. Expand your media relations to reach a new audience.
When was the last time you shook up your press list beyond the usual suspects? Many organizations know the “core” reporters who cover their primary topic, but neglect those with reasons to cover the same area from a different angle. Don’t get caught without considering all your media relations options in 2007, from getting bloggers to cover your topics to expanding to reporters in a variety of topical areas. (Bloggers, when surveyed, say they’d welcome your news, but rarely receive it.) You’ll get more coverage and target your audiences even more precisely. When you approach a new beat’s worth of reporters, we recommend bringing them up to speed on your resources with informational workshops and briefings, like this one created to teach food writers about chemistry in the kitchen.

top 10 communications keys for 2007: #5

5. Conquer at least one public speaking pitfall.

You hem. You haw. You “um” too much. Your hands suffer from “lectern lock.” The back of the room can’t hear you. You lose your place. You don’t look up from your written remarks. You’d rather die than speak in public, even though it’s part of your job. Going off the text or handling questions raises your fear factor. You face angry audiences, and dread the attacks. Don’t get caught without conquering at least one of your personal public-speaking pitfalls in 2007. We can teach you to un-do your “ums” and gesture with confidence – and even deliver a speech without notes. The best news: These skills work in all sorts of situations, from office presentations to cocktail chatter and media interviews. Already a competent speaker? Let us take you from good to great. Group trainings and one-on-one coaching available.

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.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

top 10 communications keys for 2007: #6

6. Train new messengers to communicate on your behalf.

In a world where word-of-mouth marketing is king, you just can't have enough people prepared to convey your strategic messages. Take a census of your organization's trained spokespeople: Do they include your members? Your board members? Committee or department chairs? Authors and editors of your publications? If not, make 2007 the year in which you offer presentation or media training to another key constituency. Don't let them get caught without knowing how best to communicate on your behalf. And consider offering training on-site at meetings or conferences where these groups are already gathered. They'll consider it to be an important member benefit, and a professional development skill they can use in all parts of their work. We offer group and individual training and coaching in public speaking, presentations and media interview skills, and have extensive experience training governance and constituents of major organizations.

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.

top 10 communications keys for 2007: #7

7. Make sure you – and your writers – know how to self-edit.

Realists know that everyone gets edited -- but that reality doesn't make it any easier when you're on the receiving end of the red marks. And if you're the editor, you and your red pen might like to take a rest and move on to another task. We have a solution that works for everyone, writers and editors alike: teach your team to self-edit its work before submitting it to an editor. We have six easy steps that will sharpen even the most advanced writer's work, help beginning writers to avoid mistakes, and make the editing process a breeze. Don't get caught without our team trainings or one-on-one coaching to teach you and your writing team self editing skills that will save you time and improve your written products in 2007.

top 10 communications keys for 2007: #8

8. Learn how to communicate your message in Washington.

Washington has the highest concentration of journalists and public relations representatives in the world. Communications efforts in the nation's capital can be an efficient and effective way for your organization to make its mark -- if you know how to operate inside the Beltway. Don't get caught in 2007 without an orientation to Washington communications, or without a plan to get your message across with the nation's press corps. Even if your organization is located far from the capital, you need to know effective strategies for briefing reporters here; the best venues for conferences and events; how to target state, local, national, and international coverage from Washington; and how to time your event for maximum exposure when your competition is the Congress and the White House. Our extensive experience in Washington communications can be your secret weapon in 2007. Ask us to create an orientation and plan for your next foray in the nation's capital, or a longer-term strategy for establishing your organization and message as an authoritative national source.

Monday, November 27, 2006

top 10 communications keys for 2007: #9

To make sure you don't get caught unprepared, speechless or without a message in 2007, we're offering our top ten keys to communications for the year ahead. Consider this your year-end checklist to make 2007 a strong, strategic and stress-free communications year:

9. Create a 2007 communications plan to guide your year.

Often, by the time you think of a great communications tactic, you lack the time, budget and staff to pull it off, and miss the chance to seize the advantage. Don’t get caught without a plan for your 2007 communications efforts. A good plan includes new data on the audiences you want to reach, the existing and potential opportunities you have to reach them, and the challenges that might get in the way. With those in hand, you can create a calendar of opportunities and the steps it’ll take to reach them, ensuring more success – and fewer surprises – when you make a public move next year. If you’re establishing a new communications enterprise or reviving an existing one, a plan can help you do so sensibly, with steps that build upon one another for maximum result by year-end. We can help you create a communications plan with a process that captures the key elements and puts them into a context that works for your organization. Our specialty: Communications planning processes that work with the communications team and its clients within an organization, to ensure buy-in for the plan.

top 10 communications keys for 2007: #10

To make sure you don't get caught unprepared, speechless or without a message in 2007, we're offering our top ten keys to communications for the year ahead. Consider this your year-end checklist to make 2007 a strong, strategic and stress-free communications year:

#10: Review your 2006 communications accomplishments – and share them.

Whether you run a communications office or an organization, take the time before year-end to review your communications accomplishments for 2006. What worked? With which audiences? How can you tell? Don’t get caught in a communications rut – use your perspective from the year that’s ending to consider what to do in the year ahead. Then think of your internal audiences: Clients, members, subscribers, customers all want to know about your communications successes, so be sure to summarize them and share them. Don’t assume they’ve seen all your media coverage or know about the success of your last campaign. We can help you make sense of the year’s success with communications reviews, reports and retreats.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

new bloggers: college presidents

Today's New York Times reports on a small trend we're cheering about: College presidents using blogs to communicate with students, alumni and supporters. While many are slow or reluctant to blog -- just like many business CEOs -- those who do report enjoying the ability to respond quickly to large groups of students, on turf the younger folk understand. About a dozen college presidents are blogging, according to the article, which compares a few approaches as well as brickbats and praise from college advisers.

AAAS public programs opening

Ginger Pinholster, director of the Office of Public Programs at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, tells us she is seeking a communications/administrative officer for senior-level administrative and professional support to the Director. Responsibilities include research, writing, editing, special projects and events and more; five to 10 years of relevant experience are required, as is a thorough understanding of issures relevant to a news environment and media relations operation. Check the position posting here, or contact recruiter Dawn Graf at dgraf@aaas.org.

Monday, November 20, 2006

young pr pros get their own blog

Young PR professionals in Washington are the focus of a new blog by one of their own: John Stauffer blogs on Young Washington DC PR Pros, with a
focus on the new technologies as a means to communicate with consumers; it's what I hear my clients asking for everyday and it’s what will make us younger PR pros more valuable than a years’ subscription to Bacons.
Stauffer was asked by his firm to start building his skills in new media, and found his way to don't get caught's "Blogging for Your Business" workshops; this blog is the result, and lets him share what he's learned with a network of colleagues. A soon-to-recur feature: Interviews with industry veterans, beginning with Denise Graveline. Read her advice to young PR pros here, and keep an eye on this blog for what's happening of note to the next generation of PR practitioners.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

the reading break you need today

We read several papers every morning (quite early, as you can see) and often it's a skim-milk-and-skim-the-headlines exercise over breakfast. Today, what turns out to be Dan Barry's last "About New York" column, titled "On a Corner in the Midstream Rush," pulled in our wandering eye with gems like this:
With an evening rain lashing, a stream of people burble and bob toward the stairwells draining down to Penn Station. Some of those being carried along use umbrellas as shields against the wet and the city. Others hunch their bodies in clear resistance to their surroundings and to any notion of rainwater as a blessing.

Clumps of people clog street corners whenever the floodgates go up; that is, whenever the traffic lights turn green to unleash cabs and cars down Seventh Avenue. But when those lights flash red, the people float again upon the released current, across and down to trains and subways departing.
If you're looking for inspiration for your own writing (or just an inspiring break), this is worth dipping into: His active verbs and word pictures brought me right to 7th Avenue this morning, without leaving my breakfast table. Barry starts a new national column soon, but we recommend our writing coaching clients and others sample this exemplary piece today.

another great quote

...in our series of colorful soundbites that go beyond the ordinary to make great word-pictures: This morning's New York Times, in an article on how the election results prompt changes in Washington lobbying firms, quotes Republican lobbyist Wayne Berman thusly:
I've told my Democratic partners it's time for them to buy some suits...I went out and bought two new fishing rods and looked into yoga classes.
The article notes, "He was joking, sort of." We like Berman's straightforward yet tongue-in-cheek delivery, which avoids an analogy -- the words "It's as if..." don't appear, making the statement more immediate and powerful. Can you use this approach the next time you want to get quoted?

Monday, November 13, 2006

last chance tickets for Woman of the Year

Members and friends of Washington Women in Public Relations have one more day to order tickets by phone for Wednesday's WWPR Washington PR Woman of the Year award luncheon, a must-do event in Washington public relations circles. Online registration closed last week, but credit card payments by phone can be taken until 5pm Eastern Time today at 202-729-8261. You also can try on-site registration, which opens 11:45am on Wednesday, November 15 at the Mayflower Hotel on Connecticut Avenue; however, all on-site registrants will include an additional $5 surcharge. Don't Get Caught president Denise Graveline, a former winner of the award, will introduce one of this year's finalists, and her group blog on Washington communications networking, The Capital Buzz, is a benefactor-sponsor of the event.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

are you a media tracker?

If your work calls for you to absorb the best media coverage in science, environment, medicine and health, you have something in common with veteran journalist Charlie Petit, now "head tracker" for the Knight Science Journalism Tracker, a new blog that summarizes coverage -- particularly in-depth and enterprise reporting -- in all those topic areas. A unique feature: The Tracker's posts include Charlie's elegant summaries, as well as links to the original article and any related news releases issued to drive the story, making it easy for you to do your own comparison, and he notes that about half the stories he finds can "trace their genealogy" to a release. Especially fine stories are dubbed "Petit's Picks," and the blog's tagline -- "peer review within science journalism" -- suggests a new eye on the field. Check the link "about science journalism" for news, views and coverage of the profession, and award updates.

launching a business blog

Two more business owners who've taken our "Blogging for Your Business" workshops have launched strategic blogs. First, artist and graphic designer Melissa Hackmann uses her recent open-studio sale as the starting point for a new blog that covers her work in collage, printmaking, painting and more. Posts to this blog show her preparing art for sale, hanging it, and mixing with the crowd on open-studio day -- and in between, share her observations about art openings and exhibits in Washington, DC. A recent "art of the book" opening gave her an opening to display her own bookmaking arts. This blog makes strong use of photographs, not only of Hackmann's work, but her working environment: We see her studio, her "open studio" and individual pieces-in-progress, demystifying the artist's way and tantalizing prospective clients with views of not-yet completed work.

Ecologically minded entrepreneur Matthew Lemp has launched the Ecocabs blog, promoting his hybrid-vehicle courier service in Washington, DC. With the eventual goal of expanding to a full taxi fleet, Lemp uses his blog to share perspective on traffic, environmental issues in urban driving, hybrid-car performance, and more. (And he takes time out to share his philosophies on Halloween and trick-or-treaters, adding a personal touch.) For Lemp, this blog may become his primary web page, a cost-effective strategy for small businesses and entrepreneurs that takes advantage of the many free platforms available for creating a blog.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

shrink your reference shelf

...with some great online research resources. The National Press Club's Eric Friedheim Library, home to our blogging classes, has put together a page of reference sites for reporters (and the rest of us) to use. It includes sources of information where you can look up phone numbers, polling data and much more. One of the sites featured, the Virtual Reference Shelf, is compiled by the Library of Congress, with links to lookups for topics that range from art to statistics. Keep these links bookmarked, and clear that bookshelf!

Knight Foundation's "news challenge"

At the most recent meeting of the Communications Network in Philanthropy, we learned about an innovative online "news challenge" being issued by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The foundation will award $5 million in 2007 for online news projects that "Turn the web on its head [and] Show us how online news can help people improve their lives and shape their communities." Funding may go to "new ideas, pilot projects, commercial products and leadership initiatives that will improve the flow of information and news in the public interest." Individuals, organizations and even businesses may apply by December 31. The catch: You must show how your idea will transform community life. It's rare for private foundations to extend this type of offer to entrepreneurs and individuals as well as nonprofit organizations, in our experience. If you're going to take the challenge, do read the useful website to learn about the relevant categories and to find out what they don't want to see, to improve your chances.