Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June's top 10 tips, ideas and resources

June saw the official start of summer in the U.S., worldwide sporting contests--still underway, and these most-read posts on communications strategy, training and content. Here's the road my readers followed this month on the blog:

  1. Nexternal relations: Train your strategic binoculars on these up-and-comers let you in on opportunties to beta-test, share your insights, or identify sites that are just starting up with promising tools from Facebook and Blogger, the latest Knight Foundation news challenge winners, and more.  As this month's most popular post, it's clear you don't want to get caught behind the curve.
  2. Director's perspective:  The first guest post in this series by communications directors, Exploring social media for university research, shared how Jim Barlow, the University of Oregon director of science and research communications, is putting together social media and other options to communicate.  (If you're a communications director with a perspective to share, email me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz with your idea for a guest post.)
  3. Fear of phoning strikes a chord:  My post on a phenomenon some clients are seeing among their media relations teams -- the fear of phoning reporters and others -- sounded familiar to many readers, who sought out the background issues and tips for changing this behavior. The fearful phoner's side of the story, in another post with tips for managers, came in right behind this one.
  4. Advice for a rookie public information officer, from me and my crowd of communicators on Twitter and Facebook, yielded this kudos from the rookie: "I'm going to print this out and stick it on my desk."  Check it out, and feel free to add your advice.
  5. Presenting yourself: New looks and a discount shared how I'm redesigning my blogs, business cards and professional photographic portraits, all ideas you can steal. The discount on business cards from goes away June 30, 2010, so act fast.
  6. You say the public needs to understand your issue better. But do you understand the public whose understanding you seek?  If you keep referring to the "general public," time to think again.
  7. Copyright need not be a barrier to encouraging online sharing of your data or products.  This post, with a thoughtful briefing from YouTube in video form, may open your organization's eyes to how you can benefit from letting others share your stuff.  Must reading for your attorneys.
  8. The weekend reading list of what I've shared on Twitter was a recurring hit this month, especially the lists from June 5 and June 18.  Look for these roundups on Fridays each week.
  9. A shelf of style guides for today was a popular post, offering the latest guides for online style as well as specialty writing in a variety of subject categories and fields.
  10. Do your public information campaigns give the public enough info to act on?  This guest post by John Solomon looks at the vague homeland security motto of "see something, say something," then finds case histories of groups that bring the message home with specific calls to action.  A good lesson if your messages aren't concrete enough.
Looking for more?  Sign up for my free monthly email newsletter, For Communications Directors, to get advance information and details;  join the don't get caught community on Facebook to discuss issues with other communicators; or check out these ways to subscribe to the blog or contact me about consulting help with communications strategies, training or message development.

Nonprofits: Tag(line), you're it!

It's time again for the 2010 Getting Attention Nonprofit Tagline Awards program from colleague Nancy Schwartz at Getting Attention. More than 600 tagline entries are already in the system. Nonprofits and grantmakers can enter their taglines here by the July 28 deadline.  Nancy notes:
This year – for the first time – organizations can enter a tagline for their program (product or service), fundraising campaign and/or special event, in addition to their organizational tagline. And we have a first-time library field for organizational tagline entries.
Want to follow the contest in progress on Twitter? Search for the hashtag #taggies.  Feel free to share this with colleagues using the email function below...and let me know if you're entering!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Weekly writing coach: Heave these diminutives out of your writing

I listen with care to the language my personal trainers use.  Sure, their goal is to motivate me to keep trying--but they also choose words to diminish the scary stuff they're prompting me to do. It's easy to understand: If they didn't downplay what's coming next, you might never try it.

Turns out that the language trainers use to make a weightlifting move sound less intimidating are the same diminutives you should be heaving out of your writing.  Anytime my trainers says easy, little, nice, pretty, or very, I'm on alert.  (As in, "How about some nice planks?" or "This one's easy...")

I'm willing to buy what my trainer is selling, but when it comes to reading your prose, I expect more lean muscle and less fluff.  Keep in mind that these aren't just lazy adjectives, but potential signals to your reader that you may be treating the topic with scorn (even if that isn't your intent), dismissing its importance, or signaling that you're being disingenous.  (As in calling something that equals your body weight "little" when you have to lift it.)   They're all also words that may pass in spoken conversation as shorthand, but don't hold their own weight in a written sentence.  That's your heavy lifting for the week.  Why not adjust your spell-check or some other automated monitor to call you on these words as a reminder to root them out and use something more precise and substantial instead?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Six short updates on social media audiences

This summer's seen a rush of new reports and updates on social media audiences.  Here are five worth your attention, plus one post about audiences and their expectations.  You'll find special notes for communicators interested in international, community, nonprofit and and other audiences in this mix:

  1. Want the quick, updated skinny on whom Facebook is reaching and how?  Bookmark the Facebook statistics page, and watch for updates.  Current gems: More than one million websites have now integrated with the Facebook platform (many with the new "like" button), and more than 100 million active users currently access Facebook through their mobile devices. Mobile users are "twice more active on Facebook than non-mobile users."  Inside Facebook offers more data on a regular basis, and is worth following. 
  2. International reach is creating much of the new growth on LinkedIn, now at 70 million users, and on Facebook, Indonesia is poised to pass the United Kingdom as the country with the second-largest number of Facebook users.  Nielsen's latest report notes that social networks and blogs account for 22 percent of time spent online, and "for the first time ever, social network or blog sites are visited by three quarters of global consumers who go online."  Now that's a global reach.
  3. Online video continues strong, and the new Pew report on the state of online video notes that slightly half of all U.S. adults have viewed or downloaded video online.  This post from The Agitator notes that educational and political videos are competitive with humor, movie and TV shows online; the mainstream New York Times chose to emphasize that more than half have downloaded humorous videos, although only a few percentage points separate the categories.
  4. Neighborhoods are talking over the digital fence, in a new twist on local coverage, according to Pew's "Neighbors Online" report. (Communicators with community relations responsibilities, heads up:  You'll want to engage local communities using this data.) This post from Local Media Watch notes the growth in neighbor sites that focus on neighborhood associations.
  5. A different slice of data on who's using social media and how comes from Edison Research via this post from Silicon Alley Insider; it shares a series of slides and charts that break down usage data for online video, podcasts, social networks, mobile devices, music sites, and more.
Perhaps more important than the numbers: Social media options are raising consumer expectations for sophisticated, easy and free options for sharing, collaborating, and participating in online conversations, according to this Silicon Alley Insider post. It's discussed here in terms of the threat to companies like Microsoft, but the lessons apply to more companies and organizations.

Do you restrict press recordings at your medical meeting?

Your help is needed with a new effort to compile medical meetings' policies on journalistic coverage--specifically policies about whether and how reporters can record and/or photograph technical sessions at those meetings.

Journalist Bob Finn is working with the Association of Health Care Journalists' Right to Know Committee on an effort to end restrictions on recording and photography that some societies impose on journalists covering their scientific meetings. The effort grew out of an AHCJ letter to several scientific societies earlier this year, protesting such restrictions.  AHCJ also notes best practices, such as this one: 
The American Heart Association is cited as a group with rules that work. AHA requires reporters to obtain credentials, ask for permission and sometimes have an escort before they make recordings or videotapes. These more reasonable restrictions still allow reporters to get what they need to report fully and accurately. (See the AHA guidelines.)
Finn aims to compile a list of every medical meeting that has such restrictions, along with the actual text of their rules. Send relevant policies to him finn[at]nasw[dot]org, or feel free to share them in the comments below. He'd also like to know how carefully the rules are enforced.  Are security guards called in? Reporters ejected? Exceptions made?

I'm fortunate to have both reporters and public affairs/public information teams reading this blog, so let me add my own plea:  We all do a better job making information public when it's clear to all what the landscape looks like.  Share your observations--and make sure they are about medical meetings, only, please.

Readers of this blog will recall that Finn shared a guest post on misunderstandings about the "Ingelfinger rule," which many scientists cite when they avoid presenting their work in front of reporters at meetings.  He's covered hundreds of such meetings in the course of his career, and I'm looking forward to the results of this search.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Weekend read: My weekly share from Twitter

I'm @dontgetcaught on Twitter, and in the week of June 21, these are the topics, news and ideas I shared with my followers and friends. Stretch out on your hammock with these gems:
  • Still doubtful about LinkedIn? It hit two milestones: 70 million users and one million companies, making it an even better bet for career networking.  Also shared this week: Improvements to LinkedIn Groups, and the site's plans for more mobile apps and services.
  • One more thing to monitor: There's been a rash of fake press releases sent out on some newswire services.
  • This is the place: Always opinionated, Robert Scoble told us about two locations companies that are more important than Foursquare, MyTown, Loopt, Gowalla or Whrrl.  If you didn't know all the ones named in the title, check this out for a quick lesson on where location-based social networks have been and are going.
  • A kind word from your consultant:  I don't complain, really, but when the great Louis Gray noted this week that your mobile employees and consultants need wi-fi hotspots, I shed a happy tear.  I normally read Gray for the big picture and what's next, but appreciate his attention to small details like this one that will make us all productive. (Outlet space is great, too, FYI.)
  • Capping coverage?  That darn oil spill took up 44 percent of the news hole from June 14-20, its highest level to date, according to new research from Pew. Share as needed with colleagues wondering why your announcement didn't get any notice.
  • Collecting data from your customers/supporters?  Then you need a data portability policy.  TechCrunch offered this thorough-going review and how-to, with links to easy ways to get started.
  • Great learning opp:  The Web 2.0 Expo in New York City in September began rolling out its speakers and schedule.  Note there's a code for 25% off your registration at the bottom of the link--this is a not-to-miss conference.
  • New tool for those meeting presos:  The Boogie Board is a low-tech, low-price option for a quickly erasable scratch pad, sketch surface or whiteboard.  Let me know if you try this one!
  • Tensions between journalists and bloggers debunked:  Steve Buttry, former journo and now a community engagement director, writes some of the best posts around on the transformation of journalism into new media. Methinks newspapers protest too much about bloggers is a great example of his writing at top form.
  • Medical journal article ghostwriting:  A new report is calling for more controls on a bad practice in which drug companies ghostwrite medical studies and place them in scientific journals.  If you work with doctors, or researchers of any kind, put this on your must-read list.
  • Job-hunting at a senior level?  Then this post on re-entering the workforce and senior-level jobhunting is for you. 
Check out don't get caught on Facebook, where I'm floating ideas and discussing them before they appear on the blog.  It's shaping up as a great networking community for communicators.

New here? Find out how to subscribe to the blog and my free monthly newsletter.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Don't miss the online boat on your own story: Lessons from Rolling Stone

Is it possible that one of the biggest news stories of the year--the Rolling Stone article that prompted President Obama to relieve General Stanley McChrystal of his command in Afghanistan--didn't drive tons of reader traffic to the magazine's websiteNieman Labs took the time to look at the evidence, and finds that other sites got more traffic (as measured in comments) than Rolling Stone, for several reasons.  Don't get caught ignoring these if you find your organization with its hands on a major breaking story:
  • Sending out promotional copies to reporters to create buzz without a plan for how and where the story would break. It's not clear whether and how these might have been embargoed, but if there were such limits, they didn't work--and it appears there was no backup plan if the story should leak.  Close readers will note that this approach allowed Politico to post a PDF of the article well before RS had its online version up.
  • Planning for traffic at newsstands, but not online. I'm just sayin'. 
  • Not being the first to post your original reporting. The general had already apologized before RS posted the article.  We'll never know how many might have sought out RS and commented there if the article had been posted right away.
  • An apparently broken social sharing option ("like" or "share" buttons attached to the article).
  • Error messages when readers try to view comments on the article.
  • Other barriers that make it tough to leave a comment.  From the article: "Try to leave a comment on the site. First, you have to register. A popup appears with required fields like your gender and your birthday, setting the bar high to leave a comment. (Note the non-registration required button that lets users “like” a comment has attracted hundreds of clicks — even though the ability to “like” the entire story seems broken.)"
When you're planning ahead for scenarios that might include fast-breaking news (whether via a broken embargo or just because you've got a topical tiger by the tail), run this list past the team that includes your communications and web staff to make sure your options for readers (and reporters) pass these tests.  What assumptions underlie your approach to a breaking announcement (as in, "We want people to be able to share this easily" or "we want comments. Let's be sure that process is simple.")?  Need help coming up with scenarios and what you should be able to do? Start with the related posts below and share them with your team for a useful discussion.

Related posts: How do you test your social media reflexes?

Breaking news in social media: 5 step-by-step guides, plus one

Check out don't get caught on Facebook, where I'm floating ideas and discussing them before they appear on the blog.  It's shaping up as a great networking community for communicators.

New here? Find out how to subscribe to the blog and my free monthly newsletter.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Weekly writing coach: 8 inspirations from the wayback machine

You don't need Mr. Peabody's wayback machine to do this week's exercise. Just dig into your files (online or otherwise) and unearth some writing from your wayback machine.  If you're like me, you save, or savor, writings you encountered in your past, and they are one great way to wake up your writing today, if only to remind yourself why you write. Look for these types of inspiration:
  1. Your first article, essay, published anything. See how far you've come.
  2. Something written and published for you and about you. Today, read it to understand how your readers of today feel when you've targeted them just right. Remember what it feels like. How can you replicate that for others? There's a 30-year-old essay written about me that makes me recalibrate every time I read it.
  3. The opening pages of a novel that set your hair on fire, or the near equivalent--the thing that made you want to keep reading. Learn from a master.
  4. A letter from someone who loves you without qualification.  Surely you've saved that.  Again, think about why it feels great.  How do you make that happen in your writing today?
  5. Something that you struggled to write, that came out right. Why did it work?
  6. Writing that woke you up to a new topic.  What turned your head and why?
  7. Something you despised.  Figure out why and what it can teach you today.
  8. Something so good, you wish you'd written it.  How can you try that?
Once you've scanned the pages of history, make a list of what you can appropriate for your writing today. How will you put your inspirations to work?  What were they?  Share your list of wayback inspired writings in the comments.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Nonprofit news organizations: Too legit to quit?

Nonprofit news organizations have been springing up in the wake of newspaper closings and other media outlets' staff reductions.  How should communicators be working with nonprofit news organizations--and what are the issues to consider?  Mainly, it's whether they are legit--and whether they will have to quit if their funding runs out.

Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz highlights the key issues in this article, including the implications that the investigative work is tainted by the politics of the funding source (despite efforts to maintain a bright line between editorial content and funding), and the long-term viability of  groups funded by so-called "soft money" from foundation or government grants.  Legitmacy--within journalism and the wider community--also is an issue for startup nonprofit news organizations.  Nieman Journalism Lab's Jim Barnett offers this six-fold path to evaluating the legitimacy of nonprofit news organizations that communications directors can borrow to evaluate them, too.  His six markers include:

Resource/mission alignment:

— The case for philanthropy is linked to editorial independence and objectivity.

— The organization solicits small donations and/or other forms of grassroots support.

— The organization’s board of directors operates on a volunteer basis.

Transparency of mission and operations:

— The organization’s financial statements are posted online.

— The organization’s major donors are named online.

— The organization has clear accountability measures for its publications.

Barnett then applies those criteria and finds ProPublica, Human Rights Watch, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the American Red Cross among those who meet all six tests.  Another way to evaluate nonprofit news organizations: Check out these lessons from past winners of the Knight Foundation's News Challenge, a major funder of several nonprofit news startups, and this report from the foundation on the program's results to date.

I'm curious to learn how your communications operation is (or isn't) working with these new nonprofit news organizations--are you handling them differently than other news groups or reporters?  Are you starting a news organization at your nonprofit? Share your thoughts in the comments or email me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz.


Fear of phoning, part II: The phoner's side of the story

I was ready for the reaction almost as soon as I hit "publish" on Fear of phoning reporters & others: Just your team or a wider problem?  And yes, it arrived as expected:

"What about those of us who work for an anxious boss? There's no way for us to guess how she'd do it, and no matter what we do--even if it's a good call that accomplishes the work--we still get the feeling that what we did fell short. So we're gun-shy."

I've coached lots of teams where this happens. It goes back to the "fear of shipping" described in yesterday's post, and I think the pressures of the recession, and job uncertainty only add to the stakes of what could go wrong. For media relations teams, the diminishing pools of reporters to call don't help, either.

But in the magic that is the Internet, yesterday, this Lifehacker article fell into my reader:  Embrace the inevitability of being wrong to boost workplace productivity.  I commend it to you, and perhaps you can bring it up at the next staff meeting (or accidentally forward it to the entire team).  It looks at a new book, Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Shultz, that offers up as good a starting place as any for a real discussion about whether your team can cultivate a better learning environment.  The book looks at examples of industries and companies where mistakes get processed as lessons.

Managers may want to take a look at this Silicon Alley Insider post, Why Leaders Should Always Look Confident, Even When They Don't Really Know What They're Doing -- bearing in mind that we none of us know what we're doing 100 percent of the time. Embracing that attitude (and projecting confidence to your team) is the right combination of humility and support that make up your task.

Team members, you still  need to place those calls--if only so you'll have enough data to counter the worried manager effectively. Oh, yeah, and get the darned work done.  Arm yourself with information on building a mistakes-included culture to make the long-term change your team needs.  Then read Chris Brogan's post on "make the ask" for more reinforcement, whatever it is you're asking for.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fear of phoning reporters and others: Just your team, or a wider problem?

"What would you do about this?  I think my media relations staffers are afraid to call reporters," said my client. This isn't a unique problem, though sometimes it feels that way, and for good reason:  Reporters get far too many poorly thought out calls pitching off-topic material, so there's a "whaddaya want?" tone that serves as an effective barrier when someone's calling.  And rightly so.

But this client's got top-quality information and a good track record with reporters. Her team knows reporters' beats and preferences and honors them. Picking up the phone really does seem to be the problem--and it's a more complex problem than it might appear at first glance. Let's not make media calls the villain, either. Fear of phoning can happen with potential partners, the person who controls that job opening your want, donors, clients, even the folks in the department-across-the-hall. So what's going on?

First, there's the fear of failure underlying an approach-by-phone. Seth Godin calls it "fear of shipping." He notes:
Every time you raise your hand, send an email, launch a product or make a suggestion, you're exposing yourself to criticism. Not just criticism, but the negative consequences that come with wasting money, annoying someone in power or making a fool of yourself. It's no wonder we're afraid to ship.
You'll sometimes see a more elaborate version of this in staff members who want you to tell them every step of the process--then carry it out precisely as you describe. I had a waiter like that recently, while having lunch with a client. After a barrage of "Would you like me to refill your water glass now?" "Would you like me to bring out the entrees now?" "Would you like me to bring the dessert menu?" I said to my client, "I think I've managed that person before."  It's the wrong way to manage up, and the message is: I don't want to fail, so I'm putting the responsibility back on you.

The second part lies in how they respond to the fear, by avoidance, when taking the leap is the only real solution (the call, after all, needs to be made).  Writing in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Rosetta Thurman recalls a story from political strategist Donna Brazile, who said, "Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee nation, once told me how the cow runs away from the storm while the buffalo charges directly toward it—and gets through it quicker. Whenever I’m confronted with a tough challenge, I do not prolong the torment. I become the buffalo."  Then Thurman says:
From what I see, Generation Y nonprofit professionals act more like cows. We’re not willing to take the risks associated with real leadership, we just want to get to the destination with no pain and preferably with a nice little roadmap, thankyouverymuch. Even though young people have all the wherewithall to be the buffalo—education, passion, networks—we’re afraid of potential failure. We’re more likely to watch and wait in our air-conditioned cubicles for mentors to show us the way.
The buffalo approach was demonstrated in a skillful way when I asked colleagues for advice for a rookie public information officer who's about to start his first job.  Getting back to those pesky calls to reporters, Dana Vickers Shelley advised:
Always return reporter calls -- especially when the news/info is something you'd rather not discuss. You're not the reporter's only source and she'll respect you WAAAY more and rely on you down the road if you can have the difficult conversation. The PIO/public affairs person also has to let the leadership know that responsiveness is key to credibility.
By the time I found these tips for making phone calls you don't want to make (feel free to pass these around the office), I was pretty sure this trend extends beyond my client's focused problem. So what to do? Here's what I offer clients in training teams for media relations:
  • Find out why the no-call-zone is the first response:   If it's "the reporters told me not to call," that's one thing. If it's "I sent an email and thought that would do" when an urgent on-topic, on-deadline call needs to be made, that may need more discussion. Listen with care for honest feedback about why this might not work.
  • Figure out whether your team knows how to make the call:   I marvel at the number of communications operations that expect cold calls, but don't train people to make them.  Why not schedule a morning to share the barriers to calling, practice making your best approach against a role-playing surly recipient, and learning together what your company's or organization's best approach would be?  When I've led such sessions with clients, you can clearly see the speed with which some give up after a rebuff or two--then talk through what needs to happen next. If you've got some former reporters in your office, they never really forget those "Whaddaya want?" responses, making them credible role players for this type of exercise. 
  • Learn how to establish your credibility before you pick up the phone.  Callers should make sure they understand your company or organization's track record with this journalist/partner/donor/whomever they are calling.  Would a well-reasoned email sent many days before the ask is needed help? (Probably so, according to many reporters I know.) Have you researched the preferences of the person you're calling? If not, there's homework to do.
  • Share experienced tips and ideas.   Everyone gets feedback from their cold callees. Are you sharing that with your team? Encourage collective wisdom and crowd-sourced answers, on a regular basis. What's the worst response each of you has had? What would be a better way to handle that?
Have you encountered this in your communications operation? Share your insights in the comments...including your best and worst experiences.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Weekend read: My weekly share from Twitter

I'm @dontgetcaught on Twitter, and spend much of my time there sharing good reads and leads that I think will be helpful to my followers. Here's what caught my eye in the week of June 14:
I don't think accumulating followers is a sport--I let my follower/following ratio stay even and am more concerned with quality than quantity. Still, I enjoyed this week and reaching my 2,000th follower.

The real-time conference: What you can learn from TEDxOil Spill

Seven months ago, I was taken with the idea that we'd soon be rebooting traditional communications tools--like magazines, or record albums or annual reports--and turning them into dynamic events.  So when TED, the technology-education-design conference known for its dynamic speakers, announced a worldwide day of events centered on TEDxOilSpill about the Deepwater Horizon spill, I knew right away I'd found an example.

The coordinates: TEDx events are independently organized, and sometimes focused on particular timely events or geographic regions.  In this case, there'll be a full day of speakers here in Washington; unlike the more exclusive TED conferences, this one includes a free. live webcast.  Satellite events are being organized to generate action and "will feature discussions on mitigating the effects of the spill, seeking energy alternatives to oil, and improving global policy to prevent mistakes and lay the foundation for a more stable future."  Partners include environmental groups, the U.S. federal government, National Public Radio and others.  Before the conference convenes, a weeklong expedition is underway to document (in photos and video) damage from the spill, and donations are being solicited to cover costs.  That'll become part of the content, both online and at the conference. And since we discuss handling the backchannel here, the audience for the live event won't be able to use laptops or other devices during the talks--not a big issue since it's being livecast for anyone to follow along. There's a Twitter feed, a Facebook page, and in addition to the official blog, the TED photographer also is blogging about the expedition.  The discussion's already going on.

Those are the basics.  Here's what I see that gets me excited:
  • It marries a meeting with action: Over time, we've slid into accepting the meaning of "convene" as "to meet formally" with a sitting, listening, passive audience instead of the more dynamic definition, "to come together, as in one body or for a public purpose."  In this case, the event itself is just one in a series of active steps, from making an expedition and sharing information to blogging and tweeting to fundraising and commitments to act, and later, the actions themselves.  Better yet, it builds on a topic that makes many feel helpless and sidelined--ordinary citizens want to do something, but can't plug the leak. The event becomes a channel for that energy.  I don't have to wait to see the expedition footage, since I can follow along on the blog as it unfolds, for example.
  • It makes the "room" bigger. TED sets the bar for reaching beyond the conference room with technology and access (despite its high price and early sell-outs, speaker videos are posted for free on the web, with transcripts, translations and more, for example). The livecast, social media options and local events mean that anyone--from the deskbound to the distant--can play a role.  That makes the audience feel included, a priceless way to engage. Scarcity of seats (just 500) isn't a disadvantage anymore.
  • It seizes a moment.  Call it the real-time conference. Somewhere, other technical meetings and annual conferences are furiously remaking their already prepared agendas for conferences that will take place in 2011 to reflect something about the oil spill (and sadly, there's enough material here to last us for decades).  This TEDx event is being put together in a matter of weeks, enabling it to strike while the opinion irons are still hot.  That the crisis is still unfolding adds drama and surprise.  I wish more groups were bold enough--and deft enough--to turn on a dime and convene in a timely manner on more topics.
  • That only happens with a well-cultivated audience.  TED's been building its audience for years, first the exclusive excited few who get to attend the main conference; then those of us who see the videos each week on the web; then those who organized viewing parties with livecasts in remote locations; then those who were encouraged to independently organize TEDx events around the world; then those who were asked to help mount topical TEDs, like TEDmed.  TED encourages followers, and uses social networks and online offerings to build loyalty.  Tell me there's a TEDxOilSpill and I can see the benefits immediately--because I know and understand the approach from experience.
  • It curates, in a day, a live "special issue."  Back in the day, we'd figure out how to give over one issue of a magazine, an annual report or some similar product to a "special issue" on one topic like this.  We'd interview experts, take photos, cull facts. This does the same, in effect, but with the excitement of live action.  The speakers bring the content, but so does the documentary expedition and even the audience, in its reactions and actions before, during and after the meeting. It's not a meeting attempting to cram many topics into one day.  Just one day, one topic, one focus.  Within that scope, we can learn in more depth.
  • We can expect speakers with clarity, but not "dumbed down" content.  TED doesn't shy away from technical speakers and the lineup here is packed with knowledgeable experts.  The difference: This format forces them into clear, brief, compelling presentations.  TED never underestimates the audience and its ability to grasp the complex.  More of us should be doing just that; content would soar in improvement if we did.
Listen, I know you're not TED.  Your topic may not be seizing the entire nation, your followers fewer, your web resources gummed up.  But your company, nonprofit or government agency has partners. You've got smart thinkers and intriguing topics. You've got a role in issues of the day, stuff happening right now that people care about. You have an audience you're cultivating, even if it's not a worldwide movement.  Can you make an event that captures the "now" now, rather than put off the communicating until the next quarterly newsletter/annual meeting/website redesign? Can you rethink an existing static communications tool into a live event? What would you gain by reaching beyond the room in which you normally convene people? Share your ideas, concerns and what else you see in the TEDxOilSpill approach that you might be able to adapt to your own purposes, in the comments.

Related posts:  7 ways to reach outside your conference

Check out don't get caught on Facebook, where I'm floating ideas and discussing them before they appear on the blog.  It's shaping up as a great networking community for communicators.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Where to catch me: The Common Cents conference

I'll be joining a panel on social media at the Common Cents Conference in Bethesda, Maryland, August 31 from 2:45 to 4:00 p.m. for a group of 200 Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit executives who run free tax preparation or asset building programs and coalitions. They're the folks who make sure that more than 40,000 area residents from low‐income families receive the Earned Income Tax Credit and get connected to tax prep and other financial services. We'll be talking about using Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other tools for outreach and community support; I like that they've listed this workshop under the track for "sustainability!"  If you have a good example I can share about social media uses in finance, tax preparation or low-income financial assistance, please leave it in the comments or send it to me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Nexternal relations: Train your strategic binoculars on these up-and-comers

You're not an early adopter (actually, almost no one is--and those who are tend to try new social media tools, dump them and move on).  But there are loads of opportunities to find the up-and-comers sooner, to beta test new features or prodcuts, and to learn which are the startups and promising grant recipients on which your strategic binoculars should be trained. Here are sightlines, opportunities and the promising part of the horizon to scan:
  • Facebook questions:  Not too grandly, Facebook invites you to "help us build the future of Facebook" by submitting three "provocative" questions and the "detailed, authoritative" answers to go with them, in what seems like a mashup between LinkedIn Answers and Wikipedia, a mix of crowdsourcing and trusted agents.  That's your application, and if you're approved, you can participate in the beta phase.  If you're in the business of supplying experts or expertise to the world, this may be for you.
  • What does "social maturity" look like?  (And they don't mean 55-year-olds on Facebook, either)  Forrester is trying to benchmark social technology use across enterprise organizations. Since most of them use social media inconsistently, what would social technologies look like if their adoption in an organization was mature? What would drive that change? What challenges would they face?  They want the benchmarks to reflect reality, which is where you come in. There's a survey, as well as a community site to which you can contribute.
  • When the list is 50 top startups worth watching, and it comes from Silicon Valley blogger and strategic adviser Louis Gray, the title is true.  He describes it this way: "With the understanding that being a private company does not always mean you are a startup, I looked below the uber-players such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Groupon, Craigslist, Tesla, and others, with a focus primarily on Web services, with a tendency toward social, and apps I am using frequently."  Dive in.
  • Work in draft:  I use Blogger for this blog and The Eloquent Woman, but I use Blogger in Draft, a test version that lets me preview and put into use real new features under development.  So when Blogger announced recently that its new template designer was now available to everyone, you'd been seeing it live on my blog for a couple of months.  I also follow and share information with Blogger staff members on Twitter, which helps for quick questions and feedback.  Similarly, I responded to a call from Widgetbox last year about beta testing a ramped-up version of its widgets, and got to try it for free in return for offering feedback.  (You can see the widgets in the right margin for The Eloquent Woman blog and for my Twitter feed.)
  • Knight Foundation News Challenge grant recipients -- the latest batch of 12 was announced this afternoon -- aren't even ready to test, but they're well worth keeping your eye on. Many focus on local or regional communities or particular sectors (there's one focused on courtrooms this year, for example), so you may find a project related to your topic, location or product.  This is the fourth year of the five-year challenge, and the foundation offers a wide range of data on its previous grant recipients. Start digging.

For a rookie public information officer: Advice from the crowd, and me

A young science communicator sent me a message wanting "advice for a rookie PIO (public information officer)." He's about to start his first job as a government public affairs representative. His writing is smart, crisp, and elegant; he listens well. After exploring varied options, he's found the right job in the right location. Decision made. Now what?

One of my favorite bits of advice for people at every career stage is to ask others for their advice, just as he did. (No one dislikes being asked their advice, so it's a sure-fire foot in the door.) Here's what my crowd on Facebook and Twitter shared as advice for a rookie communicator:

Dana Vickers Shelley gave a generous response:  "Always return reporter calls -- especially when the news/info is something you'd rather not discuss. You're not the reporter's only source and she'll respect you WAAAY more and rely on you down the road if you can have the difficult conversation. The PIO/public affairs person also has to let the leadership know that responsiveness is key to credibility. Also, keep writing. Even with social media, 140 characters, etc., you will be the ROCK STAR if you can be counted on when a well written statement or paragraph is needed. And one last thing, if you're a political appointee, remember to respect and value the experience and expertise of career staff. They know where everything is located and they'll be there after you leave! Good luck and enjoy yourself!"

Todd Bailey advised: "Don't forget how to talk - plainly. It is easy to pick up all the legal jargon and soon you might lose your ability to effectively communicate with everyone. 'Be all things to everyone'."

Steve Tally said, "Meet people. You won't be effective without good contacts."

Patric Lane agreed:  "1) Talk to folks; don't rely on email (2) Diplomatically ask good devil's advocate questions."

Now, my turn:
  • Government public affairs is unique. It's where "public information" takes its true meaning:  They pay for it and can hold you to account; you owe it to them. The timing, scope, details and pace can easily exceed those of any other kind of public information operation. Responsiveness, speed and utter attention to the facts are what's needed.  If you learn well there, you'll come out with a cast-iron stomach and excellent reflexes. It'll test you and, I hope, reward you, too.
  • Do for reporters what you wished someone in this post had done for you when you were reporting.  Ask reporters what they wish your office could do better, then see if you can make that happen. Think about what would've helped you when the shoe was on the other foot. This makes all the difference in a PIO.  (For example, in my EPA days, if a reporter filed a Freedom of Information Act request, we expedited it without making them go through the entire process.) 
  • Be credible, and use your critical thinking.  Patrick's advice about asking devil's advocate questions is excellent. Vet the information you're given; ask questions about it from all viewpoints. Know your background--you'll be asked about it, within and outside the agency. While senior officials can be intimidating, career government employees must, must, must advise them honestly and earnestly--even if you think they'll decide to do something else. Maybe even especially then. This makes the government smarter.
  • Dana's right about writing: It's the one true core skill.  Newspapering may go, tweets may come, but if you can write--and boy, can you ever write, my friend--more doors will open to you, and stay open.  Keep that skill sharp.
  • You'll go even further with good presenting and public speaking skills.  Down the line, it can mean the difference between a line job and a management opportunity, and it will open a wider network to you as well.  Even if your speaking remains only in meetings and conference calls, your ability to speak cogently and with ease will be appreciated. While you're at it, learn to write remarks for others.
  • Ask for--or go get--training and development on a regular basis.  Government agencies take this more seriously than many workplaces I've been in, so take advantage of it.  Research and suggest options, and ask what's available. Build a network among your fellow trainees, while you're at it.
  • Don't get sucked into the cubicle.  You won't be based in Washington, which helps. Make sure you keep your networks open, get out of the office and meet people, look for contacts who can add perspective to your work. Exercise. Take a walk at lunch and get outdoors. Figure out what helps you reduce stress and do it.
  • If you find out you've chosen wrong, don't hesitate to leave, right away. The longer you invest yourself in the wrong organization and vice versa, the more both of you will pay for it.  Saying "This isn't for me" may be the smartest move you'll ever make, if that's really the case.  You really do have options. Trust me on that.
  • Get some mentors and role models.  Check out this roundup about Gov 2.0 Hero Day to find some innovators in government social media circles, and keep asking mentors and others for advice.  Most importantly...
  • Be bold.  Trust yourself; if it feels wrong, stop and ask why, then act on your good instincts. Try things.  Take some risks and learn from them. You'll do better than you can ever imagine, if you let yourself.  If you don't try, you'll never find out.
I served as the Deputy Associate Administrator for Communications, Education and Public Affairs at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and I still call my government service the "toughest job I'll ever love."  I hope your new job will make you feel the same. Was that what you wanted to know? If not, send more questions and keep us posted.  Readers with more advice are most welcome to leave it in the comments.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Why copyright needn't be a barrier to online sharing

Chris Brogan started my morning with a post reflecting on the nature of sharing online in social networks and why it matters.  And here's another take, just as encouraging--but one that you may want to share with the internal naysayers, attorneys and others who want to strictly limit sharing of your organization's copyrighted material online.

YouTube's head of user experience Margaret Stewart uses this five-minute TED Talk to describe the "complex web of relationships" created on the web--and how to think about copyright and how it works in an ecosystem where sharing is popular and natural.   She uses the Chris Brown video of "Forever," looking at fan uploads of the video, including the virally popular "Wedding Party" video, which used the tune as the wedding party danced down the aisle, eventually getting 40 million views.  The 18-month-old song had dropped from the charts before this video, but went back to number 4 on iTunes as a result of the viral sharing. Instead of going after the wedding couple who posted it, Sony put ads against the video and took other steps to encourage the sharing.

Stewart describes how YouTube scans the equivalent of 100 years of video and compares it to reference files every day, looking for matches between copyrighted and copied material. Interestingly, she says that most copyright holders allow some level of reuse and sharing (to do so, you need to register your copyrighted material in YouTube's content verification system, which forms the basis of the scan-and-match process.)

Stewart encourages companies and organizations to avoid blocking all reuse and look instead for the opportunities that sharing can offer. "By simply blocking all reuse, you'll miss out on new art forms, new audiences, new distribution channels and new revenue streams," she notes.

What possibilities do you see in sharing your content?  For more on the powerful audience numbers, trends and tips that are most recent in online video, check out this post, which includes a tip on finding video that's in the public domain--and audience numbers that may help you rethink your online video sharing policies.

Join the discussion for communications directors on don't get caught on Facebook.

Weekly writing coach: This is your brain on rhyme

I love a shiny new online wordsmithery tool as much as you do, but this week, a pair of posts let me see a new tool and get some new thinking about rhymes and how writers can use them. 

First, the shiny new tool:  RhymeBrain, which lets you enter words for which you want to build rhymes, alliterations and (yes) insults; this Download Squad post describes some of what you can do with it.  It claims to be able to "rhyme any word," so throw your best at it. (I entered "orange," and found a score or more decent options.)  Enter two words to get alliterative options.

Why would you need rhymes and alliterations?  Think about writing for speakers: alliteration and assonance are excellent rhetorical tools, and can be critical factors in developing messages that can become the core of many written and spoken products. (Check out all the 25-and-counting posts on message development over at The Eloquent Woman blog for more ideas and inspiration.)

Once you've built some rhymes, read The Poetry of Rhyming Compounds, where you'll get a chance to think through why compound rhymes work--and the varied contexts in which they're used in the workplace, from flippant shorthand to tension relievers in grim situations.  But keep in mind this note from the article: Rhymes and alliteration serve memory best, so bear that in mind when writing a speech for someone or making notes for yourself.  Make it easy on both speaker and listener with judicious use of rhyme to make it more memorable.

Join the don't get caught community on Facebook to share resources, discuss new trends and crowdsource solutions in communications and social media.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Weekend read: My weekly share from Twitter

I'm @dontgetcaught on Twitter, where I share lots of good reads and links about social media and communications. Here's some of what caught my eye in the week of June 6:
  • New live-event tool: Can you see me now? from the Communications Network blog looks at using LiveMatrix for your organization's live events--the idea is to create a kind of one-stop site for those seeking live online fare. Let me know if you're trying this one, and how it's working for you.
  • Audience data: Who's using Facebook around the world? The demographics of Facebook's top 15 country markets offers an update on global trends on the popular social network.
  • And more audience data: New Harris poll: Americans hate health care, love science and technology got cheers from my science pals and jeers from my health policy pals--but it contains hints for shaping your message based on where the audiences are now.
  • New resource on communicating science: The Plainspoken Scientist is a new blog from the American Geophysical Union, focused on helping scientists communicate with the public -- I like this find, and am delighted that the don't get caught blog is on its blogroll.  Keep an eye on this one.
  • And a heads-up: Early word came this week that Pew will be releasing new data on how Latino youth use technology next week. @SusannahFox said we should monitor this site

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Another offer: Email newsletter credit

Offers are rolling in this week: Constant Contact, the service I use for my two monthly newsletters--Step Up Your Speaking, which focuses on one speaker issue per month, and For Communications Directors, which focuses on issues challenging directors in communications and social media strategy, training and content--has a great referral offer for my readers.  If you sign up for Constant Contact using this link, we'll both get a $30 credit toward producing email newsletters, announcements and event invitations. (The signup is for a free 60-day trial, by the way.)  Sign up for either of my newsletters using this link.

Presenting yourself: new looks and a discount

While most of my work is with companies, government agencies and nonprofit or educational organizations, I still spend a lot of my time working with executives on how they present themselves--and I hope I know how to take my own advice.  Whether I like it or not, trainees in particular look to see how I present myself when I'm teaching them speaking and presentation skills. That's why the best kind of feedback sounds like what this workshop attendee said: "Denise is a great role model for how to implement these techniques effectively."

I've been remaking how I present myself this summer, and it's an issue we all face.  How are you seen online, or in person at a networking event?  Do people remember you from what's on your business card?  Do they keep the card?  Did you make an impression?  Online, what's revealed about you that's "sticky" and memorable?  Does your page/profile/avatar look just like everyone else's?  Or are yours memorable and different?

For me, the task gets a bit more complicated, as I have two brands--don't get caught for my primary consulting in communications and social media strategy, training and content development, and The Eloquent Woman for the blog and workshops of the same name, focused on public speaking and presentation training.  In some cases--as in the BlogHer conference later this summer--I want the primary contact information to reflect the Eloquent Woman brand.  In other cases, don't get caught covers most circumstances.  And while I've been adjusting my online presence for some time now, this time, I have social media firmly in mind while making these choices. Not surprisingly, social networks are helping me make it happen, too.

There are three steps to the transformation, and making the brands complement one another:
  • Retooling the websites, so that the blogs are the primary focus of the content, with additional pages for background information.  I've selected similar templates for the design in colors that complement one another--not that anyone but me looks at them side-by-side, mind you.  The designs, which are standard templates that allow for easy customization, translate well to mobile formats, which is important to me (and should be to you) going forward.  Blogger in Draft is my blog and site engine, and I'm very satisfied with it.  This aspect of the transformation's nearly done.
  • New photography portraits.  Here, I'm following the advice of photographer Leslie Duss, who'll be taking my photos in sessions that start this weekend.  I didn't want staid, static, standard portraits, so she suggested gathering a few friends for a party.  They get to eat, drink and distract me; I get to look normal and expressive. We'll see how it goes. Leslie knows that, among the uses we need to plan for are my icons and avatars on various online profiles--that is, very small portraits--as well as more standard uses.  I'm calling it "cameras & cocktails" and look forward to sharing the results with you.  (We'll be doing another session sans distractors, too.) Check out Leslie's very good blog at the link above; it's what helped me decide to hire her.  And yes, I found her on Twitter. 
  • Business cards.  My business card needs seem to change faster these days.  I create a Facebook page here, grab a custom URL for it a few weeks later, and whoops! I need a change on the cards.  So I'm following the lead of social media stars like Chris Garrett, who led me to and Chris Brogan, who advocates a version of "make your own business cards."  Using MOO, I've come up with two different cards, one for my primary consulting as don't get caught, and another that emphasizes products and services under The Eloquent Woman brand.  In each case, I chose designs that offer several styles of similar-looking cards in one pack.  (The don't get caught cards are above right, the Eloquent Woman cards are above left.)  What's great about these varied packs: People getting the cards can see right away that they're all different--and they like that.  I'm getting more reaction to that aspect of the card than any other design I've used over the past 20 years.  Chalk it up to customizing -- or appearing to customize -- for your audience.  And as Chris Garrett notes, you can have a card just for your blog, or just for one event, or for one aspect of your work...a wonderful concept for those who are job-hunting, changing their careers, or just bored with a 2,000-card pack that all looks the same.
MOO has a special 10 percent discount going on now, if you use my code, which is 8DUAQ9. It expires June 30, 2010. 

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Do you understand the public whose understanding you seek?

Back when I was directing communications for the American Chemical Society, a new board president--chaired professor, holder of many patents, well-regarded lab director--told me he wanted to launch a major initiative to combat the public's lack of understanding of chemistry's benefits. "The public doesn't understand what chemists do and they don't hold them in high regard," he told me.  So I asked a question that derailed the whole project.

"Where are the data?"

I asked because, having watched scientists call for more public understanding or appreciation of science for many years, I knew that the existing data suggested two things: Public understanding of science has been consistently low, and public respect for scientists has been consistently high for many decades.  We went on, by the way, to work with Harris Interactive to confirm those data for chemists, and found the public was both knowledgeable and held the profession in high regard.  We turned to a new task: Educating chemists about the public's nice views about them.

Today, in the "Communicating Science" workshops I facilitate for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, we start the day thinking about the audience--something that startles many of the participating scientists.  By the end of the day, the scientists are grilling each other about their intended audiences and fine-tuning their views of what the "general public" is.

Now the "other AAAS," the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, with support from the Sloan Foundation, is asking "Do scientists understand the public?" and releasing a report at a June 29 event here in Washington.  (I'll be attending and will report back on the findings here.)  To my mind, it's the question that needs to come first when communicating with a public audience.

This isn't a lesson just for scientists, but for any professional group, business or individual who wants to share something with a public audience.  Most people start with what they want to say, what they see, and what they've heard, rather than look for research and data that can shed light on whether your experience matches that of a larger population, or the specific one you want to reach.  Because the facts you learn about your audience can shape your message, your method of approach or even whether you should try communicating with a particular group, put the audience first in your communications strategy.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Weekly writing coach: Standing room

One of my all-time favorite opening lines is "I write this sitting in the kitchen sink." But that won't do for us consultants, so I'm writing this at the standing desk shown here.

I chose a standing desk for lots of reasons: To reduce back, shoulder, hip and leg problems; because I'm doing more dictation for the same reason and don't need to be stuck in a chair; and to allow me to move more easily.  Now I have three work areas in my office.  The standing desk is my primary writing space.  A regular desk--really a long table--is my sitting workstation, although I do have a drafting stool that's tall enough to work at the standing desk when necessary.  The third area is a printing/video processing/scanning station, separate from the other two.

So far, I'm finding that I focus better and feel better physically when I use the standing desk.  The keyboard shelf sits exactly at the right spot for me to type with my shoulders in a natural position. I like that this model doesn't take up lots of room and can roll anywhere I need it to be.  If I wanted to, I could use it as a practice lectern--it's tall enough.

Here's some of the reading I used to help me make the decision:

  • Standing at your Mac to save your back from the Unofficial Apple Weblog led me to this Safco Muv Stand-up Adjustable Height Workstation, which shipped free because I have Amazon's Prime shipping.  (Shipping's a major consideration with a heavy item like this one--some standing desks went off my list when the shipping got up to $200.)
  • This Business Week article, "Your Office Chair is Killing You," came across my desk several ways--interestingly, it suggests that the more comfortable ergonomic chairs may be making you sit longer, not desirable. A Berkeley professor quoted in it says, "Short of sitting on a spike, you can't do much worse than a standard office chair." Got it.
  • Lifehacker loves a standing desk and has lots of posts for those of you wanting to make your own (or repurpose something else).  It offered these exercises you can do at your standing desk, too.
I'd love to hear from those of you who've considered or are using standing desks--feel free to make your recommendations in the comments.

Related posts:  Weekly writing coach: Wristed (with wrist exercise video)

Weekly writing coach: Hammock time! Ways to improve your writing by not writing

Director's perspective: Exploring social media for university research

(Editor's note:  In a new series with perspectives from communications directors in different types of organizations, I asked Jim Barlow, who directs science and research communications at the University of Oregon, to share his process for exploring how social media fits into the university's existing array of communications tools.  Jim did some of his exploring using social media tools to ask questions and network with colleagues--a good example of how you should be carrying out your own quest.  Share your ideas and reactions in the comments.)

Some 10,000 years ago, technologically speaking, in the mid 1990s, I was in a small group of outlandish thinkers who boldly predicted -- to "yeah, right" cynical reactions -- that with the Web we soon would NOT need The Media to tell our university research stories. We could bypass reporters. This was long before the economy melted and print publications shriveled and ousted science writers.

We have used our websites to display our work, letting people find our news by way of search engines. Our "unreported" news releases no longer were dead in reporters' trash cans; they were alive and well on the Web.

Like everyone else, from PR gurus at private companies to general institutional public information officers to my fellow science communicators, we are scrambling to evolve further, to carve newer niches to reach our constituents. A big challenge for me is the heavy basic-research nature of the University of Oregon. Reporters today rarely cover basic science, and my colleagues elsewhere whose news releases involve applied research aren't seeing levels of media coverage they used to. A lot of us are diving into social media. Makes sense. It's new (sort of) and hot (at the moment) and working (but privacy issues threaten to drive off some users).

So in an effort to look forward-thinking, I asked others what they are doing, so I can shamelessly steal their ideas and add my own spices to, hopefully, make it look like I know what I'm doing. I posted a question about social media use on LinkedIn, on the PIOnet subgroup of PRwise. This generated great response and ideas and URLs.

I asked my non-scientific-minded friends on my personal Facebook page how and where they get their science news. Interestingly, virtually none agreed that science and medical coverage has declined. They point "news" available online. So maybe they aren't so driven by the idea that reporters add perspective and present challenging questions about newly promoted findings. They seem to be OK with what they find.

To no surprise, I have chosen to use Facebook to promote science and research news at my university. My big issue is content. Do I do as some do and simply post headlines and teasers that drive Facebook viewers to our communications website? I want to be more innovative. I'm looking to make the best of my opportunity. But I worry that Facebook will, tomorrow, give way to a new and better tool, or that I am adopting the wrong tool.

I'm a one-man science communications shop. My staff is me, myself and I. We rarely get along. I have proposed to approach my job with new vigor and, essentially, remake the way I do science news. On our Facebook page, I propose to present:

Teaser headlines and descriptions of news releases linked to our regular website

Very brief notes about federal grants

Shorter news releases on findings that are unlikely to get media pickup

Videos with short descriptions featuring faculty talking about what drives them

Videos with short stories featuring researchers and their students in the field

Brief coverage of talks (evening lectures by guests, or even some occasional department-specific lectures)

Short "news briefs" on new projects, new equipment, summer research programs, research outreach

• Updates on science-related construction work on campus

Links to media coverage involving our science/research faculty

• Photos/videos of undergraduate students working in research labs

• Links to other research/science news appearing in newsletters or websites of other departments and units across campus
Media may find fodder for stories. Maybe not. So who's my audience? That's where the evolution of our business has really changed. We now serve everybody. The overall principle would be to use Facebook as a one-stop gateway that:
• Provides reports of the latest UO research

• Provides potential story ideas

Promotes the basic and applied research we do by putting individual faculty faces and videos in easy-to-understand ways

• Serves to quietly recruit potential new undergraduate students

• Serves to quietly recruit potential new graduate students

• Provides nuggets of research news worthy of use by development officers

• Provides up-to-date research activity that could be bullet points for administrators making public comments somewhere

• Provides a quick overview to the general public and all other university stakeholders to go to catch up on campus science

• Provide content (as links, fodder for longer stories, newsletter nuggets) easily adaptable for use by other units/department on campus
• Provide a seemingly alive resource for anyone who ventures in
What I really hope happens is that people finding and coming to our Facebook page will follow links to other sites and respond with feedback and suggestions. The UO participates in Futurity, the comprehensive science-related news site that features stories from members of the Association of American Universities and select United Kingdom institutions. A couple of my releases posted there have generated feedback, some negative. A couple of criticisms were well stated; I not only responded but I’ve also kept those comments in mind when writing future releases.

Feedback is good. There is a public mistrust of science. While we continue to shovel out our news, we should be listening to our audiences and use what they say to fine-tune our messaging. We can't please everyone. But I believe we can make more people a little happier.

Am I crazy? Have I overlooked something? We all have a lot to learn. And do.