Thursday, December 29, 2011

The 2011 top communications & social media posts

It's almost time to ring in 2012, but before we do, I'm taking a look at the posts you read the most in 2011. From balking experts to getting more efficient with social media tools, this list is full of variety, strategy and controversy--just like usual. Here's to a successful and prosperous new year to you and your team, along with our top posts of the year:
  1. Are your experts blowing off media interviews? How to avoid a no-show takes top honors for the year. Again, I don't think it's a good sign. I have another workshop on how to Be an Expert at Working with Experts coming up Feb. 1, with a discount if you register by Jan. 10--a reflection, perhaps, of this persistent issue.
  2. Cisco to kill Flip cameras and I own 4 of them summed up the plight of many of you back in April. Flips are still available at bargain prices, but this got us all preparing for the transition.
  3. Call it the CEO secret: Posterous's new features make it even easier to blog is one of several top posts that gets at a continual goal we share: Taming the social media beast. This one might just get your CEO to blog. She can email, can't she? That's all it takes.
  4. What auto-posting can't do for you: 3 convincing reads will get you off that dashboard and into the conversation--with better results. In some specific cases, that auto-post will cost you readers and fans.
  5. Your pinata strategy: When your topic gets hijacked by a political campaign will still be useful in the 2012 campaigns, with tactics you can use to get ready, rather than side-swiped.
  6. How to blog or tweet more without working too hard summed up the dream of a lot of readers (and I'm right with you, there). These tactics keep me prolific and yet well-rested.
  7. 16 ways I use Evernote on business travel, another efficiency post, shared some secrets and tips I've been using with one of my favorite tools. I don't leave home without it.
  8. Creative ways with QR codes for locations, conferences and designers offered some great--and concrete--examples of what you can really do with the new bar code. Functional ideas here that retain creativity.
  9. Before you bake that QR code, ask me whether I use them--like @KingArthurFlour did shares a smart step you should take before launching into new tools like the QR code. KAF posted it and elicited consumer input via its Facebook page; find out why their approach was smart.
  10. PR, media relations folks: Tip more, pitch less to reach reporters suggests you recalibrate your approach to pitching for better relationships with reporters--and better results. I'm proud that both reporters and PR mavens shared this one widely.
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Friday, December 23, 2011

Weekend read: My weekly share on Twitter, holiday edition

(Note to readers: The blog will be on hiatus until next Thursday, December 29, when we'll share the 10 most-read posts for 2011.)

If your cutting board looks like this just before a holiday weekend, you're not at my house...but despite all the prep, I've still got this week's cookie box of treats, tips and finds I shared on Twitter, where I'm @dontgetcaught. Find your own favorites from my plate of selections:
Seats are filling for my January 10 lunch-and-learn on your 5 best social media resolutions for 2012--in part because the registration deadline is January 4. Sign up now and relax for the rest of your holiday.

If you're celebrating a holiday this weekend--or just enjoying the fact that others' attention is elsewhere--I wish you all the same: Warmth, family, friends, food, lights, rest and wonder. Thanks so much for spending a small part of your week, and weekend, here with me.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

How many company pages do you have--and why?

The Facebook brand page did something you might now be cursing: It sparked an avalanche of brand pages on other social sites. Today, your company can have a page on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and more. (Although we learned this week that most of the brands with Google+ pages don't have many followers yet.) Which gives rise in turn to the question: Must you have a brand or company page on every service that offers one?

The answer, of course, lies in where your audiences are--and where your social media base is. For example, my company's social media base is its blogs, and my social pages serve to amplify that content base where my audiences are. But it's not always easy to decide where your audience will find you, especially with popular new networks cropping up.

How many pages does your company have? Where are they and why are they in those places? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

4 great bite-size social media ideas & resources

I keep a great stash of social-media ideas and resources, and sometimes, the ideas are perfect packages, the right-size bite to get you started in a new direction or providing just the example you were looking for. Sample this quartet of video, blogging and tweeting ideas, straight from my stash:
  • Paging the next Julia. Or you: The great Food 52 blog always has fantastic videos. Its videographer divulges secrets on how to make your own cooking video by "shooting and editing cooking videos quickly and painlessly, with just one camera and a cheap mic." If you have anything to share on video that's step-by-step and involves demos, check and adapt these tips to your own project.
  • Think like your users: Photographing inside the Phillips is just the type of blog post you should be doing for your company or institution: It's got practical tips that a user would want to know, plus related information they might not know. In this case, it's about taking photos inside one of Washington, DC's best small museums, and how shutterbugs can compensate for the lack of flash--complete with photographic examples from the collection. Basic, but essential. Study this one closely.
  • Live-tweeting resources: Steve Buttry's doing it again, this time compiling great examples of live-tweeting in a series that includes examples from live-tweeting court proceedings, government meetings, and a breaking news story. Designed for reporters, they're also a must for communicators who work with reporters or do their own live tweeting, along with his collection of suggestions for live-tweeting.
  • One minute. Outstanding online video:  This video did a simple thing well: In one minute, it compiles views from the roof of one Manhattan building--shots of other buildings, traffic, the river, clouds. Watch, then imagine your version of this on your company or organization's blog as a way to situate your headquarters, share your view of the world, describe your neighborhood, connect with your community. In a minute. Then think about doing this from a ground's-eye view, down one hallway and other perspectives:


Rivers & Roads from Ryan&Heidi on Vimeo.



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Monday, December 19, 2011

Doing more & spending less time at social media: Cleanup time

You wouldn't be my first client to say "I want to spend less time on social media but post more frequently," as one participant in my upcoming lunch-and-learn on 2012 social media resolutions has done. And as frequently as I post, I can only say "Me, too."

So before I turn the page on 2011, I've started my now-annual "cleanup" of my social media habits, especially my reading list--the source of my content stash for blog posts--and how I handle incoming tweets, messages and emails, all of which bring me opportunities along with the time suck. Here's what I'm doing this week, in no particular order, in case it's helpful to you, too:
  • Deleting blogs I don't want to follow any more: I manage my reading via Google Reader, and subscribe widely to RSS feeds that interest me. This week, I'm deleting subscriptions to blogs that 1) post too little, so much so that I can no longer remember what they're about; 2) post several times a day, but are only rarely useful to me, since someone will alert me to the posts I want to see; and 3) my wishful-thinking-reading, as in blogs I was hoping would be useful but have not proven so. At the same time, I'm eliminating any duplicate feeds that probably wound up there when I subscribed to someone else's list, package or set of feeds.
  • Converting my email newsletter/deal subscriptions to Evernote: Like many of you, I subscribe to email newsletters and deal offers that come via email. In an effort to get my email inbox even more under control, I'm taking the time to change my subscriptions so they go straight to Evernote, which gives me a special email address for this purpose. That will let me take one 10-minute stint a day to review and clear those emails, without cluttering up my email inbox.
  • Subscribing to the Twitter feeds of people whose tweets I don't want to miss: For every underproducing blog I'm deleting above, there are people whom I follow that I consider can't-miss reads. I'm not on Twitter all day, every day, so I subscribe to the RSS feeds of the people I consider essential. That puts their tweets into my Google Reader stream, so all my reads are in one place. Unfortunately, Twitter has made this more difficult to do by removing the RSS feed link from user pages, but you may be able to create a workaround with ifttt.
  • Making the most of my current automations, which combine Evernote, ifttt, Google Reader and other tools to make sure that I capture what I need to keep my blogging content stash full and up-to-date--without me having to do much at all. As it should be.
Next, I'm going to come up with some more automations that ifttt can help me accomplish. If I had to choose one tool--oh, don't make me--ifttt would be right up there, along with the new integration of Google+ into Blogger. Both have made my prolific blogging easier than ever.

What are you doing to fine-tune and clean up your social media reading lists? Leave word in the comments...

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Weekend read: My weekly share on Twitter, with favorites

Leave your gloves behind this week? I kept my fingers warm retweeting and passing along good reads, new data and great insights on Twitter, where I'm @dontgetcaught. I picked up a few things I can recommend warmly this week. Here are my best finds:
Have you signed up yet for the workshops coming up in January and February?  We're already getting provocative questions from communicators registering for the January 10 lunch-and-learn on your best social media resolutions for 2012. And your experts are silently hoping that you'll get some insights on how best to work with them on communications in the Be an Expert on Working with Experts workshop, a one-day offering on February 1--with a discount if you register early. I hope you'll share these opportunities with colleagues, and I hope to see you there!

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

What communicators don't know about their experts

You may have worked with scores of scientists and experts, or be new to the game. But time and again, I see communicators operating without some core understandings about how experts think, work and approach communicating with non-technical audiences. Despite frequent contact, you may still be missing a real understanding of:
If you're running into otherwise unexplained brick walls and problems, you may need the extra insights I'm offering in the one-day workshop Be an Expert on Working with Experts. The workshop, set for February 1, 2012, in Washington, DC, will help you understand experts' default communications styles and why what you're usually asking them to do runs counter to their instincts. You'll learn tactics for working with them more effectively, with materials and tips you can use again and again.

 The latest version of my Be an Expert on Working with Experts workshop takes place June 19, 2012 in Washington, DC. Updated and revised, it will help you understand your experts' default communications styles and why what you ask them to do runs counter to their instincts. You'll learn tactics for dealing with them more effectively and get tips and materials you can use again and again.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What experts don't know about their communicators

You've got them in your organization, I'll bet: The scientist, policy expert or subject-matter specialist who has no idea that you're available to work with them, or that you need to know about their latest insights so you can raise more funding, arrange interviews with reporters or brief legislators.

We'll be exploring that knowledge gap between the expert and the communicator in my upcoming workshop, Be an Expert on Working with Experts. Here are some more things experts don't always understand or know about their communicators:
  • That you have a methodology--and what it is: Media interviews, donor presentations and briefings at the capital may be old hat to you, but to your experts, your planning and methods, the rules of your road, aren't always apparent. Are you making sure that they understand why you need them to communicate in a certain way?
  • That you are available to help them: Too often, communicators are seen as screeners, hand-holders or barriers to communicating. Less often does the expert understand that you can coach them,  help them plan what they're going to say, or share details and background that will help them get comfortable.
  • That they can learn some of your skills: Communicating with non-specialist audiences doesn't come naturally to most subject specialists, yet they can learn those skills. Are you making them feel that it's possible and giving them the help to do that?
  • That you can help them reach their goals: Whether it's more funding for their research, improved laws or a wider audience of appreciative fans, scientists and experts have wish lists. Do they know you can help them get closer to those goals?
Be an Expert on Working with Experts is the workshop I wish I'd had many times over the course of my career working with scientists, policy experts and other subject-specialists--and I'm sharing my insights, tips and tactics that you can use again and again to help them communicate more effectively with public audiences. It's a one-day session, set for February 1, and is centrally located and close to public transportation in Washington, DC. You'll get continental breakfast, lunch and lots of learning about experts' default communications styles and why those are pretty much the opposite of what you need them to do--and how to bridge that gap.

Registration is $350, but if you register by January 11, it's just $300 per person. Sign up here, and consider bringing a team member or your whole team--it's a great way to reinforce your long after the workshop is over.  I hope you'll share this opportunity with your colleagues!

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lunch-and-learn participants share 2012 social questions, resolutions

You want to know the latest and emerging trends in social media...and at the same time, you know you could be more consistent, frequent or effective with your social-media efforts. But how do you catch up and refocus?

It's easy: Let's have lunch. Communicators are already signing up for Your 5 best social media resolutions for 2012, a lunch-and-learn session in Washington, DC, on January 10, and I hope you will join us. I'll be sharing some topline trends for you to keep in mind, then giving you what I think your 5 best bets will be for improving your social-media efforts in the new year. It's a quick and easy way to rethink what you're doing and make some small adjustments that will make a big difference in the year to come.

The registration form asks you to share what you most want to learn about in social media for 2012. Here's what some participants are asking:
  • What makes for useful/interesting contributions to on-line presence that are meaningful to your target audiences?
  • How can I make social media efforts less time consuming and more frequent?
  • How do I find more time for social posts?
  • How do I find the right audiences?
  • Automation. I understand how to do it, and pros and cons of losing your voice if doing too much. But would like to hear more about best practices.
  • What are some strategies on making effective use of each platform?
  • How do I effectively use video?
Come share your question with us and join the discussion. Just $30, the lunch-and-learn includes your lunch and your learning--and you'll get an electronic "handout" following the lunch, so you don't need to take notes. The session is located in downtown DC, close to Metro Center and easily accessed via public transportation. Register here by January 4 to take part...and share your big social media challenge for 2012 in the comments.

And do me a favor: Please forward this to a colleague or two, or invite your team to join us. Registration is limited, so make your plans today.

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Friday, December 09, 2011

Weekend read: My weekly share on Twitter, with favorites

Here's just the shot you need to get yourself to the weekend: My weekly share of articles, tips and reads I found on Twitter, where I'm @dontgetcaught. This week, we're starting to see lots of year-end compilations, more data reports and the usual mix of crazy stuff. At the end of the post, you'll find details on two workshops you should be attending in early 2012:
You heard it here, first, last week. Now the details on my two forthcoming workshops:
  • Your 5 best social media resolutions for 2012 is a lunch-and-learn session on January 10. For just $30, we'll feed you lunch, plus data on where audiences are headed, and give you tips and ideas to get more consistent, frequent and effective in your social posts. Registration closes January 4, so sign up now--seats are already filling for this session.
  • Be an Expert on Working with Experts, a one-day workshop, returns on February 1. Designed for communicators, fundraisers and others who work with policy wonks, scientists, or any subject-matter expert, this workshop will help you understand their default behaviors and communications styles, then work with them to achieve your goals when you ask them to speak or face non-technical audiences like reporters, donors, legislators, or just the folks in marketing. Some participants have come in teams to ensure they reinforce what they learn. You'll get lots of insight, tactics and materials you can use again and again when coaching experts or just convincing them to participate in public outreach. Registration for this session is $300 if you register by January 11, or $350 per person thereafter, and registration closes on January 25.
On the "experts" workshop, lots of communicators ask: Should I go, or should I send my more junior colleague? Based on my own experience, I peg this workshop at both levels, so that there's plenty for the experienced communicator to reflect on--and a good start for those just starting out. This workshop is full of the thing I wish someone had told me before AND during my long career getting experts to communicate with public audiences...

Please share these workshops with your colleagues and I hope I'll get to see you at one or both sessions. Now: Have a weekend! And thanks, as always, for reading.

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Thursday, December 08, 2011

"We'll just arrest the reporters:" What's your security team communicating?

At one organization where I was conducting a crisis-scenario media training for top executives, we talked about the open nature of the headquarters location and its easy proximity to some major news capitals--which means news media can make their way there quickly in a crisis. "So what will happen in this situation when swarms of reporters come here? You won't be able to close off access to the property easily," I said.

"That's okay," piped up the security chief. "We'll just arrest the reporters." The communicators in the room were shocked. They'd talked to security about all sorts of scenarios and coordination, but he'd never had the chance to say what he'd do with a lot of in-person press coverage. (This led to a discussion of what the headlines would look like if those arrests happened, and agreement that arresting reporters was not, shall we say, sending the right message.)

Apparently, he's not alone: It seems as if police action (and some inaction) are all over the news these days, and not for positive reasons. Police masquerading as protestors infiltrated the ranks of Occupy LA. Pepper-spraying police at the University of California-Davis, thanks to video and photos shared virally, have seen a wide range of reactions to that security decision, from a popular meme to a wider discussion about controlling large crowds. On campus, police involved were placed on leave and protestors called for the chancellor to resign. CBS reported on tasers as the police "weapon of choice" recently, and some police departments are experimenting with putting body-mounted cameras on officers, to capture video of arrests and encounters with suspects.

Perhaps most useful to communicators is this: The New York Times stepped back from the Penn State sex abuse scandal to document how campus police handle a variety of security threats and questions, or are circumvented by administrators. The wide-ranging piece was based not on the current scandal coverage alone, but primarily on a years-past series on problems with campus police forces. From the Times's "story behind the story" email to subscribers:
Dean Baquet, our new managing editor, also had the very smart idea to turn an old piece of great work to new, immediate advantage. Years ago he had worked with Nina Bernstein, an award winning reporter, on a series about the failings of campus police forces. Nina remembered the stories, their lessons, some sources, and perhaps most importantly this: things as screwed up as campus police forces almost never get fixed, or fixed for good. So she returned to the subject, found the same problems, and turned out a story that led to an avalanche of thanks, tips, and calls for action.
That paragraph's telling, and you should share it with your security forces: Reporters (and the public) keep an eye on the public actions of police and security forces, and their mistakes....with long memories. You may not be able to control your security force, but have you talked through with them how their choices will look and what message they're sending?

This issue isn't solely one for university campuses, but you'll find many recent examples in my notebook on university PR issues--a shared notebook on Evernote that anyone can access. I've trained executives and security officials in thinking through what happens under media scrutiny; if you want to schedule a training, email me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Communicators, get expert on working with experts: Feb. 1 workshop open now

The popular "Be an Expert on Working With Experts" workshop returns on Wednesday, February 1, 2012 in downtown Washington, DC--and if you register by January 11, you'll get a special discount on early registration.

Here's the premise behind the workshop: You're smart as a communicator. They're smart at their subject expertise. So why can't you get better results when you work with them to communicate to non-technical audiences? This workshop will help you learn:
  • How to anticipate your experts' default communications style, how to help them see it, and how to show them what public and media audiences want instead;
  • Why they don't need to "dumb down" their information to communicate clearly (and how to handle other common objections they raise);
  • How to assess your experts' skills and training needs, to help you approach coaching in savvy ways;
  • Handling hands-on feedback to smart people, pushback and Q-and-A when you're training experts. Find out what they don't know--but won't tell you--and how to fix that.
If you have experts who blow off media interviews or training, who are afraid to be anything but perfect, who expect you to say "yes" to every wish they have about communicating, or who make reporters work too hard to get a story, this is the workshop for you. Whether you've been struggling with this for a long time or are brand-new to working with experts, you'll gain insights and tactics you can use again and again. Participants also will receive a follow-up email with links, tips and resources.

Continental breakfast and lunch are provided for this useful workshop, but registration is limited. Register by January 11, 2012 for just $300; registration is $350 thereafter, and closes on January 25, 2012.

Communicators have attended this workshop in teams--a productive approach that lets you reinforce what you'll learn--or as solo participants. Please share this information with your colleagues, and email me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz with questions. I look forward to presenting this insightful workshop again, and hope to see you there.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Lunch and learn: Your 5 best social media strategies for 2012

So you didn't accomplish everything you wanted with your social-media efforts this year? That's what resolutions are for. Your 5 best social media resolutions for 2012 is a lunch-and-learn session that will help you think through how to make your social posts more frequent, consistent and easy to do--and how to focus (or re-focus) on strategies that will best meet your audience's needs.

We'll feed you with lunch, audience data and emerging trends, then point you in the right direction to get your new year off to a good start. It's an ideal session if you and your team have started using social media, but want to take your efforts to the next level or fine-tune what you've started. All participants will receive an electronic "handout" of resources and links, so you just need to listen, lunch and learn.

This session takes place on January 10 in downtown Washington, DC, and is accessible via public transportation. Registration is just $30 and includes lunch. Space is limited, so register here by January 4 to attend. Feel free to register a team of people, so you can all start the year out right. You know I'd appreciate it if you pass this along to your colleagues.

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Friday, December 02, 2011

Weekend read: My weekly share on Twitter, with 2 new workshops

Let's hope there's good fortune ahead for your weekend. Many weeks, Twitter's my fortune cookie, waiting to be opened up with surprises inside (though no winning lottery numbers, so far). I'm @dontgetcaught on Twitter and here are the best of the reads, tips and finds I discovered there this week. And at the end of the post, some save-the-date info for new workshops coming in early 2012 on social media and on working with experts.
Now, about those dates:  In Washington, DC, I'll be convening two workshops in early 2012. Save these dates and stand by for details, or email me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz to get on the list for an invitation. And please do share with your colleagues who might be interested:
  • Your 5 best social media resolutions for 2012: On Tuesday, January 10, an inexpensive lunch-and-learn session to help you focus (or re-focus) your social media strategy, based on the latest trends and smartest tactics. Plenty of time for Q&A and a hearty lunch included, from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm.
  • Be an Expert on Working with Experts:  The popular workshop for communicators, fundraisers, government relations and other pros who work with scientists, engineers and other subject-matter experts returns on Wednesday, February 1, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. You'll get insights, tools and tactics you can use again and again. 
Both workshops will be in a downtown DC location close to public transportation and parking. Let me know if you want more information, and have a great weekend.


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Thursday, December 01, 2011

Media interview smarts: Cameras all around you

Used to be that media trainers included "ambush" interviews to prepare trainees how to be ready to be questioned at a moment's notice. That's where a camera operator jumped out from behind something and, wielding a big camera and bright lights, started questioning you, as a test of how well prepared you are for the impromptu question under tough conditions.

I'm not sure, frankly, that anyone I've trained ever faced an ambush interview. I prefer a training ambush that's simple and silent: I just pull out my smartphone. No big lights, no camera operator. But I can leave my device on the table and record what's happening--whether in audio or video--then upload it and post it online in a matter of moments. So can anyone else. CNN just laid off photographers, citing the wide availability of broadcast-quality cameras that anyone can use. Here are some ways users can wield camera phones with even more savvy:
  • Eyes in the back of your head: You can make your smartphone or video camera rotate in a 360-degree circle to capture what's going on around the room, using the EyeSee360 GoPano Micro for iPhone 4/4S for about $80 (there's a version 10 times more expensive for other cameras). 
  • Ear to the ground: Evernote's notetaking apps for desktop or smartphone include audio notes--all you need to do is hit the microphone button, and you're off and recording. Signing up with one of the Evernote-compatible transcription services means you can have a transcript ready quickly, for pennies.
  • Share and share alike: Sharing video is easy from a Flip camera, but not as much from a smartphone--unless you use these sharing apps and advice. Worth reviewing.
But remember, all it takes is a smartphone and no attachments. Do you need a media training for your leaders that's focused on the conditions they'll face today? Email me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz.

As for quality, no less a photographer than Annie Leibovitz, when asked to recommend a good basic camera, pulls out a smartphone in the clip below--and remember, someone trying to ambush you doesn't need museum-quality video:



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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

November's top 10 communications tips & issues

This was the month to enjoy the bounty of the harvest--and our blog posts made this month a blockbuster harvest, thanks to your reading preferences. That's what created this list of the most popular posts in November:
  1. Tune up your Twitter feed, three ways, our most popular post, must mean we all have fall-feed-cleaning on the brain, right?
  2. Digital consumers of science news, a post on data I wished for in the #sciwri11 plenary, was a late-breaking October post that doubled its readership again in November.
  3. The point where Penn State got caught: Lessons for communicators was the first of what I expect will be many lessons drawn from this scandal. 
  4. Tweeting about food: Why it's smarter than you think must've uncovered a lot of folks who've been wanting to do this. Turns out, it might be strategic for business reasons.
  5. Sharing my notebook on university and higher education PR launched a new resource on the blog: I'm sharing my Evernote notebook on this topic, a collection of articles, examples good and bad, videos and more.
  6. 10 non-endorsement ways to use retweets on Twitter suggests that RTs don't just mean "I like this." You can use them strategically, too.
  7. A gift from ifttt: How I restored sharing in Google Reader shares my most recent workaround for a useful feature, now gone.
  8. 4 little gifts communicators should give themselves won't break the bank and might bring you joy. And you deserve them.
  9. Long weekend read: My weekly share on Twitter followed the Thanksgiving holiday, proving you do read on the weekends, don't you?
  10. Advice for communications advisers: A timely read shares a resource on how to be a smart and effective giver-of-counsel, something we can all get better at.
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Monday, November 28, 2011

Holiday awareness bloat: Are you serving it to reporters?

You know that overstuffed, bloated feeling you get after the big holiday meal? That "I can't stand another bite of food or I'll be sick" feeling? Good. Then you'll have something in common with reporters on the other end of your (and others') pitches to cover all those special holidays.

You know what I mean: The more than 12,000 special days, weeks and months your organization, industry or other group has sponsored to generate awareness for your organization. It's a PR idea that has worked not wisely, but too well. Consider the day after Thanksgiving, which you thought was just "Black Friday," the big shopping day. But no, it's also Islamic New Year, Saint Catherine's Day, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Buy Nothing Day, Family Day (in Nevada), Maize Day, National Flossing Day, Sinkie Day and (I am not making this up) You're Welcomegiving Day.

NPR reporter Scott Hensley tweeted earlier this month "Has anybody put together a calendar of the days/weeks/month/years of disease awareness?" That would be Chase's Calendar of Events, which offers the 12,000 count for all holidays. His advice to PR people: "look at the awareness bloat to understand why the peg doesn't work so well anymore." That's especially true if, on your special day, there are other holidays in the same subject-matter category, like disease awareness or food or sports.

In my experience working for many fine organizations, those anniversary/holiday days, weeks or months are in the same communications boat as awards: They sound like a fine idea to your organization's executives or members who want to "raise awareness," but don't meet the bar for reporters. The best a communicator can do is urge that the celebrations' goals are primarily internal, as a rallying point for members, employees, customers or volunteers, rather than as a media blitz. Feel free to use Chase's as a guide: If your special holiday is concurrent with a dozen other worthies, or (as did National Chemistry Week when I worked for the chemists' professional society) conflicts with an overwhelming news event like national elections, start reframing those expectations now. You and the reporters covering you will both heave a sigh of relief.

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Long weekend read: My weekly share on Twitter

Just so you know, this weekly post isn't full of leftovers (unlike your fridge on the day after Thanksgiving here in the U.S.). Instead, I cull the best of the ideas, reads, tips and resources I found and shared on Twitter, where I'm @dontgetcaught--and serve them up for you to read over the weekend. "Making you look smart on Mondays" ought to be the motto. Despite the holiday, this week had plenty of prized items to share, and here they are:
Thanks again for reading the blog--and enjoy your holiday weekend!

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thank you!

Readers make this blog and the don't get caught page on Facebook a success. Today is the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, and I don't want to get caught without telling you how grateful I am to you--you have my thanks today and every day for your part in this adventure. When you read, share, retweet, comment on, and supply tips or leads for posts here, you're helping others make sure they don't get caught unprepared...and you make the blog a richer experience for all of us, me most of all.

I'm also especially grateful for those of you who have allowed me to reprint your great posts, submitted to interviews, or offered guest posts. Thanks so much for adding to our content stash in a concrete way. My hat is permanently tipped to you.

We'll be back tomorrow, posting our usual "weekend read." Today, enjoy your holiday!


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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

4 little gifts communicators should give themselves

Normally the behind-the-scenes folks who help other people get engaging or eloquent or on time for interviews, communicators are the shoemaker's children when it comes to giving themselves things. But I've found four little gifts that you can give yourself, guilt-free--and they're all designed to make you smarter, faster or better at your work. Try these on for size:
  1. Tweet smarts: The newly updated edition of The Twitter Book in paperback, or its Kindle version, which comes out November 28 but is available for pre-order now. It's fully revised and still the best guide on all the ways you can use Twitter, mainly because it includes real tweets as examples (and those are new, too). Great as a primer, and useful for the cognoscenti, it's full of real examples, smart tactics and no-nos. 
  2. Presentation prescience: The Backchannel: How Audiences are Using Twitter and Social Media and Changing Presentations Forever is still the best guide to that mashup that's your presentation and the audience's real-time posting. If you haven't taken the time to think that through, this is your short course.
  3. Newfangled business cards you'll actually like: I've got a variety of business cards and greeting cards from MOO.com, and the people I hand them too are always admiring the paper stock, colors, sizes and designs. They can work with your corporate designs or serve as your designer, add in QR codes or photos, and even give you a pack of cards each with its own image. Use my MOO referral code and give them a whirl.
  4. For that next power-outage emergency: The Duracell Powerhouse Charger, which comes with a USB and mini-USB cable, can juice your phone, tablet or other device during one of those natural disasters we seem to keep having. After this year's hurricane, I stocked up (and at almost 70 percent off, you can hand these out like candy in the office). 
The best gift to yourself if you're a communicator? More training for you, whether it's in handling media interviews, revving up your presentation or speaking skills, or advancing your social media tactics. Email me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz if those are on your wish list.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Tweeting about food: Why it's smarter than you think

"I don't want to join Twitter and find out what you ate for lunch."

It's the universal dismissal of Twitter, the suggestion that we only post about what we just ate, as if that were the consummate waste of a reader's time, let alone the poster's time. Why would you want to lallygag around like that?

Right, because you don't ever talk about food at work, home or in between. You don't eat a big breakfast when you're facing a long work day, make deals over lunch, or steal candy from the office jar. You don't line up at that trendy food truck on lunch break, or hit the bar around the corner because their happy hour sliders make your heart sing. You're not dieting or quitting a diet. You don't cook or let others cook for you. You don't ask for seconds, special-order, takeout. You don't gather around the holiday board with your loved ones. No sirree, not you. All business, you are. Without food touching it.

I'm on to those anti-food-tweeters, because that diss sounds like all the other automatic dismissals of Twitter by people who are too afraid to try it--they're just making food the roadkill, so to speak, with a little side-diss of you and your overall tweeting for good measure.

Truth is, not everyone tweets about food. But those who do are accomplishing all sorts of useful and often businesslike, even profitable, things that you're not. And yes, I am one of them. Why? Food might just be the One True Social Media Topic, because it does so many things you already want and need to accomplish in social media circles. Food:
  • Is a universal connector: It's considered one of the most basic needs of humankind, something your stomach tells you on a regular basis. That opens you up to more conversations, being relevant as it is to more people. (You do want to connect and have conversations on social media, right?) Choosing food as one of your topics is as good a bet as any that others will start a chat with you--everyone can relate to food, no matter their position. It works at cocktail parties and networking events, and it works on Twitter. As points of entry go, it's easy. 
  • Gets as complex and intellectual as you wish: Go read what food writer Ruth Reichl's having for breakfast. I dare you. Then engage with Mark Bittman or Marion Nestle on food politics and research. Lately, I'm getting 140-character recipes from master chefs Marcus Samuelsson and Eric Ripert that I can put to use in the kitchen. What you got? That's serious food.
  • Invites information-sharing: A tweet about what you're eating might let me ask for the recipe or a restaurant recommendation, bring me around the corner to your office to see if you'll share, let me tell you about a better/worse/made-by-me dish, discover we both like liver and onions or something else we have in common. (I once worked in an office in which no fewer than six of us turned out to like liver and onions, and we had a memorable lunch of the same that bonded us forever--the few, the proud.)
  • Adds dimension: If you're mostly all-business on Twitter, posting about what or where you're eating lets us see more about you, layering on perspective that makes you multi-dimensional. So much the better if you have a special take on food, whether you cook it, eat it or choose wines to go with it. Even sharing special meals--you're off to an anniversary dinner or have just been honored at a banquet--helps us know you better.
  • Provides an ongoing source of topics: You'll be eating every day, won't you, so you'll have an ever-unfolding array of content if you choose to tweet about food. Food can lead to all sorts of conversational avenues (are you eating, cooking, delivering, producing, inspecting, describing?) as well, which further expands your content options.
  • Cements business deals: My food tweeting--mostly about what I'm cooking--has ferreted out every client or potential client of mine on Twitter who likes to cook or eat well. That means we have more in common, and more reasons to talk. You can keep your cold calls and mailers, my friend. Over here, we're swapping recipes and plotting good meals for the next time we're in the same city. Food-tweeting can lead easily to meetings in real life, and I guarantee the food-tweeter will enjoy better meals on travel, thanks to Twitter pals (yes, @egculbertson, I'm looking at you).
  • If you wish, limits what you share, on safe ground: Being a universal topic also makes food a safe one. I often advise new tweeters who want to balance personal and professional topics on Twitter to pick three personal topics they'd talk to anyone about at a business cocktail party or before a meeting, and food might well be one of them. You can show yourself to be a person, not a bot, more effectively that way. I do it with food, travel and music, myself.
  • Is more than a tweet: As with any social medium, you shouldn't mistake the medium for the content.  People tweet about food because they enjoy making it and eating it, and sometimes, sharing it because they delight in it, want to complain about it, or hope you'll join them. Breaking bread isn't about the breaking, but the bread--and coming together to do it.
If those of us who tweet about food want reassurance, there's the warm and newly open kitchen of Dinnerlist, a new social site that lets you share what you ate for dinner, along with recipes, food experiments and more in open or closed groups you create. Chef Faye Hess of the FayeFood blog--one of my favorite food writers--is behind it. Ready to stop dissing and start tweeting? Next week sees the debut of the updated second edition of The Twitter Book, the best guide going. Pre-order it now. You can find me on Twitter as @dontgetcaught.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Weekend read: My weekly share on Twitter, with favorites

Did lightning strike this week--in a good way? Here's hoping you didn't get hit, but had your best work illuminated. Lots of sparks flew on Twitter this week, where I'm @dontgetcaught. Here's the best of what I shared there this week:
What a week! I appreciate your readership, tips and feedback, as always. Enjoy your weekend...

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