Friday, April 27, 2012

Weekend read: My weekly share on Twitter

I hope you have a handle on what went down in your world this week, because it's time for the weekend. I've had a jam-packed month and it's been a jam-packed week in my Twitter stream. Time for me to get a handle on the best ideas and finds from others on Twitter, and I do that with this curated collection. Can you handle it? I expect so:
And here's a great job, from a group to which I belong: The Communications Network, an association of communicators in philanthropy, is looking for a community manager. Send this to smart people you know.

What a month it's been--but I know I wouldn't have made it this far without you. Thanks, as always, for hanging out here. We'll always have the weekend...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Communicators: Gain expertise on experts on June 19

When you work with subject-matter experts--scientists, policy wonks or other smart folks--to get them to communicate clearly in public settings, how does it go? Do they blow off media interviews you've worked hard to set up? Or do they agree to training opportunities, then blow them up? Maybe they've got a high-level fear of failure that keeps them quiet when opportunities come around. No matter what, you know something's gone wrong...but what to do about it?

After a career of working with smart folks, scientists and experts, I've developed the workshop I wish I'd had much earlier--and it works well whether you're a newbie communicator or a seasoned pro. Be an Expert on Working with Experts returns on Tuesday, June 19, 2012, here in Washington, DC. Register for this unusual professional development opportunity and learn about:
  • Your experts' default communications style and why you're asking them to do the exact opposite of what they've learned, as well as how to bridge the gap;
  • Handling introverts, extroverts and egos, and how each one responds differently to your coaching;
  • Why they don't need to "dumb down" their expertise, and how to handle this and other common objections they raise to communicating with non-technical audiences;
  • Handling hands-on feedback to smart people, pushback and Q&A when you're training experts. Find out what they don't know--but won't tell you--and how to fix that. 
Early registration is recommended--this workshop has had a growing waiting list, and registrations are already coming in. 

Many participants in this workshop come with a work partner or team, which helps them to continue reinforcing the learning on their own. But even if you register on your own, you'll come away with tactics and resources you can use again and again with experts of every type. Due to the specialized nature of the workshop, attendees learn from one another as well as from me--we wind up having insightful conversations based on what's really happening in your communications efforts today. The workshop is a small-group session to allow plenty of time for hands-on exercises, discussion and your particular questions, and you'll get plenty of takeaway materials for ongoing reference.

Register now at the early registration rate of $300 per person. (If you're on don't get caught on Facebook, you can register at this link.) After May 25, registration will be $350, and all registration closes on June 10. You'll get continental breakfast and lunch at the workshop, which is conveniently located right next to the Red Line Metro Center stop in downtown Washington, DC, close to Amtrak trains and with convenient nearby parking. Sign up today! I'm looking forward to sharing insights with you at this special--and specialized--professional development opportunity.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The socialized op-ed: 4 new options for opinion pieces

We pay less attention to them than the shiny social tools, but op-eds and opinion articles really expanded their range and came into their own in social media. Some of the first corporate blogs were, in essence, op-ed platforms that shared official and dissenting opinions. Today, your op-ed has many options thanks to social media. Here are four I've been noticing:
  1. Questioning the questioner: Question sites from Quora to allow for a longer discussion of the question posed by your op-ed, so think of them as the after-party for your opinion posts. Mashable's roundup of the web's most buzzworthy questions of 2011 included several discussions of op-eds and opinions, such as the parenting discussion on Quora about Is Amy Chua right when she explains why Chinese mothers are superior in an op-ed? The question led to readers sharing experiences and included responses from Chua. Take a leaf from her book, op-ed authors, and take to question sites to continue the discussion on your next opinion piece.
  2. Video documentary as op-ed: The New York Times calls them "op-docs," a name that might need some work. The idea: Use short, opinionated documentaries as opinion "articles" online. This week, Taking the Waste Out of Wastewater offers the latest example of the form; the package includes a commentary/introduction from the filmmaker. That gives communicators a new option for op-ed submissions to news sites--or the inspiration to post their own docu-op-eds online.
  3. A wider landscape for op-eds: Traditional news media outlets aren't your only options for op-eds. Popular blogs like Mashable feature op-eds (try this one on 10 features missing from Pinterest), and there's no reason you can't approach a popular news blog to ask whether it would publish an opinion piece from your organization.
  4. Get educated on the ed board: It's always good to suss out your intended media targets, but editorial boards have been short on transparency, traditionally. Not so the Florida Sun-Sentinal, where the ed board is tweeting its meetings in part to show how its opinions are formed. It's a surprisingly open discussion of whether topics qualify for editorial treatment. If you're thinking of an op-ed on the topic, it's an essential eavesdrop opportunity.
How are you using social networks for your op-eds and opinion articles? Share in the comments.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Weekend read: My weekly share on Twitter

Are you looking for the door prize today...or just the door? Here's your gateway to the weekend, with plenty of prizes in the form of data, resources and ideas I picked up in my Twitter stream this week. Everyone can be a winner with this collection of great finds:
For me, this is a working weekend: Today, I'm at the University of Oregon today, delivering a lecture on women and public speaking, and tomorrow, facilitating a communicating science workshop there. But I feel certain I can delegate the getting-the-weekend-started chores to you, can't I? Thanks, as usual, for hanging around on the blog this week.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Where to catch me: With the University of Oregon Women in Graduate Science

This weekend, I'll be speaking and working with the University of Oregon Women in Graduate Science for two sessions, including:
  • A lecture on "The Eloquent Woman: Issues for Women in Public Speaking" on Friday, April 20th, with a reception following, and 
  • A daylong workshop on "Communicating Science: Skills for Scientists to Reach Public Audiences" on Saturday, April 21st. Spaces for this workshop are limited and pre-registration is needed.
Details on both sessions are at the link above. I'm excited to have the chance to discuss two specialized topics that are both relevant to this group of motivated young women in science, and I'm eager to hear their experiences in public speaking and outreach to non-technical public audiences.

If you're surprised that a group of graduate students is hiring me to train them in communicating science to the public, it's time to catch up. I'm seeing more interest from groups of science graduate students in seeking the funding and help to learn smart communications skills, so don't count out these early career communicators. I'm grateful to Jim Barlow, director of science and research communications at the University of Oregon, for pointing this group my way, and to Sarah Brady, synthetic polymer inorganic chemist and seminar chair for the UO Women in Graduate Science, who has organized these events with a thoughtfulness and enthusiasm that makes me eager to get to Eugene today.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Data and dashboards to help you reconsider how you use Pinterest

So many marketers dismissed Pinterest as a hobbyist site, dominated by women--some estimates said as many as 90 percent of the users were women--that many male marketers I know don't give it a second thought, or just aren't sure how to use it for business. But it's time to take a fresh look at Pinterest, now that it sits behind only Twitter and Facebook in terms of traffic. That, in turn, makes it a powerful driver of traffic to your blog, social presence or website. (And current estimates put the proportion of female users at about 60 percent, by the way.)  Here's what's been happening that might change your use of Pinterest:

More business uses

You'll find a surprising array of business uses, and some creative reinterpreting of what pinned items can be to a business. Here are some examples:
Yup, those are boards that only women would follow, I'm sure. You can find more ideas in my post on 17 things you can pin on Pinterest that are not pillows or dresses, and I collect more examples like these on the board Great ways to use Pinterest, which is frequently updated with new examples of business uses, along with data and tips for using Pinterest.

3 new tools for managing your Pinterest presence

As Pinterest matures as a social network, tools and apps are being developed to help you better manage your presence. Here are a few to check out:
  • Repinly will give you a better look at what and who is popular on Pinterest. Prepare to be astonished at the users with millions of followers. You can use Repinly as a directory to find popular users in your subject category, see pinned items that are trending (with the data behind them), and what topics are popular on the very useful statistics page.
  • Pinerly, still in limited beta, promises ways to schedule your pins, plus additional analytics. Mashable walks you through the service here. I'm working my way into the beta, which cleverly asks that your friends sign up to get you further into the service, so please use this link to sign up....I promise to report back on what's inside the beta once I make it in.
  • This infographic from Dan Zarrella uses analysis of Pinterest photos to help you get pinned and repinned, using factors like amount of text and height of photos to guide you.
What are you using Pinterest for? Share your approaches in the comments.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Weekend read: My weekly share on Twitter, with favorites

Were you communicating with other worlds this week, or just out of your usual range? No matter--you can turn your signal toward the weekend, which is just ahead. This week, I had lots of good reads and finds in my orbit, via my Twitter stream, and I've sorted out the space junk and lined up the planets I found just for you:
My weekly mantra: I'm grateful for your readership--and have a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

You're a top communicator. Why would you need speaker training?

In every communications director post I've ever had, I saw myself as a behind-the-scenes person, a strategist and advisor. And in every one of those posts, my image was the opposite: Fellow executives described me as the out-front person, and made all sorts of assumptions about my public speaking and presenting skills. It felt as if those bars were set higher for me. No one would expect the finance director or the head of operations to hit one out of the park in a presentation, but the communications pro? Had to be excellent.

No wonder I get puzzled queries from communications pros about public speaking, many at my blog The Eloquent Woman or in the training sessions I conduct across the country. They're apologetic, or defensive, or just confused. "Shouldn't I already know how to present? After all, I'm a communicator," or "Why don't I feel more confident about speaking? Shouldn't I be a natural at it?" or "It's too late now--I've been doing this for years."

Here's the truth: Just as you weren't born a writer or strategist, you weren't born a great public speaker or presenter. It's a skill we give short shrift to in the business world. Plenty of people give presentations, but few are taught how--or what they could do better. If the skills are learned at all in a formal setting, they're rarely updated for new technologies or best practices, even though the art of presenting has moved light years from what you may have started out with. And just like others, you might be an introvert who needs a different approach to presenting, or a young executive who needs to establish credibility, or a seasoned pro who's picked up some bad habits and needs to unlearn them. Being a communications pro doesn't mean you're perfect, after all. In fact, I've seen communicators so used to putting their experts out in front that they stumbled when they had to do the honors at a speech, presentation or media interview. Maybe that's too comfortable a position for those of us working "behind the scenes."

Professional development opportunities--good ones--get harder and harder to find as you advance in any field, and that's true in communications as well. Over time, I've found that the skills I've developed in public speaking and presenting are the ones I use every day, just as much as I use that other skill we spend so much time developing, writing. They work at networking events, in one-on-one conversations, in speeches and presentations, when I have to give impromptu remarks or introduce someone--or just explain what it is I do. And if you believe, as some do, that we'll all be entrepreneurs and free agents at some point, take it from me: Presenting well and with confidence will make your business thrive.

These days, I offer training in media interview skills, public speaking and presenting, among other services, and I'm happy to tailor communications training for communicators. While you're scheduling training for your experts and fellow executives, maybe it's time to put some on the schedule for yourself. You can choose to customize that training, by the way. Ask me about a session that gets at your weak spots, prepares you for a bigger audience or a different presenting task, or gets you ready for your next professional move. I've been there, myself, and I'd be happy to help you.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Social goldmine: NTEN's crowdsourced conference notes

NTEN's Nonprofit Technology Conference took place last week, and the conference set up a fantastic resource that's a social media goldmine for you. A series of Google Docs were created and participants were encouraged to share their notes in a great collaboration.

You'll find a spreadsheet to track the sessions and notes here, which includes links to the collective notes, indicators for sessions without notes, and an "all notes" document, along with instructions for saving all the notes into Evernote. Note-takers covered major points, juicy quotes and lists of resources, so this array of notes represents one of the most useful tools I've seen come out of a professional conference. Don't be stopped by the nonprofit label: They're useful for nonprofits, companies, entrepreneurs and more, and cover technical topics as well as content development, social tools, IT governance, community management and more.

Why don't we have more of this? That's what I'll be asking the conferences I attend. Enjoy this flood of smart resources on technology and social media. (Hat tip to Zan McColloch-Lussier for the pointer to this great resource, and kudos to the NTEN organizers.)

Friday, April 06, 2012

Weekend read: My weekly share on Twitter

How was your week? Nice and spicy, or too hot to handle? Get a taste of the weekend here, with my recipe for success. The ingredients list comes from the data, resources and ideas that came through my Twitter stream. They'll have you feeling like a Top Chef just in time for the weekend:
Next week, I'm diving into TEDMED, which takes place here in Washington--so let me know if I can find you there. And this week, as always, I'm grateful for your readership. Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

What's your advice for the rising communicator?

A while back, readers and I shared advice for the rookie public information officer, and a couple of readers asked whether I'd update that post for the next rung up the ladder: Communicators who are still early career, but not quite newbies--say three to five years into their communications careers.

This time, I'm going to start you off with my list and ask you to continue it by putting your advice in the comments. Here's what I'd advise the rising communicator:
  1. If the job or the boss turn out to be awful, beat tracks: No one ever said, "I wish I'd spent more time at that awful job." It's easier and less expensive for you and your company if you leave when you figure out that it's not a good fit for you. So do it. You'll put years back on your life and have less to regret later. Trust me.
  2. Ask for training in presentation skills: Looking back, my own career expanded when I was pushed to do presentations to high-level decision-makers. It's a skill I've been honing and using ever since--and now that I teach those skills to others, my favorite callers say "That training just helped me get a promotion!"  Ask your organization to invest in your training, and keep practicing. 
  3. Decide whether you need special communications skills to advance: Media relations has traditionally been a requirement for communicators to advance to management ranks, so if you haven't worked with reporters, it may be time to find opportunities to do so. But it's not the only special skill out there. Think about any special skills you need, then go out and get some training. 
  4. Decide what you don't need to learn: Will you be coding--or just supervising people who do? Must you learn graphic design, or can you just learn to work effectively with graphic designers? I will never regret having learned early in my career how to work with graphic designers and manage production, without having to do it all myself--and I get better results when I hire designers, photographers, videographers and other specialists, even today.
  5. Figure out how to gain management experience: That might mean managing the intern or the office staff meeting to start, but you need to try managing--even if you don't expect to be a manager. Ask for more responsibility each time you prove yourself at a management task. 
Now it's your turn: Mentor a rising communicator and add your wisdom in the comments, please. What would you advise? What would you leave out, at this stage? I'm looking forward to a long list, with your help.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Using Evernote with your freelancers: 5 ways

If you're like me, you think of a program like Evernote as your own private stash, an internal resource/goldmine/backup system that only you use. But it was one of my freelance writers who turned me on to Evernote a couple of years ago, so I knew from the start that it also can be an outstanding tool for collaboration. Here are some of the ways you might consider putting Evernote to work with your freelance writers, artists, designers and other pros:
  1. Share source material: For freelancers who write recurring features for me, we put source material into a shared notebook to which we both have access in Evernote. It includes a list of story ideas as well as material clipped from various sources on the Web, from photos and video to articles. Opening access to materials can save time for both of you--no need to call or email to ask or share. This works well enough that I'm planning to open more notebooks (fair warning, freelancers). You can email notebooks to freelancers right from Evernote, or just change the settings to give them access.
  2. Share drafts and ancillary material:  I can review and make notes on draft articles, and receive everything from video and audio notes to photos to accompany the text, all in Evernote. If I have a thought on the fly, I can use my smartphone and the Evernote app to record an audio note and send it right into that notebook. And now that Evernote's Android app has a speech-to-text feature that transcribes while retaining the recording, no one needs to transcribe my note.
  3. Forward correspondence: You get a special email address with Evernote, so you can forward emails you receive (or anything else) right into your notebooks. Emails sent to this address go to your default notebook, but you can direct them to other notebooks just by adding @[NOTEBOOK NAME] to the subject line. (You can tag them by adding #[TAG NAME], too.) Want to save yourself a step? Give the Evernote email address to your freelancers and let them send correspondence to a pre-designated notebook.
  4. Track and send invoices: I keep files for each freelancer with her invoices and a spreadsheet that tracks payments. Some email the invoices into my Evernote files; others have shared notebooks and just keep the invoicing updated by adding a new one to the notebook.
  5. Samples and portfolios: A couple of smart freelancers have shared their notebooks full of samples for me to review--and if they're as smart as I think they are, those notebooks are customized to particular potential clients. If I were still a freelance writer, I'd also keep Evernote notebooks of my work, arranged by subject, style and length, just for good measure. The contents are synchronized as you add items to the notebook, so it's a great way to have a standing portfolio of your work that's updated automatically. If you don't want to give potential clients direct access, you can publish your samples notebook to the web, hosted by Evernote, and send a URL to those needing to see your samples.
Do you use Evernote or something similar with your freelancers? When you sign up and log in to a free Evernote account using my link, you'll get a free month of its Premium service.