Friday, November 30, 2012

The weekend read

This just in: There's a weekend approaching. But first, my version of a rip-and-read newscast, loaded with the news, tips and good reads I shared this week on Twitter. Tune in so you'll look smart come Monday:
Teevee...lunch? Today's the last day to register for my December 7 lunch-and-learn for communicators who want to make the case for training your experts. We'll serve up lunch along with data, ideas, and endorsements for training programs so you can make the case to the powers that be, the experts, or your communications colleagues. Join us by registering here. And if you want a deeper dive into how to work effectively with scientists, experts and policy wonks, you can still grab the early registration discount for Be an Expert on Working with Experts, a day-long session on January 10. Put the two together and you'll get the most out of these unusual professional development opportunities for communicators who work with smart people.

Jobs TV: The National Museum of Women in the Arts seeks a manager of communications and media relations...the Annie E. Casey Foundation wants a senior manager, communications...Wake Forest University is looking for a science writer...the Donors Forum in Illinois wants a director of development.

This Friday and every Friday, I'm glad you're here to get the weekend started with me. Thanks for reading! Please share the weekend read with your colleagues, and enjoy your weekend.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Want data to work for public audiences? Think like a calendar

This month, some new data on climate science caught my eye, precisely because the writer had a calendar in mind. The headline read: If you're 27 or younger, you've never experienced a colder-than-average month.

That transformed data from dry to dinner-table-discussion-worthy. Why? You could have said exactly the same thing this way: "Temperatures have been above average every month for the past 27 years." Or, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration did, "This is the 332nd consecutive month with an above-average temperature." Both do the job accurately, but don't put the data in terms of the audience's age, as the author did.  Most of us won't immediately grasp the scope of 332 months, frankly. But telling us how we relate to the data matters. In this case, the headline doesn't just reach those 27 and under, but those of us with more perspective, who may have plenty of 27-year-olds or 27-wannabes in our lives. In effect, you've given us a yardstick against which we can measure our own experience, and relate to the data.

When I'm training experts and scientists who wield lots of data, it's often a surprise to them that they need to think of the audience first, instead of what they have to say. After all, these smart folks are loaded with content. Shouldn't the problem be how to fit it all in? But in fact, taking the time to consider your audience, and its calendar, can take a presentation or speech from good to great. On that imaginary calendar, you want to juxtapose your data's progression with the audience's age and situation. It's a great way to ensure that the expert isn't making assumptions about what the audience knows or has been taught.

In Am I Making Myself Clear?: A Scientist's Guide to Talking to the Public, Cornelia Dean shares even more examples. And as this was written a few years ago, now, even these are slightly out of date:
No one over thirty today learned about stem cells in high school or college--the field was too new. Similarly, antimissile defense, privatizing fisheries and even climate change were not in the curriculum when most American adults were in high school.
If, as most experts are, your experts are focused on their research and not on the wider demographics of the audiences they wish to reach, communicators may need to fill in the blanks for experts on public audiences, by staying current with and sharing data about those audiences. It's just one of the tactics we'll explore at my January 10, 2013 workshop, Be an Expert on Working with Experts, where you can learn about the default communications styles experts and scientists use, as well as how to use data and demos to help them communicate more effectively with non-technical audiences. You get a discount for registering early, by December 21.

And if you're a communicator who wants to figure out how to make the case for training your experts, I've got a lunch-and-learn session on that topic coming up December 7. Part brainstorm, part briefing, this session will give you data, ideas and the rationales you need to make the case for communications training. But hurry up: Registration closes November 30.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The weekend read

For U.S. readers, today is the day after Thanksgiving...a holiday that didn't slow the influx of great reads, data and finds in my Twitterstream Here's a calorie-free cornucopia of treats and ideas to ride you further into this long weekend. You'll look very smart by the time Monday rolls around:
A week from today is the last day to register for my December 7 lunch-and-learn on making the case for training your experts. You've got until December 21 to register for the day-long workshop, Be an Expert on Working with Experts, which takes place January 10.

And in lieu of job postings on this long weekend, here's a good read for job-hunters, shared with me by one of my readers, who said, "This looks like the sort of thing you would post." It's Forget the cover letter. Write the pain letter, instead.

I'm grateful for your readership of the blog, in Thanksgiving week and every week. Enjoy your weekend...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Get your timing straight in social media, 6 ways

I can tell that you have time on your hands or a break in the action, finally...or that your boss just asked why you haven't posted lately...or that you're reading your RSS feed...or that neither of your two bosses actually touches Twitter and you are posting for them both...or that you use auto-posts to share to many sites at once...or you are working through a backlog of items that should have been posted in a more timely way...or that you issue all your news releases on Tuesday mornings...or that you only dive into social media once a week. Not only can I tell, I can tell those things down to the minute, most of the time, or the part of a minute, if you're fast.

I'm drowning in a pool of insights, here, but they aren't the insights you were hoping I'd get about your organization from its social media presence. That's because you haven't taken the time to learn the art of timing your posts to social media sites. And if that sounds basic, why am I seeing these mistakes so frequently in my feeds? Often, the underlying reason is that no one behind your feed has researched timing--that is, the times of day and days of the week that yield the best levels of engagement for your business, brand or organization. Other times, post scheduling starts feeling like a chore, a chore that eventually gets pushed off the to-do list. If so, it's time for a change. Here are the tools and tactics you need to get your timing straight in social media:
  1. Make sure you have a calendar for content, and share it: Spontaneous and in-the-moment posts are great, but for most company posts, you want a plan, one that's shared with the rest of your internal team. When I see both your founders tweeting simultaneous content or all your news releases jammed together in my Facebook feed, I can tell you misplaced the calendar.
  2. Use timing apps smartly:  Apps like Buffer--sometimes used in concert with other apps--can help you spread out your tweets and Facebook posts. Here, Buffer's co-founder offers tips for how best to use the app to make your posts less of a flood and more of a manageable stream. It's not your only option, either. Facebook page posts can be scheduled right on FB in 15-minute intervals up to 6 months ahead. Tweetdeck, owned by Twitter, allows you to link and post to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and more; and IFTTT (If this, then that) lets you create your own "recipes" for automating posts.
  3. Don't overdo it:  As a speaker coach who advocates getting used to the Twitter backchannel in the room, and as a social media consultant, even I was taken aback by the self-congratulations in this post about a reporter who was said to have "won" the backchannel because she figured out how to faux-live-tweet her own remarks, using scheduled posts. So authentic and transparent (not). This screams "I'm not comfortable with the audience deciding what to post, so I'm going to control the sponteneity." Not a good look. 
  4. Stop ignoring the weekend:  Saturdays and Sundays are often the days with highest engagement on sites like Twitter and Facebook. For example: "Publishers also enjoy a 29% higher engagement on Saturdays, when consumers are presumably catching up on the news of the week. Yet only 7% of tweets from publishers actually occur on Saturdays."  Start experimenting with weekend posts and compare the data to your weekday efforts, then schedule a better presence on the weekend if it's warranted. 
  5. Check settings on third-party apps to review your auto-shares: From Facebook apps with social sharing to Klout, YouTube and many more, your use of other sites might be flooding your Facebook or Twitter feeds with notifications that add to your post totals. (Even Congress has considered legislating extra permissions to stop this unintentional flood.) Make sure you check the settings for any third-party app to turn off these auto-shares and save your stream for content that counts. Don't forget to do this when you're sharing posts in your RSS feed, a dead giveaway that you're in read-and-review mode.
  6. Double-check your assumptions about scheduled posts:  At no point should you "set it and forget it" when it comes to scheduling posts. Check out these best practices for scheduled posts and take a look at this case study that demonstrates why you should unhook your auto-posts during a crisis or emergency. PR Newser rounds up some recent automated social media faux pas, from the Romney campaign's auto-published victory website--the modern version of "Dewey Defeats Truman"--to the National Rifle Association's automatic "good morning, shooters" tweet, which appeared right after the Aurora, Colorado, massacre. Pass these cautionary tales around the office.
By the way, yes, I wrote and scheduled this post ahead of time....and took the time to check it in the ensuing weeks to make sure it was still on point, updated and accurate.

Don't schedule this for too far in the future: November 30 is the last day to register for my lunch-and-learn for communicators on making the case for a training program for your experts, coming up December 7 in Washington, DC. Are you in?

Friday, November 16, 2012

The weekend read

The bloom is off the rose, is it? Well, it's Friday, and I never promised you a rose garden. But I have a bouquet of beautiful reads, leads, tools and ideas for you, plucked from the garden that is Twitter--all things I shared this week with my tweeps. Stop and smell these roses before you head into the weekend:
Jobs in bloom: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is looking for a communications officer focused on its programs to increase health insurance coverage for Americans...TEDMED is looking for a program officer for its Great Challenges online campaigns and engagement associate is needed at the Natural Resources Defense Council...Mercy Corps (in Portland, OR) needs a vice president, marketing and communications...our pals at GuideStar are looking for some smart PR interns...the Girl Scouts of the USA seek a communications officer...and the United Nations Foundation is looking for a senior communications director for campaigns and initiatives, here in Washington.

A garden of learning: Registration closes today at midnight ET for my workshop on public speaking for introverts, which takes place November 27...I've extended the registration deadline for my December 7 lunch-and-learn for communicators who want to make the case for a training program for your experts, so you now have until November 30 to register...and registration is open--still at the early reg discount--for the popular Be an Expert on Working with Experts workshop, coming up January 10. Don't delay, though. Seats are filling for all three sessions, and I'd love to see you there.

After this weekend, there are just a handful more left in 2012, so let's savor this one, people. Thanks for coming to my garden this week, and enjoy your weekend.

Friday, November 09, 2012

The weekend read

If you had to eat a diet of nothing but apples, you wouldn't last long. That's why I love what gets served up in my Twitterstream: Plenty of variety, new angles and wider perspectives than my own. That's true even in a week of big changes from hurricanes, federal elections, snow and more. I've got a bushel of new ideas ready for you this week. Polish these up to get your weekend off to a smart start:
No need to give this teacher an apple. But do join the smart communicators who've already signed up for these upcoming workshops of mine, and pass these around to interested colleagues or let me know if I can bring one of them to your city or workplace. Dates don't work for you? Send me an email at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz to tell me your open and closed windows for the next time around:
A bushel full of jobs: The U.S. Pharmacopeia is looking for a vice president, global communications...the American Hospital Association is looking for a speechwriter/senior communications specialist, and the American Bar Association expects an opening for a speechwriter in December; email resumes to Nation seeks a publicity director...the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation wants a communications associate...the Knight Foundation seeks a communications professional and a strategic assessment officer.

And I love you a bushel and a peck for coming back here ever Friday. I feel more certain than ever that we all earned our weekend this week!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

2 smart training opps for communicators who work with smart people

Communicators soon learn it's tough to find satisfying professional development opportunities that help them deal with everyday, persistent issues. That's one reason why I've begun to focus on helping communicators who work with smart people--the policy wonks, scientists, engineers and other subject-matter experts that communicators bring forward to meet the press, donors or legislators. And I've got two smart training opportunities coming up in December and January that are designed to help communicators do a better, more thoughtful job in helping their experts reach public audiences of all kinds:
  • Make the case for training: Most communicators themselves see the value in having some form of ongoing training to help experts bridge the communications gap when they need to reach public or media audiences. But when it comes to making the case for a training program to the powers that be, the experts themselves or even fellow communicators, many good intentions fall short. I'm convening a lunch-and-learn December 7 in Washington, DC, to help you figure out how to make the case for training with data, feedback, and other evidence. Part brainstorm, part briefing, this two-hour session will give you new tools to advance the discussion. You'll get lunch, good ideas, a great network of fellow communicators and a follow-up email with links to all the substance and resources we discuss. Registration is open until November 20, but you get a sweet discount if you register by tomorrow, November 9. This session was proposed by participants in my last experts workshop (see below) as a logical next step, but it's designed to work even if you haven't been to the experts workshop.
  • Be an expert on working with experts: Most of my clients and work experience has involved working with smart people, thousands of policy analysts, scientists and engineers in every discipline, government leaders, corporate executives and other subject-matter specialists. It's both rewarding and challenging work for communicators, who have a completely different approach to communicating than the experts they're hoping to put forward. My popular one-day workshop, Be an Expert on Working with Experts, returns on January 10, 2013 in Washington, DC, to help you better bridge that gap and work more effectively with your experts, wonks and scientists. You'll learn about their default communications styles and why you may be inadvertently working against them, rather than with them, plus tactics and tools to use to help them communicate effectively with public and media audiences.  During lunch, I open the floor for any question on this topic, to be sure we have enough time to address your specific challenges in a popular "the doctor is in" session. Registration for this session is open until January 3, but you'll get a good discount if you register early, by December 21. Communicators at all levels will find insights here, from vice presidents to junior associates, and previous participants have come from PR firms, universities, scientific societies, advocacy organizations, membership organizations, policy institutes, government agencies and more.
I hope you'll join me for one or both of these sessions and expand your expertise in working with experts. Please email me directly at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz if you have questions or need more information.

Friday, November 02, 2012

The weekend read

I think the hurricane was enough of a trick for those of us on the East coast this week. Your treat: The good finds, reads and leads that gathered in my Twitterstream this week. Carve out some time in your Friday and check out this haul:
And some non-scary updates about workshop deadlines:
  • Early registration--and the discount that comes with it--ends today for my November 27 day-long workshop on public speaking and presenting for introverts, with both content and format designed to focus directly on what introverts need and their special advantages as speakers. Join us yourself, or recommend this to a colleague or one of your experts. I'll keep registration open until November 16 or when all seats are filled.
  • Early registration and its discount close next week, on November 9, for my December 7 lunch-and-learn for communicators who want to make the case for a training program for your experts. Part brainstorm, part briefing, this will help you develop the data, examples and encouragement you need, whether you want to convince fellow communicators, the powers that be or the experts you want to train. Two hours of insights, plus lunch, a great network of fellow communicators and a followup email so you don't even need to take notes. You can continue to register for this session until November 20, or when all seats are filled.
I hope my clients, friends, colleagues and readers in the eastern half of the U.S. (and those caught in hurricane travel snafus) are all home safe, dry and sound. Time for a weekend for us all....thanks so much for checking in here on your way to a well-deserved rest.