Friday, January 30, 2015

The weekend read

The week is all over your desktop, isn't it--evidence of your path to Friday, messy though it may be. Time to clear some space for my finds of the week, shared via @dontgetcaught on Twitter and curated here just for you, communicators. You never know what's hiding under that pile:
So glad you made room on your desktop for me on a Friday. Take some time to sign up for my free monthly newsletter, register for the workshop featured above, or let me know how we can work together in 2015 with an email to eloquentwoman at gmail.com.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Do your social channels have a nose for search?

A client who's experimenting with Pinterest was telling me about some early success in getting items repinned--enough to make him more interested in using it as a marketing tool. "But some of the repins are for things I posted a long time ago. How are people finding them?"

He was thinking of Pinterest as a big stream of posts. But I think of it as a powerful search engine--and if you're smart, you'll choose your social-media options based on how well they support you when people are looking for what you have.

This wasn't always the case. I found Pinterest's original search options clunky and random, but now Pinterest has the funding to invest heavily in expensive search-engine improvements, with a valuation earlier this year of $5 billion. (Keeping an eye on hefty investment is one good way to find feature-rich social options.) How has search changed at Pinterest? NPR describes it:
With a programming team that's largely been hired away from Google, Pinterest has begun offering what it calls guided search. Pinterest cofounder Evan Sharp told me that guided search helps you find things you didn't know you were looking for. If Google is great when you know exactly what you want, Pinterest can help you figure out what you want. As you search, Pinterest will suggest tags that you could add to help narrow your query. Search for hats on Pinterest, and you might get fedora or baseball or church lady as suggestions. The lesson here is that the simplest things we do on the Internet, when you multiply them by millions of people, create troves of data that were just inconceivable at any other time in human history. And in many cases, the companies who possess the data we've created over the past five years are still learning exactly how to harness it to do new things, whether that's making more money for themselves or delivering you up exactly the hat or photograph that you were looking for.
And that's a factor important in this mix. All the metadata and tagging in the universe won't help you as much as the crowd will, when it finds, likes, and shares your content. That's long been true on YouTube, for example, on which users conduct 3 billion searches every month. We talk a lot about online video being the 800-pound gorilla of social media, but it's the powerful search options in YouTube that help make that happen. Blogs have a different search advantage, since search engines read new posts both as updates to the entire blog, and as new web pages with their own distinct URLs, two factors that propel posts higher in search results.

I wrote a few weeks ago about whether your social media plan is open or closed. Often, you can evaluate social media giants with the same criteria when you're trying to determine how their search capability will help you. Generally, a more open network will encourage searching and find ways to support it. More closed networks may not yield all the options, preferring instead to give users more privacy control.

An exception to this has been Twitter, perhaps the most open of the social networks. Twitter, like Pinterest in its early days, has had frustrating options for search. But in its current quest for more advertising options and dollars, Twitter has just announced a search upgrade that will let users search any tweet. Facebook also is in the process of upping its search capability, and in the process, has booted search results from Bing on FB. Turns out Facebook wasn't referring all that much traffic to Bing, but you'll find that it's a great referral engine to YouTube, among others. There's a chart at the link with good data.

(Creative Commons licensed photo of a search dog from the UK Ministry of Defence)

Come to my pre-conference workshop at the Spring Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference in Cambridge, UK, this April. What goes into a TED-quality talk will help speakers, speechwriters and conference organizers understand how to craft and deliver a talk in the style of TED, whether you're getting ready for a TEDx conference or just a presentation in this popular style. Go to this link  for more details on what's included, as well as a significant discount. The workshop is on 15 April, and the conference is 16-17 April. Please join me!

Friday, January 23, 2015

The weekend read

Let those children zoom up in their electric cars and mini vehicles. We're going old-school, baby, heading toward the weekend in the classic convertible that is the weekend read--my collection of the reads, leads and data you need, shared via @dontgetcaught on Twitter and curated here, just for you, communicators. Put the top down and get into gear:
I'm always delighted to see you park yourself here on Fridays. Take some time to sign up for my free monthly newsletter, register for the workshop featured below, or let me know how we can work together in 2015 with an email to eloquentwoman at gmail.com.


Come to my pre-conference workshop at the Spring Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference in Cambridge, UK, this April. What goes into a TED-quality talk will help speakers, speechwriters and conference organizers understand how to craft and deliver a talk in the style of TED, whether you're getting ready for a TEDx conference or just a presentation in this popular style. Go to this link  for more details on what's included, as well as a significant discount. The workshop is on 15 April, and the conference is 16-17 April. Please join me!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

On last-minute blog checks and the new getting caught

"That restaurant in Venice isn't where John Irving says it is. It's actually in Milan. What are we going to do?"

Back when I was editing and writing for magazines, you'd have a conversation that started like that with your fact-checker or copy editor, roles that don't exist in many places producing content these days. But what I notice is that many journos and communicators aren't even having that conversation with themselves when they publish. Today, content-producers of every stripe are getting caught in errors, almost hourly. And I'm not the only one noticing:
Smart readers who don't normally get caught will note that these mistakes have in common the ability to get you coverage...just maybe not the coverage you were seeking.

There may well be fewer copy editors and fact-checkers, even at premiere news organizations. But this problem is as old as the hills for both journalists and communicators, and I'm here to say that the same people bemoaning the lack of copy editors were once themselves junior staffers who could spell. No need to be ageist now.

The real difference between then and now is that we're able to easily publish more frequently and faster, and we do. We're also able to work ahead, drafting and adding to stories in the queue, then hitting "publish," and we do. We can use convenient technology like dictation software, which enters errors that aren't typically caught by spelling check software, so we do, without always checking the final product before we publish. I think all those factors contribute far more than the age of your interns or the lack of copy editors to the errors that wind up in your copy. 

As someone who publishes three times a week on each of two blogs--that's six posts per week, dears--I drew on my old-school magazine editing hat when I started blogging. I knew how dangerous it is to have the keys to the publisher's car in your hands, so I instituted a night-before-publication last-minute check for every blog post. It takes seconds, and has saved me untold typos and errors; lets me update late-breaking information; and allows me to sleep peacefully while the first post of the day auto-publishes. In 2014, I was able to write ahead and schedule many posts, a convenience that further demands that last-minute check, since posts written well ahead have every potential to be wrong by the time their spot in the queue rolls around.

There's plenty more to consider when it comes to fixing mistakes pre-publication and your policies for correcting them later. Go here to read all my posts on corrections, including correcting fast-moving breaking news on Twitter, which is a horse of a different color entirely.

Mother Jones rounded up the best news corrections of 2014 if you want more cautionary or amusing versions. What are you doing to reduce or prevent mistakes in 2015? The start of the year is a good time to take an hour to discuss this with your team and figure out your approach for the year...and maybe administer a spelling test while you're at it.

Come to my pre-conference workshop at the Spring Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference in Cambridge, UK, this April. What goes into a TED-quality talk will help speakers, speechwriters and conference organizers understand how to craft and deliver a talk in the style of TED, whether you're getting ready for a TEDx conference or just a presentation in this popular style. Go to this link  for more details on what's included, as well as a significant discount. The workshop is on 15 April, and the conference is 16-17 April. Please join me!

Friday, January 16, 2015

The weekend read

Stop running, communicators. It's Friday, and the weekend (aka, the finish line) looms ahead. Time to start catching up with the finds, reads and leads you missed. I shared them via @dontgetcaught on Twitter, and curated the best here for you. Let's set the pace for the weekend:
Like a finish line looming just ahead, I'm always delighted to see you here on Fridays. Take some time to sign up for my free monthly newsletter, register for one of the workshops above, or let me know how we can work together in 2015 with an email to eloquentwoman at gmail.com. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

5 things transcripts will do for your social media presence

You're not publishing too many transcripts of your online audio and video, are you? I can tell, because I'm always on the lookout for it and usually find transcripts a pleasant surprise rather than something I can count on.

But if you invest in transcription for your social media, you'll gain at least five advantages that may be an equally pleasant surprise to you. Here are the advantages I see:
  1. A wider audience, part one:  Online video may be the king of social media, but if you're publishing video in any format--from YouTube shorts to webinars and live-stream archives--without accompanying text, you've just reduced your search engine optimization dramatically. Search engines don't capture anything but the text, so your ability to be found may be limited to whatever's in the title and caption. Opening up a transcript means you're opening your video product to better and more complex search terms, and success in being found.
  2. A wider audience, part two: There are more than a million deaf people in the United States, and more than half of them are over age 65. Overall, you could be missing 20 percent or more of your audience if your communications vehicles aren't accessible to people with disabilities. Transcripts are just one way to gain new followers.
  3. Better speaking gigs: Too many speakers end their speeches and leave the room without a video or a transcript...or even a text. Your SlideShare may be fantastic, but if a conference organizer is trying to figure out from afar whether you have that certain something they're seeking, a video with transcript is the way to go. And that transcript could help you and others--including those of us who blog about public speaking--when it comes time to turn your talks into ebooks, blog posts or other written products. I'm just sayin'.
  4. Easier coverage from bloggers: Anytime you can save this blogger time is appreciated. Multiply that by the thousands of bloggers covering your turf, and transcripts make more sense, particularly if it's easy to cut and paste text to quote in my posts. Making me transcribe, on the other hand, may mean I move on to something easier to find--or don't blog on your topic for a while, as I wait for the transcript. That goes for both audio and video, and it's useful to note that transcriptions have long been a staple of national radio programming online, a real aid to spreading those stories around. (Pssst: The transcript also makes your own blogging easier.)
  5. Wider international reach, or wider local reach where English is a second language for many: In the same way, transcripts make it easier for non-English-speakers to grab a translation tool and make better sense of your video and audio offerings. You also can develop a cadre of volunteers to help you translate, as TED has done with its Open Translation Project, which has yielded 50,000 translations of TED talks in 104 languages by 15,000 volunteers. Where to start? With your most raving fans, members in or from other countries, or a locally based class of language learners. No matter which option you choose, the translators' work will go faster with a transcript in English in hand. And if you think that's a stretch, even my blog readers have transcribed and translated material for me. Give it a try.
(Creative Commons licensed photo by Mike Gifford)

Friday, January 09, 2015

The weekend read

I know, communicators: By Friday, you feel like a distressed surface, a torn piece of paper, a shredded substance. Time to regroup and repair for the weekend, with my finds of the week, shared via @dontgetcaught on Twitter and curated here just for you. Rip right into this list:
I'm torn between having you come to one or the other of my two forthcoming workshops. Why not both?
  • For communications pros: If you work with scientists, physicians, policy wonks and other subject-matter experts, you'll find useful my popular workshop, Be an Expert on Working with Experts. The next session is February 4, 2015 in Washington, DC. Register at the link by January 9--that would be today--to get the best rate; all registration closes January 29 or when all seats are filled. Don't miss the workshop communicators call "informative and eye-opening." Of note to communicators in higher education: This workshop follows the CASE District II conference and is just a short Metro ride from your conference hotel.
  • For speakers, speechwriters, and conference organizers: What goes into a TED-quality talk, April 15 in Cambridge, UK, is a preconference session at the Spring Speechwriters & Business Communicators Conference which follows April 16-17. There's a discount at this link if you register for my workshop, which will  help speakers, speechwriters and TEDx organizers get a head start on TED-quality talks, whether you're aiming for the TED stage or for giving a talk in that style for everyday purposes.
I'm never distressed and always delighted to see you here on Fridays.  Sign up for my free monthly newsletter, register for one of the workshops above, or let me know how we can work together in 2015 with an email to eloquentwoman at gmail.com.


Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Communicators, what's your wish list when working with experts?

If you've worked with enough experts--be they government leaders, corporate whizzes, policy wonks, sage scientists or rock-star physicians--you must have a wish list going, at least in your mind.

Maybe you wish your know-it-all expert could say "I don't know" once in a while to boost her credibility. Or maybe you wish your expert wouldn't blow off media interviews. You might be working with the realization that your expert has a high need to be perfect and fears failure, which means he doesn't want to take chances he can't control. You might have an expert scientist on your hands who dismisses communications as unimportant, not an essential part of her research activities.

Or maybe your wish list involves you: Perhaps you wish you, as a communicator, could do a better job figuring out the experts you're putting forward and what they need to succeed. How do you successfully handle big-ego experts, unwilling partners and dense language? And you're probably shuddering to think what reporters think of your balky experts, rightly so.

If so, you and I have a lot in common. I've spent most of my career working with smart folks and convincing them to participate in public communications, media interviews, testimony before legislatures, funder talks and other public forays. That's why I've created Be an Expert on Working with Experts, the workshop I wish I'd had at many points in my career. It's an intensive one-day session where you and other communicators can start creating solutions and new approaches to your work with experts, so you can be more effective at this important work--and it's based on my extensive experience working with experts of all kinds.

You'll get a substantial discount if you register by January 9--just $397 for the session, which includes continental breakfast, lunch and takeaway materials you can use again and again. After that date, registration rises to $447, and all registration closes January 29 for this February 4 session in Washington, DC. Make sure your seat is reserved now! The bonus: You'll get some of the best networking in communications at this session.

To get a collective communicators' wish list going, I'm asking registrants what their biggest challenges with experts are, and their questions about working with experts. Here are the challenges communicators are citing in their work with experts:

  • "wonky language" 
  • experts who are "unwilling to rehearse"
  • the "belief that their priority should be everyone else's priority regarding news coverage"
  • "Scientists frequently seem to misunderstand the literacy of the public or the value of the editorial/ communications process."
  • "They seem to think everyone out there is a wonk with similar knowledge/interest/experience with their specialty." 
  • "They don't grasp the need to talk to an audience that might not immediately see a reason to care about their issue."
  • "Confidence and overcoming what I consistently perceive as an age/experience barrier. While I'm in a senior position within my company I am years younger than many of my colleagues."
And their questions about working more effectively with experts include:
  • "What is the best way to communicate the difference between 'dumbing down' and 'being accessible'?"
  • "How to get past the expert's ego?" 
  • "How can I get them to listen to a communications expert?"
  • "Any suggestions on how to deal with experts who think they are great interviews but are not?"
  • "Any ideas on how to convince an expert that "messaging" is a good use of their valuable time?"
  • "What are some techniques to encourage experts to think ahead for an interview instead of just diving in because they know their topic so well?"
  • "How can I preserve the content of the science but present in a publicly accessible way and a way that is comfortable to the scientist speaker? Sometimes, they seem uncomfortable with a speech written for them or over scripted."
  • "How to communicate with confidence? How to understand their vision without getting lost in the weeds? How to provide feedback that communicates collaboration rather than corrections?"

What's on your wish list when you work with experts? If these questions and challenges sound familiar to you, register and join us on February 4.

Friday, January 02, 2015

The weekend read

No need to watch that clock, communicators. The new year is well underway and the first Friday of 2015 is here. Time now to check out my finds of the week, shared on @dontgetcaught on Twitter and curated here just for you. I hear the clock ticking away the hours till the weekend...
I have two workshops coming up. I'd love to have you join me!
  • For communications pros: If you work with scientists, physicians, policy wonks and other subject-matter experts, you'll find useful my popular workshop, Be an Expert on Working with Experts. The next session is February 4, 2015 in Washington, DC. Register at the link by January 9 to get the best rate; all registration closes January 29 or when all seats are filled. Don't miss the workshop communicators call "informative and eye-opening." I'm also happy to bring this workshop to your communications conference or workplace. Of note to communicators in higher education: This workshop follows the CASE District II conference and is just a short Metro ride from your conference hotel.
  • For speakers, speechwriters, and conference organizers: What goes into a TED-quality talk, April 15 in Cambridge, UK, is a preconference session at the Spring Speechwriters & Business Communicators Conference which follows April 16-17. There's a discount at this link if you register for my workshop, which will draw on my experience coaching nearly 100 speakers who've been featured on the TEDMED stage, at TEDx conferences around the world, and on TED.com. The workshop will help speakers, speechwriters and TEDx organizers get a head start on TED-quality talks, whether you're aiming for the TED stage or for giving a talk in that style for everyday purposes.
Time for me to remind you that I'm always delighted to see you here on Fridays. Take some time to sign up for my free monthly newsletter, register for one of the workshops above, or let me know how we can work together in 2015 with an email to eloquentwoman at gmail.com. Happy new year!