Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A gift for your long-form writing soul

New out this autumn, Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process is John McPhee's version of your master class in long-form writing. It collects several essays of his that originally appeared in The New Yorker, in which he turns his lens on his own work, shares insights into things like how to get sources to give up info they might not otherwise share, and more.

McPhee by now has 32 books to examine, but if you're going to make a gift of this latest one to your favorite writer, you might pair it with his very first book, A Sense of Where You Are: Bill Bradley at Princeton. Published in 1965 about the wunderkind basketball player in his college days--Bradley went on to be a pro player as well as a U.S. Senator--this first book of McPhee's is deft and light and shows how he meant to continue in long-form writing about his subjects. I think it's still my favorite in a long line of favorites from this writing lion, but a book on the writing process from McPhee will not be far behind on my favorites list.

Don't get caught unprepared, speechless, or without a message, but do catch me on Twitter, on Google+, and on the don't get caught page on Facebook--all great places to add your comments to the discussion. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter, Speakers & Communicators, to make sure you don't miss a thing on my blogs and get the first news about new workshops and projects.

Friday, January 12, 2018

The weekend read

Was this week like a walk on the beach, communicators? Or were you saving it for the weekend, like my finds of the week? I share them via @dontgetcaught on Twitter and don't get caught on Facebook, and curate them here for you every Friday. Let's get some sand in our shoes:
(Creative Commons licensed photo by Theophilos Papadopoulos)

Don't get caught unprepared, speechless, or without a message, but do catch me on Twitter, on Google+, and on the don't get caught page on Facebook--all great places to add your comments to the discussion. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter, Speakers & Communicators, to make sure you don't miss a thing on my blogs and get the first news about new workshops and projects.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

4 kinds of low-hanging social media fruit you should consider

You're leaving low-hanging fruit on the tree when it comes to social media (and even traditional comms), my friends. These not-too-difficult extra steps will make your communications products work even harder for you:
  1. Caption your YouTube videos: There are 2 ways for you to easily caption YouTube videos, making them not only accessible to those with disabilities, but making it easier for bloggers and others to use them. You can use automatic captioning, or add your own subtitles or closed captions. Use them for English captions, or for translations (see below). 
  2. Publish speeches: Your CEO, or other senior managers, don't need to be President of the United States to justify publishing their speeches. In fact, if they're giving speeches to reach key audiences, publishing the text--either "as prepared for delivery" or in a transcript--boosts SEO for that topic and your association with it. You'll also help out anyone who missed the speech. Speeches make great blog posts, or you can have a separate section on your website for them. And if that all seems obvious, keep in mind it's the thing I see lacking in executive communications. So many communicators ask me what they can do to get their CEO more and better speaking gigs--but never publish their speeches. Help those inviters and conference organizers by sharing previous speeches!
  3. Have your video and audio products transcribed: Transcription--which you should hire out to pros, who will do it faster and at less cost than your staff, trust me--is the unsung hero of optimizing your search engine results. That's because your video and audio content aren't searchable without transcripts. Publish them together, and publish the transcript on its own as a blog post, as show notes for a podcast, or just as an easy way to "read" a video. Bonus: It'll be easier for you to find great quotes, moments, or portions of that content for repurposing on social media in shorter form. For more, read 5 things transcripts will do for your social media.
  4. Build a cadre of volunteer translators: You can steal this idea from the TED conference, which built an incredible cadre of volunteer translators around the world. Why translate? Major news organizations are offering it (check out the New York Times, which posts a link to translations before the full text starts), and you'll be boosting your reach in a global economy. If you happen to work for a company or nonprofit with employees or members around the world, consider organizing them into a committee of translators, and think of a nice perk to give them. You can apply translations to your videos (great use for the YouTube captioning noted above), audio content, or key blog posts and speeches.
Here's what I love about these ideas: They build on and expand the reach of your existing social and traditional communications products. No need to reinvent the wheel...just make it go further.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Jason Rosenberg)

Don't get caught unprepared, speechless, or without a message, but do catch me on Twitter, on Google+, and on the don't get caught page on Facebook--all great places to add your comments to the discussion. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter, Speakers & Communicators, to make sure you don't miss a thing on my blogs and get the first news about new workshops and projects.

Friday, January 05, 2018

The weekend read

I see a path to the weekend, communicators. And it's strewn with my finds of the week, shared via @dontgetcaught on Twitter and don't get caught on Facebook, and curated here for you. Now that's a direction I can get behind:
(Creative Commons licensed photo by humbletree)

Don't get caught unprepared, speechless, or without a message, but do catch me on Twitter, on Google+, and on the don't get caught page on Facebook--all great places to add your comments to the discussion. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter, Speakers & Communicators, to make sure you don't miss a thing on my blogs and get the first news about new workshops and projects.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

What's evergreen content? Your blogging secret weapon

"What's evergreen content?" said my client. I'd just given her a social media strategy designed to balance and fix some of the holes and deficiencies in their blog that came up in a team discussion about their concerns and wishes for social communication.

One of their big concerns: All they had bandwidth for were the things that were coming out now, like a new report, an upcoming meeting, the grant announcements. All the content was focused on the now....sometimes with long gaps on the blog in between those news events. Yet the client was awash in content that would be perfectly useful to share on the blog, and that could fill those caverns of content in between the peaks of the news announcements.

Evergreen content, I told her, is just that: material that will keep and doesn't require the immediate push of an announcement. Too often, I see communications fully driven by announcements, when some more quotidien outreach would balance it out and give readers even more reasons to return to your blog.

It's also a search engine goldmine, as this article points out. Evergreen posts are the ones that answer basic questions, offer explainers, and other things that are perennially being searched, which pushes these posts higher in the search engines.

Like most of my clients, this one had many reports, webinars, panels, and other content to share--but was limiting effort to announcing them or saying they were over with material available. If you're in the same boat, you can take that same material and wring more content out of it so you are using it long after the announcement is over. Plumb that material for quotes you can pull out and make visual; for short-item blog posts on a particular issue or finding; for answers to reader questions; and more.

Here are three posts that can get your ideas going on how to do this:

Evergreen posts need not be long. Look for material that is useful or practical; that will last for a long time in relevance; and you'll be on your way.

The great benefit of evergreen content lies in the scheduling. Because it's evergreen, you can plant it on your blog throughout the year, rather than bunching it up close to an announcement. So scatter those evergreen posts through your editorial calendar, and see your blog start to post more routinely. A bonus? If something more newsworthy comes up, it's easy enough to reschedule the evergreen post to make room for the newsier one.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Grant Macdonald)

Don't get caught unprepared, speechless, or without a message, but do catch me on Twitter, on Google+, and on the don't get caught page on Facebook--all great places to add your comments to the discussion. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter, Speakers & Communicators, to make sure you don't miss a thing on my blogs and get the first news about new workshops and projects.