Throw Away Your Slides! (Maybe.)
DECEMBER 3, 2010
Whenever I attend a webinar, I find myself getting frustrated with the format’s limitations, occasionally to the point where I complain about it in this blog. Someone, somewhere has probably put together the perfect webinar, but I haven’t seen it.
Improve Your Blog Posts with Nut Graphs
DECEMBER 2, 2010
In a typical day, I read all or part of 25 to 30 blog posts on B2B communications and journalism. Often, one or two of those stories will share something special—a new way of looking at a problem, a brilliant insight, or an argument that I find compelling.
The Lure of a Dying Profession
OCTOBER 13, 2010
I saw pale kings and princes too / Pale warriors, death-pale were they all. On his Guardian blog today, Roy Greenslade noted a curious phenomenon involving current journalism students.
Is a Blog Just a Container?
OCTOBER 12, 2010
Photo courtesy Haags Uitburo. Today I came across a comment from Adam Tinworth on the reignited debate, in certain UK circles at least, over whether bloggers can be legitimate journalists.
Should We Worry About Gobbledygook?
JULY 29, 2010
Are the myriad gobbledygook terms that so many B2B writers warn against really just “imaginary bogeyman punching bags”? Is compiling a list of words that are overused and vague akin to burning books? Do the people who make those lists simply want to look smarter than everyone else?
Saving Your Content from Web Clutter
JULY 6, 2010
Until very recently, Safari, Apple’s Web browser, has for me always come in a distant second to Firefox. But with the latest update to Safari, that may change. A new feature in Safari 5.0, Reader , is a compelling tool for reducing an article on the Web to its essence: the words.
Content’s Evil Twin: Advertorial
JULY 1, 2010
This morning, the Los Angeles Times passed yet another milestone on the road to ruin of what was once a great newspaper. When I opened it to section two (the awkwardly named “LATEXTRA”), I experienced the following sequence of thoughts: Wow, Universal Studios burned down yesterday.
Wine, Roses, and Oil: PR and the Truth
JUNE 30, 2010
Last night I happened to watch Days of Wine and Roses , a Jack Lemon-Lee Remick movie from 1962 that, perhaps because of the overexposed theme song, I had resisted for years. My mistake.
Advice to the Re-Employed: Think Freelance
JUNE 24, 2010
Imagine for a moment (and this may not be a stretch for many readers) that you’ve been self-employed for a year or so after a layoff put you out on the streets.
Monetize Your Typos
MAY 26, 2010
Doctorow: Make money with typos. A while back, I lamented how social media seem to lead inevitably to the decline of editing and proofreading. I was given new hope this weekend, though, while listening to Leo Laporte’s podcast “ This Week in Tech.”
5 Keys to Effective B2B Content
APRIL 14, 2010
Photo by Brenda Starr. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been working on a project that involves reading a bunch of feature articles from a wide range of B2B publishers. It’s been, surprisingly, an inspiring experience. Why the surprise?
Signals of Quality vs. Good SEO
MARCH 22, 2010
Last month, I wrote about a discussion on an episode of This Week in Google (TWiG) featuring Google’s Matt Cutts.
The Shift to New Media Cannot Be Gradual
MARCH 8, 2010
CJR: Huge culture gap between print and online. In the B2B publisher’s dream world, the transition to online media would come as a natural evolution from print. The vocabulary, the ethos, the culture, the methods would all be organic extensions of print.
Journalists, Content Marketing, and Tough Questions
DECEMBER 16, 2010
If not yet a B2B meme , recommending the use of journalists for content marketing is at the very least a growing trend. Well-known influencers like David Meerman Scott , Valeria Maltoni , and Joe Pulizzi have all made the case that journalistic skills like telling stories, doing research, and understanding audiences are critical to effective content creation. But one journalistic skill rarely mentioned is the ability both to ask and to answer tough questions.
Do You Need a Personal Ethics Statement?
DECEMBER 10, 2010
In an age when transparency is becoming the accepted norm for ethical reporting, is it enough to disclose your potential conflicts of interest only when you think the need arises? Or should writers, whether journalists, bloggers, or content marketers, go on the record with a preemptive announcement of their ethical beliefs and possible biases?
Publishers and the iPad: No Future in Control
DECEMBER 8, 2010
Control. Magazine publishers love it. Especially B2B publishers (why do you think they call it “controlled circulation ?). Or at least they love it until someone else has it. Then it’s evil. To a cynical eye like mine, this seems to be the back story to the ongoing tussle between periodical publishers and Apple over the management of magazine app subscriptions.
Your Content May Be a Commodity, But You’re Not
DECEMBER 1, 2010
Of all the reasons not to update your blog, post a Tweet, or take part in an online conversation, the most powerful may be the fear that you have nothing new or unique to offer. In a world where everyone’s a publisher, content is a commodity. Any information you have to share has most likely been published elsewhere, and more than once. But so what? It doesn’t matter if your content is a commodity, as long as you’re not.
Managing Your Career in the Social Media Era: Sources
SEPTEMBER 22, 2010
As part of a webinar for B2B editors on September 23, 2010, I’m speaking on “Managing Your Career in the Social Media Era.” (The The webinar, “ Enhancing Your Career in the B2B Press ,” is sponsored by the American Society of Business Press Editors.). Since the webinar format isn’t particularly conducive to embedded links, I’ve listed here the main sources cited in my talk.
Content Marketers: Think “Editorial”
NOVEMBER 12, 2010
One of the most exciting areas today in the realm of what we used to call publishing is content marketing. As befits a rapidly evolving discipline, there is no single, satisfactory definition for this new activity. A few days ago, Joe Pulizzi itemized some of the different ways to describe content marketing , then added, “there are another 30 names for this including branded content, customer media, custom publishing and the list goes on.”
The Cooks Source Copyright Outrage: Not the Norm
NOVEMBER 8, 2010
One of the hottest Internet memes last week was the story of how blogger Monica Gaudio complained to a print magazine, Cooks Source , that it had used her work without permission and got told that, really, she should be grateful to have it stolen. The incident was covered well by TechDirt , Wired , and many others.).
Will Mobile Formats Change Web Design Habits?
OCTOBER 29, 2010
Back in July, I wrote in this blog about how Reader, a new feature in Apple’s Safari browser, called attention to the proliferation of clutter in most Web page layouts. My hope was that tools like Reader and its peers, Readability and Instapaper , would encourage cleaner Web design. It was, admittedly, a faint hope. But I was heartened this week to read an article on The Media Briefing that suggests a much stronger corrective is on the horizon.
New Editorial Rules Nod to Content Marketing
OCTOBER 22, 2010
In revised guidelines issued yesterday, the American Society of Magazine Editors, or ASME, addressed types of potential conflict between editorial and advertising content that have grown like weeds in recent years. Other observers, including Gawker and Media Week , have covered the more prominent changes, such as advertising on magazine covers and “invasive or interruptive advertising.
Editorial Wall, or Prison Wall?
OCTOBER 19, 2010
There’s been some fervent debate in recent days about the risks of an entrepreneurial role for editors. Note: By the term editor I mean any journalist, whether writer, reporter, or editor.) Does being involved in the business side of a media enterprise mean being involved in sales? And does breaking down the sacred wall between editorial and sales mean that editorial must be tainted?
Nine Keys to a Robust Editorial Career in Social Media
OCTOBER 8, 2010
For B2B journalists and editors, the transition to the social-media era can be daunting, especially if they rely on their employers to lead the way. As an ASBPE-Medill survey of B2B editors showed last April, traditional publishing companies have offered little new-media training or guidance. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Social media is in part about the empowerment of individuals, and if publishers are letting their employees go it alone, so much the better.
Brand Journalism Trend Heats Up in UK
OCTOBER 4, 2010
In a blog post today, Ian Burrell, the media editor for The Independent offered fresh evidence that, at least in the UK, the growth of brand journalism (i.e., journalists moving into content marketing ) is more than theoretical. Though Burrell uses never names it as such (a “web version” of “customer publishing” is the closest he comes to labeling the trend), it’s clear from his opening that he’s talking about content marketing: “Get used to it.
Do Personal Passions Make You a Better B2B Blogger?
AUGUST 31, 2010
It’s a popular tactic among B2B bloggers to look at dry B2B topics through the prism of seemingly unrelated personal enthusiasms. Viewed from a distance, a favorite pop band or children’s book might not seem relevant to B2B marketing and communications. But for lots of B2B bloggers, the logical connection is less important than the personal one. It can be an effective approach, but it’s not without landmines. You don’t have to look very far to find plenty of examples.
We’ve Got Algorithms. Who Needs Editors?
JULY 14, 2010
In an article published last weekend on Mashable, Sarah Kessler asked the question, “ Can Robots Run the News? ” It’s an important question not just for journalists, but for anyone who creates or curates content on the Web. The examples Kessler cites span the range of content creation, from automatically generated sports news to the use of algorithms to identify news topics. There’s obvious value to automated content creation, and as Jeff Jarvis has declared, “ Data is (are) journalism.”
Journalists as Buzzword Killers
JULY 13, 2010
A post today from Josh Gordon on words to avoid in content marketing gets to the heart of what content marketers must do: think like journalists. In his post, he reports on an effort by PR strategist Adam Sherk to enumerate the frequency of 98 marketing buzzwords in current press releases. As Sherk acknowledges, he is building upon a list David Meerman Scott compiled last year of “ top gobbledygook phrases used in 2008.”. Here are the top 12 offenders: leader. leading. unique. great. solution.
Ethics: Transparency Is Not All
JUNE 28, 2010
In a comment today on a recent B2B Memes blog post, “ Content Marketing’s PR Problem ,” a reader by the dubious name of Ant Miles raises an interesting point about content marketing and journalism. As Miles notes, journalism is often biased in hidden ways by PR and marketing. In content marketing, that bias tends to be more transparent. So in the latter case, “cynical audiences will see overly biased content for what it is—PR by another name—and treat it as such.”.
The Great Ghost-Blogging Debate
JUNE 22, 2010
As he does so often and so well, Mark Schaeffer has sparked yet another fascinating debate on his blog today. Reviving a topic addressed last March by Jon Buscall and Mitch Joel , he argues against their position that CEOs should not use ghost writers for their blogs. While Schaeffer agrees with them in theory, in practice, he says, “ghost blogging” is routine. It’s a waste of energy, he concludes, to argue against it. Instead, the focus should be on improving ghost blogging, not deprecating it.
The Coming Content Marketing-Publishing Continuum
JUNE 21, 2010
Writing on Foliomag.com earlier this month, blogger Josh Gordon spun a comment heard at the Folio: show into a bullish prediction for print magazines. Although the grounds for his optimism might be questioned, I’ll leave that to prophet of print doom Private Frazer and others. What interested me most in Gordon’s premise was a point he didn’t follow up—the potential convergence, whether in print or online, of traditional publishing and content marketing.
Should Journalists Learn to Code?
JUNE 2, 2010
A thoughtful article on MediaShift today by Roland Legrand makes a compelling case for journalists learning programming. Though he starts by reciting a long list of reasons not to code, he ends up fairly adamantly arguing the case for making it mandatory. The only exception he admits is any journalist who plans to quit the business before 2020. Personally, I don’t need convincing. I’ve shared this view since the late 1990s, and have a shelf of Perl, PHP, and MySQL books to prove it.
This Might Be Big: IDG Enters Content Marketing
MAY 13, 2010
As one of the few acknowledged leaders and innovators in B2B publishing, IDG seems always to know when to act on industry trends. The publisher of titles like Computerworld and CIO was a pioneer in China and Web-first publishing. Now the company’s IDG Enterprise unit has announced it will dive into content marketing. The significance of this development will depend on its implementation, but it has the potential to set off a huge shift in the way B2B publishers operate.
Content Marketing’s PR Problem
MAY 11, 2010
With publishing luminaries like Paul Conley , Joe Pulizzi , and David Meerman Scott urging journalists to turn to content marketing for rewarding career options, you might think there would be a stampede of ink-stained wretches leaping into the field. But though you can find examples of such career shifters , the numbers are small. In part, this may be because the field is still nascent. But it’s also due to a public relations problem.
Is B2B Ready for Corporate Journalism?
APRIL 20, 2010
Over the weekend, one of my blog posts from several months ago provoked a comment that was simply too good to let pass unnoticed. It spelled out the feelings of many journalists when faced with the prospect of going over to the dark side , as David Meerman Scott has put it, by writing directly for a sponsor. The commenter’s position was that by doing so, you are inevitably compromising the journalistic goal of telling the truth. What adds heft to this view is its basis in experience.
What B2B Publishers Don’t Get: You Can’t Own the Conversation
APRIL 2, 2010
Although there may be a few exceptions, Stephen Saunders got it right this week when he wrote on Folio: ’s web site that most B2B publishers are miserable failures at social networking. He argues that you can’t build and maintain an online business community unless you produce lots of your own content to support it. There’s some truth to that, as I’ll suggest. But he omits the bigger point. B2B networks usually fail because publishers expect to control them.
Is Your Content Putting You at Risk?
APRIL 1, 2010
For B2B companies embracing their new role as publishers, the content marketing community has produced a huge archive of valuable advice. There is at least one topic, however, that is rarely discussed: the legal risks and responsibilities of publishing. The silence is understandable. Most of the time, the kind of publishing that content marketers do isn’t very risky.