Category Archives: Business Comms

On the jargon runway, is this why people love it?

jargon.PNGAnother buddy from my newspaper days has started working in corporate communications, one more straight shooter struggling with jargon and other biz-speak gobbledygook.

That’s hardly news, at the end of the day. (“19 Worst Examples of Jargon of 2014.”)

But this might be. My friend seems to have found an answer to the eternal cosmic question: Why in the world would anyone use these nonsensical words, phrases and non-words, when simple, plain English is always there, just waiting to be used (NOT utilized)?

Before we get to his explanation, though, let’s enjoy some of the new terms he’s been struggling with in his day-to-day role.

  • bbbWing to wing — instead of comprehensive.
  • Solve — as a noun.
  • Runway — “I’d like to have a meeting with you, but I’m out of runway for the month.”
  • Goal –– as a verb.
  • Lift — as a noun meaning an imposition.

That’s one my friend has slipped into using. He doesn’t like it, but he’s surrounded by jargon all day now. Sometimes, he can’t win.

“Who knows why I used that,” he told me. “Why did I not just say, ‘I hope it’s not too much trouble’ instead? There are so many options. It’s awful.”

Here we get to the solution (NOT solve).

“Am I trying to impress somebody?” he went on. “Because it’s not really impressive. Maybe I’m just trying to fit in. Is that why people talk like this — not to show they’re smart, but just to show they fit in?”

Could be, buddy. And maybe that’s why all those years in newspapers we talked about “slugs” and “perp walks” and “news hole.”

But I’m still gonna shout “Rewrite!” if somebody asks me to goal a wing-to-wing solve.


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From Alaska, Why Naming Things Is Important

Alaska, map, Wasilla, Denali, McKinley, wildlife, beautiful scenery, hunting, fishing, salmon, bear, moose, cabin, camera, Facebook, video, family, wolf

My sister Sammye out with the dogs, The Great One behind her

You’ve heard of Destiny’s Child – but how about Denali’s Child?

Read on about a whopper of a story involving an assassinated president, Native Alaskan lore, a long-brewing political fight over North America’s tallest peak, and even a lesson about the power of naming things.

This week, the Obama administration restored that mountain’s original name, which is Denali, a native Alaskan word for “the great one” or “the tall one.” It had been called Mount McKinley for a century or more.

I lived many years in the 49th state, off-and-on until I was 30. This week’s news kind of surprised me — I guess I thought the name had already been changed. (Just Denali National Park in 1980 — the mountain itself was left unchanged then.) My friends and family in Alaska are delighted by the news.

“Everybody up here has referred to it as Denali for years anyway and says it’s about time,” my brother-in-law Andy McGinnis told me.

“But we can still call Wayne Gretzky ‘the Great One,’” added my buddy Beth Bragg, sports editor at the Alaska Dispatch News (which used to be the Anchorage Daily News, where I worked after college).

A long time coming

President William McKinley, Mount McKinley, Denali, Alaska, mountains, naming, branding

President William McKinley

For more than 100 years, Denali was called Mount McKinley, for William McKinley, the nation’s 25th president, who never set foot in Alaska. (Read the full Dispatch story.)

Alaskans always resented the slight to the Native culture — and the big-footed arrogance of the Lower 48. And newcomers are quickly instructed, “Real Alaskans don’t call it that.” (Some Alaskans are so real they can’t even say the word “McKinley.”)

For decades, Alaskans on all sides of the political spectrum wanted “McKinley” replaced with “Denali.” But Ohio, home of the president McKinley, kept blocking the effort. This week, Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he is “deeply disappointed” by the change.

A lesson in branding

My friend Mike Vanausdeln lived in Anchorage for about 10 years before settling in North Carolina. He wrote this trenchant piece for his branding company.

“By calling the mountain Denali, Alaskans were re-affirming their self-reflecting brand that said we were more authentic than those peons who called it Mount McKinley. The power of Denali proves the power of naming.

“I can hear my Alaskan friends now: ‘Oh, big deal. We’ve been calling it Denali for years.’ Just by saying that, Alaskans (and former Alaskans like myself) are stating who we believe we are when we lived there.

“Authentic.”

Alaskan family values

Alaska, map, Wasilla, Denali, McKinley, wildlife, beautiful scenery, hunting, fishing, salmon, bear, moose, cabin, camera, Facebook, video, family, wolf

My brother-in-law Vince casts his line in one of Alaska’s countless rivers.

My favorite response came from another brother-in-law, Vince Pokryfki. He says the second-highest mountain in the Alaska Range is officially known as Mount Foraker, also named for an Ohio politician. The Native name is Menlale, meaning Denali’s Wife.

The third-highest is Mount Hunter, after a relative who paid for a climber’s expedition way back when. Its original name, Begguya, means Denali’s Child.

“Doesn’t get any better – the perfect family,” Vince says.

And that’s a story even John Boehner ought to love.


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9 Easy Tips for Talking to the Press

Jay Croft, Atlanta, writer, newspaper, Journal-Constitution, Cox Enterprises, storytelling, corporate communications, content, gay, pop culture, movies, music, TV, Poncey-Highland, Virginia-Highland, Inman Park, Old Fourth Ward, who is a good writer in Atlanta, public relations, marketing, social media expert

As a former journalist, I’m sometimes asked for advice about speaking with reporters. Just this week, for instance, I addressed a group of healthcare professionals who want to get quoted in the press and to raise their media profile as experts.

They’d never been interviewed before, and they wanted my advice for what to do when they’re connected with a reporter.

This has come up frequently in my experience in corporate communications, as well, and in digital and social media. I’m always happy to have these interactions and to share a few tips, including these.

1. DON’T start the conversation by saying, “What’s your angle?” It’s defensive and somewhat insulting. Better to say something like this: “I’m happy to help if I can. What’s the story you’re working on?”

2. DO know who’s calling. Reporters are not investors or analysts — they don’t have time or interest in the James Michener version of the topic. And a journalist from, say, a trade publication might be seeking a different level of depth than your local daily.

3. DO have two or three key points sketched out in advance of the interview. It’ll help you stay on track and to keep your responses short, simple and quotable. That will increase your chances of making it into the story, whether it’s in print, online or for broadcast.

4. DO humanize the story. Reporters often need real examples to bring stories to life. Make it easy on them with credible, compelling people and contact information.

5. DON’T think you have to have an answer for everything. If you don’t know, or if you’re uncomfortable discussing something that might be outside your scope, just say something like, “I’ll have to look into that and call you back. When is your deadline?”

6. DO return the call – on time. Reporters are often busy and stressed out – especially today when newsrooms have fewer staff members than ever. You can establish a good relationship by doing what you say you’re going to do, and by honoring basic courtesy like this.

7. DON’T ask to see the story before it’s printed or airs. Better to say, “Feel free to call me back or email me if you have any questions later.” That way, a reporter will feel confident fact-checking if he or she needs to.

8. DO pitch your own ideas for follow-ups and offer yourself as an ongoing resource to the reporter. A good one always wants to meet smart, savvy people on their beats – not just when they need a quick quote.

9. DON’T lie. Seriously.

How about you? Any questions or suggestions? Let me know!

Little Girl’s Perfect Little Story Will Make You Smile

Bella Ortega, flowers, sunflowers, kid, child, girl, garden, gardening, happy, smile, story elements, perfect little story

Bella blossoms along with her flowers. Click to make bigger.

Here’s a short story that can help all writers in our search for content.

My friend Evelyn Amaya Ortega posted this photo of her 8-year-old, Bella, on Instagram and Facebook with the following caption.

She planted the seeds. She waited patiently all summer as the plants grew… And grew… Getting taller and taller. This week, the flowers bloomed. #Happy

More than 140 people liked the photo on Facebook, including writer Karen Rosen who astutely noted, “That is a perfect 24-word story with illustration. It should be in a magazine.”

I agree. Evelyn’s short tale contains all the elements of a narrative. Character, location, conflict, rising action, climax — even a sweet denouement.

The next time someone tells you they don’t have enough material or space to craft a story, show him this.

In business writing, the same holds true under the content-marketing definition of story. The image and text are compelling, engaging and emotional. They could hold the interest of customers looking to buy flowers, seeds, tickets to a summer camp or even in a Public Service Announcement about good parenting and spending time with your kids.

Look at that face! That smile!

That’s a story, by any definition.


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13 Easy Tips for Better Storytelling, Content Marketing

Ann Handley, Content Rising, content marketing, Skyword, Tom Gerace, Robert McKee, storytelling, brand journalism, everything the light touches is content, The Lion King

As I like to say, “Stories are everything, and everything is content.” Thanks to Ann Handley for this clever way of putting it, which she shared at Content Rising in Boston.

What’s the difference between a story and a narrative?

Between a story and information?

And what does it mean to run #LikeAGirl?

Such were the questions about 300 content marketers, storytellers and other media pros discussed last week at a conference I attended in Boston. Content Rising, put on by the Boston-based Skyword agency, focused on how to engage audiences with useful, compelling content — articles, video, photos, social media and more. It was one of those energizing experiences you hope for from a professional gathering, with lots of smart people, goodwill and creative energy bouncing around.

I love how events like this get covered now via Twitter. It’s like having a roomful of reporters sharing best quotes and reactions. Here are 13 tweets from the experience that give a pretty good overview of what’s being discussed about content marketing and storytelling these days.

Marketing Stats amid the Media Evolution

Tom Gerace, founder and CEO of Skyword, opened with stats that show brands need to stop interrupting what consumers want and instead become what they want. Take a look at these photos. Marketers believe their work has changed more in the last two years than since the dawn of television. On Facebook, 15 billion pieces of content are posted each month.

Storytelling Tips from a Master

Robert McKee, a screenwriting coach and author on storytelling, shared some thoughts on what  a story is and is not — and pointed out that young adults and teen-agers are too smart for traditional, B.S. marketing that’s little more than bragging.

I love a wise curmudgeon who calls people on their B.S.

Finding Your Voice

Author Ann Handley is always thoughtful, engaging and entertaining. Handley says finding the right tone and voice is the “secret sauce” of effective content marketing.

Look for little opportunities to enliven such traditionally dull, perfunctory spots as the “About Us” page with copy that can be fun and deliver your brand voice.

Finally, A Few Words on Innovation

Dan Pallotta, inventor of multi-day AIDS and breast cancer walks, closed with some inspiring thoughts on innovation.


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How to Link Your Love for Food and Travel

Atlanta Curb Market, Atlanta Municipal Market, Atlanta, Curb Market, Martin Luther King Historic District, Sweet Auburn, black history, African-American history, produce, meat, pork, Grindhouse Burgers

Love the neon sign in the middle of the Curb Market

Everybody loves food and travel, right? Put them together and you have a dream vacation when you’re traveling, or a great itinerary when guests come.

Millions of Americans consider the availability of food (and drink) activities when making travel plans. That can mean going to Northern California for tours and tastings in wine country, or looking for cheap, local eats wherever you happen to be headed. The “culinary tourism” trend isn’t slowing down, according to foodie experts gathered to discuss it in Atlanta this week with PR and communications folks.

It was a great conversation, with interesting points about Georgia and metro Atlanta’s top spots and trends.

  • We have our own “wine country” in the North Georgia that can make for a fun day.
  • Ethnic “niche” marketing is growing.
  • Buford Highway remains the best location for endless “hole in the wall” ethnic spots.
  • West Midtown is still booming with fun restaurants and shops in a few walkable areas.
  • I’ve gotta get to Gun Show.

But for me, the most interesting aspect was the setting: the Sweet Auburn Curb Market in the original Municipal Market on Edgewood Avenue. I’m ashamed to say I’d never been, and I felt like a tourist in my own town browsing the food and produce of 24 businesses – including produce and meat shops, a bakery, bookstore and about a dozen great little spots to eat.

Here are a few reasons why I’ll be taking my next out-of-town guests. There’s probably something similar in your town. Check it out. Here are just a few reasons why. (Click pics to enlarge.)

1. History

Atlanta Curb Market, Atlanta Municipal Market, Atlanta, Curb Market, Martin Luther King Historic District, Sweet Auburn, black history, African-American history, produce, meat, pork, Grindhouse Burgers

The market, built in 1924, is located within the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic District. From the market’s website:

Whereas blacks were permitted to shop inside of the market when its doors opened, they were relegated to vend outside along the curb. Transforming that segregated time in the market’s history, it is today affectionately called the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, a name that was adopted in the 1990s. The name also reflects the market’s proximity to Auburn Avenue, which in 1956 Fortune magazine called “the richest Negro Street in the world” and was dubbed “Sweet Auburn” in a nod to that prosperity.

2. Streetcar

Atlanta Curb Market, Atlanta Municipal Market, Atlanta, Curb Market, Martin Luther King Historic District, Sweet Auburn, black history, African-American history, produce, meat, pork, Grindhouse BurgersThe market has its own stop on the new Atlanta Streetcar, which is free throughout 2015.

3. Miss D

Atlanta Curb Market, Municipal Market, soul food, Miss D's, praline, popcorn, soul food

Come in through the back door (where the parking lot is) and you’ll encounter delightful Miss D and her mouthwatering pralines, peanut brittle and gourmet popcorn.

4. Lunch

Atlanta Curb Market, Atlanta Municipal Market, Atlanta, Curb Market, Martin Luther King Historic District, Sweet Auburn, black history, African-American history, produce, meat, pork, Grindhouse Burgers, soul food

Atlanta Curbside Market, curb market, Grindhouse burgers

Curb-Market-Boy

In Atlanta, ya gotta have your “meat and three.” The food court includes Metro Deli Soul Food, Grindhouse Burgers, Sweet Auburn BBQ, Tilapia Express, Awesome Juicery and more.

4. Produce

Atlanta Curbside Market, Municipal Market, produce, peppers, meat, poultry, MLK, soul food

Curb-Market-Peanuts

Fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms. (Peanuts, too.)

6. Meat

pigs, pork, butcher, Atlanta Curb Market, Municipal Market, 1924, MLK, Atlanta, buy your whole pigs here

Atlanta-Curb-Market-Butcher

prices

Because you never know when you’ll need a whole pig.

The food experts on the panel also gave some other suggestions for where to eat around town. I love how they weren’t focused on the most expensive spots. Good food is about more than white tablecloths.

  • Fred Castellucci, @fwc3, owner of The Iberian Pig, Cooks & Soldiers, and other restaurants:  “The new Victory Sandwich Bar in Inman Park is awesome. It’s a very cool spot and the guys who own it are super-nice. They do a great job.”
  • Kate Parham Kordsmeier, @KPKords, food writer: Depending on her mood, she loves Umi Sushi, Bocca Lupa, and Gun Show.
  • Lindsey Isaacs, @Explore Georgia, from the state Department of Economic Development: “If somebody says Six Feet Under by the Oakland Cemetery some time, I’m there in a heartbeat.”
  • Dale Gordon DeSena, @TasteofAtlanta, suggests people try something new, “a little out of your comfort zone,” at least once a week.

Great advice, Dale — whether you’re traveling or at home.

Thanks to the panelists and the Georgia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America for putting the discussion together. 

Letterman’s Top 10 Tips for Better Communications

David Letterman, The Late Show, 33 years

Letterman keeps it real.

We all know David Letterman just ended his 33 years on late-night TV. You don’t have to be a comedian, or even a Letterman fan, to have picked up some communications tips from him over the years.

In keeping with one of his most cherished bits, here’s my Top 10 Easy Tips for Communicators  from David Letterman.

  1. Be yourself. Letterman was a goofball from the start, cranky, ironic and snarky. He was no Hollywood smoothie like Johnny Carson, and didn’t try too hard to make people like him, as so many do. He always was Dave, the one and only.
  1. Be consistent. Even on two networks and with two names, Letterman’s show was remarkably steady. They’d try new bits, of course, but it all felt of a piece, of one sensibility and in a respectful routine.
  1. Guide the discussion. That cranky side of his personality was a bit much sometimes, but he also knew how to keep bloviating celebrities in check.
  1. Branding, branding, branding. The Top 10 lists, Stupid Human Tricks, The Velcro Suit, Stupid Pet Tricks… What were your favorites? We’ve been talking about them all these years.
  1. Share the Spotlight. Paul Shaffer and the great band. Larry “Bud” Melman. Neighborhood deli owners. Audience members… Letterman was always the center of his show, but he knew that he shines best, and the message is best delivered, when he’s surrounded by a team that complements him.
  1. Share yourself, but not too much. Letterman’s been super-famous for most of my life, but I know almost nothing about him. His adorable, white-haired mother made a series of appearances. He talked about his health troubles and young son from time to time. But the show was about the audience, not the host’s personal life. That’s a nice, difficult balance of message and messenger.
  1. Be real when you need to be. Letterman’s style of “crisis management” was to drop the irony and reticence to be serious – notably in 2009 when he discussed an extortion plot and confessed to having affairs with staff members. The lesson for everyone: Address a crisis promptly, honestly and directly.
  1. Be versatile. Letterman seemed just as comfortable and skilled talking with presidents, movie stars and common folk. All communicators should strive for such a deft touch.
  1. Give good content. In addition to being authentic and consistent, Letterman’s show was funny. Very, very funny — almost all the time, night after night, for 33 years. If we all give our audiences a good product, we’re more than halfway home.

… And the No. 1 Easy Tip for Communicators  from David Letterman is… 

  1. Know when to wrap it up. Could Letterman keep going? Absolutely. But it’s always best to choose your own departure and craft it yourself, instead of being shown the door. Keep that in mind next time you’re writing a speech for a long-winded executive, or going on too long on, say, a blog post about skillful communications.

How a History of Computers Will Make You a Better Communicator

innovatorsWalter Isaacson tried something different as he was finishing his newest book, “The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution.”

In the acknowledgements, Isaacson says he turned to crowdsourcing for suggestions and corrections on many of the chapters.

“By using the Internet, I could solicit comments and corrections from thousands of people I didn’t know,” Isaacson writes. “This seemed fitting, because facilitating the collaborative process was one reason the Internet was created.”

“The Innovators” offers other key lessons for today’s digital communicators — content marketers, brand journalists and corporate writers, among them.

Walter Isaacson, The Innovators, Atlanta, CNN, Time magazine, computers

Walter Isaacson

Isaacson has been both chairman of CNN and managing editor of Time magazine. His best-selling biographies include “Steve Jobs,” which came out shortly after the Apple genius died in 2011.

“The Innovators” dovetails beautifully with the Jobs bio — and both are beautiful examples of journalistic reporting and writing at its best.

Isaacson says one excerpt was read by 18,200 people the first week he posted it. He received scores of comments and hundreds of emails. And he used them to make changes and additions to his manuscript.

Outsourcing isn’t a new idea, of course, as Isaacson acknowledges. It’s part of the useful fun of social media, and I’ve enjoyed doing it for this blog, for free-lance articles, and on internal communications projects at large corporations. After I spent 20 years in newsrooms, with their constant swirls of collaboration, I still value reaching out to others as part of my communications process.

Ada Lovelace, Turing, Jobs, Gates, Isaacson, Atlanta, CNN

Ada Lovelace, computer pioneer

Validation from a master is nice. And here are seven more great lessons for all communicators from “The Innovators,” which tells the history of how today’s digital innovations came into being, from programming pioneer Ada Lovelace to more familiar names like Alan Turing, Jobs, Bill Gates and more. It’s a fascinating tale, with each chronologically ordered chapter so rich you could write a separate book on individual players (which, of course, many people have, including Isaacson).

By tracing the history and innovators, Isaacson shows us:

1. Creativity is a collaborative process. “As brilliant as the many inventors of the Internet and computer were, they achieved most of their advances through teamwork.”

2. Collaboration can go from one generation to the next, and on and on. “The digital age may seem revolutionary, but it was based on expanding the ideas handed down from previous generations.”

3. Physical proximity is beneficial. “There is something special … about meetings in the flesh, which cannot be replicated digitally,” Isaacson writes. He cites Yahoo! CEO Melissa Mayer discouraging the idea of working from home, and others who designed workspaces to encourage random encounters.

Franklin, Isaacson, Innovators

“Benjamin Franklin: An American Life”

4. The best leadership teams combine people with complementary styles. Here, Isaacson cites the varying strengths of our country’s Founding Fathers — including Benjamin Franklin, the subject of one of his earlier books.

5. A great team pairs visionaries, who generate ideas, and operating managers, who carry them out. “Visions with execution are hallucinations.” Isaacson cites “lingering historical debate over who most deserves” credit for inventing the electronic digital computer — a lone professor whose machine never fully worked, or a team of three who were able to get their machine operating.

6. Man is a social animal, as Aristotle first noted.

 Almost every digital tool, whether designed for it or not, was commandeered by humans for a social purpose. Even the personal computer, which was originally embraced as a tool for individual creativity, inevitably led to the rise of modems, online services, and eventually Facebook, Flickr, and Foursquare.

7. Creativity matters most. Isaacson opens the book with the story of Lovelace (1815-1852), who wrote the first algorithm meant to be carried out by a machine. He brings it back around to her at the end. “As she pointed out, in our symbiosis with machines we humans have brought one crucial element to the partnership: creativity.”

Isaacson castigates people who might scoff at engineers lacking an appreciation the arts, while blithely admitting they don’t know a mole from a molecule. The next round of innovation will rely on those who can link the two — “beauty to engineering, humanity to technology, and poetry to processors,” Isaacson writes.

It’s good advice and maybe a warning.

9 Proven Ways to Lead a Difficult Interview to Success

Communication-skillsAll professional communicators have faced difficult interview subjects who can’t or won’t give you what you need.

Do you get tough with your questions like a reporter or a prosecutor?

Do you smile and nod and hope that you can somehow make sense of this later?

Do you walk away absolutely frustrated?

Consider, for example, a certain Subject Matter Expert. She’s a genius in her field and is somehow affiliated with your company. You and your team want to craft a multi-channel communications plan for her to use with audiences of, say, employees, media and investors. To do so, you need clarity and proper engagement from the expert, who doesn’t mean to be challenging, of course. She’s just not good at expressing her vision and she doesn’t understand why she frequently has to stop and explain things again.

Successful communicators are often the best listeners. They’re skilled at getting great thinkers to share those great thoughts, even those subjects who don’t want to or don’t know how to.

social-icons-01 Click to Tweet: How to help when interview subjects have trouble communicating.

Here’s how to help. Try these easy tips I’ve gathered from doing countless interviews, first as a news reporter with VIPs of all kinds, and later as a corporate communicator with business leaders, allies and staff members of every rank. If you can master this, you’ll be able to help all kinds of people share all kinds of information. So everybody wins, including you.

tm-pilbox.global.ssl.fastly.net1. Do your homework. Read everything you can about the person you’re interviewing. Read anything with his byline – even if he didn’t write it, he approved it. Watch all his videos. Also, talk to his associates if you can. Their insight can be invaluable.

2. Organize priorities. Get clear with the subject — and also with your boss or your team —  about the priorities for the interview, how much time you’ll have, and if this is a one-off or the first of a series. That way you’ll be sure to know what everyone needs the most and get it.

3. Show respect. Let the person indicate if he wants to chat for a few minutes or get right down to business. Don’t interrupt or contradict, but also don’t kiss up or try to impress.

4. Remind him why you’re talking to him. Chances are, someone has already told him, of course. But he’s busy and might’ve forgotten or confused you with someone else. Be succinct and clear about what you need.

5. Ask for clarity. If the expert or leader seems to contradict himself or something in your notes, ask for a clarification. “I’m sorry … I thought the plan called for X, rather than Y … I must be confused. Can you help me understand?” Remember: If you don’t get it, no one will.

social-icons-01Click to Tweet: Don’t be afraid to ask for clarity. If you don’t understand, no one will.

KeepCalm6. Keep it simple by asking and maybe even re-asking the basic questions. “I want to be clear for everyone: What problem does this new product solve? I believe it’s this, based on the research I’ve done… Is that correct?”

7. Mix it up. Ask a variety of open-ended questions (“How do you feel about how things are shaping up?”) and direct questions (“Are you satisfied with these results?”)

8. Get a few soundbites. Some experts and advocates know what you need and are happy to help. For the others, though, try a suggestion like this:  “So, would it be correct to say X-Y-Z…? I’m not trying to put words in your mouth, but we need this to be short and clear.”

9. Wrap it up. Stick to the time allotted, unless the leader wants to extend. Thank him for his time and share your plans for review.

Now make it matter

Transcribe your notes and share with your supervisor and team. Plan a meeting to go over everything and suggest key nuggets for use – in, say, the annual report or next week’s newsletter. Fact-check anything you’re not sure about, or run it by legal before you distribute. Remember your internal approval process when crafting and executing the communications plan.

Do you need to suggest a follow-up interview? Make it a monthly thing? Should you send a videographer to the person’s next speech, to record some of his new-and-improved presentation for still more content uses?

In some cases, someone might decide to hire an outside expert to provide the person with intense media coaching. Or to assign much of the messaging to someone else.

But with the information and buy-in you’ve retrieved, the comms team will have what it needs — for clarity, relevance and accuracy.

And that’s really saying something.


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6 Content Marketing Conferences to Learn from the Best

I went to Cleveland for a few days last September, and let me tell you, it was one of the best things I did all year.

(Go ahead. Insert Cleveland joke here.)

I decided to attend a conference, Content Marketing World, in a flash of inspiration. I had mulled going earlier, and when a new online friend and industry leader suggested I go, I snagged a cheap flight and a room at the venue hotel, and, before I could say “Get off of my blue suede shoes,” I was in the land of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

As a former journalist working in traditional corporate communications, I was jazzed to see so many examples of how to creatively, purposefully blend the two disciplines and others. With top authors, brands and social media represented, the conference has grown in attendance annually.

Business communicators of all kinds have been turning more and more to storytelling techniques, brand journalism and content marketing, and conferences like this are a great chance to learn from the best and mingle with peers. I stole ideas and made connections in Cleveland — with good, smart people in a supportive environment.

Similar events cover some of the same ground, and maybe this year I’ll plan ahead with one or more of these:

  1. Social Media Marketing World. March 25-27, San Diego. “Discover the best social media marketing techniques from the world’s top experts. Join 2,500 fellow marketers at the mega-conference designed to inspire and empower you with social media marketing ideas—brought to you by Social Media Examiner.”
  2. Create an award-winning newsroom: Boost influence, SEO and media coverage. This PR Daily Webinar is set for April 2. From the link: “The press, public and search engines will give your news massive reach — if your online newsroom features frequent updates and multimedia. Is yours up to speed?”

    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Supremes, Diana Ross

    No trip to Cleveland is complete without a tour of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and seeing what the original Dreamgirls (Diana, Mary and Flo of the Supremes) wore back in the day.

  3. Marketing United. April 29-May 1, Nashville. “The must-attend conference for modern marketers” features authors Ann Handley and Jay Baer, along with many more in Music City, home to the Country Music Hall of Fame. (Take that, Cleveland!)
  4. Creativity, Technology and the Future of Storytelling. “How do you tell amazing stories that are not just good, but inspire your audience, make life more interesting, and turn passive consumers into brand advocates?” May 14 in New York.
  5. Digital Summit Atlanta. May 19-20. “Join Digital Summit Atlanta for two days of leading-edge digital media and marketing content, mixed alongside top-flight networking with Internet execs, online marketers, entrepreneurs and digital strategists.”
  6. Content Marketing World 2015. Sept. 8-11. Cleveland. Yes, I might go back to see Joe Pulizzi, Robert Rose and the rest from the Content Marketing Institute. And not just because I had to race through the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to make my flight back home…

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