Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged

I’m full of clichés today. I suppose since I can’t use them in my quality work writing, I will use them to torment readers today. But, wait, there’s more! You can take that judgmental nature with which you read and apply it to good use. Instead of just shaking your head and thinking “this poor woman needs a good editor,” you can help us out by judging the Azbees. If you’re not familiar with them, you can get the 411 here. http://www.asbpe.org/azbee-awards

We have more than 1,300 entries that require a critical eye from a quality editor for judging. The commitment to judging can be from two hours on a small category to around a dozen or more hours. We’ll give you the criteria and make it as easy as possible and you’ll have several weeks to get it done. The payoff? You’ve helped colleagues, just like yourself, be judged fairly by a B2B journalism professional. Think you’re up the task? Then, email me your contact information at tonieauer@gmail.com and I’ll follow up with you.

— Tonie Auer, ASBPE National Competition Committee Czar

Success: Social Media Networking

By Tonie Auer

Everyone keeps talking about social media and how we’ve all just got to be a part of it. I’m not sure who the “everyone” is really, but I’ll fill you in: they’re right. For one of the first times in my life, listening to my peers paid off in all the right ways.

I started small joining LinkedIn and reconnected with many contacts. Through the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon-style efforts, I found many others with whom I should be connected.

Later, I moved over to Facebook. I thought it would be simply a better way to stay connected with friends. Blogging had grown old to me and was getting tiresome. Trolls were irritating me and after doing it since July 2004, I was ready to slow down just a tad. My personal blog is still there, but is neglected, I hate to admit. It was writing I did for pleasure and when it ceased to be fun, I slowed down.

But, this Facebook thing, it’s a lot of fun and I learned — lo and behold — it could land me a bucketload of work. It really has. I have had my foot in the door to a couple of big contracts that haven’t come through just yet, but it was a way in that I hadn’t before had. I have gotten numerous freelancing and subcontracting gigs there for people I’ve never met in person. Through contacts of other contacts and name recognition, I’ve successfully “friended” many professionals, from the public relations and marketing world to magazines and other professionals. And I’ve reaped the benefits of multiple projects from it.

It has also worked well looking for sources for articles. I needed to find a local car dealer for an article and no one was returning my cold calls. I posted on FB what I needed and about a half-dozen journalist or PR friends posted the name of a PR gal who repped a car dealer. A few hours after posting that request, I was done with my interview. The same has happened for multiple stories. It has worked 100 times better than going to Help a Reporter Out. (I’ve never had luck there.)
So, if you’re still dragging your feet about the whole social media thing or consider it a time-waster – you’re only partially right. It can definitely be a drain on your valuable time, but it can also be a boon for finding work or finding sources for your projects.
Look me up on LinkedIn or Facebook.
Tonie Auer is the real estate reporter covering Dallas and Fort Worth for Bisnow Media.

Changing of the Guard

By Tonie Auer

Since our first blog post on Dec. 13, 2007, by former ASBPE President Steven Roll, to Maureen Alley’s post about being productive, this blog has seen a lot. We’ve seen ups and downs in the economy, the election of a new president, the downfall of print journalism and the rise of the new media.

This has been a wonderful experience for me. Launching the ASBPE blog has been both exhilarating and challenging. Coming up with news you can use or insights into the business as well as giving you information that may make you smile or make you cry — all of it has been incredibly rewarding.

In October, I moved from freelance B2B writing and editing into a new role as the DFW reporter for Bisnow.com, an all-digital outlet covering commercial real estate and all that goes with it. I credit much of my move into new media to ASBPE. I’ve learned much here, including that we have to evolve to stay relevant. With that in mind, I think the time is ripe to hand off the responsibilities to a fresh set of eyes with new ideas.

On Monday, our new Blog Chairwoman Maureen Alley will introduce herself and start her trek of providing you with content to improve your publication and your journalism skills.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the blog, read it and forwarded it to their colleagues. We do it for you.

Good News

By Tonie Auer

Finally, there is some good news to report. MinOnline shared it with us earlier this month when they told us that:

  • Trade publishers are starting to see the bottom of a marked decline in their print and events businesses, according to the latest figures from American Business Media.
  • In the first quarter of this year, ABM found that print revenues had declined only 6.4% to $1.8 billion.
  • On a month-by-month basis, revenue figures improved in the first quarter as well, indicating a positive trajectory. Print revenue in March 2010 was down only 3.1% compared to March 2009.
  • The digital side of the b2b business grew by 7.5% in Q1 2010.

You know what? I totally believe it. The company I work for, Bisnow.com, is all digital with no print product whatsoever. And, we’re growing. The company launched e-newsletters covering commercial real estate in Dallas/Fort Worth in October; Houston in December; Atlanta this spring; and L.A. about a month ago. There is no doubting that digital products are in demand by the evolving fast-paced society in which we live. The trick revolves around keeping up with the changes.

To Blog or Not to Blog, That Is the Question

By Tonie Auer
DFW Chapter President

Occasionally, other bloggers can say things so much better than I can. This time, it’s Joe Pulizzi. The author, speaker and strategist for content marketing and founder of content matching site Junta42 marked his 37th birthday with 37 reasons to blog. And, they’re good ones.

Here’s a sampling:

5. You can’t be taken seriously in social media unless you have a robust, consistent blog. That’s the truth. Deal with it.

7. A blog is search engine candy. Google loves blogs and Google is hungry. Feed the beast.

8. A blog is an industry game changer. When the buying decision comes down to three or four companies, the company website with consistent, relevant content is 60% more likely to win (Custom Content Council stats).

11. How can you be successful with Twitter, Facebook and other social media without generating consistently relevant content through a blog? Remember, content strategy comes before social media. That content strategy can be executed through the blog.

13. A blog can serve as the content hub for your enewsletter, print newsletter and company magazine.

14. Your customers want and need to be inspired. Is there a better way to inspire customers than through consistent content gifts through a blog.

So, go forth and be inspired by Joe. He gave me this great idea for a blog post.

When One Door Closes …

By Tonie Auer
DFW Chapter President

Like most aspiring writers (of something beyond the B2B publications), I strive to read quality work. I try to change things up a bit, moving from suspense writers like Deborah Crombie to the snarky memorist Jen Lancaster.

I’ve read many books about writing techniques and I’m even a member of the Writers’ Guild of Texas, which brings in great speakers to talk about the craft of writing. All of this greatly improves my writing skills overall, so it is beneficial all the way around.

I subscribed for a year or two to Writer’s Digest, but found that I never took the time to read it. Fortunately, I saved the magazines and ran across them recently and started reading them. Writing tips are timeless (for the most part), so why not? What I found in the pages went beyond the traditional tips on creating good characters and addressed topics facing the B2B publishing industry, too.

I pulled out one issue from 2007 that included query tips from editors of three consumer publications. Of the three magazines, two are now defunct. (Sort of timely considering all the closing publications across the magazine world.) Flipping through another 2007 issue, I ran across an article titled “The Incredible Disappearing Magazine.” The advice seems very timely, as it talks about what freelancers should do if one of their pubs shutters.

After from getting stiffed a check (most likely), now you have to find another revenue stream. The article’s author, Lou Harry, recommended going straightaway to the publication’s competition. Pretty good advice if you’ve already been writing about a topic or industry. But, with the shrinking world of publications and the increasing pool of writers, you need to make sure that you play up your strong points. Also, stay in touch with the editors who know and love your writing already. I’ve gotten several jobs in the past from editors who have jumped ship. Often, they’ve been gracious enough to leave my name with the editors who replace them as they change jobs, too.

After the Reed announcements recently, you could practically hear the sales departments at competing publishers (like McGraw-Hill) salivating at the opportunities to lure those advertisers to their pubs, too. So, it can be doubly beneficial for some competitors.

So, I suppose the blog title comes into play here. When you find that one door closes (literally, as magazines fold), find your way to another door. You may be able to get your foot in there with a little effort. Then, hopefully, it will open. But, you’ll never know if you don’t go knock.

RIP Reed Titles

By Tonie Auer
DFW Chapter President

By now, we’ve all heard the news about Reed Elsevier shuttering 23 B2B pubs. I don’t think anyone is all that shocked any more. But, what does this mean for B2B publishing? Folio has its take and former ASBPE president, current TABPI president and editorial director of Hotel & Motel Management magazine Paul Heney has his:

“I think that this is one more indication that the b2b publishing world is moving away from being dominated by a few enormous entities. Our future lies more with smaller companies that truly love and believe in the niche(s) that they serve. Many of the Reeds of the world became little more than faceless earning machines for venture capitalists. Now the pendulum is swinging back toward favoring individuals who are passionate about mining or pharmaceuticals or engineering. This also serves to remind each one of us that a brand may be 40 or 50 or 60 years old, but nothing is too big to fail if editors, publishers and salespeople ignore the shifts in media habits — both on the reader and the advertiser — that we’re seeing today.”

Fortunately a few titles have been saved and maybe some others will be resurrected as well. Time will tell.

20 High-Value Blog Posts Offer 143 IdeasYou Can Use

By Tonie Auer

  • How can your publication succeed online?
  • What points should a social media policy address?
  • What challenges will face us as we convert our magazine from print to digital only?

Answers to these questions — and quite a few others — are in these 20 high-value posts from the ASBPE National Blog.

We combed through posts from the blog’s three-plus years of existence to compile some of the best. In choosing these posts, we had specific criteria in mind. We wanted to highlight posts that provide actionable, “how-to” material in an easy-to-use format (blogs with bullet lists and checklists were favored). We also wanted the posts, as a group, to cover a variety of topics.

With those considerations in mind, here are 20 of the best ASBPE National Blog posts, roughly in reverse chronological order.

The ASBPE National Blog’s value never stops. We have ongoing discussions scheduled on plenty of hot topics. And take advantage of the opportunity to express your own view via a follow-up post. Email me at tonieauer@gmail.com.

The Journalist’s Toolbox

By Tonie Auer
DFW Chapter President

I’ve been on a roll, talking about professional development and making yourself indispensable. Now I’m going to lead you to another valuable resource to make yourself look like a genius to your boss and colleagues: The Journalist’s Toolbox.

This is a hodgepodge of great links for how to find information on topics ranging from multimedia editing tools to editing and fact-checking references. If you need to find a clearinghouse of information on weather, military or even foreign policy, there’s a link for that information, too.

It all goes back to being the go-to person in your office. The publisher’s administrative assistant needs to find the ZIP code of some head office in Walla Walla, Wash., but she isn’t the greatest at figuring out how to find it. So, make yourself invaluable and be able to offer her that assistance. She’ll remember it. Trust me.

Make Yourself Indispensable

By Tonie Auer
DFW Chapter President

Covering real estate in a down economy makes story creation a bit limited at times. But, I’m taking the advice that a commercial real estate broker gave some “young guns” at a recent event: make yourself indispensable. He told them that the key to success is making sure that your team needs you on every deal. Be a go-to person. The same is true in B2B journalism as well.

How do you do that? Be creative, for one. Find the stories that need to be told instead of rehashing the same tired topics over and over.

A great example in the commercial real estate world in Dallas is the use of Jones Lang LaSalle’s SuperBowl blog. They took their top dog — who just happens to be Hall of Famer and former Cowboys QB Roger Staubach — and paired him with his broker son to write it. So, now they’ve taken something that really has nothing to do with JLL and made themselves relevant.

With the SuperBowl coming to Dallas in February 2011, they have something to generate the interest, and the person to make it interesting. Tie in the real estate world and voila.

But, Tonie, we don’t have a Roger Staubach or a SuperBowl to get people interested, what do we do? Find something that makes you relevant to your target audience. Are they all wondering about unemployment? Industry regulations? healthcare reform impacts?

What’s on your readers’ minds? Ask them. Make your blog relevant to them and their needs. Maybe create a forum for them to ask each other questions. Christianity Today has a blog for its Your Church magazine. From information that is pertinent to its readers — church leaders — and from its comments section, the editors have developed cover stories that relate to what their readers are asking about. Let your readers guide your topics from time to time. What a novel concept? I don’t think so. It’s time we got back to basics in our coverage. With scaled-back budgets and staff, we may have no choice.

But, we have to make and/or keep ourselves relevant to our readers. Remember, make yourself indispensable. If you come up with the good ideas, your publisher, editor, board of directors (whoever) will remember that.