contentgrrl

I am conTENT. My work is CONtent.

Posts Tagged ‘analysis’

5 Ws and H interview questions for news writing: part 3, aftermath

Posted by contentgrrl on January 24, 2008

In the art of news writing, we still use tried-and-true formulas to get started with researching, interviewing, and organizing basic news according to the 5 Ws and the H. We discussed policy examples previously, and event examples last time.

Now, let’s look at how these questions can play out for news stories about aftermath. The questions below apply to analyzing the causes and consequences of conflicts, disasters, losses, and mistakes.

These stories may include war’s battles, terrorist attacks, earthquakes, fires, stormy weather, epidemics, extinctions, sports and other competitions, transportation wrecks, market crashes, crime, utility outages, closings, civil suits, industrial accidents, even product and software defects, illnesses, injuries, and other broken promises and dreams.

  • Who is the injured or affected party?
  • Who witnessed the event or reported the problem?
  • Who is blamed or taking responsibility for the problem?
  • What damages have taken place?
  • What are the symptoms that affected parties suffer?
  • What is the major cause of the problem or failure?
  • What additional mitigating factors contributed to the problem?
  • When did the event, problem, and cause commence?
  • When is a solution expected to be complete?
  • Where did the event, problem, and cause occur?
  • Why is this event or problem significant?
  • How do we know what caused the problem?
  • How is the problem being treated or resolved?
  • How are we proactively preventing this problem in the future?

Next, we’ll look at how these questions can play out for a more positive type of news story: discoveries.

Posted in citizen, community, culture, publishing, writeroll | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

writing about policy using ABCDEs of performance objectives

Posted by contentgrrl on December 20, 2007

As part of my rather broad work in writing, I’m often asked for policy statements or alerts. In an effort to communicate completely about a policy, I like to concentrate on the ABCDs of performance objectives (interlaced with the 5Ws and the H from newswriting interviews):

  • A is for Audience: Who is required to perform a task or comply with a new rule?
  • B is for Behavior: What skill, task, or operation is required?
  • C is for Conditions: How are tools involved in performing the task or complying with the rule? Are there prerequisite procedures that must already be completed in advance? Are there certain deliverables, inputs, or variables that need to be given?
  • D is for Degree: Why, Where, and When is it critical? What are the measurable constraints (in time, place, budget) that determine whether the behavior is successful? Is there a minimum and/or recommended criteria? What resulting benefits and consequences may be persuasive motivating factors?

I come from an instructional design background. There, the standard ABCDs of instructional and performance objectives are used to design lessons and identify the criteria for testing whether a student actually learned the new skill. It’s based on the work of Mager, Gagné & Briggs.

The ABCD formula works in everything — from basic math drills to complex software troubleshooting labwork to sales techniques to regulatory compliance training. But it may not be obvious that the performance objective typically comes from an organizational need. The objectives are measured so that the people in one stage (such as a Kindergarten class or a network engineering division or a marketing team or a safety inspector) do their jobs well enough for the rest of the organization to take it from there and fulfill expectations.

But I’d like to take it one step further:

  • E is for Exceptions: Are there exceptions to the rule? How do you know if a rule or issue does not apply to you, or that you are outside its scope? Are there special situations that may apply, and if so, how do you proceed?

Understanding exceptions takes a level of expertise that may not always be available when writing policy or alerts. But if you can nail that down, it’s one way to set your communications apart and be truly helpful to your readers.

Posted in citizen, heroes, learning, performance, persuasion, reading, tools, writeroll | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

10 tips for do-it-yourself public relations

Posted by contentgrrl on November 10, 2007

If you want to make news, do something newsworthy.

I’ll bet you know to stay away from scandal no matter how much press it gets! ;^) But here are some suggestions for positive spins:

  1. Conduct a survey of your clients, and report results of their opinions on a timely topic that’s getting some press lately or chronically in your industry. Oh, do reporters love statistics! And quotable quotes from real people! And expert conclusions! NOTE: Get written permission to use their quotes in your report!
  2. Submit your work for an industry competition (and, well, you have to win or at least have honorable mention).
  3. Write a white paper on the best way to do something, ten tips, ten things to avoid, and so on, where you have extensive expertise.
  4. Partner with a client or another company on a big project, and write a report showing massive ROI (return on investment).
  5. Merge or acquire.
  6. Volunteer to your senator or representative to contribute some research or analysis on a topic that lends itself to current or upcoming legislation.
  7. Scan the U.S. code of federal regulations for your industry, and volunteer to contribute research or analysis on regulatory changes going on in the industry.
  8. Keep an eye out for court cases in your industry, and talk up lawyers on key cases, and confer about serving as an expert witness.
  9. Do something phenomenal for a charity.
  10. If you are a good speaker, consider podcasting on various 5-10 minute topics.

Focus especially on the local news, trade magazines and journals that you like to read, and the organizations where you are a member. But also consider PR Web.

Posted in marketing, persuasion, publishing, reading, writeroll | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

get published in business, trade, or industry magazines

Posted by contentgrrl on November 6, 2007

Can you can write? Do you have some interests and passions that you can work up into articles of various lengths? If you have something to say worth reading about trends in your industry, you can probably get published.

What trade or industry magazines do you read now? Nestled among their list of editors’ names and advertising sales contacts, each magazine usually has an editorial calendar and an authors’ or writers’ guidelines for submitting article ideas. Some of this information may actually be in the Advertising section of the magazine’s Web site, but as you research your target publication, it will be useful to determine if you can write to fill their needs.

As a former trade rag editor, I know that all editors love useful content that meets their guidelines. Call up the editor of a magazine you’re reading, tell ’em you’re a big fan, and offer to write up something to fill the gaps in their editorial calendar, or contribute a sidebar or viewpoint opposing what they already have slated.

If you can come up with highly readable tips, guidelines, research statistics, book reviews, and analysis of current trends or events (for example, in business, mergers & acquisitions, international investments, and so on), you’re more likely to be paid.

Of course, some business magazines already have interns and editorial advisory board members who provide or review much of the content. But if you can write better than they can, and pass the gatekeepers, you’ll do fine!

Posted in community, marketing, publishing, reading, writeroll | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »