Tag Archives: blogging tips

“Video Demo: New WordPress ‘PressThis’ Next Tumblr Killer?”

UPDATE: Thanks for joining us for socialTNT’s first live demo.  If you missed it, you can see the full, 3-minute video demo, below.

Let us know what you think! Have you tried PressThis? How do you think it compares to Tumblr?

Hi Everyone:

We will be conducting a live demo of PressThis, WordPress’ answer to Tumblr.  Always wanted to start a blog or looking to ease your idea sharing? Tune in and watch how you can easily add a quick link, some text, a quote, video or photo.

Come back to the page today, September 3rd, at 3PM PT/ 6 PM ET and watch as we demo PressThis LIVE.  The Qik channel should be live, below, or check out this link. We’ll be streaming direct from my iPhone.

I’m still getting the hang of this live broadcasting thing, so it should be fun! 😉

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Filed under Blogging, New Media

“Just Effing Do It: 8 Steps To Writing Better Blog Posts”

For both new and old bloggers, sometimes the hardest part of blogging is the process of taking an idea and turning it into something others can appreciate.  By breaking each part down into unique actions, a daunting post gets digested into bite-sized pieces.  Today, socialTNT shares our 8 step process for writing better blog posts.

1. Look for inspiration

Most of my ideas come to me while I’m at work–a client asks a question or a brainstorm leads to a new thought.  Also, reading my favorite blogs, their comments or a heated Twitter discussion can get my mental juices flowing.  I’ve even had inspiration hit while I’m at the gym. Inspiration can come from anywhere, so carry a notebook to jot ideas down before you forget.

2. Research Your Topic

Choose anidea and research it on Google, Wikipedia and other blogs.  Spend 20 – 30 minutes filling your head with everything there is to know about the topic so your thoughts can pour out when you start writing. Remember: Research can also spawn ideas for future posts.

3. Take A Break

Grab a snack. Walk around the block.  Give your brain 5 minutes to process what you’ve just learned.

4. Brainstorm Post Ideas

Take 10 -15 minutes and make a list of all everything that comes to mind.  Stay positive and don’t judge the ideas while brainstorming. No idea is too dumb, small, big, etc.  Write it all down.  You never know what may spawn something newer and better.  Keep the list–you never know when you’ll need some ideas.

5. Conduct follow-up research (Optional)

The idea you chose after the brainstorm might need a little more research with some tighter search terms.  Email or call a friend, expert or anyone who can help sort out your thoughts or give you deeper insight.

6. Just Effing Write

Choose an idea and write.  Don’t worry about making it perfect.  If you’re like me, then you’re your worst critic.  I used to kill so many posts before they were written by worrying whether they would be too basic or not eloquent enough.  Some of the posts I’ve worried most about before publishing seem to be the ones that get the most traffic/comments–once they get writtenSo don’t let the fear of failure get in the way of creating something great.  Just effing write it!

7. Proof it.  Clean it up.  Give it to a friend

This is the editing phase.  Now is your chance to be critical.  Read it once for grammar and once for clarity.  You may find that you need to write more or cut back a lot. Don’t fret. No one writes perfect posts each time they sit down.  Just write.  If you start to get too critical, pass it on to a trusted friend for feedback

8. Publish that Bad Boy

Your idea is no longer a child, so set it free.  It will mature as comments and discussion grow around it.  Smile! You just shared an idea with the world. You are a part of history!

What steps do you take to keep your blog in shape? How do you fight writer’s block? Let us know in the comments!

[This post inspired by “A Technique for Producing Ideas” by James Webb Young, the 43 Folders blog by Merlin Mann, and “Getting Things Done” by David Allen]

Like what you read? Add our RSS feed! [what’s that?]. Or start your morning with socialTNT in your InBox! Or read Chris 24-7 on Twitter!

[The above photo, “Vieja Maquina de Escribir. / Old Writing Machine.” by Gonzalo Barrientos on Flickr, used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under Blogging

“3sday’s 3Q’s in 3 Min: Kara Swisher, All Things D, Part 1”

“Kara Swisher is looking at YOU, yes YOU. You know who you are.” by Mark Monteiro from flickrIt’s Thursday afternoon and time for 2008’s first installment of “3sday’s 3Q’s in 3 Min.”

Every Thursday, socialTNT channels the spirit of citizen journalism by putting bloggers, reporters, PR pro’s or anyone with something to say about social media in front of the camera for a short, three minute interview. In addition to helping PR peeps pitch these individuals more effectively, the videos are meant to encourage dialog between reporters, PR/communications practitioners and marketers on the future of media.

This Thursday, socialTNT presents the first of two chats with Kara Swisher, Co-Executive Editor of All Things D. In today’s “3 Q’s in 3 Min” Kara tells us her interpretation of what the Wall Street Journal represents and why she’s never going back to print.

Kara is my video-interview idol. Her spy-cam style impromptu interviews with leading figures in the tech industry, coupled with her sardonic wit, will get you the day’s news and leave you in stitches.

All Things D sprung from the annual D: All Things Digital conference. Hoping to take the same type of forward-thinking commentary from the conference and hard-hitting journalistic integrity from the Wall Street Journal, Kara and colleague Walt Mossberg grabbed “Good Morning Silicon Valley’s” John Paczkowski, and set out to launch an innovative site to chronicle the digital revolution–Web 2.0 style. Although it’s owned by Dow Jones, parent company for the Wall Street Journal, this ain’t you father’s news source. Its perfect mix of text and video blogging make it any social media geek’s dream.

Kara and I met at the Dow Jones’ San Francisco offices, conveniently located across the street from my office. Although not laced with as much intrigue as my trip to the New York Times’ San Francisco Bureau, entering the Dow Jones offices still came with its own difficulties.

First off, the receptionist asked me three times if I was sure I was meeting Kara in the office. Kara doesn’t try to hide the fact that she graces her print counterparts once every six months. In fact, she spends so little time in the office, she wasn’t quite sure where her stuff was. We found it later, boxed up in a cube, identified by a single piece of paper.

Also, the Dow Jones SF offices aren’t quite as comfy as the NYT’s SF Bureau. In fact, with its rows of cubes, it really reminded me of a sweatshop. Like the Stock Exchange floor so oft covered in its princess publication, the Dow Jones office smelled a little like a mixture of stale sweat and white-collar fear. My nose couldn’t quite pinpoint whether it was coming from the sales team worried about declining print subscriptions, or whether it was coming from the editorial staff worried they might not be conservative enough for their new overlord, Rupert Murdoch. Kara isn’t scared of Rupe; she thinks he’ll offer a little more edginess and creativity than previously existed.

Kara’s Boomtown, originally a weekly feature covering Silicon Valley on the front page of the Marketplace section in the print edition of the WSJ, did snarky-for-tech years before ValleyWag–or Weblogs for that matter–existed. She is direct and honest, but in that BFF sort of way. When Kara dishes harsh criticism of Facebook, she is doing it out of love–if not for Facebook, for Silicon Valley and it’s beloved cast.

And Kara’s view of the Valley is quite the ensemble cast. Her subjects become characters with their own personalities. She finds the drama and absurdity in the Valley, and then tells a story without compromising the integrity and reliability promised by the Wall Street Journal brand. All commentary and analysis is based on hard facts, something that many feel the blogosphere is lacking.

Fun Facts About Kara

Check out today’s interview and listen as Kara explains her quest to legitimize blogs and the importance of staying relevant.

Join us next week for part two when Kara teaches TechCrunch how to “Just Say No” to PR pitches, gives PR Profs a few tips on relationship building, and shares some of her videographical secrets. Don’t miss out: Add us to your RSS reader, or sign up for our email.

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[The above photo, “Kara Swisher is looking at YOU, yes YOU. You know who you are.” by Mark Montiero on flickr, used under Creative Commons.]

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Filed under 3sdays 3qs In 3 Min, Citizen Reporter, New Media, Public Relations 2.0, Social Media, Video Interview

“RSS for Success: A Primer”

RSS icon logo

If you don’t have RSS on your corporate blog, you need to add it, ASAP. In fact, it’s been two and a half years since Robert Scoble said:

Sorry, if you do a marketing site and you don’t have an RSS feed today you should be fired.

I’ll say it again. You should be fired if you do a marketing site without an RSS feed.

Pretty harsh words. While I may not agree to the firing, I do agree with the sense of urgency. RSS, or “Really Simple Syndication,” is what I consider to be the most important must-have–after content–for any corporate or personal blog. Once you understand how the technology works and why it’s beneficial to PR and Marketing professionals, you’ll wonder how you survived without it.

It’s like a private wire service!

Simply put, RSS is a newsfeed. Think of it as a blog’s personal wire service. Every time you post new content on your blog, it gets pushed out to subscribers. Depending on the reader, internet browsers see either the headline or the full article. Here’s what it looks like using the active bookmarks in my Firefox browser:

rss-expanded-sm.jpg

On the left, you see all of the PR RSS feeds to which I’m subscribed. I simply mouse over them and the window expands. It’s like a menu of content. It’s a great time saver for your readers: They don’t have to leave what they are doing to see that there has been an update. One click glance let’s them know if there is something new and it let’s them choose how they want to receive the content.

For bloggers and marketers, an RSS feed is instant distribution of content–kinda like sending out your own newspaper or magazine, but digitally. It also helps build and track your audience by looking at the number of subscribers.

I like it cause it lets me scan a lot of information in a short amount of time.

Your ticket to the stars…

Ok, maybe not stars, but did I mention top tier bloggers and reporters scan feeds religiously? Marshall Kirkpatirck (formerly of TechCrunch, now with Read/Write Web) uses them as primary sources for breaking news:

I am subscribed to thousands of RSS feeds and currently have thousands of unread items in my feed reader[…]I have several folders that include feeds from the blogs of companies I wrote about at TechCrunch, news search feeds for those companies and other high priority topics. I refresh and check those folders frequently throughout the day[…]

The single most helpful tool for me in my efforts to blog about news events first has been an RSS to IM/SMS notification tool. I use Zaptxt to subscribe to very high priority feeds. It sends me an IM and SMS whenever a high-profile company blog is updated and in a number of other circumstances[…]A big part of taking a prominent position in the blogosphere is writing first on a topic. That’s a large part of what got me the job at TechCrunch and it’s something that an increasing number of people are clearly trying to do.

And he’s not alone. If you can get your news to a reporter and blogger through the means they use, what’s holding you back?!

If your blogging or pagemaking software doesn’t come with an RSS feed creator, try this walk through to set one up. Promote your RSS on your blog or web page by prominently displaying it using this logo: It has become the universal symbol for RSS.

In your email’s signature, add a link to your blog and its feed so clients, colleagues and reporters can easily subscribe.

Burn it down

To make it easier to increase your syndication opportunities, use Feedburner. Feedburner is chock full of tools like traffic tracking and free branded-email creation.

RSS is also a great way to track competitors and industry news. Whether it’s subscribing to the New York Times,GigaOM or a friend’s personal blog, RSS readers provide an easy way to find and access all sort of online content. For online readers, try Netvibes; Google Reader; iGoogle; My Yahoo!; or Newsgator.

For a complete list of all things RSS related, including web-based and offline readers, check out this great guide from Mashable.

Do you have any tips or tricks for RSS? I’d love to hear them

Oh yeah, don’t forget to subscribe to my feed by RSS or email!

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Filed under New Media, Enterprise Public Relations, How To

“3sday’s 3Q’s in 3 Min: Chef Liz Bills, California Table”

It’s that time again, folks! That’s right: “3Q’s in 3 Min!” Every Thursday, socialTNT turns citizen journalist by putting bloggers, reporters, PR pro’s or anyone with something to say about social media in front of the camera for a short, three minute interview. Lately we’ve had some high profile reporters/analysts. Today, I wanted to change it up a little.

One of the purposes of this blog is to really make sense of all the social media technologies in an effort to understand their PR/Marketing applications. Admittedly, I’m so far out in my high-tech PR world, that I forget what it’s like on ground zero. With that in mind, today’s “3 Q’s in 3 Min” takes a step back to look at how people outside the tech bubble are using social media to promote their businesses.

Today, Chef Liz Bills from California Table tells us why she started blogging, the challenges she has encountered along the way, and the successes she has seen as a result of engaging in social media. Her experience resonates with anyone who has started or is looking to start a blog–from personal blogger to corporate blogger to small business owner–or anyone embarking on their journey learning social media.

Liz, a former Kitchen Manager at SF hot spot NOPA, recently started her own personal chef/cooking class business. A confessed technophobe and computer novice, Liz felt she had to get her story online in order to compete in the tech heavy San Francisco Bay Area.

Liz’s blog focuses on the importance of buying local and organic food. It also helps to brand Liz’s company by offering up cooking suggestions. As she explains in the video, it has proven to be an invaluable piece of PR and word-of-mouth marketing.

One of her biggest challenges was learning how to use blogging software. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, all the emerging technology can be pretty crazy for me and I deal with it every day. Liz’s advice: “You just have to force yourself to learn, especially if you want to stand out.” Hat’s off to you Liz for trying!

Take a look at what Liz has to say. (PS: There was apparently some audio glitch in my camera. She wants to let everyone know she does not have a lisp!)

How have other new bloggers solved the content problem? Has blogging helped your small business? I’d love to hear success or challenge stories!

Thanks, Liz, for sharing your experience with socialTNT. It’s great that you are so intent on trying new things.

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Filed under 3sdays 3qs In 3 Min, Citizen Reporter, Marketing, New Media Masters., Public Relations 2.0