Polina Opelbaum

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      Media - Freelancer
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    • Title:Community Services Specialist
    • Organization:ProfNet
    • Area of Expertise:social media, editing, writing
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    Internal Communications and Collaboration Leadership Forum

    Thursday, April 10, 2014, 3:03 PM [Event Recaps]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Business Development Institute (BDI) hosted an event about internal communications and collaboration leadership. The event was moderated by Steve Etzler, CEO/founder of BDI. Here are the five panels and highlights from each panel:

    Presentation: Using Gamification to Engage Employees Torward a Healthier Lifestyle

    Presented by: Bill Pokluda, Senior Manager of Global Benefits and Wellness at Daymon Worldwide

    • Created a program called Get Active Daymon (ShapeUp), which is a web-based social networking platform for health.
    • Get Active Damon (ShapeUp) included team-based competition, where participants would set goals and track activity for eight weeks. They would also share their goals and activity. Social media conversation is very important to engage people.
    • Hardest part of participation is to get people registered, but once they are registered, people are all in.
    • Why gamification? It creates immediate accountability to each other, and social support systems yield better health.
    • Social accountability helps to drive engagement.
    • Results of Get Active Daymon (ShapeUp): high engagement rates; adopted by all generations; and better connected with specific health goals. Participant comments were very positive.
    • Second program created called Passport to Health. Program used to promote awareness and engagement in all Daymon wellness programs and benefits.
    • Passport to Health included 13 health destinations and you earn points for completing. Then there is a raffle for prizes at three different point levels.
    • Results: 92 percent participated in at least one program; 36 percent participated in six or more programs.
    • Financial rewards get employees “on the bus.”

    Presentation: The Meaning is in the Moments                                          

    Presented by: Ann Melinger, vice president at Brilliant Ink

    • An Employee Experience Survey was issued to 300+ at Fortune 1k companies or equivalent.  They survey was about defining key moments of employee experience.
    • Employee engagement was accessed in four dimensions: satisfaction, advocacy, retention, and pride.
    • Key takeaways from survey: 1) Keep your leaders talking. 2) Help managers connect dots between employees’ daily work and the big picture. 3) Have a purpose and strategy for implementing internal social media tools.
    • Senior leadership modeling these behaviors and expectations is very important.

    Results of Employee Experience Survey (Full report can be found here: www.brilliantink.net/ee)

    • 84 percent of leader communications are read; 45 percent are read thoroughly; 39 percent are at least skimmed.
    • 90 percent of employees are familiar with company’s mission and values; 92 percent say they’re actions are consistent with mission and values; 84 percent say mission and values were presented during first three months.
    • 95 percent say it’s important to know the company’s business strategy; 56 percent say it’s very important; ~40 percent say managers and leaders have not connected their specific work to company strategy in the last six months.
    • 70 percent have access to internal social media; 49 percent actually use it; only 1 in 10 use it “a lot.”

    Presentation: AIG, Internal Communications Lessons Through Times of Change   

    Presented by: Ted Nevins, director of corporate communications at AIG

    • Without effective manager communications, 70 percent or more of strategic and change programs fail. (Source: Corporate Executive Board)
    • Visibility plus consistency equals awareness.
    • Communications needs to be: strategic; target the most relevant audience; engage; adapt to feedback; messages should be effective and reinforce each other; cascade.
    • Manager communications are critical to create dialogue and drive implementation. Leaders and managers should get personally involved, use message points as part of ongoing team communications, and elicit feedback.
    • Employees are seeing so many different forms of communications, so it is no longer about making one channel most effective, but it is about the number of impressions.
    • They recently launched Contact Video Forum for employees, which is similar to an internal YouTube page. Employees can easily upload videos from pretty much any mobile device or desktop on a range of subjects.

    Presentation: Breaking Through the Noise – Engaging Employees Today and Tomorrow                                                                                                       

    Presented by: Barbara Calderoni, head of HR communications at JPMorgan Chase

    • Company intranet tips: use interesting headlines and abstracts; give employees ability to comment on stories; use “banner ads” to promote specific topics/actions.
    • Broadcast emails tips: customize “from” field; include brief/relevant subject line; steamline content/use graphics/include clear call-to-action.
    • Teleconferences /webcasts/events: deliver relevant topics by experts; have replays available.
    • Digital signage tips: use interesting headlines and abstracts; place in common areas.
    •  Video tips: Use for employee testimonials.
    • Print: place posters in highly visual and common area; direct mail to home can be used to engage families; use desk drops for employees without email or for “reference”-type info.
    • Type of internal communications they’re using: LinkedIn (address book), eCards, quick polls/surveys, QR codes, and games.

    Panel Discussion and Q&A (with additional two guests: Kathryn Everest, senior director or strategic consulting at Jive Software; and Kristen Ritter, vice president of internal communications at 21st Century Fox)

    • The best clients try to minimize the number of places where employees have to go for internal communications. They take the best communications employees must have and need and push it out to them without having them subscribing to anything, and then they allow them to say whatever else they want to hear about.  –Everest
    • For educational-type content, our internal communications department has a content editor for our social site. For example, if a new a product is launched, the PR department will put out the press release; they will interview the      marketing manager or development team and present it on the site. –Ritter
    • The future is there will be a blurring of internal and external communications, and they’re being policies and procedures in place that give employees authority to use social. Right now, there is a certain misunderstanding of social tools.       -Ritter
    • We talk about empowering employees and want to help them, but all our messaging to them is don’t do this and that, and then we wonder why they’re not more engaged. In the future, there is going to be less of a corporate communications tone and much more authentic, shorter, and inspiring messages. -Everest
    • You really only need 20 percent of employees to be behind something, and then change is inevitable. - Ritter

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com.

    The Q&A Team: Your Next Social Media Obsession

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014, 3:45 PM [The Q&A Team]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    When discussing well-known social media platforms that are used by many, most people think of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. But, what will be the next social media platform that will get everyone talking and signing up for? I asked our knowledgeable network of experts to share their opinion on this subject, and this is what they had to say:

    "The next big platform will be mobile-first, video-centric, and very much a combination of location and interest-based. Too much of what we get is either based on the time (most recent) or popularity. Neither are the only ways we want information about our friends. Thus, I think we will see the rise of a semantic-focused, location-based social network that is intertwined with our interests based on time of day, calendar, and behavior." -Andy Abramson, CEO of Comunicano, Inc.

    “Visual/image-based social networks will be all the hype in the coming year. 2013 saw a major trend for image/video sharing, and this kind of visual content will continue to be a critical part of content strategies and 'sharability' will be something marketers have to keep in mind. For example, social networks like We Heart It could really a see a surge in users. We Heart It only came on the scene last year and now has over 25 million active users, and is adding over 1 million new users every month. There are many things that differentiate We Heart It from networks like Pinterest, but the most interesting is the site’s young user base. About 80 percent of its monthly users are under 24.” -Bonnie Bailly, director of marketing at Digimind

    “I have two that I like, one for business and the other is really new and getting underway, but it has a super nice ‘small town’ feel of photos, videos and links with your friends or group at a party, gathering or ballgame. The first is Chirp. It emits a high-pitched, two-second-long, robotic squeak from your phone. Other phones within audio range pick up the sound and instantly download the photo or message. The second is Conversations. It’s great for internal communications and it brings social networking into the office, and it’s made by HootSuite. Instead of getting lost in long email chains, team members collaborate in real-time by posting on message boards, Facebook-style.” -Steve Capoccia, account director at Warner Communications

    "The 'next big thing’ is people appreciating Tumblr and using it as the powerful tool it can be. There is a large demographic that has a higher income in addition to all of the younger audience that it attracts. It's really got the best of all the other platforms, so its versatility will make it a big standout." –Apryl DeLancey, director of marketing and social media at Blaze PR

    “I think QuizUp is a really and truly fantastic social media application. Not only does it encourage users to challenge their minds, it also encourages them to challenge other people in different countries and states, then chat with them about common hobbies and knowledge. It connects you to friends, freeing you to indulge in a little harmless competition on your phone. As they grow their user base and adapt their app as such (expanding to Android was a plus!), I expect big things from them.” –Kaitlin Jurt, social media manager at Spike

    “Emerging platforms are increasingly leaning towards content discovery and creation, with the overarching strategic benefit of driving brand awareness and thought leadership. As people search for new sources of inspiration to create better content, social media platforms will evolve to better serve this need. The new Klout is an example of that type of evolution -- what started as a service for rewards-based influencer identification system has grown to include topically tailored content for users to add context and distribute throughout their digital footprint. Another great example of a platform addressing a need for discovery, creation and collaboration is Medium. Medium focuses on both articles and responses; it is a collection of collaborative storytelling. The next big thing won't be one platform -- it will be many targeted, niche and 'little' platforms that fill a big need.” –Kriselle Laran, senior account supervisor, digital at Zeno Group

    "The next big social network isn’t a network, but a series of networks. We’ve seen two major classes of networks spring up in the last couple of years that have had explosive growth. The first category of apps are basic SMS chat replacement apps. Already huge in Asia, they are growing in prominence in the U.S., as well via apps such as WhatsApp, Tango, Line, Kik, WeChat, etc. These apps reduce the cost of operation and provide drop-in replacement for texting, along with rich media integration. The second category is the new wave of anonymous apps, such as Whisper, Rumr, Secret, YikYak, and others. These apps provide a level of anonymity (though how anonymous they are has yet to be tested by a hacker) for consumers to vent, share secrets and discuss sensitive topics without necessarily revealing their identities." – Christopher Penn, vice president of marketing technology at SHIFT Communications

    "I just returned from a huge social media conference and everyone doing social media says the same thing: Google+ is where you need to be. It's also mandatory for search, so to come up in search you need to be on G+ and posting there. Facebook has changed their Edgerank drastically; in fact, people who had great organic reach there are now saying they lost about 70 percent of their reach after these changes, so Facebook is going almost all paid. G+ is not (yet) and the reach there is tremendous, so I think that G+ is getting in the game at a great time. Lots of people are migrating there now because Facebook has gotten so tricky to navigate.” –Penny Sansevieri, president/CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc.

    “Data points to the next wave of social media apps featuring ephemeral posts that populate in one's timeline for a very brief period of time before being permanently removed. Snapchat leads the charge with 56 percent growth from Q3 to Q4 in 2013 (Global Web Index). Recent numbers indicate Snapchat has 40 million users and continues to grow at a rapid rate. Call it a desire for social privacy or a turn toward a more intimate online social experience -- the shift has been fast and furious. While 'traditional' social platforms like Facebook center around a digital scrapbooking model, the next wave of social sites provides exactly the opposite experience. With social apps like Snapchat, Wickr and Frankly, content is shared for a brief period of time (as set by the user) and then 'disappears' forever. Driving this social shift is the younger generation of 13 to 25 year olds who no longer want the digital footprint of traditional social media sites. Ironically, this young age bracket is also being called the "Like Generation," with social media natives driven to achieve mass popularity online. This dichotomy between mass appeal (Facebook) and intimate online social experiences (Snapchat) reflects the accelerated rate of change in our digital world.” –Melanie Trudeau, digital strategist at Jaffe PR

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com.

    image via Flickr user Social AdGigs

    Actionable Insights from SXSW

    Monday, March 31, 2014, 3:51 PM [Event Recaps]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Every year Social Media Club NYC meets to discuss the latest trends and social news from SXSW. This year was no different. The club invited four panelists and attendees to talk about what they learned and saw at SXSW. The four panelists included:

    Howard Greenstein

    • A big portion of the value of this event is related to the people, the network, and the networking that happens.
    • I attended a panel with the head of Coinbase. I learned that merchants are starting to think about adopting this because there’s a significantly lower transaction fee per transaction on some of these electronic currencies vs. the credit card interchange networks.
    • One of the big trends at SXSW was wearables and hardware. I got a Misfit Shine, which tracks your activity level. What it also does differently is it has another band for your shoe, belt, etc., and can track from there.
    • The CPG industry had a big presence at the event. Some of the brands included Oreo, Pennzoil, Pepsi, and Subway.

    Anna Curan

    • SXSW is a causal event where a lot of serendipity occurs. The person you end up sharing a cab with can turn out to be a great contact.
    • When networking, remember that everyone is uncomfortable. When you break the ice, it is a welcomed thing. Strike up a conversation and don’t feel like you need to be shy.
    • Open up a conversation in a way that is different than the typical questions one would ask when they meet someone. For example, instead of asking the person what they do, comment on their shirt or an interesting panel they attended.

    Leigh Ferreira

    • Before SXSW felt very U.S.-focused, but this year with the different interactions I had, there was more of an international feel.
    • There were many panels focused around security, privacy, transparency, and citizen rights. It is probably due to the time period we are in now as well as needing to have that dialog.
    • The event for me is all about the people. It is a really fantastic event and there is a lot in the experience.

    Tim McDonald

    • Even though SXSW is a large show, you can make it as small and intimate as you want. It was from the smaller interaction that I got more value and conversations out of.
    • When starting a conversation, ask the person what they are passionate about, because it tells me something more than about where they work or their job. It really breaks down the walls.
    • I attended a panel about whether the next Steve Jobs will come from Africa. One interesting stat they gave is that in 10 years, one in four people under the age of eighteen on the globe will be African. As we start looking at the future and with who we'll be connecting with, it is very enlightening to start paying attention to what’s happening in other parts of the world.

    Apps for SXSW

    • Lanyrd is an app that’s based off who you’re following on Twitter. It will let you track what events you’re friends are speaking at or attending.
    • GroupMe is a mobile group messaging app, which will be great for staying in touch with people at a big show like SXSW.
    • The app Topi sucks in your LinkedIn profile. It makes a network and geofences the physical event. Based on your LinkedIn profile it will show people you worked with in the past, those with similar keywords, etc. This way you don’t have to ask people these questions -- you can see it right in the app.

    Tips from Attendees

    • An attendee accidentally didn’t bring any business cards with him, and it worked out really well. If it was important enough to continue a conversation, then he took time to reach out to that person via social media or email. 
    • If you’re looking for people with similar interests at the event, pick out top five talks you want to go to and get there early. This way you can have some time to speak with the other attendees or even speakers.
    • Instead of trying to go to all the different panels and meet the different speakers, go to the media blogger room. This is the room where all the speakers go after their panel to get interviewed.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com. 

    The Q&A Team: 15 Tips for Creating the Perfect Headline

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 12:21 PM [The Q&A Team]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    The first thing most readers notice is the headline of an article, blog post, press release, etc. It is important that the headline catches the reader’s attention and persuades them to continue reading. We asked some of our ProfNet experts to share tips on creating the perfect headline. Here are the top 15 tips:

    “My rule is that headlines should be 65 characters. Most people have an issue with brevity, i.e., how can you be informative and get your point across in the most concise manner.” -Erika Kauffman, executive vice president and group director at 5W Public Relations

    “There have been studies done showing that headlines with 60-100 characters have the highest click-throughs and decrease after that.” -Karen Friedman, author of “Shut Up and Say Something” and head of Karen Friedman Enterprises, Inc.

    “Good headlines should be designed to appeal to the reader’s emotions or peak curiosity in five words or less. The following words do this: Secrets of; Breakthrough technology promises; Discover the truth about losing weight; Avoid the top 10 marriage Mistakes; How to; Free; 3 Easy steps to.” -Karen Friedman, author of “Shut Up and Say Something” and head of Karen Friedman Enterprises, Inc.

    “When it comes to caps, headlines with the first letter of each word capped did better than a headline with just the first letter of the first word capped. Using all caps? I’d skip it. All caps always sound like you are yelling.” -Penny Sansevieri, president/CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc.

    “You should avoid punctuation, putting text in fancy fonts, abbreviations, jargon, quotation marks or technical words that are hard to understand.” -Karen Friedman, author of “Shut Up and Say Something” and head of Karen Friedman Enterprises, Inc.

    “Turns out, questions don’t do as well as one might think. Titles that phrased the headline in a question don’t get as many shares.” -Penny Sansevieri, president/CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc.

    “Numbers rock: People love things like “7 Ways To…,” “10 Ideas For…,” so try to use a number in your headline whenever possible.” -Penny Sansevieri, president/CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc.

    “Puns and other word play are perfect for headlines. And when the headline weds news and culture, it is even better.” -Neil Gussman, strategic communications and media relations manager at Chemical Heritage Foundation

    “In your headline, use strong/action verbs to make it come alive -- avoid being verbs -- use boosts vs. increases, et al.” –Lorelei Harloe, principal at Ascend Communications, LLC

    “Including keywords that are SEO-friendly is essential. You need to make sure your headline is searchable to ensure your article will be clicked on among other results within search engines. It’s very beneficial to take the time to figure out words potential readers might be using/searching so that your article is easy to find.” –Erika Kauffman, executive vice president and group director at 5W Public Relations

    “Be strategic: Always take the opportunity to emphasize a key message in the headline -- especially when the release reports on an important trend, new application, or other news -- why should we care? Why now?” –Lorelei Harloe, principal at Ascend Communications, LLC

    “Focus on what the benefits are instead of the features. For example: If you're going to be teaching a webinar on how to use Instagram to grow your business, an effective headline would be, 'Using Instagram to Double Your Leads and Sales' vs. 'Instagram for Business.' The latter headline focuses on what it is, which is a feature, rather than why, which is a benefit." Andreea Ayers, founder of Launch Grow Joy

    “Headlines should be less about you (the author) and more about the reader -- people want to read about things that pertain to them.” -Erika Kauffman, executive vice president and group director at 5W Public Relations

    “Use a subhead as support and for clarification -- with brief attention spans, it helps to summarize and clarify as quickly as possible.” -Lorelei Harloe, principal at Ascend Communications, LLC

    “Ultimately, headlines are a strategic tool that can be used to your benefit -- knowing how to craft them will give you an edge.” -Erika Kauffman, executive vice president and group director at 5W Public Relations 

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com. 

    Protecting Yourself As a Freelance Writer

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 4:09 PM [#ConnectChat]
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    It is important for freelancers to be able to generate new story ideas, but it is as equally important for freelancers to know how to protect their own work. In yesterday's #ConnectChat, Randy Dotinga, freelance writer and vice president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, discussed what freelancers should look for in a contract, the meaning of copyright, as well as information about ASJA'a annual conference coming up next month. You can read a recap of the chat here:

    Can you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself?

    I’m VP of the American Society of Journalists & Authors (bit.ly/10RXclB), a 1,200-member organization of professional writers. I’ve been a freelance writer for 15 years and was a newspaper reporter before that.

    Is a contract necessary with each assignment and do most clients offer them?

    In almost all cases, writers should have a good contract that protects not only your rights but you personally. Most publications -- magazines, newspapers, websites -- do offer contracts, although very small publications might not. Small publications like a weekly newspaper or a small website may not be sophisticated enough to offer contracts.

    What should you watch out for in a contract?

    A good contract should provide protection for you regarding your pay and your rights to your work. Be very careful of contract terms that require you to pay all legal costs if there's a lawsuit, like a libel suit. Watch out for terms like “work for hire” and “all rights” that mean you're giving away significant future value.

    If the contract contains terms like “work for hire” and “all rights,” how do you still do the work without giving rights away?

    You can negotiate, try to get those terms removed. Negotiation over contracts is perfectly acceptable and routine.

    What does "work for hire" mean?

    That means the publication owns your work. You can’t resell it or sell movie rights or anthology rights or anything. It’s a bit like you’re on staff. If you’re a newspaper staff writer, your stories belong to the paper, not you. “Work for hire” isn’t necessarily bad. You may not need the right to resell your work, but beware of what you’re giving away

    How can a writer ensure that they always get full credit such as financial, etc.? For example: Your article appears in a magazine and a film studio wants to make a film out of it, how do you make sure to get all the rewards?

    In order to be able to sell your story to a movie studio (or even a print anthology) you must retain rights. When you write a freelance article, it’s like building a house -- you can sell it or rent it out. If you sell it, the new owner can do whatever they want with it and make any profits. The same thing with stories. But it’s not just an issue for movies. For instance, your story may appear in an anthology, and you’ll want to get paid for that.

    What clauses should you always have in your contract?

    Make sure your contract is clear about payment: Are you paid when the story is filed? When it's published? You may have a spot of bother if you're paid when story is published (“upon publication”). It could take months or even years. Also make sure to specify what rights you are assigning to the publication. Are they renting or owning the story? For example: The contract may specify First North American Serial Rights. That means they have rights to publish first time here.

    What exactly is copyright?

    It’s essentially property rights: You created something, you own it, and you decide what happens to it. Everything you write, from emails to grocery lists, is automatically copyrighted. You don't need to do anything. If you want greater protections (and more damages if your rights are violated), you can register with the Feds.

    Do you recommend copyrighting every published article/story?

    It’s pretty rare for freelancers to register their works because it’s a hassle, but it provides extra protection and extra damages. If someone steals your work, you can win major money in court if you registered your copyright.

    Worst case scenario -- what happens if your article/story gets published and you don't have it copyrighted?

    Even if you haven’t registered your work, it’s still copyrighted, so no one can publish it without your permission. Even if an article is not registered, you can sue for copyright violation. But damages can be much higher if registered.

    As a freelancer, how do you differentiate yourself from the crowd, i.e., websites, portfolio work?

    Talent, persistence and luck are the keys to success. You may succeed with 1 or 2, but all 3 are best! Persistence can bring you luck. Network and engage with other journalists (although websites/portfolios do help).

    What's the worst thing a freelancer can do with regards to protecting/not protecting their work?

    Freelancers will often sign “work for hire” or “all right” contracts. But you should never sign an “indemnification clause.” That's a clause that makes the writer responsible for paying any legal costs related to the story. As a freelancer, don't assume that you're protected against a libel suit because you won't libel anyone. Someone can still file a frivolous lawsuit against you and cost you thousands in legal fees and endless agony

    Can freelancers ever negotiate kill-fees?

    Kill fees are payments that writers get if their story is "killed," and they’re typically partial, like half. We believe writers should get full payment for their work. Fie on kill fees! But yes, they can be negotiated.

    Should you be surprised if a client doesn't know much about contracts/copyright law? What do you do if they don't?

    You could go without a contract. In that case, your rights remain with you and there's no risk of giving them away. But you may wish to protect yourself by finding a sample contract online and asking the client to sign that.

    What is "fair use"?

    Fair use refers to copying part of a copyrighted work (like a story or movie) for limited purposes like commenting on it. For example, I write book reviews for The Christian Science Monitor and will quote book excerpts. That is an example of fair use. However, there’s big debate over the limits of fair use: when it’s OK to copy part of something and when it’s copyright violation.

    Where can you brush up on information about copyright law and permissions?

    The federal government has a handy FAQ at 1.usa.gov/1ifCVC8. You can also register copyright for your articles through that website.

    The U.S. Copyright Office has plenty of PDFs available: www.copyright.gov/title17

    How can you protect yourself against libel?

    Even if you don’t libel anyone, you can still be sued for libel. If you see indemnification clause in a contract, bring it up. It’s routine to negotiate contracts. Ask if you can strike the clause so the client is responsible for legal fees. Sometimes clients will have a special alternative contract with better terms for writers who complain about the main one.

    Can you please go into how Google is now copying books?

    Google has scanned millions of books without permission from authors. They say they're offering snippets via fair use. But many writers believe their books shouldn't be scanned without their permission and that this subverts fair use. We're concerned about plans Google will sell the books without writer permission. There's also a dispute over what to do about books whose authors can't be found.

    What are the financial downfalls of being a freelancer and how do you stay on your feet, especially with regards to health insurance?

    Freelancing is a great job in many ways. Flexibility, variety and working at home are nice perks. For certain personality types, it’s great to be miles (even thousands of miles) away from your bosses (or so I’ve heard). But it can be isolating, stressful (the hustle is endless) and financially difficult. In regard to insurance, the health care reform has made huge difference. Self-employed people with pre-existing conditions can now get coverage.

    How does ASJA work with freelancers needing help with self-employment and copyright issues?

    We are a non-profit membership organization with a foundation arm that works to educate all writers. We hold regular conferences and web seminars on a variety of topics related to surviving and thriving as writers. The Web seminars are free to all, as are our monthly ASJA monthly magazines. (bit.ly/1ifEboY) . We also offer assistance regarding contracts, a mentoring program and an emergency fund to assist writers in need. Perhaps most importantly, we go to court when necessary to protect writer rights.

    Please tell us about the annual conference coming up next month in NYC. Who should attend?

    ASJA's Annual Writers Conference is from April 24-26 at the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan. Here are details: bit.ly/1ifEmk5. We expect 650+ journalists and other writing pros: Editors, agents, publishers, and more. Public is invited April 25, 26. We’ll have dozens of sessions on art and business of independent writing: books and freelancing. It's a myth that it's impossible to make it as a freelancer or author. Our 1,200 members know that's false. Success requires connections and talent and savvy. You're on your own on talent, but we can help with the rest! Also, thanks to a generous grant from Amazon, we are also offering scholarships to beginning independent journalists.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com. 

    The Q&A Team: Hanging Out With Melissa Carlson

    Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 3:40 PM [The Q&A Team]
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    Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at a TV station? Melissa Carlson, anchor and reporter for KRNV News 4, gives viewers the opportunity to find out by using Google+ Hangouts On Air (HOA) while being live on air Monday thru Friday. Find out how Carlson is embracing social media and using it to connect with her viewers:

    How did you get into anchoring and reporting?

    My mother moved to the U.S. at the age of 17 from Portugal. She used to watch the news and "Entertainment Tonight" every day to help her with her English. You can say I was raised on news. I loved research and writing and had a knack for public speaking.

    What major changes have you seen in the newsroom since you started reporting?

    No longer are we (media) the only ones with the "inside story.” Often times we are sourcing posts/tweets/blogs, and that changes the landscape.

    What role does social media play in your anchoring and reporting?

    Social media plays a huge roll. We use it to get up-to-the-second info on breaking news, or to get story ideas, good tips. I think it keeps the line of communication between us and the viewers fluid, open and honest. It can also be a death trap. With everyone fighting to be "first man out the gate," you can be tempted to report info that is unconfirmed. We have seen it done in national news and even local. 

    How and when do you use HOA during your broadcasts?

    I use HOA Monday thru Friday on our NBC News 4 Forum show at 11 a.m. PDT. The show streams live on our website and YouTube along with airing live on our area's channel 4. We ask anyone to come in and chat about the hot topics of the day, plus they can ask questions of our guests. Sometimes the best part is during the commercial break when we just get to chat about whatever is on our mind.

    What topics do you discuss, and what types of guests do you bring onto your HOA?

    We chose two topics a day that anyone, anywhere can chat about. We like to think of them as “water-cooler questions,” you know, the topics that people are talking about. I have a group of guests that I invite every day. Some days we have two people in on the show, other days we have 10.

    Do you have one particular HOA that you did during a live broadcast that stands out the most for you?

    We interviewed President Obama. We were his second hangout, his first being with Google. We had Google+ers in and one of them got to ask him a question. But the one that I think had the most impact on me was the one we opened during the Sparks Middle school shooting. We had a HOA up for a few hours, and anyone could get on. It wasn't like everyone was asking questions it was just powerful to see people popping in to say "hey, thinking of you," or just to watch and chat amongst themselves.

    What attracted you to this particular social media platform? What were you hoping to achieve by using HOA?

    Sarah Hill from KOMU started the first HOA to air and we wanted in. We wanted to open up the lines of communication with our viewers and wanted to try and make the news more available to them.

    What changes/reactions have you noticed from your viewers since you began using Google+ for live reports, i.e., interaction increased, increase in viewers?

    We have seen a nice uptick in our social media interaction. While the concept is new, the early adapters LOVE it and we are seeing a slow swing in a positive direction from traditionalists. It's also been great for guests. They no longer have to come to the station to get on air. Guests can now open up their laptop and hop in an HOA and be done with it.

    Do you think that the live broadcasts on Google+ help viewers connect more with the media and build a level of transparency?

    100 percent, yes. Any day of the week, they know they can get in the HOA and speak directly to the chic on air! They can get in a Hangout and give their opinion, in their voice. Now the only hurdle is getting the viewer to be brave enough to put their face to an opinion. Many people feel safer to stay behind their profile.

    Do you foresee other news stations adapting the use of Google+ during live reports?

    If they want to get the best bang for their buck, yes! The line between news and social media is thinning every day, embrace it and be part of the change.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com. 

    How to Keep Your Blog Readers Engaged

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 4:22 PM [#ConnectChat]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    If you have ever wondered if there is a science behind running an engaging blog, then you will want to read this recap of yesterday’s #ConnectChat. Clarissa Silva is a behavioral scientist, clinician, and blogger of “You’re Just a Dumbass.” During the chat, she explained how other bloggers can structure their blog to receive more shares, likes, comments, etc. In addition, Silva provided do's and don’ts on engaging readers. You can read the recap of the chat here:

    Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

    I am a behavioral scientist and clinician with 16 years of experience in mental health, behavioral science, and public health. I created "You're Just a Dumbass", as a very tongue-in-cheek relationship wellness blog to help people select and maintain healthy relationships and avoid some of the difficult life lessons that one encounters in suboptimal relationships. On the blog, I share techniques that I developed to help clients with creating relationship wellness in their lives from 16 years of practice.

    When did you start your blog, and what made you start it?

    1.5 years ago I started the blog as a conversation with myself about my experiences and as a behavior modification model for anyone looking to establish healthy relationships. I wanted to create a place where people can go to affirm their experience or seek information to change a suboptimal situation they are in. I wanted to remove clinical barriers and provide any reader with public science.

    Can you tell us more about how you're using your background as a behavioral scientist to run your blog?

    My blog is structured sequentially with two purposes: testing a book series and a therapeutic model that I re-engineered. Each post is a book chapter that is building on enhancing self-esteem and relationship decision-making for the reader. It's also a clinical model that reverses the therapeutic model. The solution is upfront & the reader works backwards to identify the core issue. Behind the blog I created an algorithm to guide content & the clinical model.

    Can you tell us how you came up with this algorithm?

    Week one I introduced the concepts I was going to talk about for the rest of the blog, Week two I began running the algorithm. By week three, my keyword searches were from week one’s posts and the blog became #1 across all of the search engines. Here is a tip: Use edgy titles on your posts. For months, the key search phrase came from week one.

    What steps can a blogger take to structure their blog?

    1) Create the conditions in each environment and measure the reaction. You can run a test and see results within 24 hours. 2) Once you have found the environment that gives you the most reaction, you create metrics that are based on your outcome. The metrics and outcomes could be comments, shares, likes, pluses. What matters to you most and where did it happen the most? 3) Test the same method on different platforms. If it's the same outcome, you have created a formula that you can replicate. These different platforms can be Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.

    What types of tests can you do on these different social media platforms?

    You can run tests on lengths of the post, time posting, how certain titles perform, your tone, and your message to create a formula. Run these tests from a few days to a week. The following week repeat the same format. Compare the reaction from both tests. Once you have enough data to support increased blog performance, what you have created is a standard tone and message.

    How do you test tone in your blog?

    I like creating a conversation with the reader. I want the reader to have a reaction. I want the reader to have a reaction: I want them to get angry, cry/give me feedback. It’s replicating the therapeutic model. Here are two comments I received on my blog: 1) “Damn you just made me cry, keep writing I so enjoy reading it.”-CK 2) “Thank you. This post came through to my email at the exact moment I needed it most. I just sat in a parking lot and cried.”-BD

    Do you have any tips on how bloggers can create conversations with their readers?

    Build on the previous post. If it’s a rant/experience, post a how to avoid ___ the next day. Invite guest bloggers to contribute to your site. They are eager to enhance brand recognition by cross-promoting your blog.

    Do you have any don'ts when trying to engage your readers?

    I am establishing a relationship with my readers based on trust, communication and honesty. That way anything I introduce to the readership is coming from a place of: you allowed me into your life or your decision-making process and I am not going to make recommendations that will alter that. Don't endorse anything to early. Build your credibility and establish trust with your audience.

    When commenting on someone else's blog, don't drop your link. It will get deleted. Instead, begin building relationships with fellow bloggers and journalists by leaving comments on other's blogs/sites. In this way, not only are you building a relationship with other bloggers; you are also building a relationship with a portion of their audience. Once you establish trust with your audience, you are simultaneously establishing influence and credibility. When a blogger goes to a site and sees that you've listed your top bloggers or referenced your post, those new visitors will also click on those referenced sites. 

    Do you use any social media platforms to help build engagement on your blog? If so, which ones?

    I prefer Google+ because it integrates all of your activities in one place, such as your blog, reviews, YouTube. I recommend getting authorship verified and doing g+ reviews because it increases your visibility across the search engine. Since I started on Google+ about 14 months ago, I have over 9,000 pluses, 3,000 shares, 4,000 comments on 700 posts with 8,250 followers.

    What kind of benefits do you see from having high engagement with readers?

    You are getting real-time feedback from your market while you are developing your product. It helps you establish credibility, authority and influence while you are cultivating the relationships with yourtarget market. In this way, it's an indicator of your product/concept/service's performance in the market. It also doesn't hurt that sponsors, partnerships, and enterprise also like that you get positive feedback.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com. 

    How Technology and Social Media Are Changing the Business Landscape

    Monday, March 3, 2014, 11:14 AM [Event Recaps]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    During Social Media Week, I attended an event that discussed the impact of social media and technology on the business landscape, as well as the best social media strategies for businesses. The event was moderated by Lisa Chau, writer and founder of Alpha Vert Enterprises. The six panelists included:

    Here are some of the questions asked by Chau and responses from the panelists:

    Q: How has the community management job changed with the advent of technology and social media?

    McDonald: Community managers existed well before social media, but they were probably called CEOs, receptionists, sports/group leaders, etc. They were the community managers before technology was around. The only thing that has changed is that technology has made community managers a title now. Community managers don’t manage the community; they oversee and try to guide the community. When I look at how I define community manager today, it’s not so much the audience, but the people who are passionate about your brand that you can develop relationships with -- they will go out and create the crowd and spread your message to the audience. I focus on a small group of users that help convey the message to everybody else. What I’m trying to push for in the industry is that this position not be looked at as an entry-level position but as an executive-level position where you’re bridging across different departments in the organization and really helping set the strategy. 

    Burroughs: Before startups would hire community managers as an afterthought position, but now we’re finding it is the second or third hire they make. Even to exist as a small business or startup, you have to curate a community right from the beginning. 

    Q: As an entrepreneurial blogger, what is the key benefit to today’s changing economy that is increasingly more technological?

    Silva: The ability to do live research and development simultaneously is invaluable. Not only is it a cost-effective strategy, but I also get to run tests in a very short time and re-design whatever aspect needs tweaking while cultivating a relationship with my customers. You’re building and cultivating your relationship with your customers while you’re doing your research and development.

    Q: Do you see that the costs have dropped dramatically because of technology and social media?

    Jones: In a small nonprofit, all these tools are helpful but really the one-on-one human connection can never be supplanted by mass communications and data. These tools we are going to be using and work with, but they will never replace one-on-one customer engagement. Marketing costs for nonprofits haven’t dramatically dropped. In the nonprofit world, donors want to be reminded that they are the important person to you, and boards -- who you answer to -- aren’t as progressive as you would like to think. Even though we print less, we require more staff now. The staff costs are going up, while the number of copies we’re printing is going down.

    Q: Do you find that you have to send out as much paper?

    Lukens: For the foreseeable future, it will be part of our marketing efforts, but we really vamped up our reach through social.

    Q: What social media platforms should businesses use?

    Burroughs: Understand who your audience is and then target the platforms that they are on. Start small instead of jumping on a million platforms and hoping that you can manage all of them.

    Montalvo: It is also important to understand how your audience interacts. How do you they interact with their media, because some are more comfortable with broadcast.

    Q: What kind of advice would you give someone starting out in your particular field about where to start, the guidelines for putting together a long-term strategy, and how to collect metrics to analyze?

    Burroughs: The best strategy is to first figure out your customer and then pick which platform works, so where your community is most active. If you’re looking to start to understand your various communities then I would suggest picking the top three influencers and reading everything they put out.

    Montalvo: The most important part when you’re talking about social is ensuring that it’s integrated in your general media office, and having your high-level principles understand it is truly integrated into everything you do. It is really the way now along with your general media outreach when interacting with your customer base.

    Jones: Look around and see what exists before you just start with something. You really need to understand what your needs are before you start down the technological path. Do an analog analysis of what you will need. Before you start the tech, figure out what you’re going to need -- not today, but three years, five years from now -- and then invest well and wisely toward the five-year end.

    Silva: Before you devote a lot of resources into different things, run short tests and treat social media like it is a lab. You need to first do a short, quick test on how effective your strategy is on that medium. The second thing you need to do is develop metrics based on your outcome. After your do your tests and develop some metrics, you will have a formula that you will constantly replicate over and over again. Each platform will have a different formula.

    McDonald: The first thing you need to find out is what your business objectives are, and then you start figuring out how your strategies will align with your business objectives. Also, testing small, fast and often is the best thing that you can do. And don’t be afraid to fail. One of the lessons I learned when I worked for a startup company that I will never forget is put something out in the marketplace, see how customers react to it, and then make adjustments from there.

    Q: Can you tell us techniques that you employed to increase engagement?

    Silva: I developed the blog with 16 years of practice behind me, so all of it is really cognitive behavioral science. I took cognitive behavioral techniques I developed and put it out there. I am really testing out a new behavior modification model. The second part of the blog is that it is structured in a hierarchical order. A reader can constantly go to the blog and build on what they’re experiencing. I give solutions to the readers and that is what starts up a lot of the engagement.

    Jones: Knowing your audience and where they are is very important as well as not wasting resources on audiences that are not going to be reacting to what you are trying to sell.

    Q:  How are technology and social media going to change the business landscape in the future?

    Lukens: Technology today is extremely primitive. A smartphone is fundamentally trying to change the way we communicate with others, and I think for an object to do that is very insufficient. I think technology is moving closer to our bodies, and in the next twenty years we will not have a solid piece of technology to look through but it will be in us.

    Burroughs: I think customer service will change. I also think customization, content, and authenticity will continue to be demanded by people. Also the freedom of freelancing, which will really have the power to help people’s lives. I am really excited about giving people the power to not have to live in NYC to make a living. They can be located anywhere and be really good at managing a community and building a customer base.

    Jones: The biggest thing to look for in the future is how to find the balance between messaging and medium, because we haven’t found it yet.

    McDonald: It’s not about looking at what platform we will be on, because it's still just communicating with people. We’re having all these talks about what we’re allowing our employees to share, and the thing we’re going to realize pretty soon is if we’re trusting them enough to come work for us, then we’re going to need to trust them enough to spread their own message in their words about what they feel about the company. Don’t get held up in what’s going to be the next greatest thing, just be concerned in how you’re interacting and communicating with people, and what effect you will be getting from them.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com.

    Upcoming #ConnectChat: How to Keep Your Blog Readers Engaged

    Friday, February 28, 2014, 8:51 AM [#ConnectChat]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Starting a blog about a topic you're passionate about is essential, but you also want to bring readers to your page and have them interact with your blog posts. Clarissa Silva is a behavioral scientist, clinician, and founder of a relationship wellness blog with over 2,000+ comments. She uses her background to understand what type of blog posts will connect with her readers and elicit a response. Silva wants to share her knowledge as well as an algorithm she came up with to make sure all bloggers can create the same type of engagement with their readers.

    To participate in the chat, join us on Twitter on Tuesday, March 4, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. EST and follow the #ConnectChat hashtag to follow the conversation between @urjustadumbass, @ProfNet and the rest of the chat participants.

    If you cannot join us on the day of the chat, you can find a recap on ProfNet Connect the following day. We hope you will join us!

    About Clarissa Silva, MSW

    Clarissa Silva is a behavioral scientist and clinician with 16 years of experience in mental health, behavioral science, and public health. She is the author of a very tongue-in-cheek relationship wellness blog, "You're Just a Dumbass", to help people select and maintain healthy relationships and avoid some of the difficult life lessons that one encounters in suboptimal relationships. On her blog, she shares techniques that she developed to help clients with creating relationship wellness in their lives.

    Silva is also the creator of playidealdate.com. She is developing this concept to offer people a unique approach to dating. It is designed to be a modernized version of the "Dating Game" and appeared as an official Google Hangout on Air during Social Media Week 2013 and was featured in Google Local NY's September 2013 newsletter.

    She holds an MSW from the University of Michigan and a BA from Hunter College. She has been featured on FOX, NBC, HuffPostLive, PR Newswire and Vista magazine.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com.

    The Q&A Team: Most Annoying Social Media Features

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014, 4:07 PM [The Q&A Team]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    We all have certain social media features that make us want to scream. We asked our network of experts which social features they find the most annoying, and here is what they said:

    “Most people love Snapchat because you can be social, but private -- yet the platform offers one not-so-private feature: best friends. The feature allows users to see the top three friends they exchange photos with the most frequently along with everyone else's top three friends. This feature takes away from the appeal of sending a private photo and definitely leads to the "I thought I was your best friend" fight.” -Marnie Juster, digital account coordinator at Schroder Public Relations

    “I *hate* Facebook's chat function. Hate it. People try to write me there and I so rarely check it. I'll get random chats throughout the day and then there is important stuff buried there, too. One more place to check for communication? Not so much.” -Penny Sansevieri, president/CEO of Author Marketing Experts

    “I have a problem with LinkedIn's suggestions for people that you might know and want to connect with. Although these are often very accurate, if you click Connect, they send an automatic invitation without giving you the option to edit it and add your personal message. And there's nothing on the page to warn you before you hit Connect, or any way for you to take the invitation back and do it properly once it's sent.” –Philippa Gamse, digital marketing strategy consultant, and professor at Hult International Business School

    “What’s most annoying is when people buy Twitter followers to make them seem more influential than they really are. Twitter should no longer allow people to buy followers because it’s dishonest and undemocratic, which goes against many of Twitter’s objectives as a micro-blogging platform. What should determine Twitter’s ‘thought leadership’ is quality and betterment of conversation, much like that of the Reddit community.” –Christine Deakers, assocate at Eastwick, and writer for The Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, and bSmartguide

    “The number of 'Likes' for a Facebook page should only be available to view by the admins of the page. What we've found working with several brands is that too much importance is put on the number of 'Likes' a page has rather than creating engaging and valuable content, listening to the conversation and driving action. Due to this obsession, brands will resort to creating fake audiences by purchasing likes. If Facebook took away the number of 'Likes' for public viewing, it would force brands to think more strategically about their social media strategy.” -Andrew K. Knoblauch, digital media and public relations account coordinator at Dixon Schwabl

    “An annoying social media feature is LinkedIn's auto congratulations to people in your network when you update your profile and change your job. 90 percent of these changes are for editing purposes only and *not* new positions. This causes embarrassment for the person who changed their profile.” -Jasmine Sandler, B2B social media strategist, and founder/CEO of Agent-cy Online Marketing, Inc

    “I wish that every social media product would stop telling me whom I should hang out with. That goes for Tumblr (See what we have for you -- friends!), LinkedIn (They accidentally came to my page and I should salute?), Blogger (Your friends are here!), Facebook (You keep telling me which people I should 'friend' and naturally they ignore me, because they don't know me after all -- then you then send me a note telling me I'm not using Facebook correctly? Really.), About.Me 'Look, look, look who looked at you.) Twitter (endless stream of nonsense -- stream being the operative word here) and, of course, the nonstop self-infatuated glee of G+." -Richard Laermer, author, and CEO of RLM PR 

    “What annoys me is how Facebook asks you if you want to buy your Facebook friends gift cards for their birthdays. If I did, it wouldn't be through social media, that's for sure. Then there are the people who invite you to play games on Facebook. This is extremely annoying, especially when you get the notification on your iPhone.” -Angela Smith, community services specialist at ProfNet

    “I will admit that I'm not a huge fan of Facebook’s 'Trending.' I find that when I go on Facebook, I'm looking to connect with friends and occasionally colleagues, rather than read the news or latest gossip. I know this is where Facebook wants to go in the future but to be honest, I'm concerned that they'll start to alienate users rather than engaging them by pushing big news stories and ignoring personal connections entirely; it's important to mix a little personality with hard news and Page Six whispers.” –Kaitlin Jurt, social media manager at Spike

    “On the phone, LinkedIn got access to my contacts. (I am sure I inadvertently pressed ‘yes’ somewhere along the way.) Soon, I had all the LinkedIn contacts dumped into my Android phone's contacts. How do I delete these hundreds of LinkedIn contacts, many of whom I have never spoken to from cluttering my phone contact list? I had no idea. When I tried to delete them one at a time, I kept getting an error. I spent hours researching it online. I think they disappeared when I deleted the LinkedIn app. I am still not sure.” -Abhay Padgaonkar, president of Innovative Solutions Consulting, LLC

    “While we all can anticipate social networks methodologies to evolve as advances in technology are made, some features should remain. Particular those that disrupt work productivity cycles, such as appearing online. Google+ Hangouts no longer have the ability for the user to control how they appear. Once you are using the product, you have only the option of appearing online and from what device you are using. For those of us who are in Hangouts on Air or Hangouts for business meetings, we will receive notifications all throughout the broadcast or conference. The only solution provided to avoid incoming requests are to snooze notifications.” –Clarissa Silva, founder of YOU'RE JUST A ****

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com

    image via Flickr user sabirinfo


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