Shannon Ramlochan

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    • Title:Online Community Services Specialist
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    5 New Journalism Trends to Expect in 2016

    Tuesday, January 19, 2016, 12:44 PM [General]
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    We rely on journalists to explain how and why the world around us is evolving, so it’s only natural that the practice of journalism evolve with it. New technology and consumer behavior drive the biggest impact as shuttering broadcast and print mediums make way for digital competitors. Advancements in technology show no signs of slowing down and neither will its direct effect on journalism. Here is a roundup of insightful think pieces on what changes we can expect in 2016:

    More journalists taking content marketing jobs

    Content marketing is only effective when the content itself is high quality. Professional writing and editing skills are in-demand, and marketing budgets are able to shell out for them. Joe Lazauskas, editor-in-chief at Contently, predicts that more brands will hire full-time editorial employees.

    Read more:

    News aggregators threaten advertisers

    Though journalists are venturing into content marketing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all brand marketing is thriving. This blog post by Corporate Executive Board (CEB) notes that news aggregator apps such as Flipboard “separate content from advertising, and make it harder for brands to reach an audience.”

    Read more:

    Product management is the new journalism

    With regards to news technology, Cindy Royal, associate journalism professor at Texas A&M University writes “In the next year, media organizations will seek to better understand these emerging roles and consider the journalistic qualities that should be present in decisions associated with technology products, particularly as related to the audience’s civic and democratic participation.”

    Read more:

    Drone journalism

    Safety and privacy regulations considered, there’s no doubt that drones have very useful applications in journalism, particularly when covering natural disasters and other scenarios where a birds-eye view adds another dimension to storytelling. For the Poynter Institute, Benjamin Mullin writes:

    “It's difficult to convey the scope of damage wrought by a tornado or hurricane with street-level photography, but the loss becomes clear from 50 or 100 feet in the air. These visuals can be used to create maps of disaster areas and combined with data to explain how different sections of a community fared after a storm hit.”

    Read more:

    Videos on a shoestring budget

    Videos inform and engage viewers by bringing stories to life, and the arrival of 360◦ videos and virtual reality aim to intensify that experience. However, as discussed in the Reuters Institute’s Journalism, Media, and Technology predictions 2016, “Not all publishers have the time and resources to invest in teams or expensive equipment, so expect to see a host of inventive ways to keep costs down in 2016 while keeping volumes up.”

    Read more:

    At ProfNet, we’ll be closely watching how these trends unfold as the year goes on. Check back on our blog every week for new content. Or, consider submitting a free query to find expert commentary or the latest research:

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. All you have to do is fill out a quick form telling us what you’re looking for, your deadline, and how you want to be contacted, and we’ll send it to the appropriate experts in our network. The best part? It’s free! Get started here.

    Tips for Pushing Your Creativity in 2016

    Wednesday, January 13, 2016, 12:45 PM [General]
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    Think you're not the creative type? Think again! Creativity is an essential part of problem solving and becoming memorable to our customers, readers, or other stakeholders important to our business. We recently held a Twitter Q&A with creativity and innovation expert, Laura Ryan, president and founder of LAMA Innovation where she explains the difference between creativity and innovation, tips on how to produce better and bolder ideas, and creativity trends that we can expect in 2016. Check out the highlights from our chat: 

    Tell us more about LAMA Inc.

    [We do] training and facilitation of creativity, innovation and strategic planning. We love what we do! Proud graduates of #ICSCreativity

    How do you define creativity?

    [The] ability to set aside judgement & inhibitions to propose, select and implement most novel and valuable ideas to solve a problem. Let’s look at five other definitions of creativity:

    1. Creativity is imagination inseparably coupled with both intent and effort #alexosborn
    2. Production of ideas or outcomes that are both novel and appropriate to some goal -@TeresaAmabile
    3. Making a change within a given context that sticks for a while @pucciogj
    4. An associative and playful process that stimulates new and valuable thinking - @JohnCabra
    5. Creative thinking is more than new ideas; it’s living life open authentic and curious. It’s a mindset and approach to everything we do - @Cyndiburnett

    Look at creativity in a broader way. Consider the 5P’s of creativity: person, process, press, product, persuasion. 

    Interesting -- can you elaborate on the 5 P's of creativity?

    PERSON: We are all born creative and we are [our] best creative selves when we are imaginative, open, take risks, and accept mistakes.

    PROCESS: It’s a repeatable framework to solve problems and make change.

    PRODUCT: It’s what evolves from creative people working in creative process. It’s the creative product service or process. 

    PRESS or environment. Both the physical and emotional space in which you work where creativity can thrive.

    PERSUASION: Creativity doesn’t happen in vacuum. If big change is going to occur collaboration and consensus building are important.

    Can you tell us what inspires your creativity (and what might help others)?

    Everyone’s creativity is inspired differently. The first is ambiguity; I have a (trained) high tolerance for ambiguity. When faced with a problem, I accept that I don’t immediately know the best solution. Letting go of desired outcome, I allow time for incubation and divergence of multiple ideas before I choose one and move it forward. The second is curiosity; I have been called “the Riddler.” I’m inquisitive because responses to questions stimulate new ideas and solutions to problems I will encounter at another time. The third is celebrating mistakes: that is a critical component of the creativity process. I grew up with parents who allowed and encouraged mistakes. It liberated me to be creative without judgement. Do the same for your children and for your employees -- it’s a gift.

    Is there a difference between innovation and creativity?

    I am quick to point out that creativity and innovation are not synonyms. Creativity is generation of a novel and valuable idea; innovation is when that idea is accepted. In a for-profit company, that translates to revenue. In order to have innovation, you must first have creativity.

    Good point. What is the difference between people who are "creative types" and those who are not?

    We are all born creative. We display our creativity in different ways. An artist paints and sculpts. The researcher finds the cure. The engineer creates a new design. A teacher finds a way to get through to the kid who is struggling. A cashier finds a faster process to get people through checkout. A plumber finds the means to fix a leak when no one else could. These are all forms of creativity.

    We have the ability to measure our style, preference and level of creativity. We are ALL creative. And we have evidence-based research showing that we can increase level through creativity training.

    Why is creativity important to problem solving and strategic planning?

    When we engage in creativity thinking we use two types of thinking: divergent and convergent. Divergent is when we go for the reach and consider a lot of options Convergent thinking is choosing the best solutions, using our critical, evaluative and analytical thinking skills. The gold is mined when you strike a balance between divergent and convergent thinking. Otherwise you risk ideas on a shelf that go nowhere or choosing the first idea that comes to mind not necessarily the best one.

    Isn’t it wiser to plan a strategy based on quantitative analysis?

    Absolutely!  And…we need creative thinking too. There is a higher likelihood of innovation if your strategic plan emerged from creative thinking. If strategic plan emerges from solely analytic and quantitative thinking this decreases likelihood of innovation & divergent thinking w/ absence of convergent thinking can result in overconfidence or reckless change. From creative thinking comes new value, dynamic future and my favorite…breaking the rules!

    How do you inspire your clients to think creatively?

    When organizations embrace a common language, repeatable process, and systems approach to creativity. they become an increasingly innovative powerhouse. When in facilitated session we use several metacognition tools=thinking about what you’re thinking about. Brainstorming is one tool in a box of many. We also use brain writing, highlighting, forced connections, excursions, stakeholder’s analysis, and many more. @Mind_Tools is the best resource I have seen for creative thinking tools

    What is your advice for combatting the pressure to outshine competitors in creativity?

    I agree, it is absolutely competitive. Companies that embrace creativity are never completely satisfied with where they are today. Tirelessly look at who they will become in future. This instinct is cultural. It’s embedded into an organization’s DNA. Creativity is more likely when action is rooted in purpose, change, or cultural evolution -- then it’s intentional.

    And there are ways to enhance our creativity. Be deliberate in your creativity practice. Use problem solving model such as CPS, Design Thinking, or de Bono to move you through the phases. Agree to participate in balance of divergent and convergent thinking. Agree to be a risk taker by trying out wild ideas. Take time to think. Deliberate and incubate. This quiet time is invaluable.

    How do you balance creativity with risk?

    When we design and test new products and services in market, it’s an inherently expensive and risky. And we know that mistakes and failures are part of the creative process. A creative culture is one that recognizes that risk taking (within reason) is part of the creative process and that the first ideas are not necessarily going to be the best ones. When people fail, that represents learning, and the incremental improvements that can ultimately lead to innovation. Plan for the cost of failure ahead of time.

    Can you give an example?

    I work with one organization who is particularly committed to creativity and innovation. They boast 20% of their total sales come from new products. It can be incremental improvement of an existing product or a new, ground-breaking product. At any given time, eight innovation teams were assigned to areas where the company believes they can grow company. Such an idea can be generated by anyone, at any level in the company.

    Ideas are catalogued in a database and dispositioned depending on review. The people whose ideas are deemed good enough to gain momentum are compensated financially. All employees are encouraged to participate. Innovation teams are project-focused and cross-functional, reporting to a nine person strategy steering team of the company’s top executives. Each quarter, two out of the eight teams present a “deep dive” to the steering team. A decision is made to continue or de-resource. If de-sourced, allocation of funds and personnel are redirected to a new innovation project. This example of strategic innovation is sophisticated in theory but very practical in execution – balanced risk!

    What are some habits or exercises we can adopt to think more creatively?

    Next time you are called to be creative (any time you are faced with a heuristic problem), pause and take a breath. Lean into the complexity and ambiguity and shift your thinking. Come up with as many ideas as you can. Then when you’ve run out of ideas, push yourself to double your original number. Think you can’t do it? Take a walk, a drive, or a bath and try again. Look at the evolution of your ideas. If you go for the deep stretch, you will see the ideas move from obvious, to novel to sophisticated and novel.

    What are some creative trends we can expect in 2016?

    Organizations are realizing the value in being more deliberate in their efforts to be more creative and innovative. Some are hiring CIOs (Chief Innovation Officers); I am getting asked more and more of ways to capture and vet ideas within an organization. This effort can be very cumbersome. The platform @imaginatik is one of most powerful I’ve seen. Organizations large and small are using it. It’s a commitment and maybe several nuggets of gold to be mined with such deliberate efforts. 

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. All you have to do is fill out a quick form telling us what you’re looking for, your deadline, and how you want to be contacted, and we’ll send it to the appropriate experts in our network. The best part? It’s free! Get started here.

    Upcoming #ConnectChat: How to Push Your Creativity in 2016

    Thursday, January 7, 2016, 1:25 PM [General]
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    In the spirit of the New Year, we are kicking off our first #ConnectChat of 2016 with some creative inspiration! Creativity is the cornerstone of problem solving, regardless of whether or not you consider yourself to be the “creative type.” It involves taking chances and learning how to get out of your own perspective.

    As content creators, there’s always the pressure to set the bar higher, so we sought the help of Laura Ryan, creativity expert and business consultant at LAMA Innovation, for her advice on how can writers, brands and other innovators can resolve to be more creative in 2016:

    “New Year’s is a time for fresh starts and doing things better. In 2016 resolve to be more deliberate in your creativity practice. Here are three new habits to cultivate in the New Year: 1) Make sure you have time to just think; take walks. 2) Learn to be more accepting of risk, begin by taking a low-stakes risk, and move up from there. 3) Learn to accept failure and mistakes as part of the creative process. Celebrate mistakes and do an honest post-mortem so that you learn from each one.”

    For more expert tips from Ms. Ryan, join us on Twitter next Tuesday, January 12 from 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. EST for our #ConnectChat on “How to Push Your Creativity in 2016.” To submit a question for Laura, simply join the chat using the hashtag #ConnectChat or send me an email at

    About Laura Ryan

    Ms. Ryan is the president and founder of LAMA Innovation Inc. (  She holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University and a Master of Science degree in Creativity and Innovation from the International Center for Studies in  Creativity at Buffalo State College, SUNY, furthering her education as a creative problem solving and strategic planning facilitator.  In addition, Laura hold certificates in Six Sigma, Lean Practices, Polarity Management, and FourSight.  Laura began her career as an engineer with United Technologies working domestically and in Europe.  She has an entrepreneurial spirit that has led her to start several companies. Ms. Ryan’s most recent experience has been in facilitating strategic planning and training in deliberate Creativity for several clients including PepsiCo, ComEd, Ingram Micro, Unifrax, and UBMD Pediatrics.

    Having worked extensively in Asia and Europe, Laura is the founder and principal in Creativity-International  (, serving organizations and teams from around the world who want to learn a common language and process for deliberate and sustainable innovation. Recent clients have included: Tunghai University, NIPA Korea, Universidad de La Sabana, University of Dammam, and King Saud University.

    4 Ways Experts Can Help Content Marketers Plan for 2016

    Tuesday, December 8, 2015, 2:04 PM [General]
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    As we enter the home stretch of 2015, marketers are busy planning and budgeting for another year of content creation. Beyond the normal stumbling blocks of content planning, the pressure is on for brands to take their creativity up a notch as more companies experiment with different storytelling techniques, formats and cutting-edge platforms. Teaming up with experts for next year’s content efforts can help alleviate some of the pressures of creating enough content with a high level of quality. Here’s how:

    Experts can help you prepare for changes to come.  

    Technology and consumer behavior are two things that never remain the same from beginning to end of the year but impact almost every type of business. For example, in 2015 mobile devices caused shifts in how consumers shop during the holidays and even how they receive healthcare. Experts who forecast trends can provide critical insight to help businesses prepare for change and create content that will fit these contexts.

    Experts can help breathe new life into outdated content.

    The New Year doesn’t have to mean your content planning has to start from scratch. Refreshing older content with new research and insights from experts is a great way to make the most of limited resources while staying on top of the new trends.

    Guest article contributions fill content gaps.

    For smaller teams, planning an editorial calendar can be a tough job, whether that’s coming up with enough story ideas or finding enough people to write them. Contributed articles from third-party experts brings fresh perspectives that keep readers interested in your content -- and can sometimes be more persuasive than if a brand were to deliver a particular message.

    Experts can make or break the attendance of in-person or online events.

    People attend conferences for the networking opportunities and to learn from great speakers. However, if you wait until the last minute to secure speakers, they might not necessarily fit the bill in terms of content or audience interest. Getting a head start on securing speakers and building relationships with them will be reflected in the quality of your event.

    Enlisting the help of experts at the planning stages of your content strategy will be well worth it in the execution stage. If you need help finding experts to forecast new trends, update your research, contribute guest articles or speak at upcoming events, consider submitting a query via ProfNet. It’s easy and it’s free! Click here to submit a query now

    Holiday Life Hack: How to Manage Out-of-Office Emails

    Tuesday, December 1, 2015, 4:03 PM [General]
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    The inbox from hell is a recurring nightmare journalists are all too familiar with, but it is an especially rude awakening when getting back to work after a relaxing holiday vacation. Managing a seemingly nonstop barrage of emails is one of the reasons why many of us can’t stay off of our phones, work longer hours, or even forgo taking a vacation at all.

    To prepare everyone for the holiday travel season, I consulted Alexis Steponanko, former executive assistant to the CEO of PR Newswire and a productivity guru in her own right, who shared a few simple tips for organizing your email inbox to save you both time and stress when returning from the holidays:

    1. Trim the fat. Immediately delete the clutter you notice at first glance before digging for the most relevant emails.
    2. File emails by person. Create a “People” folder and then additional subfolders named after the individuals you correspond with on a regular basis.
    3. File emails by topic. Create a general “Topics” folder and then micro-organize into subfolders the subjects you regularly discuss (for example: article pitches, editor’s notes, etc.) 
    4. Set up automatic rules. Explore your email settings to create a rule that will automatically move incoming emails by sender or keywords into its corresponding folder. This can be helpful for items that aren’t spam but not something you need to see every day, such as promotional emails.  Or, if you are expecting responses to a call for experts from ProfNet, include a keyword you would like the sender to use in the subject line so that your filters can organize it. 

    1. Prioritize your responses. Think of your emails as a “to-do” list and tackle items based on deadlines, group emails of the same subject and anything marked as urgent.
    2. Jot down notes throughout the day. For tasks that might not take first priority but shouldn’t slip through the cracks, jot them down with pen and paper to help you remember to get back to them while also separating those tasks from looming digital clutter.
    3. Use your ProfNet Inbox. Those deadlines will creep up faster than you know it once you’re back in the office. So if email clutter is a problem for you, use the “cloaking” option for your email address so that responses from experts to your queries are immediately archived to your ProfNet Inbox online – which is one less thing to have to worry about organizing!

    Hopefully these simple tips will make the holiday season a bit more enjoyable. As you prepare to leave for vacation, consider getting a head start on finding sources for your upcoming assignments by submitting a free query to ProfNet:

    Have any other good email organization tips or general life hacks? Leave a comment below! 

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