• Marty Weil writes for print and the Web. He has more than two decades of experience writing about the use of technology in numerous fields including education, manufacturing, and food processing.

    This blog provides tips, guides, and commentary on subject matter related to journalism, copy writing, and social networking.

    • Are you fascinated by the unlimited potential of social networking?
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    • Are you searching for reliable talent to write for your print or online publication, corporate Web site, or blog?
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    If you answered yes to any or all of the above questions, you will find value in this blog.

    In addition to this blog, Marty also edits ephemera, an award-winning blog that enjoys a wide following among artists, authors, researchers, and collectors.

    Marty's My Year in Asheville blog project spawned a hardcover book by the same name.

    Marty has also served as a consultant and managing editor for several Fortune 500 microsite blog projects.

    He is interested reading, music, and entrepreneurship.

    You’re welcome to drop me a line anytime.

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February 2009


The Branding of Trade Press Journalists

There's been a lot written about the demise of mainstream newspapers and print magazines, but little is said about the trade press (e.g., industrial, association, and industry-specific magazines).

Over the past few years, many of trade journals I contribute to (Managing Automation, Technology & Learning, Food Processing, etc.) have moved their content online to establish their presence in the new publishing paradigm and secure their future viability as print editions slowly shrink. Meanwhile, just as publishers have adapted to the new media, the cadre of journalist who work in the trades must also adapt to the shift online.

The trades, unlike mainstream media, have traditionally been a low-key, but rewarding career path for journalists. Freelance trade press editors, such as myself, establish themselves in a few key niches (mine being Information technology, manufacturing software & systems, food processing, and technology for education).

Today's reality for freelance journalist, whether they write for glossy magazines or for the trade press, must not only be experts on their beats, but must now move to establish their brand online, if they hope to become value-added resources their publishers.

The Value-Added Contributor

What's meant by value-added? Freelance trade press contributors have to understand and embrace social networking. Most established trade press veterans remain clueless about how to promote their work in the social medium of the Internet. I've made it my personal responsibility to promote new pieces whenever they appear on my publisher's sites. My publishers haven't asked me to do this task; however, I recognize that in this new environment, trade press stories can now be accessed by those outside the original low-circulation print editions. Through the magic of the Internet, they can now be viewed by the entirety of the Web audience. Soon, I believe, trade publishers will come to value this additional traffic as it expands their reach, drives traffic, and ultimately brings in increased ad revenues.

I want to be seen as a contributor that helps build this traffic for my publisher's sites. By doing so, I will also be building my brand online. As my Facebook and LinkedIn network expands, my work, which once only received exposure to a small group of engineers or school administrators, can now be viewed by anyone interested in a more in-depth coverage of a given topic, albiet of a technical nature.

I've established this blog as one means to sending out that content. I have linked my Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages to receive a feed from this site, which often features links to works I've recently published.

Go Brand Yourself

Most importantly, I want to ensure that the value I've created with my content is associated with my work as a freelance journalist. It's all part of my effort to add value to what I bring to a publisher, beyond the copy I produce. My strong Facebook and LinkedIn following amplifies my brand. As my brand becomes more valuable, it makes me a more valuable freelance writer in they eyes of Editor-in-Chiefs and Publishers, because I'm helping to drive traffic, which increases ad revenues.

So, if you want to survive in the new realities of the publishing business, start branding yourself even if you work in the trades. 


Area Development Site Selection Feature Appears

My article, "Quality of Life Factors into Business Location Decisions," appeared in the January, 2009, issue of Area Development magazine. The article explores how quality of life concerns can sway the relocation of business to areas that meet their needs for housing, healthcare, education, and other parameters.


Alternative Energy Article in Food Processing Magazine

An article I wrote on alternative and renewable energy sources appeared in Food Processing magazine. Renewable energy is a topic that intrigues me, and it is one that I've explored in print a number of times over the past several years. I've written on this subject for Renewable Energy World and Managing Automation magazines.

I'm particularly keen to develop feature articles on the use of renewable energy in industries that haven't traditionally focused on it.

Editors that seek the perspective of a B2B journalist on this subject are encouraged to contact me to discuss assignments.


School CIO 'To Do' List in T&L; Magazine

My editor at Technology & Learning gave me a fun assignment at the end of last school year. He'd asked me to product a "to do" list for school CIOs. The resulting article appeared last May.

This feature is another example of how I've leveraged my years as an information technology editor with my interest in K12 education. The merger of IT and education is playing a greater role in the types of stories I'm pursuing--for a variety of outlets both online and in print.


Scholastic Administrator Library Media Specialist Article

In my last post, I mentioned the article I wrote for T&L about school CIOs and my good fortune in being able to blend my experience as a IT writer with my interest in education. Another article of mine that fits that mold appeared in a recent issue of Scholastic Administrator. The feature, titled "Meet the Your New School Library Specialist," highlights the importance of the new bred of information specialists in schools.


Are Old-School Businesses Ready for Social Networking?

Ned Parks posted a thoughtful piece on his blog on whether or not old-line businesses, like insurance companies, can see the value of social networking and other Web 2.0 marketing vehicles.

It's not just a theoretical question. Recently, as I was talk about the power of social networking with owner of small bakery in Asheville, NC, and it was plain that he didn't have clue as to what social networking could do for his business or why he would even want to bother with it. The owner is a young man in his early 30s, so this isn't really a generation gap problem, although I'm sure it is in many cases.

I casually mentioned that it would be good idea for him set up a Facebook fan page for his bakery. He already has a cult following among local bread lovers, and a Facebook page would be a low-cost way to leverage this very vocal fan base. He was intrigued, but he was leery and unsure about the world of social networking. He saw no compelling reason to explore it. His attitude seems common, especially among businesses that haven't traditionally used the Web for marketing.

So, how do you convince the baker to launch a Facebook Page?

Ned took this question to LinkedIn. One of the responses he received sums up my thoughts on how this might be achieved. Chris Noble, a consultant at Information Wranglers, suggested that Ned avoid pitching the new media sans buzzwards. She wrote, "Concentrate instead on presenting existing business functions that could be improved by judicious use of the new Web-based systems."

I told the baker, for instance, that his Facebook page could provide quick feedback on new bread styles he was constantly bringing to market. The zealous bread fans could also be used to market his bread to others, which is the most obvious advantage.

There must be thousands of small, old-line business that could benefit from social networking if they could get past the technical hurdles and misconceptions that keep them from enjoying what could be a tool for dramatically expanding their customer base and income. Ned wonders, too.


Oil & Gas Wireless Technology Article Appears in Managing Automation

My article, "Drilling into Wireless," which focuses on the oil and gas industries slow embrace of wireless, appeared in Managing Automation magazine. Drilling into Wireless discusses the use of wireless networking technology and devices in a variety of oil & gas industry applications.

I've written more than 100 features for Managing Automation since 1990.


Natural Food Network Feature on DNA-Based Traceability Appears

My article, "Natures Barcode: DNA-Traceability for Meat" appeared in the pages of Natural Food Network. The article, on page 19 of the publication's digital flip book, looks at how grocers are building credibility with highly specialized DNA-technology.

The Natural Food Network provides business insights for natural and organic food buyers. This was my first feature for the publication.