• 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?
    • Are you serious about creating viral content for you blog or Web site?
    • Are you intrigued by the potential of online publishing?
    • Are you searching for reliable talent to write for your print or online publication, corporate Web site, or blog?
    • Are you looking for tips, tactics, and strategies that foster better written communications for your marketing efforts?

    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.

  • View Marty Weil's profile on LinkedIn

06/11/2009

Are Case Studies Still Relevant?

The quest to gain a marketing foothold too often leads corporation down one or another Yellow Brick Road. In today's hyper-competitive marketplace, the impulse to rise like a towering Emerald City is understandable; but what Dorothy eventually came to understand--and what market leaders are leveraging today with remarkable success--is that the key to sustaining the most interest is typically much closer to home.

You want the world to beat a path to your door? Then show it the faces who have crossed your threshold.

Even today customer case histories provide strong, independent evidence of how a company's products and services are working in the marketplace. Companies use this tool in many diverse ways--Web content, media placement, white paper support, for example.

When a company effectively tells prospects about its most effective sories--why your product works, what they mean to those who use them, and how it's good business to be doing business with you--the marketing advantages are clear. This was true 20 years ago when I first began writing corporate case studies, and it is still true today.

06/08/2009

Social Media Connects PR Pros to Journalists

As a follow up to my recent guest column on DailyBlogTips about how journalist stay connected to PR people, I asked the LinkedIn audience for their professional take on my column—as a means to extend the conversation.

I was somewhat startled by the replies of many of my fellow journalists. For instance, one journalist replied, “As a journalist, I would ask, ‘Why would a journalist want to stay connected to PR professionals?’"

Are PR People Annoying?

He went on to say that most PR professionals pitch/annoy…bringing a black eye to the field.

Others followed suit suggesting that it is not the job of a journalist to reach out to PR folks, but, rather, for PR people to stay in touch with journalists. As a follow on, someone added:

“I agree... It's the public relations professional's responsibility to keep in touch with journalists, and not in an annoying way. If a PR pro is representing his or her client correctly, there should be a regular (one or twice a month) flow of information that journalists can use to a targeted group of journalists that cover your client.”

There were others that agreed with my premise that a more balanced, two-way street attitude toward the relationship was rewarding for everyone involved. 

“Journalists and PR professionals should keep in touch with each other -- it's a two-way street. An occasional email, phone call, or even -- imagine --a face-to-face chat over coffee or lunch will do the trick. Another option is for journalists to attend the programs offered by local chapters of PRSA.”

Another concurred, “I agree. Communication is a two way street and as professionals, we have an equal responsibility to keep open channels.  As a PR professional I have been contacted by journalists on multiple occasions about a potential story.  I would say the best way to keep in touch would be with Twitter, Facebook, and of course, LinkedIn.”

Social Media Two-Way Street

"Nowadays," someone else chimed in, "social media plays a major part in providing necessary piece of information. So, one of the ways for PR practitioners to stay in touch with their journalists could be done by constantly updating online information, make it more searchable online…and try to make it appealing and readable. Naturally, it should be two-way communications. Therefore, all contact details of the PR practitioner should be available on the web site. Blogging and social network groups are getting very popular as a communication tool, so RSS and links like ‘follow me’ would connect the reader to your information.

This is the direction I’d recommended in my DailyBlogTips guest column.

In it, I’d pointed out that one of the purposes of this blog was to be a window into my world as a journalist—to keep up with the stories I was pursuing, and, taking it further, to decode the types of stories I might like to be pitched (based on the bread crumb trial of stories I’d written in the recent months.)

So far, however, I haven’t heard from any PR pros in my areas of concentration (i.e., technology use in manufacturing, k12 education, food processing, energy, and other fields). My hope is that this blog will pioneer the type of two-way communications that many in both fields believe is the key to success in this new era of social media.

Where are the PR people? Is the seat at the table what they've always craved, or is this a case of "careful what you wish for?"

06/04/2009

Social Product Development - Facebook Meets CAD

In a post titled, Social Work, Stephanie Neil, Managing Automation’s Senior Editor, examined the role of Social Networking as it relates to the B2B sector.

As a freelance contributor to Managing Automation, I was keen to read Stephanie’s take on the subject. She wrote, “…at what point does this social networking stuff become destructive rather than productive?"

There's been a lot written lately on social networking and much of it boils down to that question. And I agree with Neil that it's important to think about. She suggests there be a business plan for line of business managers that outlines "process workflows that include the use of these tools."

For example, where along a product development cycle would it make sense to have a link to a wiki for swapping ideas about a project? How about instant messaging? Shouldn’t that be a must-have (not a nice-to-have) when it comes to coordinating multiple constituents in real time? 

Social Product Development

In her post, Neil unveils a possible answer in the form of "social product development," a term coined by PTC, a PLM provider. Sort of Facebook meets CAD, but not exactly. The company describes it like this:

Social product development will allow teams to better collaborate across borders and time zones, and will enable innovation of endless possibilities.

Within the next week or two, Neil reports, PTC will unveil some very cool social computing capabilities that take product development to a new level.

And I'll be monitoring the results here.

06/03/2009

Welcome DailyBlogTips Readers

Thanks for visiting my site after reading my guest column on DailyBlogTips. If this is your first time visiting martyweil.net, you should know that I've been a freelance writer/journalist for nearly 20 years.

For anyone who has more questions about building a network among media relations professionals, please leave a comment. I'll try to answer as many questions as I can in upcoming posts. Please subscribe to my free feed to stay connected.

And thank you Daniel for allowing me to write a post on your wonderful blog.

05/21/2009

How to Interview Sources without Resorting to Torture

On an annual basis, I conduct anywhere from 100 to 300 phone interviews, depending on my freelance and journalism workload. I estimate that I’ve interviewed more than 5,000 people over the course of my writing career. After gathering information from so many people on so many different topics, I’ve learned a few important lessons about conducting an information-gathering interview.

First Pitch Softball

I always start by asking the interviewee to state his/her name they way they’d “like to see it in print.” It puts them in the frame of mind that what they say is going to matter. Then, I ask them at least one easy question to put them at ease. The first question is never really an important one—it’s designed to give the interviewee confidence and warm them up. I always ask a question that the person—from doing some homework about their expertise—will find very easy to answer.

Anecdotally

Almost without exception, I will ask the person I’m interviewing if they have an anecdotal story about whatever it is we’re discussing. It nearly always produces the best response of the interview.

End Note

I always end with the following question regardless of the subject at hand: “Is there anything about this topic that I wouldn’t know to ask you about?”. This question consistently produces an excellent quote. I often follow it up with: “Is there anything else you’d like to add that we haven’t already discussed?”. This question not only produces rich content, but often leads to ideas for future stories.

Using these strategies, I haven’t had to resort to water boarding to get compelling content for my editors or clients.

05/19/2009

Are B2B Magazines Dead?

Rick Short, marcomm director at Indium Corporation, recently asked the B2B Marcom group on LinkedIn, if they thought print magazines were dead. His question generated a lively discussion.

I responded to Rick by saying, "When I first started writing for B2B print publications in 1989, there was talk of the magazine industry's demise. At the time, reports of its death were greatly exaggerated (apologies to Twain).

Today, however, I think we're closer to the end of print than the beginning. Clearly, new media will prevail in the long run, but how long is that run--5, 10, 20 years?

I expect that I'll be contributing to print publications for years to come; however, many years ago, I made a concerted effort to embrace new media and become adept at its nuances. I did so in an effort to make myself "bullet proof" from print's demise. I hope that magazines will continue to be produced for many years, but, like many in the B2B media industry, I'm excited about the possibilities that the new media holds. For those who understand how to write for the Web (and exploit its goodness), this is the Golden Age."

What do you think?

05/06/2009

Welcome LinkedIn Network

For those visiting from my LinkedIn network, I'd like to offer my thanks and a warm welcome.

I'd posted a status message on LinkedIn today inviting those in my network to view this site and provide feedback. I'd welcome you suggestions and input on the design, content, etc.

I appreciate your interest and thank you for taking a moment to visit my recently redesigned Web site/blog.

04/13/2009

Food Processing Magazine's Annual CapEx Report

For the second straight year, I've written Food Processing magazine's annual report on food industry capital expenditures. My 2009 CapEx feature appears this month in Food Processing.

Since writing the 2008 CapEx report, I've greatly expanded my work in food journalism--writing features for Natural Foods Network and Specialty Coffee Retailer.

I enjoy combining my interest in food with my background in business journalism. My years of experience writing on highly technical subjects gives me an edge over other freelance writers covering the food industry. I have insights into the manufacturing, production, and supply chain that many others in the field lack.

I look forward to further expanding my reach into the food and beverage industry in 2009. To that end, if you're an food-industry editor, specialty publisher, or PR firm looking for a writer with my background and experience, please don't hesitate to contact me.

04/03/2009

Grant & Funding Features Appear on Scholastic Website

Two articles I wrote on K12 grant and funding programs appear on the Scholastic Administrator website under the SMART Administrator resource center banner.

Leveling the Playing Field
Mebane Foundation Paves Way for SMART Technology Implementations in North Carolina

Rated "E" for Effort
E-Rate Success Enhances SMART Utilization in Evangeline Parish Schools

These articles are great examples of my advertorial work. In the world of journalism, many turn up their noses at advertorials and paid supplements, but I find this type of work challenging and rewarding. To be successful, you must marry journalistic integrity with the desires of a corporate sponsor--tilt too far in either direction and the result can be disastrous. However, when executed at a high level, these pieces can be extremely informative and fill an important niche in the marketplace of ideas.

03/23/2009

Data Center Management Adds Weil to Masthead

Data Center Management, the magazine for data center professionals, has added my name to their list of contributors. My first feature, "Learn from Disasters," appears in the March/April 2009 issue. The article is an in depth look at disaster recover.

I'm currently researching my second feature, a follow up to the first, which will discuss disaster preparedness. The article is slated for the July issue.

I'm proud to be among the many respected journalist that contribute to Data Center Management.