Thursday, December 01, 2011

National Board Meeting

National ASBPE President Amy Fischbach, Regional Liaison Director Danica Tormohlen and National Education Chair Jessica Zemler flew from Kansas City to Chicago to attend the fall national board meeting. At the meeting, Amy, Danica and Jessica worked with the national board on strategies for increasing membership and educational opportunities.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Networking Happy Hour at Taste Restaurant!

You're invited to join the Kansas City Chapter of ASBPE for a networking happy hour at Taste Restaurant in Overland Park from 5:30-7 p.m. on Wed., Nov. 2. Enjoy an amazing array of tapas at this quaint American restaurant in downtown Overland Park. To thank you for your continued support of the chapter, we will provide complimentary appetizers.

Exchange business cards and ideas with other local editors, freelancers and art directors. There is no registration fee for the event, but attendees will need to purchase their own beverages.

Open to members and non-members! Please invite your co-workers and come out to celebrate the great b-to-b editorial community we have in Kansas City. Join editors from local publishing companies, like Penton, Advanstar, New Bay Media, Sosland, Vance and more!

Please RSVP by Monday, Oct. 31, so we will be able to accommodate everyone. Click on the link below to register or RSVP.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Images from "10 online ideas you can implement tomorrow"

Producing for the web first and print later

Kansas City editors share tips for online success

When creating content, always remember to prioritize for the web first and print later, Greg Johnson, editor at Vance Publishing’s The Packer, said at the latest meeting of the Kansas City ASBPE chapter. At the meeting Johnson, along with Jessica Zemler, editor of with Advanstar Communications, presented “Ten online ideas you can implement tomorrow.”

Johnson explained it is essential to his company’s web philosophy to write up a news release within a half-hour of receiving and immediately post online. After this, he said they update that story as it evolves, and they have trained their readers to come back to the site to check for updates.

“We have to be the group the industry goes to first…we have not found many online people drop our print publication because we offer something different in both,” Johnson said.

Johnson said all staff reporters at his company produce videos for the websites, but he said their videos are only 30 to 90 seconds in length and are shot with very basic equipment. In addition, he noted the video doesn’t always have to be impressive quality to be successful. The videos often consist of a short introduction by the reporter followed with a short interview clip. Johnson said this gives them more industry recognition as the industry gets used to seeing them instead of just reading their names.

Zemler said using free Google services such as news alerts has been helpful to her as it helps her to passively keep an eye on breaking news.

“The key is passively…it would take a lot of my time to go out and actively search for this information,” Zelmer said. also takes advantage of Google’s webmaster tools and analytics options to help improve their sites. Zemler said they use Google Analytics in addition to Omniture to track how many readers they have and where they are going on the site. When it comes to social media, she suggested using tools such as to manage efforts, and overall she always keeps an eye out for who is linking to their sites. Also, she said her company has even proposed several social media campaigns to advertisers.

Johnson emphasized the need to have focus with social media.

“When you are doing this, you have to have a goal,” he said.

Zemler also suggested doing some site fine-tuning by finding the top 10 or 20 most popular articles and seeing if there is a way to repackage them differently. For example, her publication provides coverage of the top 10 veterinary schools in the nation, and they have broken their coverage of this into a 10-part package and increased page views.

Other online successes at Advanstar have been creating interactive content with photo pages, quizzes and maps. They have also used the concept of a people’s choice award in a hospital design competition to allow readers to vote for the best design. However, Zemler said this “people’s choice” concept can translate across the board to many different fields and can be as simple or complex as desired.

When implementing such efforts, it’s important to consider the quality of the page views you are driving to your site, Johnson said. Quality as opposed to quantity is important as advertisers are often looking for a specific audience. Page views just for the sake of page views might not be beneficial.

“You need to be careful with having page views being your main goal,” he said.

Greg and Jessica’s “10 online ideas you can implement tomorrow”

1) Do some site fine-tuning
2) Use Google to your advantage
3) Create interactive content
4) Efficiently manage social media
5) Hold a people’s choice award
6) Web first, print later
7) Use video
8) Use page views and analytics to see what’s driving interest
9) Include everyone on staff
10) Find out what works with social media

Friday, September 16, 2011

KC Chapter of ASBPE presents "10 online ideas you can implement tomorrow"

You won't want to miss "10 online ideas you can implement tomorrow," presented by KC Chapter of the American Society of Business Press Editors!

The event is Wednesday, Sept. 28 at 12 p.m. at Matt Ross Community Center is Overland Park, KS.

Come hear our speakers:

Jessica Zemler is the editor of and the dvm360 iPad app for Advanstar Communications’ Veterinary Group. Powered by the top publications in the veterinary market, DVM Newsmag, Veterinary Medicine, Veterinary Economics, and Firstline, dvm360 delivers breaking news and analysis, comprehensive medical information, and trusted business advice for veterinarians and veterinary team members. was awarded the 2011 ASBPE Website of the Year Award and a Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award in the category Best Web Site in both 2010 and 2011.

Greg Johnson, editor, oversees all digital and print news for The Packer and annual publications, Fresh Trends and The Guide. He has been in the position at Vance Publishing since July 2008. Johnson, who has a bachelor of science degree in Journalism from the University of Kansas, writes a monthly column on the opinion page. In 2011, The Packer TV was a finalist for American Business Media’s Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award in the category Best Recurring Webcast.

Jessica and Greg will teach you how to:

•Generate more page views online.
•Manage social media more efficiently.
•Use video more effectively.
•Get your staff to embrace your digital strategy.

$20 for ASBPE members/$30 for non-members. Cash accepted as well as checks. Payable to ASBPE at the door. Fee includes lunch.

For more information and to register, click here:

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Pictures from awards luncheon

Award winners Stuart Goldman, Jim Lucy and Ellen Parson.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Learning to understand your audience
Amy Fischbach shares how to connect with readers in any field

Knowing the lingo of the industry you are covering is essential when it comes to being able to write an award-winning b-to-b special section, Amy Fischbach, incoming national president, told members of the Kansas City chapter at the Western regional awards luncheon on July 27. Her work as a contributor to the Electric Utility Operations section of Transmission and Distribution World magazine has made her a finalist for a national award.

“You need to be able to talk the talk,” Fischbach said. “If you can relate to them, you can build trust.”

A big challenge for Fischbach in covering linemen, foremen and field superintendents for electric utilities is the fact they are rarely in the office. Yet she overcome this by finding out the best ways to contact them, such as getting their cell phone numbers and their wife’s email addresses (as the linemen themselves are rarely at a computer), both of which usually prove effective. She also focuses on making as many contacts as possible during an annual Lineman’s Rodeo, where linemen come to compete in events and network. During this event, she visits every tent and leaves her card and packets of information.

Throughout her career, Fischbach also has found how to effectively work trade show floors to make the best contacts and hear the most interesting and relevant story ideas. When at a trade show, she suggests figuring out which booths are attracting the most attention and visiting those, but she also recommends paying close attention to the smaller booths of companies that might not be able to afford the flashiest booths.

“The most interesting stories often come from outlying areas,” Fischbach said.
Finding what topics will get members of a specific industry talking is important as well. For linemen, storms are quite exciting.

“Linemen love to talk about storms,” Fischbach said.

It’s also important to put yourself in your reader’s shoes, and Fischbach did this at the Lineman’s Rodeo by getting in a bucket truck to feel what it is like to be high up in the air. The catch? Fischbach has quite the fear of heights, but she believes putting aside her fear and doing something her readers do every day helped her build rapport with her audience.

To make sure she captures the detailed technicalities of the industry she is covering, Fischbach summarizes key points mid-interview to make sure she is understanding and interpreting concepts correctly. She also asks sources to explain various points in different ways if she doesn’t understand something initially.

And finally, there must be quality images to go along with any package. For special sections, she suggests a specific cover for the section, and action shots throughout the section are important.

While it might sometimes be hard to obtain action shots, she has found many companies have photographers on staff that will to get pictures for you.

Amy Fischbach’s tips to creating an award-winning special section:
1) Get to know your target audience
2) Reach out to your readers
3) Tackle technical topics
4) Tie your section together visually

Monday, August 01, 2011

2011 West Regional Award Winners!


Feature Article – Design, Under $2M, Bronze
Feature Article-Design
Roast magazine
Roast magazine staff

Feature Article – Design, Under $2M, Silver
Question From The Gulf
Emergency Management
Jim McKay: Editor, Kelly Martinelli: Creative Director, Kris Krug: Main spread Photographer, Jim McKay: writer

Feature Article – Design, Under $2M, Gold
Powering Up
Government Technology
Steve Towns: Editor, Kelly Martinelli: Creative Director, GMP Digital: Main Photographer, Andy Opsahl: Writer of this article.

Feature Article – Design, over $2M, Bronze
The Macworld Gear Guide
Rob Schultz (Art Director), Matt Vincent (Illustration)

Feature Article – Design, over $2M, Silver
One+ FD-Behavior
Jeff Daigle, Blair Potter, David Basler

Feature Article – Design, over $2M, Gold
One+ FD-Quick Guide
Jason Judy, Jeff Daigle, Blair Potter, David Basler

Front Cover - Computer Generated, Under $2M, Bronze
A Dirty Shame
Multifamily Executive Magazine
Scott Crawford, Shabnam Mogharabi

Front Cover - Computer Generated, Under $2M, Silver
One+ Cover-CG-1
Jason Judy, Jeff Daigle, Blair Potter, David Basler

Front Cover - Computer Generated, Under $2M, Gold
The Changing Security Landscape
CIO Digest
Joy Jacob, Patrick Spencer

Front Cover - Computer Generated, over $2M, Gold
Copper Theft
Transmission & Distribution World
Susan Lakin

Front Cover – Photo, Under $2M, Gold
Cover Photo
Roast magazine, Roast magazine staff

Opening Page/Spread - Computer Generated, Under $2M, Gold
Work-Life Balance
Public CIO
Steve Towns: Editor, Kelly Martinelli: Creative Director, Tom McKeith: Illustrator, Andy Blumenthal: Writer

Opening Page/Spread - Computer Generated, over $2M, Silver
One+ SPRD-Health
Jeff Daigle, Blair Potter, David Basler

Opening Page/Spread - Computer Generated, over $2M, Gold
One+ SPRD-Ten
Jason Judy, Jeff Daigle, Blair Potter, David Basler

Opening Page/Spread – Photo, Under $2M, Gold
Opening Page/Spread-Photo
Roast magazine
Roast magazine staff

Case History, Under $2M, Bronze
Inside Job
Computer Graphics World
Computer Graphics World staff

Case History, Under $2M, Silver
Where Solar Makes Sense
Electrical Wholesaling
Jim Lucy, David Eckhart & Douglas Chandler

Case History, Under $2M, Gold
Making Change
CIO Digest
Patrick Spencer, Joy Jacob, Julian Hickman

Case History, over $2M, Gold
Forensic Engineering: A Valuable Tool in Incident Investigations
POWER Magazine
Angela Neville, JD

Editorial/Editor's Letter, Under $2M, Silver
Editor's Notes
Big Builder
John McManus

Editorial/Editor's Letter, Under $2M, Gold
First Word
Club Industry
Pamela Kufahl

Editorial/Editor's Letter, over $2M, Gold
Global Viewpoint
Transmission & Distribution World
Rick Bush

Feature Article, Under $2M, Bronze
Race of the Chargers
Electrical Wholesaling
Douglas Chandler, David Eckhart & Jim Lucy

Feature Article, Under $2M, Silver
911: A National Plight?
Emergency Management magazine
Elaine Pittman, Associate Editor

Feature Article, Under $2M, Gold
High Times in Southern Oregon
Oregon Business
Managing Editor Ben Jacklet

Feature Article, over $2M, Bronze
Is Legal Zoom's Gain Your Loss?
California Lawyer
Tom McNichol

Feature Article, over $2M, Silver
Arc Flash Review
Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M)
Mike Eby, Beck Ireland, Ellen Parson, Stefanie Kure, David Eckhart

Feature Article, over $2M, Gold
Minority Report
Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M)
Mike Eby, Beck Ireland, Ellen Parson, Stefanie Kure, David Eckhart

Feature Series, Under $2M, Silver
The Long Road Back
Affordable Housing Finance
Donna Kimura

Feature Series, Under $2M, Gold
Learn Now or Pay Later
Big Builder
John McManus, Sarah Yaussi, Teresa Burney

Feature Series, over $2M, Gold
Tech & Learning's 100@30
Tech & Learning
Tech & Learning

Government Coverage, Under $2M, Gold
FUEL -- government coverage
John Kneiss, director of technical and regulatory services, Hart Energy Consulting

How-To Article, Under $2M, Gold
Pump Maintenance Ensures Reliable, Efficient Operation
John Hughes, Editor; Carol Tomerlin, Managing Editor; Martha Kelle, Copy Editor; Daniel Feldman, Graphic Designer

How-To Article, over $2M, Silver
Pulling the Strings
Glenn Fleishman (author), Dan Miller (editor), Jason Snell (VP/Editorial Director), Rob Schultz (Art Director)

How-To Article, over $2M, Gold
Inside the Leasing Center
Multifamily Executive Magazine
Rachel Z. Azoff, Shabnam Mogharabi, Scott Crawford

Individual Profile, Under $2M, Gold
Renaissance Man
Club Industry
Stuart Goldman

Individual Profile, over $2M, Gold
One+ IP-Schreiber
Lara Dunston, Terry Carter, Michael Pinchera, Blair Potter, David Basler

News Analysis/Investigative, Under $2M, Silver
What Became of IMA?
Massage Today
Ramon G. McLeod, Christie Bondurant

News Analysis/Investigative, Under $2M, Gold
Stuck in Limbo
Apartment Finance Today
Jerry Ascierto, Shabnam Mogharabi, Rachel Z. Azoff, Scott Crawford

News Analysis/Investigative, over $2M, Silver
Tragedy in Tennessee
Insurance Journal
Andrew Simpson

News Analysis/Investigative, over $2M, Gold
Anatomy of a Complaint
California Lawyer
Chuleenan Svetvilas

News Section, over $2M, Gold
News & Numbers
Multifamily Executive Magazine
Shabnam Mogharabi, Rachel Z. Azoff, Jerry Ascierto, Les Shaver, Chris Wood, Scott Crawford

Organizational Profile, Under $2M, Gold
Connecting the Dots
Affordable Housing Finance
Christine Serlin

Organizational Profile, over $2M, Gold
The Youth Vote
Multifamily Executive Magazine
Chris Wood, Shabnam Mogharabi, Rachel Z. Azoff, Scott Crawford

Original Research, Under $2M, Bronze
Fight Back Against Thieves
Trends magazine
Constance Hardesty, Rick Rundall, Ann Everhart

Original Research, Under $2M, Silver
MFE Top 50
Multifamily Executive Magazine
Les Shaver, Chris Wood, Shabnam Mogharabi, Rachel Z. Azoff, Scott Crawford

Original Research, Under $2M, Gold
The 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon
Oregon Business
Editor Robin Doussard, Research Editor Brandon Sawyer

Original Research, over $2M, Bronze
Young Agents Survey
Insurance Journal
Andrea Wells, Andrew Simpson, Stephanie Jones, Patricia-Anne Tom, Ken St. Onge, Guy Boccia

Original Research, over $2M, Silver
Higher Stakes, Lower Margins
Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M)
Mike Eby, Beck Ireland, Ellen Parson, Stefanie Kure, David Eckhart

Original Research, over $2M, Gold
Fast Forward
Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M)
Mike Eby, Beck Ireland, Ellen Parson, Stefanie Kure, David Eckhart

Regular Column, Contributed, Under $2M, Silver
Employment Law
Contingent Workforce Strategies
Eric H. Rumbaugh, Subadhra R. Sriram

Regular Column, Contributed, Under $2M, Gold
Not the Emperor's Acupuncturist
Acupuncture Today
Gregory Ross, Tina Beychok, Ramon G. McLeod

Regular Column, Contributed, over $2M, Silver
Illustrated Catastrophes
Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M)
Mike Eby, Brian McPartland, Ellen Parson, Stefanie Kure, Beck Ireland, David Eckhart

Regular Column, Contributed, over $2M, Gold
Property TypeCast
Scotsman Guide, commercial edition
Victor Calanog, Ivanna C. Sukkar

Regular Column, Staff Written, over $2M, Gold
"Electric Vehicles: The Uncertain Road Ahead" & "EPA's Mercury Rule: Another Incarnation Coming"
POWER Magazine
Angela Neville

Regular Department, Under $2M, Gold
Sign Off
Radio magazine
Erin Shipps, Chriss Scherer

Regular Department, over $2M, Silver
"Global Monitor"
POWER Magazine
Sonal Patel

Regular Department, over $2M, Gold
In Pro Per
California Lawyer
Chuleenan Svetvilas, editor

Special Section, Under $2M, Gold
FUEL -- Lubricants & Additives Special Section
Louise Poirier, Editor

Technical Article, over $2M, Gold
2011 Code Changes
Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M)
Mike Eby, Mike Holt, Ellen Parson, Stefanie Kure, Beck Ireland, David Eckhart

Congrats to all the winners!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

ASBPE Western Region Awards Luncheon July 27

You won't want to miss the Western Region Awards Banquet, presented by KC Chapter of the American Society of Business Press Editors! We'll be announcing the 2011 winners for the regional awards, plus you'll hear a short presentation by one of the award finalists.

Speaker: Amy Fischbach, a contributing editor for Transmission and Distribution World magazine and incAmy Fischbachoming president of the national ASBPE, is a finalist for a national award for the special section titled Electric Utility Operations.  Fischbach contributed “Once a Lineman, Always a Lineman” to the award-winning special section. In her presentation, she will talk about the work that went into the winning entry and share copies of the section with the attendees.

What you'll take away from the presentation:
  • How to tackle technical topics.
  • How to reach out to your readers.
  • How to use strong images to tie a special section together visually.
When: Wednesday July 27, 2011 from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM CDT
Add to my calendar

Plaza III Restaurant
4749 Pennsylvania
Kansas City, MO 64112
  • First course: Plaza III Garden Salad
  • Entree: Your choice of Filet Mignon, Grilled Scallops & Shrimp, Grilled Breast of Chicken or Vegetarian option
  • Plus dessert: Your choice of Creme Brulee or Chocolate Truffle Cake
Cost: $40 for ASBPE members/$50 for nonmembers. Cash accepted as well as checks, payable to ASBPE, at the door. Fee includes lunch.

Register now.

For more information, contact: Danica Tormohlen,, 816-803-8103

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Job openings at Sosland Publishing

There are two job openings at Sosland Publishing:

Staff Writer

Entry level position. Looking for a college graduate with degree in journalism, communications or related field. Requirements include experience in writing, editing and knowledge of AP style. Photography experience and interest in food industry a plus. There is travel involved.

Online Editor

Looking for a recent college graduate with 1-2 years of experience. Degree in convergence journalism, communications or related field is required along with experience in video and online editing and writing for multimedia platforms. Photography experience a plus.

See for more information.

Contact is John Unrein and

Friday, June 10, 2011

2011 Western Region Awards Banquet Set for July 27

Save the date:

Date: Wednesday, July 27

Time: Luncheon time TBA

Plaza III Steakhouse
Country Club Plaza
4749 Pennsylvania
Kansas City, MO 64112
For information: Contact Danica Tormohlen

Awards finalist is speaker for the ASBPE Western Region Azbee Awards banquet.

Register online.

Monday, June 06, 2011

How to write like Tom Zind

Award-winning journalist shares with ASBPE his keys to success

Tom Zind finds one of the best ways to produce award-winning stories is to write in short chunks at a time. As an extra boost, he believes getting a little inspiration from sweat and endorphins helps as well.

“For me, many a story owes its lead to a 6-mile run,” Zind said.

Zind, who won ASBPE’s 2010 Stephen Barr Award for his article “A Killer in the Ranks” that appeared in the January 2009 issue of EC&M magazine, addressed the Kansas City Chapter in a meeting on May 18 discussing effective reporting and writing strategies.

He emphasized the importance of thorough reporting. When given an assignment, Zind begins his research by copying and pasting everything he can find on the internet on the topic and dumping it into a file. He then goes through the file and highlights the important information. He finds this process helpful in developing his questions for sources.

“There is no substitute for immersing yourself as much as possible in the story,” he said.

When it comes to the actual interview, he said it’s important to have a conversation with the source and not just a strict question and answer session. He said reporters should lay out their understanding of the topic of the story so as to alleviate concerns the source might have of being misquoted. He said he often gives a summary mid-interview of what he has heard from the source so far to ensure accuracy and demonstrate understanding. Zind, who does not record his interviews, said it’s important to review notes quickly after an interview to help memory of the interview.

“I find interviewing a huge task in multi-tasking,” Zind said.

When it comes to the writing, he discussed the power of the lead, and he personally likes to use anecdotal leads. He says in every story there will be the lead that pops up as being the perfect one for the story. He also said a strong closing is important and to overcome writer’s fatigue and resist the urge to simply end the story.

“The key is fighting through the urge to end it and letting it fall off a cliff,” he said.

The flow and pace of the story are important to Zind, and he said to be sure to use strong transitions with clear and concise sentences that don’t turn into run-ons.

“Fall in love with the period,” Zind said. “Make good friends with the period.”

He said quotes should amplify and explain and not simply parrot what has already been said.

Zind is not a procrastinator and finds his best work comes when he starts his story plenty in advance. He said that in writing, time cures everything.

“Writing a piece of strong journalism doesn’t have to be a rushed job…if you start early enough, it’s amazing what writing some and coming back can do…let it marinate,” he said.

Overall, Zind said the goal is to enjoy the process of writing, and the finished product is simply the cherry on top.

“The goal is creating not just something people want to read, but something they can’t put down.”

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Tom Zind shares his grab bag of thoughts on interviewing and writing

  • Use the active, not passive, voice. By using an active voice you avoid using a “backing in” approach to sentence construction.
  • Use anonymous sources sparingly: Sometimes you must. Usually a judgment call where you weigh benefits of full attribution vs. risks of excluding important information that can’t be gained otherwise.
  • Quote to amplify: Strong quotes don’t parrot. They amplify, explain, make a point in a different way, give a glimpse of a source’s personality, views, etc., that help humanize a story.
  • Pursue sources: Don’t write off any possibilities when it comes to getting an interview with a source. Some may seem a stretch, but it’s always good try make the attempt. Sometimes persistence pays off.
  • Offer context/background: No story exists in a vacuum. Weaving in information that explains the “backstory” – the history of an issue, why it’s important, its nuances – is a good way of fleshing out a complete story that your reporting.
  • Weigh benefits/drawbacks of editorializing/offering commentary: Some stories can benefit from the writer offering perspective that goes beyond what sources are saying. That may seem to violate the tenet of objective reporting, but pure objectivity is a bit mythical.
  • Put yourself in the reader’s shoes: We always have to write with the reader in mind, but it’s more essential than ever today. A business publication audience’s needs and knowledge level are far different from that of a consumer publication readership. Writing and reporting must reflect that.
  • Avoid group phone interviews: Sometimes they can’t be avoided. But they pose challenges with attribution, voice clarity, cross-talk, etc., complicating understanding and good note-taking.
  • Press for interviews, not written responses: Written responses to written questions are in vogue. They protect both sides from misquotes, and allow the PR folks to be more involved. Better to press for direct interviews and offer outlines.
  • Get sources comfortable: Display your knowledge of the subject matter, clearly lay out what you’re looking for and explain why you’re tapping them. By making them feel their insight and expertise is valuable, they’re more likely to open up.

What works (and doesn't work) in creating award-winning articles

Tom Zind shares what worked and didn't work in his award-winning article from EC&M magazine, "A Killer in the Ranks."

What worked, what didn’t, in EC&M story on Iraq
  • Social media: Tapped into social media – electrical contracting industry blogs and online forums – to get a sense of the industry buzz about the issue. One blogger turned out to be a key source in the story within inside information, though she had a bone to pick (something that had to be taken into account), as she had seen the situation firsthand working as an electrician for the primary military contractor in Iraq fingered as the main source of the problem.
  • Personal stories: Ability to weave in a sidebar on two U.S. electricians who signed up to go to Iraq as part of a military contractor contingent charged with cataloging and correcting widespread faulty electrical work.
  • Humanizing: Crafting a lead that immediately humanized and personalized the story – the deaths of two soldiers tragically electrocuted in-theater – drew readers in. It helped with a story that eventually had to touch on lot of technical detail and government speak. Leading with those elements posed problems.
  • Military cooperation: The ease of getting a phone interview set up with high-ranking military personnel on the ground in Iraq, intimately knowledgeable about the story and in the chain of command addressing the issue, proved the importance of following up any lead on a possible source, no matter how unlikely it may seem. Working through a military public-affairs person and supplying a good overview of the story and specific questions helped grease the wheels. The information provided yielded several good quotes and some essential context.
  • Extensive backgrounding: Internet search engines yielded a trove of stories on the topic from the consumer, trade and even military press. The story was mostly “out of the bag” when we took it up, so there was plenty of solid reporting, most notably in The New York Times. Our challenge was to find a new angle with relevance to the electrical contracting industry.
  • Government documents: Openly available (though a bit challenging to obtain) government documents relating to investigations of the electrocutions and the electrical work in Iraq proved immensely helpful. Those documents, which included pages of verbatim Congressional testimony, provided essential and detailed background on the matter.
  •  The “so-what” element: The story would have benefited from a bit stronger emphasis on exploring its broader meaning and implications for the electrical contracting industry. A sidebar did touch on the challenges of military contracting, relevant to many electrical contractors. A general statement from the industry’s trade group was offered, but not used; it probably should have been incorporated, though it offered marginal perspective. But offering readers some idea of how the industry’s voice could help head off repeats of the same problems, or more detail on contractor liability issues when working on government jobs, could have made the story more relevant.
  • Broader industry input: We attempted to interview electrical code experts, some of whom were directly involved in working to address the problems. But confidentiality issues prevented them from talking. A stronger attempt to reach companies involved in military and government contracting, to get their take, as well as other electrical safety and code experts, might have yielded some additional useful information.
  • KBR input: The lead military contractor, KBR, repeatedly refused to offer anything but a short written statement. Because they were implicated so strongly as the main culprit, the story certainly would have benefited from their participation. Perhaps making more calls and trying to do an end run around the public relations department might have produced an interview.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Improve your writing and interviewing skills

Please join the KC Chapter of ASBPE for a luncheon presentation on improving your writing and interviewing skills.
Featured speaker: Tom Zind, winner of ASBPE's 2010 Stephen Barr award. Zind won the national award for his January 2009 article "A Killer in the Ranks," which appeared in Electrical Construction & Maintenance. A 25-year B2B veteran, he will discuss the keys to writing a compelling business story with a focus on how to be a better writer and interviewer. He'll address issues such as story line and source development, interviewing techniques, note-taking and reviewing, and the writing process.
When: Noon-1:30 pm, Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Where: Brio Country Club Plaza, 522 Nichols Drive, KCMO
Cost: $25 for members/$30 for members Cash accepted as well as checks (payable to ASBPE).
Register: Simply email your RSVP to Danica Tormohlen, president of the KC Chapter, at Or call her at 816-803-8103.

Friday, April 15, 2011

State of the B-to-B Industry meeting recap

Content, business goals work together after all

Editors in Kansas City discuss the current state of the b-to-b publishing industry
Keith Nunes, executive editor of Sosland Publishing’s Food Business News, said at a recent meeting of the Kansas City chapter that the current state of the business-to-business publishing industry could be likened to leaving a child in
the middle of a toy store and telling them to have fun. It can be sensory overload.

With so many different types of technologies being used to deliver meaningful content, it can be sensory overload on an editor’s part to keep up with the latest technologies and determine the right method of delivery.

“There are so many buckets out there for content … ask yourself what it’s going to be next,” Nunes said.

Nunes emphasized the importance of using analytics to drive content. Nunes helped develop a concept called “Research Assistant” for based on what he saw the analytics for the news site telling him. He saw readers were interested in having an easy resource to be able to search specific topics often covered on the site. Once the concept was
rolled out, Nunes was slightly disappointed in the number of viewers, but it turns out the advertisers were anything but disappointed. While there might not have been a great number of people clicking on those pages, the people who were clicking on the pages were quality consumers who the advertisers specifically were trying to target — mission accomplished from the perspective of the advertisers.

“As we use this data … we have a tremendous opportunity to drive publishing in a way that makes content king,” Nunes said.

Marnette Falley, content director for Advanstar’s veterinary group, said this a transformational time, and this generation of editors gets to figure things out for the future. She said the pace of change has been so fast that today’s editors have grown accustomed to rapid change. She also said advertisers still have tight budgets and need even more flexible solutions than in the past, so publications need to be prepared to deliver integrated packages that cross many different platforms. She warned that customers and advertisers might become possible content competitors as selling with traditional advertising is getting harder, and the best route is becoming content creation. As a result, she said she sees many opportunities for growth in custom

Falley also emphasized how important it is to pay attention to the analytics and respond to what the numbers tell you. Additionally, she said collaboration from all sides of the publishing business is more important than ever.

“Content goals and business goals really are aligned, but we just didn’t see that in print,” Falley said.

Falley likened all of the possibilities with new technologies to standing in a hotel hallway with a hundred doors and trying to find the one door you are looking for. It’s best to jump in and discover what various technologies can do for you until you find the right technology that delivers the best results.

“You may not see the perfect solution from here, but you have to start walking or you won’t see it from here,” she said.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

State of the B-to-B Industry luncheon/meeting

What are the top trends for 2011 and how will they impact your editorial team?


Marnette Falley, content director for Advanstar’s veterinary group, has led the editorial team’s transitions in what has been a period of dramatic changes and challenges. Today the editorial team she heads develops multimedia content for outside project clients, builds web sites, hosts webinars, delivers on-demand education, and more. The editorial team has finalists in four Neal Award categories this year, spanning print, web, and e-newsletters. And dvm360 is also a finalist for Best Website in the Min Best of the Web Awards.

Keith Nunes, executive editor of Food Business News, oversees a multimedia b-to-b platform that includes print, web and social media components. In his role with the publication owned by Sosland Publishing Co, he is charged with its determining the editorial direction and exploring ways in which the Food Business News content, as well as the content developed by other Sosland publications, may be used to drive new sources of revenue.

Date: Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Time: Noon to 1:30 p.m.

Andy’s Wok
6357 W. 119th Street
Overland Park, KS 66209
Cost: $20 for ASBPE members; $25 for nonmembers. Cash accepted as well as checks payable to ASBPE.

To register:
Contact Jeff Gelski, president of the Kansas City chapter, at 816-756-1000 ext. 867 or

Download flyer (262K PDF).