Prep your story for the timeless web!

In the future, every story will need to have a beginning, a middle and a hyperlink!

This is an article published in May 2010, in CW, the magazine of IABC

I often return to the theme of storytelling. Despite the new tools we tend to squeeze into our working life as business communicators, much of what we do is probably entered around telling stories.

But we have been trained to think that the stories we create need to adapt to the attention economy. People are too distracted by all the multi-tasking and the competitive information coming at them. Our content needs to be designed to cut through the clutter, so we better beef up our narrative, sex-up our storylines.

Sounds familiar?

Download article here (PDF)

Community as fire pit?

So what’s your definition of a community?

Members of your Facebok fan page? Those hundred-something peeps who follow you on Twitter? How about the ex colleagues of a former workplace in a large, unwieldly Google Group?  You probably have a stake in all or most of these right?

Building a community is one part of the equation. Nurturing one –being the ‘community organizer’ — is something else.  My latest column in CW, the magazine of IABC talks of some easy ways to build an online community.

I think we often get distracted by the word media, and pay lip service to the word social. My definition of a community is a fire pit. It can be small, it is noisy, always generates some sparks, but it draws people together.


Opt-in meets experience using QR Codes

Anyone dabbling in communication tends to stoop at the altar of speed and instant gratification. They seem similar, but they are not. Speed of response or implementation is a critical component for some organizations, some industries.

Speed, in today’s world, is a given. If you’re in customer service and you don’t respond fast to an inquiry, you lose a lead. If you don’t respond to a complaint, you risk turning a small hiccup into a major snafu.

Instant gratification is a different animal. We gloss over what it really involves by regarding it with such clicles about ‘delighting the customer’ etc.

But what I am interested in is a hybrid of speed and instant grat. Especially the ability to deliver targeted information to mobile devices, since we are beginning to use our phones not just as lap-top replacements, but as a means to interact with content related to our professional and personal lives.

Custom QR code I created for Public Radius

That’s why I like the idea of Quick Response Codes – QR Codes. I covered it in a recent column for a magazine (IABC’s Communication World).

If it sounds too geeky, it’s not. Actually it’s more user-friendly than a typical bar code. Unlike a bar code you embed it with information that is linked to content you point it to somewhere on a server or blog. That content could be any digital file, such as a PDF, podcast, video or photo album.

If you like to read the article, here’s a link to a PDF

Updated: The QR code on the left is something I created for my company, Public Radius. Many of these codes can be photographed by a cell phone that seamlessly connects the device to content.  Some of  them require an initial download of an app. Some work without it –like a short code.

Two ways to think of print

I’m never in agreement with those who write the obit for print.

But this week I received two magazines that give us reason to pause, and assess where we are headed.


The first is an ad, obviously. It appeared in Process magazine. The other is IABC‘s CW Magazine.

Full disclosure. I write a column for CW. In this issue I happen to talk about using quick response codes as a means of extending the conversation…beyond print.

I tend to agree with statements like this: “Actually print is where words go to live” – John Griffin, President of National Geographic‘s magazine group.

Print lives in zones we never imagined. Two examples again:

  • Take Scribd. Publishers such as New York Times and Simon & Schuster are part of this.
  • Then take a look at Living Stories, a Google Labs project involving the New York Times and Washington Post.

Interesting isn’t it?