AP Updates ‘Web site’ to ‘website’

It’s official – The Associated Press has changed Web site to website.

I’m relieved. At the office and on this blog I follow AP style. But my fingers naturally want to type website. It’s so much easier. Now there will be no more worrying about the capital letter or the space.

The new entry on website has been added to the AP Stylebook Online and will be included in the updated text version.

The entry reads:

website: A location on the World Wide Web that maintains one or more pages at a specific address. Also, webcam, webcast and webmaster. But as a short form and in terms with separate words, the Web, Web page and Web feed.

Emyl Jenkins Stole Our Hearts With Style

[Note: Emyl Jenkins Sexton passed away earlier today. She was a friend, mentor and longtime VPW member.]

Dear Emyl,

I’m writing…. I know you would be proud. I’m thinking happy thoughts, too, although it’s not easy. We missed you at the VPW conference Friday. I’ll miss you at this week’s library event. But I’m taking your words to heart, and so I wanted to share my happy thoughts with you.

The first time I met you was  at a VPW meeting so many years ago. You were speaking to us even though you had a temperature. We chatted and from then on you were giving me advice and encouraging me about my writing and finishing my book.

There’s a photo on my writing desk of Adriana Trigiani, you and me taken at one of her book signings. Such happy times.

I remember the 2007 NFPW conference held in Richmond, Va. You dear lady hosted the board at your lovely home and made everyone fall in love with the Southern delicacy of ham biscuits. I may not eat ham, but those biscuits… oh my.

I have happy thoughts of other evenings at your home, joking with you and your husband Bob about which car I drove. And that’s all I’ll say on that subject!

I remember attending the Library of Virginia Literary Awards this past October as you presented the award for fiction. It’s always a fun evening and it was more special with you presenting.

I am thinking happy thoughts remembering my first James River Writers conference. You were introducing a panel on mystery writers and spent a few minutes talking about the panelists. And then you said that in the audience was another mystery writer — me! Oh, how my heart sang to think that one day I would be a published mystery writer. I will make you proud, I promise.

And just last month Jann Malone, you and I enjoyed a Thai lunch catching up, sharing stories, solving the problems of the South. I’m glad I didn’t know then that it would be the last time I saw you.

So Emyl, we all have our memories and we all miss you. I will think happy thoughts but you will forgive me if there are a few tears, too. And to you I raise a glass of writer’s courage.

VPW’s Power Is in Friendships

I always leave VPW and NFPW conferences in a melancholy mood. How can that be after spending time with wonderful friends, networking and learning?

It took me a few years to realize that was exactly why I was melancholy – I was leaving friends behind until the next meetings. My melancholy is not as bad today, though, thanks to social networking.

The VPW conference in Roanoke was at a fabulous location – the Taubman Museum of Art . Cara Modisett and her team put together a stellar line-up of speakers. I filled an entire notebook with blog topics and professional tips. 

We also helped raise money for student scholarships through the live and silent auctions organized by Louise Seals, Martha Steger, Linda Evans, Mary Martin, Sande Snead and Norma Pierce. I hope I didn’t leave anyone out because it was fabulous. The best part is that making a donation is so painless because those of us who bid get a tangible item. In my case, I’ll be having brunch at Keswick Hall with Linda. I can’t wait.

I caught up with old friends and new ones. I met Shawna Poole, daughter of Tammy Poole. Tammy and I were editorial assistants at the Roanoke Times (it was just yesterday, honest!) and I feel as if know Shawna through Tammy’s Facebook posts.

Peggy Weston shared some great travel stories and gave me an idea for a national speaker – Peggy! Did you know she’s a voice coach? Marge Swayne filled me in on her life and outbid me on the jewelry!

I got to know new member Susan Ayers, who is a fellow diva. And I saw Pauline Mitchell, a long-time member and a Virginia Communications Hall of Fame inductee.

After the conference I headed to the “Campbell Hilton” courtesy of Julie Campbell. Pam Stallsmith and I treated Julie to dinner to celebrate her recently published book.

The conferences are great because we network and learn new skills, and we also renew friendships. That’s truly the power of VPW and NFPW.

(Note: I’ll blog the conference topics in my upcoming posts.)

Transitioning from Reporter to PR Practitioner

I sold out years ago. I left newspapers to launch a business magazine for a Federal Reserve Bank, then I became a spokesperson for a metropolitan police department and now I’m director of communications for an international child development non-profit.

Apparently I’m not alone in selling out. At a recent Richmond PRSA meeting the topic was transitioning from reporting to PR.  More than half of the room stood up and shared where they had worked as a reporter and where they are now working in PR.  The panelists came from TV and newspapers.

They all agreed that they were surprised by the number of phone calls they receive as PR practitioners. They also say they have a better understanding of the full story.

Mychael Dickerson, who handles PR for Henrico County, Va., schools said he spent his early months explaining what information should be public. “It was amazing how much information should be public, but wasn’t,” he said. 

Lisa Schaffner, anchor for WRIC-TV8 for more than 20 years and now with UNOS, was stunned to learn that not everyone was tuned to the news at 6 p.m. “That was a big ‘ah ha’ for me,” she said with a laugh.

As for challenges, Chet Wade, managing director of corporate communications for Dominion, said, “You really have to be a negotiator and a consensus builder.”

Tips for working with reporters include:

  • Be imaginative and avoid boring pitches.
  • Know your reporters. Build relationships in advance of big stories.
  • Return phone calls and understand the deadlines.

Kludges May Not Be Pretty, But They Are Effective

It’s official – I’m a social media/technology nerd.

How do I know? I’ve learned a new word, “kludge.”

When I heard it the other day, I looked at the person and asked, “What did you say?”

She repeated it, and immediately another team member called it up on Wikipedia and shared that the term is used in fields such as computer science, aerospace engineering, evolutionary neuroscience and, yes, Internet slang.

Kludge is a clumsy, but effective solution to a problem.

It’s a great word, and really works for me. Trust me – some of the fixes I make to my blog are definitely kludges! Some of the fixes I make to my communications designs are kludges! But they work, and that’s what matters.

So I’ll keep making and using kludges.

Arriving at a Fixed Destination

Hank Stuever is all about fixed destinations.

His words from last evening’s New Mexico Press Women’s 60th anniversary Conference and Communications Awards Banquet have reached their fixed destination on this blog. I hope it’s a fitting destination.

Hank, an award-winning pop culture writer for the Washington Post’s Style section and a former newspaper reporter from Albuquerque noted that books, newspapers and movies at the theater are all fixed destinations and that these are “the things we are on the precipice of losing.”

He regaled the audience with stories from his early career in Albuquerque, fondly recalling chain link fences and cinder blocks. “I don’t know why I ever left,” he said drawing laughter from the audience.

But for him, “The more faded it gets the more beautiful it gets.”

He shared his love for storytelling and his need to share the stories of life, many of which are captured in his books, Off Ramp and Tinsel. “That’s the most important thing we do as media professionals – we tell one another’s stories,” he said.

And that’s the problem with new media, Hank says. “Now we’re too busy telling ‘my’ story.”

He recalled a time at a campground where he and a photographer stayed for three days. Some Europeans asked him in a broken accent, “Who it is you are all the time with cameras writing down things.”

It was an apt question for a man who has a need to observe and get it down on paper.

And while Hank might bemoan the loss of record stores, newspapers or going to the movies, he’s not writing off new media. “We’re undergoing a Renaissance,” he said. “And we need to stop taking the Renaissance so personally.”

His advice for the new media? Leave a fresco – “some really lovely painting, some really good work.”

What will your fresco be?

Building NFPW’s Future

NFPW board members today were video stars, fashionistas and architects. They’re probably a bit tired, too, but that’s not going to stop any of them.

We took time to create a short video to welcome everyone to the 2010 NFPW Communications Conference in Chicago. Details, including speakers, pre-tours, post-tours and other highlights will be posted to the NFPW Web site.

A few members modeled NFPW logo wear – a great way to say, “I’m a proud NFPW member.” I’m writing my blog wearing my purple NFPW polo shirt.

And we drew the blueprints for the future of NFPW. What does that future look like? Here are some highlights:

1)       Retention: We have many members who have not renewed. We don’t know if it’s the economy or if they are like many of us – they are so busy they forgot to do so. So each board member will be calling a group in the next week. If you haven’t renewed, please do so. We don’t want to lose you. And if there is something we can do to improve membership, let us know.

2)      Web site: We’ve got a great start to the site, but there is so much more we can do. We’re going to improve the navigability of it. We’re going to only use photos of our members and professionals who have spoken to us – no more stock photography. We’ll make it easy to connect by including links to our Facebook and Linkedin pages.  We’re adding an online calendar. We’ll include links to all affiliate Web sites. Our goal is to unveil a new and improved Web site in September.

3)      Social media: We’re going to create a Facebook Fan page so it will be easier for all of us to share and keep the messages under the NFPW umbrella. We’ve changed Linkedin so that only members can join our group – no more postings from individuals trying to sell you something.

4)      Members Directory: We’re exploring how to enhance the directory. For a nominal fee, members will be able to post URLs to their Web sites, blogs, Linkedin profiles. They’ll be able to include a PDF of their resume or a photo of themselves of their book cover. It’s all about personal branding. This is under development and we expect to be able to unveil it by conference.

5)      Contest Review: We’ve taken a look at the categories. In some areas, we streamlined. We also added categories to reflect the changing communications landscape.

I can’t begin to cover everything we achieved these past two days so I touched on the highlights. I’ll continue to share snippets in upcoming blogs and through the monthly e-letter.

I’d like to take this moment and thank each board member for their active participation and for building NFPW’s future.