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Posts Tagged ‘Chuck Offenburger’

This continues my series on professional networking.

I credit my skills and hard work for most of the success I’ve achieved professionally. But my professional network has helped tremendously, too.

In this post, I’m going to run through the jobs I’ve landed and explain how my network helped me get most (but not all) of the jobs in my career:

Because my mother read the newspaper …

Chuck Offenburger, right, gave me my first job in journalism back in 1971.

Chuck Offenburger, right, gave me my first job in journalism back in 1971.

I was on a canoe trip in the summer of 1971, between my junior and senior years of high school, when my mother read a notice in the Evening Sentinel that Sports Editor Chuck Offenburger was looking for a sports writer. I didn’t know Chuck, and had no network connection to him. But Mom called the notice to my attention. I applied and I got the job (and Chuck and I remain friends).

But the network connection that mattered here was my mother. I’m not a fan of nepotism or family interference, which didn’t happen here. Mom didn’t even know Chuck. But she tipped me off to the first job of my journalism career. And Mimi has alerted two of our sons to opportunities that led to jobs for them. Listen to your mom. (more…)

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Chuck Offenburger and me in 2011. Neither of us has aged any since. In fact, I look younger without that white beard.

Chuck Offenburger and me in 2011. Neither of us has aged any since. In fact, I look younger without that white beard.

Chuck Offenburger has appeared frequently in this blog. He gave me my first job in journalism and I’ve profiled him and cheered him on in his successful treatment for lymphoma (before knowing that I’d be facing lymphoma treatment myself).

The past 14 years he’s been a journalism entrepreneur, working for himself and the people of Iowa. Part of that has been writing books. So, when I decided to blog this week about book promotion, I asked Chuck for his advice. He responded with enough good tips that I wanted to use them as a guest post, rather than rolling them into Thursday’s post with advice from me and several other writers. Buffy Andrews also sent enough promotion tips to merit a separate guest post.

Here’s Chuck’s advice (with a few links from me):

After doing seven books over the last 32 years – mostly biographies or histories about notable Iowans – I’d say that no matter how much technology has changed, the most effective book promotion is for the author to show up at libraries, book clubs, bookstores, trade groups and civic organizations, do a reading, talk about the story and answer questions.  Then you sell & sign those books as quick as you can.

Beyond that, and before you even go to print with the book, I’d tell aspiring authors to use the technology. Do that book online. Invest in a good web developer who can do an attention-getting website that is interactive, so readers can write you for chats, so that you can do video and audio, too. Do it with photos and artistic illustrations.

Meanwhile, you promote the bejeepers out of it on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. If your book is good enough, you’ll create a real stir with people, and they’ll be quoting it and sharing it. Meanwhile, agents and publishers will be watching – especially if you ask them to watch. When they see that you’ve got a good one, one of them will be more likely to pick it up for actual print publication without you as the author having to cover that cost.

If you’re going to do a small-market book – say 5,000 or fewer copies – you’ve got to really want to get that story out there to make it worth your time.

One reward that new authors might not realize is that you will meet people you’ll never meet otherwise, and develop new audiences.  That’s why in addition to your book, you should be blogging all the time.

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You can’t wait until you need a job to position yourself for the job hunt.

Yesterday I posted some advice on looking for a job in journalism when you lose your job. Today I’m making the point that your next job hunt starts in what you do while you’re employed and feeling secure and happy with your job (as I was for nearly all my time at Digital First Media). While working, you need to build the brand, accomplishments and connections that will become essential in your job hunt.

Your job hunt might start with losing your job in a corporate staff reduction, as happened to my Thunderdome colleagues and me in April. Or you may be frustrated with your current job and decide to move along. Or you may want to pursue your dream job. Someone may come courting you when you’re pleased with your current job (that happened to me in 1998 and I left the Omaha World-Herald to join the Des Moines Register and it happened in 2012 and I came very close to leaving Digital First Media). In any of those situations, it’s important to position yourself for future opportunities in the job you’re doing now.

Do good work

Quality work often isn’t enough, but job-hunting success always starts there. You can do good work and still not succeed in a job hunt because you didn’t do the things I discussed yesterday (or just because job-hunting is hard). But no amount of digital sophistication, networking or other techniques discussed here is likely to help if you don’t do quality work. I apologize for what will amount to boasting here, but the point is important to make.

My new job as Lamar Family Visiting Scholar at the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University stems from a string of good work I’ve done over the years. In 2009, when I was finishing some work on a grant for some ethics seminars for the American Press Institute, Jerry Ceppos was dean of the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. We might have met before at a conference, but we didn’t know each other well. Jerry brought me in for the seminar, which examined the ethical issues of digital journalism. If I hadn’t delivered a good seminar, that would have been the last time I had worked for Jerry. But I did a good job and he remembered me. (more…)

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Jason Plotkin's new Cover.

Jason Plotkin’s new Cover.

Journalists should go to extraordinary lengths to protect our integrity. But when a courtesy or kindness doesn’t threaten our integrity, we should say “thank you.”

Jason Plotkin, an extraordinary (Emmy-winning) visual journalist for the York Daily Record, blogged recently about a marine giving him his “Cover” (“The Army wears hats. The Marines wear Covers,” the marine explained).

Jason wrote about all the gifts he had given away over the years, or passed on to a YDR charity auction, guided by the ethical imperative to maintain independence from sources. His colleague, Buffy Andrews, called the dilemma to my attention, asking what I thought.

Here’s what I think: We should absolutely – and insistently, if necessary – politely refuse gifts of significant value that could threaten our integrity, if only by appearance. But journalists don’t have to be assholes. Our jobs too often force us to annoy – asking difficult questions, refusing pleas not to publish embarrassing information, intruding on grief and other private situations. I defend (and have practiced) all of those actions and many other unpopular things journalists need to do. But we don’t have to insult people who are being kind in ways that don’t threaten our integrity.

(more…)

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When should journalists use their personal social media accounts and when should they use the branded newsroom accounts?

An editor raised those issues in an email (edited lightly to avoid identification, because I welcome private requests for help, even though I sometimes address the issues publicly):

Some of my staff members — copy editors who also do reporting — have been finding that crowdsourcing on our newsroom’s Facebook and Twitter accounts has been very useful, as would be expected. But, at times, they say, there can be so many reporters and editors doing it that their questions get lost in a sea of posts, all of which are almost always quality. They say they sometimes can have better luck posting crowdsourcing questions to their private Twitter and Facebook accounts, which means their sources have been gravitating toward those accounts and not the official branded accounts.

A concern raised among some editors is that these private accounts don’t give our official sites the hits and exposure they could if the groundwork was done through the official accounts. In addition, the private accounts and all the new followers staffers generate through their work here would go with the staffer should they leave.

It’s hard to find a best practice for how other papers handle this. This harkens back to the day when reporters on the cutting edge of technology initially used their private email accounts before newspapers caught on and got people their own company email account.

Anyway, I hear wisdom on both sides. Just wondering if you had thoughts that you wouldn’t mind sharing. Hope that isn’t asking too much. I read your blog routinely and find it very helpful and interesting. (more…)

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Reviewing 2010 on this blog:

My job change to TBD was a major theme of the year here. My most-popular post of 2010 shared tips on job-hunting, from my own experience finding a new job and hiring the community engagement staff at TBD. That’s my second most-read post in two-plus years writing this blog. Other posts among the year’s leaders dealt with my job change as well: Pursuing a new opportunity in Washington, Wanted: vision for community engagement and Our community engagement team is taking shape. Another post relating to the job change took a longer view, discussing how I have twice redirected and rejuvenated my career. I also told how TBD’s launch prompted my first foray into public relations and brought back memories of an earlier launch. I explained why we need a director of community engagement, even though engagement should be everyone’s job. I have blogged as well for TBD, writing about our commitment to accuracy and transparency, and about why and how we chose TBD as our name. (more…)

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The first time I saw Chuck Offenburger, he was sitting on the steps of the Evening Sentinel, wearing an old-style leather football helmet, inviting people to pelt him with eggs.

I was a high school junior in Shenandoah, Iowa, and Offenburger, now in his 50th year as a journalist, was the youthful sports editor of the local paper. I enjoyed reading his columns and following the local sports teams through his stories. I was interested in being a journalist someday, and Offenburger was the best journalist in our small town. He had made some prediction about how Shenandoah High School’s Mustangs would do that season or the previous weekend, and he had been wrong. Offenburger liked to back his predictions up with the threat of public humiliation. So he was sitting on the steps of his workplace with egg — and a smile — on his face. (more…)

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