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Harvard Business Publishing
Friday March 6, 2009
1. Call to action. The number one thing that separates a memo, report, or PowerPoint from A Tale of Two Cities is a call to action. A novel is to be enjoyed. Business writing is intended to get the audience to do something: invest in a popcorn factory, fill out a kidney donor form, or flee the building in an orderly manner.
Questions to ask: Does my email ask the reader to do anything? If not, why am I sending it?
2. Say it up front. M. Night Shyamalan is paid to surprise folks. We are paid to not surprise our boss. Whatever the purpose of your missive, say it in the first line. Mystery and story are great ways to entertain and teach, so unless you’re looking for a job doing that, spit out why you’re writing up front.
Questions to ask: Can the reader tell from the subject line and first sentence what I’m writing about without going further? If not, why are you insisting that they guess?
3. Assume nothing. Does the reader need to know that the project won’t succeed if the subway workers strike, that everything depends on a category 5 hurricane not happening in the next 100 years, or that if Lehman goes under the entire firm will implode? Let the reader know what thinking has gone on behind the scenes. And when following up, don’t assume everyone remembers everything you’ve said. If you’ve got any worries that an acronym, term, or reference is going to elicit a confused moment, just explain it.
Questions to ask: Am I relying on what the audience knows or what I think they ought to know? Am I hiding anything from the reader unintentionally? If so, why do I want to surprise them later on?
4. Do the thinking. How many times have you gotten an email that says, “What are your thoughts?” followed by a forwarded chain of messages. That’s the writer saying, “I can’t be bothered to explain my reasoning or what I want you to focus on.” When you write, make sure you’ve explained what you’re thinking and what you want the reader to spend time on.
Questions to ask: Is my email giving my opinion and options for the reader to respond to? If not, why am I making them try to read my mind?
FTSE Develops Classification System for Environmental Products and Services
14 July 2009 As most major economies move toward the adoption of such tools as carbon pricing to combat climate change, the need for investors to have a system by which they can identify companies engaged in clean technologies grows. To supply a solution to this need, FTSE Group, the UK-based index company, has developed the FTSE Environmental Markets Classification System (EMCS), which the company describes as “the world’s first comprehensive global classification system for environmental markets.”
Top 10 tips from the Business and Internet Search Tips workshop that UK information professional Karen Blakeman ran for a group at Manchester Public Library on 26th March. They are the tips that the participants themselves suggested at the end of the day.
1. Site search
This one crops up again and again, but so many people have not yet discovered how powerful this command can be. Use the advanced site and domain search to limit your search to just one web site or a type of organisation (e.g. UK government, US academic). It is ideal for searching individual web sites which have diabolical navigation or appalling site search engines, and for searching for types of information, for example site:ac.uk for UK academic research papers on a particular topic. Use the advanced search screen in Google and Yahoo, or the ’site:’ command as part of your search strategy in the standard search box on Google, Yahoo, Live.com and MSE360.com. For example:
carbon emissions trading site:ac.uk
If you are searching for PowerPoints or PDFs, use both Google and Yahoo. Google indexes the first 101 K of a document whereas Yahoo indexes the first 500 K so the results can be significantly different when it comes to larger files.
2. Filetype search
There are lots of goodies to be found on the advanced search screens of Google and Yahoo. Think about the type of information you are looking for and focus your search by file format. For example statistics and research data are often left in spreadsheet format (xls). If you are looking for an expert on a subject limit your search to PowerPoint (ppt, and also pdf as many presentations are converted into this format before being loaded onto the web). Industry, market and government reports are often in PDF format. Yahoo and Google have the more common file formats in a drop menu on their advanced search screens. If the one you want is not listed use the filetype: command followed by the file extension as part of your strategy in Google, Live.com and MSE360.com. In Yahoo, use ‘originurlextension: ”
Enter your search and TripleMe displays results from Google, Yahoo and Live side by side. The fourth column contains the inevitable ads.
4. Google Finance
http://www.google.co.uk/finance , http://www.google.com/finance
A worthy competitor to Yahoo Finance although it does not have the wide range of stock exchange coverage of Yahoo. It does, though, beat Yahoo when it comes to the share price graphs. The graphs are ‘annotated’ with labels at the appropriate time point and these link to news articles that are listed to the right of the graph. Both offer free, daily historical share prices in figures.
5. PIPL.com and 123 people.com for people search
http://www.pipl.com/ , http://www.123people.com/
As well as web sites, blogs, images and directories PIPL and 123People search social media and networking sites for a person by name.
A service that allows presenters to upload PowerPoint presentations and make them available in various formats. Ideal if you are looking for information or an expert on a topic, a speaker for an event, or just some ideas for your own presentation.
Use services such as YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/) to track down “how to” videos and news. Also, why not create your own videos to promote your services or business and put them on YouTube?
8. Google CSE
Google Custom Search Engines (Google CSE) at http://www.google.com/coop/cse/
Ideal for building collections of sites that you regularly search, to create a searchable subject list, or to offer your users a more focused search option.
9. SCoRe Search Company Reports
A catalogue of current and historic printed company reports held in UK libraries. The catalogue does not provide links to digitised documents but is a very quick and easy way of identifying libraries that hold hard copy reports. The participating libraries include London Business School, the British Library, Manchester Business School, City Business Library, Guildhall Library, Strathclyde University and the University of Warwick. A full list is available at http://www.score.ac.uk/collections.asp.
10. Bureau van Dijk’s (BvD) “A Taste of Mint”
A free directory from BvD giving basic information on companies world-wide. One experienced researcher at an earlier workshop commented: “It found the company I have been looking for when every other directory failed!”
* ResourceShelf and Docuticker have long been on my goto list for whats ‘out there’ in terms of authoritative Internet resources and documents. This recent post is an excellent example of why this free service offered by information professionals is so very valuable. Thanks for all the hard work you guys do!
Resources of the Week: Quality Business RSS Feeds
By Shirl Kennedy, Senior Editor
Business information was a high interest item on both ResourceShelf and DocuTicker even before the dog days of the global financial crisis. We use RSS to monitor high-value sources for items of interest to post on both sites. Here are five of our favorite feeds; some you may already know about, but we think you’ll find a couple unique ones here.
1. Harvard Business School Working Knowledge — A steady source of high-quality working papers, interviews with professors about their current research and articles of general business interest, such as:
- The Surprisingly Successful Marriages of Multinationals and Social Brands
- Marketing Your Way Through a Recession
- Achieving Excellence in Nonprofits
If you work with business information, it’s well worth monitoring the feeds of other leading business school publications, such as the “Knowledge@” series:
Those interested in the hospitality industry might want to explore the feeds available from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.
2. Large international consulting firms like Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers offer a surprisingly large amount of high-quality reports, podcasts/webcasts and other resources — at no cost. Free registration is usually required.
3. USA.gov aggregates a nice collection of business/economics feeds from federal agencies. One you may otherwise overlook — the “What’s New” feed from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service — Yes, it’s about agricultural prices, but this agency also publishes data and reports of more general interest. A few recent examples:
- Rising Food Prices Take a Bite Out of Food Stamp Benefits
- Behavioral Economic Concepts To Encourage Healthy Eating in School Cafeterias: Experiments and Lessons From College Students
- Household Food Security in the United States, 2007
The feeds from the different Federal Reserve System banks are worth a close look, since they focus on economic conditions in a given geographic area. (Sometimes you may have to hunt around the websites for the feeds.) I regularly follow the Atlanta Fed (because I live in the southeast) and the New York Fed (because it generates some awesome stuff, such as Dynamic Maps of Bank Card and Mortgage Delinquencies in the United States and Dynamic Maps of Nonprime Mortgage Conditions in the United States).
4. If you want to keep up with business and economics in the European Union, you can pick through the large selection of EU feeds and find the ones that interest you — such as Enterprise and industry, Transport, Information society and media, Economic and monetary affairs, Financial programming and budget, and many more, including feed from individual agencies.
For the UK — Scott Vine, Senior Information Officer at Clifford Chance, a UK law firm, maintains a blog called Informationoverlord. On this blog, I found a large, detailed collection of feeds extracted from “all the bodies listed as ‘Central government departments, executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies’ on DirectGov” — the UK equivalent of USA.gov. Pick and choose according to your specific interests. (This resource was posted to the blog last August, so be aware that “stuff” may have moved.)
For Canada — The Government of Canada’s News Centre offers a large RSS feed collection. These are organized into categories:
News by Audience (which includes a business-specific feed), News by Province, and News by Government of Canada organization.
For Australia — Check the Australian Government RSS Feed and Podcast Index. Most of the business-oriented feeds are offered by business.gov.au. Also worth checking: Austrade and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
See Also: A collection of government RSS feeds from many nations. Compiled and maintained by Scott Vine who also compiles a detailed list of UK feeds (see above).
Via: CASLIS Ottawa
Ulla de Stricker ‘s checklist of enterprise behaviors related to information and knowledge management.
- Part 1: Policy
- Part 2: Corporate Memory
- Part 3: Current Awareness
- Part 4: E-Mail Management
- Part 5: Do we pass the test for “quality content” in emails?
- Part 6: Records
- Part 7: Making the business case for new – or old – money
Ulla has also recently published two books:
- Business Cases for Information Professionals: Here’s Why, Here’s How
Information Today, Inc – 2008
- Is Consulting For You? A Primer for Information Professionals
ALA Editions – 2008
(Available from the Canadian Library Association.
With business technology and compliance teams struggling to keep from drowning in the content employees create, it might be tempting to turn off some of the spigots. Here are four companies doing the opposite: letting wikis loose and reaping benefits.
Posted: 14 Nov 2008 06:12 AM PST
This article was written by Ruchir Chawdhry.
PS: Mac users can check out 14 Essential Mac OS X Applications for Bloggers that Darren wrote a while ago.
Mozilla Firefox is the king of all browsers. Limitlessly extendable, fast, and lightweight. If you’re still using any other browser (even Google Chrome), then switch to Firefox immediately, it’ll boost your productivity – guaranteed. There are many Firefox plugins, these two posts give the essential ones for bloggers:
Stop wasting time typing the same thing repeatedly. MemoKeys saves you time by letting you call up commonly used text with keystroke combos. This is very handy is you get a lot of email, comment on blogs a lot, or have a default email/comment template.
All you Microsoft haters might say otherwise, but you need Power Point, Excel, and Word if you want to make it big as a blogger. Office 2007 is easy to use and has beautiful default templates.
If you don’t want to pony up for Office 07 then the open-source OpenOffice is a nice alternative.
SnagIt is the best screen-capturing program out there. Using SnagIt, you can take screenshots of menus, windows, specific regions, and more. The more-than-capable editing program that comes with SnagIt is also a godsend for productivity seekers and Photoshop phobics like me.
WordWeb is a free powerful dictionary and thesaurus program. It’s mainly an offline dictionary tool with about 150,000 words in its database, although it also allows you to look into online reference sites such as Wikipedia. WordWeb’s a feature rich dictionary & thesaurus tool and a must have for bloggers who write their own content.digsby-logo
Digsby is an all-in-one IM/social networking client. It supports most of the IM protocols out there, like Yahoo!, MSN, ICQ, and AIM. It even supports Facebook chat! It features tabbed conversation window, allows you to manage your email, and stay up-to-date with everything that’s happening on your Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and LinkedIn accounts. As its makers say: Digsby = IM + Email + Social Networking.
Link Popularity Check checks how many links you have according to Google, Yahoo!, MSN and a bunch of others.
RoboForm is the tool to have for bloggers. It cuts out the time you spend filling various forms online, it remembers all your passwords, and it even features a random password generator for the security freaks among us. The price? Only $29.95. Use the discount code GOOG1 to get $6 off.
I’ve yet to come across another app that is better or on the same level as RoboForm. If you don’t have it, you don’t value your time.rss-bandit
9. RSS Bandit
RSS Bandit is a desktop RSS reader that syncs directly with Google Reader. The best feature is has is that it allows you to download your feeds (including images) for you to view offline. Very useful for travelers and those who hate web based RSS readers.
10. Camtasia Studio
Camtasia Studio is the ultimate screen-recording program for PCs. With the latest version, you can create HD quality professional-looking videos. It can produce your videos in many formats such as iPod, Flash, Quick Time, Windows Media, AVI etc.
A full-featured desktop blogging application, Writer allows you to add images, videos, maps, tables, and much more. Overall, it’s a much better alternative to your blogging software’s inbuilt editor.
This little known color picker has recently gone free. It’s fast to load, easy-to-use, and captures colors in HTML, RGB, C++, VB, and Delphi color codes. You can capture color codes anywhere on the screen. What more could you want?
13. Yahoo! Widgets
Yahoo! Widgets adds small widget apps to your desktop. Aside from being glitzy, it can be useful if you choose the right widgets. Here are a few widgets that bloggers should get:
- Day Planner – Calendar – A very useful to-do and day planning widget that also has a calendar
- Simple Notepad – Useful for quick note-taking without having Notepad always open
- My MemoPad – Useful sticky-note widget. I actually use it to display my goals.
Of course, how could I forget Twirl? A must-have app for twitterers to twitter their tweets.
PeaZip is a beautiful but fast archiving utility that supports most of the compression formats out there. It’s recommended for bloggers who download and sample a lot of files. Alternatives are WinRAR and 7Zip.
16. The Journal
Keeping a diary/journaling can help you improve as a blogger. Now, not many of us are so keen on opening a notebook every now and then to write in, so if you’re such a person then The Journal is for you. It supports separate volumes, inserting images, tables and the like, and you can even password-protect your diary.
For more on why you should keep a blog diary, check out Darren’s post:
All Conferences is a search directory that provides information on conferences, conventions, trade shows, meetings and so on. It’s arranged by subject area, with advanced search functions allowing searches for titles, city, country, date and so on. Covers a very wide variety of subject areas – just grabbing science and technology for example we’ve got oceanography, paleontology, physics, space, vibrations and so on.
Not entirely convinced of it’s worth though – it didn’t find the few library based conferences that I put in, but it does appear that conference organisers have to go to it, rather than them looking for conferences, which is a slight weakness I think. However, if you need to know about events, this might be worth taking for a spin.
Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2008 report, will be released in five consecutive daily segments. Since 2004, the annual study has analyzed the trends and themes of blogging, but for the 2008 study, they resolved to go “beyond the numbers of the Technorati Index to deliver even deeper insights into the blogging mind”. For the first time, bloggers were surveyed directly about the role of blogging in their lives, the tools, time, and resources used to produce their blogs, and how blogging has impacted them personally, professionally, and financially.
Blogs are Pervasive and Part of Our Daily Lives
There have been a number of studies aimed at understanding the size of the Blogosphere, yielding widely disparate estimates of both the number of blogs and blog readership. All studies agree, however, that blogs are a global phenomenon that has hit the mainstream.
The numbers vary but agree that blogs are here to stay
+ comScore MediaMetrix (August 2008)
o Blogs: 77.7 million unique visitors in the US
o Facebook: 41.0 million | MySpace 75.1 million
o Total internet audience 188.9 million
+ eMarketer (May 2008)
o 94.1 million US blog readers in 2007 (50% of Internet users)
o 22.6 million US bloggers in 2007 (12%)
+ Universal McCann (March 2008)
o 184 million WW have started a blog | 26.4 US
o 346 million WW read blogs | 60.3 US
o 77% of active Internet users read blogs