Hi, I'm Margie Newman. I blog about public relations, social media, careers, productivity and geek stuff.

SXSW 2011: so much better than SXSW 2009

There’s no shortage of SXSW Interactive 2011 “reviews.” Give it a Google; you’ll find all sorts of contradictory soap boxes, from SXSW has “jumped the shark” to O M G, it was “awesomesauce.”  Other than the mediocre panels, tsunami of street-marketers and QR codes, and an on-again-off-again AT&T 3G signal, three things about this year’s conference stand out:

1. We should all talk to strangers more. Seriously. It wasn’t the panels or keynotes that rocked my world, (could have skipped most of them, honestly) it was the limitless conversations with talented people. There were talkative geeks at every turn. And this wasn’t just a “shake hands and be on your way”-type of networking, these were hour-long talks where you walked away a smarter, more motivated person. I hated leaving before the closing party because I kept wondering not what, but WHO/WHOM, I’d miss.

2. You can solve your Meetup location crisis using only an iPhone and tha Twitter. About a week before the conference started, Dave had this great idea for us to declare a Meetup for DC-area folks attending SXSW Interactive. We called it DCxSW. He made a website; I filled out a Twitter profile, started a #DCxSW hashtag and got to spreading the word. We immediately saw a positive response from DC-ers, including retweets and offers to help.

The problem came about five hours before the event was to start, when I discovered that our venue, Shakespeare’s Pub, had been bought out by Maxim. Thanks, guys. But I didn’t have my laptop with me; Dave was at the hotel with the Team Newman iPad; all I had was an iPhone and a panicky feeling. How would I tell everyone? Where would we go?! Less than 10 percent of an iPhone 4 battery later, a new location at the Driskill Hotel bar was secured, the DCxSW Twitter profile edited and DMs and @ replies sent to every RSVPing person. Except Tod. Oops. Sorry, man. It really proved to me how powerful that tiny little Swiss Army Knife of a phone actually is. Oh, and 45 folks showed up! And Tod eventually found us.

3. The New York Times, Verizon and Quora need to have a frank talk with their marketing folks. I’ll sum this up this way: Read More…


Finding your Balance | Her Nashville September Issue

For all of the entertainment, information access, and cross-country connections technology affords us, it can really do a number on your soul and psyche. In the September issue of Her Nashville magazine, I offer up three ways to keep technology from re-wiring our brains and zapping our productivity. A teaser:

Force your focus:”While new media multitasking is great, science studies show it may not always be best for our brains. In June, The New York Times reported that scientists have discovered that online multitasking may lead to fractured thinking and lack of focus when offline.”

Stop stalking: “The inherent compare and contrast — and the tendency to dwell on it — that accompanies constantly reading about others’ lives isn’t healthy for you, and it isn’t fair to your friends.”

Leave a morsel of mystery: “Lean on your actual friends and family for help, attention, advice, and encouragement. Meanwhile, share just enough online to keep virtual friends updated, making sure not to upload your entire diary.”

Read the full column here!


Maura Casey: getting published (the fine art of placing your pearls)

{Former New York Times editorial page staffer Maura Casey is back with a follow up to her recent post about op-ed writing. Once you write your masterpiece, you’ll want to get it placed. Here, Maura walks you through how.}

Now that you have written a compelling commentary on a public issue, there’s no reason to hold back — after all, it won’t have any impact unless you can get it published where the public can see it on the blog, web page, or newspaper oped page of your choosing. For many, this is the hard part.

It’s understandable: Making phone calls or sending e-mails to get editors excited about your point of view feels like a pitch for approval. But don’t think of it that way. Instead, put yourself behind the editor‘s desk.

Editors see you as a potential solution to a daily challenge: they want to publish compelling opinions and they have less and less of a budget to pay for them. They are publishing fewer syndicated columnists than ever and are always on the prowl for fresh, often local points of view. To the extent that you can solve their perennial problem, they care not just about what you have to say, but how you say it. Present an interesting, provocative and well-written piece, and editors’ doors will fly open to you. Read More…


Maura Casey: write with a purpose, think like an editor

{Today’s guest post comes from former New York Times editorial page staffer Maura Casey. She’s sharing tricks of the op-ed writing trade, folks. Pay attention!}

The rise of the Internet and the struggles of print journalism in recent years have made opinion – your opinion – more valuable than ever. Some of the most influential websites such as Slate and the Huffington Post rely heavily on opinion for their broad appeal.  And newspapers, seeking to cut budgets wherever they can, have stopped publishing many syndicated columnists.

Yet newspapers have to fill those pages with some form of commentary. Therein lies the opportunity. You  don’t have to be George Will or Maureen Dowd to get published. Just don’t expect to get paid, since most newspapers pay little or nothing, And remember,  whether your target is my former employer, The New York Times, or the Laramie Boomerang,  you still have to say something interesting. So here are a few pointers to get your pearls in print: Read More…


NYT wants to charge me for online content. Cool.

The Gray Lady wants to charge folks to partake of her online work; you know, because she likes having a staff, a budget and paying rent.

We live in a world that loves now and expects free.  I admit to fueling that fire, but we get what we pay for. I’m tired of shoddy reporting–I’ll not call it journalism. It’s not that reporters want to write poorly or get stuff wrong–no one enjoys being factually incorrect. It’s that there are like three people left in America’s collective newsrooms. With one part-time copy editor.

A newspaper can’t do amazing stuff like this, or make folks cry like this, without experienced journalists and a budget.

For some reason, we want to be paid for our own talents and services, but can’t seem to wrap our heads around why newspapers would require–or even desire–compensation. It blows my mind.

So, newspapers of the world: charge me. I’ll pay it in a heartbeat if it helps reinstate a well-stocked newsroom, thoughtful editorials, heart-pounding investigative work and a fact-checker or two. I admire The New York Time‘s move and hope other papers follow suit posthaste.

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