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Vector American Football Field, Ball, and Helmets

Why the NFL’s Bag Job Falls Flat: Communication Lessons from the League’s Latest PR Implosion

Clients often ask us the difference between a successful public relations campaign and one that is met with scrutiny or even worse, apathy. In a way it’s comparable to the differences between what makes a culinary masterpiece vs. a kitchen disaster, the ingredients and who is preparing the meal. At InkHouse we advise our clients on the importance of every campaign including the same set of core tenants: conveying a compelling story or vision, rooted in authority and possessing indisputable credibility. These are the basic starting points for a successful public relations program for any organization.

Knowing this makes the latest efforts by the $15 billion dollar PR disaster otherwise known as the NFL particularly dumbfounding. In case you aren’t an avid football fan like me or haven’t been following the latest developments in the NFL vs. Patriots saga, here is a quick primer. On Tuesday, September 8th, exactly five days after Tom Brady/Patriots won their court case against the NFL, the two largest sports media outlets in the country (ESPN and Sports Illustrated) both came out with exposes that were extremely negative towards the Patriots. To sum it up quickly, they called them cheaters.

So how is this negative PR for the NFL as an organization? Let’s review the story and the sequence of events and see how they compare with our keys to a successful PR campaign.

First, convey a compelling story or vision: in most media savvy environments drudging up reports and innuendo dating back nearly 15 years wouldn’t pass the boring test not alone the compelling one. Dated information that adds nothing to the current dialogue is best left for the historians, not the reporters and editors at our most influential media. In this instance, it actually comes off as petty and vindictive and paints the league and the commissioner in a very negative light. Is this really a compelling vision for the future?

Second, root in authority: throughout the so-called deflategate experience, it was debated as to whether authority and facts were on the side of the NFL. A federal judge that ultimately ruled against the NFL in a court of law was skeptical at best. The fact that both stories were filled with “unnamed sources” and “unconfirmed reports” doesn’t exactly add the authority you are looking for when trying to make a point through legitimate sources with the proper expertise.

Third, possess indisputable credibility: the third and most important pillar of a successful PR campaign may be the one that suffered the most throughout this entire ordeal. Once credibility is questioned, everything from that point forward is going to be met with skepticism. In the world of tech PR, it could be making product claims that you can’t back up. In the case of the NFL, it was making claims that were proven to be false in sworn testimony.

The ongoing feud between the NFL and the Patriots has been ratcheted up a notch or two thanks to the stories fed to the national sports media powerhouses. While it is concerning for all those that follow the sport, for those who make public relations a profession it is an unmitigated disaster.  The story that has played out over the past eight months is an exercise in what not to do to make your PR campaign a success. At least that is a positive we can take from all of this.

Read more from Mike Parker
Beth and Betsy

A Conversation with Bentley’s Betsy Myers

Beth Monaghan recently sat down with Bentley University’s Betsy Myers for the newest episode from her Take the Lead – Conversation with Leaders Who Motivate and Inspire podcast series. Learn what it means to be a successful leader and how Beth took that next step towards starting her own company and living the life she dreamed.  

Listen to the conversation here.



Read more from Kaley Carpenter

Melanie Sena of Fortune on What It’s Like Being a Journalist in the Digital Age

Melanie Sena is an associate editor for Fortune. She celebrated her one year anniversary with the publication a little over a month ago and has been working as the editor for Fortune Insider’s “Leadership” and “Most Powerful Women” networks where she writes and reviews pieces about today’s pressing gender and leadership issues. Melanie agreed to answer a few questions about what it’s like to be a journalist today, as well as which women and leadership trends she is watching. She even provides some great insight on the tricks to catching and keeping a journalist’s attention.

What are the challenges of being a journalist today?
The single biggest challenge journalists face is finding opportunities to create original content. Today, more than ever, there is an infinite number of ways and outlets that people can get news. With so much competition, it’s often hard to create content without sounding repetitive. What can you offer that other news outlets can’t? Why should readers come back to your website, newsletter or magazine day after day? Retaining a loyal audience is our biggest priority. That being said, it’s also important that the news we do report is accurate and true. The Internet has made reporting easier, but it also presents more opportunities for inaccuracies. 

What’s one of your favorite stories from the past year?
I’m going to sound a little biased here, but Fortune’s “Insider the Hack of the Century” three-part series. It’s a true testament to the strength of investigative and long-form reporting, even in a world where attention spans are consistently on the decline.


How are headlines written?
Headlines are the most important aspect of any article. They have the potential to make or break a piece. Even if the content of an article is phenomenal, if it has a poorly written headline it will be completely overlooked. Personally, when I write a headline, I am looking to pull out a nugget of information that stands out in the piece; something that will set it apart from the numerous other articles written on the same topic. This may come as no surprise, but negative headlines grab people’s attention much more so than positive ones. We try to create headlines that are conversational yet blunt so it’s obvious what the article is about, but still leaves an element of mystery.

What makes a good PR person?
The best PR people are those who take the time to know your audience and your content. Blind pitches are completely pointless and a waste of time on both ends. Study our social channels and see what has worked for us. Also, brevity is best when pitching an idea. Clearly lay out the big picture and how it’s relative to Fortune (or whoever you’re pitching). Once you’ve sparked my interest, then we can discuss finer details. And if you can make the time to meet me in person, it definitely helps! Meeting face-to-face helps me get a better sense of your goals and how they do (or don’t) align with Fortune as a brand.

What makes a good contributor?
The best articles are written by contributors who aren’t afraid to (1) be transparent about their failures and (2) let their personality shine through in their writing. People are much more interested in reading about some of the mistakes you’ve made in your journey as opposed to only reading all the wonderful things you’ve accomplished. While accomplishments are certainly something to celebrate, it’s important to create a balance. Also, be open to feedback. As the media industry changes, so does our audience. We are constantly adjusting our practices to stay relevant and better serve our readers, which ultimately benefits you as a contributor.

What are some of the biggest “women-related” issues you are seeing as trends?
Honestly, a lot of the same issues that women have been facing for decades: pay disparity, lack of representation in the c-suite and on boards, and better paid maternity/paternal leave programs.

What are some of the biggest “leadership-related” issues you are seeing as trends?
One of biggest issues for men and women leaders is transparency in the workplace. Employees have a lot more access to information and resources than ever before, and aren’t afraid to make their voices heard. I think much of this can be attributed to multigenerational workplaces, open-office plans and an increasingly competitive market place. Additionally, companies struggling to remain innovative and relevant. Leaders need to pay close attention to what their clients and customers are asking for and be willing to change course as needed.

Read more from Alexa Manocchio
Cognoscenti Logo

Kelly Horan of WBUR’s Cognoscenti Spills: What Makes a Strong Contributed Article

Kelly Horan is an award-winning public radio producer who first joined WBUR in 1999. She is currently an editor of WBUR’s ideas and opinion page, Cognoscenti. In that role she is really a jack of all trades – editing stories covering a myriad of topics, recruiting contributors, and all the while keeping SEO and potential radio tie-ins in the back of her mind.

Kelly was kind enough to chat with me about what she looks for in a story, and how we as PR professionals can make her job easier. Here is what she had to say.

Q. What is Cognoscenti all about?

A. Cognoscenti is an ideas and opinions page where we cull from Boston’s thought leaders to get original ideas about issues that are both in the news and on the horizon. We range from politics, business and the economy to pop culture, religion and psychology. We are always interested in original voices and people who have expertise in a particular field or subject.

Q. Who are your biggest news competitors?

A. Probably the Boston Globe’s Ideas section. There is a lot of synergy between what we do. Our Ideas pages are similar and they feature the same types of voices.

Q. What are you looking for when you receive story submissions?

A. When we receive submissions, we look at three things:

1) How well written is this piece, and how original is the thesis and strong the point of view?

2) What is the particular expertise of the author on this subject, and how high-profile is this contributor?

3) Is this a contributor we can cultivate a relationship with?

We are always looking to build relationships with new contributors, but if we think a piece is strong but may just be a one-off thing, we are less inclined to take it unless it is exceptionally well-written. We have close to 500 contributors, and the vast majority are contributing when they feel like it, which is something we are trying to move away from.

For any submission, however, I recommend tying it to a strong news peg. If it’s well-written and ready to go, we can turn it around quickly.

Q. Can you tell me about the commitment required from a regular contributor?

A. We have several types of regular contributors that really run the gamut: we have about a dozen contributing once a week, some contributing once a month and some every couple of months. There really is no average.

Q. How do you like to be pitched?

A. I prefer pitches that follow the steps on the Submission Guidelines page, which asks for all information to be pasted into an email (not sent as an attachment), along with one line explaining what the piece is about and why the author is uniquely qualified to write about this topic. I am always happy to give feedback on a pitch or a piece that we have turned down.

Q. What are your biggest PR pet peeves?

A. My #1 biggest pet peeve is when it is obvious that a piece is not written by the author. You can smell them a mile away and it drives us crazy. They are essentially a press release in the guise of an Ideas piece, including information on a particular organization and how great it is, and it lacks authenticity. Sometimes we also find that we never have contact with the person who actually wrote the piece and are only working with the PR representative, which is not ideal.

Q. How do you measure the impact of a story? Clicks? Social traction?

A. We actually look at both. We have noticed that social media is our big traffic driver – we get most referrals to stories through Facebook and Twitter. I was shocked by how few people seek out our homepage! We are actually in the process of redesigning our homepage, making a more flexible template that will support stories in different formats.

Q. What types of stories drive the most traffic?

A. Stories on religion and family do very well. Stories on Boston’s Olympic bid have also been doing very well. Also inequality, education (early and elementary) and anything to do with Boston. It helps when the author has huge social network.

Q. What is your favorite recent piece and why?

A. I tend to love very personal “slice-of-life” -type pieces, and pieces that have a very strong point of view and stay in your mind after you have finished reading.

Here are some of my recent favorites:

Shades of Grey: Network Television’s Credibility Problem (By Eileen McNamara)

The Spy Who Loved Me (By Judy Bolton-Fasman)

Driving While Black, While Not Actually Driving (By Jabari Asim) *This has continued to be the most popular piece on our web site

Q. Is there anything else you would like us to know?

A. I have heard some authors express disappointment in the headlines we use for their pieces, which I feel bad about. Please know that we write our headlines very deliberately for SEO purposes – we want to drive traffic to your story!

Read more from Kristen Raymaakers
Jessi writes about the business of technology at Wired.

Jessi Hempel of Wired on Covering the Business of Technology

Less than a year ago – after a seven-year stint at Fortune Magazine – Jessi Hempel joined Wired as a senior writer covering the business of technology. I first met Jessi when we were fellow journalists, she at BusinessWeek and I at the Boston Business Journal and I’ve known her for more than a decade at this point. She recently agreed to answer a few questions about covering technology and what it’s like to be a journalist today.

Q. You cover the business of technology – that’s a huge beat. What types of stories do you focus on?
A. The business beat sounds broad … but it’s actually more focused. I basically have two responsibilities – the first is that I write longer form business features. The second is that I write regularly for once a week or so. Those stories are either analysis of breaking news or exclusives about companies our readers recognize. On we cover consumer and enterprise facing companies but we always lean toward consumer-facing companies.

I like two types of stories for breaking news and I like analysis. Wired doesn’t cover funding round stories and we will rarely break news about an executive joining a company. Everyone from the New York Times to Re/code covers funding announcements and we don’t think it adds a lot. The types of exclusive stories we like to do are behind the scenes looks on a launch or product news. Not every company I write about is Facebook or Google. I’m very interested in startups, but the startups I’m interested in are ones that have something significant that makes them stand out. I spent a good deal of time – several hours of reporting – with a company called Hello in the spring. At the helm was a young man who was making a sleep monitor. The significance for me was the story behind the device … the young fellow was a great character. He was 22 years old and he had investors with very big names.

Q. What are the challenges of being a journalist today?
The biggest challenge is standing out – we have so much ‘me too’ journalism and most reporters have so little time for actual reporting that you get aggregated content. I think that’s that biggest challenge for journalists: finding a way to do original reporting.

Q. How many pitches do you get a day?
I get maybe 50 from people that I don’t know at all and then maybe five from people with whom I have a relationship. I probably write from three PR pitches in a year.

Q. How important are page views and does it affect which stories you cover?
The web is a volume business – it succeeds when we get traffic. Wired is extremely focused on the credibility of the story and discourages writers from looking at page views. We look at the value of the story. That doesn’t mean we don’t have a crack team of editors who are optimizing for traffic – we do. We would not be competitive if we didn’t. But, when I’m thinking about doing a story, I don’t think ‘will this get traffic?’ And I think that makes Wired different.

Q. How do you find stories? Do you ever use social media?
It’s a lot of having been in this business for 15 years and knowing a lot of people. And having people who I know and trust to say, “look at this, pay attention to this, and we want to give you the early look.” And for Wired we like to be on the news, so our team of business reporters in particular at our security desk, wake up every morning and see where we can break news and bring exclusives.

Q. How does print reporting differ from writing for
A. With the magazine, we do almost exclusively consumer-facing technology companies. Wired gives me the luxury of being able to take a long time to report and write stories. Wired is very committed to long form business stories and editors really like features that have strong narratives and strong characters. We have a pitch meeting every few weeks. At the meeting we as a team of mostly editors and staff writers will look at and consider about a dozen or so ideas. You have to find a writer or editor who falls in love with the story. Wired is the longest lead time magazine I’ve ever worked on. Right now we’re assigning stories for the November issue.

Q. What’s one of your favorite stories from the past year?
A. Here’s an example of a story I liked a lot that ran online: Instagram is Getting So Good at News, It Should Scare Twitter.

Read more from Lisa van der Pool
Photo by Travelbag, Ltd.

Has Ad Tech Jumped the Shark? Hardly!

Since joining InkHouse five years ago I’ve had the tremendous opportunity to oversee many of our ad tech clients. The technology has – and continues to – evolve at a breakneck pace; there are a handful of dominant players and a host of underdogs that are changing all the time. The space allows for consideration of big issues like privacy, how the media is paid for, big data, the role of mobile and more.

A few months ago though I was having drinks with a client in New York. We’ve worked together for several years and through her time at multiple companies. We were musing over colleagues and reporters we’d worked with and wondered whether ad tech had lost some of its luster. Had most of the issues in ad tech been resolved? Were big things past and were companies just tidying around the edges? Had ad tech jumped the shark?

Looking at the softening funding market, dropping valuations, delayed IPOs, downsizing and endless rumors, this wasn’t a hard conclusion to arrive at. We both decided that it had indeed jumped the shark, that more exciting things were happening elsewhere. But since then I’ve had a change of heart. There are still a lot of big issues that publishers, advertisers and consumers need to wrestle with . Here are a few that I think are going to be important:

  • The problem of publishers – they’re the lynchpin of the whole digital experience. Whether they’re app developers, independent news sites or behemoths like Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon, they face pressure. Sure, the pressure is different for each of them but issues like viewability and bot fraud are causing headaches. Advertisers want to pay less and consumers don’t want to pay at all; but in the end someone has to pay to keep the content flowing.
  • The issue of ad blocking – this is one of the problems publishers face but it is a big one that is being overlooked by many. In some countries and among some publishers the ad block rates are at 50 percent – and rising. That means publishers are missing out on a huge chunk of ad revenue. It’s hard to keep the quality up and the lights on if half of your customers don’t want to pay for they use. If more people were cool paying for digital subscriptions maybe it wouldn’t be such a big deal, but that number is pretty low too – around 20 percent.
  • Making mobile meaningful – everyone assumes dollars follow eyeballs. So far there’s a pretty big lag in that happening when it comes to mobile. Why? Because no one has cracked the mobile ad unit nut. Those itty-bitty banners on the bottom of apps or mobile browsers? Ummmm, yeah, they’re really captivating, aren’t they? How about sponsored posts on Facebook? I don’t know if you’ve ever clicked on one (on purpose) but I don’t think I ever have.

These are just three challenges but there are a ton more. When I look at the list and think of the conversations I’ve been having with clients, colleagues and reporters, I realize it’s premature to say ad tech is somehow past its prime. There are still a lot of business and tech challenges to be worked through and, consequently, many stories still to be told. It’s a great time to be involved in this space.

Photo by Travelbag, Ltd.

Read more from Greg Peverill-Conti

InkHouse Journalists Corner: Andrew Ryan of the Boston Globe on Whitey Bulger and the Best PR People

We had a welcome visitor to InkHouse recently – Boston Globe City Hall reporter Andrew Ryan. Ryan, who’s worked at the Globe since 2006, was one of the first online-only reporters at the Globe when it was transitioning from print-only to the digital-print hybrid that it is today. Before joining the Globe, Ryan wrote for the Associated Press in Boston, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, The Day in New London, Conn., and the Highbridge Horizon in the Bronx.

Ryan talked with InkHouse in our offices about the competitive news landscape in Boston, what makes a good PR person, and that time he tweeted from the courtroom about fugitive gangster Whitey Bulger. (The responses are edited for brevity)

Who are your biggest news competitors? In the past, the Globe’s competition was more cut-and-dried: we competed mainly against the Boston Herald. Nowadays, it’s a fractured news landscape and the Globe and compete against many other outlets including the Herald, the New York Times, Statehouse News, public radio stations such as WBUR and WGBH, and even Twitter.

How useful is Twitter in your job? Twitter can very useful. When Whitey Bulger was arrested and brought back to federal court in Massachusetts, there were no cameras or microphones or phone calls allowed so my job was to report the court proceedings as they happened on Twitter. The downside is, Twitter can be an echo chamber. Just a few people can make a lot of noise and it can be hard to measure what the popular sentiment really is. So it can be misleading.

What impact is video having? It’s interesting. Some newsmakers now try and bypass the media completely by producing their own high-production-value videos and sharing them directly with their audiences. It’s an attempt to control their message and not let the media control it.

What makes a good PR person? Responsiveness. If a reporter calls, be available quickly. Tailor your pitch to the person you’re covering and the type of story that the outlet covers – even the section of the paper that you’re trying to get into. That’s much better than sending mass, generic pitches that look like you’re throwing ideas against a wall to see what sticks. And if you want to be included in the story, don’t send long, formal comments by email. They make for boring copy and are likely to be left out.

How do you like to be pitched? Email and by phone are the best way to send me story ideas. The mornings are best when I have more time to talk and to think about a story. The afternoon especially after 4 p.m. is a “pinch point” for us news reporters. That’s the worst time when we’re on deadline and finishing stories.

How are headlines written? On, headlines are written to optimize stories for search results. In the print edition of the Globe, headlines are written to make you stop and think and draw you into the story. It’s a different perspective.

What do you love about reporting? I like my job because it’s different every day. I can explore and dig in and learn about things. I can witness things firsthand that few people get to see.



Read more from John McElhenny

How millennials are revolutionizing media consumption: Q&A with the founders of Briefing

How do you get your daily dose of news? Twitter, Snapchat, push notifications from mobile news apps, email newsletters, television or even print? Maybe even a mix of all of the above?

News organizations are increasingly changing the way they deliver content to cater to millennials, who currently represent a third of the population. According to Pew Research Center, millennials are now the largest portion of America’s workforce – 53.5 million and growing. (As an aside, if you’re interested in Pew Research’s recent reports on media, definitely read Beth’s post on the PR Impact of the Pew State of the News Media Report).

Media outlets are also rapidly changing their platforms to be more mobile-friendly because, as comScore recently shared in its 2015 U.S. Digital Future in Focus Report, smartphones and tablets account for the majority of growth in digital media consumption (up 394 percent and 1,721 percent respectively) over the past four years alone.

Social media and newsletters have proved incredibly popular for ever mobile-engaged users, especially channels such as Snapchat (read Danielle’s post on Discover here) and Facebook or email news digests such as Next Draft and The Skimm, which targets millennial women and has grown its readership to a whopping 1.5 million active users per month.

As a millennial myself, I’ve watched with avid interest as publications have drastically adapted the way they relay content to their readers. This shift in the way publications deliver news has also transformed who is reporting the news and how it’s being reported. Here at InkHouse, we interact daily with reporters whose editors judge the merit of their articles by their content, of course, but also by web traffic statistics and social media engagement.

Two millennials offering a way for their peers to read the day’s top stories in under three minutes are Joe McKnight and William Nutt, co-founders of Briefing. I asked Joe and William to share their thoughts on the changes they’re seeing in today’s media landscape.

InkHouse: First of all, what is Briefing?

Briefing: Launched in November 2014, Briefing is a daily email newsletter enjoyed by a broad range of Internet users who are too busy or too overwhelmed to make sense of the increasingly complex news media landscape. While other popular new summaries and aggregators satisfy narrower niches, such as The Skimm (“delivering the day’s news in a breezy conversational way” to young women) and Quartz (to “smart, worldly people“), Briefing’s simple design and neutral tone resonates with a much more diverse audience. With that said, our audience tests have revealed a particular popularity among millennial males.

InkHouse: How do you think the increase in mobile users has affected the way people in the U.S. consume media?

Briefing: We’ve seen –  and continue to see – a monumental boost in the share of mobile users as a result of improving mobile technologies and the alternative preferences of Generation Y. That paradigm shift is as influential as the preliminary shift from traditional to digital media, with an array of profound implications.

Here are just three examples:

  • As mobile users consume their news on-the-go, they don’t have the patience for long, in-depth coverage. They want stories to be bite size and to-the-point.
  • They want rich media, particularly short videos. Publishers, platforms and marketers are bracing for a massive increase in mobile video over the next few years.
  • Perhaps most notably, users are increasingly looking to social networks for their news. All major platforms – including Facebook, Twitter, Google and Snapchat – have recently poached top talent from mainstream news publications to build out their news features, develop partnerships and, some analysts speculate, publish original content. Snapchat’s Discover feature has proven wildly promising, and Facebook’s recently introduced Instant Articles further underscores this trend, which is once again disrupting publishers’ business models. The shift has many traditionalists concerned about the influence of social channels on journalists, citing a threat to their editorial independence and thus the existential purpose of their work.

InkHouse: What types of content do you find your millennial readers responding to the most?

Briefing: Our readers are keenly interested in the day’s most pressing international and political news, but nothing drives engagement like the issue that directly impacts their lives. We’re careful to note new studies and reports on almost every conceivable topic like public health, military spending, or media consumption habits. A study about, say, how electronic blue light can negatively affect one’s eyesight will always beat out a study on global literacy rates.

InkHouse: Thanks so much William and Joe!


Read more from Caty Dickensheets
InkHouse values

What We Value at InkHouse

I just crossed the 20-year mark in my career – eight of which have been here at InkHouse. When Beth and I started InkHouse, we knew exactly what we wanted our agency to be – and not to be – for clients and for employees.

For the first few years, it was easy to communicate and share our values. And we could see our employees embracing and living those values on a daily basis because we were passing them down directly. But as we grow, that challenge becomes increasingly difficult. In fact, some of our early employees pointed out to me that it used to be easy to understand the “InkHouse way” simply because we all sat in the same room. But now as we cross the 80 employee mark with offices on both coasts, it has become important to put to words, and methodical action, what we value as an agency.

The good news is that we hire and keep people who already embody many – if not all – of these qualities. But, of course, we all need reminders (myself included!) To that end, we’ve rolled out the InkHouse values and continually try to use them as the foundation for how we work.

So here goes:

1.     We have one foot in the future. We started InkHouse when many PR firms weren’t doing social media, and those that were had social set up as a separate practice. The convergence of these two channels, while now obvious, was a new idea at the time and the foundation of InkHouse. In that same vein, we push ourselves to continually think about the future of PR and content — and recognize that if we stand still, we will not succeed. Just because something worked last year, or last week, or even yesterday, does not mean it will today. We seek what will work tomorrow.

2.     We are accountable. We meet our deadlines, exceed our goals, and own our mistakes. We don’t make excuses. We don’t point fingers.

3.     We are kind. For some reason I have never understood, many workplaces tolerate unkindness and dismiss it as simply being about “business.” At InkHouse we believe you can be kind and effective at the same time. In fact, we think you can be more effective through collaboration and respect. And, most importantly, we know that being kind does not make you weak. We should all strive to be someone we would want to work for.

4.     We are not order takers. In a world where you are serving clients, this can be a tough one. The balancing act between what the clients say they want and what you believe to be the most effective approach for achieving results don’t always overlap. We push ourselves to offer strong guidance even when it seems the client is giving us an “order.” We question what will work. We examine what we’re trying to achieve and look for the best ways to get there.

5.     We hate to lose. Period. But we work to foster a culture in which failure is an option though, because winning often means that we need to be brave enough to risk failure.

6.     We go to YES. We believe that it’s more important to know what others are good at than where they fall short. When things get tough, we’ll only shine if we understand which strengths we can all lean on. Therefore, at InkHouse we look for what is possible – not what isn’t – for our clients and in our co-workers.

7.     We use good judgment.  When there is no black and white answer, we use our experience, integrity and brains to make the best call. (For example, at InkHouse we have unlimited vacation time, so how much vacation time should I take?)

8.     We don’t confuse process and progress. We are big believers that hard work and good work are not the same thing. We don’t value long hours for the sake of working long hours; we don’t value after-hour emails that can wait for the next day. At weekly staff meetings, we aren’t interested in hearing the process stuff. We are dogged, but we understand the important difference between hard work and great results. They are not the same thing.

9.    We are team first. We listen openly to ideas that differ from our own. We dig in when others need help. We praise often and openly. We criticize kindly and privately.

Read more from Meg O'Leary

Five New Updates to the 2015 Associated Press Stylebook

The 2015 Associated Press Stylebook is now available, filled with more than 500 pages of journalistic style, basic rules of grammar, punctuation and usage. Once originally published as a 60-page document for newswriting, the stylebook is now a comprehensive reference manual published also in Spanish and across digital platforms, including online and mobile.

To help master the book as quickly as mastering press-release writing, here are the five most important updates for communications professionals:

New index: Replacing the old Quick Reference Guide, a new 85-page index for terms with page listings has been incorporated to ease searching for entries.

Expanded social media entries: New terms include favorite, meme and Swarm, as the social diction continues becoming common speak.

Global warming: The term can now be used interchangeably with climate change (though climate change is more accurate scientifically to describe the effects of greenhouse gases on the environment, according to the stylebook).

More fashion and food: For style and cuisine lovers, both the fashion and food chapters have been updated with dozens of new terms, including writing bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich as BLT, avoiding the term preheat (and using heat instead) and spelling short-sleeved with a hyphen.

Simply sports: With more than 60 updates or revisions, the sports guide now packs listings such as baseball playoffs, basketball’s NCAA Tournament, horse racing, Olympic Games and more.

For real-time updates and answers to pressing grammar and style questions, follow @APStylebook. For more writing tips, check out ways to polish your prose.

Read more from Steve Vittorioso
Elections Ahead

Snapchat gets serious – starting with the 2016 election and a CNN heavyweight

Snapchat, the same app that is popular with young adults for sending disappearing selfies and videos, is growing up. Following in the footsteps of BuzzFeed, which wants to pivot from a publisher of listicles to a serious news publisher, Snapchat too is going after news and media legitimacy, and it’s not messing around. Recently, it hired Peter Hamby, national political reporter from CNN, to lead its editorial content.

A few days later, the New York Times dove into what we all were thinking: Snapchat is taking on news in a big way starting with the 2016 presidential election. Snapchat hasn’t confirmed this in so many words but we should have seen this coming, really. In January, Snapchat introduced its “Discover” section (read Danielle’s blog about Discover here), an area inside the app that showcases original content from about a dozen established publishers including ESPN, National Geographic and CNN.

Why the election? Well, whenever an election comes around, the topic of how to attract and appeal to young people comes into play. Politico targeted young voters in 2008, BuzzFeed in 2012, and now Snapchat slated for 2016. When you think about it, it really is the perfect match. The company told Bloomberg Business more than 60 percent of 13- to 34-year-old smartphone users in the U.S. are active on the service and together view more than 2 billion videos a day. That’s already about half the number of videos people watch on Facebook, which is seven years older and has 10 times as many members.

Why Peter Hamby? Besides being a national political reporter, Hamby has been a huge supporter of pushing CNN ahead in the digital era, encouraging his colleagues to share their work via social media. In fact in 2013, he wrote a 95-page report for Harvard’s Shorenstein Center that criticized how campaigns were covered in the digital era.

It has also been reported that Snapchat will be creating its own original content as opposed what they’ve been doing with the “Live” feature. Essentially users within the boundary of an event – such as the Kentucky Derby or the Pacquiao vs. Mayweather fight – could upload their personal snaps to the story and it would play for anyone clicking on that live event. Creating their own content is a big investment for Snapchat, something that most social platforms have stayed away from, because it’s very expensive. But don’t worry, Snapchat can afford it. The app is currently valued at $15 billion.

Like the way this is shaping up? That’s exactly what the man at the helm of Snapchat’s ship, Evan Spiegel, is working towards. There are growing signs Snapchat is evolving into a media firm, one that given its appeal to young and diverse audiences could be a formidable competitor to both traditional media companies and other social media outlets.

I’m interested to see how they tell the election story from the social media platform and if they really can influence that key young voter demographic. I guess only time will tell if whether it will pay off at the polls.

Read more from Kristen Zemeitus