Tag Archives: writing

Word Cloud: Who Am I?

I recently attended a session at ProductCamp by Marc Miller of Career Pivot about how to maximize your professional brand on LinkedIn. One of the techniques he recommends is to create a word cloud of your resume so you can easily see what key words stand out. Just for fun, here is mine! I used wordle.net to create mine.

Dyer Resume Word Cloud

Word Cloud from resume of Stacy Dyer

Words are important. Regardless of whether you are marketing yourself or your product, drifting too far from the core focus dilutes your message and bores your readers. Worse than that, when writing for publication online, in the the world of SEO and Google-bots, having too many of the wrong words could translate to attracting the wrong audience altogether.

Word clouds can be a fun way to visually see the most frequently used key words and ensure your writing stays on target. What does yours say about you or your product?

ProductCampATX: 5 Steps to Architecting a Successful Whitepaper

Technology that allows marketing professionals to endlessly segment audiences and target campaigns is driving more and more content into the marketplace, but more is not necessarily better. While marketing teams need a constant stream of fresh content to fill the sales funnel with qualified leads, creating vital marketing assets like whitepapers can’t be a haphazard afterthought to product management.

Lori Witzel, a demand generation and content marketer, and I have proposed a session for ProductCamp 10 Austin on February 16, 2013 which will address this issue specifically with product managers and product advocates in mind!

Please join us for our session, 5 Steps to Architecting a Successful Whitepaper, Faster to learn our systematic approach to architecting and driving the creation of successful whitepapers, faster. This will be fun, lively, interactive discussion with a hands-on activity.

Also don’t forget to check out the rest of the great sessions proposed for ProductCamp Austin!

See you there! Follow the fun on Twitter with hashtag #PCA10



5 Steps to Architecting a Successful Whitepaper, Faster

Experienced tech product managers know that Information-rich “written for people not search engines” content drives inquiries that convert to sales quickly. Whitepapers are one such tool to help your product out-perform revenue goals. All too often, though, it takes months and high-priced outside resources to create good whitepapers.

This session will teach you a systematic approach to architecting and driving the creation of successful whitepapers, faster.In this session, product managers will learn 5 steps to faster whitepaper creation—and will also receive a handout that’ll make it easier to architect the next whitepaper. One product manager will be selected from the audience to participate in a hands-on whitepaper activity, so all can share in the experience of putting these steps into practice.

The session leaders (Product Marketing Management and Demand Generation Marketing Management) have worked with software product managers in the rapid development of whitepapers that drive product sales.

Visualizing Good Writing

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I once knew an architecture student who was assigned a project where she was to visually represent a movie with an architectural model. The resulting sculptures were fascinating to say the least. I began to wonder if movies that I liked would look similar in this static form of 3D rendering. Would movies I didn’t like look different?

example of architectural model of film structure

architectural model of “Twin Peaks” by Beth Warner, circa 1996

For example, two movies I love that (on outward glance) don’t appear to have that much in common are Star Wars (Ep 4: A New Hope) and The Princess Bride. However, I don’t like Star Wars (Ep 1: The Phantom Menace). Would an this kind of analysis and construction of a three dimensional, static, architectural model actually show that, despite the similarities in name, Star Wars/A New Hope actually has more in common with the Princess Bride than it does with Star Wars/Phantom Menace?

Indeed! If you look at the structure of Phantom Menace, strictly from a time/scene standpoint, for example, clearly the pod-racer scene takes up more than one third of the total time of the movie. In our architectural model, this might look like one gigantic room, overwhelmingly unbalancing the overall aesthetic appeal of the structure.

Would the models of The Princess Bride and A New Hope appear more balanced? What other similarities would exist in there visualized structures? What other ways are there to visually represent the abstract concept of a story through a three dimensional architectural model? Is it possible to identify well-constructed movies by looking only at the models produced, without actually seeing the movie? Does this hold true for good writing as well as film making?

As writers, how can we apply this concept to our work?

Conceptually visualize your work as a three dimensional space. Sketch it out on the back of a napkin, if that helps you. By looking at it in another way, it can help keep you focused on always creating balanced, engaging writing that is a pleasure for your audience.

My favorite NP reads

Here is a short list of my favorite nonprofit management and technology books that are out right now. Don’t miss them!

The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change
Beth Kanter (Author), Allison Fine (Author), Randi Zuckerberg (Foreword)


In their book, The Networked Nonprofit, Beth Kanter and Allison Fine write, “Networked Nonprofits work as social networks, not just in them.” According to Kanter and Fine, by connecting individuals with common interests and goals, nonprofits create an ecosystem of organizations and people eager to help.  And by utilizing “free agents”individuals working outside the organization who can organize and raise funds – nonprofits can capitalize on the power of social media to get their message out.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard
Chip Heath (Author), Dan Heath (Author)


According the Heath brothers, change is NOT a four letter word! During his plenary presentation at the 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference (#11NTC) Dan Heath described the metaphor of the elephant (unconscious/emotional brain) vs. the rider (rational/conscious brain) used in this book he co-wrote with his brother and discussed how nonprofit organizations can use the “elephant” as a fuel for change: Direct the rider. Motivate the elephant. Shape the path.

YOU and Your Nonprofit
Norman Olshansky and Linda Lysakowski, Editors, with 43 contributing authors


Heather Burton, Director, Product Marketing, Nonprofit Solutions, recently was published in this book, YOU and Your Nonprofit. Her chapter talks about how to achieve the “dream board” everybody wants. It’s about understanding not only the long-term vision, but also the current reality and the gaps between the two, and then setting the right priorities at the right time to begin closing those gaps. All the proceeds from purchasing from this direct link will benefit, BookSpring! YOU and Your Nonprofit Use this code and save 25% off. CODE: CCPRESS423

Writing Tip: Autoanonyms

Words that can take two (or more) opposite meanings are known as autoanonyms. (They are also known as contranyms, antilogies, and Janus words.) If there is another word that is just as descriptive but only has one meaning, using that would be a better choice. After all, we rarely want to create confusion when we write.
Autoanonym Examples
Fast – moving quickly or fixed firmly in place
Overlook – watch over carefully or fail to notice
Aught – anything or nothing
Trim – to reduce or to add to; ornament
As we’ve all heard or even learned the hard way, spell check is a great tool, but it can’t catch everything. These tricky little –nyms often sneak past your standard spell check. The English language has many tiny jewels that can trip up even the most proficient writer.

Writing Tip: Keep Your Nots Together


You might be concerned about your reader missing the word not because it wraps to the next line of text. You can keep the word not on the same line by using a “nonbreaking space” character before not. To type a “nonbreaking space” character in Microsoft Word, hold down Shift + Ctrl as you press the space bar. This character will make sure that the preceding word and the word not stay together.