Tuesday, June 28, 2011

2011 Conference Planner’s Report from Philadelphia

Via NewsLib...

For SLA 2011, the News Division held or co-sponsored 12 events, on- and off-site. There were 2 tours during the weekend: one of the Philadelphia Inquirer, led by Michael Panzer, and the other of the Rosenbach Museum and Library, organized by Kathryn Pease. We also held our regularly scheduled events: a meeting of the executive board & the annual business meeting. There was also the News Division Open House and Silent Auction, held in the Philadelphia Convention Center Marriott.

As we have moved away from offering a CE course, this year’s ticketed session was held Monday morning, and was led by the Division’s Derek Willis, on the top of linked data and newsroom archives. There were 10 tickets sold as of the week before the conference and attendance was over that.

We had four other topical sessions that were well-attended -- two required either breaking down airwalls or shifting the set-up of the room to accommodate more chairs. Those sessions, and their co-sponsors, if any, were:

  • Intentional Misinformation on the Internet (co-sponsored by the Advertising and Market Division)

  • Researching Privately-Held Data (co-sponsored by the Competitive Intelligence Division)
    Taxonomies and News (co-sponsored by the Taxonomy Division)

  • Opening Up the Special Library

  • In addition, News was one of a number of co-sponsors of a Spotlight Session: Creating Your Future the Peter Drucker Way.

There was also the delightful News Division Awards Reception, held at the College of Physicians (which also holds the famous Mütter Museum of medical curiosities): award recepients included Peter Johnson, Kee Malesky, Shira Kavon, Amy Disch (in absentia), Michelle Quigley (in absentia), and Donna Scheeder. The reception was well-organized by Kathryn Pease.

Thanks especially to Leigh Montgomery, Kathryn Pease and Catherine Kitchell for providing incredible amounts of support, thanks to all of the presenters, and thanks to all of you, those who were able to attend the conference and those cheering on from home. Next year’s conference will be in Chicago, IL, and I hope to see many of you there.

Eli Edwards
News Division 2011 Conference Planner

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

SLA Session -- Using the Internet to Research Private Companies

Using the Internet to Research Private Companies
Presented by August Jackson of Verizon
august (at) augustjackson (dot) net
Tuesday, 14 June 2011, 8 a.m.

Practical tips for finding info about private companies

Slides (complete with appendix and additional resource links) for this presentation can be found at augustjackson.net

This was an informative useful session and August was an entertaining speaker. Twenty minutes into this session, the walls came down! The session was packed; they had to add the adjacent room!

The tools for private company research August Jackson showed the SLA attendees were tools we could use right away and those that were free and easy to access.

After adjusting the volume on his mike (I had to control myself to keep from saying: “Yes! We can hear you now!”), Jackson logically started with the best place to begin in a CI project:

  1. Start with “requirements”: define the business decision to be supported & choose analytical framework that best matches the business decision (SWOT etc.). Jackson highly recommended this book to help with this: Business and Competitive Analysis: Effective Application of New and Classic Methods by Craig S. Fleisher and Babette Bensoussan

  2. Plan your research strategy: primary and secondary research. You’ll be collecting information which will take the form of data vs. intel.; facts vs. interpretation/analysis.

  3. Build your secondary research plan: keywords and identify sources.

  4. Execute and evaluate the plan: this where you choose the sources we’re looking at today: Company websites, public records, local and industry news, industry groups, social media, plus any premium sites you might have access to.

Next, why we’re really here, Jackson listed the types of free sources for private company research:

  • Premium sources: Hoovers, BRC, FACTIVA, LexisNexis

  • Company websites: content, meta tags, link analysis

  • Legal filings: jurisdiction specific

  • Local news sources: location specific

  • Social networks: Twitter, Linked in, Slideshare, specialized networks

  • Industry Groups: Associations, trade publications

  • Job sites: general job boards, industry specific job boards

  • Google maps

And then, using Raynor Garage Door of Dixon, IL as a use case, he went over what each resource would offer.

  1. Hoovers - Jackson views Hoovers as a good starting point, providing searchers with a ball park of what kind of company you are dealing with in terms of revenues, employees, history etc. Some audience members suggested info pros check the private company databases on Gale or LexisNexis.

  2. Mining the company site can yield a lot of information about the private company being researched, such as descriptions, office locations, partners executives, job postings, press releases, sales channels and corporate histories. Jackson also recommends checking the source codes of company pages. Here meta tags show the key words the company uses to describe itself, or hopes to be associated with. Dates in the code could indicate a company’s interest in its web presence.

  3. Jackson also recommends using link analysis tools like Yahoo! Site Explorer or the link command in Google to find out about a company’s online presence. Find partners, former employees, fans, critics, bloggers, user forums, newscoverage and philanthropic ventures.

  4. Legal and regulatory filings, can also be of use, yielding regulatory filings, environmental information, permits (building, export), shipping records, legal filings and decisions, patents and trademarks, securities, government contracts and proposals. Jackson cautioned the time commitment to search these sources needs to be weighed vs. the actual results you might get. Keep in mind these sources are jurisdiction specific, you might need to search on national/state or local levels and not all legal info is internet-accessible.

    • Jackson will search Google for this kind of information using commands like:

      • jurisdiction

      • "public records"

      • probate

      • "legal records"

    • One SLA participant suggested Free Public Records Search Directory, which aggregates links to free public record searches in every state and county in the United States.

    • Other public records sources include patent searches using resources like the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and an audience member also suggested Free Patents Online.

    • For product pricing strategy or ballpark numbers, Jackson suggested turning to sources providing information on state and government contracts and proposals. On a federal level try the GSA and start with State and Local Government on the Net at the state/local level.

    • And don’t forget to check the Federal Election Commission for campaign contribution information.

  5. Searching local and industry news sources can provide a myriad of information on a company, such as location, openings, site growth, people, events, issues, employees, employment situation, management changes or company profiles. For industry sources search for trade papers or journals and for associations, organizations or user groups, as well as searching on theproduct or technology. For the latter resources, search the site or use the Google site operator to search for your company. An audience tip was to look for and follow bloggers who follow an industry or company. To find to find home city pubs/industry sites or trade papers, Jackson might search with these kinds of terms +city +newspaper or +industry +journal

  6. Social networks: Jackson uses Twitter.com, LinkedIn.com and Slideshare.com to mine for company information. He suggests checking out his podcast: “CIP 023: Using Social Media for CI Interview with Suki Fuller, CI and Social Media Evangelist.” Direct download

    • LinkedIn can provide locations, organizational chart information, targets for primary research, hints of business initiative, employee skill sets and perspectives of customers. Don’t forget to check the Groups or the company search on LinkedIn.

    • Ning.com is an online platform for people to create their own social networks, similar to the groups onLinkedIn. Good place to look for company or industry specific information.

    • To find other industry specific social networks, Jackson uses Google and the search terms: +industry +”social network”

    • Slideshare.net is sort of like a YouTube for PowerPoint presentations. People often post their business presentations there.

    • On Twitter, Jackson suggests going to the Advanced Search and searching on the company name. You’ll find people to follow, opinions, events, news…and well, whatever else is out there on twitter… ;-) He suggests setting up RSS feeds of your company twitter searches to monitor.

    • Because of the wall coming down, we didn’t specifically get to 7) Job Sites or 8) Google Maps. The job boards, general or industry-specific can indicate changes or products and services being developed by the skillsbeing sought or the numbers of employees being sought. Google maps can offer the CI practitioner a bird’ eye view or street view of the facility: count parking spaces or see expansion, etc.

Great session. I’ll definitely be checking out his blog (augustjackson.net) and podcasts! Thanks August!

--Mari Keefe, Editorial Project Manager, Computerworld

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Notes from the Chair: Ready for the Unpredictable Future

When I was growing up, I had a science book with an illustration that fascinated me: a vision of Paris in the year 2000 from a century ago showing flying streetcars and aerial cafes. At the time, flight and electric trains were cutting-edge technology that fascinated the public in how they would lift the average person off terra firma. This seems a quaint steampunk fantasy to us today.

Credit: Mydelineatedlife.blogspot.com

It's a reminder that it is natural to always be thinking about what the future might be, and that even with all the reaching, refining and adapting of those ideas, future visions don't materialize in quite the ways we think they will.

I enjoy reading about futurists' meetings in which scientists from various disciplines convene and form their predictions; one in particular said that in the future, journalists would have a small camera affixed to a contact lens, and narrate their observations in a hands-free, unfettered, real-time fashion. This didn't mention anything about an editor, or a filter. Perhaps this gadget was obsolete before being invented, since now there is wide awareness of Twitter.

Now that there are many more observers, reporters and storytellers, it's said that any every company is a media company -- there's much more information being produced than a person can make sense of. As journalists, we've participated in this, and know of the critical need for skills and tools to synthesize meaning from these random units of information. We may talk about the decline of manufacturing, but we're just making different things -- one being information, and lots of it.

The Special Libraries Association has had a 'Future Ready' theme which continues this year. Four areas have been identified in order to be future-ready:

  • 1: collaboration;

  • 2: an adaptable skill set;

  • 3: alignment with language and values;

  • 4: building a community.

Thinking specifically about our news library colleagues, they are some of the most adaptable professionals I know, since many perform numerous functions in their constantly evolving companies. Along the way we've developed skills that have us well-positioned for the kinds of changes applicable to other industries. We realized years ago that collaboration provides more opportunities, as well as learning and growth, which are also essential, as the workplace has become leaner and changes in technology more rapid.

Alignment is identifying the needs and goals -- whether they are content goals or revenue goals -- and seeing what's emerging that might solve some of these problems. It is also awareness of language being used by managers, decision makers and industry leaders. Applying ideas to needs is true innovation.

Lastly, we have a great community of professionals. In a very demanding publishing environment we offer to help someone a world away either with their concerns or by providing an article. With our extensive network we know we can start a conversation or pick up a phone to ask a colleague how they would either approach an issue or make a recommendation. We renew ties at these kinds of face-to-face meetings, at annual and regional events or as one of our members remarked: 'All year long, no one knows what you do. Then you come here, and everyone knows.' It's nice to be able to participate in that, as those who are attending this week's SLA Annual Conference in Philadelphia.

Just like information, change is relentless. We may not yet have video cameras affixed to our eyeballs or be hurtling through space in our jetpacks, monorails and silver unitards, but as professional stewards of information, we're ready for whatever the future may bring.

--Leigh Montgomery

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Monday, June 06, 2011

Division Chair-Elect wins SLA diversity award

According to an SLA press release:

News Division Chair-Elect Elizabeth "Eli" Edwards, a temporary research librarian at the Seattle-based law firm of Foster Pepper PLLC, is the recipient of SLA's 2011 Diversity and Leadership Development Program Award, sponsored by EBSCO.

Eli is quoted in the release as saying "SLA has been an invaluable resource for me since I joined as a new MLIS student. But SLA is not just a resource; it’s a community of passionate, dedicated professionals who have served their clients and peers ably and are resolved to meet the challenges of 21st century librarianship and information management. I am exceptionally pleased and honored to be awarded by SLA and I look forward to contributing as a leader, to SLA and the profession at large."

Congratulations, Eli!

--Julie Domel