Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Considering the American Jobs Act

I've been thinking about the American Jobs Act. I've been trying to decide whether it’s a good plan or not. President Obama was impassioned when he presented it. There are some good ideas in the act. But I wonder about their implementation.

One idea that I thought was good was wage insurance for the long term unemployed working volunteer or temporary jobs, and for people getting job training. These are all good ways to transition into a new career or to update skills. I think what stops a lot of people from doing these things is financial pressure. Having some money coming in would ease the pressure. My concern though is whether or not this assistance will be available to anyone who desires it. What if someone's unemployment benefits have already run out? What if someone was ineligible for unemployment? Can they take advantage of this wage insurance?

Another good idea was to help long term unemployed persons start their own businesses. Some of them may have wanted to start a business but financial concerns stopped them. Knowing that they can get help may encourage them to pursue their goal. Again, I have the same questions about implementation. Will all long term unemployed persons be eligible for this assistance?

If you read the act, you will find a section which talks about how it would help women. There are statistics for the women who support their families. I'm all for anything that helps women. But let's not forget women without minor children or single women who are childless. There are enough government programs which ignore the needs of this segment of society. There's no need for another one.

These are only a few of the concerns I have for the American Jobs Act. I'm not sure how good a plan it is but it is the best one available. And something needs to be done to address the stubbornly high unemployment rate. So it is my hope that Congress passes it.

What do you think of the American Jobs Act? Will it create more jobs? Is there a better alternative?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Book review of "Content Rules"

Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business

Authors: Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman
John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, NJ  2011

Content Rules is a how-to book for creating interesting online media content.  Online media includes blogs, websites, podcasts, videos, webinars, ebooks, and the like.  The first section of the book gives the "what" of content creation.  The next section deals with the how-to or "the rules".  The last section gives case studies of successful and engaging content creators.

The book was written for online publishers.  An online publisher can be anyone.  The target audience is primarily organizations such as businesses, non-profit organizations, etc.  However, individuals will also find Content Rules helpful.

The authors are Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman.  Ann Handley is the Chief Content Officer for MarketingProfs, which has a readership of 365,000.  Handley is considered a thought leader in the field of online publishing.  She writes extensively about online business, marketing, and life in general.

C.C. Chapman is a media creator, entrepreneur, and online marketing expert.  He founded Digital Dads, a site where a dad can be a guy.

When I started reading this book I was getting a lot of advice about building an online presence.  Some folks said it was important to have a blog to show commitment and expertise.  Others said build a website.  Still others said it was important to have a good Linkedin profile.  I was feeling overwhelmed and confused by all the advice.  Content Rules with its commonsense approach helped me sort through all the chatter.

Handly and Chapman advise focusing on one thing and doing it well.  Their reasoning is that a person or organization can't do everything.  They also advised developing a blog and using it as a hub for your online outreach.  I took the authors' advice and developed this blog.  They are correct; a blog works quite well as an online hub.

As for developing content, Handley and Chapman advocate using a human voice as opposed to a corporate voice.  A human voice is more conversational and uses accessible language.  A corporate voice is distant.  It uses industry jargon and "corporate speak" (i.e. drill down, leverage, monetize).

The best part of the book was the last section.  It has case studies of different types of organizations who built content by the principles of Content Rules.

Overall, if you're looking for a good, well written book on developing online content then Content Rules is for you.  I give it two thumbs up. HootSuite - Social Media Dashboard