Useful links for digital communicators (Feb 2017)

Keyboard mouse by Michael Mol/FlickrCatch up on our regular roundup of industry links, professional development and training insights, and interesting reads across the spectrum of digital communications.

We also post regularly to our Firehead’s Twitter and LinkedIn pages, so please do connect with or follow us there.

Here’s what we’ve been reading over the past month, from writing errors to the importance of metadata to successful technical writing.

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Content Strategy Applied 2017 in review

CSA-logoWe were pleased to see Content Strategy Applied resurrected for 2017 after we attended the first #csapplied conference at eBay back in 2011 and 2012. The event, which focused on case studies and practical applications of content strategy, was founded in 2011 by Lucie Hyde and is now being co-produced with Rahel Anne Bailie. It promised to continue its focus on “problems, solutions and real-life war stories that content professionals are dealing with now”.

Sadly we couldn’t make this year’s event in London but it boasted a great line-up of speakers and so we’ve rounded up some of the conference wisdom below to help those looking for professional development as a content strategist. The theme for 2017 was ‘Benchmarking Content – How do we know we’re doing a good job?’ and the hashtag #csapplied17. Continue reading

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Interview with a… Plain Language Consultant and Content Strategist

frances gordonThis month we welcome Frances Gordon to our job Q&A series with professionals working in digital communications. Together with her business partner, Candice Burt, Frances runs an international content strategy and plain-language business, specialising in financial content including fintech. This is a fast-growing area and one we very much wanted to know more about.

Find out how to break into the field of plain language, what the job involves day to day, and Frances’s tips on how to skill up.

You can also read more job Q&As in our ongoing Interview with a… series.

What is your job title?

I am Director of Simplified, a content and plain-language consultancy and training firm based in the UK, Portugal and South Africa.

What does your job involve?

I manage consultants – and also consult – to financial services and fintech firms that want to simplify their communications. This involves everything from positioning statements and editorial guidelines to more technical aspects of content strategy. I also quality control the Simplified training course and train a few courses a year. It’s the best way of keeping in touch with our customers and more broadly with the financial services and fintech markets.

What background/skills do you need?

I have an academic background in Linguistics (theoretical and applied). I worked for a technology company for a few years, which gave me a good foundation in the more technical aspects of content. And having a lawyer business partner has inspired me to invest in developing my knowledge of laws and legal processes. (I’m often the only non-lawyer to be found at legal and compliance conferences and seminars.)

I also think my first-ever job was important: I developed adult education materials for entrepreneurial programmes running in the poorest parts of South Africa. This included loan schemes and gave me a very good foundation in communicating financial concepts in a user-centred way.

That said, I don’t think any of this background is essential. In my view, there are two essential qualities for this work:

  1. You enjoy getting to grips with complex concepts. You can’t do this job if you’re bored by terms and conditions or legal contracts. You need to have a real passion for understanding what other people might just skim over.
  2. You need to see the importance of clear financial and legal content – to companies, to people and to society as a whole.

What is the most challenging part of being a plain language consultant?

Having enough time to read and do everything I’d like to.

And what’s the best bit?

A belief that clarifying financial content is really important work that makes a difference in the world.

What advice would you give to someone trying to get into your area?

Get as much specialist financial and legal knowledge as you can as subject matter expertise is important in this field. And never be afraid to ask questions.

What is the rate of pay?

It’s hard to generalise. It depends on where you are, what field you’re in, your experience and so on.

Is there job mobility and security?

Yes – there are no signs of running out of financial or legal content that needs to be simplified! In fact, it seems to be increasing at a rapid rate. I think this applies wherever you are. That said, I believe that the innovations in using technology to better communicate financial information are increasingly to be found in emerging markets.

Any advice on training and development options?

There are two worldwide plain-language organisations. Clarity and Plain Language Association International, aka PLAIN. Both have resources listed, which will help you.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I’d like to double the number of Simplified training courses – and I also want to extend my involvement in fintech, especially initiatives promoting financial inclusion.

Do you have a motto/guiding principle when you work?

Question everything!

Frances Gordon’s 20-year career has focused on helping people to find, understand and use the information they need to make informed financial decisions. In 2005, she co-founded Simplified, a training and consultancy firm based in Johannesburg, London and Lisbon. Its services include communication and content strategy, content audits, plain-language rewrites of legal and other documents, and training. Frances has also held tenures at Siegel & Gale as Head of Content Strategy (EMEA) and Barclaycard as VP of Content Strategy. She can be found on Twitter @Simplified_UK and Linked In

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Useful links for digital communicators (Jan 2017)

Ipad and glassesHere’s our regular roundup of the latest links, professional development and training insights, and digital communications reads that have caught our eye over the past month.

We also post regularly to our Firehead’s Twitter and LinkedIn pages, so please do connect with or follow us there. Continue reading

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Rapid no-code mobile app development – an introduction

phone-tablet-keyboardRapid mobile app development (RMAD) platforms are on the rise, allowing non-programmers to create and build apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android-based smartphones and tablets. The applications for business are wide-ranging and can save on the often significant time and development costs of custom-coding.

If rapid DIY app-making still sounds a little scary, then join us this Wednesday 25 January at 13.00 ECT (19.00 Central European Time) and learn about one of these platforms – ViziApps – in our joint webinar with certified ViziApps trainer Neil Perlin of Hyper/Word Services. Neil has provided training and consulting for ViziApps since the company’s founding, and also provides our online workshop training series in Creating mobile apps without coding.

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Join the webinar: How to develop and launch your own mobile app

mobile app logos coming out of phoneIn the 1990s, a business had to have a fax number to show that it was a serious business. In the 2000s, it was a website. Today, more and more businesses have mobile apps to show that they’re serious about communicating and connecting with their customers.

A custom app for mobile lets you showcase your business, bring in new clients, maybe even add new revenue streams by connecting with the mobile business generation on iPhone, iPad, and Android-based smartphones and tablets.

Your business app can include an email link, make a phone call, link to a website, show a document or a graph, add information to a database or retrieve it from the database for display in the app – and more.

So, if you have ever wanted a customised mobile app but don’t have the budget…

Or you think you can’t do it yourself because you don’t know how to code…

…then let us introduce you to a transformational new online tool that helps you develop your own app with no coding required.

Come join us for a free webinar by Firehead and Hyper/Word Services. We’ll give you an one-hour overview of how to build and develop your own mobile app through an online authoring tool called ViziApps. We review its capabilities, the process, and what you need to do to set yourself up to create and even sell your own apps.

Join the webinar

Wednesday 25 January 2017
13.00 East Coast Time
19.00 Central European Time

Email info@firehead.net to register.

Image of phone apps: Dijoantonycj (Own work) CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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Our most-popular reads on Firehead

firehead logoIn case you missed it, here are the 10 most-read posts we published in 2016, as well as the five most-read from any year. Time to catch up on all the good stuff you might have missed…

10 popular reads from 2016

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Ultimate list of 2017 digital and content conferences

conference signIs your perfect learning opportunity here? Our annual roundup of events for digital communications professionals aims to help those who are looking to further their career and professional development in 2017.

There are nearly 50 events listed here and many take place on our recruitment homeground of Europe, focusing on all the key areas we recruit in, from tech comm and content strategy, to UX and metadata, to augmented and virtual reality content.

We cover many of the conferences listed below on the Firehead blog, or you can subscribe to Firehead to catch up on digital comms and recruitment trends quarterly by email. We’ll also be updating this list through the year.

Did we miss any great conferences? Let us know in the comments. Thanks! Continue reading

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Useful reads for digital communicators (Nov-Dec 2016)

Ipad and glassesHere’s our regular roundup of the latest links, professional development and training insights, and digital communications reads that have caught our eye over the past month.

We also post regularly to our Firehead’s Twitter and LinkedIn pages, so please do connect with or follow us there. Continue reading

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