From the Editor’s Desk

nick2016

Nick Ducharme

Technical Communicators of Florida and Beyond,

Happy New Year! With 2016 tucked under our belt, we are gearing up for 2017 (and 2018!) in a big way. Please check out Alex Garcia’s President’s Corner article for one of our biggest announcements to date, and for an all-important method to help out the chapter!

No, really. It’s a big deal. Consequently, I’m going to skip the pleasantries and just plug this month’s exciting meeting.

We are about to kick off our 2017 event calendar in much the same way we closed out 2016: with an energizing presentation from Jack Molisani. A recap of December’s meeting will be available in next month’s edition. And this time around, he will be sharing a 2016 webinar from his content strategy conference, LavaCon!

Please join us this Thursday, January 19th, either online or at UCF’s University Boulevard IHOP. This is a renowned and one-of-a-kind presenter! Click here to RSVP.

Thank you,

Nick Ducharme
Manager, Communications Committee
newsletter@stc-orlando.org

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The President’s Corner

Alex Garcia

Alex Garcia

By: Alex Garcia
President
(Orlando Central) Florida Chapter, STC

president@stc-orlando.org

Happy New Year!

We at the STC (Orlando Central) Florida Chapter have a wonderful announcement that affects the short-to-mid-term future of chapter focus:

 

**STC SUMMIT 2018 IN ORLANDO, FL**

MAY 20-23, 2018

HYATT REGENCY ORLANDO

(FKA THE PEABODY ORLANDO)

 

That’s right! Orlando has been chosen to host the 2018 STC Summit – the preeminent gathering of technical communicators the world over. We at STC (Orlando Central) Florida are humbled and honored that the international headquarters chose our city as the home of next year’s STC Summit.

Putting together a conference of this magnitude is a tremendous undertaking, and we need YOUR help, as our members and friends. Elaine Gilliam, STC Meeting Manager / Communities Staff Liaison, shared an information kit with Chapter leadership, which I will be blogging about in this space as the events become relevant.

First up, we, as next year’s host Chapter, need to staff a table at the 2017 STC Summit in Washington DC. Are you going to the STC Summit this year, and would you like to help your STC (Orlando Central) Florida Chapter promote the City Beautiful? Please contact me directly at President@stc-orlando.org.

 

Elaine’s Description of duties:

During 2017 Summit: In the exhibit hall, STC will provide your chapter with an area where your chapter members can distribute materials to promote the location. STC will work with the Hyatt Regency Orlando, and VisitOrlando, the Orlando Convention and Visitors Bureau, for brochures to hand out. If you want to augment this with anything, you’re welcome to do so.

The Closing General Session on Wednesday, 10 May, will be prime time to promote the 2018 Summit.  STC will obtain a video that will help to promote the location. The Hyatt Regency Orlando has given us a $100 food and beverage gift certificate that can be used at any of their restaurants. The certificate is good through the dates of our conference. In addition, VisitOrlando has given us a beach bag with appropriate beach items. We’ll give this out at the Closing General Session. In the past, we’ve had attendees complete an entry form at the host chapter area/table in the exhibit hall. Then we have had one (or more) of the chapter representatives do the drawing at the Closing General Session.

If there is anything else the chapter wants to do at the Closing General Session, that’s fine. It just needs to be short (2 minutes). We also need to know what your plan is by so that we can include it in the script for this event. 

 

Welcome Table/Display: In the registration area, there will be a table where the host chapter may set up a display and any materials you want to hand out. Visit Orlando, the local convention and visitors bureau, will be happy to provide city and region materials. We will forward to you the contact names and phone numbers after

Some of the items we suggest you have at the table are lists of restaurants in the area, maps, and city magazines. Personal recommendations of a favorite restaurant will be greatly appreciated. Summit attendees will be responsible for making their own restaurant reservations.

We understand that having chapter representatives at the table for the entire length of the conference may be challenging. We believe the majority of attendees will come by the table at the beginning of the Summit. We suggest that at a minimum you have someone at your table during these times:

Sunday, 20 May: 12 Noon to 5:30 PM; 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
Monday, 21 May: 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM; 3:30 to 5:00 PM
Tuesday, 22 May:10:30 AM to 1:00 PM; 3:30 to 5:00 PM

Naturally, if you have enough volunteers who are willing to take turns through the entire Summit, having someone at the table all the time will be a bonus.

Also, please feel free to blatantly promote your chapter. You may do this with a sign (i.e., “Central Florida Chapter welcomes you to STC’s Technical Communication Summit”), giveaways, or anything fun you can think of. Giveaway items are to be paid for by the chapter.

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From the Editor’s Desk

nick2016

Nick Ducharme

Technical communicators of Florida and beyond,

2016 has been such a year, and that’s not just nostalgia talking. I really do feel like “emotional rollercoaster” would be a horrendous understatement.

Frankly, I’m I’ve been overwhelmed by 2016, fluctuating from joy and inspiration to grief, anger, and terror. I find myself thoroughly impressed with the year in review that our Chapter President Alex Garcia has written. And I’m not sure what clarity of thought I can hope to add in these changing times beyond the article Alex is about to share with you. But as I stare at this fresh ring on my finger and quell my raging inner voices, it suddenly occurs to me that we don’t always to be profound.

Isn’t it enough to slip into the traditional spirit of the holiday seasonto wish peace, love, and happiness for all people? This is the mindset I hope to carry with me to our chapter’s special celebratory meal. I hope to see you there, and with your plus one if you choose. Let’s all join in merry conversation over delicious food and some fun info from this year’s LavaCon, a content strategy conference. (Cheers to our special guest, Jack Molisani!)

Please join us this Thursday, December 15th, at the Black Rock Bar and Grill. Click here to RSVP.

Happy holidays,

Nick Ducharme
Manager, Communications Committee
newsletter@stc-orlando.org

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f0/Wintersnow.jpg/800px-Wintersnow.jpg

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The President’s Corner

Alex Garcia

Alex Garcia

By: Alex Garcia
President
Orlando Central Florida Chapter, STC

president@stc-orlando.org

The second half of 2016 was QUITE the year for the Orlando community. Personally, I saw the highest of highs and unprecedented lows. Let’s reflect on the half-year that was:

  • On June 12, 2016, Orlando was forever changed by the terrorist attack on the Pulse nightclub. Monday marked six months since that Sunday morning when I was awoken by concerned text and Facebook messages from across the world. That night, I lost a college friend, Christopher “Drew” Leinonen, who attended the festivities and perished alongside his boyfriend Juan Guerrero. In the days following the tragedy, I saw my community (LGBT, Latinx, and the greater Orlando area as a whole) come together as I’ve never seen. They held vigils, gave blood, shielded mourners from witnessing protesters, and raised funds (to the tune of $27M distributed to 299 claimants as of press time). We should never forget the 49 lives lost that day, and the 53-plus lives forever changed by injury.

orlandounited_WEB

  • On June 23, 2016, I was sworn in as President of your STC Orlando Central Florida Chapter at Liam Fitzpatrick’s Irish Pub in Lake Mary. Knowing that we were merging with the STC Suncoast Chapter, I set out right away to forge the new relationships that would carry this chapter forward. I patiently waited for the STC international home office to cement the change as we worked behind the scenes to plan the chapter year.
  • On August 8, 2016 (yes 8/8/16 because I’m a nerd), I married my partner of 10 years in an intimate courthouse ceremony. We broadcast the nuptials on Facebook live (let me know if you would like to see the video). I will admit that the events of the summer cast a bittersweet shadow on the proceedings. When we set the date sometime in the spring, we never expected that our event would take on such great significance. I hope that our union brought a moment of brightness during the storm.
  • On August 27, 2016, the Orlando Central Florida and SunCoast Chapters of STC held a joint leadership retreat at the University of Central Florida’s Technical Communication Computer Lab. For the better part of 5 hours, we planned chapter activities for this chapter year. Our chapter came out of that meeting stronger and well-prepared to carry on.
  • In late October 2016, Dan Voss and Nicole Garcia, Mentoring co-chairs, recruited a RECORD BREAKING 16 mentoring pairs. It is my hope that these students serve as the foundation for the future of the STC Orlando Central Florida Chapter. Way to go Dan and Nicole!
  • On November 8, 2016, for better or worse, the country elected its next President. This was the end of a 15-month (!) election cycle, of which we all felt fatigued from. In the coming days, we need to look out for one another and tend to our loved ones. The sun is still rising and setting. Be excellent to one another.
  • On December 15, 2016, we will get together as a chapter to break bread and grill meat over a ridiculously-hot stone. Jack Molisani, a world-renowned speaker on Content Management, and STC Orlando Central Florida Chapter member, will moderate a festive discussion. I hope you will join us with your plus one. Please click here to RSVP.

As you can see, our STC Chapter is just part of life. It is a beacon of happiness and solidarity in a world that sometimes is not very bright and cheery. Life happens around us, yet we make time to volunteer to better our profession. I’d like to thank all of our volunteers on the Administrative Council for giving up their Tuesdays, Thursdays, sometimes even Fridays and Saturdays, to keep this chapter going. Let’s hope that 2017 is calmer than the past six months have been.

Until next year,

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If You Missed the Last Meeting

RD Sharninghouse

RD Sharninghouse

By: R.D. Sharninghouse
Secretary
Orlando Central Florida Chapter, STC
rdsharninghouse@gmail.com

On Thursday, November 17th, 2016 at the IHOP near UCF, the (Orlando Central) Florida Chapter of STC held its monthly meeting.  The topic was Surviving a TechComm Layoff.  This topic was presented by David Coe and David Coverston, two experienced members of our chapter with personal experience in the world of layoffs.  Being laid off can take its toll on an individual.  This presentation gave details on preparing oneself for a lay off.

The tips for being self-aware and “checking the pulse” of one’s situation were really great.  Self-awareness lets us know where we stand in the crowd.  What we need to improve on and what needs to be maintained.  “Checking the pulse” focuses on keeping up with the world around you.  Knowing the industry you’re in, the company you work for, and any of the changes taking place can give you a leg up so you can stay on top.

The tip to build a strong foundation by living smart and saving up caught my attention.  More specifically, the part about building cash reserves.  They say to build cash reserves that can cover a minimum of 3 to 6 months of expenses.  The reserves should also be liquid so they can be obtained without consequence.

Personally, finding work was always a worry, until I did eventually get a good job.  But this meeting helped me realize that having a job is a very small part of a much larger picture.

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Content and Customer Experience – Part 3

DebraPhoto

Debra Johnson

By: Debra Johnson

Immediate Past President
Orlando Central Florida Chapter, STC

Manager, Technical Communication
SunGard Public Sector

contentandcustomerexperiencepart2a

Author’s Note: In this series of articles, we were exploring the concept of “Content and Customer Experience.” In this final issue, we recap the series and address the question, “What now?”

So let’s recap…

In Part 1 of my series, I talked about how there are SIX key factors we believe in Technical Communication at SunGard Public Sector:

We believe:

  • Content and user experience are interconnected
  • We should be using content to get closer to customers
  • We need to strategize and manage content as an asset, just like “code”
  • Content professionals and user experience professionals are allies – not enemies
  • Content is everything product-related
  • Content is dynamic – not static

In Part 2 of my series, I talked about our role in the “Content and Customer Experience” at SunGard Public Sector.

That role is:

  • To provide accurate information about our products
  • To reduce any frustration and risks associated with improper use of our products
  • To support our training programs and professional services with a basis of accurate information from which to train
  • To capture and curate knowledge…keeping it from walking out the door
  • To use innovation in media to clarify use or identify the parts of a product, letting users focus on getting their task done quickly or more accurately
  • To perform usability studies to uncover problems with content and/or experience

…and that it WILL take everyone within our company…

It will take:

  • Some new tools, additional resources, and removal of barriers
  • All of us talking about and embracing a company-wide Customer Experience and Content Strategy that includes all content-producing areas as equal and important
  • Cooperation, collaboration, innovation, and teamwork

 

How we move forward…

At SunGard Public Sector, TechComm wants to maximize our business value, to help reduce support costs, and to enhance the customer experience by making our customers happier, more knowledgeable, and more loyal.

As Information Experience experts, we want to make sure we are using our skills and existing tools, along with some new ones, to create, manage, and deliver content in the most effective way.

We want to index our content, tag and classify it, provide dynamic search functionality to it, then apply role-based authentication and secure filtering…all to make accessing this knowledge a more positive experience for our customers and our employees.

 

How we see it working…

We will:

  • Deliver our product content using a dynamic publishing system
  • Provide specific product content via a smart, secure portal, fully customized to our brand look and feel, with responsive design that is optimized for every device and easy to use
  • Provide powerful full-text search and faceted search capabilities; applying flexible taxonomy-driven facets that would deliver targeted content to our customers
  • Add a personal touch to the customer experience by providing our readers with relevant content based on their user profile, then allow them to assemble personalized publications that are relevant to them from this content
  • Capture metrics about these content recommendations, so we can evaluate activity, interest, and feedback through reporting
  • Provide customers contextual suggestions of related community discussions and relevant articles
  • Publish this content from our existing authoring tool

We work hard to leverage our company’s content assets in order to improve our customers’ experiences. We want everyone to know they are our partners in this process, we are always working to better serve you and our customers with knowledge and understanding.

 

In conclusion…It’s our job to…

Enable our customers to get things done – We want to improve the customer experience by providing immediate and precise answers at all stages of their information journey.

Deflect in order to help reduce support costs – We want to do our part to lower support costs and reduce case tickets by promoting self-service and enabling customers to find answers.

Extend in order to make the most out of our product documentation – We want to leverage our existing content investment to increase sales and brand loyalty while enhancing the customer journey with SunGard Public Sector.

 

REMEMBER: …it’s all about the effort to achieve “a world of answers.

 

happy-holidays-from-debra

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From the Editor’s Desk

nick2016

Nick Ducharme

Technical communicators of Florida and beyond,

It’s no secret that November tends to mark an annual period of reflection. We reflect on the ten months that have already passed us byour personal progress, our emotional climate, and sometimes even our defining moments. This past weekend, for instance, I had the singular pleasure of updating my Facebook relationship status from “In a Relationship” to “Engaged!”

However, the picture is not yet full if we only look to the past. Reflection is not only a tool for nostalgia, but also one for planning and survival. We must look to the future and to what the next year or several years may bring. It is in this spirit that we have assembled an experienced panel of chapter leaders to discuss an uncomfortable topic:

Job layoffs.

This is the part where everyone collectively groans at the mere mention of layoffs. Getting let go at work is one of the worst nightmares for a working person. It’s a natural instinct to avoid thinking about it. If we pretend the problem doesn’t exist, then maybe it will leave us alone. Right?

…Not exactly. During my time as editor for this newsletter, I have seen some highly qualified and decorated colleagues lose their employment through no fault of their own. It’s right for us to hope that we’d never face that situation, but I believe it’s also responsible to prepare for the possibility, however remote.

Our meeting topic this month is titled Surviving a Tech Comm Layoff. If we can discuss this challenge together and help each other be more prepared, perhaps we’ll all be able to sleep just a little better at night. Then we can go back to reflecting on our warm, fuzzy feelings and social media presences instead. :)

Please join us this Thursday, November 17th, either online or at UCF’s University Boulevard IHOP. Click here to RSVP.

Thank you,

Nick Ducharme
Chair, Communications Committee
newsletter@stc-orlando.org

 

P.S., I think a shout-out is in order to my wonderful fiancée! My dear, all my careful preparation going forward shall be for you and for us. Thank you for inspiring me to do better each and every day for the past three and half years. I love you.

Credit goes to Pinterest.com for the image.

Credit goes to Pinterest.com for the image.

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The President’s Corner

Alex Garcia

Alex Garcia

By: Alex Garcia
President
Orlando Central Florida Chapter, STC

president@stc-orlando.org

Hello again! This month has been full of changes, both professionally and in the chapter. First, I accepted a promotion to a Senior-level Technical Communicator position with another business unit of Lockheed Martin. Don’t worry, it is still in Orlando. I will miss my old team in the instructional design arena, but look forward to forging new working relationships with my new one in technical publications. Oh, and I get to work day in and day out with your Memo to Members editor, Nick Ducharme! With new positions come new responsibilities, new systems to learn and document, and new paths to blaze. To infinity…

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The international board of directors of STC has decided to maintain our chapter name as the STC (Orlando Central) Florida Chapter (the emphasis is all mine). No matter; we are continuing our previously-announced vision of a colloquial all-Florida chapter. Your Administrative Council just voted to make virtual meeting attendance for all STC (Orlando Central) Florida Chapter members FREE. For those of you non-members who would like to join us virtually, it will still cost $5. So if you haven’t joined, why not? https://www.stc.org/membership/

Want to join the Suncoast Special Interest Group (SIG)? If you live in the Tampa Bay/Sarasota/Charlotte area, please contact former SunCoast Chapter president Kathy D’Adamo at info@stc-suncoast.org to sign up and start organizing. Please feel free to get together, virtually or in-person, for geographically based networking. For 2017, we have allocated funds for networking mixers in your area, so the sooner you organize, the sooner you can take advantage.

Lastly, indulge me in a shameless plug. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Small Business Saturday are all coming up. Don’t forget to use our Amazon.com Click-Through to make all your holiday purchases. It doesn’t cost you any extra, but your STC (Orlando Central) Florida Chapter receives a portion of every purchase completed using our Amazon link. Oh, and have a reader on your list? Sign up for a free trial of Audible.com and the chapter gets a credit also. If you sign up for a gold membership, we get even more!

From all of us, happy shopping and turkey eating!

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If You Missed the Last Meeting

RD Sharninghouse

RD Sharninghouse

By: R.D. Sharninghouse
Secretary
Orlando Central Florida Chapter, STC
rdsharninghouse@gmail.com

 

On Thursday, October 20, 2016 at the IHOP near UCF, the “Orlando Central” Florida Chapter STC held their monthly meeting.  The topic was Emerging Trends in Tech Comm and How to Jumpstart Your Technical Skills.  This topic was presented by UCF Alumnus and software technical writer, John Paz, who was visiting us from Sydney, Australia.

11-2016mtm_lastmeeting_1 11-2016mtm_lastmeeting_2

One of the most intriguing presentations I have seen.  John went over emerging trends in tech comm by sharing his experiences as an employee with Atlassian.  The description of his work environment was very uplifting for those of us who may feel in a rut at times where we work.  Employees are given autonomy in the workplace.  They have a sense of freedom to break away from the monotony of typical office life.  Giving employees self-directed time, a collaborative culture, funding and support, and a culture of experimentation allows for passion, dedication, and innovation to flourish.  For example, employees have what’s called “20% time” where they can spend 20% of their time on personal projects, maximizing productivity.

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To keep things in order, other trends are in place to keep a balanced workforce.  Embracing transparency, putting the customer first, playing as a team, and building with heart and balance keeps a sense of responsibility.  It holds people accountable.

John suggested some things to look into when improving your technical writer skills:

  • Agile and Scrum
  • Content strategy
  • Information architecture
  • Content modeling
  • Content management systems
  • Application Programming Interface (API)
  • GIT version control
  • XML/DITA structured authoring
  • User research/data analysis

11-2016mtm_lastmeeting_4

John also shared with us that Atlassian is looking for tech Writers.  Check out their job portal at www.atlassian.com/jobs.  You may have to consider relocating.

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