NEO Society for Technical Communication

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Lines & Letters - the NEO STC newsletter

President's Corner - June 2014

Hi all,

As always, I want to thank the team that made last month's awards meeting such a success.

In particular, to Janean Voss, who organized the banquet and facilities to perfection. She has been a wonderful Immediate Past President. She also was awarded the President's Achievement Award, which was well deserved. She has put an indelible mark on the NEO community and will be listed with many of the leaders in the community who have been instrumental in establishing the Distinguished legacy of excellence this community enjoys! (See what I did there...;-) )

Other awards included:

  • Recognition of Tricia Spayer’s Associate Fellowship
  • Volunteer of the Year – Tricia Spayer
  • Rookie Volunteer of the Year – Debbie Mekker
  • Committee of the Year – Newsletter
  • Volunteer Recognition Achievement Award – Jeanette Evans, Lisa Mileusnich, Lynn Nickels, Joann Rasmussen, Claudia Thompson

Special thanks to Lisa Mileusnich, who has been an absolute Rock Star this year and invaluable to our community's efforts.

The NEO website will be updated during the summer with new events as they become available, but on June 20, the Social Events Committee has a visit scheduled to the Thorncreek Winery in Aurora. If you are interested, please RSVP your registration to Ginny Haas by Tuesday, June 18.

As always, if you are interested in getting more involved as a volunteer, please feel free to contact me at

Paul Holland

PS. I skipped the ship last month, but was informed those were enjoyed, so I am including one last ship. In the spirit of peace and beauty, I am going with an ocean liner, and this is the greatest liner built in the United States. She is the SS United States, designed by one of our preeminent Naval architects, Francis Gibbs.

Mr. Gibbs designed the Liberty ships, which were significant contributors during the second World War. Gibbs and Cox, which is still in business, designed more than 70 percent of U.S. tonnage launched during World War II and as of "...2003, more than 150 warships built to the firm's designs, including 60 percent of the U.S. Navy's surface combatant fleet, were on active duty in nearly 20 Navies."

The SS United States was built in 1952 for United States Lines and she was specifically designed to capture the Blue Riband, an award given to the passenger liner that records the highest speed on the trans-Atlantic run. Over the years, the competition had typically been between Cunard, White Star, and the French and German lines. The SS United States was our first attempt, and she captured the Blue Riband with ease; she still holds that record.

Fire was always a risk on the high seas, even in contemporary ships, so Gibbs designed her to use aluminum extensively, which also rendered her superstructure lighter, and hence, faster.

She is fighting for her life now. She is the last ocean liner from the Golden Era of Sea Travel and the greatest American passenger ship built. Hopefully, she will be saved as a museum or alternate-use facility similar to the RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach, but if not, here she is, at speed, at sea, where she belongs. Beautiful Gal!


Upcoming Events Summer 2014

NEO STC events

All NEO STC events are listed in the Events Calendar.

6/20/14: Social event, at Thorncreek Winery in Aurora.

Watch the website for additional networking events and our 2014-15 lineup of programs!

Other events and dates of interest

6/19/14: NEO PMI meeting, "2013 Project of the Year Presentation: Order Management System Project," presented by Matt McConnell, at the Jo-Ann Training Center in Hudson. Details.

6/19/14: UXPA Cleveland meeting, "Branding, Usability, and Product Voice: Creating a Consistent Customer Experience," at OverDrive in Cleveland. Details.

Visit the STC website for the most current list of Live Web Seminars.


Another Great Year: 2014 NEO STC Awards, Recognition, and Election

By Claudia Thompson

It's been another outstanding year for NEO STC — a year of successful events and initiatives made possible by our dedicated and hard-working volunteers, community partners, and corporate sponsors.

On May 8, 2014, NEO STC celebrated this success with its annual Election and Awards Dinner at Signature of Solon in Solon, Ohio.

Voting for the NEO STC 2014/2015 officers was also held during the event, with results announced at the end of the evening.

To kick off the event, Paul Holland, 2013/2014 NEO STC President, reviewed the year's achievements and expressed his thanks for the hard work everyone put in to make these achievements possible. He then began the presentation of awards; a summary of these awards follows.


NEO STC is a community of distinction! 

This year, NEO STC earned the following community-level award for the second year in a row:

  • Community Achievement Award, Community of Distinction. The highest possible level of community recognition, NEO STC earned this award for exceptional service to its members and for meeting Society goals well beyond expectations. The citation for the award reads:

"For your dedication to your members and to the promotion of the technical communication field with an impressive number of initiatives and strong ties to the community and students in your area."


A number of NEO STC members received honors for their extended service to both the Society and NEO STC:

  • Tricia Spayer, Associate Fellow. The STC organization bestows the rank of Associate Fellow upon a senior member who has attained distinction in the field of technical communication.
  • Kim Lindsey and Sharon Jendrisak, Distinguished Chapter Service Award. This award acknowledges members who provide exemplary service to the Society.
  • Douglas Kirchgesler, Julie Mims, Lynn Nickels, Daniel Reichers, and Doug Zachau, New Senior Members. These NEO STC members received Senior status for five years of continuous STC membership.


Each year NEO STC recognizes its volunteers for their service in several categories. This year's winners:

  • Jeanette Evans, Lisa Mileusnich, Lynn Nickels, Joann Rasmussen, and Claudia Thompson, NEO STC Volunteer Recognition Award. This award recognizes extended volunteer efforts and active participation during the year.
  • Debbie Mekker, Rookie Volunteer of the Year. Awarded for active participation in NEO STC as a new chapter volunteer.
  • Tricia Spayer, Volunteer of the Year. This award is reserved for exceptional volunteer service and dedication to the NEO STC community.
  • Jeanette Evans, Lisa Mileusnich, and Lynn Nickels, Newsletter, Committee of the Year. Each year, one committee is identified for its exceptional contributions to the community; the Newsletter Committee earned this distinction for its exceptionally smooth and reliable performance throughout the year.
  • Janean Voss, President's Achievement Award. Awarded for outstanding contributions to the community; Janean earned this award for her continued dedication to the chapter and active involvement in many initiatives.

ELECTION RESULTS2014-15 admin board

Following the awards ceremony, the votes for 2014/2015 NEO STC Board positions were counted. Fourteen members of the NEO STC community voted, which was a quorum of the NEO STC membership.

The vote was unanimous for the 2014/2015 candidates for the open board positions of Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer.

The board identified below will serve in their respective roles from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015:

  • Lisa Mileusnich, NEO STC President
  • Brian Smith, NEO STC Vice President
  • Debbie Mekker, NEO STC Treasurer
  • Claudia Thompson, NEO STC Secretary
  • Paul Holland, NEO STC Immediate Past President

Top 10 Lessons Learned at #STC14

By Tricia Spayer

This year’s STC Summit in Phoenix was especially memorable for me. It was memorable because:

  • I was recognized as Associate Fellow!!
  • I spoke at a progression about graphics
  • I got to announce the winners of the Community Achievement Awards and Pacesetter awards, both at Leadership Day and at the Honors Banquet
  • Incoming President, Lisa Mileusnich, and I stayed an extra day to visit the Grand Canyon

Top 10 things I learned at Summit this year:

  1. Lisa Mileusnich and Claudia Thompson are awesome to hang out with! NEO STC is in great hands for 2014-2015! (not that it wasn't before, but you know what I mean)
  2. Responsive Design – the big buzz word around the Summit this year. Although many of you have heard this term before, I finally found out what it meant, and learned how to apply it to technical documentation. In short, your web output is created so that it displays well on desktops, tablets, phones, and other devices that haven't been developed yet. Check out sites like and to see examples. Squish your desktop browser to phone size and see the magic happen. Check out Nicky Bleiel's slides on Slideshare.
  3. Motivating Users – Scott Deloach provides a lot of useful information. Users want: quick answers, examples, procedures, and reasons. They love tips, teasers with expanded links, insider details, expert information, quizzes, contests, and challenges. They want to see documentation options such as: getting started fast, XYZ technical reference, for beginners, and for expert users. Invite them back by providing means for bookmarking, favorites, breadcrumbs, and RSS feeds. Don’t tell users; show them with tutorials and demos. In short, get them to want to read your content!!
  4. Targeted Documentation – Companies using this technique only document things that really need explanation. They don't document things for the least-skilled user. They document best practices and share examples. They provide troubleshooting information. Alyssa Fox shares her slides on Slideshare.
  5. Monetizing Your Content – Jack Molisani evangelizes that you need to promote what you do. Things you create save money in your organization, and can even make money. Shrink your documentation: use the 80-20 rule. 80% of your customers are using 20% of your features – document those first.  Reusing content saves money on translations. Jack shares his slides on Slideshare.
  6. SQUIDDS has a "TechComm Responsive Publishing Suite" output to HTML5. They produced a documentation suite for machines that have more than 3,000 parts. They apply QR code stickers to each piece on the machine. The customer scans the QR code, and their mobile tech pubs application brings up the documentation for that piece. No more searching or even knowing what the piece is called! Squidds shares their slides on Slideshare.
  7. Global Content Strategy with Alan J. Porter – even a company as globally reaching as Caterpillar, extending to 180 countries with 300 products, needs to pare down its localizations. To figure out their globalization strategy, they asked: how to deliver information, who (at Caterpillar) does what, and what the cultural nuances were. They used videos with pieces they can replace (replace a clip of a U.S. service person with a clip of a Taiwanese service person, for example), and re-used more images, graphics, and symbols. They identified the top 10 languages which represent 80% of their upcoming business opportunities, and translated to those languages. Their biggest challenge is jargon – they need to translate engineer-speak to customer-speak.
  8. Lightning Talks are funny and a much-needed mental break mid-conference-day.
  9. Kelsey Ruger taught us how to build a creative habit. Creative people do not have special powers – they simply practice their talent more than non-creative people do. Start framing questions another way: for example, instead of asking "how do I build a toaster," ask "how can I toast my bread?" Kelsey shares his slides on Slideshare.
  10. It's a dry heat!

Do You Know Columbus, Ohio?

The STC Summit is returning to Ohio next year! Mark your calendars: 21 – 24 June 2015. Start planning now! Those of us in Northeast Ohio have an easy 2 ½ hour drive to Columbus. No worrying about luggage limits, TSA security checks, or exorbitant air fare! How about carpooling with someone? Send your whole documentation team to the Summit!

Calls for speaking proposals will go out this summer. Start thinking now about your presentations.

Plan now to attend next year's Summit and be a part of the action instead of just reading about it here.

Wanted: Members who know Columbus. Have you lived there? Worked there? Visited there? Consider writing articles for STC's Intercom magazine, Notebook Blog, and Summit Web site. We need your expertise. Kevin Cuddihy will be requesting articles, tips, and tidbits about Columbus. Contact Kevin or Tricia Spayer if you can help. Examples of what STC's looking for:

Tourist events:

What to see and do:

Notebook blog guest posts:

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