Making WordPress Testimonial Posting Easy with Word

If you are working with clients or customers and you want to make it easy for them to upload a blog post to your WordPress site, there are useful plugins that can help you do this. However, perhaps the easiest way is to have them do it in Microsoft Word.

 

You may have been in this scenario before: you just did work for a client who was pleased or you had a satisfied customer who you think will provide a written comment about your product. This is the perfect opportunity for a testimonial that you could put on your WordPress site or blog. You could just ask your client or customer to send you a comment by email and post it yourself, but that direct approach may seem awkward. Also, having them use a WordPress plugin interface to post it themselves requires some explanation and carries with it a learning curve.

 

Instead, you could send them a Word document that already has all your blog information in it and let them fill in the blanks, then publish it to your WordPress site themselves. Apart from writing the testimonial, the process of publishing it requires two steps and takes less than 10 seconds. Here are the steps to setting this up:

 

First, in WordPress:

 

  1. In the Dashboard admin panel, create a new user (Users -> Add New). Give this user a generic name, like Testimonial. Set their role to Author and give this user your own email address. A role of Author gives them limited access to your WordPress site if they somehow determine the password through Word.
  2. You’ll need to give the user a password, but make it something you don’t use for anything else (or anything important). It’s possible for someone to learn your password through the Word document you’ll create later, so it’s best to make it something that can be changed easily.
  3. Under Settings -> Writing, be sure to turn on (check the box next to) XML-RPC (remote publishing). This feature is enabled by default in WordPress versions 3.5 and above.
  4. Optionally, if you haven’t already, create a category (Posts -> Category) for your testimonials (something like testimonial makes sense).

 

The rest of the steps are in Microsoft Word:

 

  1. Create a new Blog Post document (File -> New -> Blog post).
  2. You’ll be asked to include your Blog Post URL (WordPress Web address) followed by a /xmlrpc.php.
  3. Put in the Author user name (the user example name here is Testimonial from step 1 above).
  4. Put in the password you created from step 2 above.
  5. Check Remember password. This will allow you to save the password as part of the Word document, so you won’t have to have your client or customer put that information in.
  6. The Word Blog Post document then comes up. You can make it very easy for your client/customer to fill out a testimonial by including the instructions on how to do it as part of the document.
  7. Be sure to provide them with a category. To do that click the button Insert Category — it’s the third one from the left on the main ribbon in the Word document (see the image below). The category you give them should be relevant to their post so it isn’t just published to the generic Uncategorized category in WordPress. This is a category you created previously, or the one you created in step 4 above.
  8. Here’s an example of the Word Blog Post document interface with the instructional testimonial text for your client to fill out — feel free to use any of the wording that makes sense for your purposes (click to enlarge the image below):

 

Word to WordPress Testimonials

 

  1. After you’re finished editing the document, save it with an appropriate file name. Avoid spaces in the file name if you plan to email it. A name like testimonial.docx is a good choice.
  2. Finally, send your client/customer this document. Ask them to fill it in and click Publish (first button on the main Blog Post ribbon) when they are finished. That’s it.

 

You can send this same document out to as many clients or customers as you’d like to solicit testimonials. Since you haven’t given them the password — it’s encrypted in the Word document — it’s also more secure for you.

 

In case someone tries to abuse this Author role later (for example, by spamming your site), you can just change the password or delete the user.

 

By using Word to solicit testimonials from clients or customers, you can make it easy and fast for them and easy and secure for you.

 

Check out this WPMU.org article for more specifics about this process with Word — their article inspired this post.

 

Greg Kerr is a Web design instructor and faculty mentor at Portland Community College.

Positive Teaching Ideas for Instructors

By making some adjustments to the words you use with your students, you can change your negative tone into the positive and encouraging language of success.

Change Negative Terms into Hopeful Terms

I teach screenwriting and students demonstrate a wide variety of creative work in their scripts. The quality of their writing varies. (See, I’m already being tactful.) Less tactfully put, some of their writing or their ideas are just plain atrocious.

 

When you grade student work, and I’ve found this to be particularly true when grading student writing, you should phrase your criticism tactfully. Nothing demoralizes people more than to have their creative work referred to as weak, problematic or… atrocious.

 

Instead of using the word “problems” or “errors”, you can say “areas for improvement” — they mean the same thing, except the second one provides a sense of hope to the student that they can improve. I also allow students to rewrite and revise their work, so it’s another reminder to them that they should work to improve their writing.

Greg Kerr teaching writing.

 

Use Plus Signs instead of Minus Signs

This is the glass is half full or half empty issue when it comes to grading. When students get test questions incorrect, your first response may be to say they lost points.

 

A student who gets 9 points wrong on a 20 point test, may receive the dreaded -9 at the top of their test page. However, consider phrasing this in terms of how many points they received, in this example, +11 out of 20. It’s still 55% either way (likely a failing grade), yet the plus sign may soften the blow.

 

If you aren’t concerned about the emotional impact of a minus sign, consider the more fundamental impact: addition is easier than subtraction, and seeing a positive number may get the student thinking about their overall score in the class. The positive number with its emphasis on addition will be more motivational than a negative score.

Instructor Greg Kerr keeping it positive.

 

Avoid “But”

“I like you, but…”

 

Notice how the “but” in that sentence negates everything that occurs before it?

 

It’s something I’ve long endeavored to remove from my speech and writing. Reducing the “but” in your communication is the best way to turn your criticism into the language of success instead of the language of failure.

 

Now, if you think the “but” is a safer way to deliver criticism, it’s not. Let’s say you want to deliver the good with the bad when it comes to criticism. You tell a student

 

“I appreciated your creativity, but you have a lot of grammar errors.”

 

Again, “but” just negated the first positive thing you said. It also sounds like you are trying to sugar-coat the criticism, which may make your compliment seem insincere. If you want to keep it on a positive note, state the positive thing last and drop the “but”.

 

“There are a lot of grammar errors you should correct. Be sure to do that. Your writing is very creative.”

 

You can almost always use “and” instead of “but”. Consider this

 

“You have a good grasp of the mechanics, but your creative insticts could be improved.”

 

Instead, try this

 

“You have a good grasp of the mechanics, and if you work to improve your creative instincts, your overall work will benefit.”

 

Some simple adjustments to the words you choose as a teacher can turn your negative language into the language of success.

 

 

 

7 Tips for Writing a Critique of Peer Work

 

Greg Kerr provides writing tips for giving peers criticism

 

When you provide your college peers with constructive criticism, consider following these 7 useful ideas for making that criticism more effective and helpful, and less demoralizing and confusing.

 

  1. Write in present tense. You are describing the current state of the document you are criticizing.Incorrect – past tense: “The SEO assessment was missing the list of competitors.”Correct – present tense: “The SEO assessment is missing the list of competitors.”

 

  1. Keep you and them out of the critique.Do not include “I”, “me” or “you” statements in your critique. Instead, go with third person and/or passive sentences. If you have to identify someone or something, use the title of the document or website you are reviewing, not the person’s name.Incorrect – first and second person: “I think you can add a more specific example of a threat regarding competitors. This can improve your SWOT analysis.”Correct – third person/passive: “Adding a more specific example of a threat regarding competitors will improve the fullbrainfilms.com SWOT analysis.”

 

  1. Passive is better than active.Normally, you should write in an active voice and not bury the subject, however, since it’s clear who (or what) the subject of the criticism is, then passive makes sense. Also, a passive voice will cause a less defensive response from the person you critique.Incorrect – active: “Your assessment could be improved by including more keyword phrases to your list.”Correct – passive: “Including more keyword phrases to the list will improve the assessment.”

 

  1. Make sentences short. Passive sentences tend to be more difficult to read because the subject is removed or dislocated. Be sure to keep your sentences short. Better yet, go with lists — numbered or bulleted — to make quick, clear points with your critique.Incorrect – long sentence: “The assessment could be strengthened by including a list of competitors, increasing the number of keyword phrases from 20 to 40 or more, and ensuring that external factors are the only ones present in the threat section of the SWOT analysis.”Correct – list:
    “Areas for Improvement

    – include the list of competitors
    – increase the keyword phrases from 20 to 40 or more
    – only include external factors in threat section of SWOT analysis”

 

  1. Reference outside sources when possible.In your criticisms, you should reference outside sources, such as a textbook, the instructor, or an external link. You’re probably not an expert on the topic — you may be a student doing a peer critique — and you may feel awkward about giving criticism because you feel that the person receiving it will not accept your personal opinion. Giving them an external, second opinion is a way to remove responsibility from you, and give them another source to consider.Incorrect – lacking sources: “Include the list of competitors.”Correct – using sources: “Include the list of competitors as described in the assignment instructions, Step 3.”

 

  1. Be specific.Give details wherever possible. Always provide examples when giving feedback if relevant.Incorrect – missing details: “Provide title text on the home page.”Correct – details and examples: “Provide title text on the home page, like ‘Full Brain Films | An independent film production company in Portland’.”

 

  1. Be honest instead of flattering.You may feel obligated to “give the good with the bad”, in other words, provide some positive statement along with criticism so you avoid hurting someone’s feelings. Avoid this impulse. If you’ve done everything listed above, you are already minimizing the potential for hurt feelings as best you can. Being flattering at this point is likely to undermine your criticism, or worse, be seen as insincere by the reader.

PCC Art Beat mixes local Actors and Indie Filmmakers with Traditional Artists

 

For the past three years, Portland Community College has included talented local actors and independent filmmakers with the Northwest artists whose work has been highlighted in the Art Beat event in May. I’ve had the privilege of identifying and nominating local actors and independent filmmakers. These actors and filmmakers have been able to show their work to the community and PCC students, many of whom are in the Multimedia program. Following the film and video presentations, the actors and filmmakers have conducted very educational and inspiring question and answer sessions.

 

During 2012, Art Beat has its 25th anniversary May 7th to 12th. This year, my plan is to bring talented actors in for a reading, either a rehearsed table reading or, if possible, a stage reading performed in the Moriarty Auditorium at Cascade Campus.

 

 

During past years, Art Beat has welcomed local film actress Audrey Walker and local theater and film actress Karla Mason.

 

 

Coup de Cinema, an independent film made in Portland by filmmakers Sean Parker and Austin Hillebrecht had its event premiere at Art Beat in 2011.

 

 

Portland filmmaker Steve Coker’s indie film comedy, Crackin’ the Code was in the Art Beat lineup for 2010.

 

 

In 2009, I had the privilege of premiering my micro-budget indie film, Unremembered, during Art Beat.

 

 

For more information about past and upcoming Art Beat artists and highlights, visit the Art Beat pages on PCC’s site.