Let's phase itPosted by Bob Brin on April 13, 2011 at 3:24 PM
We're talking social media strategy tomorrow at the Minnesota High Tech Association's spring conference (follow @mhta, hash tag #MHTAspring). The social media breakout session entitled "Social Media Strategy: What Phase Are You In and What Can You Phase Out?" will be moderated by Tom Elko from Bring Me the News. Also on the panel are Jeff Achen of GiveMN and Liem Nguyen from Dell Compellent. I'll talk a bit about our view of social media phases: Assess (surveying an organization's social media landscape), Activate (getting the organization ready for social media), Act (putting a plan together) and Amplify (turning up the volume once you've eased into the dialog).
The "What Can You Phase Out?" question comes from a previous panel discussion that I participated in with an audience of 60 CFOs at a Financial Executive International (FEI) event in February. One of the CFOs asked a very CFO-like question: "Okay, I get that we need to start doing social media. But what do we stop doing? What goes away, given that we have limited marketing staff and resources?"
I'll give you a sneak peek at my answer . . . Of course, it depends on what you're doing now and where your strategy takes you. Many organizations have already squeezed their advertising, trade show and other traditional media budgets, so it's hard to say that much more can be squeezed out of those rocks. In fact, traditional and social media fuel each other, often providing a combined effect that is more powerful. We'll see what the others think tomorrow!
"Traditional media is not enough," said Katie Couric. Do you agree?Posted by on December 7, 2010 at 2:40 PM
Watch new media thought leader, Brian Solis' short video interview with Katie Couric, anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News, a correspondent for 60 Minutes, and host of "@katiecouric", her new webshow on CBSNews.com. Solis questions Couric about her experience working with new media, such as YouTube and Twitter, to reach and engage with audiences and viewers who want to consume the news and participate in the reporting process on channels other than TV broadcasts.
Couric commentary takeaways - here are a few journalism insights that we thought apply well to public relations' use of social media:
1. Don't expect your friends to be able to watch you on the news.
Takeaway: Your friends, and customers, need to be able to access you (your brand/products), and your information, where they are. Maintaining a strong presence on a company website is essential, but branching out into social networks can make it easier for people to reach you and engage with your brand/products on a more consistent, and sometimes personal, basis.
2. Take the digital learning curve in stride. It's a learning process.
Takeaway: Everyone is a student; the whole industry is experimenting and developing best practices and processes along the way.
3. Being human opens the door to connection and engagement.
Takeaway: Don't be too stiff, and then expect your friends and customers to open up.
4. Solicit questions from Twitter and Facebook followers. You can get too close to a story and miss key questions that should be asked and that your audience want to know.
Takeaway: Engage with your audience in the questions process--not just answers sharing.
For more on this interview series, visit Brian Solis TV.
About: Brian Solis is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has influenced the effects of emerging media on the convergence of marketing, communications, and publishing. Brian has led interactive and social programs for Fortune 500 companies, notable celebrities, and Web 2.0 startups.
Print vs. Electronic - the tradeoffsPosted by on June 18, 2010 at 5:23 AM
Five years ago, a contributor to The Lead said in their post, "news is news, and increasingly, communicated in multiple ways through multiple venues and technologies." As prophetic the author was, many of our clients still place a high value on seeing their message in a print publication, despite the many technology and social media advances.
1. Editors are given more flexibility to expand their content and link to additional resources through their web content and electronic newsletters. They feel this is a great service to their readers.
What do you think? What are the values you place on the electronic word--or printed word? Where is your highest value?
A Gushing Oil Spill and Blathering SpokespersonPosted by on June 14, 2010 at 2:30 PM
Friday marked Jacques Cousteau's 100th birthday, perhaps a numbing affirmation of the cumulating marine travesties from BP's copious, ongoing oil spill in the Gulf. Everyone from BP CEO Tony Hayward and President Obama to you and me are at their wits' end on how to stop the leak. One can only imagine how "Captain Cousteau" would react to the reckless regard for this environment, and inability to act accordingly to a human-caused disaster. As we near the two-month mark of the spill, how effective are BP and Hayward in managing the crisis and communicating?
Hayward is providing our worldwide community mixed messages, and statements that too often contradict third-party scientists and the government. BP's smorgasbord of answers, "on the fly" attempted solutions and perplexing communications have worsened its credibility - and stock price. Last week's Newsweek looks one step further: Considering Hayward's gaffs and lack of leadership, why hasn't he been fired?
Could BP's credibility be better off today if it had practiced proactive, accurate and sound public relations? Consider some missteps:
• On May 30, among other instances, Hayward contradicted independent scientists and researchers, asserting there were no oil plumes. BP's lack of depth and breadth of the leak demonstrates to media, stakeholders and other constituencies that it doesn't have a handle on the situation. Moreover, Thursday's New York Times reported the U.S. government projects the amount of oil spewing into the Gulf is now double BP estimates.
• As reported on The Daily Show on June 10, BP is buying search terms on search engines, resulting in BP-sponsored links appearing as the top results for searches on the oil spill. I give them credit for the offensive play, but also question where social media ethics interject.
• Also on June 10, BP issued the following news release: "BP is Not Aware of Any Reason for Share Price Movement." Really? What correlation do BP's substandard communications have on its plummeting stock price?
Accidents and the unknown are absolute. Take-aways from the BP oil crisis reminds us to be thorough in communications planning, including crisis communications. It's essential to be honest with stakeholders and the public, to manage one's issues and messaging, and to proactively engage appropriate audiences.
Crude Crisis - Commercials vs. Customer CommunicationsPosted by on June 4, 2010 at 5:45 AM
Reputations are built in years but can be destroyed by a single event.
Frankly, I'm tired of hearing updates about failures to end the leak in the Gulf of Mexico. The following news story identified what's missing: BP's vision for what the end looks like (and when).
When things go wrong - and ideally well before a crisis occurs - companies depend on the advice of Padilla's Crisis Communications Team. Paul Omodt leads that team and offered his perspective in last night's Fox story about the recent BP apology commercial. In short: BP should go directly to customers with messages at the pump and email updates.
How do you think BP is communicating about this issue?
How does it compare to Toyota's management of the accelerator recall just a few months ago?
What do you think BP should do next?
The Disappearing Line Between Reality (PR) and Script (Advertising)Posted by on April 2, 2010 at 9:42 AM
Upon leaving "I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!" Spencer Pratt, villain of the enormously popular "The Hills", said "I'm not a reality star...I'm a...character (emphasis added)."
In a stroke, and likely without realizing it, the loathsome Pratt actually articulated the very real issue of the blurred line between reality and entertainment, where the consumer is unable to discern between an objective, unbiased viewpoint and a scripted/paid act. The confusion between truth and propaganda takes on far greater significance in the practice of public relations than in the world of reality TV. Whether Spencer actually is a detestable snot or is simply playing one on TV has (hopefully) little impact on our lives. Whether a document is an objective news item or an advertisement masquerading as one is remarkably more significant.
The dissipation of this once "never-to-be-crossed" ad/editorial line is rapidly increasing as flailing media outlets are putting their editorial for sale to secure dollars once reserved only for ads. If it becomes more common, there will soon be no difference between public relations and advertising. Even if a news item is purely editorial, it will be looked upon with suspicion...is the reporter for real? Or is he/she getting paid to "play a character?"
Given how threatening this trend is to the PR industry, it's surprising how many of our industry peers not only fail to stop it but actively perpetuate the practice. We've all heard the stories of PR people masquerading as random bloggers to promote client products, to say nothing of communication vehicles where paid spokespeople are presented as objective news sources.
The PR industry has spent its entire life differentiating itself from advertising...promoting the value of the article over the advertisement. The idea has always been that a disinterested, unbiased, objective third party validating a company's claims is tremendously more valuable and credible than an organization subjectively talking about how great it is.
When conducting PR for your company, make sure that you and your firm understand the difference between paid and earned media...and practice the latter. Lest your company become another Spencer Pratt of the media world.
Handling Customer FeedbackPosted by on March 15, 2010 at 11:57 AM
There are companies known for great customer service - usually those are the ones that listen to their customers. Then there are those who get feedback but may not have processes in place to manage feedback. The following is an example of not only lacking customer communications processes but also an appropriate spokesperson.
A couple weeks ago, in a city just outside Minneapolis, a customer sent a complaint to a movie theater about her experience. It included a valid suggestion (to allow for purchase by credit/debit card or keep their ATM flush with cash) and a complaint about a staff disruption for the first 30 minutes of the movie. A great opportunity for the theater - consider changing their systems, offer an apology for the disruption and perhaps earn a customer for life. Unfortunately, the VP had no "inner monologue" and no real customer communication training.
The original email from the customer and the expletive-loaded response from the theater are on the Facebook page dedicated to boycotting the theater - there's also one supporting the VP. Note: if you're easily offended, don't read the email exchange.
Beyond the Star Tribune article about the incident, the story has become a Facebook hot spot.
Are you concerned about the chance of someone in your organization responding to a customer inappropriately? Do you have a process in place to manage (or solicit) customer feedback? What's the risk to your organization if customer communication breaks down?
My father always told me that the customer may not always be right, but the customer is always the customer (and deserves to be treated so).
Using current events to fuel marketing campaigns.Posted by on January 15, 2010 at 10:07 AM
I'm all about seizing the moment and taking advantage of real life events to help enhance a marketing campaign. Several weeks ago Tiger Woods was the theme many PR firms used to highlight poor crisis communications. For a moment I thought Minneapolis-based Parasole would provide a great example. Before I Tweeted their novel approach, however, I did a little digging.
The back story - Monday afternoon two guys landed their planes on a Minneapolis lake to get lunch. Turns out Minneapolis lakes are illegal to land on, unlike lakes in most other cities. The police met the pilots at their planes after lunch and issued tickets. News reports said they got a burger, but not where they went. I actually gave it a moment's thought to what restaurants are in that area, but that was about it.Current events meet promotional opportunity - Wednesday I received an email from Burger Jones (a Parasole restaurant). The subject was "Burger Jones Honors Naughty Pilots" and offered an opportunity this Saturday to order "The Mile High Club Burger" and make a donation to the defense fund for the pilots. (Each of the two pilots face up to a $1000 fine). Creative, huh? Tweets from Burger Jones (@burgerjones) refer to many ways to get there (bus, car, plane...). I like it. I also like that it creates a way for the restaurant to help the pilots pay for a lunch that ended up being VERY expensive.
If only they'd actually given any donations to help the pilots, it could have been a very cool campaign. Timely, empathetic and a little edgy.
Instead it feels like they're just taking advantage of the pilots, doesn't it? What other campaigns could the restaurant have created? Can you think of other campaigns that successfully leveraged current events?
PR Pet Peeves: WCCO Meet the Journalists Part 4Posted by on October 27, 2009 at 1:38 PM
Every journalist has them -- a list of tactics or approaches that just doesn't work with them. Running afoul of these pet peeves can often mean a long dark future of being relegated to the junk pile by the reporter in question. To help us avoid this fate, we asked WCCO Reporter Jason DeRusha and WCCO Assistant News Director Mike Caputa to detail their own PR pet peeves. For their answers, watch our latest Meet the Journalist video below:
Pitching Via Twitter: WCCO Meet the Journalist Part 3Posted by on October 13, 2009 at 5:22 PM
According to what seems to be every self-proclaimed social media guru in the world, Twitter is the most momentous development since explorer Sir Francis Drake returned from his circumnavigation of the globe and discovered happy hour. Whatever its long-term impact is, Twitter certainly has made a huge difference in the way PR professionals and journalists interact. We asked WCCO reporter Jason DeRusha and WCCO news director Mike Caputa what they think of being pitched stories on Twitter and you can watch part 3 of our WCCO Meet the Journalist series to find out what they said.
And just in case you're in too big a hurry to watch a video that clocks in under three minutes, I'll sum it up -- they're big fans.
What Makes a Pitch Work: WCCO Meet the Journalist Part TwoPosted by on October 7, 2009 at 5:04 PM
During the recent Padilla Speer Beardsley Meet the Journalist session with WCCO's Jason DeRusha and Mike Caputa, the pair discussed the pitches the newsroom receives every day. They even offered their advice on what makes a pitch work. Find out their answers in part two of our conversation with Jason and Mike!
Meet the Journalist: WCCOPosted by on October 4, 2009 at 3:44 PM
Since most public relations campaigns are aimed at generating media coverage to raise awareness of an issue, product or service, it's important to have a full understanding of the needs of reporters and editors. To that end, Padilla Speer Beardsley holds regular "Meet the Journalist" sessions, bringing in journalists to discuss their work, as well as how we can work with them to help them find sources and report on the news of the day.
We recently conducted one of these sessions with WCCO Reporter Jason DeRusha and WCCO Assistant News Director Mike Caputa. We recorded video of some of their best tips for working with broadcast news outlets, and the pair discussed everything from the best way to contact a broadcast outlet, to their biggest PR pet peeves. Part one of this five part video is available below.
Twitter finds a seat on press rowPosted by John Scally on August 26, 2009 at 1:52 PM
As the traditional print media continues to shed reporters, a willing army of bloggers and micro-bloggers is eagerly filling the journalistic void. This week, a major landmark for social media sports reporting occurred when NCAA-member, St. John's University, in NYC, announced that it was credentialing Peter Robert Casey as its first Twitter reporter. As a result, Casey will be granted a spot on press row for the upcoming basketball season. You can follow Casey on Twitter @peter_r_casey. He is currently among the Top 10 most-followed basketball-related users on Twitter and most-followed basketball-related individual who is not a professional basketball player, team or coach.
Ethics resources for your social media policy/guidelinesPosted by Bob Brin on August 21, 2009 at 9:53 AM
Lots of interest these days in developing social media guidelines or policies. (We prefer guidelines.) Here are some great resources on social media ethics:
• Examples! An online database of social media policies from a long list of organizations. Thanks to Jason Falls for a heads up on this one.
• Word of Mouth Marketing Association's Ethics Code
• Social Media Business Council's Disclosure Toolkit
Of course, putting a bunch of rules in place isn't enough. Your organization will need training and to go through the exercise of "what if" situations. You should also consider:
• an assessment of your social media landscape. Who is out there talking about you and your topics (competitors, pundits, reporters, bloggers and . . . employees!)? What are they doing/saying and where are the opportunities to tune in, join in and lead?
• a cultural and structural shift map. How you'll transform the organization and its culture to communicate in the new environment.
• a strategy with measures in place to replace the feet-first jump into social media tactics.
PR, Social Media and the Multi-Disciplined ApproachPosted by Bob Brin on May 20, 2009 at 8:29 AM
Social media sounds a lot like PR some days:
That's not to say it's just the same. It isn't. But the reason PR is finding a natural transition to social media, is based on evolutionary factors:
What PR doesn't always understand
In the end, what's needed, of course, is a multi-disciplined communications approach. And while PR folks need to leverage the affinity of their skill sets, we can't get lazy and think of sparking conversation as "getting coverage" in the new media or that we've done our job by getting some good hits. The conversation goes on.
Sure to be an entertaining conference: MIT's Futures of Entertainment 3Posted by Bob Brin on November 12, 2008 at 11:31 AM
The Blair Witch Project . . . meets As the World Turns . . . meets Academia. This event is sponsored by the MIT Convergence Culture Consortium, and brings together media industries professionals and media studies academics to discuss the current state and ongoing trends in media. Includes panels on how value is counted in the media industries, understanding audiences, social media, the comic book industry, franchising and transmedia, media distribution in a global marketplace, and the intersection of academia and the media industries. Check it out. Happens Nov. 21 and 22, on MIT's campus.
New media: a mile wide and dangerously shallow?Posted by Bob Brin on August 2, 2008 at 2:37 PM
I was in a meeting the other day with few people on social media plans and the brand manager commented that the new landscape was a mile wide and an inch deep. I think that's true if you look at social media as just media. We're facing many, many more "outlets" from blogs to Twitter to Facebook and so on . . . and on. Some have thousands of followers and some six (this blog falling somewhere in between). It's tough when you're a marketer trying to decide where you spend your dollars when you need to include this new stuff along with all of the traditional media like radio and billboards.
Of course, social media is not just another media. It's made up of societies. You can no longer just create a message and broadcast. Each "outlet" is a community. And while you can have communicators discover, monitor and -- to a degree -- immerse themselves in these communities, they can't completely broker the relationship on your behalf.
So where do you invest your dollars and your time? Well, as the media (meaning reporters) realize that much of the real-time dialog is happening in these communities, that's where they hang out to get their ideas and immerse themselves in the dialog or at least listen in. They want to be where the action is. So you too need to go where the societies are, get in and get involved. If you've got nothing to talk about except your products, you're not going to be terribly popular. Diving below the surface is where you find the opportunities.
Creative Articulation Before ArtPosted by Bob Brin on August 29, 2007 at 11:29 AM
Don't count on miracles when it comes to creative. Count on magic. All too often, we hope for miracles when it comes to creative, which is usually a waste of God's time, not to mention the creative staff.
Magic, on the other hand, is completely deliverable. But if you know any magicians, you know that it's all about science, practice and painstaking choreography of the performance. It looks magical because the magician sweats out the details long before the curtain goes up.
So do your research before and after the creative, meaning tapping into those scientific-minded researchers to get clarification on what motivates the audiences and test concepts.
Then, craft a creative brief. This document is every bit as creative a challenge as the copy or the design and should be given as much weight. Use it to articulate the creative vision and what outcomes you're trying to achieve to get the best results from your creative efforts.
Think of the creative brief or blueprint as a creative contract between the creative department, the account staff and the client. All must agree to it and it must be formally approved. It is actually a part of the creative effort and so I hesitate to hand it off to the account staff. Not because they're incapable, but because it should be a shared creation that gets the creative team involved earlier in the process. Ultimately, when the creative brief gets the client excited and they say, "Yes, you nailed it," you've created a work of art before the artwork begins.
Quit Being So CreativePosted by on June 1, 2007 at 5:36 PM
I recently attended a meeting where a panel of experts from various agencies weighed in on the ongoing changes of our interactive marketing world, making some interesting points along the way. However, the discussion turned laughable as they went on to say how clients should quit worrying so much about ROI, how measuring clicks and click through rates absolutely threw them off the handle and overall how their award-winning creative brilliance is what ultimately drives results.
Wrong. Creativity is one piece of the proverbial marketing pie. Great design, coming up with the big idea, finding unique ways of branding...all deserve a big pat on the back. But all of this is useless if it’s not doing anything for the client involved. Loosely translated: If your “brilliance” isn't making the client any money, you're out the door and they're moving on to someone who will - no matter how many trendy t-shirts your creatives own or the number of caramel macchiato lattes they suck down each day. You are only as creative as your client says you are. I believe it’s the creative minds who also understand the importance of bridging the gap between creativity and strategy that will win the hearts of their clients, and probably a few awards along the way.
Search Engine Best Practices Coming Round to Traditional MarketingPosted by Bob Brin on February 2, 2007 at 7:41 AM
Search Engine Watch and other search-marketing experts are talking about the growing inflation of pay-per-click costs as marketers have become addicted to what one pundit calls the "search crack pipe."
One article refers to a return to what was once called PR and communications:
Marketing: Formerly known as "link building," in 2007 we will begin to think of this as marketing and promotion
Refering to the waning effectiveness of link campaigns . . .
So what does this mean? It means you have to get your links by different means (in Smith Barney terms you have to "earn it"). Great content. A reputation as an open business that builds relationships with its customers and partners. In short build trust. This is what will get people to link to your site.
We often refer to the push/pull effect of traditional marketing combined with search marketing efforts for greater success. (PR learns what keywords are most effective and search is optimized continually to capitalize on changing messages, news and events.) However when search marketing is seen as the wonder drug, creating "pull" all by itself, and communications and marketing efforts aren't deployed to create valuable content, events, news links, etc. -- the things that really pull people's interests -- then search marketing has less pull and becomes a suck on time and resources.
Viewer BewarePosted by on July 11, 2006 at 10:08 AM
You know consumer-generated media have arrived when a local television station pulls B-roll from YouTube.com. But are there any ethical concerns over using consumer-generated video from a content-sharing site such as YouTube?
TV stations have been using viewer-generated video since the advent of the camcorder. In those instances, a physical handoff of video takes place. The video is screened and inserted into a story if it’s relevant.
Along comes YouTube and its ilk. It’s easy to download a video and pop it into a newscast. Now, producers can think of the Internet as a gigantic video library.
But what if that video was manipulated? In the tape-handoff scenario, there would be little or no time to edit a tape, much less have the talent to edit. In the YouTube example, there is ample opportunity to manipulate video before it’s posted on YouTube.
We trust that TV news producers are smart enough to know the viability of video clips. However, we question the merits of using such video with no way to confirm its legitimacy.
Storytelling 2.0Posted by on June 21, 2006 at 2:45 PM
Students of journalism have a healthy disdain for the “ad hole,” the place where news stories go to die but where ads live in order to pay the journalists. If you haven’t noticed, the hole is getting smaller, but it’s not causing the edit staff to jump for joy: shrinking hole, less revenue, less money to pay reporters, fewer reporters. It’s enough to make a guy go into PR.
So when the Washington Post leads a story with this: “The news industry, congenitally nervous about its future, looks at the Web this spring and sees cause for panic,” you can imagine news rooms around the country crouching in a collective “Shhh!”
We’ve talked about the potential demise of newspapers – and other news media for that matter – but since that time, we’ve shifted our focus to the news itself. The same WaPo article also says “News consumption has fractured and fragmented in the United States over the past 30 years, but the demand for news is strong.” It’s that last independent clause, “…the demand for news is strong,” that should fuel faith in the institution of news gathering and reporting – and consumption.
The idea of a news gathering-reporting-consumption marketplace thriving in a channel-neutral environment will provide the smartest media ample opportunity to generate revenue through multiple streams. WaPo and The New York Times are examples of ancient media learning new tricks.
At some point in the next five to 10 years, the shakeout started with the Knight-Ridder breakup will have scoured the news landscape and left those media who can’t figure out the revenue models (mid-market dailies, radio, struggling cable outfits?) bereft.
The good news for the PR industry is, as WaPo points out, the strong demand for news. It will have to be told, and there will be tellers. And as long as there are tellers, there will be the PR industry. We just need to be a step ahead of the media – and our clients – by coming up with strategic solutions that use more than media relations if the strategy allows for that.
Selling a blind horsePosted by on June 13, 2006 at 10:54 AM
I have soooo tried to resist commenting on Ann Coulter since her ignominious interview with Matt Lauer on “Today” last week. Seems everyone else has commented, and each time someone writes about her, the legend grows, so why bother?
Because she’s good at what she does. Disclaimer: I’m no fan of anything Ann-ish. But if her goal is to sell a half million books, she’s well on her way. That, my friends, is success.
She’ll sell books to the like-minded, the unlike-minded (who would read the book as if they were looking at a traffic accident) and everyone in-between who wants to find out what the hubbub is all about.
She’ll go on the “Tonight” show tomorrow evening and rev it all up again by shaking her finger and her blond mane at us, and then she’ll get in an argument with fellow guest George Carlin. Then on Thursday morning, you can bet the “Today” show will show clips, the discourse will hit the blog world with fury and there will be wire stories about the battle. The well-planned battle. Designed to sell a lot of books. A lot.
There’s an old German proverb that goes something like this: a person selling a blind horse will always praise its feet. It’s like that with Coulter and any of her ilk. I’ve read plenty that gave us the old “any PR is good PR” line. I’m not a believer in that (remember General Motors and the make-your-own Tahoe commercials?). And to call what she’s doing “any” PR or even bad PR is to miss the point. She doesn’t care about those who denounce her, though some will buy her book. No. She’s speaking right at people who think like her. She’s targeted an audience with a specific message.
In that light, this is “good” PR. It’s also dangerous. So be smart out there, kids. Good PR isn’t always good for you.
Does public relations have any business in social media?Posted by Bob Brin on April 24, 2006 at 4:54 PM
Jennifer McClure, Executive Director, Society for New Communications Research wrote in Bulldog Reporter last week that not everyone sees the connection between public relations and "blogs, podcasts, vlogs and other emerging forms of media."
Many believe that PR should not be involved at all. However, this wariness may stem from the perception of PR as the “keeper of the message.” PR is not meant to be about creating static messages in a vacuum, and it is not synonymous with media relations. But for too long, this seems to have been the general assumption—not only of clients and management, but also of many in the PR industry.
It's a good article, but it kinda misses the real skill set of PR people.
I would say that what's working against us is not the perception that we're keeper of the message so much as the perception we're keepers of one relationship -- with reporters. One might flip that coin and argue that, even if media relations were all we do, it's a great skill in the new media world. PR professionals understand releasing messages to some very tough third parties -- intelligent, critical, analytical and sometimes biased individuals -- reporters, analysts, etc. We know what it is to carefully craft a message, put a bow on it and deliver it with much fanfare, only to see our sleek new message crash in the daily newspaper. Some may call that a vacuum and it is -- a machine that will strip off any chrome that isn't bolted to the frame of your fantastic rocket. You really don't get too many static messages to fly with reporters or analysts or, now, bloggers. So who do you want on your side in a blog storm?
Pulitzers Go OnlinePosted by on April 18, 2006 at 9:16 AM
The Pulitzer Prizes were announced yesterday. For the first time, Pulitzers were awarded to newspapers with online components.
Five papers won Pulitzers for online coverage – most notably, the New Orleans Times-Picayune, which won for its Hurricane Katrina coverage when the newspaper’s printing presses were under water.
Pulp still rules the Pulitzers, but in the first year that online content was considered, five prizes were awarded.
As more newspapers awake to the notion that there is more potential in online news offerings than ink and paper, we will see a day when there will be more Pulitzers awarded for online work than for offline work. Soon.
Be Very ScaredPosted by on February 28, 2006 at 4:40 PM
If I were traditional media, I’d be scared of My Space, too.
Social networks are now ingrained in the behaviors of teens and young adults, and the younger Gen Y-ers and Millennials are right behind them.
With News Corporation’s purchase of My Space, it won’t be long until it becomes a hub for more non-My Space content and a platform for significant advertising.
And when those kids are in their 20s and their sitting down the hall from us, we’re going to have to be one step ahead of them.
Time to think like a teen again – though not a teen circa 1978…
The New Media ConsumerPosted by on February 22, 2006 at 8:45 AM
I attended a presentation Monday night on the relevance of the news media sponsored by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The consensus among the panel was that news media remain relevant, but that relevance is changing. The “new” media consumer triangulates, the panel said. Today’s media consumers read the same story from multiple sources and frame opinions and conclusions based on that information. Consumers of a single channel can’t possibly have a well-rounded perspective, they argued. And they’re right.
This puts a tremendous burden on traditional media. Newspapers are rushing to improve their online presence, but most newspaper web sites are regurgitations of their pulp product. Television stations repurpose the same stuff. Radio, well, there’s one station in town getting it right.
Now, enter Google, Yahoo!, MSN and other portals. They introduce another dimension. The portals are becoming a single source of information as aggregators of news reported by multiple media outlets. And Yahoo! is in the process of beefing up its news offerings.
News media won’t disappear. Panelist Dave Kansas, editor of The Wall Street Journal’s Money and Investing section, said that without traditional media, the citizenry wouldn’t be able to produce news. I agree. Though newsroom staffs are shrinking, they still are large at the national level and they have the education, expertise, knowledge and contacts necessary to produce news.
What is changing is the relationship between the reader and the reporter. Media gatekeepers decide which news we get, when we get it and in which format we get it. In the near future, readers will make those decisions, while the reporters will focus on getting the story right and delivering it via the channels we select.
I pondered all this while reading the news on my phone, like I do every day. But I still can’t get my daily newspaper on my phone. (I think I’ve complained about this before, but it doesn’t hurt to do it again…get with it!)
Consumer De-generated MediaPosted by Bob Brin on January 11, 2006 at 9:33 AM
Yes, with today's consumer-generated media, you too can be an author, a critic, an analyst, a hotdog, a weenie. Take Wikipedia, where anyone can not only contribute articles to this online encyclopedia (if, say, you're an expert on pileated woodpeckers), you can even edit other people's stuff.
Imagine the controversy that could erupt should one contributor believe she's more expert than the expert. Better yet, don't imagine. Go to this article on the ancient civilization of Kush which I tripped upon while helping my 6th grader with her homework. The article looks peaceful as a sand dune, but under the "history" tab at the top of the page, you find a not-so-civilized war waging beneath the surface as one user tries to edit the editor (reads chronologically from bottom up).
Consumer "Deeceevoice" attempts to change the content and says:
Stop this false, racialist dichotomy of sub-Saharan and North Africa. Both were the sites of early BLACK African civilizations
No need to bring modern racial divisions into our Ancient history articles.
If you link to Deeceevoice's profile page, you find a warning about the page from none-other than Jimbo Wales, founder of Wikipedia:
I am strongly advising this user to replace this offensive rant with a calm discussion of the issues the page raises. There is absolutely nothing wrong with raising questions about systemic bias and how racism and other hostile ideologies can affect Wikipedia negatively, but this page is not contributing constructively to the debate. Do not disrupt Wikipedia to make a point.
Deeceevoice then volleys with a link to his/her page, which includes [WARNING] swastikas, offensive photos and crude language, which deeceevoice says others injected. (see comments)
Consumer-generated media can definitely give power to the people. Just be prepared to deal with dialogue that degenerates into graffiti and graphic violence.
Mine Shaft GapPosted by on January 4, 2006 at 12:49 PM
This morning, I took the long, cold walk down my slippery driveway to retrieve the morning newspaper. I unfolded it and read the Page One headline above the fold: 12 miners found alive.
What a different story I found when I turned on the “Today” show a few minutes later.
Certainly, my newspaper couldn’t have had the latest news by the time the paper rolled off the press and into a delivery truck. That sort of thing happens every day. But that’s just it – by the time you trundle down your driveway to pick up the paper, it’s recyclable, old, yesterday’s news.
Newspapers (paper) can’t compete in a 24/7 world. You can dress ’em up, load them with evergreens and opinions, but you can’t get the latest news to my doorstep in a vehicle that doesn’t include having me turn on my computer, get on the Web and find your Web site.
What’s the new vehicle? Handhelds and phones work just fine. When my carrier got lazy over the holidays and decided that delivering the paper was optional, I grabbed my cell phone and read the news while eating my Frosted Mini Wheats. It wasn’t my paper’s news, though.
When will our friends on the ink side get it together? Soon, I hope.
The New York Times blog memoPosted by on December 8, 2005 at 11:20 AM
The New York Times is justifying to its newsroom why it has decided to create multiple blogs in a staff memo. The stake in the ground for the Times came in this line from the memo: “A blog is nothing more than a piece of technology.”
We can be literal about this interpretation, or take it in the spirit in which it seems it was intended. News is news, and increasingly, communicated in multiple ways through multiple venues and technologies. As the memo suggests, you take from blogs what you get.
Is the newspaper selling blogs short? What do you think?
TV a la cartePosted by on December 1, 2005 at 2:44 PM
Are we being a bit demanding? The broadcast industry is upset that the FCC is pushing consumers toward a world where we choose what we want, when we want, where we want. Cable über alles feel it’s a violation of the First Amendment, among other things. First Amendment? Which part? Freedom of Religion? Assembly? Speech? Press? Redressed grievances? Baloney?
I thought of this issue as I installed a satellite radio unit in my father-in-law’s Buick (now there’s dichotomy for you). We listen to the kind of music we want, when we want it and where we want to listen to it. Yea! No more ****ing Journey!
We read news in the same fashion. Today, I caught the latest sports headlines from ESPN on my phone while stuck at a traffic light.
Consumers want freedom. As a consumer, I’d like all television – network and cable – to stop confining me to a grid. I don’t want the news at 10 p.m. I want it at 11:15 p.m. I want “The Office” at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, not 8 p.m. Tuesday. And I don’t want anything from Fox. Period.
With few exceptions, the world of broadcast advertising depends on the grid. Price structures are built upon it. Revenue is generated through it. If networks and stations can’t tell advertisers that “Grey’s Anatomy” indexes high among women 25-39 on Sunday at 9 p.m., then how is Proctor & Gamble going to create a plan that sells feminine hygiene products in a :30 spot on the half hour? And how is the network going to price that :30 if it can’t tell an advertiser when the :30 will air (or if it ever will air if the viewer has TiVo and skips the ads)? You get the picture.
Don’t touch that dial. Next time, I’ll talk about what this means for PR practitioners. But hey – read it on your time, not mine. Enjoy the freedom.
A longer needle. Is that all it takes to cure what ails us?Posted by on November 29, 2005 at 9:07 AM
At a Radiological Society of North America meeting today, doctors debated the medical necessity of affixing longer needles to their syringes when administering vaccines or other intramuscular injections to obese patients. This unsightly epidemic has spread, it seems, to the point where a good two-thirds of an injection failed to reach muscle tissue.
This study focused mostly on injections aimed at one’s posterior –– when perhaps researchers should have aimed higher and focused on the fat that threatens to keep real news from reaching our brains.
Just a little more than a week ago, a local television network ladled gravy between the collective ears of the metro area with the announcement it was going to change the format of one of its morning programs from something less “newsy” and more “infotainment.” Companies, special interests, experts, spice salespersons, all will have the opportunity to appear on this show when it debuts, provided they pony up the dollars. In more coarse words, viewers will be treated to 26 minutes of pay-for-play.
My inner news prude screams, “Outrageous! A cardinal sin of the airwaves, usually saved for voids on cable.” As I drew a breath to protest, I stopped. Then I watched “Good Night, and Good Luck.” This brief film that retraces the steps of a network news team to take on an unpopular subject reminded me that, really, isn’t money the thing that has driven most of what we call newsworthy? Maybe not out in the open, but certainly in a number of closed-door meetings.
Have news viewers become so laden with this mental fat that this concept will take off? It may have already, in other markets. Viewers have done little to discourage this. At the end of a burdensome day, most of us would crave a bit of fluff; we asked, and the networks (and their sponsors) have gladly provided.
Our news appetites are supplemented more and more by the empty calories of information that entertains more than it informs. What does this mean for real, ugly news that reporters or networks may not want to pursue? Mary Poppins’ patented spoonful of sugar won’t help.
Looks like we might need a longer needle ourselves.
Cooper PopuliPosted by on November 4, 2005 at 1:40 PM
Part of our job is to monitor the comings and goings of media types, so it was an interesting Thursday as we witnessed the departure of CNN’s Aaron Brown and the insertion of Anderson Cooper into Brown’s “Newsnight” slot. Set aside, for the moment, the insincerity of the move on CNN’s part. And also set aside Cooper’s obvious talent for telling a story. What this move signals is that we have ourselves a popularity contest.
Sure, we’re not naïve. We understand the game. Some of us have been in front of or behind the camera for a living. But this isn’t Lou Gehrig coming in for Wally Pipp. Cooper has decent chops. But Brown was becoming Cronkite-like.
Of course you need more than a journalism degree to succeed in television news. A pretty face doesn’t hurt any. But when the head of your news organization says one reason for the switch is that Cooper is a recurring character on “Saturday Night Live” and how that makes him “known,” you wonder where the journalism degree disappeared to (assuming the guy is a journalist and not an MBA disguised as a journalist).
As a public relations firm, we need to have a solid understanding not only of the change, but the thinking behind the change. If we do, we have a much better opportunity to develop strategies and plans that allow us to tell our clients’ stories. How is Cooper’s storytelling different from Brown’s? What kind of news does a producer feed Cooper that she wouldn’t feed Brown? What are Cooper’s hot buttons? What pressure does CNN face to produce product that appeals to prospective advertisers and viewers – and fend off FOX News?
If I was Cooper, I wouldn’t get too comfortable.
Another sign of the impending you-know-whatPosted by on October 11, 2005 at 3:36 PM
David Carr of The New York Times writes: "Putting print on the grid is a necessity, because the grid is where America lives. But what the newspaper industry really needs is an iPod moment." And fast.
Minneapolis Star Tribune RedesignPosted by on October 11, 2005 at 9:54 AM
Newspapers face an uncertain future. Circulation is down. Jobs are evaporating. Readers are disappearing. Yet profits for some, including the Minneapolis Star Tribune, are up. Go figure. Newspapers ran fat for years. But pulling cost out of production, cutting back on pages and increasing ad rates and subscription fees are ways newspapers such at the “Strib” have been able to survive.
Now comes the paper’s redesign. Before I proceed, I must disclose that I have a journalism degree and have been a reporter and freelance writer. I still can smell the ink from the press room of the International Falls Daily Journal, which sat directly behind the newsroom. I love newspapers.
But I fear for their survival.
The redesign is a step in the right direction. Newspapers must evolve or they will die. Most importantly, they need to grow and sustain relevance in the lives of people much younger that me.
I think of my preschoolers and wonder if they’ll get ink on their fingers in 20 years. How relevant will print be in 2025? How relevant will it be in 2010?
Newspapers have become one of many channels through which we receive news. I read more news online than I do in print, and I read almost as much news on my cell phone as I do in print. I monitor at least 25 marketing/pr/advertising/business blogs to get news the Strib doesn’t report. And I try to catch at least one 10 p.m. newscast every night. Oh, and I listen to Minnesota Public Radio on my way to work.
The redesign is meant to help the Strib cement relevance in our lives as a newspaper for the future. Let’s hope the effort succeeds. Or, at minimum, let’s hope the Strib cements its relevance in our lives as a news source for the future, whether it’s print or not.