Archive for May, 2011
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The New York Times boasts the highest number of Twitter followers among US newspapers (more than 2.5 million — which is more than five times the number for the WSJ), but the paper is constantly refining its social media strategy. Recently, the Gray Lady has been shaking things up by replacing the @nytimes auto feed of headlines and links with real, live humans. Yes, actual human beings. And to everyone’s surprise, these humans are posing questions, retweeting content, and curating more active online conversations. You know, social media stuff.
Twitter’s been around since 2006, but the NYT and many traditional news sources have yet to fully realize its potential. Social media at The Times has varied over the years: the paper hired its first social media editor in May of 2009, only to eliminate the position in December 2010. Until now, the NYT has mostly limited engagement with it’s stories to pre-publication, and have used @nytimes to point their followers to specific articles as they appear on NYTimes.com, but otherwise hasn’t interacted with it’s audiences post-publication to curate conversations.
Simple as it may be, we agree that the diagram below (developed by Meg Pickard, head of digital engagement at The Guardian), provides a good visual representation of the traditional process of reporter and user engagement in journalism — as well as its obvious gaps.
“The horizontal line is the process of journalism. The vertical line represents publication. Above the line are the actions of journalists. Those folks traditionally work really hard up until publication, then return to the beginning to start something new. Below the line are the users, whose role has always come after publication, reacting and sharing.”
But with tools like social media, there’s the opportunity for a more well-rounded dialog between content creators and content consumers. And it’s not just the NYTimes that’s still struggling to figure this stuff out — if you look at most news organization’s Twitter accounts, you’ll largely find autofeeds, not two-way dialog. At The Times, social media is limited to the rather generic guidelines of “don’t be stupid.” (We should note that we have a few other ideas about audience management here.)
But it seems the strategy of The Times is evolving. “If you just think about it only as distribution, you’re not getting what you can out of social media,” says Social Media Editor Liz Heron. It’s true — Twitter can be helpful to distribute breaking headlines to readers — but there are also opportunities to create, maintain and support a community in realtime conversations — it just takes some practice, and dedicated (wo)man-hours.
Should news organizations move towards a more engaged approach to social media? Do you follow news organizations and hope to have real conversations, or are you content with cyborg-generated Tweets to follow breaking news?
I go for homeruns, not singles. I want to knock it out of the park. The problem with that is homeruns are very high risk. The chance of a homerun is significantly lower than simply getting on first base. I don’t want to stop dreaming for the homerun, but more training is in order to get there. I really should focus on getting a hit, rather than the homerun — but I’m driven to practice for the homerun, rather than just a hit.
There is a trail of dead startups behind me and a money trail that I have burned through. There are years of things I have tried building and failing. On one hand, failure does equal experience and lessons. On the other hand, it’s been an expensive education by not programming these ideas myself…
Extendy, Boughtly, ViewCues, ifluencer, Trackable Links, Sme, InSeconds, ThankYouTroops, PinkPinky, MyFavorites v1, MyFavorites v2 (haven’t given up on this yet), and there are more.
As much as I have read and heard the same thing over and over and over again in the past 12+ years, I want to say it has never really sunk in or I have just never really “got it.” That one thing is “work on a problem you have, that you want a solution for, that you are the user of.” MyFavorites is the closest to this. It is a problem I have — is it a big problem? Not necessarily. It’s something fun, entertaining, and would help me learn more about my friends (and anyone) and discover new stuff (beer, books, local plumber, etc).
I have found myself working on ideas over the years that I think can be homeruns, but they really haven’t been problems — or rather, big problems of mine. As a most-times unrealistic entrepreneur that swings for the fences, it’s my reading about the sensationalized homeruns in the press (Twitter, etc) that have skewed my attention towards working on my startup ideas that I think could be sensationalized homeruns. But it’s all fiction and theory in my mind — because typically the idea isn’t even solving a problem I have!
So I pledge to only work on a startup in the future if it’s solving a real problem I have. Hopefully the idea won’t fade out in a few months as all the others have, when I find myself wondering what the heck I’m doing. It’s a recipe for disaster when you’re making up a problem. A successful startup should lead to 5-10+ years of working on a solution for a problem, so I better have a real problem that I believe in fixing. I don’t know if that means I’ll be swinging for the homeruns anymore or not — I guess it’ll depend on the problem at hand.
Like it or not, summer is the official season for book reading. And even though I’ve reviewed a couple of books recently, I always have a pile to get through.
The pile’s a bit shorter now thanks to Geoff Livingston’s PR-page-turner: “Welcome to The Fifth Estate.” Geoff was kind enough to get me a review copy as I reviewed his last book, “Now is Gone.” He’s a friend of The Bad Pitch Blog — even Richard likes him and he’s been a guest blogger here in the past.
“Welcome to the Fifth Estate” officially launches today and, as I suggest above, it’s a good read. The book picks up where “Now is Gone” left off – and it provides a more substantive point of view. Geoff walks through many of the shiny new distractions out there and provides a smart, pragmatic view of the changes shaping our professional landscape.
Strategy & Tactics/Theory & Application
Of note is that Geoff provides the bigger picture and a more hands-on view with summaries at the end of each chapter and helpful cases throughout. Some of the cases are from brands we’re tired of hearing about. But all of them are relevant and it was good to see a broader than usual selection of brands, including InvisiblePeople.TV, Network Solutions, Miriam’s Kitchen, Plum Village, Gordon Jewelers, The Republican Party and charity: water all featured. There’s also a chapter on “a common approach to measurement” written by “guest author” Kami Watson Huyse, APR.
Broadcasting To & Engaging With Consumers
Media convergence is top of mind for me right now. And this book has helped me with this focus. Consider the impact of this convergence to media relations – messaging has morphed from a tightly-controlled process to more of an unknown as brands participate and use content to start conversations vs. dominate them.
Geoff reminds us that sometimes participation means knowing when to simply shut up and listen. This is not second nature for most people — regardless of their profession. But consider the impact on PR professionals and content creation. Media stories were so well-defined in the past that we could easily define content types (news release, photo, video) and take a one-size fits all approach. Now we must create a starting point and adapt.
Content, Consumers & Convergence
The Bad Pitch Blog has been talking about the need for a new approach to media relations, well, since day one. But more recently, we’ve focused on the unique approach needed to blogger outreach when compared to traditional media relations.
Even traditional media relations has become anything but conventional. “Welcome to the Fifth Estate” outlines what organizations need to consider – and reconsider – to engage with the new landscape of paid, owned and earned media.
Print or Digital?
So are you reading any industry-related books right now? Regardless of the format, research shows consumers are reading more than ever. Between that factoid and the season, odds are good you’re reading something other than this blog post. Let us know what you like and why in the comments. It’ll become a crowd-sourced PR reading list. Or something that sounds a bit less shiny.
Let me be direct and get straight to the point: This blog post is about the absolutely worst presentation about the changing world of banking that I have ever seen.
And I’ve seen (and possibly created) some real losers.
Booz & Co. (a very reputable consulting firm) published a PDF called Next Generation Retail Banking: The Rise of Social Apponomics. Some of the lowlights from this deck include claims regarding:
- The end of all things. According to the authors, as a result of the financial crisis, corporate cultures have been torn apart, and good and evil have been blurred. The report states that “Arisen from chaos have new views of the world, beliefs, and behaviors that pose significant new challenges to banks.”
- Digitization of human culture, the key to growth and profitability. The authors believe that a “fundamental paradigm change towards offering a holistic customer experience is required, implying transforming a bank from its core to its periphery.”
- Customized banking through coordinated networks. To quote the report: “The result of the digital transformation are coordinated banking networks organized by concentrators that work to offer the individually most relevant experience and solutions that maximize value-to-customer across the entire lifecycle.”
And that’s just slide 1.
The second slide attempts to elaborate on the “required paradigm change” and discusses something referred to as “nevolution” — broaden one’s horizon, creating options, preparing for change.
The third slide informs us that the Internet changes everything, and in case we didn’t quite understand that, goes on to mention that Broadband changes everything. And for good measure, the final bullet on the slide lets us know that Mobile changes everything. A little clip picture on the slide contains the label: “Customer expectations are evolving.”
Slide 4 is a word tag chart.
The fifth slide talks about how the “key capabilities” in retail banking have evolved from technology (the past) to value (the present), and how they will evolve to engagement (emerging).
There are a couple more slides, and if you have a strong constitution and high tolerance for pain, you can read them for yourself.
My take: I’m serious about this: Booz should remove the deck from its website, apologize for publishing crap, and call a do-over.
In addition to being just a bunch of buzzword bingo, what’s really mind-boggingly annoying here is that Booz is trying to create some new term to describe the new environment (social apponomics), but no where — I repeat, NO WHERE — in the deck is there any definition or even further mention of the term past the title slide.
[h/t to The Financial Brand for alerting me to this one. Although, maybe I shouldn't be thanking him ]
Imagine being in Public Relations in the 1980s & 1990s?
– Your Rolodex was critically important and you needed a great fax machine to get those pitches out.
How about finding a job 20 years ago?
– You had to obsess over your printed CV and continually “network” – cold call friends of friends or some random person you met once to see if they could help you land a job.
Getting attention a few decades ago was nearly impossible.
– I know because I started in sales and marketing in the mid-1980s. It was expensive and I had no budget. And to be honest, it wasn’t so much fun.
– Don’t even get me started on looking for a job in the ‘90s. Ugh. What a downer.
You and I are incredibly lucky
We’re living in a time when we can reach the world directly, without having to spend enormous amounts of money on advertising and without investing in huge public relations efforts to convince the media to write (or broadcast) about our products and services.
Today, you can show potential employers what you know and what you can do so they will find you!
There is a tremendous opportunity right now to reach people by publishing great stuff that brands us as leaders. Now we can create videos, tell stories, interact with people and develop interesting information that people want to consume and that they are eager to share.
Hey, we can have fun!
It’s incredibly rewarding to create a video or a blog post that’s seen by thousands.
How amazing is it to have people contacting you every day to learn more about your offerings?
Isn’t it cool that potential employers reach out to you?
There’s a new world – are you part of it?
Are you earning the attention of your potential customers? Or is your marketing and PR program the same as 1994?
Are you developing a social network and publishing the information that will make you a must hire employee? Or are you still sorting out what color beige is the best paper to print your CV on?
If not now, then when?
Now is a terrific time to start. It is not too late. If you’ve got something to say, then say it.
We’re looking to hear from your company. We’re searching Google for what you have to offer. We want to hear from you.
If you create something interesting, we’re eager to share it with our friends, colleagues, and family.
What are you waiting for?
You are in charge of your own success.
Top image: Shutterstock / filip323
Bottom image: Shutterstock / Tetiana Savitska aka Solaie
From IBM's Institute of Business Value, some interesting paradoxes between the two players in this dance of communities and social. On one hand, a company that believes customers want to get more closer to them, maybe grab some info and do some minimal engagement and the customer who desperately wants the freebie.
The caveat here is the people that do want to join a community and feel a deeper sense of connection are like gold and ideally should be the minority – I wouldn't concern myself with their percentage being so low.
The necessity here is that we should be mindful that – good feelings and soft lullabies are only so good in creating lasting social brand currency, the people want stuff too.
Don't underestimate the power of an unexpected piece of swag or exclusive offer and proposal.
We talk about the 27 different incentives people have in deciding whether they want to join a community, cause or brand-sponsored effort in our book Wikibrands – have a look in chapter 8.
Put down that bestselling business book, pause the podcast, and forget what your college professor may have taught you. It’s time to listen to Radiohead.
Having turned the digital media world upside down with their 2007 “pay what you can” album In Rainbows, the boys from Oxfordshire have now turned to the much-maligned world of print with its recent release, The King of Limbs.
Pegged as the first “Newspaper Album,” the band first offered its fans a crack at their music online, followed by vinyl and CD releases.
Radiohead also assembled large pieces of artwork, 635 tiny pieces of art, and a newspaper in an oxo-degradable plastic bag, enabling fans to experience its brand in both a high-tech and high-touch fashion.
And the English band is just one of many brands making the jump from Web to print – and beyond.
Print as new media
There’s an increasing argument afoot that print is making a comeback – as if it ever really went away. With online content and digital toys aplenty, the simplicity and tangibility of print somehow seems new and exciting again, with some marketers now even talking of print as a “new” form of communication in their marketing mix.
While we may think of Web-to-print in the context of made-to-order photo books, simple brochures and greeting cards, brands both big and small are creating content and communities that start online but ultimately move back to print as an end product.
“It’s no secret that we are engaging in more media as consumers every day… including mobile, tablets, online and new ones that have yet to be created,” opines Joe Pulizzi, a leading author, speaker, and content marketing evangelist. “Print is still a part of that mix.”
By Design Publishing, for example, has emerged as a Web-to-print platform that arms real estate agents with a turnkey way to publish in print their very own bi-monthly magazine.
Real estate agents simply use an online platform to assemble articles related to home, décor, and travel. With their name and photos emblazoned on the front cover, and throughout the printed magazine, the publication claims to provide helpful and entertaining content that can keep a real estate agent top-of-mind with their client base.
Since its inception, By Design Publishing has distributed approximately 12 million copies of its personal branding magazines to agents’ mailing lists.
“I believe we just need to recognize the best way to create, find and re-imagine our content marketing,” says Pulizzi. “Historically, we’ve focused our content marketing on deliverables, like a custom magazine. After that, we stepped back and said, ‘well, we have this online outlet that we need to promote with.’ Thus, the print-to-Web process was born – we create the content for the print deliverable, then recycle the content online.”
Today, Pulizzi says that since most content is created digitally, we think about the process as “Web-to-print.” In reality, he says, it’s “Web-to-everything.” In other words, content hatched online doesn’t just stay there. It spreads everywhere.
One story equals ten deliverables
Content experts, like Pulizzi, advocate a smarter approach to distribution. An idea that first starts online needs to be thought about in all the ways content is distributed, including social media, PR, e-newsletters, tablets, mobile, and print.
Even a long-form article for a custom magazine can have dozens of additional stories tied to it that can help achieve marketing objectives.
“So, instead of one story equals one deliverable,” Pulizzi says, “we need to think of one story equals ten deliverables multi-channel.”
Putting his money where his mouth is, Pulizzi launched Chief Content Officer (CCO), a print magazine that also publishes in online and mobile-ready formats. Pulizzi says that from his experience, consumers still believe that if something is written in print, it’s more important.
“That’s not necessarily true, but that’s the perception,” Pulizzi says. “No one ever turns down an opportunity to be interviewed or promoted in the magazine. They don’t call up and say, ‘I’d like to be featured in your blog.’ That never happens. It happens every day in print.”
Shashi Bellamkonda, Director of Social Media at Network Solutions and a regularly featured technology speaker, agrees. Bellamkonda says that while he’s entrenched in digital media on a daily basis, as a consumer he still subscribes to print media because he’s keen on “the feel” of a daily newspaper.
Bellamkonda says that in Washington, D.C. he sees local print newspaper circulation (dailies, weeklies, and monthlies) holding strong, as well as amateur projects on the rise thanks to outfits like Customink.com, where users have the ability to easily design their own print materials and t-shirts.
In a world increasingly influenced by digital marketing, Bellamkonda adds, the “what’s old is new again” print strategy can sometimes cut through the clutter.
“I pay more attention to my direct mail pieces, as there is so little of it coming,” Bellamkonda says. “Also, due to the overload of e-mail, a well-delivered snail message has a very good chance of being opened.”
We are all publishers
With interest in the Web-to-print model brimming, tech startups and industry giants alike are trying their hands at the old print game.
LocalsGuide, an early adopter, has used the Web-to-print model for years to leverage social communities capable of generating hyperlocal news. By soliciting articles, interviews, and photos from citizens, LocalsGuide is able to produce a print publication that is mailed to homes throughout Southern Oregon. This community-powered publication has become a model for local news all over the United States.
There is also an onslaught of Web-to-print tools geared towards consumers. Services such as Blurb and Lulu allow amateur writers and photographers to design books and portfolios online, and receive a printed product in the mail. Another unique undertaking, a partnership between Wikimedia Foundation and a German startup called PediaPress, allows people to create custom books from crowdsourced wiki content.
Demonstrating that the concept works equally well for both large and small organizations, the innovators at Google have launched their own magazine in the U.K., an online publication called Think Quarterly, with hints of print distribution to boot.
Called a “breathing space in a busy world” by Google, Think Quarterly’s first edition packed 62 pages that could be consumed in a full-screen view to mimic the magazine experience. While Google is careful to clarify that Think Quarterly is not a consumer magazine, 1500 printed copies of the first edition were sent to its partners in the U.K.
Thanks to Web-to-print technology, says Pulizzi, “we now have the tools that we can effectively be publishers. There are no barriers to entry for any company to compete at a high-level in niche content areas.”
Until recent years, it was a tall task for non-media companies to develop multiple-channel content strategies. Today, Web-to-print can serve as one of many methods for brands to get their stories out to everyone, everywhere.
- Literally Unbelievable
Curated examples of individuals encountering items from The Onion on Facebook and missing the joke.
Tesco to produce ad-funded cookery TV show – Tesco is preparing to launch an ad-funded TV show under its Real Food m… http://ow.ly/1cU7TK
Facebook Is Developing Ways to Share Media (New York Times) http://nyti.ms/kCNLSp http://mgzr.us/BaV5
Article: Unilever Keeps It Real for Dove Brands in Social Media http://ow.ly/1cTC9s
LinkedIn tool creates timeline of your career & connections – http://on.mash.to/iQFn9o
The Atlantic Launches Twitter-Based Book Club (@laureni / Mashable!) http://on.mash.to/l5fnOF http://mgzr.us/BaFS
Facebook hires two former Bush aides as lobbyists: http://politi.co/iGv2jX via @DailyIntel
How Premium Fashion Brands Are Maximizing Their Social Media ROI http://t.co/HFODKrT #LMOadv
Brands use Foursquare-Mobile Social Media Marketing Strategy | Project Socialize – http://bit.ly/kU1PCD
Whitepaper: Top 5 Reasons Why Brands Need to Focus on Earned Media http://bit.ly/paidvearned #PaidvEarned
B&N Says Foreign-Language E-Books Selling ‘Outrageously’ Well in U.S. http://cnt.to/om3
Twitter now lets you view other people’s twitter streams – TNW #socialmedia http://tnw.co/mwp7gB
Introducing the people widget (Zohair Hyder / Gmail Blog) http://j.mp/loKmKu http://techme.me/BaFr