Journalism At The Crossroads – To Evolve Or Not

August 18, 2008 at 6:56 am | Posted in Blogging, Business, Communication, Marketing, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter, Web 2.0 | 9 Comments
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Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Journalism is at a crossroads, with two distinct groups voicing their opinions.

On one side, many journalists don’t buy the trend toward social media and have their heads firmly entrenched in the sand. They believe in their readership’s loyalty and claim that social media is a passing fad.

One the other side, other journalists have fully embraced the social media tools at their disposal and go so far as to trumpet the death of journalism. They expect newspapers to close up shop; the death knell of print news is a symphony of tweets.

Aren’t the two views mutually exclusive? Which one is correct?

Personally, I believe they are both wrong. Some newspapers will outlast social media and some have already been taken down by it. The basic truth is that some people love getting their news from social media like Facebook, Twitter, and FriendFeed, while others will never replace their tangible newspaper-with-coffee routine.

This post will explain, however, that newspapers and journalists who use social media – in effect integrate these two seemingly opposing ideas – will likely be the long-term winners. There is no doubt that the old ways are changing. Journalists who refuse to accept that should begin cleaning up their resumes.

But major news networks need not shutter the windows quite yet. Embracing this change could be the key to stopping the newspaper industry’s slow (and recently not so slow) slide into irrelevance.

Continue Reading Journalism At The Crossroads – To Evolve Or Not…

What Is Twitter? A Beginners Guide

August 11, 2008 at 7:04 am | Posted in Blogging, Business, Communication, Marketing, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter, Web 2.0 | 5 Comments
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Courtesy of aaardvaark via Flickr

Courtesy of aaardvaark via Flickr

You may have heard of Twitter and be a little confused. Early adopters have been playing around with it for a couple of years, but Twitter finally seems to be making it into the mainstream.

This is a brief users guide for those curious about how it works, wondering about its value, and wanting to get the most from the experience.

What Is Twitter?

Twitter is commonly referred to as “micro-blogging.” While this is an accurate description, I’ve found that it confuses some people (non-bloggers especially).

Imagine it is a post-it note. You don’t have a lot of space (140 characters) so brevity is required. When you jot something down on your post-it note, it gets stuck to your refrigerator door, much like you might do at home. However, in this scenario, anyone can see the notes posted on your frig. And you can see anyone else’s.

How Does It Work?

Like most web 2.0 applications, the best advice is to just try it out. (You can’t do it wrong and you won’t break it – just give it a whirl.)

You sign up with a name of your choice. After that, find people you know or are interested in following. Twitter can pull from your email contacts to see if your friends and family already have Twitter accounts.

Twitter accounts are identified with an “at” symbol in front. So when discussing your Twitter account, you would say @YourName. Events use a hash mark. For instance, you can search for all Olympic tweets using #080808.

You can view anyone’s notes (or “tweets”) and anyone can sign up to view yours. Don’t worry – you will get an email letting you know every time someone follows you.

And of course, all of this is free.

Continue Reading What Is Twitter? A Beginners Guide…

No One Cares, You Are Doing It Wrong, And That Is Awesome

August 7, 2008 at 6:27 am | Posted in Advertising, Blogging, Boomers, Business, Communication, Generation X, Generations, Leadership, Marketing, Net gens, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 5 Comments
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Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Marketers are confused these days. The things that have worked for decades aren’t working anymore. Can you imagine if you worked for 30 years in your given vocation and then, almost over night, all the rules changed?

In truth, marketing is only now becoming what it truly should have been – a conversation. Less lies, less spin. Marketers have been shoveling marshmallow fluff down the mouths of Americans and telling them it’s broccoli. And suddenly, as quick as you can confuse metaphors, we find that the emperor has no clothes.

I admit I’ve been frustrated with the old-school marketers. “What is with these guys, and why can’t they get it together?” But that’s not fair. Their whole world has shifted beneath them. I came to a better understanding watching a recent Robert Scoble interview with IBM engineer Mike Moran. (I highly encourage you to check it out: Robert Scoble’s interview with Mike Moran. It’s only 12 minutes long and well worth your time.)

Moran gives a cogent explanation of why marketers are having such a difficult time in the new web 2.0 environment. Here is a small sample:

“The change that’s really happening is you have to learn how to attract people to your message rather than pushing it at them. You have to figure out how you’re going to listen when they talk back. And you also have to watch what they do. Those three things are really critical because once you do them, you have to figure out how to respond.

Those three things are really critical because once you do them, you have to figure out how to respond. When I say ‘Do it wrong quickly,’ it’s not you trying to do it wrong, it’s that you kind of admit that what you’re doing is probably wrong because it usually is. And then you have to look back at the feedback from your target market to see how far off it is so that you know what to do next. And that’s really a tough change for a lot of marketers.

That seems really simple, but think of it: a whole industry has changed in a matter of what, less than a decade? That is pretty outstanding. It’s going from monologue to dialogue, from lecture to conversation, from directing to caring, from crossed fingers to metrics.

Continue Reading No One Cares, You Are Doing It Wrong, And That Is Awesome…

Sometimes Breasts Aren’t Enough, Julia Allison

July 28, 2008 at 6:25 am | Posted in Blogging, Business, Communication, Facebook, Marketing, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter, Web 2.0 | 11 Comments
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Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

I have been trying to figure out why WIRED’s cover story on Julia Allison incensed me so much.

You won’t find me bashing Paris Hilton or her ilk on this blog. As someone who barely watches TV, her brand of reality-show insta-celebs barely register on my consciousness. However, I do dwell in the PR world, the internet world, the social media world…and when you screw around in that world, I consider you fair game.

I don’t normally do hit pieces. I am usually positive about how marketing/PR/advertising can make the world a better place (no small task, believe me). But the Julia Allison story deserves some response on this blog because it illustrates:

1. How not to do PR

2. How not to use web 2.0 social media tools

3. How not to run a magazine

Here’s a quick recap of the article: WIRED portrays the piece as a “how-to,” giving advice on the art of online self-promotion. It details how a woman in her mid-20s weaseled into the digital pages of Gawker, Valleywag, and (now) WIRED.

On the splash page before the article, WIRED writes, “She can’t act. She can’t sing. She’s not rich…[S]he’s an internet celebrity.” In case you missed the underlying message, it’s that WIRED just gave a cover story to someone devoid of talent. Here is why Julia Allison is a terrible example of self-promotion, a warning of the missteps of public relations, and why WIRED ought to be ashamed.

Continue Reading Sometimes Breasts Aren’t Enough, Julia Allison…

Make Money Writing A Blog – Guaranteed!

July 14, 2008 at 6:50 am | Posted in Advertising, Blogging, Business, Communication, Marketing, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter, Web 2.0 | 9 Comments
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Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Please forgive the link-bait title. But I do have a guaranteed way for you to make money from your blog. (Do I sound like a huckster yet? Stay with me.)

Gather ’round, kiddies, because this could change your life. And this secret is free.

The secret to making money through your blog is: Be Amazing.

Surprised? The inconvenient truth of the internet is that it works the same way as the real world. In order to make money, you have to work hard and be good at what you do. The pyramid schemes are bunk and no one gets rich quick.

Believe me? You should. And if you do, I have just freed you from the shackles of mediocrity. Can I hear an AMEN?!

Mitch Joel runs a blog and a weekly podcast, both entitled Six Pixels of Separation. Here’s what he says in SPOS #108:

“Everybody wants to know: How do you make money in this stuff [roughly, the online channel]? …It was really cool to see David [Usher] and Michael McCardy [from EMI] really take a different stance. And they were like, ‘You know what, guys? If you create something really amazing, whether its music…or products or services, people are gonna notice. These channels are gonna enable you to spread these messages far and wide. And because they will, you’re going to get more sales than you could ever imagine possible.'”

In other words, don’t blame the microphone if you have nothing to say. Mitch goes on to explain his reaction:

Continue Reading Make Money Writing A Blog – Guaranteed!…

Are You Outsourcing Your Best Asset?

July 2, 2008 at 6:39 am | Posted in Communication, Companies, Marketing, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 2 Comments
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Are you outsourcing the most valuable aspect of your business? Or worse yet, not paying attention to it at all?

Technology has been replacing humans at work for many years. And recently the remaining humans in American and elsewhere have been replaced by other humans in areas that pay lower wages. The result has been a significant deemphasis in the value of human capital in business in America.

Here’s The Equation

Web 2.0 amplifies the voices of dissatisfied consumers. And yet, most companies have been subtracting the number of humans period (technology) or humans housed at the corporate office (out-sourcing). Finally, another increasing trend is the face-to-face contact consumers expect from companies (ComcastCares, anyone?).

Increase in personal interaction – humans equipped to handle that interaction + web 2.0 vehicles to spread word of dissatisfaction = potential major headache for companies.

The Good News

Some companies, however, understand the increasing importance of the customer experience. H&R Block set up a Second Life avatar to answer tax questions during scheduled meeting times, in addition to their efforts on Twitter and Facebook. They understood that they were required to go to where their customers were, instead of expecting customers to come to them.

This outreach isn’t easy though. The Social Media podcast spoke with Paula Drum, VP of Marketing for H&R Block about this outreach:

“The other big surprise is how much time you have to put in from a human capital standpoint. And we knew that going in, that the trade-off between buying media is going to be the human capital side, but really understanding that human capital side of it and thinking about it from [the perspective that] ‘if this is successful, how do you scale it to make sure you can still deliver the same experience.'”

Continue Reading Are You Outsourcing Your Best Asset?…

The Seven Deadly Sins Of Social Media

July 1, 2008 at 5:52 am | Posted in Advertising, Blogging, Communication, Companies, Facebook, Marketing, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter, Web 2.0 | 18 Comments
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Social media like Facebook, Flickr, and Delicious has been around for a couple of years now and companies are starting to dip a tentative toe into the water. While such courage should be applauded, serious missteps have occurred that embarrass the offending company.

And it is not the courageous steps that have been embarrassing, but the sheer level of assholery with which companies have partaken their social media experiments. Because social media is all about sharing, collaboration, and communication, it is little surprise that folks expressed outrage at the heavy-handed or downright immoral dealings of the companies outlined below.

In this post, I will list five of the deadly sins as outlined by Joseph Jaffe’s speech at the ANA’s Integrated Media Conference and then offer two additional sins of my own.

From Joseph Jaffe:

  • Faking (Sprint): The phone company released ads in which the CEO offered an email address, giving the opportunity for communication. Instead, a corporate shill auto-responder emails back.
  • Manipulating (Sony): The maker of the PSP created a fake blog and attempted to manipulate the conversation. They ended up garnering a deserved “golden poop” award.
  • Controlling (T-Mobile): The phone company sent cease and desist letters to a popular blog for using a color they claim to have trademarked. The blogosphere revolted and T-mobile missed a chance to meaningfully engage with its customers.
  • Dominating (Target): A blogger was ignored by the retail giant because they felt she didn’t have the clout of traditional media outlets. After the blogger gained more and more attention, Target claimed that their continued silence was based on a lack of adequate staff.
  • Avoiding (Starbucks): The coffee giant already felt a squeeze from its consumer base, but avoided a fan’s desire to visit every store was passed on. The only response to the fan was one of suspicion.

In these cases, the sin is not that the company was just stupid (though there’s no shortage of that). The sin is that they failed to engage at a pivotal moment with an active community that supported them with their checkbooks. They refused to join the conversation and felt the ramifications.

Here are my two nominations to round out the deadly sins of social media:

Continue Reading The Seven Deadly Sins Of Social Media…

Pitching To Bloggers Done Wrong

June 18, 2008 at 6:59 am | Posted in Blogging, Communication, Email, Marketing, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 4 Comments
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Last week, I gave an example of the correct way to pitch to bloggers. In this post, I will show the wrong way to pitch to bloggers – learn from this person’s mistakes and do not repeat them.

Bees and Honey

I believe in positive posting – attracting more bees with honey and all that. Anyone can be smarmy and abusive, but if you are going to do a hit piece, I think you need to have a good reason and do your research.

The thing that really grinds my gears is that I laid out a perfect plan for pitching on Thursday. So when I got this email – not 24 hours later – I was shocked at how poorly virtually every element was handled. Click the picture to the right to read the email.

I thought I was clear the first time at the way to successfully pitch bloggers. But I guess some folks can only learn from “Do Not” instructions.

  • No introduction: If she was able to get my email address, she certainly could have gotten my name.
  • Wrong information: My “Clearcast Digital Media blog”? Does she mean “Comcast” or was she referring to these guys? Who knows? But clearly she does not know me.
  • Marketese: If she’d read my white paper, she would have known that marketese is death. But I’m given a full serving in this email, from start to finish.
  • Bad writing: In addition to the marketese, she’s inconsistent with her italics, occasionally writes the authors name’s in capital letters FOR NO APPARENT REASON, and also capitalizes words haphazardly. Here’s a tip: If you are writing to a blogger who writes about writing, know how to write. ‘Nuff said.
  • Continue Reading Pitching To Bloggers Done Wrong…

Pitching To Bloggers Done Right

June 12, 2008 at 6:26 am | Posted in Blogging, Coke, Email, Facebook, Marketing, Online marketing, Public Relations | 9 Comments
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There’s been a lot of hubbub around pitching to bloggers. The Chris Andersons and Gina Trapanis of the world don’t want to be solicited to by PR companies. They have some good points – including explicit warnings not to email them – and I don’t fault them for their actions.

However, PR does serve a valuable purpose in business and it’s certainly not going to disappear in the new media landscape. In this post, I will describe essential elements of a stellar PR pitch to a blogger.

The Right Pitch

I received a great email yesterday from Christina at The Advance Guard for Coke’s new Facebook widget. Here are the good things about it that too many journalists and PR folks forget:

  • Short: The total email was 130 words long. Already, this sends the message that she respects my time.
  • Introduction: In one sentence, she explains who she is, who the client is, and why she’s writing to me.
  • Description: Again in one sentence, she sums up the product with a minimum of the adjectives that decrease believability (“best,” “great,” “unique,” etc).
  • Seduction: I would have made the mistake of describing at least one feature or benefit. Instead, Christina piques my interest just enough and then leaves me two links from which to garner the specs. I had clicked these links before I even finished reading the email.
  • Continue Reading Pitching To Bloggers Done Right…

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