Media, often chastised for their slow recognition of the impact of technology, is now embracing the digital world and rapidly reinventing its business. That was the theme shared by a panel of media representatives at DCWEEK yesterday. A case in point offered by Angie Goff, with NBC Washington: she raised eyebrows from bosses two years ago when she solicited input from viewers through Twitter, but now it is the station that actively promotes her Twitter handle on-screen while she broadcasts.
Insights from the panelists on the state of media today in a digital world:
• Angie Goff, NBC Washington, on Crowdsourcing: “What people like drives our news content. Whether a journalist or not, everyone has a voice. We are crowdsourcing with people that know more than journalists. We make people feel like they have a piece of the news. I’m surprised that more news outlets don’t have social media reporters that sort through content and data.”
• Vijay Ravindran, Washington Post, on Audience-Building: “Moving from a general content provider to a specific content provider is challenging. You have to know what you are best at and you need a concentrated strategy. We are for Washington and about Washington, we are not a national paper of record.”
• Susan Poulton, National Geographic, on Quality Journalism: “As we opened up to other audiences, some at NatGeo worried whether the quality of photos and the quality of writing would be the same. What we found was that the level of curation was raised by attaching the NatGeo brand and some of the photos submitted were just absolutely amazing.”
• Vijay Ravindran, Washington Post, on Monetization: “Everyone has been focused on building audiences and there has not been much innovation around monetization. There will be a flood of innovation surrounding monetizing original content or it will get smaller and smaller. Those are the only two options. The key for the music business when it went digital was to own the total experience not just the music.”
• Angie Goff, NBC Washington, on Content Creation: “More than ever now, there is a need for constant content. We don’t care where it comes from, but the key is making it relevant and something our users have shown an interest in. We don’t want to be a commercial.”
Mike Vizard, former editor-in-chief of Infoworld and CRN, former editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise and now entrepreneurial blogger with the IT Business Edge Network, attended CSC’s Technology and Business Solutions Conference in Orlando, Florida, recently, as did I. One evening, CSC hosted a social event by the Hilton Orlando pool and Mike generously gave a couple of hours of his time to talk about the technology industry and the evolving media landscape.
Mike’s blog is called “IT Unmasked” and he definitely unmasked for me some of the mysteries of blogging today. A few of the topics Mike opined on can help all PR professionals:
Every public presenter today should assume his or her remarks will be tweeted and aim to find just the right words that will succeed with both the audience in the room and the audience on Twitter. These parallel aims require different skills and, ideally, today’s public presenter prepares to succeed at both.
Recently, I attended CSC’s Technology and Business Solutions Conference in Orlando, Florida. While there, I listened to half-a-dozen presentations and developed tweets for use by CSC’s social news bureau. I observed in this time what statements were most “tweetable” and these observations may help you as you plan your next presentation.
My observations don’t make for a comprehensive or final list at all; however, they offer a “sideline perspective” that can help you write your next speech or write one for someone else.
In three days of listening to presentations, I observed that the most “tweetable” remarks from the conference speakers had one or more of the following traits in common:
· They were declarative. “We appeal to customers that want more than sidewalk sales of computing capacity.”
· They were opinionated. “Loyalty cards are buying my business, not my loyalty.” “The greatest enemy of application modernization is legacy thinking and parochialism.”
· They use colorful analogies. “There’s no pixie dust in the cloud.” “Cloud is a little like legos.”
· They were short. “Your data is not enough.” “Climate models are the epitome of big data.”
· They were surprising. “All CIO surveys are a waste of time.”
· They were predictive. “We believe today’s innovations are approaching the levels of the dot-com era.” “I believe hybrid is the way we are going to experience cloud over the next 5 to 10 years.”
This weekend, I read the newspaper. What I mean by that is I read the physical newspaper, which is something that I have not done regularly in a nearly a decade. While reading, I remembered how skimming through the physical newspaper lends itself to inadvertently reading about different subjects.
For example, in the past, I would read the newspaper’s content by skimming through some stories, skipping some sections and for the most part taking in the entire paper. What could begin with reading a front page story about a national issue could easily lead to a back page story about Somali insurgents, or Central Asian politics.
I traded in this experience, as have many of my generation, for the customized, editor-free approach to reading the news that Google Reader and RSS feeds have enabled. Now, my news feeds are tailored to my interests, political leanings and professional focus. While my Reader and RSS feed give me greater depth of knowledge into the subjects I am interested in, it seems to come at the expense of less knowledge in a wider range of subjects.
With these changes in content delivery in mind, I became very interested in two new products that attempt to address how our news is formatted – Time Inc.’s new line of digital magazines and a new iPad application called Flipboard.
In attempt to reconnect digital readers to the old print layout of magazines, Sports Illustrated (SI) and publisher Time Inc. (magazine publishers in general, for that matter) are taking their layouts and content and, in the words of Peter Kafka, “porting their printed product to digital form, adding some audio and video, as well as selected links to the Web.” (Read more here).
On the other hand, the much-buzzed about Flipboard, (here) assembles your social media content on the iPad in a way that is similar to reading physical publications – by creating an interface that is similar to that of a magazine.
In presenting readers with digital content laid out like a magazine, Time is fighting an uphill battle against news consumption trends, particularly among young customers who didn’t grow up reading in the magazine format. Conversely, the repackaging of social media content into a magazine layout is like stuffing an MP3 player into the body of a turntable and misses the real reason why magazine/print media readers still choose the actual physical copy of publications.
How do you weigh in on this subject? Does Time Inc. have the solution to sagging sales? Will Flipboard speed the traditional media’s demise?
Over the past few weeks, I have been fascinated with the story of the Russian spies who were assigned to “Americanize” themselves to get U.S. nuclear secrets. Not stunned by the fact that we actually had “Russian spies” in this country, but more so the technology they were using to attain these secrets and communicate with their Russian counterparts.
In reading an article in NewScientist I was able to learn more about the technology that the spies were using, and actually began to chuckle a bit. Aren’t they supposed to have state of the art gadgets Mission Impossible style? Secret communication techniques that are not easily detectable? I was especially floored when I read they were hiding messages in online images…that is so 1990’s.
Speaking of 1990’s, this story also made me a bit nostalgic for technology that has come and gone. The floppy disk, the printers that used the paper you had to tear the edges off, etc. If I had to pick two things to come back, I would wish the original Sega Genesis game console would make a come back and the Motorola V60i cell phone (my very first).
So this begs the question: What technology do you miss and wish would make a comeback?
Shortly after Friday morning’s US – Slovenia World Cup match, which ended in a draw following a absolutely terrible contentious officiating call, I logged onto Twitter to join scores of US soccer fans tweeting their collective disgust over the outcome only to reach Twitter’s ‘fail whale’ screen…my second ‘fail whale’ in less than a week of World Cup play.
These fail whales led me to do a bit of research about the popularity of Twitter around sporting events and how this is being utilized by marketers.
As it turns out, both the World Cup and the NBA Finals have been a bit overwhelming for Twitter. Records for posts in a single day have been broken and re-broken, with major peaks occurring around the times points are scored. As Benny Evangelista of the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out in a recent blog post, Twitter has experienced several site outages, slowness, bursts of error messages, duplicated or missing tweets and timeline problems that can be attributed to the World Cup.
Beyond a discussion of why Twitter’s architecture is unable to handle the tweet traffic of so many sports fans, this points to an interesting shift in the demographic of Twitter users (see Claire Cain Miller’s excellent NY Times article here). Where once the social networking site was composed primarily of early adopters in hi-tech hot spots, it has become apparent that the makeup of Twitter has started to reflect the interests of the general population.
As Twitter more closely mirrors a cross-section of the US and the world at large, it has become a valuable tool for measuring the buzz associated with any given product or event. In a recent Wall Street Journal blog post, Jennifer Valentino-DeVries describes how Twitter is now one of the primary measurement tools for determining which brands are winning the World Cup marketing battle. Much to the dismay of official FIFA World Cup sponsor Adidas, Nike has dominated World Cup online chatter, with a dominant share of Twitter mentions.
While ambush marketing has long plagued official sponsors, the rise of Twitter and social media creates new headaches for official sponsors. As brands learn to capitalize on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, their successful domination of world events is leading savvy marketers to ask whether the sponsorship of a major sporting event is necessary in the era of social media.
For the next Olympic Games, should companies shell out millions of dollars just to have exclusive rights?
While I believe that sponsorship of major events continues to have a significant ROI, sponsors must be aware that the marketing game has changed. As Nike has successfully demonstrated, to become the brand most commonly associated with the World Cup, a company must make use of social media to drive creative content across the Internet.
When considering the ROI for sponsorship of major events, one thing is certain–sponsorships alone will not ensure a victory. Word is still out on if scored goals will.
The year 2015: cars and skateboards will no longer be bound by gravity, and all films will be in 3D…so was the 1980’s cinematic vision of the future.
While Hollywood has been making good on its 3D movie promise, the lack of any hover mobile on the market is a bit of a disappointment for those of us who grew up on the Back to the Future films of the 80s. However, while our cars may not be taking to the skies anytime soon, it may be a source of some consolation to fans of flying DeLoreans that over the next few years several major auto makers will be unveiling what they claim will be the future of the automotive industry…
Coming to a dealership near you – Electric Vehicles for the Masses!
Many speculate about how successful these electric vehicles, or EVs, will be outside of the ‘green’ bastions of California, New England and the Pacific Northwest. However, from a PR standpoint there is little doubt that EVs have been extremely successful in generating a great deal of positive media coverage thus far. Over the past five months alone, there have been thousands of articles written about these new cars, and a major driver of this media coverage has been the partnerships that the major automotive companies in the EV game are entering into with the biggest names in technology.
Most recently, there has been a great deal of media attention paid to a potential Google partnership with a major car maker, which will entail integrating the Android operating system with existing onboard telematic technology.
The buzz created by Google’s foray into the automotive industry follows news generated by similar partnerships between other major automotive companies and top tech companies. For example, Microsoft plans to help solve potential problems that these new cars will cause the power grid by working with auto makers to implement its Hohm application into EVs. The technology is expected to prevent an ‘electrical traffic jam’ on our electrical grid by helping owners determine when to most efficiently and affordably recharge EV batteries.
While cars will most likely remain on the ground for some time to come, the automotive industry is working to ensure that EVs will be on the roads of tomorrow by making innovation a priority and by partnering with major tech companies in the process. From a PR perspective, the key takeaway is that these partnerships are major drivers for media coverage and that they are generating buzz among potential buyers.
Looking forward, it wouldn’t be surprising if these types of automotive-tech partnerships do more to make consumers more comfortable with the thought of owning an EV than auto shows or other traditional methods of marketing. What better way to lend some tech-cred to unproven products than to couple them with market leading technology brands?
While we will not have hover mobiles, being able to give voice commands to your electric car and enabling it to communicate with the power grid for the best energy rates via Google and Microsoft technology may be as close as we will get to Robert Zemeckis’ vision of the future without kitting out a DeLorean for time travel.
In public relations we talk a lot about influencers. Business press influencers, analyst influencers, trade press influencers, and at Ogilvy PR specifically, we have a practice dedicated to digital influencers. But what I have come to realize in my five years as a practicing tech PR professional, is that this job has a huge influence on the way that I look at other people…actually, the way I look at their consumer devices.
Some people notice shoes, some notice handbags, but if you talk with a tech PR professional, we notice devices. Everything from what kind of mobile phone you are using and on what network, to the type of TV you have and whether it’s equipped with the latest and greatest from CES that year. When tech PR colleagues get together, we pull our BlackBerrys and iPhones out of our pockets and purses and, without noticing, start to compare who has the newest one, giving everybody else in the room “tech envy”.
This “tech envy” stems from the reality that the work we do has a greater influence on our daily lives than most would like to admit. When you work in tech PR you learn about your client’s newest software offering or chip development, and what it means for their respective industry. You learn about what can make laptops run faster and more efficiently and the true capabilities of your BlackBerry if it uses one of your client’s products. And after learning about the product, we are tasked to communicate it as well. It becomes a part of who we are and how we talk about things. We “drink the Kool-Aid,” so to speak.
My job has influenced me to the point of becoming what I consider a “consumer technology snob.” I don’t have the best or newest technology by any means (it can be really expensive!), but I do know enough about it to want it. Additionally, when I started thinking about this blog topic, I started to notice how I look at people on the bus with older cell phones and laptops, and I wonder what is preventing them from getting a new one. Don’t they care? Why don’t they care? It is important, right?
So what I would like to know is… What about your job influences you? Have you noticed you look at people differently (for better or for worse) because of it?
Over the last year, location-based social networks such as Foursquare, Gowalla and Brightkite have exploded among early adopters. It’s no question—with increasing adoption of smart phone usage, location-based social networks are rising in popularity every day.
Recently covered in GigaOM, CNN, Ad Age and The New York Times, Foursquare is currently one of the most buzzed about location-based mobile social networks. Intel and Ogilvy recently used Foursquare to drive traffic to and create buzz around Intel’s offline events and activities at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month.
For CES, Intel created a branded Foursquare page, featuring locations where Intel had activity and tips for Las Vegas visitors. Intel also rewarded check-in’s to key events with branded badges, paired with the chance to win an Intel-powered netbook for all badge recipients.
This exclusive collaboration allowed Intel to track and build relationships with online influencers active on Foursquare at CES. With more than 400 cumulative check-in’s to Intel-affiliated locations and events, the collaboration was a breakout success and proved to be an interesting event-based model for brands looking to work with Foursquare.
We interviewed Tristan Walker, head of business development at Foursquare, to learn more about their vision for what’s to come for brands, businesses and Foursquare.
Graham White from our Australian office picked up this piece coming from the UK. The Archbishop of Westminster believes that social networks “..led young people to form “transient relationships”, which put them at risk of suicide when the relationships collapsed.”
This piece follows an earlier discussion in Indonesia earlier in the year among the Muslim ulamaks, saying social networks promote promiscuity between the sexes, and there were calls for Facebook to be made “haram” (forbidden under Islamic practices). Facebook, mind you, is the top-ranked site in Indonesia, with more than 800,000 users.
Compare the thoughts of the Archbishop and the Indonesian ulamaks (whom I assume are not digital natives), with those of these commentators, (whom I assume are digital natives).
The reflection here is that social media/ networks are not just secular or technology or mass media or marketing phenomena, it’s impacting religious practices, so much so that religious leaders have started commenting on them.
In other words, what’s clear is that social media/networks are truly affecting and changing society (well, at least in the developed nations with Internet access).
With social media becoming such an impact into our lives, shouldn’t we embrace it more, and look at the positive aspects of it?
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Behind The Scenes: Ogilvy PR, Washington, D.C.