The Progress and Freedom Foundation has closed its doors after a fantastic 17 year run. The PFF was the first think tank to study the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. We’re sorry to see them go and we look forward to working with these great people in future endeavors.
FHM Germany replaces website presence in favour of Facebook
By the end of July FHM a re-known lifestyle magazine in Germany will dismantle its homepage. Instead, FHM wants to manage its internet activities via a Facebook fan page. “We are where our readers are, on Facebook. Interaction with our readers is our most important focus”, argues a representative of the publication.
OK, everybody seems to be on Facebook and of course giving up a homepage in favour of a Facebook page will save some resources and costs. The decision raised some buzz in social media in Germany when marketing experts and social media discussed the pros and cons of becoming dependent to a third party with its own interests, and how this would result in less opportunities in terms of branding, functionality and tracking.
What is even more interesting is the fact that FHM sees “no future” for its homepage. Looking at the numbers confirms this view. Only 8.000 users per day visited the page, its Google visibility was relatively poor as were the inbound links. As the old site seemed to have low relevance for the target group it would be interesting to know what makes FHM think that this would change on Facebook.
Simply transferring an apparently unsuccessful concept to another platform would not be a very strategic answer and it would not even be very consistent from a financial POV as any budget spent on a concept with low perception would be a poor investment.
As social media is not a one-size-fits-all solution the answer to the question of whether a brand should move to Facebook or not is a quite individual one. But the answer is always NO if it is done without a content and engagement strategy that is tailor-made for the new address. And by the way, it’s a myth that success in social media comes for free.
A company cannot just start a twitter and/or facebook account without having any competences in this field. Well, (technically) it can. But acting in an unfamiliar but public arena generally bears risks and this is especially true for social media. But what if a company does not have the man power – or the know-how – to professionally run a social media campaign? Fortunately, there are PR agencies that offer professional advice.
But when social media is all about transparency and authenticity how can that be handled through an external PR agency? Ok, this seems to be a no-go and could mean the end of all social media activities in the above mentioned case.
But wait – taking a closer look at the issue, there is an approach to outsource major parts of an enterprise’s social media activity without interfering with the social web’s ethos. Most important thing here: major does not equal all. A successful outsourcing of social media marketing requires active partnering and contribution from both the enterprise and its chosen agency.
At the end, it is much more crucial that the created content sticks to the social web’s rules and expectations than the question of its originator. It is important that a consistent delivery of quality content is guaranteed. And that is a task a social media specialist who is familiar with the company’s business can fulfil even better – if he is not stuck in time-consuming approval processes.
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?
When Apple users were part of a devoted cult, they were willing to put up with the way Apple does business – never admitting problems (until now), keeping its users in the dark about serious bugs even when its own discussion forums are filled with dozens of people struggling to fix the issues. But the iPhone and the resurgence of the Mac have brought in millions of new customers from the world of Microsoft, and they’re not willing to give Steve Jobs a pass when the technology they depend on fails to work right. They’ve seen this movie before — Microsoft Vista — and it doesn’t have a happy ending.
Apple is having serious quality control problems with the iPhone 4 going well beyond the antennae problem that being discussed at the press conference Apple is holding at this moment. There are at least two severe problems with iOS4, the upgraded operating system that runs the iPhone. Most of the millions of existing iPhone 3G and 3Gs customers will update their OS, as they will be prompted to do automatically, and wish they didn’t.
iOS4 is excruciatingly slow on the iPhone 3G, starting with the several seconds it takes to unlock the phone. Switching between apps can be glacial, to the point where I’m less likely to use the app at all. Users are struggling to figure out how to revert to iOS3 while keeping their data intact.
Worse still, people who own both an iPhone and a Mac – i.e., Apple’s best customers – have had their calendars screwed up by a syncing bug between the iPhone’s Calendar app and Mac’s iCal. If you’re a busy person who depends on these applications to keep track of dozens of upcoming appointments and other important tasks and your calendar stops working reliably, that’s a very, very big problem.
Apple, as always, won’t acknowledge the problems, even on its own forums, and customers are very unhappy (see http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=2495372 for the calendar problem and http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=11919484&tstart=0 for the slow performance problem).
My suggestion to Apple? Stop thinking that the rules no longer apply to you, and start being more honest with your customers.
When we work to help clients through a communications crisis, we advise them to stop the slow leak of damaging news and come clean. If your product or the behavior of some employees doesn’t meet the company’s standards, your customers and employees need to hear that from you. Then show you’re doing everything you can to fix the problems – and get them fixed. Otherwise each bit of negative news will trigger a new news cycle built on the story line that this is a company in crisis (see Toyota).
Does anyone feel like they are watching the Apple-version of LeBron’s “Decision?” Sure, one is a device and one is an athlete – but they are both monumental brands in their respective industries being faced with very difficult decisions.
It is hard to argue that both the iPhone 4 and LeBron are at the top of their game — sure there are others great players, but these are the two heavyweights of their markets and its not very often they have been tested the way they are now.
Almost every man, woman and child (even those of outside of Cleveland, New York and Miami) are aware of the drama and speculation surrounding the free agency choice LeBron James made last week. It has become a parody many cannot resist having some fun with (my favorite being the skit from the ESPYs last night) and has drawn the attention and commentary of celebrities, politicians and just about anyone with a blog and remote interest in basketball.
Equally so, almost everyone knows about the iPhone 4 antenna issue. The way the iPhone 4 antenna “problem” has played out over the last two weeks feels very similar to me to the LeBron “Decision.” Both spurred great excitement around their arrival (iPhone 4 hitting the market and the day LeBron became an official free agent). Both had to make big decisions in very small time frames. Both are on the receiving end of mass media and public pressures (where to play? what to do? when to do it?).
With the LeBron decision already made, here are a few things I think Apple can learn…
Ultimately, how you handle your “decision” is quickly becoming almost as important as what you actually decide to do, but hopefully they’ll do it quickly, directly and with a bit of Apple style.
Now, lets sit back and wait for the next round of “The Decision” to play out…
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?
Every year San Jose State University sponsors a contest that “challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.” Click here to see this year’s winners. (It’s so worth it.)
Showcasing bad writing – especially in such a light-hearted fashion – is one way of exposing it, educating practitioners and, hopefully, elevating quality. I think it’s time the PR industry inaugurated something similar. So here goes. Readers: I challenge you to come up with opening sentences to the worst press releases you can think of. Post them in the comments section. If we get enough submissions I’ll crown a victor in a week or two. (And let’s keep real brands out of it.)
Here’s a worrying thought: I don’t think much invention or creativity will be required.
Many of us have seen first-hand (or second-hand) the proliferation of Flip Video camcorders being used in our industry. From man-on-the-street interviews to interviews to footage shot at events, conferences and launches – video and visual storytelling has become an integral part of our profession.
I’ve started to compile some tips on how to use ‘Flip Cams and also some of the basic features of the FlipShare software. I’ll be the first to admit the beauty of the FlipShare software (and ‘Flip Cams themselves) are their simplicity — but along with that there are some pitfalls and setbacks. Hopefully this series of videos will help you get the most of your ‘Flip Cam (and the FlipShare editing software if you choose to use it)…while avoiding some of the downsides.
These were all shot using Flip Cams and edited with the FlipShare software — so you’ll see first-hand the capabilities – the audio sound quality, video quality, automatic transitions, etc. that the software builds in for you. Personally I mostly use Adobe Premiere Elements for my editing, but if I’m in need of creating a quick, easy, somewhat raw video – FlipShare makes it very easy to edit, compile and share.
For those of you who’ve read my posts in the past, I’m a big fan of learning and listening…so let me know what you think. Other tips we should/could share?
I attended the Candidates Energy Forum yesterday which featured Colorado gubernatorial candidates Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and former Congressman Scott McInnis.
There certainly was a lot of political rhetoric spoken and the highlighting of resumes and experience. One of the qualifications Mayor Hickenlooper highlighted was his experience running the successful Wynkoop Brewery which is practically an institution on Denver.
He said three things he learned in the restaurant business prepared him for his role and responsibilities as Mayor:
1) Dealing with red tape. He said that restautranteurs must deal with all kinds of local and state regulations, inspections emploee matters and the like. To be successful, one must navigate through these adeptly.
2) Building a team. Building a staff that believes in you is critical.
3) Deadling with a very fickly and critical public. There is no customer that can be as difficult to please as a restaurant patron.
All words of wisdom I thought. I also thought that there are similar parallels with PR professionals. There certainly are key skills that PR professionals can parlay into a political career if they so chose. Aside from pleasing challenging clients and selling ideas to tough reporters, are there others that come to mind? All thoughts and comment welcome.