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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:

  • On Exclusives. While important to him in his Infoworld days, they are no longer a high priority. He would like to be pre-briefed on news so he has time to develop his story, but the advantage goes now, not to the first mover, but to those that wait a little. If he waits 48-to-72 hours, he can link to other stories on the same news and improve his search engine optimization.
  • On Video. In the future, all text stories will have a video lead-in, according to Mike. He believes consumers of information will want to watch a short preview video and, based on that experience, decide whether to delve deeper and read the text of a story. PR professionals will need to think about creating and supporting video used in this way.
  • On Infographics. Mike accepts and likes to use infographics and screenshots but for business as much as for journalistic reasons. He likes to deploy three text paragraphs followed by an infographic because it brings the readers’ eyes further down the page, where the ads are. PR professionals will need to think about how to support the success of entrepreneurial bloggers in both the realm of news-gathering and in the realm of business.
  • On Content Distribution. “No one wakes up in the morning looking for IT news and information,” pointed out Mike. Therefore, he gets about half of his traffic from Google searches and a quarter from social networks, primarily LinkedIn and Twitter. He doesn’t see a future in which many readers will download apps of IT media. Search engine optimization is important to his success and he works hard at it. If PR professionals can provide content that helps him with SEO, then it’s a winner. Mike wants to work with PR professionals that link back to his stories through social networks and vendor web sites to help improve the search engine optimization of his blog. He calls this “the new social PR contract.”

Being a Denver Nuggets fan, I was recently reminded that Mark Cuban has said some off the wall things.  Having said that, he often provides some very interesting and thought provoking ideas on the world of social media.  His recent post in late May “Who Cares What People Write?” is a good example of the latter.

Cuban shares some interesting ideas around “Outties” (content creators that fit into professional “Outties” as well as amateur “Outties”) and “Innies” (who are “passive consumers of web writings” or consumers who “read watch and listen to the professional “Outties” and ignore the amateur “Outties”").  The idea being that professional “Outties” are generally established, branded sites with strong/large readership and amateur “Outties” are people looking for an audience (commenters, retweeters, reposters, etc.) who are creating content to be discovered.  Read his post for the full scoop and he closes with a pretty interesting wrap up of the concept…

The moral of the story is that on the internet, volume is not engagement .  Traffic is not reach.  When you see things written about a person, place or thing you care about,  whether its positive or negative, take a very deep breath before thinking that the story means anything to anyone but you.

It was also a concept expanded on by the Progress & Freedom Foundation’s Senior Fellow and Director, Center of Digital Media Freedom Adam D. Thierer.  Adam’s blog does a nice job of framing Cuban’s thoughts and adding some additional parallels to them around Power Laws as well as Chris Anderson’s Long Tail theory.

I think the one area that is not captured in either blog is the importance of recognizing the conversation that is happening — whether they are driven by the professional or amateur “Outties.”   While I agree with Cuban that volume is not engagement and traffic is not reach, but I also believe that all comments, re-posts, link backs, tweets/re-tweets, blogs expanding on a topic or theme, etc. (like this one) are part of the conversation that is taking place.  The collective conversation is the piece that matters for brands.

A simplified example of this would be to search for your brand on Twitter and see what’s being said.  One person with 15 followers may be saying something that may be able to be dismissed, but if 10, 20 or 50 people with 15 followers each are saying something, after you take your deep breadth, it may be worth taking a closer look and joining the conversation.

The role of communications is indeed changing and how we think about creating or sharing a message is something that needs to be considered.  I think this is one of the key reasons companies are starting to act more like publishers or content providers — to ensure anyone (either professional or amateur) can participate in their story, share it and share their perspectives on it.

Regardless of which outtie you are thinking of or the innie you are trying to reach, always consider the importance of helping foster conversation through your communications initaitives.

Lexy Klain

by Lexy Klain
Category: Technology

I have mentioned the benefits of using social bookmarking sites before but I think it’s beneficial to mention it again - mainly people seem to be more receptive to using online Web 2.0 tools these days. And more and more, we are seeing people use these tools in a professional sense.

For example, PR practitioners and journalists in Australia are now frequenting Twitter as part of their daily grind. Journalists are using Twitter to put a shout out for spokespeople for stories they are writing. PR practitioners are shouting out news announcements and interview opportunities in a bid to get media interest.

Back to social bookmarking sites… There are sites such as Digg and Del.icio.us which are great tools that let you share and find content, including video and news articles, from anywhere on the web.

I’m a great fan of Digg. For those newbies out there, adigg’ is similar to a favourite.

The content on Digg is submitted by the consumer and is voted on by other consumers. The more ‘diggs’ you get on content that you have uploaded, the higher up it climbs in the Digg  ranks. If you’re content is absolutely fabulous and many people are ‘digging’ it, it can even be promoted to the front site page for millions of site visitors to see.

Digg is a fantastic example and proof point of a successful online community!

Leveraging these sites as a PR professional or a journalist

PR professionals

If you receive a fantastic piece of online media coverage for a client of yours, you can upload it to Digg. You will then be asked to submit the content along with a title, description and a tag that is suitable for the content.

What are the benefits? More journalists today are using social bookmarking sites to research specific categories. And It’s a tool you can use to try and generate additional media coverage for a client. 

Journalists

If you aren’t already doing so, I would suggest that you join Digg. Upload your published online content to the site. By submitting stories here you are extending your reach to a truly global audience. You can even build a cult following in Digg - those that will get to know and love your stories, read them and share them on with others.

Bloggers are using Digg as part of their daily beat as well. Increasingly, we are seeing instances of where bloggers or journalists pick up others news stories from Digg and reference it in their blogs - increasing the popularity of the story and the site origination.

I encourage you all to set up a Digg account and start experimenting. I’d love to hear your thoughts on social bookmarking sites? Can it really work to leverage stories? Can you really generate additional media coverage by submitting content to the site?

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