360DigitalInfluence

Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide

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.”

Wanted to follow up on a post last week by colleague Ray Rahmati focused on best practices for video content. The following online video styles were developed in conjunction with my fellow colleagues Rohit Bhargava and Emily Goligoski in support of some planning and idea generation we’ve been working on for clients.

There are several video style categories to consider when creating compelling videos for any brand. When developing an online video strategy, in most cases, a good model would be one that embraces a blend different video styles over time that matches your brand — as it helps you reach your audience in new and fresh ways.

Below are several categories, descriptions and an example or two of each style:

  • Teasers: Provide a brief insider or behind the scenes looks at a technology or upcoming announcement or campaign. These are usually shot in an informal style as well as a good amount of first-time footage (i.e. screenshots of performance indicators, sneak-peaks at a new technology, etc.).  (Length: 1-3 mins.)  Example: SGN’s Promo Video for F.A.S.T.
  • Educational: Explore a specific topic in depth and help the viewer better understand the subject. Formats include chalk-talks with one presenter, roundtables with multiple experts discussing a topic or even humorous videos explaining how your tech fits into an trend. (Length: 1 – 3 mins.)  Examples:  EMC Cloudfellas, Intel’s Wireless Power, NetApp Play by Play.
  • Testimonial: Take the viewer on a first or second-hand account of a customer or set of customer experiences with your brand or technology. These can be presented in a variety of formats such as slideshows, roundtables and on-site customer videos to provide an overview of the solution and value delivered to the customer.  (Length: no longer than 5 mins.) Example: iPhone in Enterprise
  • Visionary: Provide a thought leadership perspective from a compelling point of view.  This can be tied to a specific technology or a discussion of a broad industry trend – such as the economy, public policy, international law, storage economics, or a topic that is relevant to your brand.  (Length: 2-4 mins.)  Example: Schwartz Video Blog
  • Episodic: Break a running story into multiple videos that can be viewed sequentially to tell the story over a period of time. Can be used in a promotional way, or to create engagement over a longer duration of time.  (Length per episode: 1-5 mins.)  Example: Intel Mobile Etiquette
  • Newsbreakers: Support a specific announcement, or videos actually aimed at breaking news (i.e. releasing a video of a new technology or approach without a supporting press release). (Length: 1-3 mins for pomo or + 60 mins for taped sessions from a launch event/conference.) Examples: Microsoft bing, Google Wave.
  • Entertainment: Provide a humorous perspective on a subject. Usually termed “viral videos” these take the form of edgy, funny videos covering a variety of relevant topics. (Length: 1-3 mins.) Example: Intel’s 45nm Secret Unveiled
  • Stunt: Provide entertainment and information on a subject and usually leverage competitive FUD. (Length: 1-3 mins) Example: NetApp Battles the Competition, Mr. T Puts the “T” in IT

Needless to say, it is important to evaluate the views, comments and feedback to drive conversation and improve the quality and relevancy of videos moving forward.

Please feel free to weigh in on other video styles or if you have interesting examples of any of the above!  I’m always looking out for new uses and good examples of successful content.

I’ll share more on posting best pactices, tagging, etc. soon.

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

It’s been really interesting to see how the terrorist attacks in India, Mumbai, have played out using social media – Twitter and blogging in particular. In fact, I am led to believe that social media even beat traditional media to the punch with the announcement of this news.

CNN has reported that “…an estimated 80 messages, or “tweets”, were being sent to Twitter.com via SMS every five seconds, providing eyewitness accounts and updates”.

Some Twitter users used the micro-blogging platform to send out calls for blood donors to make their way to Mumbai hospital where existing and anticipated casualties were being sent. It was also used to get news out fast on those that had been injured and killed and information regarding support numbers for those that had friends and family involved in the attacks were also posted on Twitter.

Although this has been a great tool to get information out on what those on the ground were experiencing in instantaneous nature, it has also fuelled a rumour-mill. There are accounts of Twitter users publishing posts exaggerating the number of casualties and generally sensationalising the situation of the attacks.

CNN reported in the article I cite above: “What is clear that although Twitter remains a useful tool for mobilizing efforts and gaining eyewitness accounts during a disaster, the sourcing of most of the news cannot be trusted.”

People caught up in the Mumbai attacks, including the hotel hostages, were also using their blogs as a news medium to disseminate information on the situation on the ground in India. Bloggers posted their accounts of the tragedy when it unfolded, as it unfolded.

This is indeed a strong reminder of how powerful social media can be as a disseminator of news – whether this news is entirely factually correct or not. Social media has the power to beat traditional media to the punch due to its instantaneous nature and a force to be reckoned with. It’s an online tour de force for distributing instant information to the masses. 

I’m interested to get your thoughts on this. Do you think social media played too large a part to play in telling the stories surrounding these tragic circumstances? Do you think it levels the playing field between traditional media and citizen journalists and social media? Feel free to contribute other parts of the discussion that are missing in this post.

This may be a slightly controversial post with many different opinions floating around. Let me know what you think and whether this is a global trend.

Nick Davies, an investigative journalist of 30 years’ standing who works mainly for England’s Guardian newspaper, has put the spotlight rather savagely on his own industry and questioned what he sees as a deeply disturbing decline in journalistic standards. He also cites PR as a contributor. These assertions were recently aired in a TV interview in Australia on the ABC.

Davies says that journalistic standards are declining the world over as cost cutting and government pressures take toll on the industry. In his book, Flat Earth News, which focuses mainly on the state of UK quality newspapers, he argues that the combination of manipulation by government and the PR industry on a media industry under endless cost-cutting pressures and an expanding workload is a pattern repeated the world over. An irony of timing with big staff cuts just announced at Australia’s oldest newspaper group, Fairfax Media.

In the interview Davies says, “Big corporations have taken over newspapers, which used to be owned by small family firms, and injected the logic of commercialism into newsrooms and that logic has overwhelmed the logic of journalism.

“The big structural sign of that is that all across the developed world these new corporate owners of the newsrooms have cut editorial staff at the same time as they’ve increased the output of those staff.  And the result of that is, crudely put… in the UK we did a big calculation on this, your average Fleet Street reporter now has only a third of the time to spend on each story that he or she used to have 20 years ago. If you take away time from reporters, you are taking away their most important working asset. So they can’t do their jobs properly any more.

“In this commercialised world, you have journalists who instead of being active gatherers of news – going out and finding stories and making contacts and doing funny old-fashioned things like checking facts, they’ve become instead passive processors of second-hand information, stuff that come up on the wire Reuters or AP, stuff that comes from the PR industry. And they churn it out. I use this word “churnalism” instead of journalism.”

Davies clearly feels journalists are led along, particularly by the PR industry. His examples are not so much in the technology sector, although he does talk about the millennium bug, but more mainstream. He also notes a pattern of many journalists who have lost their job moving across to PR.

Davies says the impact of electronic technology is very complex on this whole problem.

Whilst he admits journalists can do more research from the desktop and stories remain online permanently, the second implication is that they’ve lost their deadlines.  He says the pressure is immense, always there five minutes ahead of your nose every day. Not only that, but journalists now have to write the story, do an audio version, a vodcast, a podcast, and so it goes on. The end result is the quality of the work is going down even though the amount and the variation of the product is increasing.

And his thoughts on bloggers is also quite depressing.

“I don’t agree with the view that we will be saved by the operation of citizen journalists and bloggers…..an awful lot of what bloggers put out is false, is crazy ideas and crazy facts, to the extent that bloggers have reliable information very often that’s because they’re feeding off the small extent to which the mainstream media are coming up with reliable information. If the mainstream is going to carry on getting weaker, as I fear, then the proportion of reliable information which the bloggers come up with will also decline,” he says.

And his prognosis for TV and radio is no different. “It’s in the same kind of mess that the print media are in. There’s no difference, I’m afraid, because news is expensive and unless we find a new financial model we won’t be able to deliver it and I don’t quite see where that new financial model is coming from and I don’t know any media proprietor who can see it either. They’re all very worried.”

Oh dear.

Personally, whilst there are some points in this article that I concur with, I think the accusation of PR being a big contributor to the quality of journalism is a bit of a stretch. Like many industries in this modern era, publishers have to change their business models and this will impact their operations. This is changing the way in which journalists spend their working day. But technology can also help and I don’t think Davies looks at that side much either in this interview. I haven’t read the book, but my hunch is that it will be overlooked.

I think the technology press are adapting well, blending online and print, or dropping print and going totally online. We have seen the size of editorial teams decline and technology journalists are getting younger. But the young ones seem very adaptable, taking content for print, shooting a video and posting fast. Many of them are also generalists rather than specialists. But despite those circumstances, they are smart, savvy people and it is no different trying to get a story up with them now than it was three years ago. In fact, with some smaller books due to the decline in advertising spend, in many instances it is getting harder.

Go figure!

As I sit here typing my debut post for this blog, I can’t help but think of the dozens of topics I should write about– my thoughts on social media, the new widgets I downloaded on my iPhone, my new obsession with Twitter, or even Facebooking at work (I am guilty, and so are you.)  Just thinking of these topics made me realize how in one very short year after moving from Pennsylvania to San Francisco, I have warped into a digital girl. Prior to working as an AAE in the Technology Practice, I had no idea that blogs were big business and social networking was encouraged at work.  I still can’t figure out where all the “stuff” goes when we upload pictures or download music, it’s all still a mystery. I’m still learning.

All this digital information, mind-numbing technology, and creative innovation that surrounds us each day is extremely overwhelming, borderline suffocating but in a strange way humbling and inspiring. While studying in college I refused to read dissertation papers or reports online, I had to feel the pages, trace the words, and touch the pictures. I hardly signed on to AIM and I refused to respond to text messages, thinking it was so silly to not pick up the phone and press “call.”  I honestly thought personal blogs were rants and ramblings with no credibility (many still are), and heck, I created a blog last year just for my friends and family to read so they would stop calling me in the middle of the night while living abroad in South Korea, hence the very creative blog title. In one short year, my perception of technology has changed, drastically.

We, namely Gen Y, grew up bombarded with information overload. We are a spoiled generation, not in terms of material things, but in digital goods. We watched as the tech bubble burst in Silicon Valley, we witnessed 9/11 while sitting in classrooms, we quit Harvard and started an online yearbook, and we asked Google, not God, why the sky is blue.  We have a reputation of being “know-it-alls” because of all this technology. You can’t blame us, because with the click of our fingers, we feel like we know it all.

This year, Gen Y Americans have more incentive, power and voice to rock the vote and elect the next President of the United States.  Presidential Candidates are blogging and even YouTube is playing a fundamental role during debates. We are optimistic for the future and are more wired and globally connected with our peers than previous generations.  Yet, we are facing an economic downturn, a grim job market and a mortgage crisis.  We are renting, not buying, borrowing, not paying, dating, not marrying…or maybe that’s just me ;). We are aware of what’s imminent, but hopeful because like I said, we live in a digital world, and with technology, we can find answers, innovate, communicate, educate, spark controversy and conversation, and bring about change. 

[Disclaimer: author is an extreme optimist.]


TAGS: Tags: , , , ,

Lexy Klain

by Lexy Klain
Category: Technology

So I’ve been toying around with Twitter a lot more these days. So much so, I have been abandoning my blog. I think more and more we will start to see the quality of blog posts decline with the emergence of microblogging – thanks to Web 2.0 tools such as Twitter. Twitter gives you the option to update your network/ neighbourhood on what you are doing in a mere 140 characters.

The instantaneous nature of this means that you can easily update those that are following you on what you are up to and track what others are up to as well. I was originally critical of Twitter but I am starting to find it more useful in a professional work sense. In fact, in my perception it is taking over Facebook as one of the most valuable social networking sites.

The interesting thing here for me is that you can apply it to every day work. My Twitter neighbourhood, albeit small, is a circle of PR people and journalists. The aim = to expand my small neighbourhood! Anyway, I digress…

Although many of the posts that we upload don’t necessarily provide too much insight – I find out when people need to go to the bathroom, what they had for breakfast and when they are on the train but on several occasions it can really useful. You can pick up a lead on a story that a journalist is working on, what topics he/ she covers, when he/ she is going overseas, find out what they think of products they are reviewing and reporting on, what topics light a fire under them and so forth. It’s a great way to keep your finger on the pulse and stay in contact. Now that I think about it more, I would actually compare this to LinkedIn – it seems to be quite valuable as a professional networking tool.

I’d be surprised if blog subscriptions weren’t in decline due to the rise in Twitter feeds. This has strong implications for mobiles as well. These days, new and emerging technologies are mirroring the lifestyle trends of today’s consumers’. As people want to access to real-time information from friends, access to news, entertainment, and be able to communicate from anywhere at anytime – we are finding that today’s technologies such as mobile phones and web 2.0 tools such as Twitter are accommodating these needs.

Feel free to pipe up if you have some answers because I haven’t done all my homework in this area. Are we seeing a trend now – as people become more time poor are we seeing blog posts getting shorter? Rather than well-researched, quality blog posts – are these increasingly becoming short excerpts and randon bursts of one’s thoughts?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this…

CATEGORIES

TAGS

RECENT POSTS

OTHER BLOGS

Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide