Showing posts with label new media. Show all posts
Showing posts with label new media. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 9

Reporting Responsibly: The Psychology Of Rights

Sometime in the 1990s, I signed on to pen a few articles for the most aggressive First Amendment advocacy magazine I've ever read. The content was rough enough that I still sometimes question my decision to participate. I have and had mixed feelings for a couple of the columns I wrote, although they were nothing compared to some of material submitted by others. But that is why I wrote them.

I was challenging my own convictions. I was contributing to a publication Stephen King supported, which was how I discovered it. I had also just recently participated in a win the ACLU had over the old America Online's TOS, which included an aggressive censorship policy against its members.

After a couple of issues, I dropped any future assignments, but it wasn't the limits of the First Amendment that shook me off. The editor/publisher and I had a falling out despite our developing friendship. The argument that did it was over the Second Amendment. I couldn't fathom that a publisher might hold one inalienable right up high but dismiss another outright.

The lack of responsibility and hypocrisy of the Journal News. 

This previous experience was one of the first things that came to mind when I read about the Journal News publishing a map that included the names and addresses of almost 34,000 gun owners. The story, which began two weeks ago, has since escalated. In a case of tit-for-tat, someone decided to publish the names and addresses of the reporters and editors who work there.

Some of the editors are now unhappy and even frightened for themselves and their families. The newspaper has even reported that someone sent bags of white power to their offices, reminiscent of the terrorist scares several years ago. The paper's publisher, Janet Hasson, has hired armed guards for the offices.

Assuming the white powder reports are true, that is unquestionably over the line. But the rest of it, the publishing of names and addresses of reporters and editors, was fair. The paper's own blatant disregard for the responsibility that comes with the freedom of the press wasn't well thought out. The fear they feel isn't much different than the fear they instilled in gun owners and non-gun owners alike.

Perhaps one of my colleagues said it best, pointing out that at least some of those people on the list might be stalker victims or domestic violence victims, only purchasing a gun out of personal necessity. Or maybe there is even more to consider. Publishing the names of gun owners also gives criminals a potential list of gun-owning targets (or non-gun owning targets), gives neighbors a reason to be suspicious, frightens concerned seniors, gives prisoners the names and addresses of corrections officers and police officers, and invites everybody into everybody's personal affairs.

Incidentally, the map isn't even accurate. Many people listed have since moved or are deceased, making the map nothing more than an attempt to justify some notion that neighbors have a right to know who owns a gun or guns — an argument that suggests the public has a right to know which neighbors are journalists, people inclined to transform private lives into public affairs. It's all sad and silly.

The psychology of rights and press ethics.

Personally, it seems to me that there is a maturity in appreciating that the Bill Of Rights was included in the U.S. Constitution not because these rights were convenient or safe or popular. The Bill Of Rights are inalienable rights, meaning that they supersede the government's ability to grant them. They came about because it was the other way around. The citizens who made this government said they wouldn't give these rights up to the government.

Moreover, as inalienable rights, the expressed concept is that such freedoms are not granted by a majority at their privilege to a minority but rather owned and preserved equally by majorities and minorities alike, even when that minority consists of a single individual. In other words, we don't get to pick and choose which inalienable rights we want without the consequence of losing all of them.

That said, the Journal News might have been well within its rights to publish the map, but it doesn't excuse a blatant disregard for responsible news reporting. The same can be said for those who published the names and addresses of reporters and editors in an era where publishing is cheap and relatively easy, but I can't blame them. Equal opportunity sometimes breeds equal jeopardy.

What I do wish is that both publishers would have heard one of my former media professors challenge the ethical vs. free vs. responsibility perceptive of a free press in my media law class. He didn't speak about guns. Instead, he talked about the unwillingness of most newspapers and media outlets to publish the names of rape victims under the age of 18.

He proved his point by escalating the news value of the story, painting the progression that an editor might not publish the name of a 14-year-old victim, but would have a harder time not publishing her name if she was the daughter of a mayor, or if the mayor was responsible, or if other publications do. As he progressed, the hands of those who would not publish the name fell away with shattered convictions.

No, what the the Journal News did is not an exercise of two rights rubbing up against each other, creating the illusion that we have to make a choice. It is something much simpler. It is having the common sense to know that just because you can publish something, doesn't mean you have to publish it (or create laws to censor it). And maybe that is what the discussion ought to be about.

Monday, December 10

Ending The Daily: Don't Blame The Tablets

There is plenty of speculation as to why Rupert Murdoch's The Daily folded, but don't fooled by some of it. Any contention that the tablet is to blame is a mistake. The medium wasn't the problem. It was the message. It was the business model. It was misunderstanding what consumers want from digital news.

For every failed newspaper-turned-news tablet, there are dozens of successes. And none of these successes are crippled by issues experienced by the News Corp. experiment, despite Felix Salmon outlining all the tablet troubles some news outlets are experiencing with tablet delivery.

Here are few of them. But most are fixable.

The most prominent issues with tablet native news, according to Columbia Journalism Review. 

• News applications are clunky, with most requiring a long download for every issue.
• Navigation is difficult and unintuitive, with pages less than dynamic and without a search.
• Archival issues abound, with most tablet editions being limited to single issue reads and no history.

But anyone who understands the native apps and the web a little more than the bold digital experiment by Murdoch won't be fooled into thinking that the tablet is at fault. All you have to do is flip over to Flipboard to get an idea of what can be done without the deep pockets News Corp. once had.

• News applications need to drip stories in a steady stream, not make standalone issues.
• Navigation is easy when the content is arranged by topic, letting readers prioritize content.
• Every great native app can built with archival content in mind, including related links.

While I haven't had an opportunity to fully review the free application process for Liquid [Hip], an alternative reviews site, I do know the benefits outweighed any issues. Thanks to the innovative partnering opportunity and programing ability of UppSite, converting web-based content to a native app isn't perfect but closing in on perfect.

The biggest advantage is that stories are delivered as they are published, making it faster to retrieve reviews than a browser. And while navigation still needs to be improved by allowing publishers to set major categories and listing the rest of any index as alphabetical (suggestions made by our firm), the potential already exists. Once it is complete, including a search, archived content isn't an issue.

While some people might note that web content ported to a native app lacks some media-rich dynamics that publishers want to take advantage of, it seems to me that it still makes the best blueprint. Content delivered one story at a time is better than trying to build editions. Dynamic content, ranging from videos to interactive features, can still be built in easy enough. And, if publishers are paying attention, then they might appreciate another trapping that The Daily exhibited. Weak content.

It wasn't that the content was weak per se, but the depth of reporting didn't justify the price. Native apps (or web news sites) need to do a better job balancing short-content appeal while still delivering the depth of reporting that used to set magazines and newspapers apart from the spoonful-sized stories that electronic (television and radio) provided. How do you do it?

Building a better news experience for people with mobile phones and tablets.

It's relatively painless, really. All publishers need to do is write an executive brief-like lead story (around 350 words) that opens up three to 10 in-depth stories or point-of-view pieces or dynamics (graphs, videos, etc.) that paint a complete picture (along with archival capabilities). Doing so creates the reader choice that most people crave — which is why they search for more content after spending 15 minutes or so with a post online.

So no, it wasn't the tablet that doomed The Daily, which was filled with surface content that couldn't justify a high subscription price. Like most failed digital products, it was the development team behind it focusing too much on developing something for a medium as opposed to people who use that medium. If they had done that, then The Daily would have been the best practice and not the pitfall to avoid. But no matter. Sooner or later somebody else will spend their time in the right place and finally get it right.

Wednesday, March 3

Changing PR: Customers Are Media; Complaints Are News

Never mind all those customers on your company's Facbook page. Don't forget the customers standing right in front of you.

That seems to be one lesson learned by the vice president of Evergreen Entertainment LLC, which operates St. Croix Falls Cinema 8 in St. Croix Falls, Wis. His chain of five theaters is now the target of a Facebook BOYCOTT page that has drawn 5,100 fans and counting, after he wrote the following response to a complaint (* are mine):


Drive to White Bear Lake and also go fuc* yourself. If you dont have money for entertainment, get a better job, and don't pay for everything on your credit or check card. You can also shove your time and gas up your fuc*ing a**. Also, find better things to do with your time. This email is an absolute joke. We don't care to have you as a customer. Let me know if you need directions to white bear lake.

Steven J. Payne - Vice President

Payne has since apologized, but the apology came too little too late. It seems other customers have had complaints about the theater, but never had a forum to complain. From our viewpoint, they represent the most dangerous loss of revenue for a company —customers who never complain but never make another purchase.

Not everyone who comments on the boycott page is sympathetic to Sarah Kohl-Leaf of Taylors Falls, Minn. They say her original letter was the catalyst for the response. I cannot agree with that. Retail customers write impassioned letters all the time. Her complaints:

• Lack of an ability to pay with a credit or debit card.
• An ATM cash machine that was out of cash or service.
• A movie interruption to check ticket stubs against the count.

Payne didn't need to be offended by the complaint. They are all valid, and might explain why more customers are not visiting the company's establishments. Sarah deserved a thank you more than she deserved a fu*k off letter.

Everyone has the potential to be the media.

As the Facebook boycott page takes off, mainstream media is starting to pick up the story, including The Minneapolis - St. Paul Star Tribune, Consumerist, and The Sun in Osceola, Wis.

A few customers are even concerned that the theater chain might not survive. While larger operations might fire an employee for such an infraction, this chain seems to be a family-owned theater.

Three other takeaways to consider: Customers do not have to be celebrities like Kevin Smith to gain traction. The lack of a social media presence may one day come back to haunt your company because you won't have any loyalists to lift you up like Toyota, which did far worse than Steven Payne. And, as always, the initial mistake (with the exception of gross negligence that affects public safety) is never as impacting as how we respond to it.

Ergo, we might not be reading this story today if Payne had accepted the criticism and offered up a free popcorn. And we might not be reading about it today if it wasn't for social media. But nowadays, anyone can become a publisher and every manager has to wear a public relations hat now and again.

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, December 23

Fragmenting News: "Driven Media"

Any good blogger, competing journalist or alert press critic can spot and publicize false balance and the lame acceptance of fact-free spin. Do users really want to be left helpless in sorting out who's faking it more? — Jay Rosen

Jay Rosen, journalism professor at New York University and author of What Are Journalists For? might have posed his question last April, but its poignancy will become front and center in 2010. Although people like to poke fun at "old media," there is no such thing.

Old media has gone the way of the dinosaur. And if you missed it during the last decade, it's because things rarely happen all at once. They happen slowly. Old media went out with a whimper, not a bang. And I suspect most people don't even know what we've lost.

I think about it all the time, given I'll be teaching Writing for Public Relations this spring. It will be my tenth year teaching this core requirement for a public relations certificate program, but it might as well be my first.

With exception to the AP Style Guide, the text I once required (Writing in Public Relations Practice: Form & Style by Doug Newsom) has become largely obsolete. I've decided to make it elective, but only because there has yet to be a textbook published that I can justify requiring students to purchase.

The change hinges on what has become the fragmentation of media. There are some remnants of traditional media, but the entire field has been fragmented and the lines between the various practices are blurred. Tomorrow's public relations professionals have to know it all, but even their days are numbered as 80 percent of them think social media is the answer to everything when it's only the answer for some things.

What has been propped up in the place of traditional media are six divisions of journalism-like content. (I'm only offering up six divisions to help people get their heads around it. Most are blurred, blended, or feature multiple content divisions.)

Six Divisions Of Modern Media Content

Editor-Driven Media. This is the last stand of anything resembling traditional or old media, which is still one step removed from objective journalism. The concept is simple enough. "Experts" choose the news, with the best of them following in the footsteps of their professional predecessors and the worst of them attempting to set an agenda or practice "he said, she said" journalism, which is something people like Rosen and myself have railed against time and time again.

Blogger-Driven Media. While the vast majority of bloggers have no intention of becoming citizen journalists, public relations professionals have given some of them the first call leverage they need to be popular (sometimes in exchange for positively slanted reviews). But even without direct intervention by companies, bloggers have filled various special interest niches with the only real requirement being the time it takes to develop, market, and nurture a blog. Like it or not, bloggers can set the agenda for what receives attention and what doesn't based on variables as varied as the topics they write about.

Citizen-Driven Media. While most bloggers never aspire to be citizen journalists, there are a handful who do. Some of them used blogs to share content that resembles, aspires, or even competes with journalism on networks like the fledgling BrooWaHa, The Blog Paper, or any number ofdozens of others. Crowd-sourced content, like the Wikimedia model, fits well enough within this division too.

Consumer-Driven Media. While it might resemble editor-driven media on occasion, the presentation of facts are biased to provide consumers with the "news" they're looking for and/or an affirmation of their opinions. While the editorial team still calls the shots, they skew to trump up their circulation online or off using any number of tactics. Two of the most common: news dictated by what's hot on the search engines today or simply building niche content for special interests, left or right, so people with specific opinions can tune in to find preset facts. (e.g., if you think the country is on the right or wrong track, there is a news program for you.)

Propaganda-Driven Media. Special interests have done an excellent job at shifting traditional news desks toward special interest agendas or creating entirely new media outlets predisposed to researching, sourcing, filtering, and presenting information that is designed to support nothing other than a point of view. Years ago, it was called yellow journalism. Today, it's called progress. It's also disingenuous to the public because important topics like health care reform no longer have objective forums to vet out the worst of it.

Advertising-Driven Media. I recently read a post (but forgot to bookmark the link and backtype didn't pick it up) where a public relations professional said that the separation of news and the advertising desk was no longer needed. He went as far to say that it is part of the evolution of journalism. Within his context, it's not an evolution but a regression. Sure, I support companies establishing their own content online (heck, that's what we do), but the other form is much less authentic. Specifically, advertisers are setting the news agenda at media outlets.

The net outcome, at least in the short term, will be exactly what Rosen framed up, except with many more divisions than "he said, she said" media alone. People will be asked to sort out who's faking it more, despite their current predisposition to choose based on nothing more than popularity, affiliation, and social media metrics.

Get ready for a bumpy ride in 2010. It seems increasingly likely that it will be the year when the public makes its choice: do we want to support what we and/or our associates believe (true or not) or do we want to support those who are attempting to objectively pursue the truth (even when we don't want to read it)? I'm hoping for the latter, but am tasked with helping public relations students understand how to work in a world based on nothing more than the former.

Wednesday, December 9

Changing Journalism: Reynolds School of Journalism

If anyone is still wondering, and a few people still are, the changes taking place in journalism today are as permanent as any that preceded it. The changes are not only taking place with publishers at a snail's pace, but also in higher education at an increasingly hastened pace.

Funded by an $8 million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the Reynolds School of Journalism and Center for Advanced Media Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno, is specifically designed to help students "navigate the revolution in journalism." Most of the grant will be used to rewire and re-cable the journalism building, which includes a robust server system that will replace analog TV and radio facilities and create a new multimedia newsroom.

"This is a transformational gift," Milton D. Glick, president of the university, said. "It means our students will be even more prepared to communicate on every platform--print, broadcast, the Internet, social media and whatever comes next."

To help maintain the new infrastructure, the school is also launching a campaign to raise a restricted fund of $1.6 million. The changes are not restricted to infrastructure, but critical thinking and skill sets. Students who enrolled in the school this year were asked to purchase their own video camcorders.

The blended approach is well suited for the school, which offers the only accredited journalism program in the state. Even when I attended as a student several years ago, it helped shape the foundation for an integrated approach to communication.

While the core of the program is journalism, various electives provide students an opportunity to place an emphasis in other communication fields, including broadcast, public relations, and advertising. While the requirements remain the same, several new core requirements are being introduced, including multimedia reporting and production.

We see these additions to be critical for students entering journalism and communication today as they will likely serve them much longer in a field that continues to evolve, with significant crossover between public relations, news media, social media, and advertising. And even if some students do not see why every core class is important to their area of interest (as someone who had an advertising emphasis, I didn't appreciate reporting until years later), all of them will become vital requirements in the next decade.

It's equally vital for current advertising, public relations professionals, and even journalists to consider this emergent structure. As students from school, as well as several other progressive universities, many of these graduates won't have the same restrictive thinking that many practicing professionals seem to be hindered by today.

They won't ask questions like "which silo ought to be in charge of social media?" Or "Should I emphasize writing over video production?" Or "How do I distinguish professional journalist and a blogger?" In an integrated, interactive, portable multimedia-driven world, those questions will become as obsolete as "How do I pitch a non-news story."

Tuesday, August 18

Measuring Impact: Nielsen

In May 2008, fans of a cancelled television program, Jericho, dumped more than 4,000 pounds of peanuts on the doorstep of Nielsen Media Research. Shipping peanuts had become the statement of choice for the fans, who had secured a truncated second season after sending more than 20 tons to CBS.

But the nuts sent to Nielsen were different. The statement wasn't a call to action as much as it was a measure of their displeasure with the people who control what people watch based exclusively on the viewing habits of a shrinking few. They blame a flawed and antiquated rating system for the demise of the series. And they are not the only ones to feel that way.

This week, there was more talk about dumping. And this time, fans of television shows weren't talking. According to the New York Times, it is the owners of the four major broadcast networks; cable channel operators, including Viacom and Discovery; three of the country’s biggest-spending advertisers, Procter & Gamble, AT&T and Unilever; and two of the biggest advertising agency holding companies, GroupM and the Starcom MediaVest Group unit of the Publicis Groupe. And the conversation did not include dumping peanuts as much as it included dumping Nielsen.

Nielsen, which possesses a monopoly on the rating system for television, would not comment. It has been trying to prove its ability to catch up on the measurement curve for years, with plans that it once said would take five years or even a decade to execute.

But times have changed. It only took Facebook nine months to add 100 million members and Apple to celebrate 1 billion application downloads for the iPhone. In terms of communication, especially social media, we frequently talk in terms of what can be accomplished in 90 or 180 days. So it's no surprise that words from the CEO of Nielsen say old world to many of them.

"Innovation is a process," says Dave Calhoun. "And it has to be a well-defined process."

Translation: It will take a long time. And it may take long enough that the opening of his story in Fortune last year might not read as funny as it did then. Not much has changed. If anything, it has gotten worse outside and inside as indicated from this internal memo sent to employees after the Financial Times had broke the story (hat tip: James Hibberd's The Live Feed)...

"As you know, our Company is committed to measuring across all screens – known in the industry as “three screens”: television, computer and mobile – as part of our long-term strategy. Over the last three years, we’ve invested more than a billion dollars in research and development as part of this effort. As with all of our measurement science, we’re working closely with our clients, whose input and engagement has been consistent and constructive.

You may have read the Financial Times article published late last week, or the subsequent articles appearing in a number of publications over the weekend, about the potential formation of a new three-screen consortium. While our Company policy is not to respond to speculation or future announcements, we have been in direct contact with many of our clients, including some cited in the original article. Much of what was reported by the Financial Times remains unclear, and many of our clients are themselves looking for answers to questions raised by the story. What is clear, however, is that three-screen measurement is at the center of our strategy. Just as clear is the commitment of some of our largest clients who have recently renewed multi-year contracts with us for television, online, mobile and other measurement services.

We continue to move forward helping our clients understand and measure media consumption anytime, anywhere."

Of course, nobody would have understand media measurement if, you know, Nielsen could count everyone. You know, like Arbitron (no, not seriously).

Tuesday, June 23

Going Green: Free Iran

While most people have heard that social media has played a role in the post-election results in Iran, the consequences of immediate communication and online conversation have an impact that is equally compelling to on-the-ground coverage.

While Valeria Maltoni sees the potential for crowdsourcing to surpass CNN news (it can), we also see it as an interesting division. Whereas traditional media has been tending to cover the sentiment of the elected, social media tends to reveal the sentiment of those who elect. And that is making the elected take notice.

Mass Influence Over Influencers

Even in the United States, President Obama has been compelled to step up his stance on Iran. Originally, he hoped to avoid commenting about the democratic process of Iran over concern for future diplomacy with a country known to be developing a nuclear program and backing militant organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. However, his initial hands-off stance had been largely viewed as timid and unrepresentative.

Yesterday, that changed. President Obama, who now says he was moved by the protest images, has called for an end to the violence while advising those who govern that they ought to lead by consent over coercion.

It's equally likely he wasn't moved on his own. Overwhelmingly, Americans have helped make the Iranian elections two of the top ten stories on the Internet — the election itself and the State Department asking Twitter to hold off on scheduled maintenance in order to ensure real-time citizen reporting.

News that used to die in a day isn't so easily forgotten. People all over the world want resolution.

BloggersUnite Hosts Spontaneous Event, which is a nonprofit platform that encourages bloggers to do good and raise social awareness, has launched an initiative that asks bloggers and network participants to use their blogs and accounts to do exactly that. They are asking bloggers and network members to continue their efforts, drawing even more awareness to the Iranian election and related atrocities in Iran through June 29.

“When we host organized campaigns, they are usually 90 days in the making,” said Antony Berkman, president of and founder of “This time, the crisis is now, the need for action is now, the initiative is now.”

The event has already received praise by Amnesty International USA, which has its own action page condemning the violence and repression over the elections. Amnesty International says it is important for people to keep Iran in the public spotlight until it ends restrictions on freedom of expression and association, which includes the freedom to receive and impart information and ideas.

Bloggers and members of the media are asked to contribute to the Bloggers Unite for a Free Iran campaign by making it a dominant social media issue once again on June 29. Others are asked to participate by leaving supportive comments on participating blogs, sharing links to posts about this important effort, and/or by turning all avatars green in honor of the campaign. Bloggers who have already posted on the subject are asked to add their links to the event page and post again on June 29.

Monday, May 11

Shining Through: Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Last March, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) received more than 1,000 entries for an online Celebrating Urban Light exhibition. The open call centered on the anniversary of artist Chris Burden’s "Urban Light" project, which is a landmark installation that was added to the Wilshire Boulevard entrance last year.

"Throughout the days and nights of the past year, photographers and videographers have made their pilgrimage to Urban Light," writes Charlotte Cotton, curator and department head of photographs for the LACMA, in the forward of the exhibition. "This [online] exhibition celebrates the wealth of creativity that Urban Light has inspired within us."

While the exhibition has received mostly local attention, including the Los Angeles Times, it still represents one of the better uses of new media by allowing citizens to surprise us. The entries can be seen on Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook. The latter was used to chronicle the event.

The Flickr account is especially rewarding in that the LACMA is continuing to accept submissions, making it a living exhibition beyond the print-on-demand book available on Blurb. More than 50 photographs have been contributed since February.

The book, "Celebrating Urban Light," features 150 photos, poems, and video stills chosen by Cotton. The book retails for $29.95 (soft cover) and $44.95 (hard cover). The book also includes a foreword by LACMA CEO and Director Michael Govan, a preface by Cotton, and an excerpt from a conversation between Govan and Chris Burden about the work.

Monday, May 4

Changing Times: From Print To Push

As a foreshadow toward a possible yet uncertain future, two newspapers — The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times — carried stories that mark the sign of the times.

The Washington Post featured an article highlighting the public struggles of the Boston Globe, which many expect could close in as little as 60 days. Meanwhile, The New York Times asked its readership if big-screen e-readers might save newspapers. Some of the new models, which are expected to be released by the end of the year, are coming much closer to electronic paper as imagined more than 35 years ago (and imagined in the fictional world of Harry Potter).

Newspapers And Other Content At The Edge Of A Chasm

For several years, the most pragmatic viewpoint about newspapers has been that they might be dying but news is thriving. Indeed, the problems faced by newspapers have been confined to one of distribution and economics.

Subscription-based content on a more portable e-reader might be the answer, provided newspapers learn to segment their free online vs. subscription-based publications. Content duplication has clearly hastened the demise of print.

The analogy is simple enough. Journalism will survive and leap forward to the other side. So the real question is what will we find once we get there. That is a toss up. While most people focus on the short term, asking whether newspapers will shift toward more localized reporting with an influx of citizen journalists or more relaxed professionals, the real challenge remains content oversight.

In 2007, we asked that question with the advent of the Kindle, already recognizing that the Internet solution-providers were starting to ask questions as to how much content control they wanted as distribution platforms. At the time, people laughed to think Amazon or anyone would attempt to control content. It's not in their nature, proponents said.

Not everyone is laughing now. Apple rejected an update of the Nine Inch Nails iPhone update, saying that it contains “objectionable content.” YouTube, as if in defiance of What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis, is hoping to police product placement, thereby collecting a cut from certain content creators.

The Leap Is Simple Provided People Keep Their Senses

To be fair, it's new territory for everybody. And sometimes, future solutions are easier to come by than the vision of the people shaping it today.

What Could Google Do? Simple. Stick to what it knows best — developing great distribution platforms. And rather than worry about product placement, it might consider a tiered approach to bandwidth with premium video being streamed for a monthly content creator rate. For everyone else, free as always.

What Could Apple Do? Rather than reject material based upon questionable content, it might consider opening a separate section for adults. And no, we don't mean an electronic version of the original local video store. Rather, something like NIN can stick to creating content.

What Could Newspapers Do? Really, if the problem is distribution because printed products are too expensive, then it's well past time to partner with electronic paper makers. Some people might be willing to pay a modest rate for subscription service to some papers for delivery by application or e-reader. Just keep the price models in check. Almost everyone knows that subscription fees never really paid for print (so split the subscription with the distributor or whatever); advertising did.

Thursday, March 12

Treading On Headlines: Newspapers Sink

“In 2009 and 2010, all the two-newspaper markets will become one-newspaper markets, and you will start to see one-newspaper markets become no-newspaper markets,” said Mike Simonton, a senior director at Fitch Ratings, who analyzes the industry, to The New York Times.

He is not alone in his assessment. Time magazine recently listed what it believes are the 10 most endangered newspapers in America, including: The Philadelphia Daily News, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, The Miami Herald, The Detroit News, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Chicago Sun-Times, The New York Daily News, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and The Cleveland Plain Dealer. The article also suggests eight of the 50 largest papers could be gone in the next 18 months. (Hat tip: Thomas Mitchell, editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, who has been posting a series called "Information wants to be free, reporters want to be paid" for some time.)

There is a rub too. According to a Nielsen Online report for the Newspaper Association of America, average monthly unique audience figures for newspaper Web sites grew by nearly 7.3 million in 2008 to 67.3 million visitors, an increase of 12.1 percent over 2007. Monthly unique visitors during the fourth quarter of 2008 averaged 68.2 million, an 8.6 percent increase over the same period a year ago (62.8 million).

So the reality is that newspapers are more popular than ever, but the business model is broken. It doesn't have to be, but it is because daily publishers operated in denial for almost a decade. Most of them, including the Orlando Sentinel, noted steep circulation declines as early as 2003. From our data, virtually all newspaper circulation graphs look similar if not the same.

The Solution Is Symbiotic Content Over Duplication

There are many reasons newspapers are failing, but the one we'll touch on today is the most obvious. When publications migrated online, they duplicated the content in entirety and then added more features to the online asset than the print publication could ever hope to support.

While this might have proved to be a successful model, dailies made the mistake of considering the online asset an entirely new revenue stream (thereby denying print advertisers the benefit of the online circulation as well). Had the advertisers been allowed to migrate online for free, dailies might have survived with a single revenue stream.

But instead of having one product, dailies created two. And in doing so, they became their own competition, with the better product only fetching mere pennies on the dollar in terms of advertising revenue. Another solution might have been to follow other models proven successful on the Web.

Instead of duplicating content, newspapers could have considered creating a more symbiotic model, with the print and online versions of the publication carrying similar but modified content. For example, the printed daily could have included the in depth coverage (the kind that kept newspapers competitive with broadcast over the last few decades), while the online versions could have summarized, editorialized, or provided actual supporting documentation (such as letters, court filings, etc.) for the print version.

Doing so would have driven print subscribers online and some online readers to subscribe. While there are many different degrees of differentiation for such a model, the basics are the same. There are plenty of companies that have already proven premium content still pays the rent. Sometimes, it even pays more than an annual subscription to a daily newspaper.

Not All Dailies Will Die, But News May Never Be The Same

If there is a bright side to the blight facing newspapers, it might be that the long-term future seems more promising than short term. Eventually, one can hope that the public will grow weary of increasingly yellow journalism (biased opinion masquerading as objective fact) and return to objectivity as once envisioned by Walter Lippmann.

This doesn't mean that I believe people will pay for objective reporting as it exists today, but I do think objectivity will eventually recapture its audience, assuming tomorrow's dailies will resist the urge to tamper with the term as today's dailies have done. (Not everyone wants to have their opinions validated. Some people still value the truth.)

Of course, once these publications have an audience, advertisers will follow. In fact, they'll be even more likely to follow as soon as marketers finally learn that circulation isn't the best measure. It hasn't been for some time.

Wednesday, January 7

Surfing For Survival: The Fourth Estate

"But what if the old media dies much more quickly? What if a hurricane comes along and obliterates the dunes entirely? Specifically, what if The New York Times goes out of business—like, this May?" — Michael Hirschorn, The Atlantic

When The New York Times released an October earnings report that revealed drastic measures must be taken or the paper would be forced to default on $400 million debt, some people, including journalists like Hirschorn, woke up wondering what if what once seemed like a slow a painful death for print might be hastened before they could develop a viable online business migration model. And what would that mean for journalism? And what would that mean for public relations?

The New York Times is not alone. Any time I spoke about social media last year, I carried some disappointing circulation statistics with me — most papers were down double digits: Boston Globe, down 10.1 percent; Philadelphia Inquirer, down 11.0 percent; the Miami Herald, down 11.8 percent; the Detroit News, down 10 percent; the Houston Chronicle, down 11.6 percent. And that says nothing about the Tribune Co. bankruptcy.

A few weeks ago, Thomas Mitchell, editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, noted "Information wants to be free, reporters want to be paid" in a column that reminds readers that newspapers survive to provide substance. He's right. Anyone can offer up opinion. Anyone can cater to the masses for link love and pats on the back. But not everyone will "sit through the council meeting and sift through the volumes of bureaucratic paperwork" or be able to disassemble and reassemble it in order to objectively educate the public as to what it means to them.

True enough, as that was the same point Paul Mulshine, opinion columnist for the Newark Star-Ledger, made in the The Wall Street Journal. And I heard similar comments while sitting on a panel with Bruce Spotleson, group publisher at Greenspun Media; Jon Ralston, columnist and commentator on state politics, and Flo Rogers, general manager of Southern Nevada's KNPR. Increasingly, the public seems more interested in news that supports their worldview than the last remnants of objective journalism.

Sure, the old model must change. But what newspapers need to remember is they can't wait for someone else to invent it. Most models will be different. Some might shrink print content while driving more readers online for additional content. Some might create online communities for the strongest sections. Some might place a greater emphasis on another medium like video. Some will attempt to give up the one-way new stream and encourage journalists to engage the public, something BusinessWeek seems to be experimenting with, but with mixed reception. And some, well, some will surely just lay down and die. But what if they all did?

Ethics & The Fourth Estate

It's a question I ask myself every year while I prepare to teach public relations skill sets that seem a little less valued today than they were last year or the year before that. Do they even know that the burden of business ethics might fall all the more on their shoulders? That's one question Bill Sledzik, associate professor in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at Kent State University, has on his mind as well.

"I worry that too many PR types will place client interest ahead of public interest, expediency ahead of ethics," he writes. "They have in the past, and social media makes it that much easier today."

He might be right to worry. Even where there aren't ethical lapses, the slips seem more frequent (even among those who profess transparency). There are a few who already seem all too comfortable walking right up to the ethical line (if not crossing it) or redefining it to fit their needs. Even more don't really understand ethics all that well. When I share ethical challenges in a class, for example, the informal fail rate has been as high as 90 percent.

It may get worse before it gets better. A survey recently conducted by the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE) and the Health Care Compliance Association (HCCA) reveals that the declining economy might increase the risk of legal and ethics violations in business. In fact, more than 85 percent of 600 compliance and business ethics professionals felt that the current economy greatly or somewhat increases the risk of compliance and ethics failures with only one percent offering a contrarian opinion. (The complete survey results can be downloaded here).

"There's good and bad news here," observed Roy Snell, the CEO of SCCE and HCCA. "We're finding that companies are increasingly seeing compliance and ethics as an integral part of their business and not a luxury to be discarded during an economic downturn. But, at the same time, we're seeing stagnant budgets or potential declines in resources at a time of increased risk for failures. That's creating a gap that could prove to be a dangerous chasm for business to cross."

And what if they do cross it? Without a viable Fourth Estate, there may be less risk and consequence. Yesterday, it used to be a suitable ethical review sum up to end with a single quip — unless you would be proud to see what you say or do on the front page of The Wall Street Journal or New York Times, then don't say or do it. Today, you can buy space on the front page instead. And tomorrow, there might not be one to care.

Monday, January 5

Beginning 2009: The Year Of Communication

Happy New Year! Yes, again.

It's the second time I've written it because it seems to be worth writing again. It's a happy New Year because about half of Americans polled by NBC News/Wall Street Journal believe 2008 was the worst year in American history. As Rich Lowery, writing for The Washington Times pointed out, it wasn't.

But nonetheless, it's a happy New Year because Americans seem to need one. Consumer confidence has a nasty habit of following what the leaders communicate. And for the good part of two years, very few leaders can say they stood up to be counted among those who had a positive message to deliver. This is what must change.

Politics aside, in 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt demonstrated he understood this by delivering one of the most remembered inaugural addresses of the 20th century. His speech led the way by changing the candor of communication and calling for a time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. And in doing so, he reminded the American people (and people all over the world) that the "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."

"Nothing changes and yet everything is completely different." — Aldous Huxley

Last year, we rang in the New Year by calling 2008 The Year of New Media. In many ways, it was exactly that, with more companies recognizing that social media was viable. They rushed to embrace it.

This year, companies that rushed headlong into social media will begin to adjust, recognizing that social media is a tactic and, as a tactic, only one portion of a well-thought strategic communication plan. Some will understand and appreciate that although there is merit in the prevailing thought of joining the conversation, there is also a need for people to lead those conversations with hope, innovation, and a focus on being able to meet the needs of the people they want to reach.

For all our talk about ROI, companies will do well to remember that the mere possession of a healthy profit margin is less paramount to the long-term bottom line than are achievements gained through innovation and the shared outcomes that come from the creative efforts by consumers and companies. This year, I'll infuse the concept into classes and speaking engagements because it seems to be needed out of necessity.

The way I see it, if there is one question to be asked in 2009, it will be whether or not your companies are ready to improve, innovate, and then communicate those improvements and innovations without motivating people by fear for short-term gains. The focus needs to be positive. The contract with consumers needs to be long term.

Speaking Schedule & UNLV Classes — Richard Becker

Writing For Public Relations — 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Jan. 15 – March 12

Writing For Public Relations is a skills development class that focuses on the application of strategic communication into public relations with an emphasis on practical writing skills. Students learn a variety of writing styles and how to best apply them to: news releases, fact sheets, biographical sketches, feature stories, media kits, and social media/new media. (CEUs: 1.80)

Breakfast of Champions: Build Public Opinion Online — 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., Feb. 6

Presented by Community Service Consultants at Regis University, Build Public Opinion Online will focus on how non-profit organizations and business community relations managers can develop effective public outreach programs online, employing social media tools such as blogging, social networks, and other resources.

Social Media For Communication Strategy — 9 a.m. to noon, Feb. 28

Social Media for Communication Strategy focuses on increasing the use of online technologies to share content, opinion, insight, and experience. Collectively, these technologies shape more opinion than all other media combined and have dramatically changed the communication landscape. (CEUs: .3)

Editing and Proofreading Your Work — 9 a.m. to noon, April 4

Editing And Proofreading Your Work is half-day day session that focuses on improving clarity, consistency, and correct usage in personal and business correspondence. It includes essentials such as language, mechanics of style, spelling, and punctuation.

Of course, you'll find some information shared here from time to time, as this blog was initially created as a supplement for classes and speaking engagements. Copywrite, Ink. also provides an analysis for the potential of new media in our proposals, backed by experience on more than 1,000 accounts across all industries.

Wednesday, October 29

Shifting Concepts: Newspapers Need To Look At TV

And so it begins. The Christian Science Monitor has become the first national newspaper to abandon print and move its daily content online. While the publication will print a weekend magazine, the move represents a shift that many other national dailies will eventually follow.

“Everybody’s talking about new models,” John Yemma, editor of The Monitor said. “This is a new model.”

According to The New York Times, smaller papers have already made the transition, including The Capital Times in Madison, Wis. and The Daily Telegram in Superior, Wis., which will only publish a print edition two days a week.

The downside, as most newspapers know, is that such moves cannot replace the revenue gap between print and online ads. It will not, at least not as long as newspapers continue to look at the new space like print. Instead, they might consider entirely new constructs.

One of the better examples some newspapers might follow is Hulu, which offers free, ad-supported videos of TV shows and movies from NBC, FOX, and other networks. The joint project has been successful enough to beat YouTube hands down.

Within a few months, Hulu has grown to 142 million streams with 6.3 million unique viewers, according to Nielsen Online. It is now the sixth-most-popular online video brand in the United States, surpassing ESPN, CNN, MTV, and Disney.

Part of the success is related to its advertising approach. Fewer advertisements means fewer program interruptions for viewers and less competition for advertisers. It's a win-win, with some additional twists that include viewer rated commercials, ad selection, and interactive games.

“The notion that less is more is absolutely playing out on Hulu,” Jason Kilar, the chief executive of Hulu, told The New York Times. “This is benefiting advertisers as much as it is benefiting users.”

It only makes sense that broadcast would weather convergence a little easier than print, which is why it might be time for print to give up traditional modeling all together. It needs to think more like broadcast and I don't just mean arming journalists with video cameras.

What I mean is: newspapers that are migrating more content online need to quickly develop better advertising vehicles than banner ads to stay viable. The only alternative is to continually cut staff to match shrinking circulations, which no one can really afford to do anymore. Why?

Journalists are already overtaxed on time. The result is that many newspapers have given up on digging deeper and vetting facts in favor of "he said, she said" reporting. "He said, she said" reporting only resembles objective reporting in that it leaves readers to sort out which "he" or "she" might be right or telling the truth. Unless newspapers hold a higher standard and provide trusted content, it seems to me they will risk losing even more readers in a space where content is still king.


Monday, October 27

Talking About Social Media: Solutions Stars Video

Geoff Livingston released a sneak peak of NetworkSolutions' upcoming Solutions Stars Video, a 45-minute video that compiles an overview of social media for small businesses from the viewpoint of several pros across nine different topics:

• Building Web Presence
• The Social Opportunity
• Start with Listening
• Strategy Drives Outreach
• You Need Social Networks
• To Blog or Not to Blog
• Visibility Through Search
• Rising Above the Noise
• Time Demands

The video will be released online at 1 p.m. this Wednesday, Oct. 29. It will also be available on Facebook and Yahoo Events, and includes a chat session with some participants.

The sneak peak includes sound bites from Brian Solis, Rohit Bhargava, Tim Ferriss, Steve Hall, Toby Bloomberg, Ryan Anderson, Darren Rowse, David Alston, Mari Smith, Liz Strauss, and Paul Chaney.

Friday, October 24

Spotting Convergence: Wall Street Journal

With the Newspaper Association of America (NNA) expecting newspaper advertising to drop another 11 percent this year, The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post are already looking to evolve. Both publications are training journalists to shoot video while reporting.

"We've put dozens of cameras out in the hands of reporters," Alan Murray, deputy managing editor of the The Wall Street Journal, said in a brief online interview with "By putting video cameras in their hands, it gives them another way to tell their stories."

Both publications began recruiting and training reporters since June, which was part of their restructuring in July. They are also actively recruiting talented video journalists worldwide to shoot and edit video on a freelance basis through recruiters. Meanwhile, the Washington Post has trained more than 185 reporters.

To illustrate how rapidly convergence is taking place, consider this post from August 2006 or this post from March 2007. Both were written at a time when new media still seemed far far away. But nowadays, it's old media that seems a distant memory.

As predicted, old media is dead. There is only media, aging new and adapting old, sharing the same space online. In other words, it no longer pays to ride a horse in a world of automobiles.


Tuesday, October 7

Pushing Print Down: Gloomy Headlines

The Newspaper Association of America (NNA) says newspaper advertising is going to drop another 11 percent this year. Even more troublesome is that the NNA isn't so bullish on online ad revenue growth for newspapers this year, which it sees as low as 1.8 percent. Maybe next year will better, the report says.

Part of the challenge goes beyond the migration pains of moving print to an increasingly digital world. The recession is slowing down local media markets. According to American Express' Open Small Business Monitor as reported by AdvertisingAge, concerns about cash flow have risen since and capital-investment plans are among the lowest since the study first began. Just under half of small-business owners plan to cut back or delay marketing expenditures.

Such cutbacks go much further than impacting newspapers. Local radio and television stations are feeling the pinch. And, along with them, so are the agencies paid to produce the work. Public relations doesn't seem to be exempt, but the idea it owns social media is tenuous at best.

Now everyone wants a piece of any space showing the slightest signs of growth. But trying to crowd ten "social media experts" in a boat built for two seems pretty risky, especially if the pitch sounds even more snake oil than every other Tuesday.

So who will fare well in the communication industry? Like always, companies with diversified interests and relatively few cash cows tend to fare better. Local retail is still very strong and necessary services (like plumbing and electrical) are outpacing others. It's also the reason that some agencies are, so far, content to offer messages of strength.

Why? It's not rocket science. When economic times seem tough, you tend to want to work with those who seem largely unaffected.

You know what I mean? It's hard to buy a newspaper ad when everyone seems to think their money is best spent elsewhere and the industry's decline shows few signs of flattening any time soon. I don't think that's a good thing, but it will not change until newspapers stop forecasting their own demise.

Monday, September 15

Teaching Social Media: The Friday After BlogWorld

It will be interesting to see what impact, if any, BlogWorldExpo on Sept. 20-21 will have on my Social Media for Communication Strategy class, sponsored by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, on Friday, Sept 26.

Much like last year, it will likely depend on the speakers. After all, social media sometimes comes across as being an inch deep and a mile wide even though it really is a mile deep within the context of strategic communication.

Right on. The long tail of social media need not wag the company dog.

When put in the right context, the value of social media for the public and private sector is easy enough to understand. When it is not, I cannot blame decision makers for being skeptical about the satire that is all too often presented as fact. Applied without the Kool Aid, social media tends to look more like this ...

Five Critical Facts About Social Media That Businesses Need To Know.

• Social media reaches more people and shapes more opinion than all other paid and unpaid media combined.

• The online population represents 90 percent of all adults, with online demographics in lock step with offline demographics by age, gender, ethnicity, income, and education.

• Active participation is not an accurate measure because content consumers outnumber content creators in the United States by 4-to-1.

• While there seem to be many rules in social media, the only one that seems to stand the test of time is authenticity, which makes sense because that concept in communication predates social media.

• Social media analytics are always interesting, useful, and insightful. Yet, none of them means anything.

Five Critical Trends That Are Shaping Social Media Today.

• Social media is trending toward mobility at an exponential rate, especially as Apple continues to push mobile technology forward.

• The bar on quality original content will continue to be raised as entertainment producers and magazine publishers turn their attention online with the hope of salvaging advertising revenue.

• The modern concept between citizen journalism and professional journalism will continue to evaporate, with some citizen journalists employing social media as their entry into the profession.

• Companies will come to terms with social media, but will continue to struggle with the difference between being responsive and intrusive.

• Tactics to expand online reach will eventually be redefined to include a mix of organic traffic, long tail search terms, and message-specific ads on sites that already capture organic traffic and key word searches.

In other words, I suppose any impact to my class will be directly tied to how deep BlogWorldExpo speakers can delve into such topics.

If these speakers do, I’ll anticipate some pretty heady questions. And if they do not (and I’ll know because I’ll be there), then the deepest questions on the Friday after will likely be “what is social media?” and "what if a someone disagrees with me?"


Wednesday, September 10

Learning The Hard Way: NBC Returns To iTunes

There are two ways to learn. One of them is the hard way.

Almost one year ago to the day, NBC Universal (NBCU) made one of the worst decisions since it entered the digital media arena — it effectively banned itself from Apple iTunes. With the launch of iTunes 8 a few days ago and its fall schedule falling in place, NBCU seems to have finally learned the hard way and come back.

Of course, rumors of the peacock’s return to iTunes have been out there for some time. In January, Jeff Zucker, CEO of NBC, made a massive public relations dance move, shifting from the position that iTunes had destroyed the music industry to saying "We've said all along that we admire Apple, that we want to be in business with Apple."

When the rumors first surfaced in January, Engadget could only speculate as to NBC’s reasons. Today, it seems more clear. Apple has refined its terms of service and NBC will generate more revenue, assuming consumers want to spend $1 more for a high definition version of a television show.

The return might even be bittersweet. The SciFi Channel — which returns to iTunes along with NBC, USA, Bravo, NBC News, and Sleuth — praises the new deal, but then goes on to add “there's not much reason get your shows from iTunes instead of streaming them for free on or Hulu.”

Wow! I’ve never seen a company tell consumers not to purchase its programming before. But then again, advertising revenue has always trumped consumer purchases at the networks. Ask any television show fan groups.

Since the SciFi Channel doesn’t seem to get it, we’ll help spell it out: NBC has always been smart about some of its moves into the digital arena like Hulu but dumb when it comes to understanding one critical component — portability.

Apple has created a platform that seamlessly allows me to purchase programs that I can watch on my computer, iPod, iPhone, or flat screen TV. Unfortunately, any HD purchases I might make will have to wait because the system requirements remove that portability selling point and/or double up on storage space.

There’s something else too. Apple needs to fix a glitch. Right now, if you select some shows in a standard format, they still default to HD in your shopping cart, making them impossible to purchase unless you have a dual-core 2.0 Ghz processor or better. So, for the time being, I’m blocked from buying certain shows until they sort it out or I upgrade my 2.1 Ghz “just before” dual core cpu.

More to the point, the return of NBC to iTunes sets the stage for how digital media will work on the net and it’s much more in line with our thinking when people were still telling us that convergence was nothing more than a fantasy. NBC and other networks need to focus on content creation to stay relevant.

Apple and others will become the digital distribution bridges while the finer points of convergence are finally sorted out. And networks have a long way to go before they understand public relations. You’re back on iTunes despite Hulu. Get over it.


Thursday, August 14

Measuring Potential: Intent Over Industry Trend

Despite some bullish interruptions that online advertising is exempt from economic pressures, eMarketer has scaled back its estimates for online marketing. The firm adjusted its online advertising forecast for 2008 from $25.9 billion to $24.9 billion, and social network advertising from $1.6 billion to $1.4 million.

However, it’s hard to jump on the doom and gloom bandwagon based on this adjustment and Google's failure to meet analyst projections.

Online advertising is still projected to be up $3.7 billion from 2007, representing a 17 percent increase in online advertising revenue. Google still demonstrated a 35 percent increase in profits during the second quarter.

In other words, online advertising is growing while other media continues to be earmarked for additional cuts. Traditionally, newspapers have been the hardest hit along with network radio.

In looking at all the stories, companies might consider shooting for the middle. Personally, I would never develop a marketing strategy based on media trends over the media’s ability to meet the communication goals of a company. So in some ways, economic pressures help marketers because it increases a demand for accountability online and off. Blind benefits are not enough.

For example, one recent Web site project we completed for a start-up community relations firm had two primary functions — to summarize the full scope of service after meeting prospective clients and to prompt calls from prospective clients after being found on the Web. Long term, the consulting company will employ a blog and other social media tools to expand its presence online and open more channels for two-way communication.

As the program expands, targeted print ads and online advertisements can assist in driving traffic to the blog. While this is only a portion of their plan, none of it follows industry trends as much as intent. And each step has easily measured goals and objectives, which we think is important in demonstrating tangible value.


Monday, June 16

Taking Responsibility: Public Relations Spam 2

I have developed a great relationship with Kevin Goodman over the last year, mostly because he tends to ask the right questions. Not many people do that. And for Goodman, the issue of public relations spam is no exception.

Goodman suggests that if public relations spam exists, then why would journalists accept major newswire services, which basically “blast” releases all over the place? And, given this, why wouldn’t a public relations firm simply buy their databases and build their own lists?

Easy. PR Newswire doesn’t really blast anything. It’s a passive service, where journalists can go for story leads and get a quick snapshot of insights into specific industries. Contrary, the single release, especially if it is off target, doesn’t provide a service.

The difference between the two can be likened to visiting a company Web site or being pelted by junk e-mails every day.

So while these services create the illusion that there are thousands of journalists looking for releases, the reality is that none of them are looking for releases at all. They are looking for stories — preferably good ones that haven’t appeared everywhere else.

While a few releases do result in good stories, the vast majority only contain information that a company or public relations professional considers news and not necessarily what a journalist or various publics might consider news. Again, the difference is as vast as junk mail. The companies who send it never consider their own mailers junk; they consider it a valuable service in delivering offers that consumers would have to be stupid to refuse.

Maybe there is too much “I” think in public relations and not enough “publics” think, which is what journalists tend to have.

In other words, some (not all) public relations professionals focus so much on column inches and inclusion counts that they forget the needs of their various publics. Once one understands which publics might be interested in any particular news story (assuming it is news), then finding the right publications (and the right journalists working for those publications) becomes much more effective, especially if you can narrow it down to a handful.

Revisiting Chris Anderson at Wired and others who ban releases from select companies and public relations firms.

I’ve said this before, but in reality, Anderson didn’t set a precedent. Editors and journalists have been ignoring and banning releases for years. His post just happened to be noticed because he published the e-mails of those firms he considered spam. I would not have done that, but I don’t fault him for his decision.

Goodman goes a step further in questioning if Anderson’s post that outed alleged public relations spammers last October could be libelous.

Addressing the question in depth would require another post, but a truncated view is simply not in the least. Factual accuracy is the ultimate defense against libel. And, the First Amendment protects any opinions. It’s more than fair for Anderson to critique releases.

And sure while anyone who has served as an editor knows they will receive a certain amount of spam, they are under obligation to gleefully accept it, offer pointers, or run it. It’s not their job.

I think it’s great that some editors do take the time to do it, and those who make such investments are providing gifts, not necessarily setting a standard.

In sum, the real shift in public relations begins with responsibility and not necessarily responsibility for the industry. Just because your client wants you to send non-news, doesn’t mean you have to. Just because someone says they have a list doesn’t mean it’s worth the paper it’s printed on. Just because you have a list, doesn’t mean you have to send everything to everyone. And just because someone says something about an industry, doesn't mean you have to own it.

There are plenty of bad ads out there. Most ad agencies aren't bothered by them beyond their front door.


Blog Archive

by Richard R Becker Copyright and Trademark, Copywrite, Ink. © 2021; Theme designed by Bie Blogger Template