Wednesday, June 23, 2010

For Social Media, The 90-9-1 Rule May Be More Accurate Than the 80/20 Rule

The 80-20 Rule is well known because it can be so adaptable in terms of what the 80 and what the 20 mean. The first time I heard it, the 20 represented the percent of your clients who generate the 80 percent of your revenue. I recently read someone say that 20 percent of your work is more effective than the rest -- so eliminate the useless 80 percent of ineffective work...and keep on improving, I guess.

For social media, BtoBOnline magazine has identified a new rule: the 90-9-1 Rule, based on the concept that 1 percent of the members of an online community contribute 90 percent of the content. That's why it is important to listen to a community before joining in -- so you can understand the dynamics and personalities involved, and then identify the 1 percent who are the most influential.

The 9 percent, by the way, refers to people who add occasional comments.

The 90 also refers to the percent of people who just read.

Check out all 5 tips for B2B socual media marketing.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Danger of Always Being On

About a week ago, a client complained about the media, saying it is very hard to get the attention of reporters these days, and that she thought the reason could be laziness.

I assured her that the reason that she saw so many wire service stories instead of local stories is not due to laziness but resources.

Not only have local papers shed lots of reporters -- the Boston Globe once had more than 500 editorial staffers and now has fewer than 350, a significant decrease -- but increasingly these reporters are asked to also take the photographs and video that accompany their articles and produce podcasts and video segments, too. Oh, and file more stories since there are fewer reporters.

There's a danger in that, and in always being on. Clark Hoyt, ombudsman at the New York Times, wrote about it, and I think it's an issue for journalists to be aware of, and PR functions, too. Because a tired, frustrated reporter vented her feelings about a press conference that makes both the Times and the company (Toyota) look bad. Check out the article, "The Danger of Always Being On."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Does Radio Have a Future?

I was speaking to a friend, whose the host of a national radio program, and she said all they talk about -- they being the executives at her company -- is the future of radio. And whether there is a future for radio in an iPod world.

As it is, there's the MikeFM format, where they play random sets of music that seems to recreate someone's iPod playlist.

In my own experience, I saw (or heard) how my kids did not listen to radio. One of them used to ask me to turn off the radio (perhaps it was my choice of music).

Now, they ask me to turn on the radio as soon as I turn on the car. They're really into it now -- which may bode well for the future of radio. But they only like to listen when we're driving. (Is it so they don't have to talk with me?)

According to Vivian Schiller, president of NPR, radio has a future, and its evolving away from broadcast towers. And programmers need to make sure they're evolving how they deliver radio content. Check out an interview with her from the All Things D Conference, "Why Online Won't Kill the Radio Star; Vivian Schiller of NPR on how public radio can thrive in the digital age."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Democracy and the iPad

At the All Things D Conference, Walt Mossberg interviewed Steve Jobs about the iPad.

Jobs talks about the development and use of the iPad, and mobile advertising, too.

But what I thought interesting was his take on democracy:
One of my beliefs very strongly is that any democracy depends on a free, healthy press, and so when I think of the most important journalistic endeavors in this country, I think of things like the Washington Post, the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and publications like that, and we all know what's happened to the economics of those businesses. I don't want to see us descend into a nation of bloggers. Anything that we can do to help the news-gathering organizations find new ways of expression so that they can afford to keep their news-gathering and editorial operations intact, I'm all for.
Check out the interview, "The iPad: Past, Present, Future; Apple's Steve Jobs on where the PC is heading."

Thursday, June 17, 2010

How Do Blogs at the New York Times Operate? Are they really blogs?

The question came up last week from a startup client: how should they approach blogs? The initial answer: carefully, of course.

The more complete answer is that instead of making PR-Journalism train faster (as in viral), blogging relations can often take longer because you need to spend more time researching a blogger, reading his or her posts and the comments to those posts.

By our client asked a follow-up question: what are the standards of a blog when the blogger is also a reporter? And when the blog appears somewhere on the newspaper's site.

Good question.

And it's one raised by Clark Hoyt, the public editor or ombudsman at the New York Times, whose job is to offer transparency and insight into how the Times is put together, to analyze issues in the coverage, and to set things kind of straight, if possible.

I've been reading the Times' ombudsman columns for years because they often provide useful insight into the editorial approach and theory, as practiced by the Times.

Recently Hoyt has been asking the question: "Are blogs' stanrads the same as the paper's?"

The answer: Writing in a column entitled, "A Private Room With a Narrow View," Hoyt says, "even such short, narrowly focused pieces need to be fully reported enough to make sure they are accurate and fair."

According to Wendell Jamieson, deputy metropolitan editor for the Web for the Times, "'I use the same journalistic criteria' for blogs and the printed paper."

Meanwhile, James Sunshine, a former editor of the Providence Journal (now living in Oberlin, OH), responded:

"Is a blog merely the private thoughts of the blogger, who has been given the privilege of saying what he happens to think at the moment without a qualified editor passing judgment on it for accuracy, taste, appropriateness and so on?

"Or is a blog a short news story published online? Your column suggests that it is, and that it is edited by an editor like anything else approved for publication in the paper and must meet Times standards. If that is the case, why call it a blog (whatever that is supposed to mean)? Why not call it a news story? Must everything we do be a matter of clever marketing?"

Responding to that, Jill Abramson, managing editor of the Times wrote:

"Blogs are an important part of our news report. On big, running news stories, like the oil spill, the earthquake in Haiti, the elections and so forth, they offer readers the most important, up-to-the-minute developments. Prescriptions, our blog on the health care overhaul, is a great example. It became the go-to site for developments on the complex legislation. There was more material than could fit into a fixed number of news stories, and it gave an outlet to our reporters to share what they were learning on a fast-paced story with many different tentacles.

"For events like sporting matches, Congressional hearings and political debates, we offer live blogging where our journalists report in real time what is happening or being said.

"Some of our best blogs focus on the arts, fashion, food and technology, and offer our journalists and critics a less formal structure to share their reporting.

"While the opinion side of The Times also has blogs, the news blogs exist to report and analyze, not to offer slanted 'takes.' Times blogs are never personal diaries. All of our blogs are carefully edited, and we apply the same standards for accuracy and fairness to them."

I don't usually quote that much directly from other sources, but I thought it important to capture, rather than just summarize or point people to the link (see the follow-up article "Other Voices: What Exactly Is a Blog?"). Very interesting. I wonder how many other newspapers have editors work with their bloggers.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

News Corp. Validates "The Year of Online Subscriptions" Predictions

In acquiring an electronic reading platform called Skiff and in making an investment in Journalism Online, a company co-founded by Steven Brill, that develops pay models for newspapers and magazines, News Corp. has validated our prediction that 2010 is the year of online subscriptions.

Rupert Murdoch is literally putting his money where his mouth is. It's going to push others to take Journalism Online more seriously. And expect that by 2012, we will be paying access to a lot more online news content.

Check out the prediction, Prediction #3: 2010 will be the year of online subscriptions.

Driving Me Crazy

One of our clients makes videoconferencing software, which enables employees to work remotely and still connect face-to-face with other colleagues, partners, etc.

My point here is not to plug my client's technology (good though it is).

It's that last week, after getting caught in horrible rush hour traffic on Rte 128, when a 45 minute ride took two hours, I'm looking for alternatives to driving anywhere in the state.

Every day, I see examples of bad driving, often due to not paying attention because people are talking on cell phones.

It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: driving will take a long time so I might as well talk on the cell while driving so I can feel productive. But because they're on cell phones, they're not paying as much attention to the road. A few weeks ago, I saw some erratic driving, pulled up to the driver, and saw, sure enough, he was on his cell. Ten minutes later, when he had finished his call, he was driving better.

I refer to slow driving due to cell phones a cell tax.

I don't usually rant, but it seems worse. And that leads me to an editorial in the Boston Globe last week, "Driving: No, we’re not getting better." I'm tempted to quote the whole editorial.

According to a new study, Massachusetts drivers are no longer the worst in the nation. Now, we're just the 14th worst -- with the other states edging us out by getting worse, not by Mass drivers getting better.

That's not a point of pride. I wish drivers would pay more attention to the road, not their phones. Read the editorial, just not while driving, please.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Will Newsweek Survive?

Newsweeklies used to hold an important place in our society. People would read their daily paper, then wait for the analysis from Time or Newsweek.

A key word was "wait."

If people get impatient for downloads to their smartphones (as compared to the former wait we had for dial-up service to connect), waiting four days for a printed magazine to appear is endless.

That's a big problem for just about every weekly still be published. The one exception: The Economist, which is doing quite well, actually, publishing global economic and political news.

I think the latest (I prefer not to say "last") redesign of Newsweek was intended to mimic The Economist.

Unfortunately, that didn't work. And now Newsweek is on the block.

Check out two of David Carr's interesting New York Times columns about the fate of Newsweek, "A Cultural Artifact, on the Block" and "Changing the Course at Newsweek."

Monday, June 14, 2010

Do the Internet & Smartphones Make Parents Dumb? Part II

Not everyone is rolling over on Nicholas Carr's book, The Shallows, which says that the Internet is making us -- what's the word? Dummer. I mean, dumber.

Taking a contrarian perspective, Steve Pinsker, a Harvard professor argues in "Mind Over Mass Media" on the New York Times op-ed page, that:
"The new media have caught on for a reason. Knowledge is increasing exponentially; human brainpower and waking hours are not. Fortunately, the Internet and information technologies are helping us manage, search and retrieve our collective intellectual output at different scales, from Twitter and previews to e-books and online encyclopedias. Far from making us stupid, these technologies are the only things that will keep us smart."
He makes an interesting point. But since I've taken only a few sentences from his entire argument, I'm also reinforcing a point that Carr makes: more information scanned but at shallower depths.

Friday, June 11, 2010

GM Shifts into Reverse on Chevy

Turns out that GM realized it made a mistake in telling dealers and others to stop using Chevy instead of Chevrolet.

After all, GM uses Chevy on its website.

Check out "Backtracking, G.M. Says Please, Call It a Chevy" for more details.

Meanwhile, in another case of corporate reputation management, BP has asked the Twitter feed BPGlobalPR to "clarify that it was not an official outlet for BP news," according to a PC World article, "BP Tries to Distance Itself From Twitter Parody."

BPGlobalPR complied with BP's request.

But in so doing, demonstrated the reason PR functions must be careful in how they handle parodists and others. Here's BPGlobalPR's new description of itself: "We are not associated with Beyond Petroleum, the company that has been destroying the Gulf of Mexico for 51 days."

Branding & Nicknames

Corporate reputations are important to establish and maintain. And it can be a real challenge in the age of social media, when people can support or undermine your brand very easily.

Case in point: the Twitter feeds BPCares and BPGlobalPR, which have a combined 155,000 followers. Neither is connected to BP, as most of those following realize.

Usually, when a company changes its name -- like AIG (now Chartis) or Philip Morris (Altria Group) -- it's to get past an embarrassing incident.

But the New York Times reported that Chevrolet is asking dealers and others who work or partner with the brand to stop calling it "Chevy." The reason: lack of consistency hurts branding, according to Chevrolet executives.

Like that's the real problem with the auto business.

The memo even cites Coke -- um, Coca-Cola -- as an example of consistency (forgetting that Coke is a nickname).

I think they're mistaken. Check out the Times article: "Saving Chevrolet Means Sending ‘Chevy’ to Dump," and let me know if you agree or disagree.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Do the Internet & Smartphones Make Parents Dumb?

The quick answer is, of course: Yes -- the Internet and smartphones make everyone dumb, especially parents.

Nicholas Carr's new book, "The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains," which makes the case that "that we are sabotaging ourselves, trading away the seriousness of sustained attention for the frantic superficiality of the Internet." Carr is the author of an article that appeared in The Atlantic, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?,” so you would have to be dumb if you didn't realize his point of view.

I tend to agree, by the way.

Carr also writes that he understands the allure of the Internet, and succumbs to it even though he knows it's not good for him.

I tend to agree with that, too.

Meanwhile, in today's New York Times, there's an article about parents neglecting their kids because they're too busy checking email, surfing the Internet or playing with apps on their smartphones. Check out "The Risks of Parenting While Plugged In" (as its headlined online) or "RU Here, Mom?" as it was headlined in the old-fashioned print edition.

I see a connection between the book and the article, even if I didn't end up reading either all the way through (thus proving Carr's case).

Since I'm guilty of this, too, I think it's worth making a pledge to be "here" with the kids instead of constantly checking email (which too often is spam).