Insights and attitude about PR, journalism and traditional and social media.
Monday, December 19, 2016
New York Times Validates Our Prediction on the Gig Economy
In today's New York Times, former labor and workplace reporter Steven Greenhouse wrote an op-ed entitled, "The 'What Is It' Economy" (in the print edition) and "The Whatchamacallit Economy" (in the online version) that sets to more accurately define the gig economy and sharing economy -- which can be two sides of the same coin.
Airbnb is part of the sharing economy but those who rent out their homes actually have a new gig of cleaning up and preparing their homes for Airbnbers. Uber is also considered part of the sharing economy but Uber drivers are definitely part of the gig economy.
In our trends, we said we need to better define gig and sharing to understand the impact they're having on our overall economy.
Some are calling it the "Exploitation Economy," and that might be a fair assessment.
But as the media and Americans in general look to Trump to bring back good jobs, the nature of what work is like in the 21st century will have to be part of that discussion. There are a lot of people who prefer to live in the gig economy, and benefit from doing so. There are also a lot of people who are in the gig economy and don't want to be.
We need a better understanding of this to help those who want full-time jobs and protect those who prefer gigs.
You can check out our prediction here.
Friday, December 16, 2016
TrendReport 2017: Our Annual Look at Media and PR Predictions
- Fake news won’t fade in 2017. When you cut out all the costs involved in actually reporting news, as fake news does, financial sustainability isn’t an issue. Fake news will continue as long as it remains profitable or ideologically effective. It will take more than big brands pull their advertising on fake news sites (or try to get their ads off those sites) to stop fake news. Facebook, along with Twitter and Reddit (not really among the “Big Social”), are taking steps to reduce the spread of fake news. Some critics call “enforcing user guidelines” a form of censorship, and we expect that the Big Social will be accused of doing too much by some and not doing enough by others. Both Facebook, whose advertising tools have made it easy for fake news sites to promote their content, and Google, whose AdSense has enabled fake news sites to monetize their content, indirectly profit from fake news. While both have said they will work to rid it from their platforms, fake news is like spam: the only way to truly kill it, is to have people to stop clicking on those links – but there always seems to be enough people who fall for it to make it worthwhile for the content providers.
- Big Social will evolve in 2017, but not necessarily in a good way. We expect more trolling and twitstorms on social media. The future of Donald J. Trump’s go-to social media platform, Twitter, is very much in doubt. It lost $500 million in 2015, and $1.6 billion since going public. If Twitter is not financially viable as a standalone platform, its survival becomes a real question. Although profitable, Facebook is facing the problems of ad counting and fake news. All of this turmoil will benefit Snapchat, which is already is favored by the millennials, and Gab, described by the New York Times as the social media platform for the alt-right, a “throwback to the freewheeling norms of the old internet, before Twitter started cracking down on harassment and Reddit cleaned out its darkest corners.” From a demographic perspective, we think Snapchat will be the dominant social media platform by 2018, along with Instagram. We also think LinkedIn will thrive as long as it remains (as we think it will) apolitical.
- The media cycle will speed up. There used to be a lag between the time an event took place and the time it could be reported. In the era of social media dominance, it seems to take a nanosecond between an event and the social response to it to hit Twitter, followed by an ensuing twitstorm. This is further fueled by the participation of anyone with the app, as evidenced by the many who felt compelled to stay on top of the developments during the campaign and afterwards, regardless of whether they cheered or jeered. We expect twitstorm, and coverage of those twitstorms followed by outcry to the initial response to be a mainstay of broadcast coverage in 2017.
- The gig economy and the sharing economy will continue to go mainstream. There are people who work in the gig economy who don’t necessarily realize it – including, for example, teachers who tutor after school. We need to more accurately define the gig and the sharing economies (i.e., Uber, which touches on both; as well as Airbnb) and to identify and track meaningful metrics, both to gain an accurate portrait of overall U.S. economy as well as develop appropriate policies regarding taxes, healthcare and social services.
- IoT will continue to open the door to cyberattacks. We saw one major cyberattack via the Internet of Things (IoT) in 2016, and we expect more to occur in 2017. The challenge for IoT companies is to be able to deploy security protocols that are flexible enough so IoT devices in your house (or office or car) can talk to each other, yet also prevent hackers from getting access. We expect there will be much media coverage in 2017 on cyberattacks, in general, whether perpetrated by foreign countries or other parties.
Friday, December 9, 2016
TrendReport 2016: How We Did WIth Our Predictions for This Year
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
3 Tips for Pitching Nonprofits/NGOs During a Crisis or Trendjacking for a Good Cause
- It's not enough to have experts, you need to have spokespeople with specific expertise on the ground. A nonprofit that helps with adoption from Africa seemed one that reporters would want to speak to as they wrote about children who were orphaned by Ebola -- but the media wanted someone they could interview in an Ebola-infected community. The media all felt the organization was doing good work but the organization didn't have specific information about what was being done for Ebola orphans and had no one who could talk about specific adoptions that had taken place in which a child, whose parents had died of Ebola, had been placed with a family in the U.S.
- Speed matters. It's amazing how fast network news can work to pull together stories. By the time you’ve read or watched an article about it, the producers will feel they’ve already told the story; there’s nothing more to pitch. To get the media's attention, you need to develop and implement your strategy, tactics and messages at the start of the crisis. You basically need someone on the ground or with direct expertise in the first few hours, especially someone who can do an interview over Skype.
- Bring something strikingly new to the game by uncovering what the media hasn’t covered. Make sure to differentiate the charity from what others are doing, and from what the media perceives the story to be. Otherwise, reporters’ basic response will be, "Good to know there’s another organization that can talk about conditions on the ground but we've had already covered that angle."
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
The State of Mom/Dad/Parent Blogs
There are two challenges facing mom bloggers and dad bloggers, too.
- If you treat it as a hobby, it stays a hobby.
Those who treat their mommy blog as a hobby tend to start writing when their kids are newborns, and the content they provide can often be interesting, humorous and helpful.
- It can't be only about your blog.
Another challenge for parental bloggers is that blogs themselves may not be the best mechanism these days.
And it helps to have a strong point of view and to think about reviewing and updating content along the way. That's what magazines geared to an age group (Cricket, Seventeen, Boys Life, Redbook, etc.) do -- they write new articles covering a standard set of topics like beauty, body, life, love and shopping (the key navigation buttons on redbookmag.com). I say this with deep respect for these publications that continue to cover similar issues but find new ways to address their readers' interests and needs.
It certainly takes more work, and it may well be challenging to come up with yet another new slant back-to-school shopping tips, but that's what parenting bloggers need to do to -- if that's their goal -- to maintain their blogs after the kids become teens.
The good news is, of course, there will always be another generation of clueless parents (speaking as one) who need parenting advice and will look for it online.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
In Gawker v. Hulk Hogan, I vote for Gawker
And I thought so before it came to light that billionaire Peter Thiel spent millions to fund the lawsuit against Gawker.
The facts are that Hogan 1) was a public figure who 2) talked publicly about his sex life and 3) the video in question also appeared on other sites. (One could also argue that Gawker has kept Hogan in the public's eye, enhancing his ability to generate cash.)
Gawker isn't a paragon of journalism in terms of always pushing for the greater good but trying to put them out of business seems to be an overreach. Now, the company has declared bankruptcy, and will try to sell itself and will layoff reporters.
As it is, already Hogan's lawyer has threatened Gawker with another lawsuit. And, at a time when a major presidential candidate is expanding the number of publications banned from attending his political events, this looks like part of a war against journalists -- and that's not a good thing.
I hope the Gawker gets the chance to appeal its case.
What hangs in the balance isn't just Gawker and its employees.
It's a matter of what standards apply to public figures. One can argue that a sex tape of a public figure is not Pulitzer Prize-material but the implications of this lawsuit is that journalists may decide to back off on how they cover public figures for fear of unreasonable damages. Think I'm overstating things? The other lawsuit threatened by Hogan's lawyer is because of an article Gawker wrote about a hair treatment clinic whose main client, apparently, is Donald Trump. While Trump is not the one threatening legal action for the article, it now seems to be open season not just on Gawker but our free press.
Again, that's a bad situation for our democracy.
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Five Tips for B2B Startups Considering PR and Social Media
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Forbes' D'Vorkin's 11 Observations about the New Business
But his current column, "Inside Forbes: 11 Realities And Observations About The News Business, Like Them Or Not," is definitely worth reading for the following observations. (I'm not going to repeat all 11 items -- go read the column for yourself -- I'm just pointing out those I find most significant, and including some of my observations based on D'Vorkin's.)
- Content needs to be mobile-friendly and easy to consume -- but much of it is not. One problem is that when you click on a website on your mobile, often you'll get a pop-up ad (Forbes does this to, by the way) that you can't exit from because the form factor doesn't let you scroll easily to find the X. That's annoying and a problem.
- Ad-blocking software will get more popular -- a trend we didn't really address for 2016, but I tend to agree. The rise of ad-blocking will hurt online ad revenue that media properties can generate and depend on -- this is will lead to lower revenues, layoffs, and more media properties being shut down. Oh, and higher subscription fees for those media outlets that have a paywall.
- Facebook is not just a social network. It is a media play, and other sites' traffic rates are declining because people check out the headlines and comments on Facebook without clicking through. Again, that will affect online ad rates.
- Lest you think Facebook is unstoppable, it is facing stiff competition from messaging apps like Kik, Snapchat and Whatsapp.
- A lot of the media sites (and quasi-media/e-commerce sites like Refinery29) that are doing well are targeting women. That says something for companies looking to target customers.
- Death of Page Views -- which even D'Vorkin admits has been a prediction that people have made for years now. But this time, it's different because there are new data and engagement possible via mobile.
Anyway check out his article.
Monday, March 14, 2016
Bloomberg Businessweek Validates Our Prediction about Unicorns
Monday, February 22, 2016
Fortune, WSJ & NYTimes Validate Another of Our Predictions -- This Time About Unicorns
We said, "Unicorns – startups valued at upwards of $1 billion – were big in 2015. Expect coverage in 2016 that questions whether the unicorn bubble will burst. This will be true not just of privately held startups but also of publicly held companies (that represent the next stage of unicorn development) that fail to fully monetize their businesses. Twitter and Yahoo! – that means you and other social media platforms that fail to live up to financial expectations."
In Fortune's Feb. 1st issue, an article entitled, "Good Luck Getting Out!," made the case that private investors have put $362 billion into startups over the past five years, pumping up the value of so-called unicorns. Now the broken tech IPO market is cratering. Who will survive the reckoning?"
Meanwhile, let's not forget that we called out Twitter and Yahoo!
Twitter shares "hit a nominal low on Thursday a day after it said that user growth had stalled for the first time since the company went public in 2013," The New York Times reported this month.
And Yahoo!? Well, The New York Times also reported this month that "Yahoo Announces First Round of Layoffs as It Trims 15 Percent of Workforce."
We feel badly for the employees of Twitter and Yahoo! and other unicorns at risk, but we feel pretty good about our trend-calling ability.
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Fortune Validates Our Prediction About Cord Cutting
As the subhead to its article, Fortune wrote, "Fans of streaming video find that ditching cable doesn't always lower their bills."
That's frustrating but correct.
Thanks for validating our prediction!
Friday, February 12, 2016
New York Times Validates Our Prediction About Driverless Cars (Second Time!)
Check out John Markoff's "Google Car Exposes Regulatory Divide on Computers as Drivers."
This is the second Times article to validate our contention: that "auto insurance will see that premiums will go down as accidents decrease – and that will change one dynamic of driverless cars (perhaps not theft, however)." (You can check out our prediction here: http://bit.ly/1NDfVgf.)
We continue to expect more coverage of this issue.
Monday, January 25, 2016
Are We Ready for Wearable?
In Dec. 2015, we predicted lots of news coming from CES about wearable tech, and we were generally right. There were all kinds of new wearable tech items presented, for example smart clothing of all kinds (as well as some that seemed more punchline than smart).
Our initial reaction to news from CES is that wearable tech is not quite ready for prime time in 2016.
We're not claiming credit for that insight by ourselves. In his Style section column, "Where Wearable Technology Ends Up (Hint: Not Your Wrist)," Nick Bilton looks at why many wearable tech devices have just not caught on. It's because they're ugly and power hungry, and can seem like you're wearing a fax machine on your wrist.
But Bilton says it may come down to price, that's it's hard to justify the purchase of a wearable device that offers limited value but costs as much as a smartphone. I'd agree with that but I think it's because the value, even as a fitness tracker, isn't there yet. There are too many different proprietary tracking algorithms and it's hard to interconnect. If I have a FitBit and my buddy has a Jawbone, we can't compare our workouts because there's no way to get those two devices to communicate with each other. Yet, I guess. It may be hard enough to find a workout buddy but now I have to ask my workout buddy to switch to my device. (It's perhaps not worth noting that I don't have any friends with whom I'd want to compare workouts with, but that's for another blog post.)
Anyway, worth reading Bilton's article.
Thursday, January 21, 2016
New York Times Validated Our Predictions on Unicorns
In his article, Davidoff Solomon predicted, "The unicorn wars are coming, as the downturn in the market will force these onetime highfliers to seek money at valuations below their earlier billion-dollar-plus levels, known as 'down rounds.'”
He also goes into more detail about the kinds of wars that will occur, including those
- Who own common stock vs. those who own preferred -- those with preferred make out better.
- Employees vs new money -- in other words between stock options that may now be worthless as new investors push the value down significantly.
- New money vs. old money -- in this case the valuation given the shares that new investors get vs. those earlier investors got.
- Founders vs. everyone else.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Is Wi-Fi Security a New Trend?
On Tuesday, the Journal ran an article about rarely patched firmware holes that make home routers vulnerable. The reporter, Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, works on special projects for the Investigations group at The Wall Street Journal. Her current coverage focuses on technological tracking and surveillance and the impact these have on business, society and the law.
Meanwhile, the Journal's consumer tech reporter, Joanna Stern, also wrote about public Wi-Fi and security. In her test, of a new high-speed public Wi-Fi system in New York City, Stern spent about half her article talking about security threats, offering key security tips such as: encrypt, delete public networks that can automatically connect to your phone (and can damage if that network has been compromised).
Check out both articles to protect yourself. Meanwhile, the question is: will public hotspot Wi-Fi security generate more coverage beyond the Journal? We think the answer is probably.
Monday, January 11, 2016
New York Times Validates Our Prediction About Driverless Cars
The article validates our contention: that "auto insurance will see that premiums will go down as accidents decrease – and that will change one dynamic of driverless cars (perhaps not theft, however)."
That's nice to start the year with some quick validations.
One thing we haven't figured out about driverless cars is that there will need to be an infrastructure investment on the part of highways and roads -- to make it easier for driverless or autonomous cars to get around -- and also by those who run parking garages and city parking spots. If these cars lack steering wheels (as Google would prefer), how do you indicate where to park once you arrive at your destination? Let's say you want to shop at the mall, and it's mid-December, and parking spots are hard to find -- how does your driverless car find a parking spot, avoiding handicap spots and those for short-term pick ups (like those near some restaurants)? Or, how about pulling into a gas station, to an empty pump? Or what if you're driving into Manhattan, and have an appointment but can't find on-the-street parking? Do you send you car on a trip around Manhattan for the 45 minutes you're at your appointment?
We're sure someone is working on a solution. But right now, I'm concerned that in the future, we will see lots of empty cars driving around because they can't find parking.