March 31, 2009

Chicago Sun-Times in the Red

Posted in Current Events, In the news, Media at 4:13 pm by R

Sun-Times Media Group, owner of the Chicago Sun-Times and 58 other papers, has filed for Ch. 11 bankruptcy today. The Sun-Times plans to continue to run its holdings as usual while it restructures  and “stabilizes operations.” See the full CNN article here.

The hits really just keep on coming don’t they!

While the Sun-Times announcement is bothersome, I’m more worried about the fresh cuts announced at both the Washington Post and The New York Times this week. The overall picture is really bleak.

How about a tally, shall we?

  1. Washington Post – budget cuts
  2. New York Times — budget cuts
  3. L.A. Times — holding company in bankruptcy
  4. Chicago Times — holding company in bankruptcy
  5. Chicago Sun-Times — holding company in bankruptcy
  6. Seattle PI — Web only
  7. Christian Science Monitor — Web only
  8. Rocky Mountain News — ciao
  9. Miami Herald — reportedly for sale

That’s disheartening. That’s a lot of talented journalists jobs at risk.

What’s worse is that there’s still no contingency plan. We are still asking “where will journalism go?” The answer seems to be online, but how will this format sustain itself?

Until we have answers, we’ll just have to keep our eyes peeled. Keep tabs at Paper Cuts.


March 26, 2009

Advertisers Dumping Print for TV & Web

Posted in In the news, Measurment at 8:41 am by R

It’s not a shocking headline. We all know print is dying a slow painful death as advertisers dedicate their dollars to other mediums.

Patrick O’Grady of the Phoenix Business Journal wrote a great article based on local Phoenix research which explains why this shift is happening so rapidly.

According to a partner at SpinSix Strategic Marketing Design:

It’s not that people are buying into it [online advertising]. It’s that they can’t escape it.

The other driving factor is that there are intense analytics that accompany online advertising, which measure how long people stay on the site, what they spend, where they clicked in from. Those analitics really justify the spend. And in this day and age, that accounts for everything (pun intended).

Ultimately, this shift will impact public relations as well. I like to say that advertising and PR must lean against each other to make the other stronger. Now, there are cases where companies are just stratigically better off to choose one vehicle for their marketing, but in general it takes two to really tango.

The major impact is going to be in measurement a sector of our profession that has been so hard to quantify to begin with. As clients look for solid proof that articles are generating dollars for their companies we are going to have to come up with some stellar metrics that challenge us to deviate away from the less tangible “strategic message pull through” et al.

In light of this, here’s a list of a few solutions I feel we need to establish:

  • Ability to tell how many people get to an article on line (measured by: 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 6 months)
  • Ability to measure click thrus from articles to client sites
  • Standardized value for “Web-only” broadcast stories
  • Archived values

These are just a few of the things I think about when it comes to seeing an article or story run on line.

If you’ve got any other ideas of measurement  problems we need solutions for or resources I’ve been missing….please PLEASE share!


March 23, 2009

Rising Commodity: Good News

Posted in In the news at 5:03 pm by R

I’ve been saying it since October when all was doom and gloom in the media: PEOPLE WANT GOOD NEWS. It turns out, I was actually right!

Daniel Stone of Newsweek wrote a wonderful Web piece about “The Growing Hunger for Positive News.”

Turns out no good news is bad news, and so is all good news. You can neither immerse yourself in the negative nor avoid the negative completely to be balanced. Just like a good diet, negative and positive news is best served in moderation.

Ode Magazine is based on positive news. Not sappy puppies and babies news, legitimately positive NEWS.

Here’s a smattering of their headlines as an example:

It’s a great example of how positive news works…see, no sap, just silver lining.

It seems that finally editors and reporters from a variety of outlets  are ready to embrace the good. It’s not all rainbows and roses out there, but there are interesting and positive things happening.

How to make the most of this precious commodity:

  1. Be fair and balanced: positivity for the sake of positivity isn’t newsworth. Positivity that has an impact is newsworthy. Tell client stories with meaning and results, not just the warm fuzzies.
  2. Be a sign of the times: There are trends out there independent of “these economic times” (I hate hearing and using that phrase!). Position your positive pitch with relation to other topics receiving attention.
  3. Be a Nay-sayer: If you have a client who likes to make strong statements, issue something that directly counteracts a negative piece of news and back it up with support for the positive contrary.
  4. Start Local, Go Global: With the rise of good news, expect to see a lot of Main Street America stories surfacing on national news — Daniel notes this in his piece as well. Be a home town hero. There are a MILLION opportunities to be a leader, lend a hand and  stand for virtues. But, please don’t be a hero simply for the sake of being a hero. MEAN IT.

Daniel Stone…thank you for your positive ways.


Fur-Cation Follow Up

Posted in Media at 12:02 pm by R

Should have waited ten minutes to post that last one. 🙂

Furlough update from Gannet and Arizona Republic.


The age of the “Fur-Cation”

Posted in Media at 11:52 am by R

No. Fur-cation is not some PETA activist event, it’s a new challenge in PR & journalism.

Early in 2009, the Arizona Republic announced it would be instating a mandatory two-week furlough. All staff members of the Republic and local NBC affiliate KPNX are required to take two weeks off between the January initiation of the program and June 2009.

I personally think it’s valiant that Gannet has come up with an alternate solution to lay offs. But it’s a challenge to navigate the newsroom with any number of people gone on any given day. Though, many journalists are vigilant about getting the word out about their absence through email and social media.

Several times  I’ve worked with reporters who worked their fingers to the bone trying to meet deadlines before they depart on “fur-cation.” No doubt this creates stress for journalists, managing already tight deadlines and doubling up on work to cover their forced absence. Talk about high-blood pressure!

Fur-cation is just one more scenario we are all adapting to as we work together to create the news in this shifting media environment.

So. Tips for dealing with fur-cation:

  1. Honor reporters deadlines. Simple. No explanation required. Do this ALWAYS.
  2. Pile on the info. Limit a reporter’s run around by giving them all the resources to do their job easily. That’s really what our job is after all. More than ever, package it all up with a nice tidy bow; from smart short pitches to interviews, photos and other juicy tid-bits.
  3. Be Patient. Generally, we know when we WANT or NEED something to run in the press. But some flexibility is important. Don’t let your sense of urgency over power your sense to help reporters and foster those working relationships. If a story can wait and you know you’ve got the right journalist to tell said story, hold off. Let them know you’ve got a great one for when they return. Better to have a story told the way you want to tell it than having a piece appear at the right time with out the right messaging.
  4. Ask how else you can help. Don’t just serve your own purposes. You are a resource! Check in on the other stories those reporters are working on and try to help out. Help them take a load off where you can.

The moral of of the story is be mindful and be helpful, because folks, this isn’t a vacation…it’s fur-cation.


March 19, 2009

Does someone really own social media?

Posted in Industry Standards, Social Media at 10:21 am by SD

Adweek recently ran an interesting article about who “owns” social media. To sum up the article, it basically made the case for why neither PR agencies or digital agencies should “own” it. The article called for a neutral third party generalist to be the owner of social media. This person’s role would be to integrate the digital and the PR efforts. While this is an interesting solution, I think it actually speaks to a larger trend – to maintain relevance in the ever-changing communications (on- and off-line) world, agencies must evolve and take on an integrated model.

As recent news has shown, companies are looking to consolidate their multiple PR, digital and advertising agencies into one AOR. Usually, the agency that comes out on top in this scenario is the integrated one. The one that can provide the full range of communications from media relations, digital strategy, marketing strategy and social media strategy to advertising, design services, community relations and branding expertise is the natural winner in this situation.

Why is this such a growing trend?

Because companies can get all of their communications needs met by one integrated team working together to accomplish the same goals. With everyone under the same roof, there is no need to determine who owns social media because its all one integrated team.

To answer my own question. Yes, someone does own social media and it’s the integrated communications firm.


March 16, 2009

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Goes On-Line Only

Posted in In the news, Media at 2:09 pm by R

The Seattle Post Intelligencer is going digital.

The 146 year old PI will transition its news offering to an on-line only format effective 3/18/2009. The Seattle PI will publish it’s last paper edition on St. Patrick’s Day.

Printing costs and diminished ad revenues are likely the culprit in this decision. Hearst –the owner of the Seattle PI —  has several other papers up on the block including the Tucson Citizen, which is set to close on Saturday unless a buyer should surface.

Look for more major news outlets to follow suite in taking their product on-line.


March 11, 2009

The Future of Newspapers

Posted in Media at 8:50 am by SD

I’m an avid newspaper reader. Sitting down with a cup of coffee and the newspaper is one of my favorite times of the day, but I think I am one of the last of a dying breed of print newspaper readers. More  and more people are turning to the Internet for information rather then their daily newspaper.

A Pew Research study found that 40 percent of Americans get most of their national and international news from the Internet, up from just 24 percent in 2007.

The days where the newspaper was the primary source of news for people has passed.

Not only are people getting their information in new ways but the demise of the newspaper industry continues. Denver recently became a one newspaper town when the Rocky Mountain News ceased circulation on February 27. Newspapers in Tuscon and Seattle are up for sale and the San Francico Chronicle may be headed this direction as well. As traditional newspapers continue to struggle to stay relevant, will they be successful? In 10 years, will we be reading a digital version of the newspaper rather than a print version?

Media NewsGroup seems to think that a digital newspaper may be the answer to the newspaper industry’s challenges. They are currently working to develop an “individuated newspaper” or “I-news” with customized content. Readers select the info they want to read about (e.g. fashion, Denver Broncos or technology) and each day they receive a digital newspaper in their inbox containing only the content they want. Even the ads would be customized to your preference. You can then read it on your computer or cellphone or print it off on your home printer. The concept will be tested this summer and depending on its success, full roll out in certain markets could occur within a year.

While only time will tell if this concept resonates with readers, I can tell you one thing: I may be the last of a dying breed but I’m not ready to give up my morning coffee and print newspaper (newsprint fingers and all). So I hope the newspaper industry finds a way to stay relevant (and in print form) in a digital world. And, I don’t think “I-News” is the answer.


March 3, 2009

How To Win Friends and Influence Tweeple

Posted in Social Media, Uncategorized tagged at 9:41 am by R

Lately, more than any other social media platform,  I’m hearing SO much about Twitter and its importance in building personal and professional brands.


Perhaps as a testament to our dwindling attention spans, Twitter’s 140 character limit challenges us to boil down messages to the most captivating and strategic points. Though the content space is limited, Twitter’s power is in that it forces users to provide richness in that small space.

The currency of Twitter is followers. The more followers you have the more power you’ve got — especially if you’re working to spread strategic messages. But how, specifically, do you earn followers?

Here are a couple of my thoughts on how to be a good ‘Twitizin’ earning valuable followers:

  1. Don’t spew worthless tweets — Be a meaningful content generator. Tweet about interesting articles and timely topics, post valuable links. Steer clear of overly (or consistently) vapid tweets. No one will care that you’re tired and need a latte EVERY morning to survive.
  2. Stick to a theme — In much the same way as you might narrow the focus of a blog — say a Gen Y PR blog for example — stick to topic matter with your tweeting. By doing this you can begin to establish yourself as an expert and will gain followers based on that expertise.
  3. Be a good Re-Tweeter — This idea falls somewhere under the “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon” theory. The advantage of followers are the networks they are attached to. When your followers Re-tweet posts it amplifies the power of that idea exponentially. Re-tweets that are really valuable spread like wildfire and can get an important message across very quickly. So. Repay the favor. Re-tweet valuable messages from others’. Give them the benefit of spreading their message among your network of followers.
  4. Find your Voice and be Authentic — I feel strongly that having the same personal and personality in all social media you use to represent yourself is incredibly important. It can be confusing to read a blog in one voice only to discover a totally different personality on another network/medium. If you have other existing social networking profiles, stay true to the brand you’ve already established there.
  5. Stick With It — No, you do not have to tweet about every single second of your life. But don’t vanish from the ‘twitiverse’ either. As with all social media/networking, it’s a commitment. Stay involved in conversation. Reply to comments made @ your attention. Participate. Participate. Participate.
  6. Be a Resource — If you’ve got the answer to a question or problem expressed in a tweet, ANSWER. Offer legitimate advice or links that will help your fellow ‘tweeple.’ Case in point: a reporter I follow was looking for stories. I asked what kind of stories he was looking for. Five minutes later I was emailing him a pitch with exactly the kind of content he was looking for.

I admit, I’m not all the way there on perfecting my ‘tweetiquette’. I muddle through some days offering sub par content, ignoring valuable re-tweets and  can be slow to respond to replies. I’m convinced everyone using Twitter is still mastering the potential and continually realizing what more can be done, or what they wish could be undone. Such is the nature of human communication no matter what form it takes.

In the meantime, one thing I’m getting really good at is blending “twit” and “tweet” into commonly used communication terms thereby making them Twitter specific. 🙂

Happy Tweeting!