Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) are coming under increasing pressure to "engage" with the media and the public as means of raising the reputation of their company.
PR firm Weber Shandwick, today released the findings of a global survey of 1,700 executives excluding CEOs, titled: "The CEO Reputation Premium: Gaining Advantage in the Engagement Era." It found a correlation between the health of a company the public reputation of the CEO.
[Please note: I've worked with Weber's Mediaco service on client media projects.]
The release of the Weber report coincides with the publishing of a new book, "The Engaged Leader" by Charlene Li, principal analyst at the Altimeter Group. She advocates that CEOs should strive for "intimate relationships" with consumers.
Luca Penati (above), a former senior executive at Ogilvy has joined Weber Shandwick as General Manager of its San Francisco and Silicon Valley offices. He spent 9 years at Ogilvy, mostly as Global Managing Director of Ogilvy's technology practice.
In one of the largest studies of people's attitudes towards native advertising, 62% said that it didn't help to enhance the reputation of news sites, but brands were seen to benefit from appearing on highly trusted media sites.
The study shows that media companies carry a far higher risk to their reputation and value perception in allowing native advertising than their brand advertisers. However, native advertising on business news, and entertainment news sites, was less problematic than on general news sites.
In addition, six out of 10 people visiting general news sites said it was not clear if a brand had paid for the content.
Every company is a media company because it has to be, because the traditional media outlets no longer have the means, or pageviews to help tell the stories of companies, and their communities.
The explosion of content marketing is proof that the concept of 'every company is a media company' is becoming understood by the mainstream. It is resulting in a tidal wave of media content about companies, commissioned by the companies themselves.
However, this is nothing to do with being a media company. Media companies don't write or produce media about themselves. What do media companies do?
I'm looking forward to speaking at FutureComms14 conference in London Wednesday (tomorrow). It's a brand new conference organized by Mynewsdesk, a Norwegian media technologies company that provides companies with a digital newsroom.
The wonderful Deirdre Breakenridge will kickstart the morning. I'm speaking late morning on: What Happens When Every Company is a Media Company?
And I'll be on a panel discussion in the afternoon (post 3pm coffee break thankfully) on: "What are the technologies of PR?" chaired by the always insightful Neville Hobson.
Here's the lineup:
It was nearly ten years ago that I started talking and writing about how every company is a media company. Maybe that's an obvious statement today but it certainly wasn't then and I had to do a lot of education around this subject. I did a lot of talks, at conferences, at lunchtime brown bag meetups, and at many evening events.
I did them because I believe it's an important idea and that once it is fully understood it will transform every business. And that's exactly what is happening.
Every Company is a Media Company. EC=MC -- the transformative business equation of our times.
What's next? It's not questions such as: How does a company become a media company? How do I produce video content? What technologies do I need? Do I need a newsroom? They are easy to answer.
There's a huge quality mismatch between content created for SEO purposes, and human edited content. With an explosion of content marketing — it is vital to understand the difference.
Every company is a media company and now every company wants content to publish but how do they judge if it's any good?
On the blog of Virante, an SEO marketing agency, Russ Jones provides a case study on how to determine the quality of three separate articles on the same subject, produced by writers at services such as WriterAccess, TextBroker, and ContentRunner:
I recently met with Shawn Riegsecker, the CEO and founder of Centro, a large ad network and technology company based in Chicago. It's doing extremely well but there's been shockingly little coverage of the company -- even in Chicago.
Centro has been profitable for more than a decade and has revenues of about $300 million a year, with more than 500 staff. Riegsecker is very driven to help reverse the shrinking fortunes of the media industry, and journalism in particular, by helping publishers rebuild revenues.
When I first introduced the concept of every company is a media company in 2005 there were very few people that understood what this meant. Today it's an accepted fact and it's why there's a massive surge in what's called content marketing.
With so few media professionals around to help tell a company's stories it makes sense for companies to try to tell their own stories and get them out online and into the many communities that matter to them. That was the prime reason Intel launched Intel Free Press, to make sure that key stories about Intel would be told and published in a professional manner.
We know that every company is a media company and therefore every company needs to create content. But trust in media content has to be earned and there is but one way: constant publishing of consistently high quality media content spread out over time, a long time.
Buzzfeed and Upworthy talk as if they've won the race -- they haven't. They'll find out how difficult it is to keep going, and going, and going. Trending is ephemeral -- creating a trusted media brand is chronological and there are no shortcuts.
The BBC recently asked permission to use this story as a case study for an upcoming programme, Silicon Valley Watcher's discovery of the identity of LonelyGirl15.
At the end of the summer of 2006 we had the biggest story in the US: Silicon Valley Watcher discovered the true identity of LonelyGirl15 (above) -- an anonymous 15 year-old video blogger called Bree, that had amassed a staggering number of viewers on Youtube over several months -- but no one knew who she was. The media was obsessed with her and questioning is she is real or fake?
I hate blowing my own horn but I’d like to thank The Holmes Report for recognizing my work and naming me one of the top 25 innovators of 2013.
Aarti Shah wrote:
For having the foresight to see that every company is a media company even before the content craze took hold. For being the PR industry’s Silicon Valley ally, sounding the alarm for industry disruption and plainly pointing to pockets of new opportunities. And for being among the first brave journalists to take the leap from the analog to the digital realm even when the model was still half-baked, at best.
It hasn’t been easy work so it’s very gratifying to be noticed by an organization such as The Holmes Report. It has a great team that keeps a close eye on what’s happening in PR and media. I spoke at one of its conferences in October 2012 as a guest of Lewis PR and it was one of my best experiences of the year.
He advises: "Hire a journalist not a marketer."
OpenText, based in Waterloo, Ontario, is betting that CIOs will want to reduce their organization's use of cloud-based services and bring them in-house because it will eliminate complexity, risk, and cost.
The company specializes in enterprise information management systems. It recently announced its Web Experience Management (WEM) software suite designed to help enterprises boost their marketing and sales through more effective web sites and digital marketing. OpenText believes it makes more sense to run the software in-house.
I recently met with Kevin Cochrane (above), CMO of OpenText. Here are some notes from our conversation:
Above, I spoke at Burson-Marsteller's spectacular London offices.
I've been a lot of talking since arriving in London last week and Amsterdam this week on the subject of "every company is a media company" and what happens next.
I'll have a fuller report later this week but so far the reception has been excellent and there's quite a good understanding of the concept but a wide difference in how corporations and PR agencies are taking this message and moving forward -- or not.
In three days I'm off to London for a week, then Amsterdam, hopefully a few days in Berlin, and then Warsaw (above) returning in early June.
I'll be making a series of presentations around my favorite topic: "Every Company Is A Media Company - the transformative business equation of our times."
From left: Peter Burrows, Eric Brown, Mary Dent, Richard Edelman, Jeffrey Pfeffer.
Richard Edelman, the head of the world's largest privately held PR firm, said that the Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual global survey of 31,000 people, revealed a lack of trust for business and government that was "contagious" and spreading to other sectors.
My 2013 prediction warned of the continued fall in the value of online content which would lead to the production of ever more content as media companies tried to maintain ad revenues.
You can think of it as a towering tsunami of content, or as a massive bubble of content inflation.
Just as inflation devalues currencies, content inflation is devaluing content.
Ryan McCarthy, Deputy Editor of Reuters.com, and the former Business Editor of the Huffington Post, comes to a similar conclusion.
Ryan Holiday, writing for the New York Observer, has discovered something very important about the media industry today:
The widespread belief is that the media has "reach." Trust me, they don't. Not anymore. It's become almost pathetic.
It hit me the other day when I snagged a profile for a client on a well-known website...
Dear God, I realized, my client has more readers than they do. The website needed us to attract an audience for them. They wanted the subject of the piece to send his readers over to them rather than the other way around.
As the business models for serious journalism continue to erode where will we get the quality media we need as a society to make important decisions about our future?
I've been warning people: "Special interest groups will gladly pay for the media they want you to read, but you won't pay for the media you need to read."
Software engineers have a saying: GIGO, garbage in, garbage out.
If you start with garbage data you will get a garbage result. That's the future we are heading towards, a future where our media is corrupted with information that serves the goals of special interest groups.
Last week's panel on brand journalism at the Holmes Report's Global PR Summit in Miami was fabulous. We lost control of the conversation and made so much noise in our room, people from other panels were coming over, curious to see what was happening.
My fellow panelists were John Earnhardt from Cisco (Cisco is my original inspiration for 'every company is a media company'), Jesse Noyes from Eloqua, and Simon Sproule from Nissan Motor Co.
Morgan McLintic from Lewis PR was excellent as the moderator and we didn't waste time getting deep into discussion.
I'm in Miami this week taking part in the Holmes Global PR Summit and the topic of "Brand Journalism."
I know nothing about the subject but no one else does either because it's a made up term that is in the early stages of being defined. Nothing wrong in that, I do it all the time but I try to think of concepts that make sense and this one doesn't make any sense at all.
Financial Times Media Editor Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson wrote an interesting article:
His report concludes that
... search and social media trends suggest corporate content will only grow. Whether media outlets like it or not, every company will have to become a content company.
It's good to see that this important concept becoming mainstream. I've been pointing this out since early 2005.
At the moment, PR and marketing people own this topic. What's needed is input from top media professionals who aren't employees. Because PR and marketing people will meddle and produce corporate marketing speak, and that's not progress.
(Hat tip: Robert Manetta.)
For many years I've been saying that every company is a media company and writing about what that means and its importance to business.
At first people were puzzled by that statement but these days it is much better understood. Its importance has increased tremendously and it is now fueling multi-million dollar acquisitions.
Earlier this week I popped into the Grand Hyatt on Union Square (above) for Cisco's celebration of the first anniversary of publishing "the network" an online publication that employs a large group of top editors and journalists.
Autumn Truong (below), Senior Social Media Strategist at Cisco, first told me about the imminent launch of the media venture back in September 2010. But it took an additional nine months before it was ready.
(Bryan Rhoads, Editor-in-Chief of iQ at Intel's offices in the Presidio, San Francisco.)
Earlier today, I met the team responsible for this morning's launch of 'iQ by Intel', an online magazine featuring daily news and feature articles from around the globe plus original content from Intel.
The magazine is curated by Intel employees, choosing and sharing articles from a river of media content surfaced by special tools developed by Intel.
I was pleased to hear Bryan Rhoads, the mastermind behind the project, and its Editor-in-Chief, say that I was one of the people that inspired the venture with my writings about how every company is a media company.
Here are some of my notes from the meeting:
Every company is a media company because every company, no matter if it makes ball bearings or diapers, as to publish in many different channels and formats to be visible. If you aren't seen amidst all the media noise, you don't exist.
(Illustration by Chris Dichtel.)
Foremski’s Take: The Guardian newspaper’s plans to offer courses in digital media production is an important development and one that should be followed by US newspapers. It would provide much needed revenues to many struggling media businesses.
I’ve written many times that the future of journalism is in helping communities, which includes businesses, to tell their stories. Media literacy is important but that’s just one side of the coin: knowing how to produce and publish digital media is just as important, maybe more.
Freedom of speech is pointless if you don’t know how to make it heard. Newspapers know how and they can teach that know-how to others.
I recently spoke with Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson on a live broadcast of FIR: For Immediate Release, discussing content strategies and the concept of "every company is a media company" along with Wendy Tanaka, from Cisco Systems.
Here's an interesting story via Cecily Ruttenberg:
San Francisco based Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream has an impressive Twitter following of 310,000. Engage4Change, a new San Francisco civic engagement site, prepurchased 500 ice cream cones to offer a free ice cream to anyone participating in its efforts to collect ideas on how to make San Francisco a better place to live.
[Hat tip Ike Piggot]
Natalie Zmuda, writes on Ad Age:
The press corps at this year's Consumer Electronics Show may find themselves jostling for soundbytes and product demos on the Vegas strip with video crews from Best Buy.
Yes, the retailer is now a publisher, rolling out a multichannel network filled with original editorial content spanning everything from how-to videos and gift guides to new-technology primers and behind-the-scenes looks at popular movies...
Execs say the intent is to be complementary to, not competitive with, publications like CNet, Engadget or Gizmodo, which cover consumer electronics. But while Best Buy says it's not looking to compete for eyeballs, media buyers say it will be competing with those publishers for ad dollars.
I've been writing a lot about how "Every company is a media company" and this is a good example of this trend.
I've argued that every company needs to develop some of the skills of a media company because every company is also a media publisher -- no matter what product it makes or service it offers.
But that doesn't mean that every company needs to do everything that a media company does? Some things are best left for a media company to do.
I've been writing a lot about how every company is a media company and Intel is one of those companies that understands this idea very well.
Intel has put together an editorial team that seeks to use the best journalistic practices to publish high quality news, features and video. It is separate from its newsroom but staffed by some of Intel's corporate communications team.
This morning I spoke with Bill Calder and Ken Kaplan about the project (http://freepress.intel.com). Here are some notes from our conversation:
- With all the changes happening in media, journalists are having to cover a lot of beats and they don't have the time to do in-depth reporting on Intel, or much in-depth reporting at all. It is frustrating because there are some great stories within Intel that aren't being told.
- We know we have the expertise in-house to report on these stories so we thought why not do it ourselves? We have people on Intel's communications team that are former journalists so we put together a team, that includes us and one or two others, to try and tell these stories.
- Our communications team, for good or bad, is very focused on product launches. But there are so many other stories to tell. Intel is a very large company with many interesting projects, and people.
-It is very much a dream position for us, we've been talking within Intel about doing something like this and its great to be able to have the resources to launch this venture.
- Anyone is free to use the stories from Intel Free Press. Our goal is to have some of the largest news sites running these stories, in whole, or in part.
- Our biggest challenge is credibility. People tend to distrust corporate blogs, so we have to show that our stories are fair, and high quality, so that people trust us.
- Our goal isn't to compete with other news sites, we aren't going to do a deep dive into the technology or benchmarking our chips. It's about telling stories that haven't been told yet. For example, a story on our VP of Investor Relations (Caught in the Crossfire: Intel's Investor Relations Chief - SVW)
- We will also write about our partners, showing some of the interesting things they are doing. There will be a wide variety of stories every week.
- We also have a team of about 15 people that produce "Circuits." This is written for Intel employees and only available internally. There is a lot of great content there that we will publish on Free Press.
- Intel Free Press will be our main job. We may expand the team by bringing in outside contributors, other journalists. We want to create a media brand that is clearly distinguished from the rest.
- We decided not to use bylines so that we can use one voice and give it more of a news agency feel. And that should make it easier for other publishers if they want to reuse all, or part of our stories. They don't even have to attribute it to Intel.
- Success will be measured by the take up in search results and also the stories being re-used by major media outlets. And that should also lead to bloggers linking to the stories.
- Our legal department has been pretty good about it.
- We've set up Free Press as being separate from the Intel newsroom although there is a link from the newsroom.
- You can follow Intel Free Press on Twitter: @IntelFreePress.
It's great to see a large company taking this step and willing to experiment with new approaches to communications. I recently spoke with Cisco, and it too is following a very similar strategy, wanting to produce a news magazine with stories sourced from within Cisco but not focused directly on Cisco.
It's good that Intel has established a separate brand for this venture because that will help it track its progress and also help establish credibility outside of the main newsroom. Credibility will be established over time and by consistent, high quality content.
Some news organizations might see Intel Free Press as a competitor. It is possible that they might not cover a story, say the one on Intel's VP of Investor Relations, because Intel has already written that story. I was on a Bulldog Reporter panel last year with Kara Swisher, the former Wall Street Journal columnist and now at All Things D, and she was berating companies for posting a news announcement on their own website, saying that she wanted the scoop. Intel Free Press won't be writing those types of stories so Kara should be OK with that.
I'm looking forward to tracking this venture and seeing how it is received by other news organizations.
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Every Company Is A Media Company
I was a little bit cautious publishing this recent story:
I bet Sean Garrett, Twitter's Corporate Communications Chief wishes he had finished me off when he had the chance, a couple of years ago (in a photo booth) at a Bite Communications party :)
This looks like an interesting development:
Shannon Latta EVP at Horn Group writes:
Today we announced our very own iPhone app, live in the iTunes App Store. We think we're the first agency like ours to design a mobile app like this -- that combines agency news and industry insights, sharing and commenting functionality, and a handy directory of our entire staff -- for clients, prospects and employees. Have you seen anything similar from anyone else? I know Lewis PR has a news aggregator for the iPhone but it's nothing like what we've built.
Here's our launch package:
We're seeing a lot of interest from marketers who want a mobile presence for their brand. We think it's becoming as important as having a website and agencies have to evolve to meet this need. Our iPhone app, built entirely in-house by Horn Group ID, shows off some of our new mobile capabilities. We can quickly and affordably build applications like our own for clients -- ideal for sales, marketing and employee communications.
I applaud Horn Group for taking this step and I look forward to hearing how it is used and if apps are a good vehicle for PR.
I've been fascinated with Jon Iwata ever since he was appointed head of IBM's Corporate Communications and Marketing. It's highly unusual for one person to hold both positions and it could mark the beginning of a new trend.
As a senior VP of Marketing and Communications at IBM, the world's largest computer company, Mr. Iwata has a tremendous amount of influence within the computer industry and beyond.
Jerry Swerling, Director of PR Studies and the USC Annenberg Strategic PR Center, describes Mr. Iwata as a man "whose name invariably comes up when you ask knowledgeable professionals to name the smartest, most forward-thinking people in the business." (Here.)
- He holds a B.A. from the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at San Jose State University.
Here is an extract from a speech at the Yale Club in November 2009:
One day soon, every employee, every retiree, every customer, every business partner, every investor and every neighbor associated with every company will be able to share an opinion about that company with everyone in the world, based on firsthand experience. The only way we can be comfortable in that world is if every employee of the company is truly grounded in what their company values and stands for.
What are we doing about this at IBM? We have created a new discipline within my organization that puts together brand management and workforce enablement, or what we used to call internal communications. This may sound to some like external and internal messaging coming together - employee as brand ambassador. Sure, that's an aspect of it. But the centerpiece is something quite different. We call it the IBM Brand System.
Picture a framework with five columns. From left to right the columns are labeled what it means to look like IBM, to sound like IBM, to think like IBM, to perform like IBM and ultimately to be IBM.
"When you think about the PR profession -- what it'll look like 10 years from now - start not with PR but with the world at large; not with the decade, but the century," said Iwata, adding that a century from now, the world will look back on the early 20th century as a time when "civilization took a great leap forward," marked by "changes in what people know, changes in what people expect and ultimately changes in behavior."
Though attempting to analyze such a period of change while simultaneously experiencing it continues to prove difficult, Iwata identified new disciplines in the corporate function, emerging from an environment characterized by transparency and readily available information. At the core of these emergent disciplines is a stress on behavior management--a sense of corporate integrity permeated down to and communicated directly from the individual employee.
"Lincoln said character is like a tree, reputation is like its shadow," Iwata said. "Many believe their job is to manipulate the shadow rather than tend to the health of the tree. In this world of transparency and democratized media, it is increasingly difficult for organizations and individuals to lead double lives. There can be no image management without behavior management.
"People care about the corporation behind the soft drink, or bank account, or computer - they do not divorce their opinions of that company from the company's products and services."
Iwata went on to suggest that the behavior and subsequent image of a company goes far beyond the surface, indicating a need for the instillment of unique corporate values among all employees, as "they only matter if lived and applied consistently by everyone in the company."
According to Iwata, it is through the consistent maintenance of and adherence to a brand's values and promise that they are able to succeed in another emerging discipline--that of building constituencies. The idea of merely reaching an audience and achieving message penetration is not enough. "Pumping out information only adds to the nosie and compounds the challenge of being heard... Value will come from offering perspective and useful information and providing a contribution to our audience's knowledge."
Citing Apple as a company that does this well, Iwata suggested, "They don't just advertise, they teach. They don't just sell, they create learning experiences in their stores. They want you to learn everything their product can do, so then you will teach others... In the process they recruit new and loyal customers that become advocates and evangelists."
Crafting and disseminating a valuable message and building this constituency is no longer, however, the task of solely communications professionals. Iwata described a third and final major shift as the development of the eminence of a company's workforce--training employees to act and communicate as experts who produce valuable information for the public and extend the power of the brand.
"2010 is the year that corps grapple with and ultimately accept that their employees are engaging with social media... But simply having your people on the net is not the differentiator. It's what they do once they get there."
(Jump to about 21.00 to cut out welcoming remarks.)
I hope this has whetted your appetite for finding out more about Mr. Iwata and his pioneering work at IBM and how that might influence the broad practice of corporate communications and PR.
Yesterday I met with Autumn Truong, Senior Social Media Strategies for Cisco Corporate Communications, and she told me about plans to relaunch the pioneering News@Cisco site.
I'm a big fan of what Cisco has done with its communications. Cisco was the inspiration for my "Every company is a media company" mantra.
More than five years ago, Dan Scheinman was running Cisco corporate communications and also head of Cisco's M&A strategy, a multi-billion dollar a year war chest for acquisitions.I met with him and was amazed by what I heard, that News@Cisco, the company's corporate newsroom, was getting more traffic than the top industry trade publications at the time. Cisco had more than 200 RSS feeds, and was employing a cadre of top journalists and editors to help tell its story and that of its customers.
Cisco now planning to extend its News@Cisco site and make it less about Cisco and more about the industry and SIlicon Valley. There will be articles on collaboration, social media, virtualization, video, network technology, and culture.
"Cisco is already producing a lot of content from its different divisions. We will be curating a lot of that work but also adding new content by commissioning work from outside of Cisco," said Ms. Truong.
The relaunch is planned for November of this year and it has been in preparation for about five months. It is part of a team project managed by John Earnhardt, Director of Social Media Communications at Cisco. More details to come...
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Mathys van Abbe, one of my favorite European entrepreneurs is in town this week. He's the founder of Moby Picture, one of the top photo sharing sites and also the developer of a unique media platform: MobyNow.
With MobyNow you can coral all that fragmented media: tweets, blog posts, shared photos, audio, video, location data into one page. It's excellent for companies or organizations that want to bring together all that content, from multiple locations into one location.
The upcoming Burning Man festival is an excellent event to demonstrate the flexibility of MobyNow.
If you are headed to Black Rock City this year you should check out "Burning Man Now" and watch for your tweets, photos, etc, showing up on the site.
How much media content should I produce?
As a professional journalist this has been a question that I've struggled with over the past five years since leaving the Financial Times.
I can produce a lot of media content, and hopefully, it is all quality media content. But my concern is that if I produce too much it will cause my readers and subscribers to switch off because there is too much from one source.
I know that if some of my sources are too noisy on Twitter, Facebook, even on their blog or web site, I will switch them off because it is too much -- even if all their content is good. I don't want my readers doing the same to me.
This question of how much media is too much media is not just my concern, it should be a concern for others, especially companies. I've been writing about how every company is a media company, (EC=MC - the transformative equation for business) how every company has to get better at producing, distributing and responding to media content.
Media is important in establishing companies in their field, it is important in establishing their thought leadership. If you aren't seen by your potential customers then you don't exist.
But we have a media tsunami washing over us and this media tsunami is becoming ever larger as more people and companies discover how to produce ever more media. How do you stay relevant when there is an ever larger media tsunami crashing all around us all the time?
Do you produce more media? Do you add to the media tsunami hoping that your media will be seen as opposed to competitor's media?
The same questions apply to online advertising. And in online advertising the principle seems to be that more is better than less. That's why we are inundated with advertising that crawls across our screens blocking what we want to see; advertising that takes up ever more space on our displays; and advertising embedded in links in copy.
But there is a lesson here. More advertising is leading to less value per advertisement. More advertising is reducing advertising income for many online publishers because there are more places to advertise. More means less.
Does that apply to content? Does more media equate to less value? If a company produces too much media will that tire and turn off potential customers? There were 87 Old Spice videos in one day. Too much? Not enough?
I think it is too much. Even if every piece of media is quality content, I think that dealing with the media tsunami with your own media fire hose is the wrong approach.
No one is listening...
There is a very good lesson to be learned from a recent incident where Leo Laporte, a popular broadcaster, found that his Twitter stream wasn't broadcasting his Google Buzz posts. It took him more than two weeks to notice and he was upset that no one else noticed.
It makes me feel like everything I’ve posted over the past four years on Twitter, Jaiku, Friendfeed, Plurk, Pownce, and, yes, Google Buzz, has been an immense waste of time. I was shouting into a vast echo chamber where no one could hear me because they were too busy shouting themselves. All this time I’ve been pumping content into the void like some chatterbox Onan. How humiliating. How demoralizing.
This incident perfectly describes the media tsunami problem.
Louis Gray, who recently became VP of marketing for My6Sense, an Israeli based startup, wrote about Mr. Laporte's problem. He says it is an issue of engagement.
The person who shouts the loudest can get a lot of attention over a short time, but shouting is hard to listen to for long periods, and it is hard to sustain. You cannot replace engagement, true conversation, a give and take of ideas, and an exchange with a real community.
I agree that engagement is great if you can get it. But the media tsunami means that engagement becomes diluted.
Louis Gray has noticed that "many blog posts are getting no comments to fewer comments. Tweets are not getting replies. Shares on FriendFeed and Google Buzz that once got conversations in times of heightened awareness are lying fallow. Photos on SmugMug and Flickr are getting fewer views."
I think the answer lies right in front of Louis Gray and us all. I think that the right content will come to find us and not the other way around. If you create the right content, relevant to a person, it will find its way to them.
Loren Feldman from 1938Media hits the nail on the head in this quick video: Nobody Is Listening - 1938 Media
If you focus on creating media content that is relevant then it will find its way to the right people. And that will be true for advertising too.
And it will be very difficult to game media content. No amount of SEO or distribution via Twitter, Google Buzz, Facebook, etc will matter. If the content isn't relevant it won't get through to me.
The same goes for advertising content. Imagine a world where your ad copy finds the right targets each time: you won't have to pay huge advertising costs. It will dramatically reduce marketing costs for many companies and they will be able to concentrate on making products and services relevant to their customers instead of worrying about how to reach potential customers.
Will this mean an end to marketing and PR? Probably not but it will reduce their importance.
The technology to do all of that is already here and available from several sources: My6sense, Genieo, and others. These are self-organizing filters, self-organizing curators of content that will bring you the right content at the right times.
We are still at the early stages of deployment but these technologies will come because they can, and because it is the only way to deal with the media tsunami.
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Wednesday evening BroadVision launched the Clearvale SecondFloor speaker series focused on thought leaders in enterprise 2.0. Clearvale is BroadVision's name for its collaborative enterprise platform.
Charlene Li, founder of the Altimeter consulting group, was interviewed by Pehong Chen, CEO of BroadVision. The event was video recorded by Sina.com, the Chinese Internet giant, on the second floor of BroadVision HQ in Redwood City.
The series is the creation of Giovanni Rodriguez, CMO of BroadVision.
Here are some notes from the evening:
- Charlene Li spoke about her new book Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead.
- She spoke about her upbringing in Detroit as the daughter of parents from Taiwan and Hong Kong. She said she felt very much an outsider, living in the heart of a working class community of Polish, Irish and Italian. But this outsider feeling has proved useful to her career in being able to gain insights into companies and trends.
- Charlene Li worked for many years as a reporter. She joined the San Jose Mercury in 1993 and went to Boston where she helped run local newspapers. She has been passionate about communities for 14 years.
-Pehong Chen has a large following in China for his video interviews with CEOs and key thought leaders. He asked questions about Ms. Li's book and about the importance of being "open."
- Charlene Li said having an open leadership requires a change in culture and it can be done slowly and it can start small. Create a "sandbox" and then gradually expand that sandbox to include more and more of an organization.
- She said management has to give up the concept of control. It's not anarchic, it takes discipline to not try to control everything. She gave the example of the US navy allowing 8 bloggers to visit the USS Nimitz and freely wander around talking to anyone. The Navy wasn't trying to control the bloggers and the service men, it knew that its personnel had the discipline and the training to say and do the right things.
- Charlene Li said that middle management is often the most resistant to change because they are squeezed in the middle and they have trouble with the loss of control.
- She spoke about Facebook and the privacy issues and that within a few years we won't have the same concerns, we will get used to the fact that we are tracked and the data is shared. We are only 5 years into the Facebook "era." Caller ID caused a huge privacy storm when it was introduced, yet today caller ID is seen as helping to protect our privacy and we don't pick up the phone if it is an unknown caller ID.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) now has a chance to live up to its name and be what it says it is "relationship management" rather than transaction tracking.
- Business is about people. B to B is really about B to P and P to B. There are lots of Ps.
- I asked if it is too late for some companies to change because they are vulnerable to what I call "new rules enterprises" new businesses unencumbered by legacy culture and legacy ways of doing business. These are faster moving, more agile organizations. Ms Li said that businesses have 3 to 5 years to start changing their culture and way of doing business otherwise, yes, they will not survive, customers will flock to more open competitors.
- Pehong Chen said that in his experience, once people within an organization "get it" and the benefits of social media in enterprise 2.0, even a little, change happens quickly.
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Please see my recent interview with Pehong Chen:
The last couple of months I've been working with a very cool French startup called Pearltrees in an advisory capacity. It's part of my nascent consulting services business which helps me continue publishing and funding Silicon Valley Watcher.
I'm a big fan of Pearltrees because it is a fascinating media technology. It allows anyone to curate their own section of the web by using a visual metaphor that looks very much like mind maps: users create a Pearltree and attach pearls to it; each pearl represents a web page or site, a video, image, or even a Tweet.
With so much content on the Internet it is becoming very important to identify trusted sources of information and to have people curate sections of the Internet. Google tries to do it by looking at trusted sites and who links to who but it is constantly fighting spammers trying to game the sysem -- the Pearltrees approach is spam-proof.
Pearltrees are also very social, they are extremely easy to create and share. They can be Tweeted, emailed, or embedded in any web page or web document, creating a live window (see below).
One of my goals is to build a Pearltree about Silicon Valley so that people can quickly find the best information about this region. As part of that project I have put together a Pearltree that acts as a directory of Silicon Valley PR firms.
People looking for a PR firm can browse my Pearltree and hopefully find a compatible business partner. In the short space of time since I created the Silicon Valley PR firms Pearltree it has had nearly 2300 views.
But I'd like to improve it. I'd like each PR firm that does business in the Silicon Valley/Bay Area to create a Pearltree about their business and send it to me.
If you are in PR here are some reasons why you should make a Pearltree about your company:
- It puts you, rather than me, in control of the information about your firm.
- You are the one that receives notifications on who has shared it or picked it for their collection of Pearltrees.
- You can see and respond to comments on your Pearltree.
- You can be creative about how you build your Pearltree.
- By creating your own Pearltree it shows you as the author rather than me.
- You can use your Pearltree for communications with clients. Again, being in control of the information in your Pearltree is key.
- This is the important part: each Pearltree is dynamic. Any changes are updated in real-time everywhere that Pearltree is used. You won't have to wait for me, or rely on me, to update a Pearltree about your company.
Here are two examples:
I created a Pearltree for the Horn Group:
It shows clients, newsroom, blog, contact info etc.
Because each Pearltree is controlled by the author, each firm can be creative about how it organizes their Pearltree. For example, in this Pearltree about The Hoffman Agency, there are links to client web sites that Hoffman might like to highlight, rather than just a simple client list.
So please send me your Pearltree. It's the simplest way to get into my Silicon Valley PR directory. And also, send me the categories that you would like to be included in. Email foremski at Gmail or send it to me through Pearltrees.
And if you are an independent PR professional/consultant, send me your Pearltree too.
You can show who you work with, your past and current clients, and whatever else you'd like to include, such as your LinkedIn profile, portfolio, etc.
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It's a very flexible technology and I can think of a variety of ways of using it.
For example, using Pearltrees as a media kit. Here is a Pearltree about an Intel press event, containing links to media assets such as video, and also the resulting press coverage.
And Pearltrees has lots of great new features coming very soon, including a private version that controls who can view it; and a community version that enables teams to collaborate on a Pearltree.
It's also great as an organizational/research tool. I've used it for a book project, and I'm exploring other uses, including an online store.
I use it for business and for recreation, such as this Pearltree about the upcoming Outside Lands music festival in Golden Gate Park so I can get to know some of the acts before the event.
So please send me your Pearltrees so I can include them in my PR firms Pearltree directory. And send me examples of any new uses you come up with.
Just click here to start: http://www.pearltrees.com/
Mathys van Abbe, one of the top entrepreneurs from the Netherlands, is in town this week. He's the founder of Moby Picture, the largest European photo sharing site.
He has also recently launched MobyNow, which is a media platform for bringing together all the social media that is represented in the photos, videos, Tweets, blog posts, etc, that people post around a subject.
It's a great media platform for any media organization, or any company or group that wants to create a live site that reconstitutes all the fractured media around a topic or subject.
For example, Holland MobyNow was created in just one day, to aggregate all the postings, photos, etc around Holland's final World Cup games. The site was an instantaneous success with more than 270,000 views and three large sponsors signing up from a single Tweet!
Mathys has some interesting statistics here on his blog: Over 575k social media updates were aggregated by Holland MobyNow during the Worldcup final.
There are MobyNow sites set up around sports teams and Mathys is also talking with Hollywood studios and large companies interested in setting up similar sites.
It's a great idea because Moby is able to take advantage of the relationship it already has with hundreds of thousands of users of the Moby Picture site. It can use those relationships to effortlessly link people up and their social network accounts, with each other, and with new users on new sites.
This underlying social networking technology is already being used in more than 750 other applications.
For example, a baseball team such as the Oakland A's could host a MobyNow platform on its own site, featuring the pictures, video, Tweets, blog posts of its fans, all in real-time. The content is fresh, and fans are happy to see their postings featured on the main site.
I can think of plenty of uses for the MobyNow platform. It represents a next stage in web site development: bringing together all the fractured media that exists in social networks, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc. It's also a way for the core brand to celebrate all the ways people show their appreciation - plus they are also aggregating all the pageviews - very important for media companies where page views are the new currency.
I'm looking forward to seeing all the many ways this platform can be used.
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- The Rabo cyclists and their progress in the Tour de France combining geo-loco data: RaboSport
It was great to catch up with Sol Tzvi, co-founder and CEO of a fascinating startup called Genieo. She's in town this week for meetings with several large companies interested in her company's technology.
Genieo installs on a PC and it helps you find all the news and information that is relevant to you from all your sources. It does this without needing any keywords or any specific settings from the user, and it works across all your computers and smartphones so it never duplicates content already seen.
I first met Ms. Tzvi earlier this year: Genieo's Sol Tzvi: Why Doesn't My PC Know Me?
Genieo is one solution to the media tsunami that is building into towering proportions.
The media is not dying, we now have more media, in more forms, at more times of the day and night than at anytime in our history -- and there's more to come as individuals and companies learn how to use inexpensive media technologies to produce and share masses of content (87 Old Spice videos in one day...). (Every company is a media company.)
Using old style filters to try and manage all this content won't work: it requires sophisticated algorithms that can manage all of this for us, transparently and in the background. These algorithms must also bring to us serendipitous content - the stuff we didn't know was there and thus can;t search for - another reason why traditional keyword filters are of little use.
Last week I met with another favorite entrepreneur, Barak Hachamov, co-founder of My6Sense - an iPhone application that seeks to do the same as Genieo but takes a different approach.
Mr Hachamov says that there is tremendous interest in the My6Sense API. Many companies are very eager to add My6sense capabilities to their online services. I can't reveal the names of the interested parties but they are household names.
There are other companies that have similar capabilities but different approaches. One of these is Sidebar, which offers technology for e-commerce sites serving mobile users.
These are all part of a very important trend because without such solutions we will drown in the media tsunami, and we won't be able to find the content that we want to see. Without such solutions the Internet is a giant mess where search doesn't help much: search only works if you know what to look for.
We need systems that know us and work for us.
At the beginning of 2010 I resisted making predictions but I couldn't help myself and wrote 2010 Prediction: The Media Tsunami Is Coming...
I predicted that we will have tsunami of media in all forms/formats all vying for our attention. Which is why companies need to become media companies, in addition to their base business, because they need to be visible as much as possible. (Please see: EC=MC)
The Old Spice videos prove that the media tsunami is much closer than we might think: ReadWriteWeb reported that 87 were made in a single day.
What if every brand in your bathroom did the same? What if every brand in your house did the same? We will be inundated with media. We will face a huge problem: how do we communicate essential information over "cosmetic" information?
What does it mean to be a media company? Does it mean producing 87 videos in one day? How much media is too much media?
These are just some of the many questions we have to answer. The good news is that we can all help to create the answers.
Social Media Marketing 2010 conference is normally a UK event but this year it is in San Francisco, tomorrow (Thursday) at Hotel Nikko. More details here.
I'll be on this panel:
Insider Look: How Tech Writers Cover Social Media
Panelists: Jon Swartz - USA Today, David Gelles - Financial Times, Tom Foremski - Silicon Valley Watcher
Technology writers have become some of the most respected authorities in social media. Their media coverage has dramatically influenced the way we both consume and create media. Take a peek behind their lens and hear it directly from the tech press: How and why do they cover social media stories? What impacts do their musings have? How do they manage flare-ups, shake downs, and accusations? What can non-professionals such as casual bloggers learn from tech writers?
There are lots more panels such as:
The Press Talks: How to get PR for your Startup
Panelists: Kym McNicholas - Forbes, Ben Parr - Mashable, Joe Vazquez - CBS 5, Sarah Austin - Pop17
One of the biggest challenges for startups is getting noticed by their target audiences, and on a limited budget. Before startups can successfully compete for the attention of major press outlets and blogs, however, they can follow guidelines to ensure their "news" is newsworthy, and understand how to talk to the press. Hear tips from some of social media's biggest voices: members of the press who get pitched on stories hundreds of times per day. If there was ever an unwritten manual on how to get PR for your startup, this panel would be it.
How to Build Communities for Brands
Panelists: Chris Heuer - Social Media Club, Richard Jalichandra - Technorati, Lawrence Coburn - RateItAll and DoubleDutch, Vinnie Lauria - Lefora and SV NewTech Meetup
Social networks and blogs offer new opportunities to activate brand enthusiasm for places, services, products, and experiences. Hear how the top community builders grow, cultivate, and retain communities and the voices contained within them. Topics covered include user outreach and engagement, user incentives and prizes, user psychology, the role of the community manager, listening and responding to your community, the new opportunity in geo-social networks, and SEO and other distribution methods. Lastly, hear tips on how to create a brand persona that connects with your target audience.
Creating Evangelists via Social Media
Panelists: Justin Kestelyn - Oracle, Aaron Strout - Powered.com, Jennifer Neeley Lindsay - BlogTalkRadio
Social media techniques, when used appropriately as a regular business process and in combination with traditional marketing, can super-charge the enthusiasm of your user community - leading to impressive business benefits. The foundation of a solid social media strategy is built upon the connections that are made between people who represent companies and the people in their markets of interest. Learn how evangelists for your company or brand can be manufactured, from both inside your company and from your external customer base, using social media.
A couple of months ago I published a rant: 4 Years Since 'Die! Press Release Die!...' And STILL No Hyperlinks.
...I get emails with pitches from PR people that don't even have any links! I have to search for the company web sites they are pitching, and for any other references they put into the pitch.
Same with press releases, there are very few links in press releases.
Also, PR people will ask if their clients can contribute a guest post. I love to get good guest posts. Yet often there are no links in the copy! Am I supposed to do the work and put the links in myself?
BusinessWired, the blog of Businesswire, recently conducted a "PR Peeps Poll" and found that 85% of 268 people use hyperlinks. However, that's a self-selected group. The actual number is far less.
...internal research of the Business Wire file of approximately 1,000 press releases each work day, suggests otherwise. By our reckoning, only 13.5% of press release issuers use hyperlinks to drive traffic or amplify their messages in the context of their press releases.
Of the people that were polled that don't hyperlink, 13% ticked the box: "Just didn't think about it;" 12% "I don't know how;" and 12% "Didn't see the point." 2% had no idea what a hyperlink is.
Several people told me that a lot of people don't know how to embed a link. Great, I'll charge $1200 a head for a workshop that will turn people into hyperlinking wizards. Email me, places are filling up fast.
There are so many people branding themselves as social media experts these days that we could lose sight of the people who really are social media experts because they are doing it.
I'm really interested in the doers rather than the sayers. And I want to create a list of those people.
Jeremiah Owyang, from Altimeter Group, has put together an excellent list of people who are working within corporations as social media strategists - I'd be interested in more such lists if you have them.
I'm republishing just a very small part of Jeremiah's list, dealing with the tech sector, there is plenty more over at Jeremiah's blog: Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang | Social Media, Web Marketing.
I've also created a Pearltree around this topic, that lets you browse the LinkedIn profile of each person on the list.
By the way, if you are unfamiliar with Pearltrees it's a great media technology, it allows you to create your own curation of the web. Also, you can easily add this Pearltree to your own and it will be automatically updated with new names as they are added (in real time).
Here is just a small part of Jeremiah's list, this one is on the tech sector:
Electronics, Devices, Mobile
Technology, Hardware, Networking, Component, Computer
Technology, Software, Internet
Jeremiah is looking for new names for his list.
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Please see: Every Company is a Media Company - EC=MC - the transformative equation for business.
Zappos.com is famous for excellent use of its own media (blogs, Twitter, etc), and the media, to boost its brand. Here is another excellent example: (Hat tip Jeff Jarvis.)
It seems that Zappos' sister site 6pm.com ran into a problem Sunday morning. For 6 hours it priced everything at $49.95 or under. That means a pair of say, Jean Paul Gaultier boots that sell for $530 online (retail: $1,135) could be bought for $49.95.
Aaron Magness, director of brand marketing at Zappos, wrote that the mistake cost the company $1.6 million but that all sales would be honored:
While we're sure this was a great deal for customers, it was inadvertent, and we took a big loss (over $1.6 million - ouch) selling so many items so far under cost. However, it was our mistake. We will be honoring all purchases that took place on 6pm.com during our mess up.
Great move. Yes, $1.6 million is a lot of money but the publicity will probably more than make up for it. Zappos could have stayed quiet but instead made a savvy marketing move using its own media and trusting that social media would distribute a great story.
I didn't know about 6pm.com but now I do, and who knows, I might pop in Sunday mornings to see if another mistake in pricing has occurred (and I can get those boots :).
(The converse to this however, is that they might have mistaken the price on something I had bought in the past and it should have been cheaper.)
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Please see: Every Company is a Media Company - EC=MC - the transformative equation for business.
When it comes to corporate use of social media I have problems with the use of the word "social" because it's not accurate. It's not social.
When most people use Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace, they use it for its social qualities. Yet when corporations, and many professionals use social media, they are using it for commercial purposes, they are using it for sales.
This is an important distinction because it affects how businesses should use social media.
I was moderating a panel earlier today on how businesses can use PR to leverage social media, and Louis Gray said something that was very wise. He said that people create their Facebook pages in a specific way because that's the way they like it, they are comfortable there. If you come along and engage with them you need to approach them as if you were a guest in their home.
That means businesses have to be cautious about how they sell on social media sites.
All that relationship building and engagement is not because a business wants to get to know Jane or John better, as a friend or relative would, it wants to sell more of its product or service. That's a far different agenda from most people's engagement in social media.
Like at parties, people will avoid that person that is selling something. Friends that invite their friends to tupperware parties, or similar, are tolerated for a while, but not for long. Similarly, companies that use social media as sales media must understand there is a time and place for it, or they risk alienating people.
Sir Martin Sorrell, the head of WPP, the world's largest marketing and communications group, has similar concerns about the commercial use of social media. The Financial Times recently reported:
Sir Martin warned on Tuesday that social media sites are ”less commercial phenomena, they are more personal phenomena,” more similar to ”writing letters to our mothers” than watching television.
”Invading these [social] media with commercial messages might not be the right thing.”
So let's be honest about corporate use of social media -- it's really all sales media -- let's not dress it up as anything else.
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Please see: Every Company is a Media Company - EC=MC - the transformative equation for business.
I've been writing a lot about every company becoming a media company and part of that process is acquiring the skills of media professionals. The quickest way to do that is by hiring experienced journalists.
Recently, Salesforce.com acquired Steve Gillmor, a veteran tech journalist. [Steve Gillmor goes to the dark side: you should care | ZDNet]
That was a savvy move by Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, who knows Steve Gillmor very well through many interviews.
Other companies such as IBM have made similar hires. Ben Edwards, a veteran reporter at The Economist, joined IBM in March as VP of Digital Strategy and Development.
Ken Kaplan, broadcast and new media manager at Intel, has a long background in TV at KRON-TV, the former NBC affiliate in San Francisco. And there are many more examples.
Having an experienced journalist on staff will help companies tell their stories, however, the success of such ventures will depend upon how much creativity the journalist is allowed. Companies have a strong desire to control their message and nit-pick how that message is published.
Journalists are used to having a relatively free hand in deciding how a story should be presented and there is a danger that their work will be handicapped by their bosses.
Too many editors, like too many chefs, can ruin the dish.
Companies will have to trust that their "embedded journalists" are taking the right approach and take a hands-off approach.
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Please see: Every Company Is A Media Company
I recently interviewed Ekaterina Walter, social media strategist at Intel. Ms. Walter works in Portland and is part of a small team of social media specialists working closely with Intel's corporate marketing group to provide a set of best practices and strategies.
Ms. Walter has been specializing in Facebook strategies. You can hear one of her BrightTalk webcasts here: "Faceless to FANtastic - Effectively Engaging Your Facebook Fans"
Here are some notes from our conversation:
- My webcasts have been popular because I provide a lot of tips.
- Engagement on Facebook is important. If you don't engage you don't grow.
- We try to create a 3 to 5 year social media strategy at Intel.
- My team advises the Intel marketing group and we have also created an internal education classroom series that all 5 thousand people in our marketing group have taken.
- We don't monitor what Intel staff do in social media but we do have lots of support services for them.
- It's important to collect content so it is not fragmented. For example, we have an Intel channel on YouTube where staff can upload videos.
- Facebook is important to Intel because it is a place where people can get advice. We have more than 80 thousand fans on Facebook.
- The old days of trying to drive everyone to your main website are over.
- I am involved daily on Facebook but I would like to work more on strategy. However, if I weren't involved on Facebook I wouldn't know what Intel's strategy should be.
- There is a return on investment in social media. It's hard but it's not true that you cannot calculate an ROI.
- Analytics is very important. We use a lot of analytics tools, none are custom, all are available either for free or as a subscription.
- We also work with Intel reseller partners, helping them sell more by using social media.
- Many companies take a campaign approach to social media. That won't work, you have to realize that it is not a three month campaign but a long term commitment.
- You have to know who you are trying to reach. If you are focused you will make an impact.
- Video is very important in social media. It is highly consumable and many people prefer it over text. Also, video can transcend language barriers. Video also helps in search engine ranking.
- It is very true that every company is a media company and also every consumer is a content producer. There is a lot of media being produced, there are a lot of distractions, and that's a challenge for any company.
- Facebook allows Intel to move from a faceless brand to a human brand.
Social Media is free. I cringe every time I hear that! Social media is NOT free when done RIGHT! That’s all there is to it! It requires commitment, hence it requires time and resources.
Hire an intern to do Social Media. What a horrible advice!
Social Media engagement equals a short-term program. The whole purpose of social media is to give you an opportunity of building long-term relationship with customers!
Social Media should be outsourced. ... You should own the engagement! No one understands your brand like you do and cares about it like you do.
You HAVE to be on social networking platforms. No, you don’t.
Failure is not an option. Social media is all about trial and error. If anyone tells you they are an expert in the field, run. Everything in social media changes so much and so fast (especially the tools) that anyone would have hard time keeping up with all of it.
You can’t measure Social Media. That is just an excuse! Is it hard to measure social engagement or social advocacy? Yes. Is it impossible? No. There are a bunch of great posts by Katie Paine; Olivier Blanchard and others that will tell you just that. And there are a lot of tools (free and not) that can help you with that.
Social Media is having a Twitter (and/or Facebook) strategy. Having Twitter presence does not constitute a strategy.
Please read the whole article here: Building Social Bridges » Blog Archive » 8 Social Media Myths
I recently spoke with Bob Walsh from 47 Hats, and Patrick Foley from Microsoft, about Silicon Valley Watcher and Every Company is a Media Company - EC=MC - the transformative equation for business. It is part of the Startup Success Podcast series.
Bob and Pat interview Tom Foremski, one of the foremost journalists covering Silicon Valley, the world of startups and the shifting sands under the feet of traditional media. Tom was one of the first top rank journalists to go solo and leave the sinking mainstream media ship. You’ll find his analysis of the coming media tsunami and why every company – including your startup – is now a media company nourishing food for thought.
Did you know that the first printed books in England would leave a blank rectangle at the beginning of a chapter so that an illuminated capital letter could be written in?
It's a great example of a hybrid publishing system, and we can see the same, although in different forms, as publishers transition to an online model.
This example, and other aspects of publishing's evolution over millennia, can be found in an excellent article based on a presentation by Guardian.co.uk Information Architect Martin Beam:
Journalism in the digital age: trends, tools and technologies.
But really it has been the development of the World Wide Web over the last 15 years or so which has utterly transformed the publishing landscape in our era. For mainstream journalism this has meant vastly increased distribution. The UK's major newspapers now have audited global monthly audience figures measured in the tens of millions, at a time when printed circulation continues a long-term decline.
Yes, but there's the rub: readership going through the roof but revenues falling. Usually, when readership rises, so do newspaper revenues, but this is not the case now. Wisely, Mr Beam doesn't tackle the thorny issue, or as I prefer to call it, the Gordian knot of the new media business model.
Mr Beam sticks to describing the wonders of the modern age:
It used to be the case that if I wanted to read the Belfast Telegraph, I pretty much had to be in Belfast, and hand over some cash to the newspaper sellers and newsagents around the city. Now, of course, I can read the website for free from the comfort of my own home, whether that is in London, New York or New Delhi.
This also means that every newspaper, in some ways is in competition with every other newspaper. If I'm a columnist at the Belfast Telegraph, I now have to possibly worry about a possibly better columnist at New Delhi's The Times of India. The world has shrunk faster than a cashmere sweater on the hot wash cycle.
The rest of Mr Beam's excellent article looks at the shrinking news cycle and the demands on news reporting teams.
In years gone by, news of suicide bombers underground in the Russian capital would have meant producing a graphic for the following day's paper — a lead time of several hours. Nowadays, Paddy Allen has to get an interactive map of the bombing locations finished, accurate, and published on the website as quickly as possible.
Interestingly, in his article, Mr Beam says very little about the other side of the media publishing coin: media produced by people who aren't media professionals. That side of the business is growing by leaps and bounds while the professional side is shrinking.
You and I now have a digital printing press in our pockets, capable of reaching potentially tens of millions of people at anytime, through our smartphones. Every screen, desktop or mobile is a potential printing press, you can use it to publish. This is huge. You used to have to be a multi-millionaire to afford a newspaper printing press. It's no wonder Rupert Murdoch is pissed off.
Yes, the media is dying, but long live the media, we now have more media in more forms than at anytime in our history. The Gutenberg press reshaped societies, redrew countries, destroyed old orders. What will this digital press do to us?
We will have even more media being produced... The media tsunami is coming and you will have to sink or swim. Sink in the information overload, swim in the detritus of crap content. That's one scenario. Or you could sink into some amazing content, swim, or rather surf on top of the tsunami, enjoying an elevated view of the world.
There's a media tsunami coming and that also means everyone needs to step up their game. As a media consumer you need to get smarter, you need to know how to use the filters, how to use your network, your friends, to find the great content.
And as a publisher, and we all are publishers in one way or another, how do you get the attention of people, your colleagues, anybody? You need to get better at what you do, what you publish, and how you do it.
If you are a company how will you survive the media tsunami? If you aren't visible you might as well not exist. And as we saw from the 2004 Indian ocean tsunami, it comes in waves, each wave builds up a relentless rush of water, filled with debris. How do you stay visible?
You have to become a media company, you have to acquire the skills of a media company. Every company is a Media Company, EC=MC - the transformative equation for business.
With the demise of "mass media" the old rules of having a media presence have changed. Here are some notes on why companies need to develop some of the same skills that media companies have, in generating great media.
- Large companies have had an advantage in hogging the media limelight because of their large teams of corporate comms people and use of large PR agencies. They worked with a relatively small number of journalists in print, TV, and radio.
Over time those journalists were educated on the company/clients and it was possible to establish a large media presence across different platforms and channels.
- This traditional approach is fairly expensive and it takes many well paid professionals to create and maintain media relations. It's not something that was available to smaller companies.
- This traditional approach ensured a high quality media product such as an article in BusinessWeek, or a segment on a national news TV program, because the media was produced by large teams of media professionals.
- With the shrinkage in traditional media and it's ongoing challenges, this approach to building a media presence is much more difficult today. There are fewer media professionals to work with, and the ones that remain are overworked and have to do more with less.
That's why companies need to be able to produce professional looking videos, podcasts, and other media content because the traditional media is shrinking -- it can't do that job for them.
- There is now also a large media channel defined as "social media" which is very fragmented and that cannot easily be reached through traditional media relations. Companies have to do this themselves.
- Smaller companies/competitors now have the ability to gain a large media presence for much less money by producing videos, podcasts, by blogging, by being active in social networks. This also means that those activities can earn notice from traditional media.
- Thus, smaller companies/competitors can quickly build a decent sized media presence for little capital costs. Yes, there are labor costs but there is an opportunity to quickly build a media presence. Large companies aren't agile, they take a long time to make any decision, they don't have the skills inhouse to create media in the appropriate style.
It is similar to the situation faced by large traditional media organizations -- competition from small, agile media companies.
- Every company must become a media company so that it can claim the high ground in its space. Because if it loses that position to a competitor, it is very difficult to dislodge them. Once a company establishes its media leadership in a particular space it has won an important battle.
Look at how Zappos seemed to come from nowhere and become the top site for online shoe purchasing.
- We are facing an onslaught of media. A media tsunami is heading our way. Staying above that onslaught is incredibly important otherwise a company will disappear under all that media noise.
By using the best practices of a media company, it is possible to stay above the noise level and continue to be seen by customers and prospective customers. If you aren't visible you don't exist. Every company, every individual active online, must step up their game to stay visible, to stay relevant.
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[Every company is a media company (EC=MC) is one of the most important concepts to understand. It truly is a transformative concept for businesses. That's why I've set up a separate web site with colleagues. It will take the work of many people to help companies become media companies. If you have related posts you'd like to contribute on this topic, please let me know at email@example.com. Also, I'm now offering some consulting services around this concept to help support my work here on SVW. You can call me 415 336 7547 to discuss.]
After I left the Financial Times in mid-2004 to begin publishing Silicon Valley Watcher, I was worried that I wouldn't have the same access to top executives as I enjoyed at the FT.
I needn't have worried and soon found that I had the same, or even better access, because now I had built some notoriety by becoming the first journalist to leave a major newspaper to become a professional "blogger."
Intel held an emergency meeting by its corporate communications staff based on my leaving the FT, to discuss how they must now have a strategy of working with "bloggers."
I still thought of myself as a journalist, since as far as I was concerned, I was still writing the same type of stories I was writing at the FT. Just because I was using a blogging software platform, Movable Type to publish my stories, didn't make me a "blogger." But "blogger" was a scary word in those days as companies struggled to understand what this meant.
Interestingly, Intel held an emergency meeting when CNet's News.com was launched in the mid 1990s. The corporate communications team wondered if online news reporters should be treated the same as print reporters.
But it wasn't just Intel that struggled with such definitions, of who is or who isn't a journalist, all companies have, and many still do. Intel made the transition very quickly.
One of my first top interviews on Silicon Valley Watcher was visiting Cisco and meeting with Dan Scheinman, who was at the time, head of mergers and acquisitions at Cisco. This was one of the most powerful jobs in Silicon Valley because of the tremendous number of acquisitions Cisco was making -- and continues to make. (Here's the list.)
What was extra interesting about Mr Scheinman was that he was Director of Corporate Communications and head of acquisitions, spending billions of dollars a year.
I found this combination of two very important jobs fascinating. He could use the considerable publishing might of the Cisco corporate communications machine to make sure that startups were working on developing technologies that Cisco needed to fuel its tremendous growth.
(IBM does something similar - its VC group led by Drew Clark let's entrepreneurs know what technologies it needs. It's a VC group that makes no capital investments.)
I had no idea that our meeting would reveal some fascinating insights into the nature of media and the new challenges that companies now had to meet.
Mr Scheinman was particularly proud of the news@cisco team. This is a large editorial team staffed by former journalists and top editors at newspapers and magazines. It produces articles focused on Cisco and its customers.
This is a team that produces high quality media in a variety of formats that meets the highest journalistic standards. It's not a typical corporate comms department pumping out press releases and white papers.
Also, Cisco was already using media technologies such as RSS to syndicate its content. Five years ago it already had more than 200 RSS feeds!
And when Mr Scheinman shared with me the online traffic figures, I was shocked: Cisco was getting more traffic to news@Cisco than any of the top IT publications, such as ComputerWorld, InfoWorld, and many other huge computer trade publications! I was amazed.
Cisco is a large media company...
I realized that something truly phenomenal was happening here. Here was an example of a corporation as publisher and publication. Cisco makes network gear but it is also a media company -- one of the largest in the world.
I quickly realized that this was a peek into what was happening now -- not in the future. Every company is now a media company. It doesn't matter if it makes network gear or diapers, every company needs to publish to its various communities, its customers, its staff, it's neighbors.
Every company needs to know how to produce compelling content, great video, podcasts, etc.
And now with this emerging two-way Internet, of which 'social media' is its most visible component, every company also needs to learn how to listen, how to respond in online discussions, how to behave on Facebook and Twitter.
Every company needs to master the media technologies of RSS, blogging, and more.
Cisco was doing it by employing professional journalists, it was acquiring those skills in-house.
But how does a company become a media company?
Companies know how to do what they do, to make diapers, steel girders, provide healthcare. They are experts at doing what they do. But how does a company know what it takes to be a media company? It's not easy being a media company.
Companies need to do what Cisco does. Companies need to bring in media professionals to help them become media companies.
And this is something that I'm expanding as part of my work, advising companies how to be media companies, how to master the many media technologies that are available, help companies develop media/business strategies, and much more.
I'm a member of the Intel Insiders, a small group of online media professionals advising Intel. I am also a founding fellow of the Society of New Communications Research, a Palo Alto based think-tank, which performs research in this important field.
Mr Scheinman is now head of Cisco's Media Solutions Group. He is also helping companies become media companies, by making sure they have the hardware and software they need for this role.
The fact that every company is a media company is extremely important because this is what will drive tremendous amounts of sales of hardware, software, and services of all kinds. This will increasingly become the point of the spear in terms of driving new business for Cisco, IBM, HP, Intel and a host of other tech companies. And it goes beyond tech...
There are many services that companies will need, consultants, experts, etc. This changes how companies recruit, how they develop products, how they offer customer service. It's beyond corporate communications, it goes beyond "social media."
Every Company is a Media Company, or EC=MC - becomes the transformative equation for business in our times.
It will require many people and I have set up a web site with colleagues to publish articles on this topic and we are looking for contributors. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Introducing a new web site: Every Company Is A Media Company - EC=MC - the transformative equation for business.]
Five years ago, when I first began writing and talking about this idea, that every company is a media company, few people understood what this was about. Today, it's a message that is better understood -- but only among a few leading practioners in media, communications, and marketing -- it still far from being understood by the mainstream.
Yet today, it's a very important concept because the evolution of media, and the powerful media technologies of the Internet, has transformed the entire media industry and is now transforming nearly every business.
Every company is a media company because every company publishes to its customers, its staff, its neighbors, its communities.
It doesn't matter if a company makes diapers or steel girders, it must also be a media company and know how to use all the media technologies at its disposal.
While this has always been true to some extent, it is even more important today, because our media technologies have become so much more powerful.
Our media technologies have become two-way.
In addition to the traditional means of publishing, such as white papers, news releases, etc, companies must now also master the 'social media' technologies that allow anyone, their customers, their competitors, to publish also.
It is no longer a one-way broadcast medium, everyone now has access to an online printing press that can potentially reach tens of millions of people.
The first phase of the Internet made it easy to publish a page of content to any computer screen -- desktop or mainframe.
Now, any computer screen, laptop or pocket, can publish back -- we've wired up the other end of the Internet! It is now a two way medium.
If you thought that Internet 1.0 was amazing -- this next phase will be extraordinary.
In the same way that companies had to change to adjust to doing business online, now they need to adjust to a whole new reality -- how to be noticed in an increasingly noisy world, one that requires new rules of engagement.
Companies must learn how to publish, listen, and converse in a very fragmented media world. There are different rules for participation and behavior, such as in the very different communities of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
The world has suddenly become very complicated.
Our media has also become much more complicated -- more fragmented. We used to have "mass media" where a small set of media companies and channels, in TV, radio, newspapers, trade press -- hosted much of our media communications.
Those days are gone. The reality is we now live in a multi-platform, multi-channel, micro- media world, and the trend is moving towards ever greater media fragmentation -- vidcasts, podcasts, blogs, micro-blogging, Twitter, etc.
It is no longer possible to operate a business the old way -- such as sending out a news release on Businesswire and briefing a handful of journalists, and sitting back.
Today you need to do that ... and more, much more. Every company needs to master these media technologies, and the best media practices, of a rapidly fragmenting media world.
The companies that successfully manage this task will be far ahead of those that sit back and wait.
In media, if you achieve a pole position, it is very difficult to dislodge you. We see this effect all the time. Look at the Drudge Report - it is far from being a slick news site with great reporting, yet it has huge influence.
Sitting back is not an option. If your competitor captures that media pole position of thought leadership in your market, you are in trouble.
Just the tip of a very large iceberg...
When every company is a media company this changes more than just a company's PR/communications department -- it changes nearly every aspect of an organization.
- It changes how you recruit staff, using your own social networks.
- It changes how you provide customer support.
- It changes how you market/advertise your products and services.
- It changes how you develop products and services.
- It changes your IT infrastructure, what type of computers and software you need.
- It changes entire business processes and how they are executed.
- It changes a company's internal skills set and what types of people it needs to employ or train.
- It changes how you measure progress.
- It changes management and how it runs the company.
- It changes internal team organization.
- It unlocks a massive amount of internal and external resources.
Every company is affected...
Every Company is a Media Company (EC=MC) is the most important business transformation of our times because every company is affected.
It is also a massive business opportunity for so many businesses.
Every company is a media company becomes the point of the spear for new business for many companies across many sectors.
- Companies need help in mastering the best practices of being a media company.
- Management needs help in implementing the new business processes and in measuring progress.
- Companies will need new IT equipment, new software, new types of services, and more...
There will be opportunities for vendors of all types, armies of consultants, experts of all stripes, media professionals, teachers, authors...
Everyone is part of this transformation...
Everyone is a potential evangelist for this groundbreaking transformation. Whether as a company insider trying to push through essential changes; or a vendor of products and services; a public relation company working with clients; or management consultants helping companies reorganize specific aspects of their operations...
The job is a huge one and it's going to involve many people.
It will lead to tremendous disruption...
Not every company is going to make it. We are dealing with disruptive technologies...and they key thing about disruptive technologies is that they disrupt.
Even if a company sees the trends, sees the disruption ahead -- there is no guarantee it can avoid the train wreck.
Look at the tremendous amount of disruption that the personal computer created. It was dismissed as a toy yet hundreds of computer companies went out of business. IBM barely survived -- it had to remake itself into a computer services company.
The same will happen to many companies -- they won't be able to change, or adapt in time.
Beyond social media...
Every company is a media company moves beyond the current focus on social media. Social media is just one aspect of a company's media strategy.
Social media is not enough, companies have to focus on their entire media strategy, it becomes integral to their core business strategy.
Leadership is vital...
But to achieve a successful business transformation, this has to be a message that is understood at the very top of a company's leadership. And then it has to be understood by the rank and file.
That's what this web site will attempt to do -- to give the senior leadership, and the rank-and-file of an organization, the tools and the understanding about what's going on -- and the roadmaps for achieving transformation and success.
You have to be involved...
The challenge for a company's leadership is that many of these media trends cannot be fully understood unless you are immersed within them.
You can't 'get it' unless you are in it.
Clearly, that's difficult because senior executives have so many duties, they have to achieve an understanding of EC=MC and have the right staff to help in the transformation.
A key objective of this site will be to convince senior executives that there really is a major business transformation taking place, through examples and other information.
The second objective is to:
- Provide roadmaps and checklists so that senior management know what needs to be done.
- What types of people/skills are needed in-house.
- What can be contracted out.
- What to look for, the metrics that track progress, and what success looks like.
Every company is a media company ... but every company is in a different industry sector, different geography, a different culture.
There are some aspects of this transformation that apply to all but there is so much more that is very specific.
This site will try to collect those things that are held common, and also ones that are specific to an industry, a sector, a geography.
This site will also pull together a directory of resources, of services, and consultants/experts in their fields.
EC=MC has to be a collaboration on a huge scale. It is beyond 'social media.'
This site will seek to publish articles by many authors, seeking to explain what "Every company is a media company" means to them, to their area of expertise, in their sector/industry, and culture. Please send guest posts to email@example.com.
I look forward to hearing from you.
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This site's founding authors are:
- Tom Foremski, a former reporter with the Financial Times and publisher of Silicon Valley Watcher. Tom has tracked the changing landscape of the media world and how it impacts companies for more than 25 years. Twitter: TomForemski.
- Don Bulmer, a senior communications executive at SAP, the world's largest business software company. Don brings a deep understanding of how to navigate the internal barriers within large organizations and enable transformation. Twitter: DBulmer.
- Vanessa DiMauro, CEO of Leader Networks, works with enterprise to create business strategy for B2B online communities and social media programs. Considered a pioneer in online community building, she brings a depth of best practice from the many communities she has created. Twitter: VDiMauro.
You can follow this site on Twitter: ECisMC