Yes, we all love making contact online with people who share our interests. But for Martin, Gini and I, that only feeds our appetite to meet the people in real life after we’ve connected with them online. And what better place to do this than a conference focusing on topics that matter to us?
There’s just such a conference coming up next weekend on June 1 – the Social Capital Conference. Now in its third year, SoCapOtt has grown in number of attendees and number of sessions and speakers featured each year.
We know first hand how good this conference really is, both from attending and also speaking. In fact Martin delivered the opening keynote last year and Gini is delivering the opening keynote this year. So, we sought an interview with Karen Wilson, co-founder with Lara Wellman of SoCapOtt and, along with Melany Gallant and Jordan Danger, one of the organizers of this year’s conference.
In her interview, Karen offers some useful insight to others who might be thinking about organizing a conference. She speaks of mistakes made, lessons learned and the importance of engaging your intended participants in developing themes and content.
And it wouldn’t be Inside PR if Martin, Gini and I didn’t use the topic at hand to riff on a related topic. Martin is leading a session on Social Media goes to College with a panel of people teaching social media. And that gives us a chance to riff on the challenge of locking in course content in an area like social media that changes so rapidly.
But that’s just what we think. We’d love it if you’d listen to the episode and tell us what you think.
This week, Gini Dietrich talks about what it was like to be in Europe when the news of the Boston marathon explosion reached her. The reality of knowing almost instantly about something combined with a sense of distance fed by different mainstream media news agendas and the sense of being out of sync that occurs in a different time zone.
How can we assign credibility to sources we encounter for the first time during a fast breaking news event? While mainstream media may occasionally lapse, can the application of professional journalistic practices be counted on to produce more reliable coverage in the whole?
Martin points to the recent AP Twitter hacking incident, which he says drives home the responsibility we all have to approach anything we hear or see with a degree of skepticism.
Joe likens this to moving around in a darkened room. We know we’ve had contact with something, but we can’t really see what it is. Judgment and speculation become overly close neighbors at times like these.
How do you assign authority and credibility in the era of instant news?
We’re living in a period of profound change in communications channels and tools. How will you change your communications practices to reflect these underlying changes in the communications networks, expectations and participants? What are the opportunities? What are the challenges?
Gini says that the current set of changes are accelerating a move to agency consolidation that she has been observing since the turn of the century. But while we as professionals are finding ourselves in integrated agencies, we are feeling pressure to become expert in related fields – SEO, content marketing, paid promotion. We have to be able to operated above and across the silos as they break down.
Martin Waxman feels that the greatest challenge for PR practitioners is to break out of the publicist mode once and for all. The move to content journalism and content marketing plays to the PR practitioner’s traditional storytelling strengths. And if you’re looking at your career, don’t disregard this path to the future.
Joe points to the trend to anchor integrated communications in marketing departments and marketing programs, places and activities that measure real results against defined objectives. PR practitioners must become platform agnostic, married not solely to earned media, but open to paid media as well as owned media.
Gini notes that she has seen search firms competing for some of these assignments. The challenge for these firms is that they are great at writing for robots, not for human beings. The complete firm will write for both human beings and the search robots. The success of PR firms or any firm will rest on their ability to pull together in one team the analytic and storytelling skills to offer truly compelling, effective content marketing.
Finally, Martin asks how people will be able to make a living as content creators when online outlets like Huffington Post and Forbes.com pay nothing or very little for quality content. Joe suggests that most won’t. There are few Mathew Ingrams or Om Maliks, few people who have something to say, day in and day out. Most of us write more infrequently on a narrower range of topics. As it ever was, few will make a living directly from their content creation. Most of us will of necessity rely on earning our living in jobs in which we benefit from reputations enhanced by creating and publishing smart content.
Also in this episode, Martin gives a plug to the digital communications class at University of Toronto. The next course starts in May. So, if you’d interested in taking this, contact Martin.
If I live in a luxurious cage, am I any less a prisoner than if I live in a concrete cell?
In this week’s episode of Inside Pr, we talk about the biggest trend social media trend of all: mainstreamification.
As the traditional business models for traditional media wither away, as social media start-ups become mainstream with mass audiences and seek to generate revenue that justifies their sky-high valuations, we have decisively left behind the early social media ecosystem of independent voices and the culture of generosity that nourished it. We’ve left behind the free and self-sufficient connections of self-publishing and replaced them with the dependence on proprietary social networks.
Martin calls this the “mainstreamification” of social media. In five years, he argues, we’ve seen the triumph of the “get if fast, get it first, then get it right” mentality in online news outlets. Both he and Joe point to the large number of voices previously found on independently published blogs who have moved their content onto platforms like Huffington Post or Forbes.com in pursuit of the much larger audiences that those platforms have attracted. They have left behind their independent mindset for a mass media mindset.
We shouldn’t be surprised that these networks put their own business interests ahead of users’ interests. It’s not just one move. It’s a range of moves. It’s Google turning its back on its core Google Reader users and dropping support for RSS feeds. It’s Amazon, the king of the walled garden publishers, taking over GoodReads which, until now had been a champion of the device and platform agnostic publishing. It’s Facebook publishing a start page for Android to entice users of the most open mobile OS into its walled garden.
Social media was born out of our desire to have a voice and to connect with people who shared our interests. It provided us all with a low cost/no cost way to be heard. And as such, it celebrated the niche. It didn’t matter how narrow the audience was. The economics of the platforms and the passion of the users supported interests of all shapes, sizes and natures. No one was unimportant. Everyone was important if they had something to say.
What are the downsides of the mainstreaming of social media? The decline of the niche. The decline of innovation in platforms that serve niche content producers. The era in which voices with something to say mattered – even if they didn’t have a mass audience.
We should not sleep walk into this era of mainstream dominance. Gini points out that the strategies of the dominant platforms give us reason to remember the smaller, independent providers of tools for self-publishing and content discovery and curation. If we are open to examining these options, we may in fact find that they are better.
So, in this era of “mainstreamification,” let’s celebrate the independent voices.
We could call this episode of Inside PR, the “Joe goes on a rant about Google, Reader, single competitor dominance and the viability of RSS feeds” episode.
Google Reader’s pending demise is a big deal for us. Like many writers, we use RSS feeds to be sure that we don’t miss content that passes in the flow at times when we aren’t paying attention. Gini and Joe have shifted to Feedly. And what did we discover? That a Feed Reader could be much better than Google Reader, like switching to full colour from black and white. That the emergence of one dominant provider of any service does not foster innovation.
Joe also wonders what impact does the shut down of Google Reader have on the trust that Google’s most passionate fans have on the company.
Finally, for those who thought that RSS fees are dead, the reaction of the heavy users shows that there is a deep, dedicated user community.
End of rant. (And thanks to Gini and Martin for patiently hearing me out. )
Finally in this episode, Martin gives a shoutout to Daniel Davidson and his Pitchin’ Ain’t Easy video.
If you’re a PR person, watch it and have a chuckle.
The Yahoo! decision to bring employees to the office is not news. You’ve probably heard it dissected to death. I wrote about it, from a PR and marketing perspective, and people have debated it to death, from women’s liberation and backwards thinking to why companies disappear and what this might mean for company growth (or not).
But Joe and I, with some prodding from Martin, discuss it a bit differently: From business owner perspectives.
Both of us have had good success with employees working from home. I run a completely virtual company and Joe has two offices (Ottawa and Toronto) with a team who work both in the office and at home.
We’re in agreement if you’re aiming for productivity, working from home tends to work better than being in an office where you can be constantly interrupted. But, if you’re looking to innovate, create new product design, or brainstorm, it’s really hard to produce remotely.
Joe says it’s easy to come up with a good idea, but they need to be stewed over and discussed. When the idea becomes a strategy is when people are waiting for the coffee to brew and they begin to discuss the idea. You can’t replace that with a virtual office.
I agree. In fact, I talk about how we struggle with those very things so we have to make a concerted effort to use technology to our advantage when we need to work on bigger, more thoughtful things for clients (or ourselves).
But through the discussion, we come up with a new way of doing things and using technology to obtain innovation without being in the office.
Kristina Halvorson – Brands need to care about content more than ever because that’s what drives their relationships with customers online… Brands should ensure they look at content not at a commodity but as a business asset.
Lee Odden – Content is the perfect medium for storytelling, it’s what helps brands stand out beyond the noise… Think about online marketing as a peanut and jelly sandwich, search is the PB, jelly’s the social media and content is the bread that holds it all together.
David Usher – Content is very important to brands these days because it defines the brand. If you take the word brand and replace it with personality, it’s really the same thing… You need authenticity and originality and those are the two things that make content engaging.
Gini, Joe and Martin talk about the interviews and how each of us thinks about content. We agree you don’t need to have a big budget to create meaningful and sharable social objects. You need a great story to tell to people who are genuinely interested. And that’s where relationships and creativity come in.
What are some of your content marketing ideas secrets? We’d love to hear from you.
And if you liked these interviews, you may want to check out the great lineup of speakers at Mesh 2013 in Toronto in May. And yes, that’s another Inside PR video on the homepage .
Gini recommends a content audit and talks about things that can be repurposed and optimize it so it reaches. You don’t always have to create something new, you need to use what you already have in other collateral.
Takes pieces of a PDF white paper that isn’t searchable and creates nuggets that are searchable from existing content.
Content as a business asset and spoke that it’s meaningful and engaging and the issue of high quality is interesting with social objects.
What are some of your content secrets? We’d love to hear from you.
During this week’s episode, we talked to this year’s Chair, Dana Hughens, about what to expect in Austin on June 9-11.
For those of you who are not familiar, Counselors Academy is a subsection of PRSA created for agency owners and senior members.
This year’s theme is WEIRD, which stands for wired, entrepreneurial, imaginative, and results-driven. It plays off the the “keep Austin weird” tagline of the city and is designed to help attendees increase creativity in their organizations and with their clients.
During the episode we talk about the types of things you can expect to learn, different activities in which you can participate, and a very cool pre-conference that is sure to fill up quickly.
It’s Valentine’s Day and while we certainly don’t know the secret to romance, we do know that no real relationship can survive without trust.
And that brings us to today’s topic. We caught up with Roy Reid, APR, one of the partners in Consensus Communications, at the PRSA International Conference in San Francisco. Roy had just given a presentation on trust – well, actually he went beyond simple trust to describe something he called outrageous trust.
Here are three actions Roy recommends to achieve outrageous trust:
1. Take responsibility for the relationship.
2. Build from the inside out. That means always acting with integrity and producing excellent work.
3. Be consistent in your communications.
Gini references the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer and the fact that while trust in organizations is no longer falling, it’s still low. She agrees with Roy and says you can’t be trustworthy externally unless you’re trustworthy internally too.
Joe mentions Naked Conversations and the notion that we trust people we know and can talk to and are generally skeptical of business. And if organizations haven’t spent the time to engage with their community, they won’t have much credibility or support when a crisis occurs.
We go on to talk about two recent online crises in the restaurant industry, at Smith and Wollensky (scroll to the end to read what the police had to say) and the tipping brouhaha at Applebee’s.
What do you think organizations need to do to attain the state of outrageous trust with their customers and communities?
Yes, this is a “lost” episode of Inside PR. It’s late being posted. Not because it’s not a good episode. But because Joe dropped the ball.
But, if you’re interested in tools to help you with your online research, we have news about delicious and Diigo.
And Branch is out of Beta. Have you taken a look at it? Do you see a use case for Branch?
@martinwaxman points to the Nielsen Social Media Report 2012. Martin says that we live in a mobile world and Gini says this should affect not just the way that we publish our content (e.g. responsive design), but the manner in which we write and produce that content. (If you’re interested in more discussion on the Nielsen report, you can hear Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson‘s discussion on the For Immediate Release podcast.)
Finally, we chatted about Lance Armstrong and Oprah. Did it work for him?