On this week’s Inside PR podcast, Martin Waxman, Gini Dietrich and Joseph Thornley tackle an issue raised by Gini in a post on Spin Sucks: disclosure by PR agencies of business interest in media relations pitches. Gini kicks off the conversation by asking the question, “Should media disclose every time they work with a PR person in preparing a story?” Martin tells a story of a lesson earned through experience and Joe argues that the real issue isn’t the activity of PR agencies, but the notion that PR agencies are attempting to influence objective news gatekeepers. And we go from there.
Also this week, Martin also recommends that PR practitioners should take a close look at Google’s recent Hummingbird search algorithm changes.
Finally, in this episode, we talk about taking Inside PR on the road. We’ll be covering MeshMarketing which takes place in Toronto on November 7. If you are a marketer near or in Toronto, this is a conference well worth attending. You can find details on the schedule and registration here.
Martin Waxman and I talk about what constitutes news and how easy it is to trick not just the Interwebz, but the news media as well.
Case in point: A young woman was practicing her twerking in her apartment when her roommate opened the door into her and she fell onto a coffee table full of lit candles. Her yoga pants caught on fire and the video ends with her screaming and jumping around, trying to put out the flames.
It’s an interesting conundrum. We are attracted to the train wrecks, which create the eyeballs and the clicks, but we complain when the media doesn’t cover the more serious news of the day, such as what’s happening in Syria or Kenya.
So what makes the news? If you are in charge of a brand’s journalism, do you cover what’s important or what drives eyeballs? Do we have a right to complain about the viral videos and twerking if we are more interested in the gossip and train wrecks instead of the hard news?
Earlier in the month, Gini wrote a blog post about Google’s In-depth articles. She discovered them when she was doing a search for a client and, in addition to the regular results, noticed a series of three other links listed at the bottom of the page.
She dug a bit deeper and found Google launched In-depth articles in August to feature longer-form content people are talking about – usually from mainstream media outlets. (Note: a search of ‘google in-depth articles’ did not include any in-depth articles, but did show Gini’s post.)
Recently Google has been using three elements to determine ranking: recency and relevancy, popularity and authority. Now, in combination with these measures, content creators should consider developing longer-form pieces like ebooks or white papers.
These are more reflective pieces that should demonstrate the writer has done their research, cited credible sources and has the authority to offer a perspective on the topic that adds value.
Agencies and organizations will want to experiment with longer-form articles to determine what works and how it affects the perception and discoverability of their brand.
Joe says it’s interesting to watch where search is heading and recalls that four or five years ago you would get really interesting links when you searched a topic. Now, in top-level searches he’s seeing is the equivalent of ‘network television’ – that is, links from larger outlets rather than the independent voices that often provided a fresh point of view.
Martin wonders whether this is Google’s way to re-legitimize media outlets as publishers and point people back to them.
For our Canadian listeners, In Depth Articles don’t work in Google.ca, so you’ll need to search in Google.com. Right now, it only seems to be for top-level searches.
Are these shifts toward more mainstream results harkening back to the brochure-ware websites we used to find online? What happened to the individual voices we know are out there? Will the average person understand how to refine their searches in order to find independent voices? What’s the impact on communicators who want to reach a wider audience?
We’d love to hear your ideas on where you think search is heading.
And as we mentioned, here’s the link to the new subscription-based ‘Netflix for books’ app, Oyster.
Gini argues that these changes will motivate good PR agencies to become even better. It forces us to go back to basics, to focus on relationships, not on search ranking hacks. Martin suggests that we need to reconsider the concept of “owned media relationships,” that we must look at them as shared relationships with our clients. Joe believes that media relationships always are “functional.” They exist only as long as we can be of value to the journalists at the other end. And we must constantly be focused on what the person at the other end of the line cares about and having something interesting to say about this.
For the past several years, PR pros have been led to play the SEO game to match Google’s rules and guidelines. We succeeded at doing this in the past and we’ll succeed in adopting to the new algorithms. Change isn’t bad for any industry. Change is just bad for those who refuse to learn and change themselves. As Martin says, It’s always time for the PR industry to come up with a better way of doing things.
We also talk about the recent SXSW V2V conference in Las Vegas. Martin attended this inaugural edition of a new conference by the folks who organize Austin’s SXSW conference. And he found it to be a return to the smaller, more intimate gathering of a community drawn together by common interests. Great energy. Much more intimate. Much more like SXSW in its early years. Worth attending this year. Worth considering attending next year.
We close out this week’s episode with a comment from Mark Buell relating to our earlier discussion about protecting your identity online. Mark recommends that you should “regularly check which third party applications have access to your Twitter account. If the service doesn’t require ongoing access (like Hootsuite, Klout, etc.) revoke its access. Third party access is a weak link in your social media security chain.” Thanks go to Mark for a practical useful tip.
Adam Marelli says one of the best pieces of advice he ever received on creativity came from a Zen monk who said do just one thing at a time. For Adam, no matter how long the to-do list becomes, he finds he’s most creative if he focuses on a specific task without distractions.
For Jey Van-Sharp, it’s all about prioritizing your priorities. He starts by thinking of the objective as a big boulder you can’t move very easily. Then he breaks it into smaller rocks and easy to handle pebbles, with each pebble being one task. Each day he picks several tasks to work on, knowing he can’t get through them all at once, but will accomplish the project over time.
Jim Hopkinson believes you should really know yourself and references a Paul Graham post on maker’s and manger’s schedules and how the two are often in opposition. Being creative means being a maker and it’s important to find clumps of uninterrupted time for your work.
Helen Todd agrees you need to block off periods during your day to cultivate your ideas. Her advice: avoid productive procrastination – where you work on administrative projects or answering emails because it makes you feel productive, when you should be focusing on the creative challenge at hand.
Final word goes to Adam who says, there’s an art to failure and you get there by practicing it; the separation between failure and success is very thin.
Do you consider yourself creative or in a creative job? What challenges do you have coming up with fresh ideas? Is creativity something you live and breathe or do you try to compartmentalize it? Any tips you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you.
You may also be interested in the interview we did with Festival producer Christine Auten.
Learn more about the experiment and what we learned in just a few days about the influence game.
But that’s not the main point of our podcast today.
The point of our discussion comes from a question from Liza Butcher.
My Twitter account has been “compromised” three times in the last two weeks. I would love if you could do a show or part of a show on the best way to protect yourself and/or your organization from being hacked or, as Twitter calls it, “compromised.” Do you think this is something that is happening more and more?
As it relates to online privacy, I relate a story that happened with Spin Sucks where we were under attack for more than two weeks. Because we use LastPass to generate our passwords every few days, we lucked out and the worst that happened was the blog was slow. But if it had been two months ago, they would have gotten us for sure.
We discuss what online passwords mean to each of you personally, how to secure yourself, how to use good judgement, and which tools to use.
A special thanks to Liza and to David Jones for their comments.
In this week’s episode of the Inside PR podcast, Gini Dietrich, Martin Waxman and Joseph Thornley talk about the Omnicom Publicis merger. Will this yield opportunities for independent agencies? While the deal seems to have be driven by considerations of scale and efficiencies, what of the creatives who actually attract the clients? What about the clients themselves? Where was the client demand for this type of a deal? And what about the front line employees? Will they see immediate benefits from this deal or will they experience uncertainty as they wait for the other shoe to drop? Will they be distracted? Will smaller clients suffer from inattention as management focuses on securing the larger clients? And what about PR? Where does it fit in the thinking of the new mega-holding company?
When Six Pixels of Separation came out, it was a book ahead of its time and it put Mitch Joel on the map. To me, he was one of those authors I was dying to meet, but also a little intimidated by because of his thinking that really made you wonder if he had a crystal ball.
I remember the first time he commented on Spin Sucks. I’m pretty sure I ran around the office screaming, “Mitch Joel just commented on the blog!”
Since then we’ve become friends. While we don’t agree on everything, I respect the heck out of his brain and look forward to the debate that ensues when a topic of disagreement arises.
Now he is back with another book, titled “Ctrl Alt Delete” and it was my pleasure to sit down for a few minutes with him to understand why business leaders need to reboot their businesses, and the rest of us need to reboot our lives.
The book is divided into two sections: The first is for business leaders and the second is for everyone else.
As I listened to his calm and reassuring voice read the book to me through my earbuds while I rode my bike, I panicked a little bit about the advice he gives to individuals in “Reboot: You.”
He’s not wrong about any of it. If anything, it should inspire you to want more from your careers, to maintain control of your destiny, and to find the perfect position for you that allows you to do what you love. But, as a business owner, you always fear you’re not running your organization in a way that is flexible enough to move with the trends, but also that your team will get fed up and leave.
We talk about that, about how to get digital into your blood – even if you’re not a digital native – and about what the future of business looks like in the next 10 years.
Christine has been working with SXSWi since 2008 and is currently focused on a new project: launching SXSW V2V in Las Vegas, August 11 to 14, 2013.
SXSW V2V is a re-imagining of the legendary SXSW experience with an emphasis on the creative spark that drives entrepreneurial innovation. It grew out of the success of the main Festival and focuses on two of its strongest sectors – startups and entrepreneurs. SXSW wanted to expand beyond Austin and Las Vegas seemed a natural choice given its easy access and abundance of hotel rooms and conference space.
Then there’s Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, longtime SXSW supporter and the man behind the Las Vegas Downtown Project, an ambitious multi-year plan to bring back the city’s urban core.
SXSW V2V is SXSW on a micro scale. Programming is structured in a similar way with traditional panels, a daily keynote, solo room, a pitch event called V2Venture and mentor sessions. But with fewer tracks, it will be a more intimate event.
After hours, you can expect to experience SXSW’s lively networking and parties and a closing night mixer in downtown Las Vegas.
Christine is most excited about the mentor sessions, an opportunity for startups to connect and gain insights from 90 experienced professionals. Note: I’m happy to be included as one of the mentors. My focus will be on how to develop a strategic approach to PR, content and news. If you’re attending the event, I hope you’ll drop by.
Like SXSW, creative takes centre stage at V2V, a place for designers, developers, thinkers, investors and tinkerers from around the world to come together, learn and exchange ideas. And as a first-time event, it’s bound to have its share of start-up energy.
“We plan and set the stage and then the community comes and does what it does and that’s exciting to see,” says Christine.
The FTC recently sent a letter to Google, Yahoo!, Bing about native advertising and how they must require their users to show what is paid and what is not, in terms of content.
This changes the stage a bit for native advertising. In what started out as a paid play that looked just like the content shared on the site, it now must be disclosed it is actually different than everything else because it was paid for or sponsored.
Not unlike adding “advertorial” or “paid advertising” across the top of content in magazines, this new rule follows the FTC disclosure guidelines they’ve been aggressively promoting for years.
As PR professionals, we lean toward the editorial side, but because native advertising wants to look and feel and sound like valuable content, it is quickly becoming our jobs to figure out how this will play out for our organizations or our client’s organizations.
But native advertising is not a trend started by the PR industry; it was started by our advertising colleagues, but it also serves the needs of media outlets who are on a one-way street. Because of that, communications professionals need to experiment to help journalists make this work. It becomes about how we create content that serves our audience, is not an intrusion, is fun, informative, and increases value of earned media.
It is, in fact, not unlike what the ad agencies are doing with longer form videos that serve as shareable commercials.
Also during this episode, learn about the mistake Martin Waxman made during last week’s podcast and what Richard Edelman shared at IABC about the future of PR.