Inside PR 398: Is blogging over or has it morphed into something else?

Martin here. On today’s show it’s Joe and me. Gini’s on the road but she’ll be back next week.

Our topic comes from a post by Mathew Ingram about the state of blogging and how it has evolved. We’ve noticed a number of people who were active bloggers have slowed down their output, moved away from the platform or started publishing somewhere else.

So is that a trend? Are we entering a post-blogging landscape?

Joe starts off by mentioning a series like Sherlock that looked edgy and new a few years ago, yet seems a bit dated today. He thinks the same may be true for blogs.

I always considered blogging more of a publishing platform rather than an unedited stream or conversation. And as a PR person who wrote for clients, I found my voice again when I started my blog.

Joe thinks blogging has become more of a place for personal journaling. It hasn’t gone away but now it has a specialized purpose.

Joe also noticed that for a number of years we were fixated on the river of news and that’s not the only way for information to be organized. New apps value content that doesn’t carry as much weight and that the search engines can’t grab and data mine.

It’s a bigger range of content. And it’s about distinctive voices – columnists. In many ways, it always was.

And before we go: I noticed, as I was listening to the episode and writing the notes, that I said, ‘The Snapchat’. Yipes. Honestly, I didn’t mean to. Let’s chalk it up my affinity for the old Triple-W… and (hopefully) leave it at that.

Is blogging simply publishing? Are you moving to something more ephemeral like chat? Do you want your ideas archived or would you like your comments to be delivered and disappear?

Many of you listen to us on iTunes and it would be great if you could leave us a review.

Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], join the FIR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

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Thank you to the people behind Inside PR.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

Inside PR is produced by Ashlea McGrath.

Inside PR 395: The chat app is the medium

Martin here.

Happy New Year and welcome back! We hope you had a fun and restful holiday.

In 2015, we’re planning to reinvigorate IPR by making it more topical and dealing with an issue or two a week. Stay tuned…

We start by congratulating Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson on the 10th anniversary of For Immediate Release! Here’s (hears?) to many, many more! We’re thrilled to be part of the FIR podcast network.

We also have some sad news. Michael Herman, a senior PR agency leader we know from Counselors Academy, passed away suddenly on Saturday at his home in North Carolina. Michael was the consummate PR pro, received PRSA’s highest honour, the Gold Anvil award, taught PR and never stopped learning, asking questions and helping people. Gini shares a personal memory of Mike on Pinterest and how they used to trade recipes. Here’s a moving tribute from Peppercom founder, Steve Cody. Our thoughts and sympathies go out to Mike’s family and friends. 

Now onto this week’s main topic. Over the break I noticed a number of what’s ahead roundups – including TechCrunchAdAge and GigaOm – highlighted the renewed interest in chat apps as a key way for people to communicate and connect.

Which leads to the question: how can professional communicators, who participate in public conversations, navigate in the world of chat?

Gini: A big issue is anything you post online can and will be used against you. In other words, private isn’t necessarily private, anymore.

Joe harkens back to the early days social media where you had people talking to people versus brands talking to people. Now that marketers are monitoring public interactions, he believes ordinary people, who may not trust commercial accounts, are turning to messenger apps as a way to communicate.

Private or public messages? Which will be your default in 2015? We’d love to hear what you think.

One last thing. Many of you listen to us on iTunes and it would be great if you could leave us a comment or rating. Thanks!

Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], join the FIR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

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Thank you to the people behind Inside PR.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

Inside PR is produced by Ashlea McGrath.

Inside PR 393: Our naughty or nice PR list…

Martin here. This week, it’s Gini and me. Joe’s on the road traveling home.

And in the spirit of the season we thought we’d share our PR naughty or nice list for 2014.

First up: naughty.

And the lump of coal goes to…Edelman.

Really? Why?

Well, a Canadian company, TransCanada, hired the venerable agency to build support for a pipeline that will transport oil from Western Canada to refineries in the east. But when the agency recommended secretly using third-parties to attack the pipeline’s opponents and a document with the strategy was leaked to Greenpeace, TransCanada fired Edelman over ethical concerns.

Does this sort of program sound like a whisper campaign to you? It does to us.

Gini has written extensively about why whisper campaigns and other unethical tactics hurt PR. She likens the process to that of broken telephone, where what the last person hears is often very different from what was said at the beginning. Gini says that rather than sneaking through the back door, the profession should be open and honest. What do you think?

Now for our nice list.

Gini posed a question on Facebook asking people to nominate their suggestions the PR win of the year. She got a lot of replies including the Ice Bucket Challenge, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift (Gini’s selection on SpinSucks) and WestJet.

We chose WestJet for an imaginative follow up on its successful Christmas Miracle video. Once again, the company borrowed elements of classic holiday movies and showed, in an emotional way, how much they care about their customers and community.

Here’s the 2014 WestJet video.

And here’s the one from 2013.

Which PR programs would you put on the naughty list? And which ones would you qualify as nice? We’d love to hear what you think.

Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], join the FIR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

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Thank you to the people behind Inside PR.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

Inside PR is produced by Ashlea McGrath.

Inside PR 392: The algorithm called journalism

We start this episode with a burning question from Gini: Is lasagna pasta – yes or no?

Joe and I both say yes. And so Gini, armed with the information she desperately needs, is ready to take on her dinner menu. That is, unless you, our listeners, think otherwise. Please let us know.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Joe starts the show talking about the notion of who makes news decisions – editors or algorithms. This was sparked by an Emily Bell speech and spawned a discussion online as well as several posts, including one by Jeff Jarvis.

In her talk, Bell contends journalists, who once controlled the determination and distribution of news, have lost their hold or maybe they’ve been supplanted. Their replacements? In digital channels, many editorial decisions are made by people fine-tuning algorithms or the algorithms themselves.

Martin says on the editorial front, we’ve traded one concentrated group of publicly-traded companies (media) for another (social networks as new media).

Gini says there’s so much info out there that until something’s been confirmed by the fourth estate, we tend not to believe it. Traditional media is the filter.

Joe contends PR is in an ideal position to bridge the gap between journalistic decision makers and the way algorithms pick content. And by seeing both sides of the coin, we can still help get news in front of people either though media or their feeds.

And that’s where understanding influence and influencers comes into play. Martin mentions a new type of influencer: a young video game player with an engaged audience who was featured in an article in the NYTimes. And the profession needs to refine its approach to public relationship-building to take this into account.

Are algorithms the new equivalent of editors – we don’t know who/what they are and yet they make many decisions? Is that a good or a bad thing? We’d love to hear what you think.

Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], join the FIR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

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Thank you to the people behind Inside PR.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

Inside PR is produced by Ashlea McGrath.

Inside PR 391: Ch-ch-changes at F-F-Facebook – again

Martin here and apologies to David Bowie but Facebook’s at it again and I couldn’t help myself.

Earlier this month, the company announced that in January, 2015 people will start seeing fewer promotional posts from brands, that is, things that push you to enter contests and sweepstakes, install an app or buy a product.

Joe and Gini think this is a positive shift because it puts the onus on brands to earn their way into a user’s news feed with relevant and useful content.

I say this goes well with the way Facebook lets folks mute brands and friends we may not want to hear from so often. Then I wonder about coupons. They’re both commercial and yet important to some people. Is Facebook treating coupons as pure promotion too? We’re interested if any of our listeners have insights on that.

We switch gears and Gini talks about Facebook’s Rooms app, which is trying to connect people through a common interest and not necessarily their social graph. Gini likens it to the early days of Internet communities and anonymous posting. Here’s a blog she wrote about it and why you may not be as anonymous as you think.

Joe says Facebook’s two recent changes – offering a less commercial newsfeed and simplifying their privacy offerings – are driving more value to its business. He thinks they’ve got their mojo back.

I close off by talking about the latest meshmarketing conference and some highlights, including Ann Handley’s fun and informative keynote.

What do you think about Facebook’s algorithm tweaks? Will it improve your experience and, as a result, will you be spending more time on the platform? Will you be changing your privacy settings? We’d love to hear what you think.

Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected]l.com, join the FIR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

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Thank you to the people behind Inside PR.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

Inside PR is produced by Ashlea McGrath.

Inside PR 387: Is another tech bubble about to burst?

Martin here.

This week, it’s Gini and me – as Joe was under the weather. (And you can hear from my voice that I’m just a tad jet-lagged…)

We spend the show talking about a couple of recent news items that caught our attention, and especially the notion that we may be headed into another tech bubble.

There certainly are a few signs. First, the New York Times announced it’s laying off 100 people from its newsroom staff. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com and founder of The Downtown Project in Las Vegas, announced he was stepping down as project lead and then laid off 30 people. And VC Marc Andreesen feels tech startups are burning through cash at a rate similar to the 1999 tech bubble and that’s a cause for worry.

Martin references Clay Shirky’s Last Call post on Medium about the impending demise of print.

Shirky offers three pieces of advice to journalists to help reposition themselves and Gini thinks they apply just as well to communicators.

  1. Get good with numbers – we’re in an age where we need to be focused on how the content and communications work we do becomes an investment, not an expense.
  2. Learn to use social media tools to get ideas for stories. That’s something we’re good at already, but we need to continue to test and learn.
  3. Collaborate – that is, integrate paid, earned, shared and owned programs and understand how the pieces fit together.

What do you think? Are we heading into another tech bubble? How will that affect the landscape for journalists and communicators? Can we redouble our efforts to adapt and retrain ourselves? We’d love to hear from you.

Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], join the FIR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

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Thank you to the people behind Inside PR.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

Inside PR is produced by Ashlea McGrath.

Inside PR 384 – It’s Spin Sucks anniversary – and we celebrate with blogging tips

Martin here…

It’s a big day for us at Inside PR – well, a big day for Gini, but we’re celebrating with her! Spin Sucks turned eight. And that’s a milestone.

Gini looks back and talks about her first post and how…um…disappointing it was. She said it was just a blog introduction without any links (though there were footnotes), but with a few references to some guy named Ray (they’re not sure who that was) and it had no images or optimization…

Back then they didn’t have a clear vision of the kind of content that would help them achieve their vision to improve the reputation of PR.

Gini took it over in 2009 and worked hard and consistently to create the type of content that built and engaged a community and made it into the runaway success it is today.

A big congratulations from all of us to Spin Sucks!

Joe says it’s not easy to keep up Gini and her team’s level of commitment and production and mentions a post by Darren Barefoot, who says he’s no longer doing most of his writing on his blog. Rather, he’s publishing on other platforms with bigger audiences so more people see and interact with his ideas.

In the second part of the show we ask Gini, who recently spoke about advanced blogging at Content Marketing World, to share some of her tips. Here are three:

  1. Follow trends and lists to discover fresh, relevant ideas.
  2. Imagine and reuse your content and turn a blog post into a podcast, video and other sharable social objects.
  3. Syndicate and distribute content beyond your social networks to build momentum.

Do you have any to add?

We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], join the FIR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

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Thank you to the people behind Inside PR.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

Inside PR is produced by Ashlea McGrath.

Inside PR 381: Penalties for bad reviews and questions about online privacy

Martin here.

This week, the gang’s together again…and we start by talking about a business that charges customers a penalty for negative online reviews.

Whaa?

In case you missed it, a hotel in upstate New York said it would levy a fine of $500 for bad reviews written by guests.

The company has since recanted the story claiming it was a joke that harkened back to a long-past wedding and they never removed the policy. Gini likens this to businesses that pay for positive reviews and says you can’t dictate what people say about you online good or bad. You just have to provide the best experience and customer service you can, listen and address issues. Here’s a link to the story for details.

We switch gears and discuss a study on online privacy by Craig Newmark and others that offers some insightful results. One of the main findings is that two-thirds of us either skim or don’t bother to read the terms of service. Which means we don’t know what we’re agreeing to or what rights we’re signing away.

Gini, Joe and I did a straw poll and it turns out the three of us all fall in that 66 per cent majority.

That’s not a good thing…

Joe links this to news that when Google receives a request under Europe’s right to be forgotten legislation, it has been informing webmasters about it before it takes down the links-in-question.

According to the WSJ, Google claims that alerting publishers to impending removals is the only way they can respond with their side of the story.

Joe’s concern is that we’re giving a private company the ability to make decisions about our privacy and rights based on its commercial self-interests.

I think the situation is similar to one we’ve always had with media: they have their own agendas, yet we trust them to filter stories and news.

It’s certainly a complex issue.

What do you think? About penalizing or paying for reviews? About reading terms of service, about the right to be forgotten…

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We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], join the FIR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

Thank you to the people behind Inside PR

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

Inside PR is produced by Ashlea LeCompte.

 

Inside PR: Special show on SXSW V2V with Christine Auten

Martin here.

And today we have a special episode where I talk to Christine Auten, producer of SXSW V2V, the younger, brasher sister festival of SXSWi. I say that because V2V is held amid the glitz and glamor of Las Vegas and focuses on startups and entrepreneurs.

One of the key differences between this year and last is that each day starts and ends with everyone together.

Mornings are for keynotes. On Monday, Ari Horie, the dynamic founder and CEO of Women’s Startup Lab talks about opportunities for women entrepreneurs. On Tuesday, John Maeda speaks about creativity and bringing Design to De$ign. Wednesday has Brian Solis interviewing Shinola president Jacques Panis on the ‘Built in Detroit’ movement and how that applies to startups.

After that come a series of breakouts, panels, inspiring 20/20 vision talks, workshops and mentor sessions. And then back for the final session of the day followed by the social program. This year, there’s going to be a film screening, music performance and for the final party, a bowling tournament – bring your socks.

The content focuses on the intersection of startups and showbiz – and there’s a special room for convergence sessions including What Rockers Can Teach Startups – that is, what lessons startups can take away from the passion-driven world of musicians and artists.

What differentiates SXSWV2V from SXSW?
Christine says the biggest thing is the size. It’s an intimate event all in one space where you can meet and chat with everyone.  And when you leave, it feels like the people you met are not just connections, they’re more like a family.

What’s Christine expecting in 2014?
“We don’t know what the show’s going to be like till we get there,” she says. “The community makes up so much of the experience.”

Interested in more info? Here’s the schedule. Or follow the hashtag #sxswv2v.

And here’s a blog post on my Supercharged Storytelling for Startups session.

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We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], join the FIR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

Thank you to the people behind Inside PR

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

Inside PR is produced by Ashlea LeCompte.

Inside PR is part of the FIR Podcast Network.

Inside PR 375: During a crisis, don’t leave your customers in the dark

Martin here.

On today’s show, it’s Joe and me. Gini will be back in a couple of weeks. And throughout the summer, we’ll be having a few more two-handers when one of us is away – but we’ll keep recording!

We start off discussing the recent DDOS attacks on Feedly and Evernote that happened just before we recorded.

And we remark on how the two companies took different approaches when it came to communicating their situations to customers.

Feedly posted notifications on its Twitter feed and blog but nothing on Facebook.

Evernote updated its Twitter feed and used the same content on Facebook. But the company did not post on either of its two blogs.

Here are a few suggestions for communicating during a crisis that came out of our conversation:

  • Use your owned property – your blog or newsroom – to break the news and continue sharing regular updates there.
  • When posting updates on Twitter, link back to your blog to add details and context to the situation.
  • Personalize your message. Record a video or short series of videos to let people know what happened and the steps you’re taking to fix it.
  • By all means post on Facebook, but if you’re not buying ads, know that not as many people will see your news as on other sources.
  • Take a page from MSM and be consistent with your communications. Let people know when they’ll hear back from you. That way people will know you’re on top of things and more news will follow.

In the second part of the show, I offer my take on the 2014 IABC World Conference that was taking place in Toronto. One highlight was a talk by Leslie Quinton on the human side of crisis communications and how important it is to always remember your moral compass; that is, continue to ask yourself if what you’re doing is the right thing to do.

I also caught up with Shel Holtz who, if you haven’t seen him speak, is always a sharp, insightful and engaging presenter. He talked about visual storytelling and presented a strong case for why all communicators should move in that direction.

If you haven’t been to an IABC World Conference, it’s worth looking into because it offers you an opportunity to meet and learn from communicators around the globe. Next year’s conference is in San Francisco, June 14 to 17, 2015.

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We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Inside PR is part of the FIR Podcast Network.

Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], join the FIR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

Thank you to the people behind Inside PR

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

Inside PR is produced by Ashlea LeCompte.