I Am a Corporate Blogger Expert Shares His Tips

25 08 2009

This is a great video on corporate blogging from eBay’s chief blogger Richard Brewer-Hay. In it he discusses the importance of having a social media policy and gives tips on how to craft an effective one. He also states some of the fundamentals like frequency of posting, overall philosophy and strategies for success.

Meanwhile, according to a  US research study called “The Fortune 500 and Blogging: Slow and Steady”, conducted by Nora Ganim Barnes, senior fellow and research chair of the Society for New Communications Research and professor of marketing at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and Eric Mattson, CEO of Financial Insite (a Seattle-based research firm), the Fortune 500 are farther along in their adoption of public-facing corporate blogs. It says these organisations are adopting social media at a slower rate than other leading businesses, universities and charities, but many more of them are blogging.  For example, 81 of the Fortune 500 or 16% have public-facing blogs. This compares with 39% percent of the Inc. 500; 41% of the higher education sector and 57% of the nation’s Top 200 Charities.


Among other findings:

·         About a quarter (28%) of the Fortune 500’s blogs link to Twitter accounts. (Other Fortune 500 companies have Twitter accounts, but they are not linked to their blogs)

·         Five of the top ten companies have public blogs: Wal-Mart, Chevron, General Motors, Ford, and Bank of America.

·         90% of the Fortune 500’s blogs have the comments feature enabled.

·         The computer software/hardware technology industry has the most blogs, followed by the food and drug industry, financial services, Internet services, semi-conductors, retail and automotive respectively.

·         Ten per cent of the Fortune 500’s blogs link to podcasts; 21 percent incorporate video.

I haven’t seen any stats on the Aussie market, unless someone can direct me there?


Nichepaper Manifesto’s Nonsense

14 08 2009

My colleague Sam North, former managing editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald here in Australia, has responded to Umair Haque’s Nichepaper Manifesto. He doesn’t blog but has given me permission to post this on his behalf. You can also read it at Howorth’s blog.

If the Nichepaper Manifesto is some sort of harbinger of the future then God help us all. Unfortunately its broad sweep of generalities, trite statements and ill-informed comments are typical of the newspapers-are-dead lobby. A few quotes should suffice:
‘’20th century news isn’t fit for 21st century society. Yesterday’s approaches to news are failing to educate, enlighten or inform’’;
‘’Nichepapers . . . [are] built on new rules that are letting radical innovators reinvent what ‘news’ is’’;
‘’Newspapers strive to give people the news . . . Nichepapers strive to impart meaningful, lasting knowledge instead’’;
‘’Newspapers dictate to their reader what news and opinion are. Nichepapers co-create knowledge through ‘commentage’”;
‘’Nichepapers develop topics — instead of telling quickly-forgotten stories’’;
‘’Newspapers strive for circulation, by telling the same stories in the same ways — in slightly different places. Nichepapers strive for scarcity: to develop a perspective, analytical skills, and storytelling capabilities that are inimitable by rivals.’’;
‘’Newspapers give you the news then. Nichepapers give you knowledge now . . . Nichepapers develop topics of conversation, not individual stories, and let them co-evolve with readers’’;
‘’Newspapers seek perfection: perfect grammar, perfect ledes [I presume he means leads], perfect headlines. Nichepapers seek provocation instead. Sometimes, yes, that provocation is mere titillation. But more often than not it’s authentic provcation: nichepapers provoke us to think; they challenge us; they educate us in ways that newspapers stopped doing long ago.’’;
‘’Newspapers long ago sold out to advertisers, PR flaks, powerful “sources,” and lobbyists . . . Nichepapers haven’t sold out — and if their economic promise delivers, they won’t have to.’’

I defy anyone to get their head around such an amalgamation of nonsense. The article was sent to me today (Wednesday, August 5). That day, as usual, I read the AFR (a specialist finance and business newspaper and website which seeks – and many say succeeds in doing – to develop a perspective, analytical skills, and storytelling capabilities that are inimitable by rivals . . Nichepaper, anyone?), The Australian, the SMH and the Daily Telegraph. All three strove to impart meaningful, lasting knowledge by extensively educating, enlightening and informing me about many issues, particularly the Ozcar debacle in Canberra and the terrorism arrests in Melbourne.

Far from radically reinventing what news is, both those issues had the previous day been the subject of astonishing news breaks by The Australian, with the paper exclusively revealing that Godwin Gretch had admitted to writing the fake email and – even more astoundingly – revealing that the massive police terror raids were being carried out even as our papers were being delivered.

The SMH and The Australian had sections on local news, world news, arts, sport and business (Nichepapers?) and separate liftout sections on Money (SMH), Higher Education, Wealth and the Australian Literature Review (all the OZ). Both papers have interactive websites with the last figures I saw showing smh.com.au with more than 4.3 million unique browsers each month and theaustralian.com.au with 1.4 million.

The Nichepaper Manifesto says Nichepapers ‘’are different because they have built a profound mastery of a tightly defined domain – finance, politics, even entertainment – and offer audiences deep, unwavering knowledge of it.’’

One would have thought that the SMH, The Australian and the AFR – along with their attendant specialist sections – offer all that, plus something more: eyeballs.

The latest circulation figures show that, far from the sky falling, the top three quality broadsheets in Australia – the SMH, The Age and The Australian – slightly increased circulation over the previous 12 months. And, in fact, the three papers have increased circulation over the past five years. And, while I can’t talk for The Australian, I do know the SMH and The Age remain profitable.

News (of the current definition, not the yet to be disclosed reinvented definition) still sells. The Daily Telegraph in London increased daily circulation by around 100,000 during the recent period when it was drip-feeding stories about the spending habits of British parliamentarians.

It is true that advertising has tanked in newspapers. But my theory is that everyone loves a new toy and the lure of the bright, shiny new media was difficult to resist. But in the light of a post-Christmas hangover sometimes those toys are looked at in a more critical light – they might be trendy, but are they better at doing the job?

Nielsen research released in April showed that more than 60 per cent of Twitter users have stopped using the service a month after joining; the two latest ANZ job advertisements surveys have shown an increase in newspaper job ads in June (0.9%) and a decrease (0.4%) in July, while online ads fell 4.8% in June and 3.6% in July.

What it all means, I’m not sure but I’ll finish with a blog in March from Tim Pethick, the young entrepreneur who successfully launched Nudie drinks, among other products. He told of his product Sultry Sally chips, a low fat brand available in Woolworths.

Woolies, which had launched a rival product, told Pethick that he had to engage in mainstream advertising to boost the sales of his chips.

Pethick wrote: ‘’to be forced into a position where I have to take a traditional, main media approach is anathema.’’ His fears were multiplied when a partner suggested advertising on 2GB.

‘’My heart sank. Strategically, I couldn’t think of anything worse. We are talking radio; worse, AM radio; worse still, talk-back radio; even worse, a radio station that everyone knows is only listened to by a few old punters – way, way off target and brand for us.’’

Needless to say the product walked off the shelves, with stores emptied of Sultry Sally chips. ‘’It is working like nothing I have seen before,’’ wrote Pethick. ‘’I love the fact that the old ways still count for something; I love the fact that I can still be surprised, be wrong and learn from it.’’

Actually I won’t finish on that, I’ll finish with the Nichepaper Manifesto which writes that ‘’Nichepapers are the future of news because their economies are superior.’’ ‘’What is different about them is that they are finding new paths to growth, and rediscovering the lost art of profitability by awesomeness’’.

And what is the lost art of profitability by awesomeness?

I quote: ‘’When you can make awesome stuff, you don’t need to find “better” ways to sell it. The fundamental challenge of the 21st century isn’t selling the same old lame, toxic junk in new ways: its detoxifying and dezombifying it, by learning how to make insanely great stuff in the first place.’’

Of course.

Sam North

Congratulations Lexy

9 08 2009

Congratulations to my colleague, Lexy Klain, who has moved up six places to number 19 in the Top 27 Blogs of people under 27. The list is compiled by AdSpace Pioneer’s Julian Cole.

The scary side of Social Networking

3 08 2009

With the popularity of social networking sites continuing to grow at massive rates, adding thousands of new users every day, we must still tread with caution. Every week we see experts step forward to advise us that platforms like Twitter and Facebook can easily ruin our reputations.

One such recent report is by Zatz Publishing’s editor-in-chief David Gewirtz, which was reported by the Bulldog Reporter’s Daily Dog.

In the article Gewirtz says that when it comes to social networking, it’s not what you know, or even who you know, it’s who knows you. The report is aptly titled: “The Dark Side of Social Networking.”

Gerwitz adds: “social networks like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn are the increasingly popular community services that are designed to help people stay in touch.”

The Bulldog article cites research from Nielsen Company that “more than two-thirds of the world’s Internet population visit social networking sites at least once a month, and nearly 10% of all time spent online is devoted to social networking.”

Due to this popularity and growth, and an army of undisciplined users, Gewirtz adds that “social networks are attracting scammers and criminals. The bulk of social networkers are between the ages of 18 and 49 — prime employment years, and ages where a mistake today could haunt them for many years into the future.”

Gewirtz’s report explores the following issues:

 Employment: how social networking can lead to career suicide
 Reputation: how something you say now could haunt you for years into the future.
 Malware, phishing and identity scams: how using services like Facebook and Twitter without caution could cause you serious financial loss
 Physical security and stalking: how social networks give stalkers and other scary people an almost minute-by-minute update on your habits and haunts

As for physical risks, Gerwitz says “the potential for horror is enormous. If a criminal can easily find out where you are, what stores you frequent, what your daily habits are, who your friends are, and even what your personal food, entertainment, and beverage preferences are, you can be targeted with a level of ease never before possible. I worry that there is a deep and dangerous dark side to social networks and I worry about the potential victims.”

Yikes, scary stuff. You have been warned!

(Gerwitz’s quotes and observations sourced from the Bulldog Reporter’s Daily Dog article). Also posted this on TechPRNibbles.

Why PR is best placed to own social media

8 07 2009

Interesting article from an old colleague, Craig Pearce, on who owns social media, putting forward a solid reason that it is PR – and I agree wholeheartedly. See my earlier post too.

Having studied James Gruning myself, the web has certainly brought to life his fourth model of two-way symmetrical communications. In fact, with social media, you could make a claim now that it is two-way asymmetrical in favour of the audience, not the sender. More reason than ever that PR practitioners around the world need to be stepping more firmly into their shoes as the company’s ‘boundary scanner’, monitoring all aspects of social media to see exactly what is being said about the brand, products or issues, who is saying it, where they are located, and then how you will engage with them. That is absolutely the remit and responsibility of the PR team – not marketing, not the ad guys, not the digital interactive agency. You have to engage this audience, listen to them, and respect them.

Yes, there are creatives that can do competitions, post virals etc in social media channels, but if you have to participate in a conversation with the audience, especially if it is from a negative position, that is the PR function.

Using social media rules to improve ‘offline’ PR – Marketing Magazine

3 07 2009

Interesting post from Trevor Young Using social media rules to improve ‘offline’ PR – Marketing Magazine

Shared via AddThis and I couldn’t agree more. In conversations that I am having with people, there is a huge concern around loss of control when thinking about social media. Wrong. This is a world of two way communications and the organisations that are willing to engage the external audiences through participation will benefit in the long term. Social media puts the public back in public relations. Listen. Monitor the conversation. What’s the mood. PR is the boundary scanner for its organisation and social media is an on tap feed directly into the organisation. Use that information strategically to inform and help your decision making process. All the ways in which you plan in the offline world, do the same in the digital world. Avoid the knee jerk tactical approach, please do your homework first.

Media training for citizen journalists

29 06 2009

There are many differing opinions on the value of citizen journalists, and often they can be negative. But no matter what your own personal opinion may be, there is a place for it. The recent Mumbai terrorist attacks, the Hudson plane crash and the events that have unfolded in Tehran are all good examples.

In an interesting move, TechCrunch has just reported that You Tube launched a new channel called Reporters’ Center over the weekend. The goal is to educate us on how to be better citizen journalists. A number of journalists and media experts will share instructional videos with tips and advice for better reporting. A form of media training is a better way of describing it.

So far, 34 videos have been posted including video from CBS News’ Katie Couric and Washington Post’s Bob Woodward. That is a pretty good start.

It also shows that real journalists DO embrace citizen journalists, which is great to see. I know from comments here in Australia, a lot of journalists have been very negative. Their reasons vary, but largely it’s because they either feel threatened, or they simply like to bag the quality. On the latter, they often have a case, but there is no threat here as there is always a place for quality journalism. For many journalists, they see social media as a source for stories.

I think this Reporters Center will be a great training resource, and if it means the quality of citizen journalism will improve, that has to be a good thing right?

I guess there will be some journalist’s that will still trash it, but if they do, at least they now have a chance to improve it. Like Katie and Bob, they can simply jump in front of a camera and share their tips with the rest of us. We shall see.

I have also posted this article to the TechPRNibbles blog.