Posts Tagged ‘Content’

Small, Slow and Closed

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

At last night’s Feast on Good Event, hosted at the very cool MEET at the Apartment, I had the opportunity to listen to a collection of great speakers address the concept of innovative social change through the lens of digital.

During the beautiful presentation by Nathan, of Crush + Lovely, he challenged the audience to imagine an internet that was personalized just for you.   Does it look similar to the one now? What would you change?  He challenged us to move away from the standard cheers of big, fast and open and think about an internet that is instead small, slow and closed.  Small  in a way that is highly personal, slow as in thoughtful and meaningful, and closed in a way that enables more value-driven interactions that challenge the traditional social graph.

Fitting nicely within this concept, although maybe a bit differently than he originally intended, is one of the platforms presented during these talks:

Catchafire, is an organization that is working to enhance (and save) the volunteer experience by helping non-profits scope much-needed work and access skilled volunteers.  By charging non-profits a small fee to participate, Catchafire slows down the process and helps these groups think about what will truly be valuable.  Rachael, the founder of Catchafire, spent her talk discussing the hidden dangers of “free” for non-profits.  Free stuff, free bodies, free services – these things often have unintended costs (staff time for management, organization, maintenance of Free) and can distract non-profits from their primary goals and needs.   Using a process that is a bit more tailored, a bit more methodical, Catchafire is able to help non-profits connect with a tailored group of volunteers who can serve specific purposes.

In a similar vein, by using LinkedIn profiles, the organization easily identifies volunteers’ skill sets and offers up personally tailored opportunities.  This makes the volunteer experience more meaningful, as volunteers are doing projects that they find interesting and that fit their skills.  This thoughtful approach ensures a more positive volunteer experience – hopefully encouraging more participation in the future.

The platform interrupts typical behavior (both on the volunteer and non-profit side), provides personalized content, and fosters off-line connection.  I know that I, for one, am looking forward to volunteering through them.

Research Report: The Participatory News Consumer

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Pew Internet and American Life Project and the Project for Excellence in Journalism released “Understanding the Participatory News Consumer,” on Monday and it has received a ton of attention around the key findings.  Notably, the majority of Americans (92%) use multiple platforms to get their daily news, and more than half (59%) are getting news from both online and offline sources on a typical day.

The degree to which Americans are personalizing and filtering this content is especially noteworthy, with highlights collected by MediaBistro including:

  • 33% of cell phone owners now access news on their cell phones.
  • 28% of internet users have customized their home page to include news from sources and on topics that particularly interest them.
  • 37% of internet users have contributed to the creation of news, commented about it, or disseminated it via postings on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.
  • 51% of social networking site users who are also online news consumers say that on a typical day they get news items from people they follow.
  • 23% of this cohort follow news organizations or individual journalists on social networking sites.

This fits with the recent Cision report (pdf), which showed how media are using social platforms to publish, promote and distribute what they write (64% use blogs, 60% social networks, and 57% Twitter).  Additionally, a full 89% of media are turning to blogs for their online research, making this process truly cyclical.

With 70% of Americans noting that the amount of news and information available from different sources is overwhelming, I think we will see more and more trends pointing to users testing multiple news sources and filtering for perceived noise.  From a PR perspective, this points to the importance of brands telling a cohesive story over multiple platforms, providing a range of consumer touch points, and as always, creating content that is truly valuable for media and consumers.

Is NPR Making a Mistake?

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Staci Kramer over at paidContent pretty much sums it up:

On the internet, any media outlet can overcome its single-dimension status offline. Print outlets can excel in video, local TV stations can add text and stills, radio can get visual. When relaunches overnight, it will add all kinds of features to enhance and extend its audio, including improved search, embedding and transcripts, and more multimedia. But at a time when others are pushing ahead with video, National Public Radio is standing still.

I’ve felt this way about NPR’s approach to video for quite some time.  In April of 2008, I heard a great new band on the now-defunct Bryant Park Project.  They were a new indie rock band called Smoosh.  A big fan of one of the songs they played, I promptly embedded the video into my personal blog after it was available online.  Fast forward to March of this year, when I felt like listening to the song again only to see that the video embed had been disabled.  Now, this isn’t uncommon.  Content providers do this all the time, in fact.  Pageviews are pageviews and revenue is revenue.  I don’t blame them.

However, to me, this is antithetical to NPR’s culture and without the focus on video within this new direction – probably a shot in the foot to a very influential media brand.  They’ve always been scrappy; embracing new technology to spread the word about their great content and programming.  New audiences are using new technologies – embracing that tech helps get content (and subsequently “culture”) in front of new people.  In this case, it worked exactly the way it should for me.  I don’t often listen to the radio, but I heard this segment and was able to share it with my friends.  Quickly and easily.  What’s not to love?

Ben McConnell says it straight:  Word of mouth is a byproduct of a remarkable culture.

Why, then, make the decision to cut-off an integral vehicle in spreading that culture and, consequently, lose out on word of mouth capital?  This is a big issue staring not just media outlets but brands as well, straight in the face.  Content can be expensive to produce but how do you create life-long loyal fans and generate tangible social captial without providing something valuable and interesting upfront?  Ultimately, it has to come from somehwere and you can’t (NPR included) lose sight of the big picture.

What’s more valuable?  Saving money now or building exemplary passion through culture-sharing?  Odds are, the choice to put yourself out there will translate better to an invigorated base of supporters whom can carry you though the rough patches for years to come.  Walking away from video’s “unproven” value when new, vibrant audiences are certainly reachable through it hopefully won’t prove to be a mistake for NPR in years to come.

Focusing on Sharing Options: Less is More?

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Sharing Breakdown courtesy of Mashable

On Monday, Mashable posted an interesting study done by sharing company, AddToAny.  AddToAny is in a unique position to exmaine at the resulting data gathered from people using its service while sharing things among their networks.  Some great insights came out of the study as well as some accompanying perspectives from around the web:

  • Facebook leads the pack – this is in-line with the size and growth of Facebook.  It also signals a generational change of communication practices.  People are spending more time communicating on the web inside social networks more than e-mail, which is extremely important to note.
  • Don’t ignore direct communication – while the news is about Facebook, e-mail still holds strong.  When developing content sharing strategies, never overlook the power of a direct and focused e-mail.  It’s valuable to think of the context surrounding people when they’re communicating – most people are at work in front of a computer throughout the day and priorities get shifted to Inboxes instead of News Feeds.
  • Christine Beardsell counters:  how valuable in the sharing ecosystem is someone on Digg or Yahoo vs. Facebook?  Properly, she points out two huge strategic caveats – who is your audience and how are you measuring?

Speed Kills: Why Being the First to Break News Means You Aren’t the Last

Monday, July 20th, 2009
Meme Curve

Meme Curve | Zachary M. Seward, The Nieman Journalism Lab

Last week, Zachary M. Seward at The Nieman Journalism Lab put together an interesting post about breaking news, the origins of memes and how the influence of news orginzations (blogs included) fit into the big picture of information dissemination on the web.  From the post:

Another way of looking at the data is that influential blogs hanging out on the far-left tail are more likely to report on iterative developments as they happen, while mainstream news outlets feel compelled to fit memes into a broader narrative. The study lists several phrases that were first “discovered” by blogs more than a week before peaking, like when Sarah Palin quoted Ronald Reagan at the end of a debate. That immediately raised flags among bloggers who identified the quote’s origins in a 1961 Reagan speech opposing Medicare, but it didn’t gain traction until more than a week later, when Medicare briefly became an issue in the 2008 campaign.

However you view the chart, it feels like each news organization has situated itself quite intentionally along the curve, staking out a role in the political news cycle. With the meme-tracking technique demonstrated in Kleinberg’s study, news outlets could themselves keep track of where they stand and adjust their reporting strategy if they prefer another spot on the cure. They might consider, for instance, whether they add anything at all to the political discourse by reporting on a meme so close to its peak.

This falls in line pretty succintly with the constant argument surrounding networks like Twitter vs. networks like CNN when it comes to “breaking news.”  Lots of critics cry that major news networks are far behind the “8 ball” when it comes to this capacity.  While that might be true when it comes to event-reporting, I’m often seeing too many people make blind arguments/sweeping generalizations about news outlets for other types of reporting.  It’s pretty tough for 140 characters to give you all the context you’ll ever need about current events and, according to Zach’s research, it looks like news organizations large and small are appropriately finding their place in line vs. constantly fueling an arms race that will likely never end.