The Digital Vibes

Demographics matter in paid content
October 31, 2008, 3:58 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Good thought that was brought up on DMfest. Monetisation of content is important but if u r targeting the youth market, how can they pay for your content if this bracket doesn’t have access to payment solutions such as Paypal?

Posted by ShoZu


October 31, 2008, 1:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Interesting perspectives from speakers on how collaborative media can take off. Timo of star wreck fame says it’s still about branding on top of building a fan community. Does that work in Asia?

On a separate note I’m sitting in a meet the speakers session for bloggers. And I wonder are bloggers the new journalists? And one of the best bloggers i know said she prefers to observe than to ask. Something to think about…

Posted by ShoZu

It’s the community not the tools
October 8, 2008, 12:37 am
Filed under: Online presence, Social Media | Tags: , , , ,

Like everyone who’s excited about the web2.0 space, I’m excited by all the tools and apps that really aid communication.

However, over the past week, I can’t help but start thinking about how it’s the community and where they are that matters. If your target audience are not social bookmarking fans of Digg and Stumbleupon, nor on Twitter or Plurk, nor any other niche social network that’s the flavour du jour, leveraging these tools in your PR campaign may make you appear a web2.0 native, but not yield the results you need.

How timely that Steve Rubel spoke about this, along with the future of PR and press releases, in an article on iMedia:

Published: October 07 2008
Steve Rubel on how blogs are changing the face of PR
Edelman’s director of insights explores the current evolution of the marketing and public relations landscape and explains why digital marketers need to focus on integration, not the latest technology fad.
If marketers want to succeed in this Web 2.0 world, they need to follow their audiences, not the technologies, says Steve Rubel. That might sound like surprising advice, coming from someone who spends at least two hours a day sifting through and digesting news regarding the latest in digital marketing platforms. But if there’s one thing Rubel has learned in tracking more than 500 RSS feeds related to digital marketing, it’s this: It’s not about the channel. It’s about how you use it.

Steve Rubel is senior vice president and director of insights for Edelman Digital.

Rubel should know. As a digital marketer with more than 15 years of experience, he’s seen a lot of platforms come and go. And as senior vice president and director of insights for Edelman Digital, it’s his job to identify emerging digital marketing platforms and gauge which ones are worth his clients’ investment.

In an industry where a shiny new application seems to be born every minute, it can be easy to get lost in the minutia — a tendency, Rubel notes, that can hurt a brand’s overall marketing campaign.

“A lot of marketers focus on individual sites and technologies,” he says. “They focus on Facebook strategies, they focus on Twitter strategies. And it’s very easy to get caught up in that and be very tactical and not think about how all these different genres integrate into a holistic system. I think that’s the biggest disappointment today. A lot of people are doing a lot of great work — very tactical work — but not thinking about how all this comes together and how it works together.”

The changing face of PR
As an executive at the world’s largest independent PR firm, Rubel has a keen sense of how public relations interacts with traditional and digital marketing platforms to form the basis of a company’s outward persona. He also recognizes that new digital platforms have greatly changed — and will continue to influence — the role of public relations in the overall marketing mix.

In July, when the SEC announced that it would recognize corporate blogs as public disclosure, some industry observers predicted the imminent death of the press release as we know it. But according to Rubel, rumors of the press release’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

“I see press releases having an important role in a few areas,” he says. “First of all, they communicate a message very quickly to the press, which is something that a blog or a feed really can’t do. And they reach a large number of people, particularly investors. Also, they can have a high impact on search engines, and I think that’s important to look at.”

That said, Rubel notes that companies’ dependence on press releases may decrease going forward. But, as with many traditional communication vehicles, the press release is more likely to respond to emerging digital platforms with adaptation rather than extinction.

Blogging into the future
Beyond providing a new channel through which to distribute company disclosures, blogs and bloggers are changing the face of public relations and marketing in many ways. And, daunting though it may be to consider that there are 25 million bloggers in the U.S. alone, Rubel says marketers and PR professionals need to embrace the blogger community as an opportunity rather than a challenge.

“There are a lot more places we can now go with smaller stories than we could before, more micro-niche audiences and more targeted outlets that focus on a unique segment of the market,” he says.

Rubel notes that in order to effectively communicate with the blogosphere, PR professionals and marketers need to bring their A games. “We can’t be spamming bloggers, and I think a lot of that is still continuing,” he says. “I’m disappointed in the industry in that regard, and I think we have a ways to go.”

Taking advantage of the huge opportunity presented by the blogging world requires PR professionals to think differently and leave behind some of their traditional tactics, Rubel says.

“PR people have typically been behind-the-scenes people, and I think that has to change,” he says. “The people who participate online the most and do that regularly are the ones who are most trusted. It’s easier for them to build relationships with the community.” Going forward, he notes, PR professionals must be prepared to build relationships with journalists and bloggers in a very transparent way.

If anyone can attest to the supreme importance of transparency within the blogosphere, it’s the folks at Edelman. Back in 2006, the firm received a virtual flogging when it was revealed that it had spearheaded a less-than-forthright campaign for client Wal-Mart. The campaign — in which Rubel played no personal role — involved a blog called “Wal-Marting Across America,” which was presented as the tale of a couple that was traveling the country in an RV, spending each night parked in a different Wal-Mart parking lot. But, as it turned out, Wal-Mart was underwriting the bloggers, one of whom was a Washington Post photographer.

Following an outpouring of outrage among bloggers, Edelman quickly stepped up to the plate and acknowledged its error in failing to be transparent about the identity of the two bloggers from the outset. And as Rubel reiterated in his immensely popular Micro Persuasion blog, the firm is committed to the transparency guidelines that it helped the Word of Mouth Marketing Association develop. Since the 2006 episode, Wal-Mart has continued to tap into the power of blogging — but with a much more upfront approach, evidenced in the company’s Check Out blog.

The need for transparency extends to all facets of marketing, particularly in Web 2.0, Rubel says. He notes that, on occasion, he’s had to talk his clients out of creating and posting their own articles to online resources such as Wikipedia. “Sometimes they really can’t quite understand why at first,” he says. “But I’ve found most times they’re often very receptive once I point to evidence that really underscores the ethics of the community. It’s pretty hard to dispute that.”

Digital best practices
Overall, Rubel says that online social networks present significant opportunities for marketers — if they know how to put this medium to work for their brands. Interactions and campaigns on sites such as Facebook and MySpace should develop naturally, he says.

“When a company can determine what it wants — and that overlaps with what a consumer wants — and you participate in a meaningful way in a social network to make that happen, I think that’s very credible,” he says.

As an example, he points to a program that Edelman Digital is running for Brita called Filter for Good. Tapping into consumers’ concerns over the impact that their bottled water habits are having on the environment, Edelman worked with the filtration giant to develop, a website where consumers who pledge to give up their bottled water can enter a contest and vie for prizes. “We activated that inside Facebook and helped execute an engagement program among people who are very green within Facebook and enthusiastic for these topics,” Rubel says. He notes that the campaign is a perfect example of a win-win situation in which a social networking tool helped to align a company’s interests with existing consumer interests.

In conclusion, Rubel reiterates his overall philosophy when it comes to interactive marketing. “Talk to consumers,” he says. “Study your audience and know how they interact with the web and what they like to do.” In the end, after all, it won’t be marketers who determine how media look and act it in the future — it will be the consumers.

“At this point, no medium has really replaced another, but I think that’s not an infinite loop,” Rubel says. “That has to stop at some point because people are so time pressed.” Rubel doesn’t claim to know which technologies and platforms will ultimately flourish and which will fade into oblivion, but he does know this: “Everything has to adapt in some way.”

Changing face of journalism and PR
October 6, 2008, 12:21 pm
Filed under: Online publishing, Social Media | Tags: , , ,

There’s no doubt that PR and journalism are linked, therefore any changes in the media landscape would affect the PR practice also.

Mequoda recently had a post on how to hire a kickass online editor… good insights into a different pool of editors that PR folks will soon have to deal with:

9 personality traits of the perfect Online Managing Editor that can write great content, sell your products, and create buzz about your brand (yes, it’s only one job)

Ten years ago, marketers were responsible for positioning products to sell, while editors were focused on producing great content. Online, the two are one in the same. You can’t be a profitable online business if no one finds your content or is enticed to buy your products. This is why we say that every editor must also be a marketer.

But there are plenty of other traits that make up an Online Managing Editor superstar. Besides the classic skills like their attention to detail, strong grammar, project management and creativity, there are less obvious personality traits you need to think about.

First let’s talk about the personalities that don’t fit the kick-ass Online Managing Editor description:

The “Print Guy/Girl”: A strong print portfolio doesn’t transfer online as easily as you might think. Print editors don’t need to think about SEO or selling anything. Your Online Managing Editor needs to write every article with both of these things in mind.

The Casual 9-5er: In online publishing, nothing is 9-5 anymore. Business hours don’t close, just like your website doesn’t close. When sudden news arrives that is detrimental to your audience, you need someone who not only is available, but also is willing to go the extra mile in order to post the content and satisfy your audience.

The Ego-Centric Journalist: A journalist over-confident in his work is less likely to adapt to your style guide. Just the same, when your style guide changes or your company starts moving forward in new directions, your Online Managing Editor should embrace it, not resent it.

The Disciplinarian: Someone who reminds you of what their job entails and what they “won’t do” is not a superstar of anything. Online publishing is an ever-changing platform. Someone who joins your team in the fall, will likely be doing something slightly different by the springtime or summer. Adaptability to change is key.

On the other hand, here are the most desirable traits you will find in a kick-ass Online Managing Editor :

The Casual Marketer: Some editors just have marketing blood in them, and some need to be trained. Either way, an Online Managing Editor with copywriting experience or at least a background in information marketing will understand the relevance between great content and revenue potential.

The Go-Getter: Your Online Managing Editor should enthusiastically reach out to other Online Managing Editors and be able to find mutually beneficial relationships. Exchanging promotions, links and other trade-offs will expand your reach and build your audience. Your Online Managing Editor should understand that audience development is part of their job.

The People Person: Your Online Managing Editor is the voice of your articles and blogs and will be the personality of your brand. A strong desire to engage, both online and off, with your readers is a benefit that your audience will see right away.

The Sales-Driven Writer: This might depend on your compensation package, but an Online Managing Editor that is driven by sales is more likely to “write to sell”. A Online Managing Editor that will not accept bonuses dependent on how much they sell is not confident in their ability to do it.

The Social Media Junkie: The more in touch with social media your Online Managing Editor is, the more likely that folks in that space will trust their content, thus the more likely they will be to link to it and recommend it to others.

Question here. Larry Weber described the future of the marketing communications department in his book Marketing to the Social Web, with roles defined by paid and unpaid media. If PR has traditionally influenced unpaid media as a credible messenger to the masses, how then should PR deal with the marketing and sales-driven online editors that publishers should now be hiring?