Traditional media, ghosts, online friends and no comment…

Well a month has passed since I arrived in the United States. Here is a meek attempt at a catch up.  You may find some interesting stuff here.

America’s traditional media challenges continue

In case you missed it, the Pew Research Center has published the 2009 edition of their “State of the News Media” an analysis on American journalism.  The findings present a challenging environment for traditional media.

Perhaps least noticed yet most important, the audience migration to the Internet is now accelerating. The number of Americans who regularly go online for news, by one survey, jumped 19% in the last two years; in 2008 alone traffic to the top 50 news sites rose 27%. Yet it is now all but settled that advertising revenue—the model that financed journalism for the last century—will be inadequate to do so in this one. Growing by a third annually just two years ago, online ad revenue to news websites now appears to be flattening; in newspapers it is declining.

The report is a comprehensive look at newspapers, magazines, television, radio etc.  I plan to review this in some depth…

<Supplemental – TechCrunch reports that the US Newspaper industry lost $7.5 Billion in advertising revenues in 2008 – still $37 billion though!>


The problem with ghost writing

This brought a smile to my face.  Marketing 101 if you’re going to ghost write something whether it’s an op-ed, a blog, or a tweet, let the “author” know about it.  Doh. <Hat tip to Jim Horton>


Grooming your spokespeople – how many online friends do they have?

Andrew Smith reports a journalist using LinkedIn to check the credibility of a spokesperson.  Nothing too surprising there, however how many of us are actively managing our spokespeople’s SEO?  Very few I imagine.


The art (or not) of attribution

This is a great article by Clark Hoyt in the New York Times.

It would be wrong, however, to lay all of the blame with the sources. News organizations are sometimes too eager to pounce on misstatements and missteps, leaving those they cover understandably wary. Credibility runs both ways.

Shocking! PR & Journalists giving out, awards, e-books, Olde Media, and explaining to your mother what you do for a living…


Just catching up on my lazy RSS reading.  You probably won’t be surprised to hear that there’s a lot of PR blogging about Twitter, from how you can become an expert, to how you can measure it etc. etc. etc.

I plan to skip it for the moment if that’s OK. Well I plan to skip it anyway actually. :-)

So, here, in no particular order at all, are some of the PR tidbits that I thought were worth sharing… (that don’t talk about Twitter directly)

PRs overcharge journalists shocker

Andrew Smith provides The Guardian’s Charles Arthur with 10 things to consider about the tech PR industry following Charles’ post concerning how PR people treat journalists like car companies treat parts suppliers. :-)

Every time someone like Charles bemoans the “did you get my press release” tactic, PRs rush to decry the practice: “Oh no, we don’t do that”. Then who the bloody hell is then? It clearly continues at a significant enough rate to remain an issue for journalists across the board.

It made me laugh anyway.

There’s life in the old media yet

There’s some interesting results from a survey conducted by Ketchum and USC Annenberg Strategic Public Relations Center and reported by eMarketer, which found that while online media usage continues to grow, traditional media consumption is stabilizing in the US. [Hat tip to Simon Wakeman]

Media Used by US Internet Users, 2006-2008 (% of respondents)

Read the eMarketer report here.

Trust me I’m a practitioner

Piaras Kelly has published the latest Edelman Trust Barometer for Ireland.  No surprise that trust is falling for the media, government and business (although Technology and Biotech continued to be the most trusted industries).  Trust in traditional media has fallen but it still outstrips online sources on this cold Emerald isle.

David Armano has another take on trust :-)



Nothing beats face-to-face communication

Jason Falls has an interesting post about how there are limits to how far you can go with social media alone.  I found the link via Bill Sledzik who writes that we shouldn’t forget the most effective form of communication is still face-to-face.

And the winner is…

Here is something that I had missed but found courtesy of Dan York.  It appears that Mr. Neville Hobson has won the 2009 IABC Chairman’s Award.  Congratulations to Neville!

What is it you do again?

Richard Laermer pens a thoughtful post of what PR actually is. I know how he feels, my mother still can’t grasp this “career” and I don’t think the advent of Twitter and Facebook is going to make the challenge any easier.

A(nother) book on social media marketing :-)

Todd Defren has released a collection of his “best thinking” from the past five years on social media marketing.

Be careful what you wish for

The doom and gloom around the failing global economic climate continues to gather pace and with news that the Tribune Company (home of the L.A. Times and the Chicago Cubs among others) has filed for bankruptcy with a debt of (cough) $12 Billion it appears that the media industry has now moved front and centre with the car makers.

This will all be ‘grist to the mill’ for the social media ‘angels of death’ no doubt, but we should really be very careful what we wish for.

Andrew Sullivan had a thoughtful piece in the UK Sunday Times at the weekend looking at the rise of social media and the issues facing traditional media:

The terrifying problem is that a one-man blog cannot begin to do the necessary labour-intensive, skilled reporting that a good newspaper sponsors and pioneers. A world in which reporting becomes even more minimal and opinion gets even more vacuous and unending is not a healthy one for a democracy.

This is exactly the issue.  Trusting blogs, Twitter and Social networks to drive the news agenda is an appalling vista. (I don’t need any wisecracks on that one folks… no seriously :-) )

We need a strong media, because the media serves an incredibly important and useful purpose for society. While these are clearly challenging times, I don’t actually believe that the demise of traditional media is as rapid as the evangelists of doom would have you believe. 

We are seeing many media houses evolving and building new business models.  I’m not sure that consumers want to have to gather their own news.

Of course there are some fabulous writers online and I’d expect more to emerge, but there’s also a lot of myopic twaddle being peddled online by self-styled, self-important “experts”.

I don’t think anyone wants that to replace “traditional” media.

Well I don’t.

Can you stop taking credit for everything?

So to get you all up to speed on the subject of this post (especially those living outside the UK), two “comedians” on the BBC have gotten into hot water for a prank call (in poor taste) on a radio show.

CaptureInitially there were a small number of listener complaints but some UK newspapers (potentially with an axe to grind) wouldn’t let the issue drop and their continuous coverage of the issue brought matters to a head. 

Subsequently Russell Brand has resigned and Jonathan Ross has been suspended.

Listening to the analysis of the snafu as it developed – and the role the national press played – the thought occurred to me how long would it be before the usual suspects started claiming that in a Trent Lott-like development somehow social media has caused the issue to come to a head.

It didn’t take long.

People are now claiming that social media was central to the whole affair. 

Eh not it wasn’t.

This need to justify social media’s central role in everything that happens, is at best unappealing.

The world is a crazy, mixed up place. It’s far more complex that many people seem willing to accept, which is why the simplistic and naïve view of social media being the death knell of traditional media (and everything else that pre-dates 2002) is misguided.

For the immediate future we’ll see social media and traditional media living alongside side each other, sometimes operating independently, sometimes together.

But let’s be grown up and stop trying to give credit where it’s not due.

There’s enough hype out there already…


If someone advanced the argument that the traditional media got this issue into the mainstream and that social media fanned the flames by providing access to the footage in the studio and fostered online debate, I’d absolutely buy that. But then that’s all about the integration of traditional and new media.  That’s what we’re talking about :-)

Social networks for PR and media, online video, future of news, blog product reviews and web 2.0.. what’s that all about?

Rex Riepe was in touch about the launch of a new social network for PR people and journalists called IvyLee. From the site:

IvyLees seeks to revolutionize the way PR professionals and journalists interact. The site provides a tool-based social network at no cost, an exciting alternative to traditional media tools. Members can distribute and receive news from any industry at their own convenience by sending news releases, pitching story ideas, building media lists, creating association pages, and inviting other users to continue expanding their personal network. University of Central Florida alumni Rex Riepe and Greg Allard established the site in 2008.

It’ll be interesting to see if the poor downtrodden journalists wish to network with their PR colleagues :-)

Douglas Simon of D S Simon Productions Inc was in also touch about a survey they’ve published on “Web Influencers”. You can view a video from Douglas on the survey here (registration required).

Is this the future of news? It’s an interesting post from Mr. Rubel.  It’s certainly interesting and I’m sure is something that the avid online media consumer will like, but the question is: Does this stuff all require too much work by the casual user/consumer? I don’t know, but I’d like to know.

Speaking of the future, is this the product review model of the future? FuelMyBlog is a a little confusing, it’s a kind of social media network for bloggers that also offers the opportunity for registered bloggers to review products. [Via Eoin Kennedy.]

Finally, a very interesting post about Web 2.0 written by Dennis Howlett posted on Chris Brogan’s blog via Peter Himler – if you can follow that. It’s a balanced piece calling for people to start demonstrating real, tangible and most importantly understandable benefits.

I believe the biggest barrier though has come in the use of terms and language that simply don’t resonate with business. In my social psychologist trained mind, the term ’social media,’ a cornerstone of web 2.0, is one of the most egregious abuses of a term I’ve seen since the early days of ERP. After three years of listening to definitions of the term I can guarantee that 99% of the press releases I see are exactly the same as those I would have received 5, 10 or even 20 years ago. They’re still dopey, riddled with double speak and wrung dry of useful content. So where’s the value in all this socmed stuff? Show me how customer service has radically improved as a result of applying web 2.0/social media services? Where are those most forward of technology adopters – banks – in all this? What about the main consulting groups that drive adoption inside big business? Heck, I’ve got them calling me up – so you know it’s got to be bad.

PR: Transparency Behind the Scenes

In this era of camera phones, small video recorders (and in this case a TV camera), we’re seeing more and more “exposés” of PR handlers before and after media interviews.

As I’ve said before, in my experience this video isn’t a typical media engagement and perhaps videos such as this will change the engagement model.  One thing is for sure, while you can understand their desire to ensure their “client” is properly represented I don’t think this reflects well on those involved. [Greenhouse warning :-)]

In this new era of always-on, we all need to think about the image we portray online and offline.

Would you like to be on YouTube? :-)

Thanks to MyRagan for the link.

PR firms are bad, your personal brand, crisis communications, Apple the best at PR and how Dell is using social media….


Greetings, it’s been quiet for a week which of course means my life hasn’t been… Here’s some tidbits I found waiting in my RSS reader….


Jason Calacanis offers some advice to start-ups on how to get good PR: fire the PR agency. Mmmm. While the posts does offer some good advice, and some common sense, I don’t buy the message. As usual with blogs we’re dealing with sweeping generalizations. There’s a lot of good reasons why companies of all sizes engage Public Relations agencies. His post doesn’t change those in my mind.   Todd Defren and Morgan McLintic offer a defense. [Bonus link: Todd has a link to some videos on the changing delivery of news and information].



And you know you should always kick the dog when it’s down, so from Richard Bailey I read that Guy Kingston in the UK has launched a search for Britain’s worst Public Relations agent.  I’ve a feeling that’s one PR award ceremony that won’t have the table bookings flooding in. He’s also published his nine signs of a bad PR agent including: they demand to be paid by the hour rather than quote for a job; they do not set specific objectives; they start doing their own thing rather than what you asked them to do; they boast about big-name contacts and they blame the client when things go wrong.  You can read all nine at his site.



Whatever the merits of the changes we’re seeing online.  One of the things that has changed is the important of your online brand.  What do people find when they search for your name online – particularly if you have a particularly popular name (popular now, not common :-) ).  Brian Solis has a two part post on the the issue here and here.



The PR Week blog competition enters the final eight. Some expected finalists and some that frankly are a bit of a surprise.



Kami Huyse shares her presentation on savvy communication at the time of crisis and her 3 Rs of Crisis Management: Research, Response, and Recovery. Kami also has a great post on building quality relationships online.



Next Fifteen’s Tim Dyson ran a poll on his blog to find out who his readers think does the best tech PR. The answer? Nor surprisingly Apple comes out on top.



Neville Hobson has an interesting video interview with Andy Lark of Dell discussing how they are using social media.

Ireland: Interview with Vincent Browne

Marketing magazine has an interesting one-to-one with Vincent Browne covering all the areas (and media outlets) you’d expect ref: RTÉ, Independent News and Media, TV3, Village and the Sunday Tribune.

I use the internet a lot. It’s changed journalism significantly, in ways that haven’t been properly appreciated. Because of the difficulties there used to be in getting access to information, there had be investigative journalism, which relied mainly on getting information from people rather than from documents.

Now, the vast amount of documents that are available through official government sites is just enormous. It’s a question of making sense of those and knowing where to find them and what to find. The documents are far more reliable than people. I’m not saying people necessarily tell lies but naturally that memories and perceptions can be faulty.

The challenge of journalism now is making sense of this vast amount of information available on the internet. That, to a large extent, is what journalism has turned into. Of course, you still get tip offs from people on matters of importance.

<via Cian Ginty>

The Irish Times goes free online

According to today’s newspaper (yes folks, that’s the paper pulp and print version) on Monday, The Irish Times will re-launch the free online version of the paper at

The newspaper’s current home will become a free Ireland portal.

You’ll still need a subscription for premium services (e.g. access to the newspapers’ archives) but the daily content will be free.

The Irish Times Logo

Some additional commentary from Cian Ginty and Damien Mulley.