Media round-up – April 19, 2005

 Reports that the traditional media are in their final days are somewhat misleading if the New York Times’ latest figures are anything to go by. had over 555 million pageviews in March, an increase of 17% year-on-year with 15 million unique visitors to the site in March 2005, an increase of 10% over the same period in 2004.

Their RSS figures also make interesting reading:

“’s RSS feeds generated 5.9 million pageviews on the site in March, which represents a 342% increase year over year and a 39% increase from February’s 4.3 million pageviews. The sections that were most popular among RSS feeds included: Washington and Business. The feeds have been available since February 2002.”


 Jim Horton points to an Associated Press story on how the newspaper publishers are focusing in on how best to take advantage of the Internet.

“Publishers who successfully navigate the transition will be pleased with the payoff, Schneider predicted. The Internet is “hugely profitable,” she said. “The revenue that comes online goes disproportionately to the bottom line.”


 Andrew Smith recently gave a talk to the UK�s National Union of Journalists (NUJ) on how technology is going to change journalism, he provides a synopsis.

“What we can see as a general trend is that there are many, many more sources than there were. When I started at The Independent ten years ago in May 1995, the main sources of regular information were (in order of ascending importance) paper press releases, faxes, other newspapers, news wires, and the bloody Today program, which always seemed to set the agenda for the day. By the time I left, in December 2004, the sources were: 2 billion web sites, 200 emails per day, other newspapers, news wires and the sodding Today program. (I haven�t mentioned personal contacts in either list because I�m talking about regular sources – the stuff that newsdesks and hard-press daily hacks need to feed the tyrannical monster of the empty page.)

In that time things moved from my being one of only two email addresses on the newsroom floor (along with letters), having to use a dialup modem to collect my mail and thus blocking my phone, to one where everyone had broadband connections right on their desk.”


 Meanwhile the ever reliable Trevor Cook provides a compendium of some recent content that covers the whole (as Trevor mentions futile) ‘blog vs. journalism’ debate.


PR round-up – April 19, 2005

 Matt Smith at the SF Weekly awards  Jennifer Witherspoon – a PR practitioner with Environmental Defense – an honorary “2005 Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Public Relations”. Congratulations to Jennifer!



 Speaking of Pulitzer prize winners… Laurie Garrett laments the growing proportion of journalism undergraduates looking for a career in Public Relations.



 Richard Bailey wonders aloud why more in-house PR practitioners are blogging�



 Meanwhile, Jeremy Pepper kicks off the Cluelesstrain – I have to say it�s good to seem some strong opinions�



 Keith Jackson questions the differences between a journalist and a PR practitioner…



 There are many downsides of an international PR posting…. [really annoying free subscription required]



RSS… really simple stuff for PR…

 Fergus Burns at Nooked points to a post written by Nick Aster at SiliconValley Watcher on RSS for Dummies

“RSS is so great because it frees you from having to deal with slow-performing websites, flashing ads, poor site navigation and other hazards. You can have content sent to you instead, like a well-organized piece of email. Because an RSS reader can alert you to new entries, it’s great for following the news or finding out when your competitor has posted something new on their website.”


 Meanwhile an indication on the rude health and growth of RSS is the report from  the New York Times that the number of pageviews driven by RSS jumped by 342% year on year (see more in the media story above).


 David Berlind at ZDNet has a piece on the vexed question of how to measure RSS:

“At the very least, even with the technologies we have here at CNET Networks, I can tell how many people are subscribing.  But, absent of knowing how many people are listening, I�m not sure what that�s worth when you consider the fact that it�s so easy to subscribe and unlike with most newspapers, it�s free.”


 Elizabeth Albrycht points to some tips from Bulldog Reporter’s Media Relations Insider on getting RSS on your website.


 Finally, PR blogger Dee Rambeau of DVCO Technology was in touch to let me know that over fifty companies are currently in the process of deploying RSS feeds in their news rooms using PR Newswire’s MediaRoom service which is powered by Dee’s company.

PR Miscellany – April 18th 2005

More on lovely VNRs..

 Further to the story on VNRs below, a report from an investigation into the now infamous Armstrong Williams affair has found that senior education department officials showed poor judgement..


Blog relations..

 Shel Israel has posted an interesting story on how English bespoke tailor Thomas Mahon has been blogging and enjoying a significant business boom.  It also talks about how PR blogger David Parmet recently undertook a very successful New York media tour with Thomas.  


PR Content..

 Jeremy Pepper looks at how the essence of good Public Relations still depends on good content.



 Shel and Neville have release episode #24 of For Immediate Release, their excellent series of PR podcasts.


Eating one’s own dog food..

 Interesting story in the Philadelphia Business Journal on how PR firm FCF Schmidt as using PR and integrated marketing to boost their business. Now if only they could get rid of the Flash on their website…


FCC attacks the freedom of the press…. well not really….

Well it looks like the whole Video News Release (VNR) epidsode is set to run and run. 

News that the FCC has sent a notice to newscasters and producers of VNRs reminding them of their disclosure responsibilities, coupled with a recent Senate vote to prevent government agencies from funding ‘re-packaged news’ unless it contains clear notification that the content was funded by a federal agency has raised some concerns.

First up let me state that I am no expert on Video News Releases (VNRs) or on the FCC.  However, it seems to me that these actions are to be welcomed by anyone who values ethical practices and transparency.

As a consumer, I want to know that if I give a broadcaster my attention, that they make damn sure they disclose if a news story is including paid-for content in the same way the print media are supposed to flag advetorial. I don’t believe any organization or individual has the right to have their opinions broadcast as de-facto news without such a disclaimer.

However, while this all makes perfect sense to me, some others don’t agree.

Timothy Karr who is a campaign director at Free Press (‘a nonpartisan organization working to involve the public in media policymaking and to craft policies for a more democratic media system’) and has a blog call Media Citizen, was in contact to tell me that VNR producer D S Simon is completely against the idea.

In a press release, D S Simon railed that:

“Misdeeds by PR Firms and government PR people are to blame for yesterday’s FCC Public Notice on sponsorship identification rules of Video News Releases (VNRs), and it could have a chilling effect on freedom of the press.”

Douglas Simon, CEO of the company continued:

“While misdeeds by PR people (including government PR people) should be cracked down upon, I am concerned with government efforts to control the content of news programs. The notice points out that this disclosure is required on “controversial” stories not just VNRs and could limit the media’s right to quote whistleblowers or rely on unnamed sources–a significant blow for press freedom.”


Read that again.

So forcing organizations to disclose the source of a VNR being used in a television program is affecting free speech and could limit the media’s right to quote whistleblowers?

Reality check.  How in hell can they make that leap?

Last time I checked, it wasn’t whistleblowers who were peddling biased VNRs at the unsuspecting public. No.  The purveyors of VNRs and the broadcasters that run them as editorial content have misled their audience and in my opinion it’s right that this content should be clearly labelled.

I understand D S Simon’s need to protect their business but this message wasn’t thought through, just like all the best VNRs it’s missing that essential ingredient: credibility. 

It is interesting to note that in the recent PR Opinions survey, VNRs where listed as one of the major issues harming the image or Public Relations.  It that’s true then we, as a profession, should welcome better disclosure. VNR’s can provide an organization’s opinions on a given topic, they probably serve a useful purpose, but they should be clearly labelled.  After all, if the VNR is so effective, I’m sure the disclosure won’t be a problem….

As always I welcome your comments and thoughts..

It's the media Jim, but not as we know it?

Like many people. I am becoming increasingly bored with the concept of the ‘new new thing’ sweeping away all that went before.

I sometimes wonder if people were paying attention to the whole Internet bust episode.

Change is inevitable, but how change takes place and how it affects what’s gone before is never certain. As soon as I read anything along the lines of “blah is dead”, I switch off because my credibility sensor is ringing.

The future of the media has been the focus of much debate since the Internet moved mainstream (ten years ago).  This focus has been further honed with the advent of new tools such as blogging.

Don’t get me wrong, change is good and discussing and understanding how the media will change is essential for every single PR practitioner whether they’re involved in media relations or not.

However, the media shares a common trait with PR, resistance to change.  The publishers haven’t put a lot of thought into how their organizations will evolve to bring the best elements of their traditional business and merge those elements with new online techniques.  This reluctance is fast becoming irrelevant as they are being forced to make these changes in any case.

I don’t share the view that the media is “dead”.  That’s just unrealistic.  The media is an important part of society and will remain so.  But they are going to have to examine their business and start to think about how they can take advantage of the potential of the Internet – not the threats. They have a fantasic opportunity to merge the online and offline worlds.

Editor and Publisher has a very interesting report on a talk given by media mogul Rupert Murdoch at the American Society of Newspaper Editors conference earlier this week.  In the speech Murdoch calls on newspapers to embrace not fear the Internet.

“Unless we awaken to these changes, we will as an industry be relegated to the status of also-rans,” Murdoch said. “There is an opportunity to improve our journalism and expand our reach. Not one newspaper in this room lacks a Web site, but how many of us can say we are taking maximum advantage of our Web sites?”

There is no doubt they are going to have to change, but disapear?  Do people really think that the only place we’ll find news and opinions is Google News’ archive of press releases and blogs? C’mon everybody, get a grip.

Instead of the usual Internet doomsday scenarios let’s bring some realism to the debate.  It’s an interesting debate on its own without any of the hyperbole.


  • CNET‘s Molly Wood gives her views on “Big Media”
  • Thanks to Trevor Jonas over at Bite PR‘s blog for the Murdoch link.

PR Miscellany – April 13, 2005

To Embargo or not to Embargo:

Andrew Smith points to an interesting story about a broken PR embargo.  Seemingly the Financial Times (FT) broke an embrago for an announcement from the World Bank. The embargo is a mutual PR-media tool where the media get time to write up a story so they can run it as the news breaks.  From a PR perspective obviously it provides a means of getting the media interested in an upcoming story.  However, as Andrew points out, there’s no legal barriers to stop the journalist running with the story ahead of the launch date – it happens all the time.

So how as the World Bank responded to the broken embargo?  It has banned the FT from their online briefing center for six months….



Andy Lark has made his presentation on measurement from the Media Relations 2005 Conference available online.



iPressroom have made a number of interviews with various PR and media pros available as podcasts [Registration Required].

Meanwhile, Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson have released PR Podcast #23  and a bonus podcast on open source marketing with James Cherkoff and Johnnie Moore.


Country PR:

EurActiv takes a brief look at how Turkey is using PR in an effort to increase its chances of joining the European Union.


PR Thai Style:

Interesting article from the Bangkok Post looking at the winners of a recent competition for PR students in Thailand.