What can professional journalists bring to the table – part #2


Excellent crowd sourcing gave Expressen journalist a story in a few minutes. Done and published. Added value to their readers. But next time…? I doubt.
I happened to be at  Kungliga Dramaten in Stockholm tonight, to enjoy the theater production “Tre herrars tjänare” with the protagonist Morgan Alling. Great Show… until Morgan suddenly run off the stage to vomit. Well we didn’t know until someone told us. A man from the back stage told the audience that Morgan felt a bit dizzy and it was time for a short pause.But the pause became for quite a while and later people in charge informed us that the show has to be stopped due to Morgans illness. Some said that he went to hospital for examination.Shit happens. But not the end of the story…
I checked in at Foursquare and told my network about the drama. And some of them wonder what’s happening. One of them was a friend and former Expressen employed, who also send me a sms.
He forwarded the tweet to his former colleagues at Expressen, who immediately tried to reach me, including over phone. A few minutes later he got my side of the story. As far as I could understand, he (or her ? because the story in Expressen were written by Marit Sundberg) also get in touch with Dramaten’s press officer, Christina Bjerkander, and got some info and statements from her. The story became short and pretty pointless, but maybe not for their readers?
I’ve got some reflections regarding this specific drama, though.
I guess things like this happens all the time, right? People is sharing their experiences and stories with their friends. A lots of journalists getting better and better at crowd sourcing, after all. They might not be so lazy as the rumour says (personally I’ve never said that journalists are lazy, maybe because I worked my as off as journalist once upon a time). And social media are a must for journalist these days to keep up with the latest.
But – and this is a big BUT –  in the long term I do think journalists in general must add more value than this journalist did in her article, otherwise she’s out of there. In the long term, she won’t be able to compete with the crowd when it comes to deliver stories. When things like this happens, people will tell their side of the story, for an example on twitter with the hashtag #morganalling. That will include the press officer Christina Bjerkander, and even the back stage people, maybe even Morgan himself, on his blog and his Twitter? Because all the info that can be shared – will be shared.  Information that can be digital – will be digital.  Influence indexes and ranking, might edit the story. Your personal magazine will package and distribute it.

This time – it didn’t happened (very few added info to #morgonalling). Maybe not even tomorrow. But sooner or later it will. And by then journalists like Marit Sundberg will got hard time.

What can professional journalists bring to the table?


As citizens we don’t need “journalists”, we need journalism. And journalism is no longer a profession, it’s an activity. An activity that millions of engaged citizens seems to take care of in a much greater extent than ever before. Now days, with help of thousands of web services for researching, editing, packaging, publishing, and distributing.

Still there is people within the industry that claim for the need of professional journalism, among other things, to sustain democracy. If so, I wonder why none is willing to pay for it? Neither consumers nor advertisers or government, as far as I can understand?

As citizens, we would like to know what’s going on, keep ourselves informed. We would like to hear about the latest in the topics we’re interested in. We would like the truth from sources we can rely on. We would like the overview and the details. We want the hard core facts combined with vivid descriptions. And so on.

But we want to express ourselves, as well. Especially in subjects we are engaged and interested in and masters. But we also want share experiences and happenings that just cross our ways or minds, stories we think matters for the neighborhood.

As you well know, the journalists have always been the middleman to meet our needs in this matter, because they’ve been the only ones that got the exclusive opportunities to investigate, refine, edit, produce and distribute stories. And their media have become the gatekeeper or the bottle neck as communication channels. To such an extent that we’ve been prepared (or forced) to pay for it. As consumers or advertisers, each in his special way. But the willingness to pay decreases.

Now days, journalism is a fabulous mix of millions of citizens sharing their experiences and knowledge with each others, via thousands of web services and devices that take care of editing, refining, publishing, packaging and distributing parts, as well. Sometimes in collaboration with professional journalists and media. But mostly not.

The question is what the professional journalists really can bring to the table? And who’s willing to pay for it? No light in the tunnel, what I can see. The news business seems to be broken. And “the owner of the media fumbles in the dark” as Fredrik Strömberg and Jonas Nordling says in Mediavärlden (in Swedish)

A few weeks ago I attend to Berlingske Media international conference about – What Professional Journalism Means for Democracy – as a speaker.

Lisbeth Knudsen, the Chairman of The Berlingske Foundation, wrote in the invitation letter:

For decades, professional journalism has played an important role in our democracies. It still does. But the traditional commercial media business is challenged in its traditional publishing role. The old business model is dead, and the new ones are still not profitable enough to support the same number of professional journalists that the old model could finance.

Being the DNA of our democracy as public watchdogs and creators of the local and national forums for debates, the traditional media business needs to find new ways of financing the expensive part of their business: producing original, investigative, indept journalism.

Can we generate a political debate, political awareness and political involvement on news snacks, news copies and entertainment media?

In Denmark newspapers provide 70% of all original journalism reporting. What are the consequences for our democracy, if professional journalism continues to shrink?

Does it matter at all? How important is quality journalism to our society? Can companies, individuals, institutions, governments, WikiLeaks and others inform us directly? Does our democracy need professional journalistic filtering?

With speakers like Dan Gillmor, Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, Anne McElvoy – the discussion became truly hot. But we never agreed on whether professional journalists are needed or not.

From my point of view, I’ve hard to believe that Denmark’s newspaper is providing 70% of all original journalism reporting. And I don’t think the traditional media is the DNA of our democracy as public watchdogs. I do think, though, that the wisdom of the crowd are the “new watchdogs”. Or as the New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen says: “the more people who participate in the press, the stronger it will be.

One of millions great example of that is Maria Hägglöfs trip with the subway a couple of days ago.The wagon she were sitting in caught fire, and people got scared. She began to report from the scene; shooting photos and videos, writing tweets, etc.

After some time professional journalists of all kind found her tweets and contacted her. And the story got coverage all over.

No big deal, just crowd source that it use to be, right? But what did surprise Maria was that none of these professional journalists actually brought anything new to the table. Maria wrote in her blog post:

“I would say that if journalists today weren’t so incredibly lazy, if they actually strive to do something more than what I’ve already done….”
“… today’s journalists often don’t do more than what citizens have already done via Twitter.”

Ironically, this happening took place on her way to one of the first unconferences about journalism in Sweden, where one of the topics were about who would pay for the  “professional journalism”.

What happens when journalism is everywhere?” does Mathew Ingram wonder in his post in Gigaom. He writes:

“We are beginning to find out. And while it may be a frightening prospect if you are a traditional media company, there is a lot to be optimistic about if you are just interested in the news. A world where everyone is a journalist may be a bit more chaotic and a bit more complicated than the one we are used to, but it will also be a bit more free, and that is clearly a good thing.” Because: “Freedom of the press becomes a lot more important when everyone is the press — or rather, when the internet itself becomes the press.”

To be continued…

To add… a slice of media history 😉

How Tumblr is changing the PR industry


Well the original title from the Read Write Web is “How Tumblr is changing journalism”. But it doesn’t really matters. I think content curation activites, and related tools for that, already has, or for sure will change, the way we share stories with each other, as information junkies, as journalists. as PR communicators, as people.

A few month ago I wrote a post about “Why Marketers Should Care About Content Curation”. As a matter of fact I didn’t write it. I just curated another post by Derek Edmond from Search Engine Land with a similar headline “Why B2B Search Marketers Should Care About Content Curation”. And he wrote it from a SEO perspective:

“B2B search engine marketers realize new content creation is a critical tactic in an effective SEO strategy. But it is also realized, as illustrated in the Marketingsherpa chart below, the level of effort required to successfully develop new content may be significant, in comparison to other tactics. Therefore, with limited resources and immediate lead generation goals, it is not surprising when we find that new content generation falls behind other SEO initiatives on the priority list. Enter content curation. While not a substitute for new development, content curation can help B2B organizations provide important information to their market.”

Since Google launched the Panda I don’t know If this matters anymore? Because as you might know, Google Panda is the “filter designed by Google to spot low-quality content”, as Catch Pope from the Australien “Curated Content Agency” put it.

If you’re not sure what “low-quality content” is, maybe Amit Singhal, Google’s head of search, explanation on the official Google blog, make sense? He says:

“Below are some questions that one could use to assess the “quality” of a page or an article. These are the kinds of questions we ask ourselves as we write algorithms that attempt to assess site quality. Think of it as our take at encoding what we think our users want.

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  • Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  • Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  • Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  • Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  • Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  • Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • How much quality control is done on content?
  • Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  • Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
  • Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
  • Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
  • Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
  • Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
  • Would users complain when they see pages from this site?”

And as you might see, some of these bullets seems to criticize the curated content; or at least some of the curated content seems to be “low-quality content”. And Google might punish your site for that, seen from a SEO perspective? But… I still think marketers (and others) should care about content curation, because that’s a great way to share interesting stories etc with your stakeholders, the people you care about. And not to forget – it’s not just about sharing, it’s about contribution and reflections as well.

Therefore I was not surprised when Richard MacManus recently wrote the article “How Tumblr is changing journalism” for Read Write Web.

As you might know Tumblr is a super easy and smooth blogging tool, but also a sharing tool, or a content curation tool. Becuase that’s pretty much how people are using it. Tumblr themselves says the tool “lets you effortlessly share anything”.

And I don’t know if the curation trend is one of the reasons why Tumblr, with it’s 12 billion page views per month, just hit knockout on WordPress, which is not a curation tool?

So I think it was just a question of time before the journalists, who are already experts on rewrites, would start using the tool (or others) “to power” their news websites, as Richard MacManus put it.

He mention the Tumblr-powered news service, ShortFormBlog, as an example.

“The concept behind ShortFormBlog is very simple: to publish really short posts throughout the day. The site publishes over 200 posts per week, an average of about 30 per day.”

Pretty successful as far as I know.

So now we’re waiting for the trend to really take off in marketers and PR staff’s newsroom.

As a matter of fact, IBM were using Tumblr when they already in November, 2008, launched the Smarter Planet project to help people grasp IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative. The site “uses frequently updated, “microblogging” entries to illustrate how the Smarter Planet vision is unfolding across IBM and across the world.”

Mark won’t organize the entire web – the crowd will


Nielsen just released their Social Media Report Q3 2011. The social media’s popularity continues to grow rapidly from an US perspective, connecting people with just about everything they watch and buy. And the Americans spend more time on Facebook than they do on any other U.S. website! Scary? Take it easy, Mark won’t organize the entire web – the crowd will.

Vinny Lingham, Entrepreneur & Search Engine Marketer, wrote the 13th of Juni 2007 that “Facebook is the new internet”. He said:

“I am constantly astounded by what FaceBook is doing – they just get it! Yahoo should have really paid the $2bn they asked for them last year – they’re probably worth $5bn by now! If FaceBook becomes another Google – I think everyone at Yahoo will probably revolt!
I personally think that MySpace sucks – and they are a bunch of Generation W’s that just don’t understand what the web is about! FaceBook will overtake MySpace globally well within 18 months – that’s my prediction!”

He was probably not the first guy that realized that something big was going on. But he was one of them. And I remember I did laugh at his headline by then. Maybe I shouldn’t. I knew that Vinny didn’t mean exactly that. Nor did Mark Zuckerberg when I once met him during an early FOWA conference in London, even though he already had some delusions of grandeur.

But – seriously – what’s going on – really?

Nielsen just released their Social Media Report Q3 2011, which shows that “the Social networks and blogs continue to dominate Americans’ time online, now accounting for nearly a quarter of total time spent on the Internet. In the U.S., social networks and blogs reach nearly 80 percent of active U.S. Internet users and represent the majority of Americans’ time online. Americans spend more time on Facebook than they do on any other U.S. website.”


Since Vinny’s post, hundreds of engaged people has speculated if Facebook is the new Internet or not.

From my point of view, I still don’t think that Facebook will become the new Internet, if you may call it so, but what I do understand is that people are social, and we love services that treat us like that, with all of our social needs and wants. It is beyond any reasonable doubt that Mark Zuckerberg has succeeded in doing just that – to provide social services for social people. And it is becoming increasingly clear that other web services haven’t responded to our requests on that point.

Around that time when Vinny Lingham wrote that “Facebook is the new internet”, Jeff Jarvis wrote the historical quote from Mark, in the Guardian, when the “powerful newspaper publisher beseeched Mark Zuckerberg” in Davos “for advice on how he could build and own his community. The famously laconic Zuckerberg replied “You can’t.” Zuckerberg went on to explain that communities already exist and the question these magnates should ask instead is how they can help them to do what they want to do. Zuckerberg’s prescription was “elegant organisation”.”

So as long as no one else will organize the web to help people “to do what they want to do” on the Internet, maybe Facebook will continue to take lead on that. The question is how far they could go?

From my point of view – not so far. Facebook is and probably will be one of the most important network for socializing, and – yes – we might book our flight tickets there as well. But… The most likely scenario is that the whole world wide web will be “Facebookalized”. Facebook will work in symbiosis with the rest of the web and vice versa. Thousands of small web applications will permeate Facebook. And thousands of Facebook applications will permeate the entire web. “Like buttons”, “Sign up with Facebook”-features, are just a few examples. I think the web – the Internet – will be socialized, and we have to thank Mark for inspired lectured the rest of us to execute on that.

Mark won’t organize the whole web for us; the crowd will. But Mark is one of them. A true thought leader. Thank God (Mark) for that 🙂

And – no – this is video doesn’t show the entire life of Alex Droner, but it might show a tiny part of it.

Social Web continue to grow – the companies follows – without beeing social?


Check out the new stats and infographic from Search Enginge Journal. The web is getting more and more social. Rapidly. No wonder… after all we’re human beings who are pretty much social, right? Numbers of users and contributors are just booming. And companies are following.

But what’s their socializing status? Really? God knows.

71% of the companies (which?) are using Facebook, 59% are using Twitter, and 39% are using blogs in their “marketing”.

My experience though is that many of the companies are still using social media as another channel for their content. Take a look at their Facebook pages for an example. Some of the companies are just pushing their stories out, without listen, and then they’re counting the numbers of “likes” without answer the questions: Am I really committed to my audience? Am I engaged? Who is really engaged? If the likers never comment the companies updates or never contribute with anything to the wall. And vice versa… what’s left of the social part?

Let me refer to what Kevin Roberts, CEO World wide, Saatchi & Saatchi, says in his book “Lovemarks“:

“Forget the information Economy. Human attention has become our principal currency. Job number one for any marketer these days is competing for attention. Whoever you are. Wherever you are. But once you’ve captured that attention, you’ve got to show you deserve it.

The process really only has two steps – so why does everyone find it so hard? I think I’ts all because we obsess over the attention part and forget about why we need that attention in the first place…. We need the relationships.

Emotional connections with consumers have to be att the foundation of all our cool marketing moves and innovative tactics.So it’s time to stop racing after every new fad and focus on making consistent, emotional connections with customer and stakeholders. If you stand for nothing, you fall for everything.

The great journey from products to trademarks and from trademarks to brands is over. Trademarks are tablestakes. Brand are tablestakes. Both are useful in the quest for differentation and vital to survival, BUT they’re not winning game-breakers.

Today the stakes have reached a new high. The social fabric is spread more thinly than ever. People are looking for new, emotional connections. They’re looking for what they can love.”

Excel doomed as media relations manager tool


Social networking seems to be the best way to find, get in touch, and communicate with your buddies, no doubt about that. 750 million active users on Facebook, and recently a huge investment from Google to win the network battle, says something about that. Millions of discussion forums of all kind. People are truly connected to each other of thousands of reasons. And communities make perfectly sense for millions of people in millions of contexts. Not least professional. PR in particular. Communicators flock to networks, craving for likes and followers. Journalists as well. To meet their audience.

But what’s happening in the business of media relations in this amazing era of communication? Not much! An excel sheet seems to be the main tool for communicators, and journalists refer to their overloaded inboxes.

I had a great meeting with a PR communicator a few weeks ago. We were discussing the best way for her to find and organize her contacts. And not least get in touch and exchange experiences with them.
My prejudices became incorporated. She was working with an excel sheet. And as far as I’ve understood it is more of a rule than an exception. A wild guess says that 8 out of 10 of PR communicators are doing so.

Not the best media relations manager tool in the world - but the most common?

 

I recently run into a post on “The DIY PR blog – handle your own PR” which began with the sentence: “When you are doing your own PR it’s very important to have a system in place to track all of your pitching outreach efforts.” One of these “systems” was:

“Excel spreadsheet – Start an Excel spreadsheet media list to track all of your outreach efforts. You can have different tabs for each type of outlet – one for magazines, one for websites, one of local/regional media, etc. You could even set one up for editorial calendar postings that you find. Be sure to include the outlet, name, email, phone and any other relevant notes. Every time you communicate with someone make note of it in the “notes” column. Then, once a week or once a month (depending on timing of the outlet and your follow-up needs), go through each tab to be sure you are staying on top of it all.

The communicator I met said to me that’s exactly how she was dealing with media relations.

She said to me that she knew the most important journalists, and what they’re covering and writing about. She’s finding her contacts out of basic research of media. She’s making notes about their needs and wants in her sheet, and based on that she’s sharing her stories by phone and e-mail.

She said:
“As a matter of fact media relations isn’t much different from your personal relations; you’re trying to find out who you’d like to play with, and then start contribute with your life experiences based on what you’ve learned they and you have in common; your social objects.”

I said:
“Yeah, I agree, but you don’t organize your personal contacts in an excel sheet, right?

She started to laugh and said:
“Oh no… Facebook is taking care of that.”

We both realize that Excel isn’t primarily a communication tool. Not even assisted with an e-mail client.

So what would be the best place for communicators to keep and organize their most influential contacts like journalists etc? And vice versa.

Newswires like Cision? It says to be “the world’s largest database of media contacts with all of the information you need to uncover the influencers that matter”. Sounds great but the journalists (so called “target group”) are not engaged. Cision is not an engagement platform. It might even be a spam tool if used indiscriminately.
Facebook? Well, communicators (on behalf of their companies) might have a page and/or a group to meet and discuss with their audience (end customers, etc), but when it comes to media relations, they sometimes would like an exclusive exchange with one or a few of their journalist contacts. LinkedIn? Oh yes, that’s a great professional network. But hard to share content, and still linked to you personally.
Salesforce? It’s not a network on both terms, right? Hard to get a proper community with mutual exchange.
Google+? Maybe – we don’t know yet. Easy to synchronize with your G-mail contacts and create different circles of important people. But the communication is still widely open, and not content driven as the communicator often wants it to be.

And so on…

None of these and others seems to completely fit the communicators and journalists needs and wants when int comes to media relations?

What would you say about a network for journalists and communicators to exchange info and experiences with each other on both terms? I’m talking about a service that allows communicators to find their most influential people on the web, add them to their contacts lists, invite them to a network where they can organize them and communicate with them exclusively. Not least – a tool that allows journalists to find, follow, and send requests to their sources? A network based on the community that has been existing for many years, but still have great potential to flourish with new web service technologies.

How do your media relations look like, when it comes to find, organize and communicate with your contacts?

Please – feel free to respond to some questions in this survey. It just take a minute of your time, and I will send you the summary later on.