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 😉

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.”

Facebook vs Twitter as journalistic tool?


Since I wrote the posting below partly about the brand new Facebook page “Journalists on facebook” and finished that part with the sentence: “I’m pretty sure that many journalist now will take the oppertunity to use this possiblity, to get more out of their daily work.” There’s been a lot of buzz regarding Facebook vs Twitter as a journalistic tool.

Justin Osofsky, Director of Media Partnerships at Facebook, says that the page has been created: “to serve as an ongoing resource for the growing number of reporters using Facebook to find sources, interact with readers, and advance stories. And that “the Page will provide journalists with best practices for integrating the latest Facebook products with their work and connecting with the Facebook audience of more than 500 million people.

I believe he’s spot on, but… I do respect the critics. Among other I got an e-mail from Daniel at Newsy.com who recommended me to see the video about the topic Facebook vs Twitter as a journalist tool.

The news anchor Jim Flink at Newsy, says:
“So, could Facebook challenge Twitter in the battle for reporters’ hearts? One blogger says – probably not:
“Twitter allows you to order the account you follow into lists so you can have all the information about one subject on the same feed while Facebook imposes on you the feed of every journalists you will follow, no matter the subject they are working on or they are specialized in.”

Gigom’s Mathew Ingram suggests the company might have to alter its image a bit to make this work.
“…many users still likely think of Facebook as a place to socialize rather than be informed — a place to play games … not necessarily a place where journalists are active. Those things may not be mutually exclusive, but it’s going to take some work to make them feel like they belong together.”

I do agree. But my point of view is that both services has some left to prove to be kick ass tools for journalists, and their audience in particular.

I would say that the biggest headache right now for both this services, within this matter, is that most people has only one newsstream (or wall) for all their interests, topics, networks, etc (discussion in groups excluded). And most of the people is as a matter of fact interested in several topics and member of many communities. Do you really want the latest news from the revolution in Egypt on the same wall as where my cousins birthday party shows up? I don’t. And these lists feature is too… time-consuming. The same applies for Twitter. Ranking system, like Facebook Edgerank, might make the updates more relevant, but doesn’t solve this problem.

Personally, I love my Google RSS Reader with an extensive but careful selection of sources (social networks included)  in combination with Flipboard.

B t w – what happened to the service “LinkedIn for Journalists”? What I can see is pretty much no more… Or it ended up as a tiny group.  And LinkedIn Today…? Well – we won’t start our days with that kind of news aggregator, do we?

To be continued.

Communication a huge and confusing melting pot


Everybody in communication business talks about it everywhere! The new and ever-changing communication landscape has turned the media industry on its head. The confusion is now complete. Much of what we have learned and become accustomed to is no longer valid. This applies particularly to media, journalism, public relations, marketing, and sales. The professionals within each of these fields are either desperately holding on to their old identities, or are groping around for new ones.

The role of journalists is questioned. Previously clear concepts such as “journalist” and “journalism” have become blurred. The same goes for “media”. What is a media today? And “PR” … what is PR? It’s obviously something else today than it was yesterday. And what about “marketing”…

“Markets (and marketing) are conversations” as the Cluetrain Manifesto puts it. Conversations are based on relationships. Just like PR. Because PR’s is all about relationships, right? It’s all about relationships with both the market and those who influence it, including journalists. However, since all consumers now have access to almost exactly the same “tools” and methods as traditional journalists, it seems like the market has in some way also become the journalists. The market represents a long tail of new journalism and new media that perhaps has the greatest influence on a company’s market and might perhaps be their key opinion leaders. “Put the public back to public relations!” as Brian Solis put it long ago.

People have started to talk to each other in social media at the expense of, or sometimes in tune with, traditional media. They’re no longer writing letters to editors. They would rather publish their news ideas directly on the Web. Media consumption, and production, publishing, packaging and distribution in particular, have rapidly moved in to the social web. And both the PR and Marketing communicators are following, or are at least gradually beginning to do so.

As the market moved to the web, and the web has become social, marketing communication has become “social” too. Companies have started to talk directly with their market. And I mean “talk”, not pushing out information. Campaigns with no social component become fewer and fewer. “Monologue” ad banners, with decreasing CTR and increasing CPC, are becoming less acceptable. Google revolutionized with Adwords, Adsense and PPC. Press releases written by former journalists synchronized with Adwords and presented as text ads, turned things upside down.

Aftonbladet has been very successful with advertorials where only a small ad-mark distinguishes the ad from an article produced by journalists. This method is about as successful – and deceptive – as “product placement” in TV and film. That method has gone from small product elements in parts of a program to a complete sellout of the entire series or film. (In Sweden, think Channel 5’s Room Service and TV4’s Sick Sack.) But what can the television business do when the consumer just fast-forwards past the commercials, or worse still, prefers looking at user-generated TV like YouTube?

What will newspapers do when consumers ignore their banners? They will convert advertising into editorials. Or vice versa: they will charge for editorial features and charge companies to publish content on their platform, without involving any “investigative” journalism.

IDG calls their version of this “Vendor’s Voice”, a medium where companies publish their “editorial material” (it used to be called press information) directly on IDG.se and its related websites. The service is conceived and hosted by Mynewsdesk. It works pretty much like the Apple App Store; it is possible for any media to set up their “channel” (the media) on Mynewsdesk, promote it, and put a price on its use.

Essentially, when companies publish their information in their own newsrooms via Mynewsdesk, they can also easily select any relevant channels for the information in question. The service still has the internal working title “Sponsored Stories”, which today may seem a little funny when that is the exact same name Facebook uses for its new advertising program, where a company pays for people in its network to share information about that company with their own friends.

Isn’t that pretty much what PR communicators strive for? It’s in the form of an ad, but this type of advertising is simply bought communication – just like some PR seems to be – with the purpose to “create attention around ideas, goods and services, as well as affect and change people’s opinions, values or actions…”

But the press release… That’s information for the press, right? Or is it information that is now a commodity, often published in the media, directly and unabridged, much like the “sponsored stories”? Maybe it is information that can reach anyone that might find this information relevant. They might not be the press, but they are at least some kind of journalist, in the sense that they publish their own stories, often in same media as “real” journalists, in platforms created for user-generated content.

Everything goes round and round: side by side are readers, companies and journalists. All collaborate and compete for space and reach.

The causal relationship is as simple as it is complicated. People are social. People are using the Web. The Web has become social. People meet online. The exchange is rich and extensive. The crowd has forced the creation of great services for production, packaging, processing and distribution. These are exactly the same building blocks that have always been the foundation for traditional journalists and the media’s right to exist. Strong competition has emerged, but there is also some  interaction and collaboration.

People have opted in to social media at the expense of the traditional media. They rely on their own networks more and more, which has forced advertisers to find a place in social media too. Traditional ads are replaced by social and editorial versions that are designed to engage or become “friends” with your audience, talking to them as you would talk to friends.

The media are in the same boat and are becoming more social and advertorial. Users are invited to become part of both the ads and the editorials. UGC (user-generated content) is melded with CGC (company-generated content) and even JGC (journalist-generated content). Journalism goes from being a product to being a process characterized by “crowd-sourcing”, before ringing up the curtain on a particular report or story. As the newspaper Accent writes on their site:

“This is a collection of automated news monitoring that we use as editors. The idea is that even you, the reader, will see and have access to the unsorted stream of news that passes us on the editorial board. Please let us know if you find something important or interesting that you think we should pick up in our reporting. ”

This is similar to how companies today present their increasingly transparent and authentic communication in their own social media newsrooms, where the audience is invited to contribute their own experiences and opinions, and partly acts as a source of story ideas for journalists.

All in all, it’s a wonderful, fruitful, but oh-so-confusing melting pot.

Flera marknader = flera konton?


Idag skriver Fritjof Andersson, från “Social Business”, ett inlägg om “Varför ditt företag ska ha flera, nischade konton på Twitter”. Fritjof menar att “om du har ett nischat konto som ger intressenten just den information hen vill ha, rätt paketerad och vid intervall som intressenten gillar – då lyssnar hen. Om du har många oilka produkter eller verksamhetsområden och kommunicerar alla dem via samma konto till flera olika målgrupper så måste kunden själv filtrera informationen, vilket gör den till mindre intressant brus“.
Fritjof skriver att “om du till exempel följs på Twitter av en person som följer 2000 andra konton, men inte är med på den personens twitterlistor, då finns du inte för den personen. Om du däremot har ett nischat konto som ger personen exakt det hen vill ha så kanske, kanske du kvalar in till listan av konton som personen faktiskt lägger tid på att läsa“.

Mina erfarenhter är att ju mer du anpassar dina budskap efter din målgrupp desto mer jobb, men samtidigt desto större chans att målgruppen får den information de önskar. Var gränsen går kan bara du avgöra.

Det mesta bygger förstås på att du känner och förstår din målgrupp. När det gäller Twitter så kan du ju inte välja dina följeslagare. Men du kan ju med fördel välja ut din målgrupp bland såväl dina följeslagare och som alla twitteranvändare i stort. Du kan med fördel välja ut de följeslagare du finner intressanta, följa dem och lära känna dem, genom att engagera dig i det dem har att säga. Och du kan självklart också följa dem du finner intressanta trots att de inte följer dig, kanske i någon förhoppning om att de en dag också väljer att följa dig.

Däremot vill jag inte på rak arm säga att det alltid är “bättre” med fler konton än färre. Jag brukar säga att man får det man förtjänar. Väljer du att skriva om ett nischat ämne, på ett nischat språk, så kommer du med största sannolikhet attrahera en nischad målgrupp. Postar du få och ointressanta tweets, så kommer få att följa dig. Släpper du många ointressanta tweets så kommer ingen annan än din mamma att följa dig. Släpper du några intressanta tweets så kommer du få några följeslagare. Släpper du många intressanta tweets så blir de fler. Börjar du engagera dig i dina följeslagare och ge riktigt bra feedback, så kommer de snart börja älska dig, och du kommer få fler och fler följeslagare.

Är ditt företag verksam inom fler mer eller mindre nischade områden, på fler mer eller mindre nischade marknader, så kan företaget göra klokt i att “borra sig ner” i varje enskild marknad. Genom att tillsätta dedikerade twittrare som sakkunnigt och engagerat kommunicerar om exakt det ämne marknade är interesserad av på dess eget språk, både innehållsmässigt och språkligt. Kanske via flera olika konton. Det kommer förmodligen att ge massor, men också kosta massor.

På MyNewsdesk brottas vi lite med dessa frågor också. Till skillnad från Twitter så skiljer vi på konto och marknad. Vi har skapat förutsättningar för företag att administrera ett eller flera pressrum med ett och samma konto. Exempelvis så har Norwegian, med ett och samma konto, förlagt pressrum till fem olika länder (geografiska marknader) där de är verksamma. De har valt att jobba med för varje enskild marknad dedikerade presskontakter och anpassad information på marknaden språk. Exempelvis finsk information på finska från finsk presskontakt, dessutom taggad i finska geografiska regioner och ämnen. OSV.

Norwegian har skapat pressrum för fem olika marknader/länder.

Norwegians finska pressrum

Ett annat exempel är KGK, som valt att bryta ner sin kommunikation på varumärkesnivå, där man med ett och samma konto skapat pressrum för varje enskilt varumärke, men ändå visat att de ligger under moderbolaget KGK Holding. För varje varumärke har man en dedikerad presskontakt, bilder, pressmeddelanden, nyheter, osv.

KGK har skapat pressrum för varje enskilt varumärke - och knutit dessa till moderbolaget KGK Holdings eget pressrum.

Ett av KGK's varumärken - Hella - har fått ett eget pressrum med för målgruppen dedikerad information och presskontakt.

Båda dessa företag har ansträngt sig till det yttersta för att tillgodose sina målgruppers intressen vad det gäller skräddarsydd information och kommunikation. Vilket har kostat i tid och engagemang, men också givit mycket tillbaka.

Men vi har även många exempel på föreag som finns på många olika marknader, men ändå valt att jobba med ett “one size fits all”-koncept. Samma pressrum, pressmeddelanden, presskontakter, nyheter, bilder, osv, på samma språk för alla. Kostar inte så mycket men kanske heller inte ger så jättemycket tillbaka.

Exakt vilken strategi ditt företag ska jobba utifrån, kan bara ni själva avgöra.