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January 5th, 2016

The FTC Addresses Native Advertising Labeling

You might have missed it as you prepared for the holidays, but just before Christmas the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued updated guidance regarding native advertising. As native advertising becomes increasingly common, this is important to both the practitioners who develop it and the publishers who share it.

To recap the new guidance: The FTC has long worked to ensure that ads do not deceive, by either content or presentation. This is a valid concern; a recent study by content marketing firm Contently indicated that a majority of consumers struggle to distinguish sponsored content from editorial content — and about half of consumers (48%) report feeling “duped” when they realize that what they thought was a genuine article is actually an ad.

figure4x-2The updated guidance establishes that the FTC considers both advertisers and publishers responsible for clearly labeling native advertising: “ …advertisers are responsible for ensuring that native ads are identifiable as advertising before consumers arrive at the main advertising page. In addition, no matter how consumers arrive at advertising content, it must not mislead them about its commercial nature.”  (Emphases mine.)

Marketers have an obligation not only to clearly label their content as advertising, but also to work with publishers to ensure that the presentation of the content clearly indicates that it’s advertising. Brands and their agencies must make sure no reader could be unaware that a piece is paid placement; it is not solely the publisher’s obligation. As marketers, we need to be conscious of this responsibility as we are creating native content, even before it’s placed. (The FTC even specifies where the disclosure should appear: on the left side of the page, close to the headline.) Build clear disclosure into your content from the beginning, and talk to the publisher about how the content will appear on-site.

At the same time, some observers suggest that the updated guidance may mean that the FTC is considering more aggressively policing publishers, too. As major publishers draw larger shares of revenue from native advertising — Gawker, for example, gets one third of its revenue from native ads — and as major digital publishers like BuzzFeed and Vox Media have established in-house ad agencies to help advertisers develop native content for their sites, the FTC may be focusing a sharper eye on publishers’ activity than before.

“Everyone who participates directly or indirectly in creating or presenting native ads should make sure that ads don’t mislead consumers about their commercial nature.” — The FTC

Clearly, the FTC is more concerned than ever with native advertising and whether consumers can be expected to understand that they are viewing promotional content versus independent editorial content. In AdAge, one prominent advertising lawyer suggested that “we can expect that 2016 will be the year of the FTC bringing native advertising cases.”

Predictably, the advertising and marketing industry isn’t happy with the scrutiny. The Interactive Advertising Bureau, in its response to the FTC, said it’s “concerned” about the updated guidance. The industry, it said, may find the updated rules “overly prescriptive,” and if the guidance is unclear, it might “stifle innovation.” Of course, the IAB doesn’t oppose disclosure overall; it’s just concerned about how the FTC will determine which terms are acceptable.

“To that end, we have reservations about some elements of the Commission’s Guidance. In particular, the section on ‘clarity of meaning’ in native advertising disclosures is overly prescriptive, especially absent any compelling evidence to justify some terms over others.” — IAB statement

Certainly, the dialogue between the FTC, the advertising industry, and publishers will continue well into 2016. But the environment is shifting, and pressure is growing to make sure native content is clearly disclosed.

So how should your brand or agency react to the new guidance? A few tips for staying in the FTC’s good graces:

  1. Discuss disclosure policies with your contacts at the publishing outlet. Understand in advance how the publication indicates which content is sponsored. This will help you draft and structure it appropriately. Remember, the FTC has indicated that disclosures should be on the left-hand side of the page, close to the headline; disclosures should also be in unambiguous language, positioned very close to the native ads to which they relate, written in easy-to-read font, and stand out against the background.
  2. As you draft your content, leave ample room for your disclosure, either by including it directly in your copy or by suggesting language for the publisher’s consideration. Yes, it can feel awkward to note at the beginning of your piece that the upcoming content is advertising — just as online influencers feel awkward putting “#ad” in a tweet you’ve contracted them to post. But the FTC is clear that disclosure must be obvious; as awkward as it may feel, remember that the onus is on both advertiser and publisher to disclose. Build disclosure in from the ground up.
  3. Before you submit the copy to the publisher, ask colleagues to give it a “sniff test.” Have a few people read it over, and see if they can easily discern that the piece is native advertising. Your colleagues usually have pretty good content sense; they’ll be able to tell you whether you’ve been clear enough.
  4. Counsel and inform your clients and managers — whether they currently engage in native advertising or not — about the new FTC guidance, the FTC’s intent, and what the rules mean for content creators and publishers. It will be much easier to get approval for content that’s clearly labeled as advertising if clients and managers understand the rules from the outset.

The sea change in the media industry’s revenue model, the expansion of digital publishing, and the subsequent popularity of native advertising have given rise to something of an uncharted world right now. Content creators, publishers, and the FTC are trying to blaze a new trail without a guidebook. Patience, understanding, and a little trial and error will be required before we get to a standard everyone understands and accepts. Just keep in mind that for now, it’s better to over-disclose and be safe than to under-disclose and be sorry.

About the Author
Christopher Barger is Senior Vice President of Global Digital at Voce/Porter Novelli. You can follow him on Twitter @cbarger.

Filed in Marketing

December 22nd, 2015

Voce Student Essential Reading 12/22: Viral Audio, Chipotle E. Coli, Email Subject Lines & More 

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Image via Facebook Newsroom

Social Media

Instant Articles Launches to Everyone on Android, with More Than 350 Publications Globally

“We’re excited to announce that everyone who uses the Facebook for Android app can now read thousands of Instant Articles every day in News Feed from publishers worldwide. Combined with our recent launch of Instant Articles to everyone on Facebook for iPhone, publishers can now deliver fast and immersive reading experiences to hundreds of millions of people daily across the two most popular mobile platforms in the world.”

Voce Insight – Since their launch of Facebook Newswire last year, Facebook has marched steadily towards becoming a regular old (and new) fashioned news publisher. Whether or not this benefits Facebook or the media organizations who supply content more is up for debate. What isn’t up for debate is whether or not this is a growing trend.

Can Audio Go Viral? NPR Launches Audio Experiment On Facebook

“NPR introduces an experiment today that will bring vivid audio experiences to Facebook users — and produce valuable insights for NPR member stations. As listenership for digital audio increases globally, NPR’s experiment will be the deepest audio integration yet between public radio and social media platforms.”

Voce Insight – Ahem, see above.

Public Relations

CDC Probes New Chipotle-Linked E. Coli Cases

“The new cases come less than a week after Chipotle Founder and Co-Chief Executive Steve Ells published an open letter to customers in about 60 newspapers across the U.S. in which he apologized for outbreaks that have sickened people.”

Voce Insight – It’s unfortunate how Chipotle went from being one of the most popular food chains to this, but it’s important to note how quickly a brand’s reputation can change. Luckily for them, Chipotle seems to have a strong crisis plan in place. The company has been diligent in their responses to media and with pushing out press releases updating investors and the general public on their efforts and apologies.

R. Kelly Shows His True Colors When Confronted with Sexual-Abuse Allegations

“After lulling him with gentle inquiries about his recent spate of success and his many fans, the web show anchor hit him with a series of questions about the accusations that have trailed him for decades.”

Voce Insight – This is a touchy subject due to the serious allegations being made against R. Kelly. However, we all know that clients aren’t all perfect and this is a lesson to PR practitioners. One – don’t be swayed by money to work with someone who isn’t aligned with your morals, it probably won’t pay off well for your reputation in the end. Two – make sure to thoroughly research all reporters that clients work with and confirm what can and cannot be discussed during an interview with the reporter ahead of time to ensure the interview accomplishes the goal it was set for.

Career

Here Are the Subject Lines That’ll Get Your Networking Emails Opened—Every Time

“Just as headlines sell stories, subject lines sell emails. And if yours is trying to get you an in at a company, or even an informational interview, you want to sell it right—or what’s the point of even crafting that perfect message?”

Voce Insight – Using the right words can be harder when you only have five or six of them. Gearing a subject towards your recipient, rather than your own interest in sending the email will increase the likelihood of your message being read.

Everything You Are Afraid to Ask About Slack Etiquette

“Launched in August 2013, Slack allows colleagues to create and message groups of people and individuals, and it’s had a profound effect on how colleagues and coworkers communicate in (and out of) the workplace. An organization can have one company-wide Slack group, or channel, for all its employees, and multiple smaller channels for specific groups inside that organization, and colleagues can also privately communicate with one another via direct messages.”

Voce Insight – If you’re aspiring to work in media or public relations, odds are you’ll be Slacking at some point. Slack can ease communication in a number of ways, but it’s not without drawbacks if used improperly. The rules in this article will go a ways in teaching you how to be the best Slacker you can be.

Filed in Weekly Reading

December 22nd, 2015

Lazy Sunday and How Media’s Approach to Video Has Changed

Last week marked the 10th anniversary of a milestone in the story of the internet: Saturday Night Live’s “Lazy Sunday” Digital Short. This was one of the first big “viral” videos – at least among those produced by a major media company or entity – since it hit just as people were becoming aware of and warming to YouTube, which launched the same year.

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Those of us who were around and paying attention at the time, though, remember the legal fights around the clip as well as its viral nature. NBC and SNL did not like that the short had been uploaded to YouTube without their permission. So as soon as a new version would pop up on YouTube it would be squashed by the NBC copyright squad.

People like me argued at the time that while we absolutely understood NBC’s desire to protect its intellectual property and got that they felt online views would cannibalize TV ratings (why watch it on TV now if you can catch it online in the morning?), the clip’s popularity was doing more for SNL than anything had for years. People were talking about it and sharing the clip and were generally excited for what the show was doing by embracing these “digital” videos. Better to use clips like this to promote the larger show than risk the ill will of the internet by taking away something it was clearly enjoying.

Which is more or less where we are now. SNL, “The Tonight Show” and the entirety of the rest of the late-night lineup now posts select clips on their YouTube channels within hours of the show finishing so the rest of the world can see Jimmy Fallon and Jennifer Lawrence play Box of Lies and so on. It makes sense to not only spread the world of whatever project the star in question is promoting but also increases the reach of the show itself. Not everyone is staying up for late night TV but still likes the clips. Most of these include a clear call to action at the top to subscribe to the show’s YouTube channel, which has benefits for not just reach but also potential ad revenue since you can be sure these clips are monetized.

What this represents is a decade-spanning shift in the thinking of media companies. They now realize the potential of the web to promote their intellectual property. This has been aided by the efforts of YouTube to combat piracy and otherwise be a partner to those media companies and not be the wild west it once was. There’s still plenty of that in the site’s DNA but it now is largely known for official channels like Vevo, Maker Studios and others. That’s a result of YouTube needing to adjust their own outlook to maximize their own ad dollars since no one’s going to spend money on a platform that’s openly hostile to their content.

So we have, 10 years later, an environment that’s more structured in many ways. But that means it has fulfilled the promise many of us saw a decade ago for YouTube to be an important part of the media promotional toolbox. That’s good for everyone since it means companies know they’re in a safe space and the audience knows they’re getting official versions of the videos they’re looking for.

Oh, and Lazy Sunday? It’s not available officially on YouTube. Years ago SNL clips are now hosted exclusively on Yahoo! Screen as part of the kind of deal that’s increasingly common in the media world.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Media

December 10th, 2015

Will Twitter Lose By Winning?

It’s not news that Twitter has seen better times. 2015 has been a rough year for the microblogging company. Its stock has plunged about 30% in 2015. On July 1, embattled CEO Dick Costolo was forced out. Its user growth remained stagnant as the company failed to expand its base. Tellingly, it stopped disclosing how many of its current users are inactive and no longer use the platform. It laid off 8 percent of its workforce in October, amid rampant speculation that job cuts weren’t the only dire problem facing the company. No, it’s not been a good year.

While there are many factors in Twitter’s rough year, things can really be boiled down to one thing: investors are unhappy with slow user growth. To that end, “new” CEO Jack Dorsey has emphasized making changes to the Twitter product that will make it easier for casual or new users to utilize the platform.

The changes have been coming, certainly. The most obvious of the changes has been the introduction of Moments: curated Tweets, images and autoplaying videos, Vines, and GIFs. Moments represents an attempt to rein in the chaos of Twitter and organize it around topics, making the platform perhaps more accessible for newbies. Twitter is so intent on making Moments a part of the regular Twitter experience that, when users didn’t seem to be taking to it, Twitter shifted their UI, switching the Moments “lightning bolt” and the “notifications bell,” in apparent hopes that people’s force of habit in clicking notifications might drive more of them to click on Moments.

Other major changes Twitter has made include testing timelines that do not follow the platform’s traditional reverse chronological order, changing the icon for “likes” from a star to a heart, and removing the 140 character limit on Direct Messages. It’s rumored that Twitter is considering adding emoji reactions to the hearts as possible responses to a tweet. There are even whispers that Twitter is considering changing the characteristic that has defined it since its inception: doing away with the 140 character limit in all Tweets.

A Willingness To Experiment, But At What Cost?

These changes (or rumored changes) certainly show a willingness to experiment or alter the defining characteristics of the Twitter experience — and for that boldness and openness, Twitter deserves some praise. Not every company would be so willing to tinker with such foundational aspects of its product that have defined it and made it unique. Not every company would be willing to risk changing the experience its customers have come to expect (and in some cases, love).

But therein lies Twitter’s problem. Long-time users of Twitter have been making their displeasure known about the changes. The reaction to Moments has been underwhelming — with some users actively airing their displeasure at Twitter notifying them when there were new Moments to view. And when Twitter exchanged positions of the Moments and Notifications icons, users responded angrily.

UntitledBut Moments is not the only new feature that is generating heated criticism for Twitter. When they changed the “favorite” star to “like” icon heart, users responded with criticism, many rightly pointing out that people “like” tweets for many reasons, including bookmarking, and that not every like is a positive thing that should be reflected with a heart. The move away from the reverse chronology timeline also met with fierce resistance from long-time Twitter users. Heck, even Twitter’s World Series television commercial met with criticism from Twitter users.

Seemingly everything Twitter does meets with staunch criticism from its established user base. Some of this, of course, is because people are creatures of habit and usually react negatively to change, especially online. Facebook famously met with harsh criticism when it carried out the redesign that introduced the expanded News Feed; major websites almost always see criticism whenever they introduce a redesign or site refresh. (See the criticisms from the redesigns of NBCNews.com, CNN.com, ESPN.com, and Bloomberg Business for examples.) Let’s face it: when it comes to our online experience, we tend to fear and resist change.

But the criticism of Twitter’s recent moves aren’t just about the way the site looks; the criticisms come from long-time users of Twitter who really dislike the way the fundamental experiences and characteristics of the site are being changed. The changes might yet make Twitter more appealing to new users… but at the expense of alienating Twitter’s power users and the community that’s gotten them this far. And you have to ask: can Twitter afford to do that?

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Adding new users is proving difficult for Twitter. As more than one pundit has suggested, there may “only” be about 300 million people in the world who want to use Twitter. The platform might well have hit a plateau as far as the number of new users it can add, or the number of people who want to be on Twitter. It seems clear that even if Twitter adds more new users, they’re not going to add the tens of millions or more that would placate investors and substantially change the community on the platform. And if they’ve reached their practical limits on the number of new users they can add, Twitter would be well advised to keep its current users happy.

It All Comes Down to New User Acquisition

But that’s not what’s happening. Twitter’s investors are pressuring them so intensely to add new users that the platform is no longer focusing on its existing community. You would think that there’d be nothing wrong with maintaining a community of 300 million and figuring out how best to monetize off of them, meeting their needs and keeping them happy. After all, it’s a well-known aphorism that existing customers spend more than new customers..

Instead, the platform changes Twitter is making are detracting from the experience its current community is there to have. The loud and harsh criticism of the changes — not to mention the apparent widespread rejection of Moments in particular, which Twitter itself cites as critical to its future — should be setting off alarm bells. Because if you add a few million new casual users at the expense of alienating millions more who have up until now faithfully used your product, are you really winning? Is addition minus subtraction really a winning business strategy?

Twitter’s changes, which in some cases could change the very fundamentals of the platform, may well succeed in attracting new users and accelerating the pace of user growth. But if it happens with a simultaneous exodus of existing users, or if the current community uses Twitter less or finds less value in it due to the changes, Twitter will not succeed. It may be that restless investors are Twitter’s worst enemy, forcing urgent changes that turn off its most loyal customers and further harm its ability to monetize.

About the Author
Christopher Barger is Senior Vice President of Global Digital at Voce/Porter Novelli. You can follow him on Twitter @cbarger.

Filed in Social Networks

December 8th, 2015

Voce Student Essential Reading 12/8: Twitter Improves Images, Wikipedia Employs AI & More

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Image via TechCrunch

Social Media

Twitter Improves Photo-Sharing With Bigger Images, Better Layouts

“Twitter is today revamping the way photos posted to its service will look, with a greater focus on a more media-heavy experience that now features uncropped photos and improved multi-photo displays.”

Voce Insight – Rejoice! This change means fewer awkward cut-off photos. An injudicious lack of photo editing skills often led to accidentally beheading the subjects of Twitter images, or various other unfortunate cropping incidents. While it’s still worth double checking after posting, Twitter is making it a little easier on us with this change.

Wikipedia Deploys AI to Expand Its Ranks of Human Editors

“In one sense, this means less work for the volunteer editors who police Wikipedia’s articles. And it might seem like a step toward phasing these editors out, another example of AI replacing humans. But Halfaker’s project is actually an effort to increase human participation in Wikipedia.”

Voce Insight – This could be an important evolution in the way Wikipedia operates, and a boon for the shrinking pool of volunteer editors with one of the hardest jobs on the Internet. Whatever changes this brings will be important for PR professionals to track. As previously shared on the Voce blog, “Wikipedia in 60 seconds” is an excellent resource to stay up to date.

Public Relations

Gannett brings its papers under new USA Today Network banner

“Gannett Co Inc, the publisher of USA Today, said on Thursday it would bring its local and national publications under the USA Today Network. Gannett was separated from its broadcasting and digital arm, Tegna Inc, in June and the new brand marks an attempt by the company to take advantage of its most well-known publication, the No. 1 U.S. newspaper by circulation.”

Voce Insight – This continues a trend of consolidation that will surely impact the relationship between local and national news. As the article points out, the Louisville Courier-Journal was the first to be rebranded under the USA Today banner.

Collaboration, computer help, and coding: A new book looks at data journalism in the newsroom

“For those who aren’t sure what benefits data-driven journalism could bring to a story they are working on, flagging it as early as possible with the data or graphics team leaves space for new approaches to the story. For those with technical skills, sharing knowledge can be a good way of flagging to colleagues areas that they are interested in, as well as bringing the broader benefit of boosting data literacy across the newsroom.”

Voce Insight – The points pulled out of the book here are as applicable to the world of PR as they are in journalism. Picking up skills in both words and data, rather than one or the other will keep you literate. And fostering communication between data wonks, designers and writers will ultimately produce better work.

Career

Why Your Email Sign-off Matters More Than You Think

“…the sign-off is the last thing the recipient reads—so it can be the “cherry on top,” so to speak. Done right, it’s like the motivating conclusion at the end of a really great presentation.”

Voce Insight – This is one of those skills that isn’t taught in school, or even at work, but it’s impact is significant. This breakdown of each commonly used sign-offs can help you decide which is appropriate for each situation.

How To Stand Out In A Job Interview

“You don’t get the job offer by giving the “right” answer to each question and then falling silent and waiting for the next question.”

Voce Insight – When prepping for a job interview, too many people are focused on providing the “right” answer, however, most of the time there isn’t a right answer. Interviewers want to see an authentic person and have a conversation rather than a Q&A.

Filed in Weekly Reading

December 7th, 2015

Why Twitter’s Share Counts Disappearing Led to Decreased Sharing

twitter app iconA tempest broke out a week or so ago when it was discovered that Twitter “Share” buttons – those little things that appear below a headline or elsewhere on a blog post or article – were no longer displaying the number of people who had actually shared this. That was not a great move in the eyes of publishers who liked having those numbers easily accessible. And now it looks like it’s having a real impact as a recent study by Shareaholic shows usage of those buttons is down over 11% after the removal of the share counts.

This is where we need to stop thinking of Twitter and others as “social” networks but as “status” networks. Not “status” as in what someone is doing, but “status” as in “I’m trying to achieve status through the social currency of what I share.”

There’s a great deal of incentive that lies behind those share numbers. It shows what people are doing. If 67 people have shared that story on Twitter than hey, it must be pretty interesting and carry with it a certain amount of credibility, authority and, yes, status. So the next person to see that is therefore more likely to do likewise, lest they be seen as something less than authoritative and knowledge-sharing than someone else in their network. And this is like compound interest: The more people who share the story, their numbers displayed for all to see, the more people are likely to follow suit.

Unfortunately right now there doesn’t appear to be a great alternative to this. Twitter cites a bunch of technical reasons for the change, though there has to be a bit of ego involved on their end as well. One of the common complaints among shareholders is that Twitter isn’t as big as Facebook (despite there being almost no reason for it to be) and having share counts right next to each other like this sometimes underscored that in stark numbers.

It should be clear that the functionality behind Twitter’s share button hasn’t changed. But without the share counts to encourage more and more usage this could continue to impact publishers’ social activity, leading to drops in traffic that really don’t have a lot of cushion in them already.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Content Marketing, Microblogging, Social Networks

December 4th, 2015

Social Commerce Still Not Firing on All Cylinders

We all know, as marketing professionals, that social commerce is going to play a larger and larger role in our content marketing mix. Most of the major social networks have rolled out some sort of “Buy Now” button and it’s likely only a matter of time before the holdouts like Instagram and others get on the bandwagon. Once this fully seeps into the expectations of end user they’ll demand it. And there’s simply too much money to be left on the table, either through brands paying to boost reach or through taking a percentage of each purchase made.

But there’s some indicators that shoppers are still hesitant to embrace these options. The main issues seem to be that the process around those purchases remains unclear. These buttons lack the explicit instructions and caveats that are the norm in e-commerce, including return policies, shipping a package to an alternate address (particularly important this time of year) and so on.

197620It’s likely inevitable that e-commerce will become a bigger and bigger part of brands’ content marketing mix. A recent study shows that retailers are increasingly eyeing them as a way to take advantage of the growing amount of time people are spending on social networks. Not only will that have to do with meeting audience expectations but it also play a big part in proving the value in real dollar amounts of a program. There are obviously other ways – tracking codes on shared links and more – but direct purchase is going to be a significant wave that most retailers of any kind won’t be able to sit out.

But it also may be good to correctly set expectations on those direct purchase efforts. Not only should those expectations be based on previous numbers for the program (let’s not promise $500,000 in sales each month if you have 547 fans and low average engagement, heh?) but should also keep in mind the reality that these are likely casual shoppers acting on impulse more than dedicated hard-core shoppers sitting down to check off all the names on their holiday list in a single afternoon.

Put it this way: You know how you go to Target planning on spending just $45 dollars on essentials but come out with a receipt showing you spent $150 dollars? Direct social commerce right now is about $9 of that overage. It’s the Bridesmaids DVD you grabbed off the end cap of the register aisle before you checked out because why not.

Even when it becomes more prevalent – and I do believe it will, despite the initial hesitation – it’s unlikely someone is going to sit down to shop on Facebook or Twitter. That kind of behavior depends on search, which isn’t the strong suit of either of those networks. And content marketing program managers are going to have to be even more vigilant in guarding their programs against the push for them to become “Sell! Sell! Sell!” all the time. Maintaining a mix of sales, engagement, news and other components is going to be an even more vital component for those managers to oversee.

Social commerce will come into its own. It will take time and we may be in some experimental phases for a while yet. Begin preparing for this now so you’re not taken aback when it happens.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Content Marketing

December 3rd, 2015

2016 Content Marketing Predictions: Thoughts From the Voce Network

As I prepare digital and social 2016 plans for clients, I wanted to get an outside take on what the content marketing trends will be in 2016. I reached out to the following contacts and they provided the below valuable insight on what brands should expect in 2016:

  • Jeremy Kaplan, @smashdawg, Editor in Chief, Digital Trends
  • Lucas Mast, @sneakrz, VP Corporate Social Media, VISA
  • Julie Zisman, @juliezisman, Head of Marketing, LittleBird
  • Dennis Shiao, @dshiao, Director of Content Marketing, DNN
  • Eric Vidal, @EricVMarketing, Editor & Chief Content Officer, The Marketing Scope
  • Jason Miller, @JasonMillerCA, Group Manager, Content Marketing, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions
  • Richard Brewer-Hay, @ESBAle, Senior Manager Social Media, Splunk

To view the above slides in a larger format click on the view full-screen icon in the Slideshare player or go directly to Slideshare.

You agree with the above? Share your comments with the hashtag #2016contentmktg

About the Author
Randy Ksar works on the social media team at Voce. You can follow him at @djksar on Twitter.

Filed in Content Marketing, Marketing, Social Networks

November 30th, 2015

Kobe Bryant Provides a Watershed Moment in Media Disruption

The second biggest sports news story of the long Thanksgiving weekend was certainly Kobe Bryant’s announcement he would retire at the end of the current NBA season.

(The first biggest story, obviously, was the Bears beating the Packers on the same night Green Bay celebrated the retirement of Brett Favre’s number. Go Bears)

What’s notable about Bryant’s announcement – outside of the fact that it came seemingly out of the blue with little preamble or media speculation – is that he did so on The Players’ Tribune. That site was launched about a year ago by baseball star Derek Jeter as a way for athletes to essentially bypass the media and take their stories directly to fans and speak with their own voices instead of one that’s filtered by the press.

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Over the last 15 years we’ve seen an evolution in how the press has been disrupted through self-publishing. We went from everyone, including brands and companies, having their own blogs to a system where more and more entities are using what might be termed “collectives.” So you have sports figures using The Players’ Tribune while others use Medium, including a back-and-forth last month between Amazon and The New York Times, instead of what we would traditionally refer to as an “on-domain” blog.

If heavy-hitters like Bryant, Amazon and others are bypassing the press, what’s next for the press? It means they need to rethink their content strategy just like consumer and other brands started doing a dozen years ago.

I had a conversation with a colleague six years ago about this very topic. How do you maintain an active and interesting corporate blog that provides value to readers while not completely turning the press, which still plays an active role in reaching segments of the audience, against you? It’s a fine line to walk that involves careful evaluation of the stories that are being told. That takes coordination between all teams, including PR, marketing, social media and everyone else who may have skin in the game.

The traditional media will have to continue evolving to meet the new challenges being put in front of them. Perhaps “explainer journalism” will rise to even greater prominence than it has now. Perhaps owned channels are where we will turn for news while traditional media provide context and background, though that’s going to be difficult in the wake of such drastic cutbacks in recent years.

For PR practitioners and content marketing specialists this all means we’ll have to keep redefining what we mean when we say “media.” And it’s going to keep impacting how we do our media monitoring. We’ll have to not only counsel our clients on where and when is the best time and place for them to respond to an issue, make a statement or otherwise take their message to the public. Each outlet has its own purpose and audience. And, as the NYT/Amazon dust-up showed us, we’ll have to be just as mindful in monitoring for the responses to our statements and responses since many of these new sources still aren’t tracked either by search engines or monitoring services.

The media world continues to evolve at a breakneck pace. Let us know if you’d like our help in keeping up.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Content Marketing, Media

November 24th, 2015

Voce Student Essential Reading 11/24: NBA on Social Media, Snapchat’s Newest Feature & More

OL-AE651_SP_GAY_12S_20151119113306 Image via WSJ

Social Media

The NBA Climbs the Social Ladder

“I wanted to talk to Silver because the NBA has made a very conscious decision to let basketball social media—including amateur videos of in-game highlights—fly free. Like, really free. Don’t misinterpret: if you try to sit courtside at the Staples Center and try to Periscope the entire contest, the commissioner wants to shut you down. But mostly they’re letting the party continue.”

Voce Insight – You may have your own voice, but you will never be your greatest advocate, so empowering others to do your talking for you is important. In this case, the talking is done on the court and then on the interwebs, with amateur videos launching endless loops of awesomeness – and publicity for the NBA.

Inside Snapchat’s newest feature: Story Explorer

“As Spiegel put it, users don’t have to settle for one view of a big NFL touchdown, for instance. They can view it ‘thousands’ of times — each one unique — because so many people in the stadium filmed the play on Snapchat.”

Voce Insight – As the article points out, this will only encourage users to watch even more video on the app. It also better harnesses the army of videographers at major events and quite literally adds more viewpoints.

Meet Some of Our Top Commenters

“In recent years, a core group of commenters have helped to transform The New York Times for the digital era. Their voices have enhanced our journalism, offering new information, insight and analysis on many of the day’s most pressing issues. These frequent commenters have also become a community, one that has its own luminaries.”

Voce Insight – Not all commenters are the same. Some will spew vitriol and nonsense, but others will elevate the conversation and change how a story is perceived after reading. This further supports the notion that annotation is important.

Public Relations

Dollar Shave Club Launches Men’s Interest Editorial Destination Called ‘MEL’

“Dollar Shave Club, the online grooming retailer, has rolled out a new editorial project called MEL, becoming the next brand to try its hand at creating a media enterprise. MEL will begin as a twice-a-week newsletter including ‘one story we love,’ according to a note by written by Editor-in-Chief Josh Schollmeyer appended to the first letter. A standalone site will launch ‘soon-ish,’ Mr. Schollmeyer writes.”

Voce Insight – As Dollar Shave Club CEO Michael Dubin said in an earlier article, this will not cover topics like how to shave better. This is a way to try to establish some editorial credibility for the company, even if their products are not explicitly pushed through MEL.

Do Visual Stories Make People Care?

“Since we published Borderland in April of 2014, the NPR Visuals Team has been iterating on a style of storytelling we call ‘sequential visual stories.’ They integrate photography, text, and sometimes audio, video or illustration into a slideshow-like format.”

Voce Insight – Interestingly, the number of slides does not significantly correlate with readers completing a story or not. More important always is how compelling a story is. This should be the first consideration when creating something for a client.

Career

‘Talk to Shirley’ and 9 other tips for reporting and research

“We’ve all met Shirley, which happens to have been my mother’s name. A Shirley can verify notions you’ve heard elsewhere and provide evidence available nowhere else. A Shirley can help you decide if your reporting is done. But don’t be surprised if you hear a Shirley say, ‘You can’t do this story until you’ve talked to Tony.’”

Voce Insight – These tips apply when writing contributed content, press releases, blog posts and more. You need to meet Shirley.

Filed in Weekly Reading

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