Tag Archives: Media & Marketing

NoTW, responsible journalism and business journalism in China

Frontline ClubI’m not really writing about NoTW and NewsInt here, but rather using the case of their recent downfall to segway to a different story – that of Public Business Media, my friend Damian’s NFP charity aimed at supporting investigative journalism. I’ve written about it before.

I’m sure we’d all like to believe that what happened at NoTW was the result of a few, rogue, irresponsible journalists calling out for a no-stones-unturned investigation, no matter the cost. Practical experience tells me that most people are simply ignorant of the techniques and tools of their trade, and therefore aren’t so much lacking a moral compass as they are unable to read one.

Public Business Media is hoping to fund an open approach to investigative journalism that will see the transparent publication of data and the education and upskilling of journalists to do this job. It’s a job that needs to be done to ensure we have a responsible, educated voice in the media looking into the thousands of business issues that touch our lives on a daily basis.

The charity’s hosting a fundraiser and public launch tomorrow night. Go along, you know you want to.

French gov’t bans mentions of social networks by name on radio

I love this:

How do you say Facebook and Twitter in French? You don’t – at least, not if you are on radio or television, where French officials have banned any mention of them unless they are specifically part of the story.

Conspiracy theorists springing up all over the place as to why they’ve done it; the rationale makes a kind of sense to me, however – it’s in the spirit of fairness, so as to not discriminate against other lesser, commercial social networks. Even if its total rubbish, I love that sentiment. There’s something very colonial about it, and I’m surprised the British (given the other strictures at the BBC about supporting commercial organisations) haven’t tried it ("that anti-competition stuff, old boy, it’s simply not cricket.")

At least, force broadcasters to mention (and have a presence on) every other social network in the spirit of fairness. It’d take a week…

@Flipboard – a @gilesfraser recommendation


My boss is always pleased to educate me – a self-professed, archetypal earlius adopterus – with his technical insight and technology trendsetting. He didn’t quite beat me to Spotify (although he was very early to that service), but he has stolen the march by introducing me to Flipboard, a ‘social magazine.’ I’d read about it but a combination of iPad apathy and happiness with my methods of absorbing media meant I didn’t investigate further.

Having now tried it, I can tell you that it is an awesome app that is making me fall in love with the iPad again. Essentially, it draws on any feeds you put into it – including a number of useful preset social accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google Reader – and delivers them to you in a magazine style format. You flip through pages in which the content on links people have shared on Facebook and Twitter have been pre-fetched – and you can then tap through to the full article – or watch the video etc.

It’s a wonderful media engagement experience – you can download loads of stories over wifi and then mess around reading offline (for the most part, although the pre-fetch isn’t perfect), commenting on Facebook et al works when you’re online (would like a pre-caching service for when offline so you could maybe queue comments for publication when you came back into wifi range). You can also add any individual blog or feed you like as a separate magazine – all your subscriptions and services appear as a grid of tiles, Windows Phone 7 style.

Really beautifully executed and a very good use of the touch interface of the iPad. Recommended for all you iPad lovers out there – and division6.co.uk looks awesome on it!

My only issue is that I’m not sure it’s very good at ‘getting through’ a magazine or set of updates on Google Reader. Unlike the handy ‘unread post’ notifications you get with the web app, there’s a seemingly endless, jumbled set of updates displayed through the interface. My Google Reader subscriptions include about 40 feeds I read regularly – and about 200 I just dip into – so might well find it frustrating to deal with that much (less relevant) content. Whether I should just flip through it (it is effortless after all) or finally get around to dealing with my mess of subscriptions, who can say…?

Definitely a big thanks to Giles for the pointer!

Is Malaysia becoming a laughing stock in the eyes of the global press? Or a bad joke?

Two news stories that made the International press this week highlight the shifting role of Malaysia – my birth-country – on the global scene. Only a few years ago, it was held up as an example of a reasonably progressive, fast-growing, fast developing Asian economy. Today? It’s increasingly a laughing stock.

First – the ‘obedient wife’ club’, founded by 800 married women in Malaysia in a bid to address the problems of domestic violence and divorce “at their cause”. The foundation of a social group – even one with 800 women in – wouldn’t ordinarily make the headlines in the International media. But the ludicrousness of this particular story must have tickled a few editors’ funny bones, or made some misogynists smile. I find it absurd that Malaysian society could have evoked the creation of such a club, or brainwashed women into thinking that their husband’s infidelity, violence et al, was their own fault. I may have missed something in reading this story – if anyone can explain a positive spin on this to me in terms other than this that would be appreciated.

Second – another leak – this time of a diplomatic cable to Washington:

A former senior government official has said that the country’s bloated and overwhelmingly Malay civil service was “completely loyal to Umno” and was the main stumbling block towards economic reforms according to a leaked United States diplomatic cable The confidential report sent to Washington from the US embassy here was leaked by whistleblower website WikiLeaks and published in the Malaysia Today news portal

This one hasn’t yet been picked up internationally, so perhaps the country is still on the laughing stock side of things…

If I felt any affiliation with the country beyond my family being there, I’d be ashamed. Instead, I just feel moderately contemptuous of the rulers and pessimistic about any positive outcome. After all, it may be droll and amusing today – but its a short leap from droll to impinging freedoms (both in practice in Malaysia and in terms of its international reputation).

Don’t get me wrong, the country’s not at tangibly uncomfortable levels of government corruption, control or oppression… but if it was sliding in a direction, that would be it… Remember the Sarawak story…?

Internet killed the traditional book store. And the record shop. And the…

There’s a lot of talk amongst our client base of the new business models and innovation possible thanks to the power of the Internet. There’s also a signficant amount of chat about what it means for the pre-web business models – particularly in the media sector.

Look at Waterstone’s, sold last week for a relative pittance. And the share price of the HMV Group – on a persistent downward spiral over the last 12 months – demonstrates how poorly that business has adapted to the Internet age. Contrast that with Amazon or even B&N and you’ll see that real innovation is needed to translate some of those legacy business models to the new delivery platforms we have for media. Amazon is selling more Kindle books than print books – absolutely astonishing. Who would have guessed that things would move this quickly?

B&N, worth around $1bn, as Tom pointed out on Twitter the other day, has managed maintain its valuation where Waterstones et al haven’t. The analysis points out that it has tried to keep on the edge of things with an innovative eBook portfolio in the US. Tom sums it up neatly:

If that’s not an advert for why old media businesses have to aggressively investing in digital platforms, I don’t know what is.

Waterstones’ e-commerce ventures were hopelessly bumbling – first a partnership with Amazon, then its own webstore, and then perhaps a slightly misjudged ebook strategy which I still don’t fully understand today.

I guess, though – that at least they tried. And establishing what insights are needed to drive appropriate customer-centric innovation requires an understanding of customers that goes beyond what they themselves think they need – three years ago when I first got an e-reader, virtually no-one I spoke to was willing to give up the feel of a rustling paperback. We would never have guessed that so many people would be reading everything on Kindle [apps] this soon – but here we are.

The worse thing anyone can do about the Internet is bury your head in the stand. It’s a rolling force for change, whether we like it or not, and is having a dramatic impact on virtually every business I come across – nowhere more dramatically than in the media sector.

My brother talked about the need for smart, digital people in the film and TV industry over on Screen Daily and the apparent dearth of them in his industry. As someone passionate about the media sector here’s hoping that the digital people find their way out of the woodwork and help with the industry in the evolution of its more traditional business models… so there’s not only aggressive investment, but sensible investment in the development of new business models…

Simple language is best

I ran a training session just before I went on sabbatical on various social media bits and pieces, showing people how to use search engines to find key phrases – amongst many other things.

Over the course of the session, which I tried to keep jargon free, I somehow managed to tell people that they should "concatenate their search terms" and use "Boolean search." I was also talking about influence and sentiment analysis, so there was a lot of jargon floating around that I couldn’t seem to avoid.

I think us social media-y types (oh, god, is that what I am?) should have our own translation engines, like the Bank of England. Check it out :

Inflation is likely to pick up to between 4% and 5% in the near term, and to remain well above the 2% target throughout 2011, boosted by the increase in VAT, higher energy and import prices, and some rebuilding of companies’ margins.

Which means:

You will continue to be squeezed in the next couple of months by the government, overseas governments and companies.

Otherwise we might as well just be doing this.

(As an aside – I love that the CItyWire piece, in addition to clever writing, included a bit of clever coding. That principle – of creative storytelling in new ways, whether through interpretation or presentation of information and analysis – is one of the key things that will keep people passionate about traditional media venues, IMHO).

From Shorthand to Broadband

For those of you with an interest in technology, public relations, marketing and the media, my agency, Brands2Life, has done a really interesting piece of research looking at how journalists’ jobs have changed in the 15 or so years the Internet has been around. The headlines on point to journalists across all media types (not just technology or online) working harder and having to manage multimedia content and reader communities — a very different brief to what “traditional” journalism usually entails on a day-to-day basis. You can read the story in depth by downloading the research report from here. There are some graphs up on Flickr if anyone wants them.

The name – “From Shorthand to Broadband” – inspired this video which summarises the development of the media story. Have we got the whole story in? Is there something else you would have included / subbed out?

My personal view? From a business perspective, we’re at a really interesting point; one business model (traditional, ad-sponsored, print and broadcast media) is struggling in the wake of having to share its revenue with the online world, and the online world hasn’t yet developed a business model more substantive than relying on Google adwords. From a consumer perspective, broadband and web technologies are available and accessible to the point where the way everyone interacts with media has changed, whether they realise it or not. Not everyone’s there yet, of course, but where a few years ago you wouldn’t have been that surprised if someone from a different generation didn’t know how to Google something, today I’m having conversations with my mother about Facebook, and helping her organise to deliver a plenary speech at a conference via Skype video conferencing.

From a PR perspective — with journalists having to work differently, is it surprising that PRs will have to as well? Conversations in the industry — even with technology companies traditionally on the edge of new things — indicate how early on we are with this part of the story. A lot has changed since the ‘Martini lunches’ of legend, and even more is set to.

Be interested to hear from people who’ve been in one side and out the other — whilst there’s a lot of “web 2.0” that’s hype, I have a feeling that where we are with “social” media today is a pale, pale precursor to the way we’ll interact online in the future.