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Indie 2.0: Inspiring a Generation of Artist August 2, 2011

Posted by billyburnettgbc in blogs, conversational PR, Facebook, Journalism, kindle, new media, print media.
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As you may recall, in a previous post I talked about how filmmaker Kevin Smith announced he planned to market his next movie, Red State, using just social media and entirely without studio support. He has since not only made back the cost of the movie, something several recent summer blockbusters have failed to do, but also launched an internet radio station, filmed a pilot for a new TV talk show and started work on his final film, Hit Somebody.

The story of Kevin Smith is enthralling, but what’s more exciting is that it is far from unique. As far back as 2004, the British director Franny Armstrong made the eco-documentary The Age of Stupid, pioneering “crowd-funding”, a method whereby the financing (£450,000) was raised by selling shares to individuals and organisations, who all received a pro-rata share of the profits.

Now with the decline of the printed book and the rise of the eBook, supported by recent announcements by both Borders and Penguin books publisher Pearson, many authors are self-publishing and promoting their latest page turners.

For example, Toronto writer Blake Northcott decided to launch a Kindle version of Vs. Reality, a “comic book-inspired urban fantasy novel” on Amazon.com. During the nine months she spent writing the comic and movie blog, she amassed a 16,000 strong Twitter following, more than 1,700 personal Facebook friends and 4,500 page views providing real-time feedback on her work. To put that into perspective it’s more than Image Comics, the world’s largest independent comic book artist publisher.

Even those authors that still have the financial and marketing support of their publishers are realising the opportunity around social media in promoting their work.

John Green’s latest book, The Fault in our Stars, recently landed the number-one spots on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. This isn’t particularly strange – expect the book won’t be published until 2012. Using a variety of social media tools, including Twitter, Tumblr, community forums and YouTube, he has created a community around his work and unprecedented pre-orders have followed.

This presents a conundrum for any artist. Consider the extra blood, sweat and tears that self-distribution requires; engaging with followers via social media instead of getting that final chapter done, which is surely self-defeating, but also becoming an intrinsic part of the marketing mix which was traditionally handled by the publisher.

Thanks to social media however, artists across the globe are writing their own rules about branding and fan engagement.

Listen up Celebrity Tweeters! Apparently Nobody Cares! September 27, 2010

Posted by billyburnettgbc in conversational PR, new media, Online Reputation, pr, TweetVolume, Twitter.
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Twitter plans to launch a free analytics dashboard that will help its users – especially businesses – understand how others are interacting with their tweets. Announced by Ross Hoffman, a member of Twitter’s business development team, the tool will show you which tweets are spreading and which users are influential in your network.

Although bad news for third-party Twitter analytics tools, such as Klout, Omniture and Twitalyzer, it is likely to be welcomed by many as a step forward in the way we measure the beast that is social media – especially as it’s free!

Twitter is perhaps one of the best examples of the difficulties surrounding social media measurement, with retweets, followers and the ability for a topic to trend all playing a role in determining influence.

Only this week, Ashton Kutcher, one of the services most famous users with millions of followers, shown to have very little if any influence according to a study conducted at Northwestern University. These findings hit the wire a few months after social media analytics company Sysomos claimed that celebrities’ followers don’t have any influence, either.

It might all depend on how you crunch the numbers. Don’t forget that Justin Bieber used to consistently sit near the top of Twitter’s official trends list, and that one source close to Twitter claimed 3% of the network’s servers are dedicated to tweets from Bieber and the retweets from his followers.

Although the launch of this service is unlikely to be considered the defacto standard by every PR or marketing agency, especially as some have already invested in developing their own tools, it does provide an independent view for the client.

Win, win, who will win? Pay or free to view? June 25, 2010

Posted by kewroad in 2010 predictions, Journalism, new media, Online Reputation, print media.
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The great paywall debate in the publishing industry continues to rage.  With the Sunday Times and The Times now taking out full page advertising to promote News International’s new pay wall scheme, the Daily Telegraph and others are also taking a stance.  According to Beehivecity, The Daily Telegraph is now running London Underground adverts along the lines of :

‘Award winning journalism, free at the dailytelegraph.co.uk.  Sometimes you get what you don’t pay for.’

And…

‘Quality journalism should challenge your mind not your pocket.’

This is possibly the first time that the Daily Telegraph is taking a clear stance that it does not believe paywalls are the right way to go and that newspaper content should be free.

There are clearly two camps evolving.   The FT sits with The Times on the far side of the paywall debate, while both The Guardian and The Daily Mail are committed to it being free and easy for all.  And with all BBC content free – that’s quite a strong ‘free’ force.

News International is charging readers £2 a week to access The Times and The Sunday Times online, the price of one copy of the Sunday newspaper.  I’ve just subscribed to the limited free version and  there is loads of interesting content in there that I would probably be quite happy to pay for it especially if it’s the same price as one copy of the Sunday newspaper.

On the free-side argument, the Guardian generates £27m of online advertising revenue which rises to £38m with dating site. Total turnover last year for Guardian News Ltd was £253m. So the advertising revenue more than makes up for lost subscription revenue.

And with the Evening Standard’s free edition going profitable this month for the first time and solely relying on advertising revenues, is this possibly yet more proof that long-term people won’t pay?

While the publishing industry works all this out, people still need to get used to going online for their news and information – no doubt the iPad will help do that.

Ultimately, may be the industry will end up with a mix of both – sometimes consumers pay, sometimes they don’t.  Whatever happens between pay and free-to-view models, the future business model of a medium that is nearly 500 years old will change forever.

Too Many PRs Spoil Measurement June 21, 2010

Posted by billyburnettgbc in conversational PR, first impressions, new media, pr, search engines, SEO.
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What do you get when you put the leaders of five global professional measurement and evaluation bodies and 150 delegates from the world’s top measurement companies and PR agencies together in one room? According to @Sean376, a pile of S#@t, and I completely agree.

As you may be aware, the above “experts” all met this week at the second European Summit on Measurement in Barcelona to produce the first global standard of PR measurement. This is something that has eluded the PR industry since its inception; with various initiatives looking to deliver a universal framework to no avail, but perhaps the problem is that there is not a one-size-fits all approach.

This may be seen as slightly cynical, but in my experience no client, campaign or PR agency has ever been the same and measurement is a somewhat customised tool. For example, a common task set to us as a PR agency is to support sales, but even this could be measured in a multitude of ways:

  • Website traffic (for example, using vanity url’s to track inbound traffic generated)
  • Brand awareness (increasing share of voice and awareness amongst customers)
  • Sales increase (taking into consideration other marketing activities)
  • AVE (it has its merits when speaking to the CFO)
  • Attendance to launch event (public/press/celebrity)

I could go on but you get the idea. I think the main frustration of this initiative is not that they are attempting the impossible, as I feel some standardisation or best practices should be established, but that in 3-days a total of 7 common-sense principles were drafted.

I look forward to the rest of the industry’s reaction, but in the meantime you can check out the seven key principles on the PRWeek website here, or for perhaps if you are looking for a satirical view then check Sean’s post here.

Online Gaming spreads its wings like Freebird May 14, 2010

Posted by kewroad in internet, new media, social networks.
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 A Reuters story caught my eye today about how the game industry is  expanding its reach.

Turns out the freemium model is becoming important for how games are marketed. No surprise there if you consider how freeware works in other less exciting spaces. But what’s most interesting is how online free games are opening up new demographics of consumers who have never played computer game before; namely the elderly and older females. Social media is also proving to be a powerful sales tool. The same Interpret survey quoted by Reuters revealed that 12 percent of online social network gamers intend to purchase offline gaming consoles like the Wii.

Standard & Private Eye Web Strategies: Shome Mistake or Masterstroke? February 25, 2010

Posted by kewroad in Journalism, new media, print media.
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Two different viewpoints on how the Web is changing mainstream print media from last week.

In the heat of the Mobile World Congress hype, the London Evening Standard announced a mobile app version of the iconic evening paper read by Londoners. A great idea when you see so many commuters looking at their mobiles every morning and evening. And the paper is the latest high-profile UK media brand to go down this route with the Guardian announcing 100,000 users of its own app this week too.

But, some wisps of doubt about newspaper mobile apps float through my mind. As a London tube commuter, I can’t help wonder how an app competes with the easy, instant  access to Metros and Standards that litter every tube train morning, noon and night. So what’s the point of a Standard  app if I want to see what;s in The Standard? Well it defends the brand as the demographics of a non-newspaper reading generation become overwhelming. As a connected rich media app  it could deliver a different experience to the paper version – stories that are updated after the paper print run. The Standard  used to come out in different timed editions throughout the afternoon. This has been cut back so Londoners could use the app to enjoy the Late Late Late Edition of the Standard. And a mobile phone is easier to read than a paper when you’re compressed into the tight corner of a tube train or the armpit of a fellow traveller.

Another bit of media industry news gives an insight into the power of the Web though in this case when a publication deliberately doesn’t have an online presence. UK satirical news magazine Private Eye has reported record increases in  sales with  more than 200,000 copies sold. What’s significant about this figure is that 99% of copies are bought at traditional news agents and newsstands.  There is minimal web presence – a deliberate strategy of the publishers to protect the magazine’s circulation and relationship with its readers. 

Arguably the demographic of Private Eye readers might be older and less ready to go online. Not sure this is the case (if anything older generation is more not less enthusiastic about the Web) but an anti-Web publishing strategy fits with the curmudgeonly attitude  of the magazine and its reputation for publishing embarrassing gossip and rumour about politicians and others.  In this example it looks like avoiding the Web preserves the conspiratorial bond the magazine has with its readers – for now at least.

Who will pay? November 18, 2009

Posted by kewroad in 2009 predictions, blogs, conversational PR, Facebook, Google, information technology, Journalism, new media, Online Reputation, Uncategorized.
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Murdoch has created a lot of storm recently talking about how consumers will have to pay for content.  In this Sunday’s Observer, there was yet more discussion about how even in the good old days of printed newspapers, customers never paid the full price anyway – so why does Murdoch think they will now! And then later in the week, the editor of the Times shed more light on how he expects readers to pay for the digital edition of the Times.  Good luck to them. Now, the founder of Digg, is suggesting that news aggregation sites have a contribution to make.  So it’s definitely all still up in the air, in terms of how it’s all going to work financially.

In the meantime, it’s goodnight to another printed publication, 25 year old Media Week but welcome to it’s new online presence..let’s hope they can make it pay.

So in this revolutionary world we currently live, the winners will be the ones able and prepared to change their business model and make it work financially.

Sue Grant

E-bookworms on hold November 13, 2009

Posted by kewroad in iphone, new media.
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Looking at Billy’s entry from yesterday about reading world literature on the iPhone we had a look at the German situation again and found that regarding e-books it’s the same with all new technology or media like the fax machine, internet, CDs, digital cameras: nobody wants to change old costumes naturally, but cannot hold off the development. As usual Germany is far behind other countries regarding changes.

A popular German literary critic finds reading books on an iPhone is a contradiction: People with an iPhone don’t read anymore. They are just playing around. Personally I doubt that there will be e-bookworms in the near future. Reading a book to me means slouching about on the sofa with a blanket, having some music, a candle light and letting the pages of the book be the only contact to real life for a while.

Bettina

The internet now drives opinion not the print media October 18, 2009

Posted by kewroad in 2009 predictions, information technology, internet, Journalism, new media, pr, print media, social networks, Twitter, Uncategorized.
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The furore since Thursday evening over the Daily Mail’s Jan Moir’s take on the death of Stephen Gateley serves to demonstrate that communications and opinion is no longer in the hands of journalists alone.  Twitter not only ‘breaks news’ – it also provides the facilitate to quickly garner masses of public opinion around news.   In the old days, a journalist would express a view and all that might happen is a letter from Mr Angry from Bournementh in the letters page the following week.   Many of might have wanted to comment but didn’t have the inclination to write a letter.  Not only does the popularity of Facebook and Twitter  now enable people to comment instantly but these social media tools also enable us to come together collectively, quickly and forcefully to drive comment and lead opinion.

Is this new wave of influential public opinion revolutionary? Well almost.  When before could a swell of opinion be expressed so quickly and powerfully? Long-term, this must have a positive effect on the old powers of the handful of media moguls who have long domintated the printing presses. Surely, long-term, it will be public opinion that drives the news agenda.  This new power of the people can’t be underestimated. Such was the rumpus caused by the Daily Mail article that the  newspaper lost significant advertising revenue. The mail had to remove adverts from big brands like Marks and Spencer, Nestle, Visit England, Kodak and the National Express. 

As the Observer recently reported, the print media is changing beyond all recognition and will never be the same again. We are currently living in a period of incredible change in communications and social media. No one really knows what the outcome will be, all that is for sure is that it won’t be the same as before. 

Sue Grant

It’s shiny and new but the question is do you need it? October 1, 2009

Posted by andysephton in internet, new media, social networks.
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The internet is buzzing with Google’s latest invite only toy, Google Wave, an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration that, if you believe the hype, is pretty much the best thing ever to come out of the internet. The highly coveted and sort after invites to gain access to the beta version are in high demand with one apparently selling for $5,100 on eBay.

This strange fever that surrounds these new online tools got me thinking about whether new is always the way to go. One blogger I found on the web made the very valid point that: “Just because people have access to a technology doesn’t mean they will use it. We used to have real time collaboration online (they were called chat rooms), but we got over that”. When it comes to online technology the key is to find out what works for you and not what everyone is talking about.

Social media as a whole can seem a scary concept to more conservative companies who are only starting to consider if this area is right for them. What they really need to be looking at is what parts of the social media sphere are appropriate for their business. Facebook has a lot of users but for many businesses have no place in their social media strategy. Twitter is good for short, snappy updates but sometimes you have more than 140 characters to say. LinkedIn can be great for finding new business contacts and answering fellow user’s questions but is it reaching the right people for you?

Don’t get me wrong, these tools could be perfect for your business but the point I am trying to make is that you need to make sure that they are. Don’t just use them because everyone else does. If a tried and tested blog is the best way to get your message out, go for it. If you can’t dedicate the time to keep your Twitter account full of relevant Tweets there is little point in having one. Also please remember that social media is too new an area for anyone to truly be an expert on this area and we are all still learning. Also remember that just because something is not right for your business now does not mean it won’t be in the future.

Many of the new tools will be full of bugs and glitches in the early days and the one that got no hype to start with could evolve in to the communication tool of the century. Do your research, talk to as many people as you can and remember to go back and look at the tools you wrote off in the early days. They might have got their act together and become a perfect fit for your business.