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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.

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.

Death of the ad? June 14, 2010

Posted by kewroad in 2010 predictions, conversational PR, pr, print media.
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I was reading an interesting article over the weekend on Social Media Today that weighs up the importance of social media versus advertising and discusses whether advertising is a dying game.

Over the pond, The Institute for Advertising Ethics was set up last week and, with it, hope that advertising will be turned around to get consumers back on side. By that I mean no more meaningless adverts, empty promises, half-commitments – there’s still a real opportunity around the globe for marketers to start engaging with their audiences through meaningful adverts that are relevant, current and thought-provoking.

I agree with the article’s author, Jonathan Salem Baskin, in so far as adverts have begun to be regarded or labeled as ‘bad’. We see it as an opportunity for brands to broadcast their messages to anyone looking in that direction with no or little engagement – something that social media definitely has the upper hand on with its real-time ability to evoke a two way conversation on a subject.

But, having been an advertising professional myself for several years, I’m encouraged to hear that there is still hope for ads if the industry is willing to stay open minded and, ultimately, reform to meet the current market’s expectations of what a brand should be doing. I genuinely believe that traditional methods of above the line marketing including advertising can definitely complement below the line activities. After all, a well thought-out integrated through the line campaign surely has to have a stronger impact than just elements of social media outreach and some full page ads at the back of a magazine?

Time will only tell on this one. But I think we’d be making a mistake to dismiss traditional methods of marketing too quickly. Social media is indeed the way forward for most brands but, if we as PRO’s stay open minded enough, we should be working with marketers to ensure that the brand’s best interests are the priority. And that we really are engaging with consumers in the most appropriate way, not just the way the industry is moving at that point in time.

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.

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