RISJ Digital Survey 2013
RISJ Digital Survey 2013

Research from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) at Oxford University has found that mobile phone are becoming the main to news for people on the move.

The report, which surveys news consumption habits in France, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Japan, Brazil, and the US, as well as the UK, found that audiences increasingly want news on any device, in any format, and at any time of day.

The report identifies 25-35 year olds as the age group most willing to pay for online news across all nine countries surveyed. Yet just over one in ten (11%) of online users of all ages who participated in the survey said they had paid for news in the last year – about one third higher than the average in the 2012 survey.  The report says that this rapid increase can be partly explained by the relatively low starting base, but it highlights significant growth in the percentage of consumers who have paid for digital news in countries such as the UK, France, Germany, and US.

The survey also shows surprising national differences in the rate of online participation. The Spanish (27%), Italians (26%), and Americans (21%) were more than twice as likely to comment on a news story via a social network as the British (10%). Meanwhile urban Brazilians were five times more likely to comment on a news site than the Germans or Japanese surveyed, and nearly half (44%) shared a news story on a weekly basis via a social network, with around one third (32%) doing so by email.

Of those who are not currently paying, across all the countries more than one in ten (14%), on average, said they were ‘very likely’, or ‘somewhat likely’, to pay for digital news in the future.

The way that people are consuming and commenting on news is having a defining effect on public relations. Many organisations are going to have to realign their engagement and outreach work, and spend more time listening and learning.

If you would like a copy of the report then with thanks to @NicNewman you can download a copy from my Scribd account below.

 

Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2013 by twofourseven

Instagram, here today, gone tomorrow?
Instagram, here today, gone tomorrow?

Everybody loves a start-up. They are new, agile and the so-called ‘gurus’ like to describe them disruptive. The problem though is that many often lack basic business experience – common sense leads many to be here today and gone tomorrow.

Enter Instagram, which was founded by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger in October 2010. Instagram was one of the first photo sharing and social networking services that enabled users to ‘take a picture, apply a digital filter to it, and share it on a variety of social networking services, including its own.’

Instagram was a runaway success. Within it’s first year the application had over 5 million users, a figure that grew to 30 million by April 2012 when Facebook approach the company and bought it for a cool $1 billion. Today, Instagram has 100 million registered users.

Facebook though isn’t going to buy such a company without thinking of how to monitise it.

Which is why on 5th December this year Kevin Systrom announced at Le Web that Instagram was going to block Twitter from displaying photos as Twitter Cards. This announcement didn’t go down that well with users who shared their photo’s on Twitter.

The removing of Instragram from Twitter cards was nothing in comparison to the announcement on 18th December that the company was changing its terms and conditions. Under the new policy, the company would have the rights to sell users’ photos to advertisers without “compensation or notification.”

This announcement was described by users as a ‘suicide note‘, especially after Instagram announced that the only way to opt-out was by deleting a users account before 16 January 2013.

Instagramers took to Twitter to denounce the new terms and conditions. High profile photographers deleted their accounts and the media, rightly so, went negative.

Kevin Systrom took to the company blog to try and manage the crisis. In a post he appeared to claim that users had misinterpreted its revised terms of service. He blamed the furore on “confusing” choice of language.

Blaming the language is an odd strategy, as legal documents are supposed to be written in plain English. And in any case, any change in terms of use should have gone through both compliance and PR.

What is stranger is that given that this was not the first time that a photo sharing site had both been caught trying to claim copyright over users content, it was odd for Systrom to blame ‘confusing language.’

Let’s remember that in May 2011 Twitpic, which went mainstream after a user captured a US Airways plane crash landing on the Hudson River, announced a change in its terms and conditions. The changes sought to secure copyright over all images on the network. A backlash ensued with users hastingtaging #twitpic #delete.

Twitpic founder Noah Everett apologised on the site’s blog for the “lack of clarity” in the language used. Photo sharing network Plixi was also caught in a similar situation when entered into a deal with World Entertainment News.

Fact is that many photo-sharing sites have tried to monitise their business by trying to grab exclusive copyrights from users.

Networks such as the Yahoo-owned Flickr tried something different though. In May 2009 Flickr entered into a deal with Getty Images. As part of the deal Getty can approach users in order to secure a deal on an image that they have taken. Users can then take anything between 20 and 30 per cent of sales through the renowned global picture agency.

And Getty is not the only site that offers to pay users. The Agence France Press backed Citizenside acts as an agent for pictures that are sold, often passing 50 per cent to the user.

So the question to Instagram and Facebook is, why try and grab everything and then blame the lawyers, when you could have set the scene for crowdsourcing opportunity for amateur photographers?

Photo sharing sites have tried to grab copyright from users in the past and failed. Perhaps, sharing money earned would have enhanced Instagram’s reputation.

Perhaps speaking to your PR, Instagram could have saved themselves a lot of grief.

As it stands, and according to Andrew Beaujon at Poynter, ‘unhappy Instragram users are still suspending their accounts.’

Twitter Cards
Twitter Cards – Julio Romo: Google AuthorRank, What PRs Need To Know

Earlier this year Twitter rolled out Twitter Cards, a unique feature that would allow partner websites to present their content on Twitter in a more engaging way.

The service was initially designed to help media organisations preview in their Expanded Tweets content, images and video that they had just published on their websites.

Initially developed for journalists and publishers, this opt-in feature allows sites that offer ‘great content and those that drive active discussion and activity on Twitter‘ to potentially secure increased click-throughs from to their websites their tweets.

For Twitter, the aim was simple, to further position the network as a primary source for real-time news, content and comment.

I have been testing Twitter Cards Expanded Tweets for a few months now, to see if the feature could be used by companies and brands. And if so, if Expanded Tweets could help content creators secure increased engagement from the communities they have around them.

For brands to make the most out of the Expanded Tweets feature they are going to have to seriously look at the content that they create and publish on their websites. Get the tone and voice wrong and you will see no change in the level of interaction – reinforce negative perceptions. Adapt your brand style and how you communicate online and Expanded Tweets could help how your content is seen and shared by influencers on Twitter. To put it in simple terms, brands are going to have to learn how to become publishers.

Here are a few tips to guide you how to use twitter cards for blogging and content marketing.

What is Twitter Cards?

Simply put, Twitter Cards is a facility that enables you to present the content you publish on your website in a more engaging way on Twitter.  The feature will:

  1. Give you control of how your content is displayed on Twitter
  2. Help drive more traffic to your site
  3. Increase the number of people following your company on Twitter through content attribution.

And it is content and the attribution of it that is central to what Expanded Tweets is. Facebook Open Graph already enables how content is displayed and shared by individuals, while Google’s own Author Rank, which I wrote in this earlier blog post, confirms how people and what they share has become central to how reputations are built and authority is gained online.

Today, PRs have to remember that to help establish your brand and the thought-leaders within it you have to think about people, the content and the knowledge that is there to be shared online.

How do I activate Twitter Cards for my website?

There are three quite simple things you will have to do:

  1. Read Twitter Cards documentation and add the appropriate markup to your website – typically just 3 lines of HTML
  2. Test the markup using Twitter Cards Preview tool, and
  3. Once you have added the markup to your website, fill out this Twitter Cards application form and include a link to a representative page containing markup. Note that your submission will be rejected automatically if you have incomplete or broken markup.
Twitter Cards HTML Code for Twitter Summary Card

Once you have submitted your email application you will have to wait for an email from Twitter confirming that your request to be included in Twitter Cards has hopefully been approved.  Following the activation and depending on the type of content you publish on your site, tweets will be shown in three different forms:

  • Summary: The default card, which includes the title of your story, description of the post, thumbnail image used on the article, and Twitter account attribution
  • Photo: A Tweet sized photo card showing image posted on your site
  • Player: A Tweet sized video/audio/media player card displaying content that can be clicked and played

Twitter Cards will attribute both the author of a post by mentioning their Twitter handle and the Twitter account of the site that carries the content.

Why has Twitter launched this service?

A lot of people are turning to Twitter for real-time news. Today though news comes not just from traditional media outlets, but from bloggers and influencers online. As I have mentioned before, many news outlets are no longer battling to be the first for breaking news. Instead they are focusing at verifying and curating the content that people are capturing and sharing around the globe.

Today, everybody has a community around them and Twitter is aiming to be the hardwire that connects us.

I am a PR within an organisation that traditionally just publishes press releases on our website, can I use Twitter Cards?

Yes, you can. But don’t expect to improve the level of engagement between your audience and your brand if the content that you share has no personality.

The challenge that you are going to have to overcome is that of developing a tone and personality that your brand is going to have to use online and in real-time. Think of your team as a newsroom. You might have to:

  • Adapt the structure of your website
  • Increase the amount of content that you share on your site,
  • Increase the frequency of the content
  • Attribute individuals to content – CEO, CIO and other internal thought-leaders, which will require you to develop their own online personalities. Google search results is pushing people with authority to the top of rankings. Twitter is looking to do the same.

Get it right and over time you could see increase engagement between your audience and your brand.

As a consultant I have spent time reviewing the communications departments of clients, restructuring and training teams to ensure that they are more flexible and their content is more in tune with what their audience wants.  Through PR and social media consultancy I help companies and brands capture the ground and enter the conversation – teaching how to listen and engage. The aim is to help get their audiences talking and carrying their messages off-line.

Twitter Cards is just one tool that can help brands increase engagement. One tool that can maximise conversations and discussions.

Google Author Rank - Own Your Content
Google Author Rank – Own Your Content and Share Your Expertise

Last year Google quietly began to support ‘authorship markup’, which the search engine giant described as ‘a way to connect authors with their content on the web’.  Initially, the authorship markup was seen as exclusively benefiting journalists and bloggers.  Google stated in it’s blog post that, ‘if an author at The New York Times has written dozens of articles, using this markup, the webmaster can connect these articles with a New York Times author page.’  But, what about the content that PR professionals write? What about the press releases, features, briefing documents, blog posts of industry influencers?

Public relations professionals are responsible for developing and writing content that pitches a story to specific communities and audiences. More often than not, this collateral is nameless and as such acts as background for respected writers in the public domain.

So, What Is Google Authorship Markup and Google Author Rank?

Google Authorship Markup is very simple.  It is a basic coding procedure that allow authors to connect to their content online.  The purpose is to help people find and ‘read content written by credible and knowledgeable individuals.’

Meanwhile, SEOmoz state that AuthorRank is how Google will assign authority based on a number of key criteria:

  • Average PageRank of an author’s content
  • Reciprocal connections between high AuthorRank authors
  • The level of on-site engagement – comment’s, responses, etc
  • Third-party authority indicators – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora, presence on Wikipedia
  • A Google +1‘s of author’s content
  • Number of people in your Google Circles and proportion that score a high AuthorRank

When you put it all together you start to see the importance that AuthorRank delivers individuals with real world expertise – thought leaders.

Writing plenty of posts is no longer a way of getting up Google’s rankings.  What you willneed is the support of a network of influencers to see and read your posts and give them a ‘+1’ endorsement.

How is Google Author Rank relevant to my brand or company?

Google Authorship Markup and AuthorRank are going to transform the way in which niche thought leaders and experts are found online.  If it is your job to help build the reputation and authority of individual industry, political or academic individuals then you are going to need to know about how Google is changing the search game.

Reputations are built on authority.  Those with increased authority command a higher share of voice in the communities that they are members of.

You have to remember that online there are many voices fighting for the attention of individuals that in a quick second make a decision based on the authority and credibility of those that they read.

Companies, organisations and individuals compete every day to stand out from the crowd.  They do this by sharing knowledge, expertise and solutions.

Look within your own organisation and you will see individuals with specific insight.  It doesn’t have to be expertise at a global level, it could just be at a local level and within a niche sector.  Audiences are everywhere and it is by understanding how to best deliver your experts that you will meet the needs of your employer and audience.

Owning that authority online today is as important as owning it in offline media. This requires specific strategies that position spokespeople as leaders in their individual areas of authority.

Ok, so how do I help build authority online?

Firstly, continue to write good content.  In fact, great content that demonstrates expertise and gets people to share it within their own circles and communities.

Asses the material that you currently write, such as press releases and features.  Traditionally they are seen as ‘announcements’ written for the media.  Move away from a stale style of writing towards an engaging style for your audience that better resounds with the community you are working to position your expert in.

Remember to attribute copy to experts within your business that you are trying to position as thought-leaders.  It’s what newsrooms do, which is why you should.

Consider using brand ambassadors who have a presence online to guess blog.

As a PR, don’t let SEO’s, IT staff and web teams promote your content online.  Learn their skills and keep remembering the strategy and bigger picture.  Coding and SEO are a must-have skills for 21st Century PRs.

Oh, and you are going to need a new social network.  There is no if’s or but’s, you need to link your content to a authored Google+ account.  While Google remains the number one search engine, Google+ is going to become the must participate network for everybody who has expertise and wants to be seen online.

Google is changing business and communications.  Authorship markup and AuthorRank is a huge opportunity for PR.

Will all this make a difference to search rankings?

SearchEngineLand.com confirms that ‘there’s a hidden benefit to having authorship status.’  This being that if you click on a ‘authored story’ in Google search results, go to said site, read the story for, say, two minutes and then return to the search results, you will see a ‘more by the author’ area with 3 extra stories.

So how do I get a verified author status?

Simple, click on this link and follow Google’s simple instructions to get your author profile.

If you need to know more get in touch by email and we can talk strategies and solutions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ipsos Mori Hong Kong - Reporting Live From The Future
Ipsos Mori Hong Kong – Reporting Live From The Future.

PR, communications and advertising professionals have a battle on their hands as audiences become increasingly connected, more demanding and informed, according to research by Ipsos Mori Hong Kong.

In a report released last week, the global research firm sees innovation and creativity as essential skills to bring increasingly disloyal customers onside.

The report, which has a focus on the Asia-Pacific markets, identifies a number of key points that will affect in business in Europe, North and South America, Middle-East and Africa.  These include:

  • Convergence of disciplines – public relations, marketing and advertising
  • Rise of creativity for improved audience building and engagement
  • Increase usage of digital data in campaign development.

Convergence of Disciplines:

Audiences do not care about how brands are presented to them.  Far too often, the planning processes bring together siloed professionals that think of the integrated outreach from a singular point – advertising, marketing, public relations.

As I have argued many times, these disciplines are blending into one with the lead in campaign development being taken by communications professionals that understand the behaviour of audiences and individuals.  This in turn will force organisations to break down the internal barriers to ensure that their propositions are developed to ensure that digital maximises traditional channels.

Importance of Creativity:

Creativity, even in B2B, is becoming a must for brands and companies.  In the report, Ipsos Hong Kong found that , ‘Creative quality accounts for 75% of variance in campaign success‘ and that ‘strong creative can achieve higher recall in-market with less support that weak creative with a higher level of media support.’

Improving the creativity will help position messaging at the front of the audiences decision-making process.

Digital Data:

Social networks and media have gathered together data that empowers not just the audience, but marketeers and communicators.

At numerous conferences and speaking engagements I have stated that today’s PRs have to think in a forensic manner, understanding the audience and planning the delivery of messaging to create a response that will generate engagement.  Everything must be planned and accounted for.  From the concept, to the launch, to the touch points.  It is a journey that needs to be planned by PR, brining together disciplines to ensure that the audience engagement and journey is seamless.

Today though, PRs have data at their disposal.  Data that gives the business decision-makers better insight into audience behaviour.  Data that should rid us of that useless Advertising Value Equivalent.

Audiences are more disloyal than ever before, especially if they perceive that they are treated like the individual next to them.  Social networks makes people into individuals, empowering them to be unique and more demanding.  And it all starts with the listening and learning.