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

The end of Google Reader, but not for RSS feeds
The end of Google Reader, but not for RSS feeds

In a recent blog post Google announced the closure of Google Reader. The service, which is an aggregator of content served by web feeds, will cease on 1st July.

Google reader has become an essential tool for journalists, PRs and those in communications roles in business and the public sector. It has allowed users to subscribe to websites and content that used RSS web feed formats.

The announcement by Google in it’s blog ‘A Second Spring Cleaning‘ took many by surprise as the service is still very popular with influencers in media and communications. In a Sysomos blog post a few days back Mark Evans states, ‘When It Comes to Digital Influencers, Blogs Rule.’

Google Reader went live in October 2005. It was created by by Google engineer Chris Wetherell (@cw), Mihai Parparita (@mihai) and Jason Shellen (@shellen). Former Google Labs Product Marketing Manager and now Instagram founder Kevin Systrom (@kevin) was also responsible for pushing it out of the Google Labs team.

In the past five years, Reader has been adopted by a wide group of people, especially journalists and those working in communications roles in business or the public sectors.

Journalists have been using Google Reader to aggregate RSS links. It has enabled them to be alerted when an organisation in a sector they cover updates their website. Reader has also allowed them to monitor independent bloggers that could be first with insight and so be valuable independent commentators. And while we have taken to Twitter and other social networks, RSS feeds today still enable us to get the content, from the coal face, and without the noise.

Visiting Professor at London’s City University’s School of Journalism Professor Paul Bradshaw (@PaulBradshaw) is a fan of RSS feeds, having taught students about the value of feeds in his Online Journalism Courses.

Even for PRs, Google Reader has become an essential tool for monitoring content online. And the fact that Google Reader is cloud based is another reason why those working in-house or agency-side have it as a default tool on their desktop, mobile and tablet.

The fact is that while Google has killed Reader, it has not killed RSS feeds. And while a campaign has been started that asks Google to save Reader, it is unlikely to change the search giants decision.

If you are scratching you head and wandering what to do, then for the time being you need not panic. Google has given us three and a half months until 1st July to export our feeds and find an alternative service.

I use Silvio Rizzi ReederApp (@ReederApp). On Twitter, Silvio posted  yesterday, ‘Don’t worry, Reeder won’t die with Google Reader.’ This app enables me keep my feeds synced while I am on the go, hence the value of it being cloud based.

Paul Bradshaw has a Google Doc that lists all alternative RSS aggregators. A great document and one that’s worth a look.

And once you have found you alternative this Lifehacker post gives you details on how to export your feeds from Google Reader and import them to your new service.

For me, the essentials for an alternative include:

  • Be a cloud service – you can access your feeds from you desktop, mobile and tablet
  • You can star and tag content that you read
  • You can share content across your networks – Twitter, Evernote, Delicious
  • It have a Bitly functionality
  • It has search capability.

So, in short, what I want is for Google Reader to stay with us!!

***UPDATE 17/03/2013***

Social Times reports in a post ‘Why Google Is Really Pulling The Plug On Readerthat the reason behind Google’s decision to kill Reader is ‘that Google will launch mobile news subscriptions to compete with Apple’s lucrative Newsstand.’

Writing in Social Times Cameron Scott (@ConcertoMates) reports, ‘A former Google Reader product manager offered a different, but complementary, analysis on Quora. Brian Shih argues that Google repeatedly endeavored to pull technical staff from Reader and reassign the staffers to social products.

Shih’s account suggests that Google saw Reader as competition for Google+. The company may want its users to rely on Google+ to get more Web content in one place.’

Meanwhile BuzzFeed is reporting that Google Reader drives more traffic than Google+.

FT Weekend Magazine November 16, 2012

The Financial Times is ‘one of the world’s leading business news and information organisations,’ recognised for its authority, integrity and accuracy. The prestigious Global Capital Markets Survey considers The FT as one of the most important business reads, with a reach of 33% of the most senior corporate and financial decision-makers surveyed in the world’s largest companies.

Total circulation for The FT stands at 600,000. This includes 313,000 paid digital subscribers who get access to premium content that sits behind a paywall.

Every Saturday though the newspaper publishes it’s FT Weekend Magazine. This glossy supplement has a very different style than the weekday FT.

The CIPR Greater London Group had the privilege recently of hosting a breakfast with the Magazine Editor Sue Matthias (@suematthias), her deputy Alice Fishburn (@AliceFishburn), as well as Associate Editors Natalie Whittle (@NatalieWhittle) and Sue Norris.

We wanted to know the workings of The FT Weekend Magazine and the Do’s and Don’ts when pitching to a supplement that reaches influential high-net-worth audience.

Speaking at the meeting, Sue Matthias reminded us that her magazine has a very different audience to the newspaper. It is not a business magazine. And to confirm this fact, Sue highlighted that 70 per cent of FT Weekend Magazine readers do not buy the FT on Monday to Friday.

Audience demographics for the magazine tell us that readers are aged in the late 30s to early 40s and are split evenly between men and women.

Reading The FT

Unlike the newspaper online, the magazine DOES NOT sit behind a paywall. Content is available openly to everyone that logs on. This generates a ‘second life’ for content that has already appeared in print.

The magazine presents content in a reportage style, focusing on features and investigations. Pictures and other visuals are very important.

Feature lengths vary between 1,200 and 4,000 words and have lead times of between 1/2 months to a few days.

The working week for the magazine starts on Wednesday afternoon, just after they have put the coming weekend issue to bed.

Sue advised PRs that the best time to contact The FT Magazine team is on a Thursday or Friday. Between Monday and Wednesday you are more than likely to be ignored.

Matthias prefers approaches via email and NOT via phone. Equally, and with The FT being an international title with regional online editions, remember to establish a relationship with your closest FT bureau, let it be in Singapore, Beijing, New York or San Francisco. If you are based outside of the UK then pitch to them as the magazine team keeps in touch with the FT’s foreign bureaus.

Sue’s top three tips when pitching to The FT Weekend Magazine:

  1. Know The FT Weekend Magazine and the section to which you are pitching. There needs to be a connection. And keep the feature idea broad, relevant and flexible. If they like it they, then be prepared for your concept to be restructured.
  2. Be aware of times and deadlines. Pitch with as much notice as possible.
  3. When selling-in, only do so via email. And remember to have an eye-catching subject. Then wait. DO NOT follow up with a phone call. Let them come back to you.

Remember that with content online the FT Magazine will very rarely (read NOT) include linkbacks to clients. So don’t ask for this.

For many PRs The Financial Times Weekend Magazine is an aspirational title. But getting in the magazine is not about the PR, it is about the magazine. If it’s good enough for them then it is great for you. Simple advice.

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.