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+.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook Page | Julio Romo

Last week Facebook unveiled it’s ‘Facebook for Businesses‘ guide to help small and medium sized businesses reach out to the over 750 million users that the social network has globally.  Designed as an easy walkthrough the site has worked to highlight the simplicity of reaching out and building communities around individual business communities.

For many small and medium businesses Google has been the default when it came to online marketing, with many focusing on trying to get their business high-up the search-giant’s rankings.  But shopping is social, focusing and benefiting from social recommendation, something that Google is trying with it’s Google+ offering.

After some time I have set-up a Facebook Page [please like if the content I share are of benefit] – mainly to keep my profile specifically for friends and family.  For those in public relations, journalism and social and digital media I will be using my Page.  And why segregate my Facebook into a Profile and a Page? Well, simple, an email from a friend who said, “dude, going to ‘unfriend’ you, nothing personal but all your chatter/comms is too much! Clearly still proper friends and happy to email etc.

Facebook for Businesses makes some specific recommendations for businesses, including:

  • Setting some goals,
  • Sharing exclusive content and engaging with your community,
  • Checking and updating your followers, and
  • Creating a conversational calendar.

Google+’s offering is looking good, I can be found at gplus.to/JulioRomo.

These top tips are making Facebook fleet of foot in capturing business from hard-working sme’s.  Google+ is meanwhile delaying it’s businesses offering until the end of the year and even deleting companies that have set themselves up on it’s ‘Plus’ platform.

Google has a long way to go to deliver a simple solution that reengages businesses offering them solutions that allow communities to engage with their recommendations.

There are plenty of offerings for businesses. The best way to promoting yourself is by trialing Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and even integrating these into your site.  Simply said, it is about being seen.

Facebook is moving into the news business, hoping to capitalise on news outlets latest refocus on social networking.  It’s Edition’s project will see the networking giant face-up to Apple and Google, who are both working on project to monitise our appetite for news in real-time.

Fifteen years ago news outlets opted to make the content that had a cover-price free online, a strategy based trying to get a slice of the then large online advertising pie.  Then, after putting all of it’s eggs in one basket, it faced with a severe decline in advertising revenue, forcing many newsrooms to cut their staff.  Then, after much strategising some outlets opted for paywalls, a decision that to this day still causes plenty of debate in the news industry.  Some outlets, like the The Times, Sunday Times, New York Times and the Financial Times delivered various options – fully restrictive or freemium services.  It all appears to have provided some security for the medium-term.

Enter Facebook, who with over 750 million members has decided to move into the news business with it’s Facebook Editions – an app that allows users to consume news within it’s walls.

News outlets had been working with Apple and it’s Newsstand offering which would update subscribers news subscriptions via an exclusive App.  I wrote a post about this in September 2009 about the ‘Changing And Charging TimesFor News.’ Many outlets have signed-up to Apple’s Newsstand.  Others haven’t, not liking the terms set out – including a 30% fee for Apple.  The Financial Times is a case whereby they have taken their content from the App Store and have developed an HTML5 site that can be accessed through iPhone, iPods and iPads.  Developed by Assanka, the HTML5 app is fluid and smooth and as a subscriber I have to say that it set’s the standard.

Facebook knows that over a third of its 750 million users access the site through mobile devices, and those who access the site on a cell-phone or tablet as active than traditional desktop users.  This explains why news outlets like CNN, The Washington Post and Rupert Murdoch’s The Daily are wanting in on Zuckerberg’s next project.

The fact is that the consumption of news has not diminished, it has most probably risen.  Start-up’s like Flipboard show how we the consumer like our news to be gathered from trusted sources that can verify content, such as journalists, as well as from friends and peers that can deliver unverified news, enabling us to be the first for news.

The speed at which news is consumed is what the PR community is going to have to focus on as outlets compete to deliver quality content.

House of Lords member Lord Stoneham of Droxford yesterday used Parliamentary Privilege to make public details of an #injunction that former #RBS Chief Executive Sir Fred Goodwin had on the story that he was involved in an extra-marital affair while the bank was collapsing in front of him.

The comments were made in the Chamber at the Palace of Westminster hours before legal teams met at the High Court to discuss said gagging order, with one party seeking to have it overturned.  Sir Fred himself did not object to the removal of the injunction, which enables the media to run with a story that will put plenty of heat on him once again.

Injunctions and super-injunctions have been making the headlines recently because media outlets have been unable to report on the more salacious stories that are doing the rounds about high-profile personalities.  The pub gossip that people take part is censured.  Some people criticise the judiciary, claiming that it undermines the press.  Others believe that Privacy is a basic human right that requires individual mistakes to not be splashed in the press.

My view is that the press and the individuals using these injunctions and super-injunctions are right.  The problem is that in between both arguments lies what is known as public interest, a term used by the media as a ‘catch-all.’  With this self-regulated tool, the media can invade the privacy of anybody and any organisation.  And there lies the problem.  Organisations need to be accountable, as do the people working for them and for government.  That said, there is a fine line that divides a mistake from the effect it has on an organisation.

The law has always been a tool in the public relations armoury.  Reputation management has used the law to gag a story from being discussed in the media, very much under the impression that if the media is not able to run the story then nobody will know the issues that can be damaging to their clients reputations and trust.  This is naïve, stupid and out dated.  Public relations is rarely able to repair the damage that requires this kind of force.

Yes, there is a need for Privacy and there is a need for injunctions and super-injunctions.  The question is, should they be made available and affordable to everyone?  Yes.  Should there be further debate on which applications receive one?  Yes.  Duplicity and double-standard needs to be outted.  From a public relations perspective, reputation management is always harder when the damage has been done, even though said damage is not yet in the public arena.

How many times have we as PR professionals held our head in our hands wandering how we can repair the damage by some ill-conceived decision or action?

The current debate about injunctions and super-injunctions is of course in the media because details of many of these have been outted to social networking sites.  The fact is that we live in a less media centric world where consumers of news can obtain gossip and stories online.  It is this that smashes the legal structure and protection that the law affords to individuals to protect, rightly or wrongly, the privacy and reputation.  But this in itself is a misnomer, because sites such as Google, Facebook and Twitter are based overseas in jurisdictions with firm legal structures.

Social and search sites can be notified and given due time to remove content that libels clients.  But this course this course of action to protect one’s soiled reputation carries it’s own risk – reputation is about trust and trust is won and lost in the court of public opinion.  It is the members of this court – you and I, that gathers information and consumes it.  The fact is that we live in a world where there is less control, which is why PR should learn this and work within the new structure that social networking has created.

I have given presentations to a series of law firms, highlighting how social media and it’s central pillar of information sharing, which happens cross jurisdictions can undermine their work.  The skills and ability to share information without leaving a trace is there.  The internet is a channel that crosses geographical boundaries.  There is concern that such tactics are being used within journalism to undermine the case for privacy.  It is a case of cat and mouse, and at the moment the media is the mouse the law is the old lethargic cat.

Social media has become a tool that can undermine law and if not undermine then push it into the 21st century.  For many the law is just a form of censorship that prevents free speech and public interest.  In fact a well-known blog has made available a Google Document listing all the supposed injunctions that currently exist.  Today it is a question of if you search you will find.

Reputations today are being saved and more importantly destroyed by our own human willingness to engage in hearsay and gossip.  Individuals, companies and brands spend a lot on projecting an image that attracts business.  They should be protected, but only if the actions for which they seek an injunction or super injunction are not duplicitous.

Reputation management is today a skill amongst public relations practitioners that requires real-time management.  Controlling a crowd is nigh on impossible.  Once the damage is done an injunction will only act as a plaster.

PRs have to work not just with the legal court, but importantly the court of public opinion, a court that is a well briefed by content that is available online.

BREAKING NEWS:

It appears that a UK Premier League player has started legal proceedings against Twitter to secure the disclosure of the currently ‘unknown persons’.  Legal firm Schillings said in a statement, “to obtain limited information concerning the unlawful use of Twitter by a small number of individuals who may have breached a court order.”

We assume that such action will be taken by a partner law firm in California, though given that the unlawful act has taken place in the UK, a separate legal jurisdiction, it is going to be tricky to see how this works.  Of course, if those people who started the allegations are in the UK then they will not be eligible to America’s Constitution First Amendment, which allows free speech.