The Newspaper’s Funeral

I can hear the faint but familiar sound of taps in the distant.

As metropolitan dailies continue to close their doors, the livelihood of news is dwindling. You can watch in horror on sites like Newspaper Deathwatch, which chronicles the paper’s untimely death.

So why after hundreds of years are we losing the very vehicle that has hand- delivered democracy to our doorsteps every morning?

Well, in part, we are a part of the problem. Our fascination with the Internet is costing precious advertising dollars to newsrooms that in turn cut staff in order to get by. Not to worry, those under paid staff members were only doing little things like ensuring accuracy, keeping us informed and making sure the entire world isn’t misguided.

With smaller staffs and a desperate desire to keep us engaged, news is resorting to sensationalism and 24-hour news cycles that care more about ratings than what is right. Just please the sponsors and advertising bucks, and remember, “if it bleeds it leads.” I’ll probably still be paying for my journalism/print news degree when I witness the end of this era that all my past generations shared in.

What we’re really dealing with is bigger than the death of newspapers. This is the death of news. The degradation of journalism as a whole that now cares more about the latest celebrity behind bars than the latest legislation in Congress.

Because we are part of the problem, it’s our responsibility to be part of the solution – a return to truth and substance in the news. Whether support will come in the form of government subsidies or philanthropic donations, something substantial must materialize. Something must stir in our minds to demand more than what we have now.

What do you think about the role of advertising in news? Where do you see the future of the news industry? What can we do to make a difference in the years ahead?



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To the Future and Beyond: 3 Emerging Trends in Communication

The computer forever changed the future of information sharing with the GUI and its easily accessible digital porthole called the Internet. One click and you’re barreling down a rabbit hole into an imaginary world of blue links and constantly streaming stories.

Though it is no longer a new technological discovery, the Internet continues to develop and transform the way we see the world and each other. As it evolves, three emergent trends are changing the way we learn, process information and form relationships. These trends are moving us toward hyperconnected communication, heightened user control and increased mobile access.

Let’s break it down now:

Hyperconnected Communication

Hyperconnectivity is the constant human-computer connection we experience through devices such as email, phones and Web 2.0 technologies. You may deny it, but chances are you are texting, messaging, emailing or browsing as you read this.

These incessant connections force us to seek streaming information from 24-hour news cycles where content must be updated by the second on our hip, in our purse or right into our hands.

Hyperconnectivity is drastically changing our information gathering and sharing. Post it. share it. Link it. These are all common phrases that are relatively new to our vocabularies. To keep up, organizations have to use more tools like social networks to engage loyal listeners who were once satisfied with having just a daily update of yesterday’s news.

Heightened User Control

User-centered information, according to director of branding and marketing strategy for Lenovo Mark McNeilley, starts with knowing your target customer. “It’s about knowing what is relevant to them,” McNeilley said. “Depending on what category you are in. Though for any person or company, you have to be more authentic now and have a dialogue. The new formula is to spend a lot on creative and just let the reach happen. It’s about better and better creative.”

As consumers become more resourceful through each other and the Internet, marketers and corporations will face the facts that users are in the driver’s seat for good. Marketing will no longer be about the quick sale. It is about developing relationships and providing unparalleled customer service that positions brands more as caring, sensible humans. To be user-centered, marketing must offer control, valuable information, community and a rich user-centered experience, complete with the opportunity to dialogue through user-generated content. When the public can see that a company has relinquished the reins of control, it can establish a sense of trust and loyalty for the brand and its products.

Mobile Access

If messages were coffee, they will be coming in a Venti-sized to-go cup. Instead of sticking to the communal office coffee pot, messages will follow consumers wherever they go, much like the omnipresent Starbucks’ empire found on every street corner. To create relationships with people, marketers and their messages have to be found where consumers are.

There is no electronic device more personal and omnipresent than the cell phone. The number of cell phones worldwide is larger than the number of households with Internet connections or even TVs. This ubiquitous lifeline stays in most people’s pockets or purses because it is the most convenient method for sending and receiving information at the drop of a hat.

Now and in the future, a cell phone is no longer just a way to call home. It is a GPS system, a music library, an Internet browser, a digital camera, a movie screen and a file cabinet for any and every application. Due to the localized, personal and constant opportunity provided by the mobile market, mobile marketing and communication will become an integral part of our landscape.

Now, obviously, this list is not comprehensive. I’m working on a much bigger list, but thought I’d give you a sneak peek of what’s to come.

Any suggestions?

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links for 2009-12-10

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links for 2009-12-07

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Five Commandments of Web Analytics

Mark Tosczak, senior account executive at RLF Communications, shared with me his top five tips for web analytics. And because I’m a giving person, I’m going to share them with you.

1. Your metrics shall be tied to your goals.

Every Facebook friend and pay-per-click should be tied to a big picture. Don’t do anything until you know WHY you are doing what you’re doing. Someone in a tie will eventually ask you this question and expect you to answer it within 3 seconds.

2. Evaluate results, not activities.

Pay more attention to click through rates than a mere presence on a site or social network

3. Thou shall understand the data.

Know what things like “hits” and “unique visitors” mean before you start throwing them out casually in conversation.

4. Don’t trust computers.

Computers are not very good at more qualitative and subjective measurements so use multiple evaluation methods in your research.

5. Always measure!

You can’t really beat Google Analytics in terms of free analytics tools.

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Solis’ Social Marketing Compass helps stray brands find true North

3987986119_01f18cc422-1OK, to those 50 (or so) percent who are not thinking before they tweet, take a second to look at the pretty picture to the left.

From the great makers of the Conversation Prism, Brian Solis and Jesse Thomas of JESS3, comes the brand new Social Marketing Compass.

This brightly colored information visualization illustrates how to cultivate a brand based on key emotions, channels, platforms and players.

According to Solis, the Social Marketing Compass points a brand in a physical and experiential direction to genuinely and effectively connect with customers, peers, and influencers, where they interact and seek guidance online.

In a technological era where tools are continually changing, we really cannot afford to voyage into the wilderness that is social marketing without at least a road map and compass at our side.

Media noise online and off is only going to get louder and some people will choose to combat it with a megaphone and good old-fashioned hollering (as we call it here in the South).

But—you and I are part of a very small and very smart few who know that the best remedy for noise is hanging on to what is constantly good and true. Honesty. Empathy. Sincerity. Are you with me? It’s a return to these virtues that should be the new building blocks for marketing. I think Solis is right on target with his very reminiscent model of the moral compass.

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