Archive for August, 2007
August 31st, 2007
Britain’s biggest selling daily newspaper The Sun will cost just 20p from Monday in London and the South-East. It currently sells nationally for 35p.
The move is aimed at keeping sales of the tabloid above three million copies a day. With the South-East accounting for 20 per cent of its sales, News International is obviously prepared to take a hit to circulation revenue in order to keep its hardcopy readership.
By comparison, News International will increase the cover price of the Times from 65p to 70p on Monday, bringing it in line with its rivals the Daily Telegraph, the Independent and the Guardian.
Bring on a newspaper pricing war I say! In my world the purchasing of newspapers is becoming increasingly a luxury rather than a necessity. My RSS feeds deliver all the news I can eat, but there’s still nothing like a weekend paper in the garden over breakfast.
August 29th, 2007
I’ve been monitoring his interviews with interest, and not just because he’s one of the founding fathers of the internet, but because he gives a masterclass in how to deal with media questioning.
This is a subject that’s been high up on the agenda at Liberate Media today, so I thought I’d use Vint’s interviews as a case study and sure enough he didn’t disappoint.
My immediate thought was how has he managed to steer clear of all the negative press that the internet has kicked up over the last few years?
My answer quickly became apparent in an interview with ITV news this afternoon when he seamlessly side-stepped a negative question about the less desirable side of the internet, by turning it on its head and highlighting it was in fact society at fault, which the internet merely reflected.
This isn’t a new revelation from Mr Cerf, he uses it fairly regularly, so I thought that BBC Radio 4′s Today programme would give him a sterner test. When asked a similar question focused on content, in his guise as Google’s chief internet evangelist, Mr Cerf admitted Google “felt a responsibility” when it came to content that people were accessing via its search engine, but added that the company did not have control over what users posted. Only when illegal content was brought to its attention should it be compelled to act.
Beautiful, he answered the question but at the same time removed himself and his organisation from the glare of blame.
This strategy continued and he remained non-committal about issues of regulating the internet and the legal repercussions of illegal content.
Of course this strategy wouldn’t work for all spokespeople. Mr Cerf is only rolled out for non-contentious evangelism, and I’m not suggesting it as the key to media training, but I did stand back and appreciate that he’s gone into each interview with a game plan and delivered his messages. He has steered the conversation masterfully and only covered the subjects he wanted to.
It’s no coincidence that his interviews and quotes all sound the same. There’s only one person in control and that’s Mr Cerf.
August 24th, 2007
The discussion has sparked passionate reaction with Ben Ayers at ITV, and Drew B, to name just a couple. I won’t attempt to reconstruct their sides of the argument here – please go and have a read as the conversation gets to the crux of the contentious relationship between PR and bloggers.
I find myself pulled in several different directions, as I’m a former digital journalist, PR and blogger. I have the utmost respect for Tom Coates’ side of the argument, and it’s a shame that he feels PRs have soured his enjoyment of blogging…but I don’t feel his argument is a fair representation of the entire blogosphere.
Blogging is by its nature an open communications forum. Those who include the facility for readers to provide comments are posting an open invitation for others to contribute to their views and editorial, and there is no reason why PRs shouldn’t be able to contribute in just as an intelligent and useful way as anyone else. Although I have done the unspeakable and crossed over to the dark side, I haven’t lost my sense of judgement or understanding in the process!
I totally agree with Ben Ayers’ argument that there is nothing wrong with blogger relations, so long as it is done well. If a PR decides to communicate with a blogger, it is because they respect the quality of their writing, and consider their authority on a subject to be equal or better to that of a journalist. The communication might be unwanted, but it should equally be taken as a compliment. Tell us once that you don’t want to be contacted again, and that should be the end of it.
The PR industry as a whole has a lot to learn about how to communicate with social networks important to their clients, but no one has the right to exclude us from doing this in the right way. The good PRs among us have a lot of knowledge and insight to offer to any conversation within their expertise, and have access to people who really know what’s going on. So long as our communication is well-researched and targeted, there should be no one holding us back.
Furthermore, it’s our job to make sure that our clients are listening to what’s being written about them online, to learn what’s important to their network. We can help the evolution of social media-led conversations if you let us!
August 21st, 2007
Hands up all those that want the internet to have more reliable data transfers at higher speeds, and be more resistant to viruses and crashes. Oh and end world poverty.
Everyone then? Well good news, it seems the Japanese have taken on this colossal task…all except the world poverty issue, but I thought if we’re dealing with miracles why not throw that one on top? No, too much? Ah well, worth a try.
According to Japanese communications minister Yoshihide Suga, Japan will start research and development on technology for a new generation network that will eventually replace the internet, entering commercial use in 2020.
I love it, what a great way to highlight your nation’s technological genius, while locking everyone in to your new network, than reshaping the digital world as we know it and starting a newer, cleaner, faster, more resilient internet. I’d love to see the budget for that project.
engadget has the story.
August 20th, 2007
We are what we read…well at least that is the hypothesis for a forthcoming TV documentary in which the maker, Nick Angel, gives up all news sources except the Daily Mail.
All television, radio, print and online news sources are excluded from his media diet for 28 days. His only source of news is the middle market tabloid the Daily Mail.
According to today’s report in the MediaGuardian, Angel begins the documentary with the belief that the Mail’s main purpose is to “terrify its readers” and make the world seem like a more menacing place. If his judgement is right, it will be interesting to see what mental state he’s in at the end of the month-long experiment.
It will undoubtedly make good TV viewing, but in terms of worth, the impact of print journalism is no longer where the media industry is focusing. A month with only the blogosphere for news might have been a more relevant experiment for today.
The documentary will be aired on Wednesday evening on Current TV.
August 16th, 2007
The ‘newspapers are screwed by search engines’, conversation spiked again this week, thanks to a couple of posts by former Wall Street internet analyst Henry Blodget, the most recent of which was yesterday, as reported by Jack Schofield on Technology Guardian today.
I’m not going to revisit the same conversation about Google reaping the rewards of newspaper content, or as Jakob Nielsen put it in Jack Schofield’s piece last week: Google “takes a big percentage of the money. The web is a web, and that is good, but companies invest a lot of money in creating content, and the money goes to Google for indexing it.”
True, fair play to Google, an opportunity has been identified and grasped. In my humble opinion, the same needs to happen with our newspapers.
The environment has changed, the rules have changed. Evolve now and there is a good chance of making it, but evolution will be painful and all-encompassing. The business model needs to radically and totally transform to reflect the move to free content.
Whilst it would be foolhardy to suggest that the newspaper industry can forget its print versions now, it is equally foolhardy to remain blinkered to the change that is happening, by believing that a traditional approach to news will work online.
Blodget very eloquently describes the possible remedies in his obvious conclusions section.
Furthermore, blaming this change on those that stand to gain the most achieves, well, nothing other than continuing to delay the change.
August 15th, 2007
The impact PR can have upon a company’s share price is dramatic, and this morning Nokia felt the effects when over half a billion pounds was wiped off its stock market value after admitting that 46m of its mobile phones were at risk of overheating.
Shares in the mobile phone manufacturer dropped by nearly 1% following the announcement, losing â‚¬0.21 to â‚¬22.42. This knocked â‚¬821m (Â£557m) off its market capitalisation.
According to reports, Nokia waited until 100 reports of phones short-circuiting had been received, before issuing a statement. One only has to do a quick Technorati search to see that the blogosphere is rife with negative commentary about the admission, which arguably didn’t come soon enough…
August 13th, 2007
The lack of data capacity in the UK is back on the news agenda today, and it seems the blame is being laid firmly at the BBC’s door…or to be more precise, the BBC iPlayer, which could eventually eat up too much capacity. Seems a little harsh to me, but first the facts:
The BBC’s iPlayer is based on peer-to-peer technology, meaning files are mainly distributed between users rather than being served by a main host, which of course increases the capacity required significantly, and passes the cost to the ISP.
In addition, on-demand services such as The BBC’s iPlayer and Channel 4′s 4oD, offer longer programmes at higher quality, which can be 30 times as bandwidth hungry as YouTube, according to a Tiscali quote on The BBC.
Okay, I’m getting the picture now. All these nasty broadcasters and start-ups are utilising the web to offer better quality services. How very dare they. They have the audacity to utilise the web for publishing their content, the very cheek!
Okay, maybe I’m being a bit unfair. I realise the ISPs can only work with the infrastructure in place and that the broadband structure in the UK cannot cope with the amount of data that users are demanding. However, it is a bit frustrating considering we’re not getting the broadband speeds we’ve been paying for, according to the latest research from Which? (The Times has the story), and now we’re told there isn’t enough capacity to support content delivery.
At the end of the day, this wasn’t a surprise, the increase in online video, the surge in UGC and different types of content distribution have been on the horizon for some time. If the network can’t deal with the capacity required, is there an open forum between the broadcasters and the ISPs to manage the capacity? Is it a case of too little too late? Or are we just bumbling along throwing more and more data at an aging network without any sort of structure?
A few practical solutions would be appreciated.
August 9th, 2007
This morning in my daily news swoop I’ve come across three Google news stories that have really tickled my fancy. So here is a quick Google news roundup for those interested, in no particular order of importance:
1. Top in the Viral Video Chart today is an SBS Q&A with Google CEO Eric Schmidt. The footage covers his response to the question “What does Google see Web 3.0 to be?” Although arguably the question is a bit premature, his answer is very focused on the evolution of web-based applications that can be used across any device, and will be “distributed virally, by social networks, by email…”.
2. Time magazine is reporting on how Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, the most visited reference site on the Internet and the second most visited domain after a Google search, is planning to take on Google. He believes search is in need of transparency rather than “black box” algorithms to determine what results are presented to users, and his Grub project proposes an open source distributed search crawler index that feeds off participants’ idle computer power. Ultimately he is hoping to create a better search experience by combining a computer algorithm with editors who monitor what results should be returned for any given search. But as Time asks, “can a viable search engine rely on the altruistic motives of its volunteer keepers?”
3. Techcrunch covers Google’s newly announced feature that will allow people to comment on Google News stories. Comments will only be accepted from a â€œspecial subset of readers,â€ which includes people and organizations who are part of the story. The initiative seems time intensive on Google’s part – read here to learn more about how it will work.
August 7th, 2007
The AOP‘s Dual Consumption Survey has been published today, summarising usage and attitudes across its member sites and their paper equivalents.
To put this into perspective, the AOP surveyed 26,926 people, across 37 sites, including the likes of BBC, BSkyB, The Economist Group, FT.com and GCap Media, so it’s certainly worth a look.
I can’t link to the survey, as it’s only accessible to AOP members, but I can offer an overview of the headline stats:
Overall, 60% of newspaper readers found online both faster for locating desired content, and more convenient than the print equivalent.
This was in contrast to magazine readership, where only 48% of respondents preferred the publications’ website for ease of access, suggesting news consumption is one of the key reasons for an online bias.
Both newspaper and magazine readers displayed strong belief in the online versions of their chosen titles, with 81% of newspaper respondents and 74% of magazine respondents considering print and online platforms to be equally trustworthy.
It seems today is the day for online newspaper-related reports, as The Veronis Suhler Stevenson (VSS) media sector report, has also been published. This is a widely respected US media forecast, and it shows the US online advertising market will grow by more than 21 per cent per year to reach $62bn in 2011.
This will make it bigger than newspaper advertising in the US, which is expected to total $60bn in 2011, a milestone which the UK will achieve significantly sooner, possibly even this year.
The FT has the full story.