Archive for the ‘Journalism’ Category
March 20th, 2013
2013 has been a difficult year for the newspaper industry with press regulation post-Leveson enquiry and falling sales, but online growth offers a ray of light.
As we await the latest ABCs, a look back at last month’s figures show a sharp contrast in the outlook for newspapers online and offline.
- The Times suffered the least with circulation down just 0.94%
- The Mirror fell 5.91%
- The Daily Mail lost 5.97%
- The Telegraph was down 6.52%
- The Guardian shrunk 10.37% putting it below 200,000 circulation
- The Sun fell by 11.63%
- The Star dropped by 13.19%
- The Independent reported a 28.56% fall
The one winner, i was up 12.7%, helped by a 20p cover price.
However, online it’s a very different story.
Mail Online added nearly 1 million daily unique browsers month-on-month to end up with nearly 8 million – a new traffic record. The Mail site recorded a 13% rise compared with December to reach an average 7,977,039.
Guardian.co.uk also set a new traffic record with 4,319,370 average daily unique browsers, an increase of 17% month-on-month, helped by record video views that rose 40% from December to January to 11.3m across the month.
Telegraph.co.uk was up 11% month-on-month to 3,129,599 average daily unique browsers.
Sun.co.uk and Mirror Group Digital recorded 1,816,106 and 1,064,924 average daily unique browsers respectively, equivalent to month-on-months rise of 16% and 24%.
Independent.co.uk reported a 25% increase from January to 1,214,144 average daily unique browsers.
In terms of the free papers, The Evening Standard saw daily average browsers increase 45% month-on-month to 207,484 and Metro.co.uk recovered after a traffic dip in December following the launch of a more mobile-friendly site. Average daily browser numbers bounced back to 260,119.
We wait to see how the current figures look, but my bet is the trends will be much the same with online continuing to build and offline looking decidedly shaky.
February 19th, 2013
The Pew research Center has recently releases its U.S.- focused social networking report
which highlighted some interesting trends on who’s using social media most and which social networks are most popular.
You can download the full report here:
In summary: “The Demographics of Social Media Users 2012” study found that the most frequent social media users are women aged 18 to 29. Women have been significantly more likely to use social networking sites than men since 2009. In December 2012, 71 percent of women were users of social networking sites, compared with 62 percent of men.
Overall, 67 percent use Facebook, and 16 percent use Twitter, which is especially appealing to adults in the 18 to 29-year-old category. Key demographics are charted in the images at the bottom of this post.
Pinterest has practically caught up with Twitter, with 15 percent of adult U.S. Internet users.
Pinterest, which launched in 2009, has experienced explosive growth. Women are five times more likely to use Pinterest (5 percent vs. 25 percent) and almost twice as likely to be white and college-educated.
13 percent of U.S. online adults say they use Instagram, 6 percent say they use Tumblr, and 20 percent of U.S. online adults say they use LinkedIn as of August 2012.
40 percent of mobile phone owners use a social networking site on their phone, and 28 percent do so on a typical day.
The report also looked at Creators and curators, defining them as follows:
As of August 2012:
â€¢ 46 percent of U.S. adult internet users post original photos or videos online that they themselves have created. We call them creators.
â€¢ 41 percent of U.S. adult internet users take photos or videos that they have found online and re-post them on sites designed for sharing images with many people. We call them curators.
Overall, 56 percent of internet users do at least one of the creating or curating activities studied and 32 percent of internet users do both creating and curating activities.
Interestingly, not using social media may be an elite thing. Those with a college degree are slightly less likely than those with some college education to use social networks (69 percent vs. 65 percent).
December 14th, 2012
The UK is leading the way when it comes to shopping online, according to Ofcom’s International Communications Market Report.
The report looks at the take-up, availability, price and use of broadband, landlines, mobiles, TV and radio across 17 major countries: UK, France, Germany, Italy, the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Ireland, Poland, Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Ofcom’s figures confirm that consumers in the UK spend an average of Â£1,083 a year when shopping online, compared with Australia which spends the second highest at Â£842.
Mobile devices play a large part in the success of online retail in the UK, and we download more data from our mobiles than any other nation. In fact, 16% of all web traffic in the UK is from mobile devices, which is more than any other European country.
Outside of Europe, British mobile use still leads the way, for example; in December 2011 the average UK mobile connection used 424MB (megabytes) of data, higher than Japanese users who averaged 392MBs.
Considering the UK population’s love of mobile access, it’s not surprising that we have one of the highest penetrations of smartphones, with almost 60% of British mobile phone owners saying they have one, second only to Germany, and up from 46% in the last report.
Only 37 per cent use a desktop computer as their most frequent means of accessing the internet.
Social networks have played a key role in demand for mobile devices, with 40% of UK adults accessing their profiles via the medium.
British 18-to 24-year-olds are also proving to be the world’s top mobile social networkers, with 62% accessing their profiles from smartphones and tablets, a higher proportion than any of the countries analysed in the report.
October 8th, 2012
As you may have seen last week, the FT published a story titled â€˜PR and news boundaries are being redrawn’ and it was refreshing to read a piece on the PR industry, written by someone outside of the sector, that focused on a future beyond media relations alone.
The piece by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson overviews the evolution of PR and highlights the development of press release distribution services such as PR Newswire and BusinessWire. These services have a reputation as a channel to reach journalists, but are now being re-born as content distribution platforms.
This change mirrors the way the PR industry is changing as a whole, and this is now beginning to be understood from a wider business perspective.
In my opinion, the media relations tag attached to PR, or should I say shackled to PR, has limited its growth and wider potential as a strategic communications advisor. The PR industry should never have been defined by one tactic alone, and in fairness PRs should not have been willing to go along with the hacks / flacks story. This single minded approach contributed to PR’s slow reaction to the digital and social opportunities of the past 10 years, partly because it had been guilty of misunderstanding the relevance.
The simple truth is that PR has the potential to build the story of a brand, and by story I don’t mean misleading the market in the time honoured tradition of â€˜leading solutions provider of industry x’, nor do I mean developing stories in relevant media to convince audiences that brand x is the one they should choose.
I simply mean understanding a brand, its offering and its industry, and translating that understanding into conversations supported by useful content that can help it to communicate the brand’s true potential and vision.
The tactical implementation of that story telling is really where the industry has been hung up for too long, but the PR industry’s strength is that it can build and tell the story, regardless of the method in which it is delivered.
This isn’t a question of tactics, the story is the interesting element, it’s the story that builds interest in a brand, it’s the story that drives conversation and it’s the story that will bring results.
But I digress, back to the piece, which for me came to life in the final paragraph:
“Producing readable, watchable corporate content will not be easy. It will also require much closer integration of advertising, digital marketing, PR and investor relations. But search and social media trends suggest corporate content will only grow. Whether media outlets like it or not, every company will have to become a content company.”
Sweet words of wisdom.
Quality content delivered by the integration of so called â€˜channels’ that can no longer live separate from each other. That for me is the future, don’t focus too heavily on the implementation but tell the story.
After all, isn’t that what the PR industry should have been doing all along?
July 23rd, 2012
Bradley Wiggins, winner of the 2012 Tour de France is the new brand for a revolution in professional cycling.
He has, at a (pedal) stroke, reset the Tour clock to zero. From now, pro road racing – that most benighted of athletic trades â€“ will take its rightful place at the apex of sport. And the Tour de France will be at the forefront.
At the core of this revolution is the emotive word â€œcleanâ€.
Around 3.6 million people in the UK watched his ride into Paris yesterday (Sunday 22nd July) on ITV and ITV4 and many others were watching on Eurosport â€“ a very healthy number of eyeballs, given pro cyclingâ€™s tortured history.
You’ll know by now that Bradley Wiggins is the first pro cyclist from the UK to win the Tour de France butÂ Iâ€™m not sure whether everyone watching Bradley (@bradwiggins) understood exactly how unbelievably awesome his Tour de France performance was. Not sure if I do fully yet. I think he does, though!
I have seen some truly majestic battles in this hardest of all professional sports events since I first watched it on Channel 4 in 1987, when Stephen Roche rode the race of his life and we saw the epic finish of Stage 21 at La Plagne, which effectively won him the Tour, psychologically battering his main opponent Pedro Delgado.
In 1989, I was in France to watch Greg LeMond beat the late Laurent Fignon by eight seconds to win the TdF for a second time, less than two years after he nearly died in a hunting accident in the US.
In 1990, I covered the final time trial, which sealed LeMondâ€™s third Tour victory, for The Observer newspaper (if I do nothing else, I will die a happy man ).
Yet Bradleyâ€™s 2012 ride was so much better in every respect than these astonishing wins and will, in my humble opinion, never be bettered.
Because the taint of doping that has followed pro cycling around like familiar bad smell (think old wet dog) is finally gone. Itâ€™s been â€˜bradleydâ€™.
I always thought that UK pro cycling, shattered by Tom Simpsonâ€™s drug-associated death on the slopes of Mont Ventoux, was thereafter assigned the cultural role by journalists and some publics of providing a perfect example of what happens when you let working-class people loose in sport and offer them good money to cheat.
But from my time in sports journalism and following and loving sport for nearly 50 years, I know that pro cycling has not been alone in the doping derby.
To take one personal example – a very good friend, a female discus thrower who was UK national standard, was told by her coach in 1979 that for her to compete at international level she would have to take â€œperformance-enhancingâ€ drugs. But he said he would not want to be her coach if that happened. She quit.
Over the years Iâ€™ve heard numberless accounts of the penetration of doping culture into most sports, attendant to the professionalisation of these activities. Cycling was the only sport I saw being systematically branded as â€œuncleanâ€.
I am sure that Bradley Wigginsâ€™ Tour de France win will see a deep, lasting cultural change in attitudes to cycling. We are witness to the Birth of the Clean Age. Because of that, Bradley is the hottest property in professional sport.
In brand marketing terms, Bradley Wiggins is a new, unique form. John Reynolds over at Marketing magazine reports that Wiggoâ€™s commercial off-track earnings value would be around Â£5 million. If you trebled that, you might be getting close. Long live Wiggo. Long live Clean.
May 22nd, 2012
Charles Arthur, technology editor at The Guardian, has just published Digital Wars, a definitive history of the battle for internet dominance between Microsoft, Apple and Google.
It reads as a battle plan for the next global online war, indicating the strengths and weaknesses of the Big Three companies who dominate the terrain and, through example, hints at how to repeat history, with the essential twists that will propel a new company to success.
Digital Wars offers an uncomfortable narrative at times, as the great men leading these companies are revealed, warts and all. Charles Arthur is an iconoclast by preference, a healthy trait for any independent journalist. Hagiography rarely provides enduring, trusted sources for historians and commentators.
What distinguishes his book from the many volumes written about the Big Three is a passion for detail, checked and referenced facts, laced with anecdotes collected over decades of his professional writing career. There is a forensic quality in his writing that is as impressive as it is much welcomed.
The bookâ€™s scope is also a source of bemused wonderment. I do not know many writers who would move such a project beyond the initial-idea phase because the first imperative is to have detailed knowledge of and a firm historical perspective on each of the Big Three, a thorough grasp of the sectors in which they have grown, and a bullshit detector with the dial turned to 11.
Digital Wars chooses 1998 as the effective starting point for the closely-woven narrative, although it references earlier elements in the story of Microsoft and Apple, and there never is a Year Zero or An End in history. The chosen year is predicated on the arrival of the third of the Big Three, a start-up called Google.
There are so many lessons to be learnt from this book, not least that very, very clever people who team with very bright business people stand a better-than-evens chance of succeeding; and that the success or failure turn on a very few significant choices. And that if you want to build a global internet business, move to the US.
This book has a much to do with ethics and business culture as it has to do with the structural fault-lines and innovations of the internet over the past 14 years. Whether Microsoft is seen as â€œthe Evil Empireâ€ now by many, as it was in 1998, is unsure. But that cultural view clearly hindered its progress in responding to the threats posed by Apple and Google.
In contrast, Apple was a dying company at the end of the last century, but one that attracted passion and trust in equal measure from its customers, because they had internalised the Apple vision â€“ â€œfocus on the userâ€. All it took to revitalise the company was the second coming of Steve Jobs.
A second commandment in how to build a global internet company, identified by Charles Arthur, is â€œDonâ€™t moon the giant.â€ Netscape got that wrong and were crushed. Google didnâ€™t and went into â€œsubmarine modeâ€ for five years. The rest, you know â€“ or will when you read Digital Wars.
History never ends and Charles Arthur continues to map the progress of the Big Three. His recent article on the dangers of growing too big, with reference to Google is well worth a read.
May 18th, 2012
Two interesting pieces of research came out this week, each focused on the change in customer behaviour online, and the ever-growing importance of social CRM and social customer experience.
The first piece from Fishburn Hedges, which we picked up via econsultancy, highlighted that more than a third of UK consumers (36%) have engaged with brands through social media, which has doubled from 19% since August 2011 and equates to 18million people.
The survey suggests that the increased interaction is driven by the widespread belief among respondents (40%) that social media improves customer service, compared to only 7% who feared it would harm service.
Furthermore, 68% of those who have engaged with brands through social media believe that it “allowed them to find their voice.”
More than two-thirds (65%) also believe that social media is a better way to communicate with companies than call centres, and interestingly, more than a quarter of the 55+ age group had dealt with a brand on social media, rising to 49% of 18-24 year olds. (A break down of age groupings can be seen in the image below.)
The second survey is from customer intelligence agency Indicia, which highlights the growing trend of what it calls BIOR or ‘brand in their own right’, which is apparently how 20% of consumers see themselves.
BIORS understand the value of using social media to communicate their preferences and data in the hope of attracting targeted offers from brands.
More men (23%) consider themselves a BIOR compared to just 16% of women, with almost a third of BIORs aged between 18 and 34. BIORS also have looser purse strings and out-perform non-BIORS in six of 11 spend brackets (e.g. Â£751-Â£1,000) particularly in the higher spend categories of over Â£1,000 per month.
These research pieces reflect the evolving nature of the consumer, which we have referred to on this blog previously as the social customer. (you can find out further information in our guide to social CRM here)
In brief, the social customer is dynamic, hyper-connected and can shape business and brand reputation by defining an organisation’s value, relevance and reputation. As a result, social customers have compelled organisations of all types to be more customer-centric and have transformed the way in which organisations need to communicate with and, most importantly, listen to their customers.
Put simply, the social customer now owns the relationship, and every organisation needs need to earn his/her trust.
The social customer is also a driving force in the development of the online economy, which is rapidly growing and currently contributes 8.3 per cent to the UK economy. This is more than the healthcare, construction or education sectors.
UK consumers also buy far more from online retail sources than any other major economy and this is expected to continue expanding by 11% per year for the next four years, reaching a total value of Â£221bn by 2016. Compare this to growth rates of 5.4% in the U.S. and 6.9% in China.
Taking these points into consideration, the question becomes: are brands ready and able to listen and engage with social customers? Those that have evolved their approach to offer an open and relevant response will gain advocates and prosper, those that have not will miss out on a growing opportunity at best, and risk damaging the brand’s reputation at worst.
April 27th, 2012
For the last three days I have been at the InfoSec and Internet World shows. Fear not this won’t be a rambling post about the joys of trade shows or living in the airless atmospheres contained within Earls Court.
This post touches on the world of Information Security and its parallels with trade show partner Internet World. Okay, I admit, on the face of it this is not the world’s most exciting topic, nor is it likely to bring much respect in the world of comms, as my past experience of being in the â€˜Tech’ team of various PR agencies has proved. Back then, if you understood technology, you were part of the geeks in the corner that can fix the printer or set up an email account on your phone, but that’s about it.
Well, as we know, the tide has turned and technology in its many forms and guises is intersecting every part of our lives. This has been propelled in the most part by social media (more on that later) and mobile devices – referred to throughout the IT Security world as BYOD (Bring your own device) and anyone at InfoSec is no doubt full of stats from the many BYOD surveys available throughout the show.
At the risk of making sweeping generalisations, which i admit is a fear as there are of course examples of social acceptance and use among security vendors, but my experience over the last few days has shown that too many IT Security pros still look at social media as a risk, and not an opportunity.
On the face of it I understand why. Social media opens many points of risk to the very organisations that security companies are trying to secure. The traditional way of securing this risk is to block and control. I.e. block access to the sites in question and/or control those sites that are deemed worthy of access in the work place.
However, this doesn’t account for human nature and that dramatically over used acronym BYOD. In short, you can tell people that they can’t do something, but if it’s easier to choose the forbidden route, you can guarantee what the outcome will be.
Having spoken to a wide range of people at both shows over the three days, my general perception was those at Internet World weren’t very concerned by security issues, and those at InfoSec were not only concerned about the risks posed by social media and other digital channels, but in some cases were suggesting blocking and ways to circumvent social communications across the board.
Let me be clear that I completely appreciate the ever-growing problem posed by cyber-criminals and the multitude of very real and escalating risks. We not only lose money to these risks on a daily basis, but also risk our IP and physical security , which is perhaps the often overlooked issue that faces our governments and industry on a daily basis. Having seen just a small portion of the realities of these threats I completely understand the reaction of IT Security to social media. However, that doesn’t make it right or workable.
Let’s start out with that age-old argument of banning social media in the work place. In my opinion this is not a relevant response to the equally ridiculous notion that people will spend all day on Facebook instead of working, and it’s not a viable response to prevent people from sharing data on social networks. If it’s possible, it will happen.
Therefore, if you do ban social media, you will force people onto their own devices which will remove even more of that control that many are craving in the first place. So what’s the response? Well it starts with a culture change, which drives a technology change.
First, the culture. Social media cannot be forgotten, ignored or banned, so deal with it as part of the overall strategy, not something to be treated separately. Secondly, relying on people to use specific software or machines to access corporate information is also unrealistic, so security needs to be built into all devices, utilising security by design. Thirdly, if we can’t ban or remove social, we need to educate people about its correct use.
Obviously sharing corporate information on Facebook is not a good idea, just like writing your password on a post-it and sticking it to your monitor is not a good idea. Facebook is not the issue, the lack of understanding about the risks is the issue.
I have no doubt that social media needs to be banned in highly secure locations, but that doesn’t mean it can be banned across the board. People always find a way.
Without wishing to get preachy, the revolution in communications devices and channels is only going to continue gaining momentum, it’s certainly not going to go away and it’s unlikely to slow down. Therefore, ignoring or banning is not the answer for the majority that do not work in highly secure environments.
In my opinion, staging the InfoSec and Internet World shows on the same three days, and within five minutes walk of each other, was a missed opportunity to share information between these two sectors, as each could learn a lot from the other.
February 8th, 2012
The piece, written by FrÃ©dÃ©ric Filloux compared Facebook’s valuation 3 years ago, with its valuation now and pulled up some interesting data on its profit and value per user, then compared this to other social and traditional media.
The article set the scene with a snapshot of a Marc Andreessen interview, from February 2009, who was the creator of Netscape and a Facebook board member. At that time, the social network had 175 million users and Microsoft had just made an investment setting Facebook’s valuation at $15bn.
Andreessen was quoted on the vision for Facebook, saying: “6 billion people on the planet. Probably 3 billion of them with modern electricity and maybe telephones. So maybe the total addressable market today is 3 billion people. 175 million to 3 billion is a big challenge. A big opportunity.”
I’m sure there were a few raised eyebrows in 2009, but perhaps his statement is a little more believable today, although there are other issues such as strong competition in key markets, the member opportunity is indeed there.
Fast forward to last year (2011) when Andreessen was quoted commenting on Facebook’s funding ($1.3bn as of January 2011). Andreessen said the whole amount was actually a shrewd investment as it translated into an acquisition cost of “one or two dollars per user” ($1.53), which sounded perfectly acceptable to him.
As Filloux mentions in the article, if you look at Facebook’s pre-iPO filing: Marc Andreessen was right both in 2009 and in 2011.
So why the title of â€˜Facebook’s strange economics?‘ Well, this is where it gets interesting.
As Filloux points out, last year, each of the 845 million active members on Facebook brought in $4.39 in revenue and $1.18 in net income. He also pointed out that based on the $3.9bn in cash and marketable securities on Facebook’s balance sheet, each of these users actually generated a cash input of $1.53 dollars.
The article then suggests the expected market value for each user after the IPO, which is based on the $100bn valuation, comes out at a value of $118 per user.
Filloux then goes on to compare this to other social networks and more traditional media.
Looking at LinkedIn, which is obviously more specialised than Facebook, and has about 145 million users, it has a $7.7bn market cap and a value of $57 per user. However, LinkedIn makes $3.5 in revenue and $0.78 in profit.
The New York Times, until recently the most read online newspaper in the world, is a less straight forward case, as Filloux notes, simply because the company has numerous websites that deal with domestic and global users as well as traditional readers of multiple hardcopy titles.
Filloux suggested a figure of 50 million people worldwide who are in regular contact with one of NYT’s titles. Based on today’s $1.14bn market cap, this yields a valuation of $23 per NYT customer, five times less than Facebook.
However, there is a large anomaly because in 2011, each NYT customer brought $46 in revenue, almost 10 times more than Facebook. As for the profit ($56m for the NYT), each customer brought in a little more than a dollar.
Looking at traditional media company Gannett, Filloux noted it makes between $50 and $80 per year in revenue per customer, and, depending on the way you estimate it, the market values that customer at about $50.
This means Facebook or LinkedIn are flying high while traditional media are struggling; when Facebook achieves a 47% profit margin, Gannett or News Corp are in the 10% range.
This in no surprise in terms of the way social media are over taking traditional media, but the value per user is much lower. 10 times lower in fact, but the market values these users up to five times more.
Bringing this in to context, Facebook looks set to offer shares a multiple of 100 times its earning and 25 times its revenue. Apple is worth 13 times its earnings and Google 20 times. These kinds of figures do not tend to stand the test of time very well when the market matures, so beware of the Facebook Bubble as Filloux puts it.
The article offers real clarity on what has been one of the most dramatic valuations since the dotcom boom. Facebook’s success is undeniable and its meteoric rise to success/power is there for all to see, but surely the valuation is generous to a fault. Or too generous not to fault.
I have no doubt Facebook’s IPO will be a massive success, and the future of the organisation is bright, but why do we need to make a success story into a super success with falsely inflated valuations, when the real story is still pretty damn impressive?
July 29th, 2011
Earlier this week Charlotte McEleny wrote a piece for NMA titled: Social CRM needs to be defined.
Charlotte opened her piece by saying: “Social CRM is an exciting phenomenon for brands, but with a lack of definition, it is becoming a meaningless social media buzz phrase.” This sums up the issue well. Many people are now talking about Social CRM, but the reality is they are probably only offering one element within Social CRM’s remit, or beginning to appreciate the range of elements that must come together, and as a result, it is becoming a bit of a buzz phrase.
The issue of a lack of available case studies that Charlotte mentions is also possibly linked to this problem, as I doubt many of what we would now call Social CRM campaigns started out with that title. Instead, it’s likely that there were separate functions of monitoring, engagement and data management. Although we are now seeing these functions pulled together under the Social CRM umbrella, planned and purpose-built Social CRM campaigns are still few and far between and have little in the way of a track record to report back on.
So, I thought I would have a go at defining Social CRM, and also pull in definitions from other more recognized individuals in the sector.
Put simply, we believe Social CRM is about delivering improved customer service by managing customer relationships and data, and its main focus should be fully on â€˜Humanising the conversation’.
Wikipedia defines Social CRM as follows (quoting Paul Greenberg):“A philosophy & a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes & social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted & transparent business environment. It’s the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.”
One of the hottest discussion points at the event was that ‘Social CRM must go beyond Social Media Monitoring‘, although this is an important piece of the puzzle. The key is to understand this â€˜social data’ and exploit it fully, both internally and externally. Having social profiles and listening is not enough; you must be able to react, engage and offer useful insights that your community can benefit from. This, in turn, builds trust and helps customers focus on what is important to them. Therefore, considering this range of variables, Social CRM cannot be automated.
By investing in a Social CRM strategy, brands can expect to improve customer service, consolidate customer-related information and processes, evolve service offerings and open up invaluable conversations with customers.
We must approach Social CRM by offering a combination of social media monitoring, community management and engagement with a learning element that allows the brand to refine its customer services offering as a result of relevant feedback.
However, the truth is that there is no single correct approach to Social CRM, as each organisation has different focuses, challenges and customers. This is why we believe the Social CRM process must be developed as a strategy in partnership with the brand.
For further information, Mitch Lieberman, who also spoke at Social CRM 2011, has written an analysis on IBM’s Institute for Business Value “From social media to Social CRM” paper, which is an excellent guide.