I can picture a room full of editors working at a weekly or monthly magazine. Subscription rates are down due to online consumption and they’re searching for ways to be relevant and stir up some buzz. TIME did this with its “Are You Mom Enough?” cover last year, and this week, Rolling Stone decided to take it one step further.
In its August 1 issue, a picture of the living Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, takes up this prime real estate, with the magazine trying to make him look like a rock star (its eerily similar to other covers in the past, like these). The story itself examines how/why Tsarnaev went from being a seemingly regular kid to a terrorist, but the cover photo is clearly seen as insulting to the victims of the attack and everyone else who was affected.
If Rolling Stone’s goal was to grab attention, it was very successful. However, if its goal was to increase readership, well, it might regret the cover choice. Just take a look at a small sampling of the 6,000+ negative Facebook comments criticizing the magazine’s cover (below). For a magazine that has continuously slipped from mainstream attention, this bold move will be difficult to recover from.
Over the past few years mainstream news publications and newspapers have either had to adjust to a new world of media or find themselves in deep financial trouble. Most of the outlets (with some exceptions) have been smaller vertical or regional outlets, but a new media landscape affects everyone, not just the small guys. Two media outlets – or more specifically, magazines – have been the face of U.S. and world news, but are now being forced to adjust.
After being published from 1933 to 2012, Newsweek became digital-only, and now only published online and to their mobile application. The editors news chose a last print cover symbolic of its old and new world, combining the black and white look of its Manhattan offices with a hash tag – showing what was instrumental in forcing the company to forgo paper and focus on driving online traffic instead.
Competing with Newsweek every step of the away (and by many considered a small step above its competitor), Time Magazine just recently found itself in a new position. According to The Wall Street Journal,
Under the proposal being discussed, Time Warner would retain its flagship newsweekly Time, along with Sports Illustrated and Fortune. But the rest of its magazines, including People, InStyle and Real Simple, would end up combined with Meredith’s titles, which include Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle, whose readers are mainly women.
The deals that may soon happen could signal more changes to the media landscape as publishers look to maintain and expand profits. While print advertising has long been the main source of revenue for these media businesses, the time is finally coming where online revenue can be effective. Newsweek has already figured it out, and the ‘time’ is coming for Time Warner and others to do the same.
I’ve been known to, on occasion, overzealously hit “tweet” too soon. I haven’t reread my message and there will be some verb confusion, a missing link or an incorrect username. Thankfully, my 311 loyal followers don’t seem to follow me close enough to screenshot my mistakes and broadcast them to the world.
However, if you switch out @SamJHamilton for @[Insert Congressman Here], well, that becomes a different story. And when you switch out a Twitter message for CNN and Fox News’ homepage and major headline, well, that becomes a very different story.
Last week marked a landmark decision in healthcare: President Obama’s dream of an individual mandate was crushed. Oh, wait. That’s not right! No, actually, the individual mandate, and the vast majority of the Affordable Care Act, were found to be constitutional and were upheld by the Supreme Court. But, if you were watching or reading CNN or Fox News, you got a very different picture of the Supreme Court’s decision.
Both outlets incorrectly reported that the individual mandate had been struck down. In the media blitz to be the first to report the Supreme Court’s decision, both CNN and Fox News got the story completely wrong. This stereotypical “teachable moment” shows us something important: being the first to report the news of the day isn’t always the most important thing. If they had waited an extra minute, both outlets would have heard the rest of Chief Justice Robert’s opinion before calling in the wrong facts to their editors outside the courthouse.
This case of ill-reporting begs an important question: as a consumer of news, what’s more important to you, getting the fastest news or the most accurate news?
And it turns out that CNN and Fox News weren’t the only ones who were a little too quick on the draw that morning. Six politicians made Twitter-flubs as well. Notably, Dennis Ross, a Republican Congressman from Florida, tweeted to his 4,000+ followers: “Individual Mandate ruled unconstitutional. Let Freedom Ring.”
While all parties involved quickly deleted their tweets, nothing can really stay hidden when it comes to Twitter. As a public figure, there is undoubtedly someone watching and paying attention to your Twitter stream, especially for a decision as monumental as the one that happened last week.
For the public relations world, there’s a great deal to be gleaned from these reporting faux pas. Namely, make sure you have the correct information before tweeting or posting anything. Yes, being the first to get out a piece of news is undoubtedly tempting. However, it’s much more important to make sure you have the correct news now to keep egg off your face later.
In terms of the news media, do you think that our current media blitz country is diminishing the quality of journalism?
Social media has become the norm on the campaign trail, and is quickly becoming entrenched on Capitol Hill. Members of Congress and their staffers alike have taken to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and any number of other social media sites to interact with constituents, sway public opinion and counter political opponents.
Social media is even pushing traditional media aside as the venue for politicians and political parties alike to attack their opponents – often harshly. In recent months, both sides of the aisle have been engaged in an ongoing battle for women’s votes. Speaker John Boehner took this fight to Twitter, disputing Vice President Joe Biden’s recent claims of a Republican “war on women.” This month’s disappointing jobs numbers opened the window for yet more attacks by Republicans with Speaker Boehner tweeting to his 300,000 followers that “today’s #jobs report is more evidence President Obama’s policies aren’t working for families & small businesses.”
With new political battles being waged daily on social media, and political parties fighting to gain the upper hand, new opportunities are being created for citizens, companies and non-profits alike to engage legislators and their staffs through these same platforms. Because of security screening and volume, most mail and emails are not opened on Capitol Hill until well after a critical vote is taken. The immediacy of social media gives it an edge, and with so many Members and their staff taking part, this has become one of the best ways for getting your voice heard. It’s also increasingly effective because members of the media are now following Twitter discussions on Capitol Hill and watching discussions taking place.
For local citizens who need immediate assistance with an issue in their community, there has never been a better way to directly interact with their Senator and Member of Congress – and the same is also true for companies and non-profits who are looking for new ways to amplify their voice, or in the case of some small businesses, join the conversation. By interacting with elected representatives and their staffs in social media circles were they walk, companies are influencing media coverage, opinions and votes on legislation, and in some cases – election results.
In person meetings, mail and email will always play an important role in political offices. They remain an important way for constituents to get the services they need and deserve. However, those who adapt to these changing times effectively and adopt social media as a new tool will find new successes – while those who do not may pay the costly price of being left behind.
This article originally appeared in Racepoint Group’s Capital Ideas Newsletter. If you would like to receive subsequent issues, please use the following sign-up form.
This is a guest post by Evan Siff. Follow him on Twitter@Stairway2Evan.
While everyone is drooling over the recently released Hunger Games, I really couldn’t care less, as I have already seen it many years ago when it was called the Running Man (Katniss would never have made it past Subzero).
However, being a huge fan of Ridley Scott and the original Alien series, I absolutely can’t wait to see Prometheus on the big screen. I have watched the trailer close to 25 times and wouldn’t be surprised to find myself with the rest of the geekdom, camped out for tickets with a plush, Alien “Facehugger” pillow.
It remains to be seen whether Prometheus will be one of the best films of 2012, but in terms of marketing it has already demonstrated a great deal of media savvy with its website, teaser and viral video campaign, including:
Stunning stills from the film are being unlocked one by one via ProjectPrometheus.com, which was unveiled last weekend, and you can follow them on Twitter here. With three more months until its release (June 8), we can expect some serious hysteria among fans. Will you be going to see Prometheus this summer? What is your favorite viral marketing campaign?
It’s that time of year, again: where the SXSW Interactive 2012PanelPicker is open for public voting! For those of you who are already versed in the innovative, educational treasure trove that is SXSW, I don’t think I need to expound any further. For the rest of you, read on:
“The 19th annual SXSW® Interactive Festival challenges you to envision the future of innovative technology. Featuring five days of compelling presentations from the brightest minds in emerging media and scores of exciting networking events hosted by industry leaders, SXSW Interactive offers an unbeatable line up of special programs showcasing the best new websites, digital projects, wireless applications, video games and startup ideas the community has to offer. From hands-on training to big-picture analysis, SXSW Interactive has become the place to preview of what is unfolding in the world of creative technology.” – SXSWi’s “About” page
One of the really cool parts about SXSW (you know, aside from all that exposure to cutting edge media and tech mentioned above) is the crowd-sourced component of the event’s sessions via the site’s PanelPicker. Last week, public voting opened for over 3600 very strong speaking proposals. Public voting will factor into the selection of a privileged 500 or so for the show itself. That’s right: YOU have a say in who makes it to the agenda. What better incentive to attend is there? Voting ends 11:59 p.m. CDT on Friday, September 2, so hurry up and add your two cents.
Of note, your friends at Racepoint Group and Digital Influence Group have thrown a couple hats into the ring. Check out the sessions below and if you like them, feel free to vote (and encourage your friends to do so, too).
Everyone knows that the media industry has experienced widespread changes during the past few years. As a result of these changes (particularly the creation of a 24/7 real-time news cycle) many media outlets have changed the way they work with businesses and PR companies.
There have been a few outlets that have been the driving forces of these changes, most notably TechCrunch, which has done its best to make the embargo extinct. Unfortunately, TechCrunch often takes on the role of the the schoolyard bully, blasting theentirePRindustry. That is why I want to take a moment to call your attention to Wade Roush, the chief corespondent at Xconomy.
I’ve worked with Wade many times in the past when he was located in the Boston area (he’s now in San Francisco) and each time he was an absolute pleasure to work with (I also did a Q&A with him for RaceTalk, which you can view here). After (what I believe to be) years of frustration around broken embargoes, Wade faced the music on May 6 and declared the embargo dead (for him). As TechCrunch did, Wade wrote a story about why he’s no longer going to work with embargoes. However, instead of attacking an entire industry while making this announcement, Wade provided reasoning, explanations and advice.
On July 29 Wade wrote another story related to PR, this time focused on how he decides which stories to write about. In this three page article, Wade explains the various ways that he finds story ideas, the types of articles that he wants to write and the best ways to approach him in order to maximize everyone’s time. Once again, the article was informative and respectful, and it was clear that Wade spent a great deal of time trying to educate and help the PR people that he currently works with and may work with in the future.
The purpose of this post is not only to share Wade’s tips and advice, so PR people can work well with him and other reporters and bloggers. I also want to take a moment and point out how Wade is a shining example of a great media person to work with. He is thoughtful, respectful, considerate, and most importantly, a great journalist.
As anyone reading this blog is aware, News Corp CEO and Chairman Rupert Murdoch is in a bit of hot water. Newspapers that he owns – particularly British tabloid paper News of the World, was caught in a shameful and embarrassing phone hacking scandal, where they hacked into the voice mail messages of a murdered schoolgirl, relatives of deceased British soldiers, and victims of the 7/7 London bombings.
Since this news broke, people from News of the World and News Corp have been blamed, fired, arrested, and even found dead. And to make matters worse for Murdoch, the FBI is now investigating to see if News Corp publications hacked into phones of September 11th victims.
While Murdoch states that this is the most humbling time of his life, it also creates a very difficult time for his 51,000 employees at newspapers, magazines, television stations and online outlets around the world. Quite simply, they are forced to report on the despicable actions that that their company, and potentially their CEO, are responsible for.
Just imagine how uncomfortable it must be to report that the person in charge of your company, and ultimately responsible for your job, could be guilty of illegal and unthinkable actions. In the video below, staff from FOX News makes it clear that the topic is not one they’re enjoying when the topic first breaks.
However, as information around the scandal has developed and hearings have taken place, Murdoch has been at the mercy of the enormous media empire that he himself built. And the reporters that he hired to report the news and share their own opinions and insight into our current events are now looking at him and his gigantic media conglomerate in the most critical light, with no choice but to report the despicable acts that have occurred.
Yesterday VentureBeat announced that Jolie O’Dell has joined the outlet as a technology and business writer. O’Dell is a terrific writer that will allow VentureBeat to cover more areas of technology and businesses, and comes to the publication after a year-long stint at Mashable.
The big question I had whens seeing this news, is why did O’Dell leave Mashable, a blog growing whats seems exponentially every day?
O’Dell wrote a blog post explaining her decision, which complements Mashable and all of the people she worked with there. However, she is very clear about why she decided to leave: too much fluff coverage. Here it is in her own words:
I was beginning to kick against the pricks, so to speak, about some of the directions Mashable was taking. The posts that have made Mashable the powerhouse it is have been by turns in-depth/insightful and popular/timely. Perhaps because I’m a lifelong cultural contrarian (and certainly because I loved the company enough to want to make substantive positive contributions to its overall tone and character) I was becoming more and more cynical about latter category, regardless of the fact that a large portion of Mashable’s audience very much wanted to read those posts — the celebrity news, the infographics, the current events coverage, et cetera.
I’ll be honest, I do enjoy reading Mashable’s infographics and some of the fluff pieces. However, when I see an entire article on something Justin Bieber posted, I wonder if Mashable’s just trying to get those extra page views.
O’Dell’s honesty and openness in explaining her departure is quite fascinating, and it will be interesting to see if other voice their opinions about Mashable’s topics of coverage moving forward.
If you’ve been watching the news lately, I’m sure you’ve seen the Rep. Anthony Weiner Twitter story. In short, he sent a picture of himself to a woman via Twitter. After denying he sent the picture for about a week (he claimed his Twitter account was hacked), Rep. Weiner finally admitted that he did indeed send the picture, but it was meant to be a direct message.
While the details of this story have supplied endless jokes for the late night comedy shows, it also shows that people have a fabricated sense of privacy. How many times have you heard about people mistakenly sending public tweets that were meant to be private, sending photos that weren’t meant to be shared, or posting a Facebook status that was meant to be a private message.
The social media snafus are endless, and a lot of high-profile people have been making them. Politicians, athletes, actors, musicians – everyone has had their fare share of mistakes. And it’s not just limited to people. Companies, such as Chrysler and Red Cross, have been victim of careless Twitter mistakes when employees published their own tweet to the company handle by mistake.
So what does this all mean? I think there are 3 valuable social media lessons we can learn from Rep. Weiner’s Twitter failure:
Learn how to use social media: If you’re not sure how to use the platform correctly, you’ll probably make a mistake.
Don’t be stupid: If you’re sharing something through social media, make sure it’s appropriate. Privacy is an illusion, just because you share something through a private message, doesn’t mean the person receiving that information won’t publicly distribute that content with one click.
Be honest: If you make a mistake just admit it. Rep. Weiner attracted so much more attention to this story by lying about it, which dragged it on for an entire week. If you mess up admit it right away and move it.