Every once in a while the New York Times has to roll its eyes, take a deep breath and figure out what to do next. Why, you ask? Because of technology columnist David Pogue.
As one of the most well known and influential technology columnists in the world, Pogue’s name is always appearing in the press. However, sometimes the news isn’t always good. This week there’s been a lot of discussion around a $159 seminar that Ragan Communications is selling, where people can learn what types of pitches Pogue likes and dislikes.
While other reporters participate in paid information sessions like this (HARO puts on these seminars once in a while), New York Times employees are not allowed to participate because it’s a violation of their policy:
It is an inherent conflict for a journalist to perform public relations work, paid or unpaid. Staff members may not counsel individuals or organizations on how to deal successfully with the news media.
It’s unknown if Pogue or Ragan Communications was the driving force behind this paid seminar, but in either case it’s a very tricky issue.
This is hardly the first time Pogue’s activities has been touchy subject for the New York Times. He also had a romantic relationship with a PR executive, which to his credit, he disclosed to his editor. However, it still caused a stir publicly, as Pogue regularly covered clients at her PR agency.
Two Thursdays ago, two of Pogue’s interests seemed to collide. In his Times column, he gave a glowing review to Snow Leopard, Apple’s new operating system for Macs. At the same time, he was writing a “Missing Manual” on Snow Leopard — two, actually — already available for pre-order on Amazon. If you are now running Leopard on your Mac, Pogue wrote in the review, paying the $30 to replace it with Snow Leopard “is a no-brainer.”
This entire subject is difficult for the New York Times, since the line between journalists, reporters and influences is becoming quite thin. It is hard to say who is gaining more from this relationship – the New York Times or Pogue. While the New York Times is one of the top news outlets in the world, Pogue has turned himself into a his own brand, especially through the use of social media. So while the New York Times is currently receiving criticism for not treating all freelancers and columnists the same, sometimes there is no right answer.
This is a guest post from Dan Walsh, an Account Executive at Racepoint Group. Follow him on Twitter @DanWalshed.
“If you ever watch somebody reading a copy of Vanity Fair, they spend as much time looking at the ads as they spend looking at the content,” Mr. Grueskin said, “because the ads are actually useful for readers.” (Ads having value on their own, he added, is “something that we as journalists have a hard time getting our heads around.”)
- From NYT’s “For Journalists, A Call to Rethink Their Online Models”
I’m curious about what others think of that statement.
Clearly the goal has always been for ads to be useful (hence the importance of targeting – why would anyone pay attention to an irrelevant ad?) but I’ve rarely considered them to be valuable. As users, we’ve been conditioned to avoid looking at the tops and sides of pages and sponsored links. Simply put, the current advertising model is broken and showing an increasing number of cracks as time goes by.
When BusinessWeek blew up their newsroom in 2009, it was interesting to see Senior Writer Steve Hamm wind up at IBM as a communications strategist. It certainly wasn’t a move that I expected. In Steve’s words, “I work on communications strategy and create content.” Most of that content winds up here: IBM’s A Smarter Planet Blog. If you haven’t checked it out before, it’s worth a look – there’s been a ton of thought provoking posts generated here over the last 2+ years. To me, this is what passes for “valuable” ad content.
In the future I think we’ll see this type of content integrated into a number of news sites. If done right (read: not overtly promotional), brands can help fill the gap in long-form journalism created, in part, by Google News (need to be first!) and the current ad model (low CPMs result in pressure to “get more page views” leading to a struggle over writing for quality vs. writing for quantity).
Of course not every brand can go and hire a former BusinessWeek writer to head up this effort, but don’t worry: PR practitioners would be more than happy to fill that role.
While this is a very positive start for the NYT, it’s possible these numbers were aided thanks to a significant discount offered to readers: 99 cents for a 4-week trial. The normal cost of a 4-week subscription ranges from $15 to $35, and it remains to be seen if the trial users decide to continue subscribing past their initial four week subscription offer.
This morning Gizmodo reported that Cisco has “axed the Flip cam.” The Flip video camera has been a great companion to many a PR professional at trade shows, conferences, industry events and for one-on-one Q&As. A moment of silence, please.
Jenna Wortham, a tech reporter for the New York Times, reacted via her Twitter account @jennydeluxe:
She is absolutely right. The “Swiss army-like smartphones” she is describing are going to become a one-stop shop for all your content creation needs. I am going to toss tablets into that ring too – the iPad 2, the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the like. What will be next, the death of the digital camera?
In a salute to the absolute supremacy of smartphones, I dedicate this song:
What do you think, readers? What device will disappear next?
Even if you aren't subscribed to the NYT, you'll be able to access their content for free through Facebook posts (like this one)
Last week the New York Times announced a new subscription model that would effectively put up a paywall for many users. Under this new system, people that aren’t subscribed to NYTimes.com are able to view 20 articles a month (that are subscriber-only) for free, before being blocked from reading certain stories. However, there’s a rather big loophole.
The New York Times has confirmed that people accessing their content through Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. will be able to view subscriber-only content even if they’ve already reached their 20 article monthly limit (similar to how you can access articles in The Wall Street Journal for free through Google). With this option in place, with the Times’ subscription model work?
The New York Times has already tried subscription-based access before (New York Times Select) which brought in $10 million in revenue, but wasn’t fully adopted by readers (it had 227,000 subscribers). It has also been reported that executives at the company were split on if a subscription model was their best option, especially since the value of their digital advertisements has been growing steadily.
It’s also been thought that this new subscription was meant to motivate people to sign up for weekend print subscriptions, which would give them unlimited online access. This would boost print circulation, and in return, ad rates.
So what do you think of all this? Do you plan on subscribing to the New York Times?
Today the New York Times announced a new subscription model that will put a pay wall in front of a lot of its content. This is a big move for the newspaper industry, which has suffered as more and more people began canceling their newspaper subscriptions and getting their news online.
The New York Times will offer readers three different subscription. They all comes with access to NYTimes.com, and each option caters towards either smartphone users, tablet users, or people that use both devices. Additionally, people with print subscriptions will have access to all online and digital content. Details on the various subscription offerings can be found here.
This new model is great for the New York Times and should bring in a lot of additional revenue. It also seems like a fair system for readers, who can cancel their subscription at any time. However, other newspapers may not be able to follow the same road.
The New York Times is unique, because it is at the front of its industry in terms of content and coverage, Smaller newspapers that don’t have the same level or quantity of coverage likely won’t be able to entice readers to pay additional money to access their content online.
What do you think about this new model? Will you pay for additional access to the new York Times?
This morning during my commute I was listening to @MattyShow (Kiss 108′s morning show, Matty in the Morning) and DJ Matt Siegel was asking his staff why all of these businesses are paying big bucks for Super Bowl ads and giving it all away the week before the broadcast?
Siegel makes a great point. Why are all of these corporate giants paying millions of dollars for a 30 or 60 second spot and not waiting for a big reveal during the game? Not only are they not waiting, they are actively promoting their commericals now, the week before.
This pre-game promotion was confirmed to me this morning when I saw an article in my Twitter feed from Elaine Wong at Forbes called “The Super Bowl Ads You Can’t Miss.” Really? Two full days in advance?
“For decades, most Super Bowl advertisers followed a simple rule: Keep commercials under wraps until the moment they go on the air. But social media like Faceboo, Twitter and YouTube have ushered in a new era, and marketers are doing what was once unthinkable. In addition to offering sneak peeks of their spots and revealing contents of the commercials, many, like the vacation rental company HomeAway, are going the full Monty and sharing the entire ads in advance.”
I was discussing this with my RaceTalk colleague, Ben Haber, who echoed Elliot’s analysis, “You aren’t paying millions for the air time during the game. You’re paying millions to drive people to your social media channels and engage with your brand.”
Personally, I have always liked the mystery of having to wait until the game to see the commercials that score these highly coveted spots. While I understand wanting to maximize the investment and heighten the curiosity, I find it disappointing that these companies aren’t honoring the sanctity of the Super Bowl element of surprise.
What do you think? If you worked for a company who paid for a Super Bowl ad would you reveal and market it before the game?
The New York Times took a major positive step today in the integration between their print and digital properties by removing their Social Media Editor position. While this may sound backwards at first, it’s actually a sign that the NYT has adopted social media and is embracing today’s media world – just hear us out.
Over the past few years Jennifer Preston has been the NYT social media editor. In this position her most important responsibility was educating NYT reporters and editors on how they can use social media in their current roles. At this time, the NYT apparently feels it has successfully educated its employees and now wants to focus becoming one medium that combines print, digital and social. Simply put, the NYT understands that media organizations shouldn’t divide their print editions form their online, iPad and mobile subscriptions. It is all the same brand to consumers, and an aligned outlet with all of its properties functioning together successfully will be more powerful and useful for readers.
So while the NYT sees how important it is to have one overarching brand, it still needs to make sure its reporters are educated about the latest social media tools. Sure, they’re using Twitter and Facebook, but location-based social networks have exploded and it’s important that these new developments in social media and digital media won’t be overlooked. So while they don’t need a social media editor to do this, they do need social media education. But the way that the paper is approaching the collide of the print and digital world, it appears they are aware of where the media world is headed (and where it has been for a while now). We’ll take this as a positive sign.
Today Ben Parr of Mashable reported that Disney has partnered with location-based mobile app Gowalla to help visitors further engage with their two flagship theme parks – Disneyworld and Disneyland – via mobile check ins and stamps.
This is a significant partnership for Gowalla who is often left in the dust behind mobile check in dominators Foursquare and Facebook Places (I wrote about the launch of Facebook Places back in August, you can read the full post here).
Parr describes some of the details of the partnership and agrees, this is a monumental deal for Gowalla. He writes:
“ . . .Gowalla and Disney have created literally hundreds of stamps for rides and locales within the two parks. Everything from the fireworks show to “Finding Nemo-The Music” offers a stamp or pin that can be earned by checking in. This is a major win for Gowalla; Disney is the world’s most-recognized entertainment brand, and any form of promotion by Disney should drive new users and extra attention to the location-based service. It’s struggled to keep a high profile in the face of stiff competition from Foursquare, which raised $20 million earlier this year, and Facebook, whose Places feature recently got a new deals platform.”
Joshua Brustein of the New York Times reported that Gowalla currently has 600,000 users as compared to the 120 million people that visited the Disney theme parks last year. Brustein accurately comments, “Gowalla’s user base would skyrocket even if it converted a miniscule proportion of Disney’s users into new users.”
Why haven’t Foursquare or Facebook Places announced these types of partnerships? According to a post on Gowalla’s corporate blog an incredible amount of time and human resources went into customizing this mobile platform. The blog post reads:
“We’re launching over 100 new featured stamps within Disney Parks today, with over 100 more expected by the end of the year. Each featured Disney stamp was painstakingly rendered in pixel form by Gowalla with the guidance of the Disney creative team — bringing you an experience that is truly 100 percent Gowalla and 100 percent Disney.”
Congratulations to Gowalla on teaming up with the most recognizable entertainment brand on the planet. Naturally this announcement will breed intensified competition from competitors, but for now, Gowalla is at the happiest place on earth.
Two weeks ago RaceTalk was offered the opportunity to read an advanced copy of the book “All the Devils are Here” which is co-written by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera. We were immediately intrigued given both authors’ extensive history covering business and management in the media.
Bethany McLean is the former editor-at-large for Fortune magazine, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, and the author of a book titled “The Smartest Guys in the Room.” Her book explores the behind the scenes drama that lead to the collapse of Enron. The book was later turned into a film. According to the Business Insider, McLean will begin a new role as a Wall Street and finance columnist for Slate in the coming weeks.
McLean’s co-author Joe Nocera (who RaceTalk interviewed after his sudden and aggressive call from Steve Jobs) is best known for his expert reporting on management and business for the New York Times. Prior to his current role, Nocera, like McLean, worked as an editor for Fortune magazine. He also wrote regular columns for GQ and Esquire and served as a contributing editor to Newsweek.
In their joint effort “All the Devils are Here” McLean and Nocera take an inside look into the United States financial crisis. The book opens with an eight page of glossary titled “Cast of Characters” to assist readers in remembering who is who. There are also two upfront page of nothing but critical acronyms! From the prologue alone the reader feels a knot in his/her stomach as the poor judgment and incredible greed comes to light.
I don’t want to give away too much for interested readers, but the tone of the book is set very early. In the first chapter we learn that a star at Merrill Lynch, John Breit, finds himself being pushed out because in his role as risk manager he was reporting findings that would slow the “growth” of the business. The reader gets the sinking feeling this is going to be one of the milder stories.
If you’re interested in the decisions and the key players that influenced the eventual topple of the U.S. economy, “All the Devils are Here” is a must read. Written by two of the most knowledgeable business reporters, this is an expertly detailed and analytical account of our nation’s financial demise. You can listen to McLean read an excerpt from the book on this Vanity Fair podcast.
If you find reading a 350 plus page book intimidating, you can experience a visual account of the financial crisis via the documentary “Inside Job” which is currently playing in theaters.
Thank you to Bethany McLean, Joe Nocera and their team for sharing their latest project with us here at RaceTalk. We’re frightened but enlightened.