09/21/13: Communications Stories from Here & There

Below are six communications stories of note from the recent past.

Delivering on Thought Leadership by Harrison Wise, on PRWeek’s website, August 23.

For much of my work, I write white papers and bylined articles that help executives establish their thought leadership, and I know how important it is to provide readers’ with valuable content. I agree with Wise’s comment that “No matter how you look at it, the people or businesses that lead with regular advice, useful information, and provide helpful tips get more traffic and more business.”

In this piece, Wise, who is president of Wise Public Relations, states that a thought-leadership position in today’s socially connected world delivers authority, social proof, scarcity and influence. He provides five ways to develop a plan that positions a business executive as an industry thought leader.

Putin Op-Ed: Good PR or a Betrayal of Nation? By Steve Barrett, on PRWeek’s website, September 13.

In this piece, Barrett, editor-in-chief of PRWeek, discusses PR agency Ketchum’s role in placing Russian president Vladimir Putin’s recent Op-Ed about Syria in The New York Times. He considers whether Ketchum should include Russia as a client—the kind of issue faced by many global PR firms—as well as whether the agency might actually have written the Op-Ed—a common practice agencies perform for their clients.

What Businesses Need to Understand About Big (and Small) Data by Danny Brown, on arcompany.co, September 12.

“Big data” is all around us. And whether or not marketers today are aware of it, they “constantly work with data so of course they should know what ‘big data’  is and how it differs from ‘small,’ says Brown, vice president of marketing and technology at ArCompany. He provides a quick background on how data became big data, how big data differs from small data, and why big data is important to marketers.

Who Says the Traditional Storytelling Arc Can’t Work in Business? by Lou Hoffman, on the Ishmael’s Corner website, September 19.

The traditional storytelling arc—which starts with an opening scene and goes through a number of crises before reaching the climax and denouement—often takes too much time for storytelling done by most PR and marketing practitioners. In this piece, however, Hoffman, who has written about storytelling for some time, gives a good example of how this technique can be used in business communications.

His example is from True Move, a telecommunications company in Thailand. The company’s three-minute video “jumps right into the bad stuff,” shows things get worse, and then ends on a happy note. Filled with humanity, it grabs the viewer’s attention right away and keeps it until the end.

Storytelling Ads May be Journalism’s New Peril by David Carr in The New York Times, September 15.

Carr, who writes a regular Times column on the media, says in this piece, “Now the new rage is native advertising, which is to say advertising wearing the uniform of journalism, mimicking the storytelling aesthetic of the host site.”

This content is usually labeled as advertising, but it frequently looks very much like the news pieces that surround it, often with the same “headline, art, and text configuration of an editorial work,” Carr says. While native advertising (sometimes called sponsored content) provides a new advertising medium for companies and a new revenue stream for media outlets, if not done right, it can confuse readers and diminish the outlets’ credibility with them.

Carr quotes Joe McCambley, whose company helped build the first of the now-ubiquitous banner ads for websites: Native advertising “has to stand on its own as good journalism. Bad native advertising is destructive for the publishers that host it.”

Social Media, Big Data and Visualization by Cameron Uganec, on blog.hootsuite.com, September 20.

Here’s another take on big data. In this post, Uganec, Hootsuite’s director of marketing and communications, offers this clear definition of “big data”: “If a traditional database is a collection of data, then big data is a collection of collections of data. Usually, those different collections are in totally different formats, and it’s not obvious how to fit them together in a way that makes any sense.”

Although he does not show how to fit the data collections together, he does discuss how to get started with big data, and then he focuses on how big data can provide great social-media storytelling, especially when told with visuals. He provides a great visualization of Twitter data showing the progress of power outages occurring in the Northeast during Hurricane Sandy.

05/11/13: Communications Stories from Here & There

Below are eight recent communications stories of note.

The 10 Best Words the Internet Has Given English by Tom Chatfield, in the Guardian, April 17.

In this article, Chatfield, a self-described etymology addict, looks at the history of ten words that are gaining new life and, in some instances, new meanings on the Internet.

The New Look of Public Relations by Stuart Elliott, in The New York Times, April 28, discusses PR firm FleishmanHillard’s rebranding as an integrated marketing communications agency. The New Look of Public Relations—A Dissenting View by Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm, in his 6 A.M. blog, May 8, looks at his firm’s approach to preparing for the future.

The PR business is in flux. And agencies everywhere are trying to determine their future role in the overall marketing space and in controlling their clients’ paid, earned, owned, and shared media mix. The best way for them to brand, or rebrand, themselves for this challenge is up for grabs, as these two articles show.

Solving Equation of a Hit Script, With Data by Brooks Barnes, in The New York Times, May 5.

Barnes writes that a former statistics professor thinks he can improve screenplays by comparing “the story structure and genre of a draft script with those of released movies, looking for clues to box-office success.” Vinny Bruzzese is not a writer. Instead, he’s interested in using data, which he gathers from focus groups and interviews with moviegoers, to suggest script changes. One screenwriter calls Bruzzese’s approach “my worse nightmare.”

Linguists Identify 15,000-Year-Old ‘Ultraconserved Words’ by David Brown in The Washington Post, May 6.

Some words are coined and then disappear in a matter of years. Even the strongest usually last only about 9,000 years before becoming extinct. But linguists have discovered a few words that have been around for 150 centuries, and they’re wondering why.

Grammar Rules Everyone Should Follow by Thomas Jones in the Guardian, May 9.

Jones says that although these “rules” are really conventions not rules, they’re worth following “in the right kinds of discourse” because they make writing clearer and more elegant. He is correct in eight of his suggestions, but I think he’s wrong about the use of who and whom.

Trying to Be Hip and Edgy, Ads Become Offensive by Stuart Elliott and Tanzina Vega, in The New York Times, May 10.

The authors say that advertising agencies and their clients may be trying too hard to reach millennials and “to create ads that will be noticed and break through the clutter.” The result: They are creating more and more offensive ads, leading to public outrage as well as embarrassment (and worse) for Madison Avenue and the brands being promoted.

The 30 Most Influential Bloggers in Public Relations on The CyberAlert Blog.

Today, there are more than 180 million blogs published worldwide on the Internet. Most have only a handful of followers, and their comments leave little or no trail. But a few bloggers are extremely influential, with thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of followers who can’t wait for their next post.

CyberAlert, a media monitoring service, has identified the 30 most influential bloggers who write about public relations and social media. PR and corporate communications professionals might want to take a look at what these bloggers have to say.