.... my 2 cents ....
musings on marketing, media, public relations....and life,
by David Reich
Reich Communications, Inc.
Reich Communications, Inc. is a boutique public relations agency in New York City offering full service in a variety of areas, with specializations in business-to-business; advertising, marketing and media firms; transportation safety; non-profits, and select consumer products and services.
For more info, call us at (212) 573-6000, email to david@reichcommunications or text to 914-325-9997.
We are located at 228 East 45th Street, Suite 11-South, New York City 10017
The latest version of the annual Gallup poll on honesty and ethics doesn't look too good for business executives, ad people and TV reporters. But if you're a nurse, you enjoy the highest level of trust and respect from those polled by Gallup earlier this month.
Eighty-two percent of those surveyed rate the honesty and ethical standards of nurses as "very high" or "high." Pharmacists and grade school teachers had the next best rating, at 70 percent, and medical doctors were a very close third, at 69 percent.
Car salespeople weren't at the bottom. They were third from bottom, with only nine percent rating them as trustworthy and ethical. But ranking beneath them were members of Congress, at eight percent, and lobbyists at six.
Advertising practitioners weren't viewed very well, getting only a 14 percent rating. TV reporters did a bit better, at 20 percent. (The poll was taken before Anchorman 2 was released, so maybe Ron Burgundy could raise or lower that ranking for next year.) Newspaper reporters gained a little bit more respect, at 21 percent, one point above lawyers and TV reporters. (I would have put lawyers way down there with lobbyists, or below.)
Evidently, there was no spot for Public Relations people in the survey. I wonder if we'd be there with ad pros, or lower down with lobbyists? Maybe it's a good thing Gallup didn't ask.
I don't like buzzwords. They're pretentious, as are the people who tend to overuse them.
Take "engagement" for example. It was the marketing buzzword a year or two ago. I remember when it simply meant the step people often take before marriage.
"Native advertising" is another one of those buzzwords I'm getting sick of. And despite how much we see it used in the marketing media, I've come across a few people in marketing and PR circles who really don't know what it means. Very simply, it's what's been known for decades as "advertorials" -- ads made to look like the editorial content of the publication in which they appear. It's a game, an attempt to lure readers into the ad by having them think it's part of the news or features of the newspaper or magazine they're reading. Legitimate media will run the words "Paid Advertisement" or "Paid Promotion" above the advertorial, to give fair disclosure it's not part of the publication's editorial content.
But advertorials -- I mean, native advertising -- are often harder to spot when they're running online. The government, through the Federal Trade Commission, has been looking into this and is working on a set of guidelines. The FTC has already come down on bloggers who post paid endorsements and product reviews without disclosing that they've been compensated.
The New York Times, which has been stepping up efforts to enhance and more aggressively monetize its online presence, just announced it will take extra efforts to be sure so-called native advertising is clearly delineated as such, so readers won't be confused into thinking paid advertorials on the Times' websites represent actual Times reporting. Executive editor Jill Abramson has spoken publicly about her concerns that the line between editorial and advertising will become blurred. Publisher Arthur Sulzberger sent a memo to Times staffers this week detailing plans for native advertising online amd also empahasizing "...there will be no confusion between advertising and journalism. We will ensure that there is never a doubt in anyone's mind about what is Times journalism and what is advertising."
Sulzberger added, "Our readers (online) will always know they are looking at a message from an advertiser." Advertorials will include a distinctive color bar that says "Paid Post" along with the advertiser's logo. Advertorials will also use a different typeface than editorial content, and the ads will be wrapped in blue to further distinguish them from the site's news content.
A story in Advertising Age says The Wall Street Journal and Forbes are also looking at similar ways to be sure native advertising is not confused with those publications' real content online.
Good for them. I hope other media follow their lead.
For those of us in public relations, it's business as usual -- looking for ways to make client information of newsworthy interest so editors will want to include it in their reporting. But native advertising may open some new income opportunities for PR folks, since we are practiced at writing in journalistic style while weaving in client messages in a non-obtrusive way. Hey, ad and marketing people... call us.
Update: Jan. 8, 2014 --Business Insider has a good review of the first "native ad" that's running on The New York Times' newly revamped website today. Click here to see their positive review, along with some screen shots of the new site and how the ads are positioned and clearly identifed.
About 2-1/2 years ago I discovered, quite by accident, a local news site called Patch. After looking at it more closely, I realized the Patch site I had come across was one of about 900 Patch sites reporting community events, local news and even local business openings and high school sports news. It was all under the corporate umbrella of AOL, although I later learned it began as an offshoot of Google, which eventually sold it to AOL.
As a Public Relations person, I saw Patch as presenting a wealth of new opportunities for client news placements, especially in the face of so many other local media placement opportunities disappearing. I've watched with dismay as local dailies got bought by big publishers, who then shut the locals down or merged them under the umbrella of what became a regional paper, while they laid off much of the local reporting staff. And at the same time, the other major local news and information source -- local radio -- has undergone change that has too often eliminated local news.
So Patch was a PR person's dream -- a media outlet that was genuinely interested in covering truly local news that many other "local" media outlets just couldn't bother with.
Some Patch sites were really good, and others were mediocre at best, with local editors who simply picked up and reprinted verbatim whatever news releases they received.
AOL had been losing money on this venture from the start, with some reports saying the loss is between $200 - $300 million. The company closed down several dozen Patch sites last summer, as it laid off about 350 people -- almost a third of the total Patch workforce, which included editorial and ad sales. And it looks like the Patch experiment will be coming to an end, possibly as soon as the beginning of the new year as AOL is finally taking its losses and pulling the plug.
Media pundits are placing blame all over the place. Some say AOL expanded Patch too quickly. Others say it never seemed to have the "passion" for local news that was needed for it to click with local readers and advertisers. Some insiders are saying AOL had too heavy a hand in things and made it difficult for the local people to establish Patch as a local brand.
The closing of Patch will hurt local news coverage, but maybe only for a short time. As more journalists get laid off from daily newspapers closing down or reducing their publication frequency from daily to a few dayus a week, some reporters may see an opportunity to be entrepreneurial and start local news sites. There's no big start-up expense like buying presses, newsprint and delivery trucks, after all. And some local "traditional" media like radio stations and community papers, dailies or weeklies, may see similar opportunities to enhance their local news coverage and generate added advertising revenues by selling the local news sites on their own or as add-ons to ads they sell in print or on the air.
There is a natural hunger for local news and information, since what happens down the street often impacts us more directly and more immediately than what happens across the country or across the ocean. I think whatever gap is left by the demise of Patch will eventually be filled, possibly in a better way.
I love this opening line in a story in the New York Times earlier this week...
"Truth has never been an essential ingredient of viral content on the Internet."
The article by Ravi Somaya and Leslie Kaufman takes a look at several recent stories that have gone viral in a big way, shooting around the web, propelled even faster by pickup in news aggregator sites like The Huffington Post, Gawker, BuzzFeed and Mashable. These stories, all turning out to be either total fiction or major embellishments of truth, included one about a Thanksgiving feud on a recent airline flight, a letter supposedly from a child to Santa, and an essay on poverty that drew $60,000 in donations before the author admitted it was not exactly true. (The writer of the poverty story reportedly said she has no intention of returning any of the donations she received.)
How can these false stories get such widespread play online, each garnering views in the millions? The Times story gives some interesting insights into how and why this can happen again and again.
Many of the online sites don't have fact checkers. Those that do have people stretched too thin to fact check every item the site reposts. Even legitimate and respected news organizations like the broadcast networks and CNN fell victim to a clever prank pulled by Jimmy Kimmel a few months ago, where he reported on a YouTube clip of a woman twerking and accidentally setting herself on fire. It turned out to be a gag by Kimmel's people, but after it went viral and was reported by major media, it ended up with more than 10 million views.
And that's part of the problem. Lots of views. The supposed importance of sites is based on how many views they get, which impacts the rates they can charge advertisers. The battle for numbers of views too often overrides the authenticity of the content they carry.
The editor of Gawker acknowledges in The Times story that there are trade-offs in balancing authenticity with the need to move quickly in this highly-interconnected society where everyone wants to be first with information. And an editor at The Huffington Post told The Times, "If you throw something up without fact-checking and you're the first to put it up, and you get millions and millions of views, and later it's proved false, you still got those views. That's a problem. The incentives are all wrong."
Yes, the incentives are all wrong. I suppose it's not unlike some media that feed on gruesome murder stories. Even if the info is off, the media still get the viewers or sell copies of the paper.
I've referred in the past to the internet as the wild, wild west, where there are few rules. So the caveat remains... Don't believe everything you see online.
With all the talk of binge viewing and the supposed second “Golden Age” of TV (or cable, at least), new statistics just released by Nielsen are a bit of a surprise.
Nielsen says we watched an average of 4 hours and 18 minutes of live TV and 25 minutes of DVR playback, for a total of 4 hours and 43 minutes of TV daily. That’s down a tiny bit from 4 hours and 24 minutes live and 22 minutes of DVR, totaling 4 hours and 46 minutes daily a year ago.
Average viewing of TV on mobile devices went up to 16 minutes daily, from 11 minutes a year ago. And online viewing rose to 46 minutes, from 40 minutes last year.
So with so much time spent in front of a TV screen, how is there time left for social media and gaming? Oh yes, of course… multi-tasking.