Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
- The demise of Washington news bureaus: You read about this trend here in 2007, and the bad economy has made a bureau in the nation's capital more of a luxury than every before. Today's New York Times reports on the scarcity of the Washington bureau, and notes what will change: "As bureaus shrink, they cut back on in-depth and investigative projects and from having reporters assigned to cover specific federal agencies." What that means for communicators: Fewer reasons to come to Washington for nationwide announcements...a bigger watchdog role for specialty and trade press and for nonprofits when it comes to uncovering issues related to federal agencies...more reason to pitch Associated Press and other wires covering Washington on issues related to your location.
- Support for online "community news" sites: The Knight Foundation just announced support for four such sites in Chicago, Minneapolis-St.Paul, Saint Louis, and San Diego, sites that were the focus of recent New York Times coverage. What that means for communicators: You may want to consider credentialling such sites as you would bloggers and traditional media, and reaching out to them with your local leads--keeping in mind their specialized beats and the fact that many are not staffed at mainstream media levels.
- Local media are going mobile--and multimedia: You read here recently about the local reporters whose newspapers have them out pounding the pavement--this time, with Blackberry and audio and video recording equipment. And with national coverage of local issues diminishing, expect more pressure on local news outlets. That may be one reason why Burrelle's/Luce is offering a free whitepaper on targeting local media when you sign up for its web 2.0 updates. What that means for communicators: Make sure your releases and other announcements stress place names and local connections whenever possible--and if you're announcing news nationally that has local ties, include a geographic index with the news materials to guide local reporters to their targets.
Karl Bates, Director of Research Communications, Duke University News & CommunicationsThe seminar was hosted by Eurekalert!, the online research news site from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Best advice from Karl Bates of Duke University: "Keep it short. Aim for 90 seconds...If you think people are ruthless with a TV remote in their hands, watch somebody with a mouse in their hands." Couldn't agree more...
Nils Bruzelius, Deputy National Editor/Science, Washington Post
Tom Kennedy, Managing Editor for Multimedia, Washington Post
Art Chimes, Producer-host of Our World, Voice of America
Jorge Ribas, Video Producer, Discovery News
The second creative idea landed in my email in-box from Amtrak Guest Rewards, a frequent-travel program I belong to. The email offered that I could "make a snowflake" if I clicked through and opened my holiday card. When I did, I found this site (see screenshot above) with interactive tools to help you cut out an electronic version of a paper snowflake and post it with a message. You can search for specific creations or just click on any of the animated falling snowflakes in the landscape opens up another member's artwork and message; email your snowflake to friends and, by providing your email, get responses from other users to your effort; and see how many have been created. While this is just a game, it got my attention. Too bad Amtrak didn't make this part of its Guest Rewards website, so anyone could see it--even if only members can make a snowflake, the engaging animation might've attracted more memberships. But this promotion excels at drawing in consumers and giving them the chance to contribute and share content (can snowflakes be content?), two basic premises that drive social media as communications tools.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Twitter's become a part of how the company communicates under Hsieh's leadership. Employees are encouraged to use the service, and they and customers can follow Hsieh on Twitter here. He even offers a beginners' guide to Twitter on the company website. I follow Hsieh on Twitter, and used the service to request the interview below, which we conducted via email.
How long have you been blogging? Using Twitter? Who are you hoping to reach?
I don't really blog much, but I've been using Twitter for a year and a half now. I first learned about Twitter in March 2007, and used it with just my friends for about a year. I found that it was a great way to meet up with friends as well as keep in touch with friends in other cities, so we decided to introduce it to Zappos employees in spring 2008 as a way of helping build up company culture. We now introduce Twitter to employees during new hire orientation, and also offer Twitter classes. We have several hundred employees now on Twitter and we aggregate all of their tweets here. We've found that Twitter has been a great way of building a more personal connection with both employees and customers.
How many of your employees are on Twitter for business purposes?
We have several employees using Twitter but it generally isn't for business purposes. Our guideline for Twitter usage is pretty simple: Be real and use your best judgement. If you look through the employee tweets you'll see most of the tweets are not business oriented.
How does social media/blogging/Twitter fit into your core values?
We have 10 core values. Core value #6 is about being open and honest, so we strive to be as transparent as possible. Twitter is one way that we embrace transparency.
Does Twitter replace some activity you were doing previously? If so, what and why?
No, it's an additional activity. Or maybe addiction might be a better word. :)
You blogged about employee layoffs. Talk about how social media helps (or not)when you have bad news to share.
It's not really specific to social media. We believe in being as transparent as possible, so as soon as our employees were notified about the layoffs (November 6), I blogged and twittered about it to the general public as well.
What's the most interesting thing you've learned from using Twitter?
One of the great things about Twitter is the instant feedback. You can find out within minutes if something you tweeted out was interesting or inspiring to people. I'm still constantly surprised by what people find interesting or not interesting. For example, I once tweeted out about what flavor chapstick I was using (peppermint) and I got a ton of responses right away, including some of people saying they were going to try out that flavor of chapstick!
Have you been able to fix any customer or employee problems using Twitter? Explain.
Twitter probably isn't the best way to deal with customer or employee issues. When customers ask me about a customer service type of question, I generally encourage them to email or call instead.
What would you tell other CEOs about blogging and using Twitter?
It's really only going to be effective if you actually are interested in developing more personal connections to your customers. For example, a lot of companies hide their contact information on their web site, whereas we take the opposite approach. We put our 1-800 number at the top of every single page of our web site. So before trying to embrace Twitter, I would encourage CEOs to embrace email and the telephone first. And when they're ready to embrace Twitter, then I'd say just be real and use Twitter as a way to connect with people as opposed to viewing it as a marketing channel
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Moderator: Could you guys maybe just quickly identify yourselves so the Secretary can put a face with a name?Maybe someone should pre-brief the Secretary: Boing Boing is the most popular blog in the world, according to Technorati. You can read the full transcript here.
Question: I'm Dan Fowler from Congressional Quarterly.
Question: Rich Cooper, Security News.
Question: I'm Joel Johnson, with BoingBoing.
Secretary Chertoff: Boing Boing?
Question: That's it.
Friday, December 12, 2008
- Some 10.4 million views of LOC photos on Flickr in just 10 months;
- Almost 80 percent of the LOC photos have been made "favorites" by users, and more than 15,000 Flickr users have added the Library as a contact to stream LOC images into their own accounts;
- More than 7,100 comments were made on some 2,800 photos, and a whopping 67,000-plus tags were added to LOC photos by users; nearly all of the photos were tagged at least once by the Flickr community;
- For those who fear inappropriate comments, fewer than 25 "instances of user-generated content were removed as inappropriate" out of all those thousands of tags and comments;
- More than 500 records in the Library's prints and photographs online collection were enhanced with new information provided by users; and
- Average monthly visits to all prints and photographs web pages increased 20 percent in five months, compared to the previous year.
The decision to publicize this pilot solely via the Library and Flickr blogs rather than by the usual method of a press release tested a new model for getting the word out on Library initiatives. The reaction by the blogosphere was astonishing and resulted in thousands of blog posts picking up the story, prompting coverage in the mainstream media: newspapers, magazines, online news services, even television and radio began to cover the pilot (see Appendix C for a bibliography of the coverage). Most posts linked to the Flickr and Library of Congress blogs, which unexpectedly translated into significant visibility for the Library’s blog, in existence for less than a year at the time of launch.What's useful and stunning here: The Library's full report details the mechanics of what it considered going into the experiment, what happened -- with data -- and what they intend to do next. At the same time, the report captures concrete examples of how ordinary citizens expanded its collection's depth, adding comments like "my grandfather took that photo" or details about who, what, when, where, why and how the scene occurred. In some cases, highly expert discussions took place online about makes and models of equipment--or users posted new photos to show what a site looks like today.
To learn more, read the DCist blog reports on the results of this experiment, the Library's news release about the results here, and the full report here -- the latter should be part of your "making the case for social media" file.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Registration details are now available for Power Networking Tips, Trends and Techniques, a January 15, 2009 Tech Council of Maryland panel that will mix advice on in-person networking and online/social media options. I'm speaking on the online social networking aspects, and will share an "e-handout" on this blog with my tips and advice, but before I do, tell me what you've found valuable about augmenting in-person networking with social media. You can leave your comments here, on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. I'd love to hear specifics about why the online version of networking (perhaps in combination with in-person or offline efforts) works for you.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
- It invites participation from a largely amateur audience--those interested but not already in the club: If classical music's goal is to reach beyond its aging audience and seem more inclusive, this initiative does that by specifying that participants must be 14 or older and cannot have contractual obligations that would limit their participation, which means most professional musicians can't submit videos.
- It lets the audience self-identify: Once videos are submitted, anyone will be able to see which young performers had enough interest and talent to participate--a self-identified audience with clear interest.
- It turns its expertise over to the audience: Entrants get to practice and play with world-class experts, but ultimately, the amateurs will be the stars. That's a neat twist in which the amateurs become the sought-after group, rather than the experts. Where will you find yours?
- It creates a level playing field to encourage entries, using a new work written for the occasion. Entrants can download the score; access special videos already online from the London Symphony demonstrating master classes in various languages and for various instruments in the standard symphonic repertoire; listen to interviews and encouragement; play along while composer Tan Dun acts as your "personal conductor" for various instrument parts of the work; and access other types of support.
- It aims to generate new content, and, on the Web, content is king. The idea that there'll be new work, collaboration and an uncertain outcome adds drama and anticipation to this contest.