Archive for the 'Publishing' Category

The Paper Chase

Call me “Old School”, but I like a good old fashioned hard copy of newspaper in the morning with the morning coffee or breakfast. Not that I am breaking any news here, but I was pretty disheartened to hear (on the radio very early this morning) my first news nugget of the day: local newspapers continue to feel the pain with shrinking circulations. The Boston Globe saw an 10.2 percent drop in circulation over last year while the Heralds’ fell by 9.9 percent. Their Sunday numbers looked only slightly better by about two percentage points. The trend also played out nationally with consistency at the New York Times, Washington Post and LA Times all saw paid circulation figures drop. Only the Wall Street Journal and USA Today were about to share any positive news here: they both held circulation figures with no changes reported. I’ve been hearing people say of late “flat is good.” I guess so.

Add it all up and it is not good news for anyone –advertisers, consumers, news media junkies, PR people. But let’s face it – the Web has also killed the 30 minute broadcast news segment and the “news” paper is an oxymoron. But what are the good folks at New York Times Co. and other conglomerates to do to slow down their pace of extinction and keep their print properties afloat? Certainly it is not going to come from dramatically increased ad rates as subscriber numbers area headed in the wrong direction. And, it is still all about the eyeballs.

So, here are a few thoughts.

Turn back the clock. Many Web outlets attempted to charge for premium content back in the mid-90s and failed miserably. Yet, the WSJ has figured it out. I’d pay for something exceptional, rare and really great writing. Heck, ESPN.com does it with its “Insider” content and I’m sure that model works for them to be able to underwrite their high priced editorial talent.

Hit up the “Out of Towners” up for a few bucks. Do you pay more to get your Boston Globe when vacationing on Cape Cod or the Islands? Or your NY Post or Daily News when just have to read the latest Yankee bashing or celebrity gossip? I have to think that the legions of displaced Bostonians across the country who still want their “local” news and views on the Sox, Celts, Patriots, not to mention the latest on Beacon Hill, would fork over a few bucks a month for premium content delivered via RSS feed, video feed or email.

Monetize video. Most publishers have. Again, can’t someone figure out a way to price this type offering at a decent rate and still make some money? Think the Boston.com GameTracker and how many folks in Orange County, San Francisco, Chicago and Texas tuned in on their laptops to follow the Sox in the playoffs online.

Create an affiliate ad or marketer network. Hello? Has this been done? How many restaurants, ski resorts, clubs, theaters and other sports, arts and entertainment venues need to stay top of mind with consumers? Work out some ad placement deals with discounted meals or tickets for subscribers and everyone wins. Who wants a half empty house of patrons? Who wants to pay full price for anything in this economy?

I hope some fixes come along soon. What else will we line or bird cages with or wrap our fish in? Old laptops, Blackberries or smart phones?

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Goodbye ROI, and Other Marketing Lessons

I took a rare day off from client work yesterday to attend Tech Target’s Annual Online ROI Summit for technology marketers. Overall the event was a great one, and I thought I’d share the “top lessons” I took away from the various panels and sessions.

  • Goodbye ROI. There is a move away from thinking about marketing as it relates to return on investment. Instead, marketing efforts should be measured based on ROMO, or return on marketing objectives. This may mean did the campaign meet lead goals, pipeline goals, conversions of leads to opportunities, etc.
  • The death of the marketing blitz. Gone are the days of big to-do’s around product launches and huge campaigns. Instead, marketers should think of – and measure – campaigns in terms of long-term, long tail approaches. Remember the 20/80 rule: 20% of your response will happen immediately, while the other 80% will happen over the long term.
  • Bloggers are the influencers. More and more, IT buyers are depending on blogs as resources instead of traditional media, and advertising on blogs is now out-performing traditional online advertising.
  • Key phrases, not words. Increasingly, IT buyers are using long phrases in order to narrow down search results and get more specific, relevant results. Effective search strategies will now focus on 3+ word phrases and negatives, instead of key words. Think “server consolation in an all-Linux environment and not Windows” instead of just “server consolidation.” Also, companies should think of paid search as a way to fill in the gap and complement their organic search efforts.
  • Match the sales process. Think about lead generation in terms of different stages of the buying cycle. Your content type and topic should target the buyer at each stage. At the “awareness” stage, your best bet is a whitepaper that addresses a problem and provides an overview of the landscape. At the “interest” stage, editorial content pulls best (with a 2x higher CTR over vendor-produced content), so focus on editorial Webcasts or podcasts. The “decision” stage is the time to introduce trials, demos and specific solution assets. Another interesting tidbit: existing prospects are more likely to be pulled in by a vendor asset, while new leads are likely to be pulled in by editorial content.
  • CIOs are busy. OK, so that’s not a new concept, but what may be somewhat surprising is that they admittedly aren’t doing any of the research themselves when it comes to evaluating new technologies and vendors. They rely on their staff to do the research and present the relevant info and short-list of vendors to them, so make sure you’re marketing to the lower-level IT staff! And, when you are marketing to the CIO, make sure your content is short enough that they can read it or listen to it during their commute.
  • Don’t over market! Clean up your database frequently to remove inactive prospects and distinguish between folks that are further down the pipeline. Don’t be afraid of “do not market” lists and segment your lists so that you’re not over marketing!

I’ll end with my favorite quote of the day: “If you can’t measure it and you can’t repeat it, then it probably shouldn’t have been done in the first place!” My second favorite? “Sales is the consumer of marketing’s leads, so work closely with them!”

Make Way for Online Videos

 A recent report from ABI research suggests that the online video market (both pay and ad supported) will be worth $15.6 billion by 2012. What does this mean for marketers? Well, not only do you have a new medium for communicating your brand and commercializing your content, but thanks to innovative reporting tools, you’ll learn more about your audience than you ever could with traditional broadcast TV advertising.

Shameless Plug Alert: If you’re interested in learning more about delivering innovative and interactive video experiences on the Web, check out our client PermissionTV.

— Posted by Melissa Coyle

InfoWorld Calling it Quits

News today from InfoWorld that it is shutting down its print operations to focus on online editorial coverage and events. Gone are the days of flipping through the great (but thin) IT trade during lunch.

In an email to its advertisers, InfoWorld publishers so eloquently state:

InfoWorld has made the decision to address the realities of today’s IT marketplace by focusing on the immediacy of online and the intimacy of events. Both of these market opportunities have clearly overshadowed print as the primary components of marketing to the influential IT Solutions Management segment that InfoWorld serves. As a result of this, InfoWorld will discontinue publishing the print component of the brand as of the April 2nd issue. Yes, this is a major announcement, however understanding the huge shift in media consumption habits, this announcement should not be a very big surprise for the marketing community. “

I commend InfoWorld for being the first major IT trade to (finally) realize that there has been a shift, especially for advertisers, in the IT market. InfoWorld has made a major decision, but if I was a betting woman I’d bet this won’t be the last you’ll hear of major IT trades ceasing print production over the next few months.

Boston Proper, Err Paper

Competition in the news business can never be a bad thing right?

Well, news of a second free tabloid-style daily paper in Boston broke today in Steve Bailey’s “Downtown” column. Bailey reports that Russel Pergament, who started Metro Boston six years ago, is back in the Hub with plans to launch a Metro Boston competitor called Boston Now. Bailey writes that Pergament hopes to replicate this effort in eight to 10 U.S. cities within the next few years.

In so doing, Pergament will be duking it out with Stuart Layne, the Metro’s publisher. Layne, one of the true gentlemen in the news communications business, assumed the reins of the Metro last fall. Layne formerly ran his own sports marketing firm and also headed up marketing for the Boston Celtics and Seattle Mariners in previous lives. He’s a native New Yorker and die-hard Yankees fan, but that doesn’t necessarily make Layne a bad guy. And in fact, as any good marketing guy would admit, Layne has acknowledged what a great job the Red Sox have done in building their brand and marketing their product – locally, nationally and now (thanks to Dice-K) internationally. Given his baseball loyalties, however, one wonders if the Metro-Boston Now rivalry will one day be the newspaper equivalent of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry.

Finally, did anyone else who read Bailey’s column this morning pick up on the irony of Bailey’s and Pergament’s commentary relative to local news? Bailey wrote…(“Pergament promises a paper that will emphasize staff-written local news. That has certainly not been the track record of these McPapers, which are loaded with wire-service stories.” Pergament was quoted saying: “Our commitment is local . . . We are going to break some news. It is not going to be just watered down wire copy.”

Interesting stuff. So, just for kicks, let’s take a look at the very pages of this morning’s Globe business section and let’s do a quick count of its stories……including the Bailey column there were five staff-written stories with local angles compared to 12 wire stories of national or international import. Hmmm. Want some fries with your Boston Globe this morning?

Blogstars

As a continuation to an earlier post – Blog or Bust – here’s some more info on how the business of blogs continues to rock the future of PR…

Om Malik, senior writer at Business 2.0, and publisher of the wildly successful blog GigaOm, announced at yesterday’s Digital Magazine Forum that he is launching two new blogs. Malik is perhaps one of the first – and most revered – journalists to turn blogging into a legitimate business. He has a considerable staff of writers, collects advertising dollars, and is frequently quoted and referenced as a news source in other articles. Do a Google News search on his name, and you’ll find him quoted or his blog referenced just about everyday. He has arguably become as – if not more – influential as some of the industry analysts out there. As The Deal’s blog reports, “Malik is part of a select group of bloggers who have transcended the outsider image of a blogger to become something more significant, and raised seed money to expand a popular blog into a brand.”

And then there is Michael Arrington. A recent Wall Street Journal article profiles the serial entrepreneur and publisher of the famed TechCrunch blog. Dubbed “Silicon Valley’s newest power broker”, Arrington seems to have the power to turn start-ups to gold simply by writing about them on his blog. Companies mentioned on the blog often report huge bumps in business after they have been featured. Case in point: “ODesk Corp., which brokers jobs between computer programmers and companies, says a September write-up on TechCrunch snared five times as many new customers for the company as a BusinessWeek article earlier in the year.” According to the article, TechCrunch brings in about $120,000 in revenue a month, mostly from ads, sponsorships, an online job-posting service and the parties it holds.

This is all further proof that establishing relationships with blogstars like Malik and Arrington should be part of a tech company’s PR and marketing strategy.

Big News Week

It was a rather interesting week for the venerable newspaper industry.

First Google announced it would begin selling advertising for the top 50 newspapers and will take bids for space from advertisers. The bids will then be relayed to publishers, who can then accept or reject the offers.

Meanwhile, Gannett takes blogging to the next level, unveiling a plan to allow bloggers, members of Internet discussion groups and other non-journalists – so called “citizen journalists” to contribute to news stories. Gannett’s objective is to try to stem the tide of reduced readership and combat the growing popularly of the Internet, TV and other news sources. It is interesting to think how PR people will work with this group.

The LA Times fired Editor Dean Bauquet who refused to cut staff in his news room.

The Times’ parent, Tribune Co. is on the block again and according to the Associated Press, a team headed by business big wigs Eli Broad and Ron Burkle have submitted a bid. Tribune had received preliminary bids from private equity firms Thomas H. Lee Partners and Texas Pacific Group. A second group led by Bain Capital also expressed interest, but neither deal went anywhere.

The Philadelphia Inquirer saw its editor, Amanda Bennett step down as part of the paper’s cost reduction efforts.

All was quiet on the Boston Globe front. A pair of Jacks – Welch and Connors and Boston businessman Joe O’Donnell (who lost out on trying to buy the Boston Red Sox a few years ago) are rumored to be interested in taking the Globe off the New York Times’ hands.

With regard to the Google and Gannett moves, let’s hope they pay off. With newspaper circulation and ad revenues continuing to go South, partly because of the trend of young adults who simply do not read newspapers; it’s critical that this medium survives.


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