The Art of News and Storytelling in the Age of Social and Digital Media
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Top reporters, writers, editors, and managers from around the country talk about how social and digital media is changing news and storytelling. Find out how the media is using new communications ...

Top reporters, writers, editors, and managers from around the country talk about how social and digital media is changing news and storytelling. Find out how the media is using new communications pathways to tell more compelling stories, connect with readers, and build brands online. Their insights and perspectives are from right where the rubber meets the road. This e-book features the full transcript from the national media panel discussion, The Art of News and Storytelling in the Age of Social and Digital Media.

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The Art of News and Storytelling in the Age of Social and Digital Media Document Transcript

  • 1. GREGARIOUS: THE ART OF NEWS AND STORYTELLING IN THE AGE OF SOCIAL AND DIGITAL MEDIA         Transcript of the panel event produced by Gregory | FCA        
  • 2. Copyright (c) 2010 by Gregory | FCA Communications All rights reserved. Gregory FCA Communications 27 West Athens Avenue Suite 200 Ardmore PA 19003 610.642.8253  ISBN: 978-0-9845945-0-4  www.gregoryfca.com 
  • 3. TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction National Media Panel Discussion Questions from the Floor
  • 4. INTRODUCTION Gregory FCA’s “The Art of News and Storytelling in the Age of Social and Digital Media,” held on April 15, 2010, in Philadelphia, brought together an national panel of agenda-setting thought leaders in media and digital communications. Ideas and thoughts—focusing on how social and digital media is changing news and storytelling—were shared by editors from The New York Times and Associated Press, as well reporters, writers, and representatives from The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Recessionwire.com, and USA Today. The panel featured: • Ted Anthony, Assistant Managing Editor, Associated Press • Laurie Burkitt, Writer, Forbes • Sara Clemence, Co-Founder and Editor, RecessionWire.com • Jennifer Preston, Social Media Editor, The New York Times • Sree Sreenivasan, Associate Professor and Dean of Student Affairs, Journalism, Columbia Journalism School • Riva Richmond, Freelance Writer for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal • Brian Dresher, Manager of Social Media and Digital Partnerships, USA Today • Greg Matusky, President, Gregory FCA • Mike Lizun, Senior Vice President, Public Relations, Gregory FCA Please read on to learn more about what our panel of social and digital media thought leaders have to say. 4
  • 5. NATIONAL MEDIA PANEL DISCUSSION Mike Lizun: Good evening. Welcome to our media panel event. I'm Mike Lizun with Gregory FCA. We have a great evening ahead of us, so let's get things started. I want to quickly introduce the panel. Their complete bios are on the programs. And then after that, I'm going to turn things over to Sree. And after Sree's presentation, we'll turn the evening over to my colleague, Greg Matusky, who will moderate a panel discussion. After the panel, we will open the event up to questions from the audience, and we're also attempting to live stream on the Internet via Ustream. We hope to have some interaction via Twitter as well. The hash tag, if anybody is out there tweeting tonight, is #GFCAPANEL. And we welcome your questions as well from the Twitter folks. Okay, the panelists, welcome to Philadelphia. Laurie Burkitt is a Forbes staff writer and reports on marketing and digital advertising for the Forbes CMO Network. Riva Richmond is a freelance technology journalist. She writes primarily about electronics security and privacy, among other tech topics for The New York Times, and small business technology tools and topics for The Wall Street Journal. Ted Anthony is a veteran editor and correspondent for the Associated Press. He's helped develop social media strategies and new storytelling techniques in AP newsrooms. Ted is an Assistant Managing Editor for the Associated Press News Cooperative. Jennifer Preston is The New York Times’ first Social Media Editor. Before taking on the newly created post last year, Jennifer has worked as an editor, reporter, and newsroom manager at the Times since 1995. She began her career right here in Philadelphia as a reporter for The Philadelphia Bulletin and Philadelphia Daily News, so welcome back to Philadelphia, Jen. Sara Clemence is Co-founder of RecessionWire, which is described as a lively media startup launched in the downturn to offer news, advice, trends, and perspective about the changing world. She is also Deputy Business Editor for the New York Post. And Brian Dresher is USA Today's Manager of Social Media and Digital Partnerships. Brian has been with USAToday.com for nearly five years. In this time, he has formed partnerships with leading brands, such as Yahoo! and Forbes, and social media sites, such as Fark. First up this evening is Sree Sreenivasan. Sree is a media professor and Dean of Student Affairs at Columbia Journalism School, and a Contributing Editor to DNAInfo.com. For me, it is a real thrill to have Sree here tonight. I've followed his career for many years, and I've modeled many of our approaches at Gregory FCA after his thoughts about the evolving 5
  • 6. world of new media. In his role at Columbia Journalism School, he is setting a national agenda, helping to develop the next generation of journalists. Sree, the podium is yours. Sree Sreenivasan: Hi, everybody. Thank you very much for having me here. I can't believe that I've been the one who has been asked to speak and do a presentation when we have such a great group of people behind here. Big-Picture Thoughts and Practical, Actionable Information Sree: So what I'm going to do is, I've been given about 10 minutes to share what I call some big- picture thoughts and then some very practical actionable information. I hope all of you have the handout that's been put on the chairs. If you're standing in the back, we have a stack of them as well. And the URL for everything I'm talking about is at http://bit.ly/sreesoc, and you'll be able to find everything we're talking about in one place. So I'll give you a chance to just look through the handout for a second while I just get set up here. And you'll be able to, as I said, find everything I'm talking about at this address. And the idea of this collection of social media tips and thoughts that I've put together was so that people who are trying to figure out all this stuff have one place to go—a place to go, not the only place, obviously, but one place to go. And I thought I would give you some thoughts about what we're doing at Columbia first. Over at the journalism school, we've been teaching digital journalism since the fall of ‘94, which is obviously a very long time ago. And we’ve had some fabulous collaborations with media organizations around the city, and we were able to bring in professors, adjunct professors of all kinds, to help us in our teaching. One of them is Jennifer Preston, who you'll meet in a few minutes. And about two years ago, we started looking more at social media and then, last fall, I introduced a social media class for my students. And I want to make it very clear what level that class is. It's a one credit class, five weeks, completely optional. So that gives you a sense of where I've put social media, that it is important, but it's not more important than everything else we're doing. It's one credit out of 30 plus credits, so that gives you some sense. One of my colleagues, Sig Gissler, who is the administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes—they just had the Pulitzer Prizes, as you know, given out on Monday—he coined the term a couple of years ago when I was teaching a digital newsroom class with him. And the term is the tradigital journalist, the traditional journalist with a digital overlay. I think that's the way all journalists should be. Traditional journalists with a digital overlay, so that you're able to use all the things and all the skill sets that you bring—experience, reporting, 6
  • 7. writing, and the theme for our conversation today, storytelling. And then you have this overlay of digital skill sets. And then if you have both the digital and the traditional work combined, I think you'll be able to do very well in the new media landscape. So I said to the students the very first day of class, if your parents knew you were going to Columbia grad school and taking a class in Facebook and Twitter, etc., they'll call my boss, Nick Lemann, and get me fired. So I said that first day that I need to make sure the class is intellectually rigorous. But I also used a few words to describe what I think my class should be, and I think those words apply to everything that people should be thinking about when they're caught up in the social media world. So the words are actually in your handout, and here I said my class is going to be, is most likely to be useful, helpful, practical, actionable, timely, entertaining, fun, occasionally funny. And that list, if you look at it, maybe you'd add a couple of other words. You might add brief. And one more word I'd add to that is generous. I think those are all good characteristics of tweets and Facebook postings, and that's what I try to do with the way that I use social media. It doesn't mean I'm always successful. As many of you who know me, I'm not always funny. So that's something to keep in mind. And this handout and the rest of the stuff that I've put in here are ways in which you can bring together some of the things that people are talking about and doing online. So when you get a chance, if you'll go through the handout, you'll find, I hope, some very helpful guides and collections of information. I also tell people that it's very important for journalists and media professionals to be great pointers, P-O-I-N-T-E-R-S. Be curators, be pointers, point at other things. Point to other people. There are too many folks doing social media and media in general who are always talking about themselves. So if you're good at pointing out to other people and pointing out their work, I think you'll be more successful than if you're always talking about yourself. Change Your Media Diet Sree: I also have here in the handout a list of some things that I tell people about how you should change your media diet. And I've made some suggestions that you can look at, things that if you're very active in the social media space, you already know. I'll just turn to my fellow panelists here and ask them how many of them read Mashable, and you'll see almost everybody. How many of you in the audience read Mashable? Many hands go up. Everybody should be reading Mashable because Mashable is like the FT of social media or The Wall Street Journal of social media. 7
  • 8. It is, therefore, something that everybody cares about because the media is changing so much, but it's really worth looking at and understanding the things that Mashable is covering. Also, I have a couple other things I've put on there, including a website called Muck Rack that I recommend everybody look at because it's a great way to find journalists. Because what it does is it brings order to the chaos that is social media, and I think a lot of websites can benefit from this idea of bringing order to the chaos. And maybe later on in our conversation, we can talk about this. But what they do is they take journalists, put them in one place on Twitter, and then they highlight the best work. So it's that aggregation function that they do very well. So if you haven't seen that, please do take a look. I have some other sites on here and I'm sure, if we went around the room, we could add another 20 or 30 must-read sites. But the whole point is; think about your media diet. The world is changing. Are you changing your diet with that? I also have here a bunch of Facebook guides, and you've seen the stunning statistics about Facebook, right? Facebook and Its 400 Million Active Users Sree: Four-hundred million active users, 200 million people log in every day, the average user has 130 friends, 5 billion pieces of content are created each month. So that tells you that Facebook is a place where a lot of the conversation is happening and that's why you're seeing a lot of big organizations and small moving to Facebook to make use of that community, take advantage of that community. So if you're not on Facebook in a storytelling way or in a business way, you may want to think about it, and I have some suggestions there. I've also put in a link to something I think everybody should read, something called WhatTheFacebook.com. How many people have seen that? A few of you probably have, and WhatTheFacebook will cause you never to go to Facebook again. Because what it is, is a collection of mistakes that people have made on Facebook, and we don't have time to get into it and we're in mixed company, so we won't go there, but you should check that out. And if you have friends in your life who make Facebook mistakes, show them that site. Who doesn't make Facebook mistakes? Everybody does. We have a bunch of LinkedIn guys—and LinkedIn is another tool for writers, for journalists, for media pros that I think is underused and underutilized. And I think that people should be thinking about how they can do it. Let's look around. How many of you use LinkedIn or are on LinkedIn? Raise your hand. How many of you know what you're doing on LinkedIn? Look at all the hands go crashing down. Right? And I'm sorry I'm turning my back to you folks, but this is what happens with LinkedIn. 8
  • 9. So, as with a lot of sites, I really encourage you to look through and find new ways of using something that you already spend a lot of time on. I should say also that I will lose my social media cred or my Internet cred with what I'm about to say. There are three social networks that I'm not on, and that's because I believe that for technology to be appropriate for me to use, it should be something that fits in my workflow and my life flow. And until it does both, I'm not ready for it. I was late to Facebook, even though I taught it in the university. I was late to Twitter. I was late to many other things. So the three things I don't use—and please don't throw anything at me when I say this because it will upset people in the room. In fact, some people will leave, but we've got great speakers coming up, so don't leave. The first thing I don't use is Google Buzz. Anybody here on Google Buzz? In fact, it turned out all of us were on Google Buzz one morning, right? We woke up, 100 million people were on Google Buzz. How about Google Wave? Raise your hand Google Wave people? Keep them up, please. Now, here's what I'm going to do. I'm from India so I love outsourcing, so these people with their hands up, talk to them about Google Wave. Over there, over there, over there. Please talk to them. The third thing I don't use is foursquare. Raise your hand if you're a foursquare user and you hate me. Raise your hand. Again, please keep your hands up so that people can talk to you. Great, thank you. So foursquare is something that is going to keep growing, it's going to have a big impact, but I'm not ready for it. I just did an iPad review, and I said I'm an early tester, late adopter. And I think everybody else should be like that, too. Early tester, late adopter. When it fits your life and your work, you should be ready to use it and you should jump right in. So I've got some foursquare guys and Google Buzz guys, and then I've got a whole bunch of Twitter guys that I recommend you take a look at, and it's two pages worth. So as I was trying to think of what could be some big-picture ideas dealing with Twitter, I also wanted to leave you some very practical actionable thoughts and wanted to show you a couple of things. A lot of these things that I'm talking about have come from having spent the last year building out with a team of folks a new hyper-local site covering just Manhattan. It's called DNAinfo.com and it covers Manhattan. And you know that hyper-local is something that a lot of people are talking about now across the United States. We have some fun things on there, including a LeBron-James-becomes-a-free-agent clock. And it's a countdown. Is he 76 days? And it's very unlikely that he's going to come to New York, but Manhattanites can dream about that. 9
  • 10. We do a lot of video and covering communities. And what I've learned in this process is that your work that you create is not enough to just make the work. You've got to get it out there and you've got to use social media and other techniques to get it out, and I hope we'll be able to talk about that in our panel. And I wanted to show you one particular site that I think shows you what you can do with Twitter. How many of you know this site, Twiangulate? Raise your hands. Anybody? The two folks here and one other person. Good. So this will not be boring to most of you. One-Hundred-Forty Characters Sree: Twiangulate has changed my Twitter life. And it goes to the heart of what social media can do. A lot of people criticize social media. One-hundred-forty characters? I'm a writer. I can only write in 1,400 words or 14,000 words. I'm a writer. I tell people 140 characters is too much. My personal rule: 120 characters. Why 120 over 140? Anybody? Much easier to get people to retweet. The number of times I've not been able to retweet the work of—including some people in this room—is because they're always tweeting 140. So I do 120 characters so that it's easier to retweet. But the point is that many of you will say, I can't say anything in 120 characters. I then point them to a newspaper. By the way, I subscribe to two daily newspapers, so it tells you that I still love newspapers. It turns out no headline you've ever read in your life in a newspaper is more than 80 or 90 characters. The Magic of a Newspaper Sree: But the magic of a newspaper is there's 1,000 words underneath it, right? So, for example, we can read this headline, “US Leads Bid To Phase Out Whale Hunting.” Most of us are not going to read the rest of the story and you know enough to go to a cocktail party and say, “Isn't it great that the U.S. is leading the bid to outlaw whale hunting? It's fabulous and I wish we could do more. And did you see that movie? That has something to do with …” just have a little conversation, right? So the magic of the newspaper is the less than 140 character headline and the 1,000 words below it. So my own personal rule is every tweet I do has either a photograph or a link or something which is the equivalent of the 1,000 words. So that's what I'm always trying to do. Now, these are my personal guidelines. If anybody tells you they're a social media expert, unless their name is Mark Zuckerberg, they're lying. Right? There is no such thing. This is so early. The other point I make about this is, this is where radio was in 1912, where TV was in 1950, and where the Internet was in ’96. That means we’ve got all sorts of great stuff still to come and lots of awful stuff still to come. How do we know what’s good, what’s valuable, what’s helpful? 10
  • 11. Twiangulate Sree: So I want to leave you on the helpful note by telling you about Twiangulate. And Twiangulate does something very important. You listen to people on Twitter or on Facebook. Wouldn't it be interesting to see who the people you listen to, who do they listen to? Does that make sense? And this site, what it does, is it takes three people that you like or that you trust, and it triangulates with this terrible name, Twiangulate. You know how people put this T-W in front of everything. But in this case it works. So it takes the T-W, and it takes three Twitter feeds, and then it tells you who they're listening to in common. I can't demonstrate it because it's not working on this browser, but it does work. I use it all the time. It's the fastest way I know to find the value of Twitter. So go into this and try that out. Put in three people you trust. Or if you're working on a beat, new beat, put in the three leading people on that beat and you'll find it. I would put in any three people here and see who they are listening to. That will give you an instant list that you'll find helpful. So I encourage you to use this tool and they are in the handout. Again, the handout is at http://bit.ly/sreesoc. There are lots and lots of things on there. One of the things you'll also learn is that people have a lot of time on the Internet, right? There's so many things that people are doing and that's what's kind of fun about Twitter. People are creating new and useful things all the time. I encourage you to look through the list and also send me things that you think would be useful and that should be added on here. Your 100-by-100 Profile Photo Sree: And the final thing I'll say before I go sit down is to think about your 100-by-100. And you say what is that? I recently wrote a column on Monday about the idea that your profile photo matters. Your profile photo matters. I said never before has so much depended on what people see on a photo the size of your thumbnail. So when you're on Twitter, when you're on Facebook, think about that photo. What does it say about you? One of the people that friended me on Facebook has this professional photo you think would be there. But he's got a picture of Mr. Met. And if you know what that is, it's a guy in a baseball head. Now, if it was a good baseball team, it would be a different matter. That's a good joke in Philly, right? It works in Philly, but I'm on the Internet, I'm on the Internet and I'm getting in trouble in New York, so that's a different story. 11
  • 12. But think about that. And I understand it's also very important in JDate and other online dating circles. But think about that, that this is the world we've come to where we can use and do this fantastic big-picture work, and we also need to think about little details. And that's a fascinating juxtaposition for me, that you're looking at 120 characters, you're looking at 10,000 words and 10,000 magical words. There is room for both, and it will continue to be that way for years to come. Thank you very much, everybody. Social Media is the #1 Topic the Business Community Wants to Hear About Greg Matusky: I want to thank you, Sree. I want to thank you, also, because you've been a big influence on our firm throughout our search for the answers to social media. You know, we put this panel together for one very important reason, and that's because as I go out and meet with clients and I meet with individuals in the business community, social media is the #1 topic they want to hear about, more than anything else. We go to meetings where we're brought in as a PR firm and we spend five minutes talking about traditional media and two hours talking about social media. So really, what we wanted to accomplish was to bring in the media that is working to crack the code. They may not be there yet, but they're far ahead of a lot of what we see going on in business, and could share with you how they're building brands for their organizations, how they're engaging readership, how they're storytelling in this new environment. So I thought it would be interesting tonight to just probe that with simple questions about where they're going, and maybe we'd start with what some people are saying is the epicenter of where all this is radiating out from as far as media and social media go. I’ll ask Jen Preston, who is from Philadelphia and has worked for The Bulletin here in Philadelphia, to explain to us what is a social media editor and what's your mission at The New York Times? Social Media Missions at The New York Times, USA Today, and the Associated Press Jennifer Preston: Our mission at The New York Times is to be wherever the conversation is taking place. And people have been talking about stories that have been printed in The New York Times for decades. And so we are committed as an organization to be where that conversation is, whether it is on Facebook, or whether it is on Twitter, or whatever, or if there are photos being shared on Flickr, so that's a big part of my role. Greg: And you're faced on the other side of the panel with Brian Dresher from USA Today, who is not so much on the editorial side, he's on the business partnership side on social media. And 12
  • 13. you too, are building a profile online and digitally for USA Today. Explain for us a little bit about your role and how it's building readership and engaging with your readers. Brian Dresher: Sure. I'm on the business side, but I think what you'll find is that Jen and I face similar challenges and opportunities and probably some overlapping responsibilities that we have. A big part of my role is internal evangelization, education, information, sharing of metrics, and making sure our staff in all areas of the organization, not just the newsroom, but also with ad sales, IT, whatever department, knows how to use these tools effectively and productively. And when they participate in communities away from USA Today, that they do so, and that it makes them experienced commensurate with that social network. Greg: That's one of the big questions we always receive on the business side. How do you get that buy-in? Jen, with newsroom reporters, or Ted, who has reported from 20 different countries and done a lot of the post-9/11 coverage, now you're on more the social side and working with multimedia at AP. How do you get buy-in within an organization that, hey, we should be more transparent, we should be more forthcoming, that we should be sharing this information in new and different ways? Getting Buy-In Ted Anthony: For quite a while we have had people around the system chomping at the bit to be part of this. And I'm not just talking about the folks who are in their 20s and 30s, but I'm talking about the folks who have been around for a lot of decades and hear a lot about journalism and see this as an opening, as an entry to connect with the people who they've been writing for and they've been creating content for. I teach storytelling, and one of the fundamental underpinnings that I teach about storytelling is that it is about intimacy, it is about caring. You have to care in order to appreciate storytelling. And what we are finding is, if we can create that relationship between the folks out in the field who are gathering the content—which is a little more business-y way of putting it, or we can call it experiencing the world—and the folks who are out there for the AP experience in the world, and having a front-row seat to history, if we can connect them with the audiences who are hungry for this, then you get pretty unbridled enthusiasm on both sides. And the more we, as a traditional wholesaler, which the AP has been, the more our folks are able to connect with people who are actually responding to and caring about the things that they create, the more buy-in we get. AmericaWants 13
  • 14. Greg: And I'm going to just jump back to Brian real fast. I do want you to share with the audience your success this week, which is getting national headlines with regard to AmericaWants. And this is the type of thing, I think, that everyone in here who is in business could really benefit from hearing the case study that went into this. Brian: And I wish we could say we timed it so I could be at this event the same week, but how many of you heard of the AmericaWants hash tag? Okay, a few people. Well, on Tuesday we announced that for every person that tweets AmericaWants and inserts the name of their charity or cause, AmericaWants charity X to get a full-page ad in USA Today. And we're giving away a full-page, full-color ad for free. It has a value of $190,000 and has made AmericaWants and USA Today trending topics in Twitter making its top 10 list. It has been tweeted out by MC Hammer, Pink, Eva Longoria, Randy Carmichael, NASCAR, and countless other celebrities. And it's distributed such tremendous buzz for USA Today. This organization has found a way to utilize social media for social good. And it's also showing a way in which leveraging crowdsourcing as well as generating awareness for many great causes out there that maybe wouldn't have had a chance to get their voice and name heard. Greg: Well, let's take that thought for a second and let's bring it to the veteran journalist, Jen, and let's ask a little bit about where does this line in this world of promotion and editorial separate, and then let us springboard over to Laurie and Riva and Sara. Jennifer: Well, I think that's a very interesting experiment that you did. And as you were describing it, I was wondering, “Gosh, would we be able to do that? Hmm, I don't know.” But it's definitely worth having a conversation about. And I would say that one thing that we've done at The New York Times, which is something that I would urge all of you to consider in your organizations, and that is take the risk, be open, trust your people. Deliver Value Jennifer: But before you send them out there, follow Sree's tips which are invaluable. And the message that we give to our journalists is deliver value, deliver value. When you are on Twitter, when you are on Facebook, when you are representing The New York Times, you know, people don't really want to hear that you had lamb sliders for lunch. But, they do very much want to hear what links that you recommend, what photos you think that are important to see, and so it all goes back to, I think, being open, trusting, bringing value. We have not had, as Ted said, have not run into resistance in the newsroom in anything. I am completely exhausted from keeping up with just the requests just to help people get started. And what's exciting for us at the Times is after having allowed 1,000 flowers to bloom because I think encouraging innovation in your organizations is key, working with your developers and 14
  • 15. bringing them into the conversation is key, and working across departments like with your marketing departments and, would you agree, Brian, that that's very important. But now at the Times, we're in the place and that's the focus of my role now is really baking social media into the editorial process and the production process so it becomes like part of every story. So Twitter, that's a very effective way for journalists to grab in a crude way, but in an effective way, a piece of the real-time Web and share that with our users on our website, with our readers. So I think that's what a lot of news organizations are doing now. Greg: Let's take that thought and now extend it to two of our writers, three of our writers who are on the panel. Laurie, you're at Forbes. You're covering a lot about the digital world, digital communications. It's interesting that they're talking about how it's being used. You're actually reporting on Twitter and other brands that are out there. Are you using social media to trend stories, track stories, is that playing a role in your reporting? And how do you find it to be working with these companies like Twitter and as transparent as they want us all to be when we use their services? Laurie Burkitt: I'm actually going to start with the second part of your question first. A lot of these companies are really excited. They're also in a part of the country that seems to be a little more transparent than the East Coast is, which is not to speak poorly about where we live. Google, Yahoo!, and LinkedIn Pitch Stories to Forbes Laurie: But I think California tends to be a little bit more open. And at least I've found, anyway, that they're more proactive. I know when I'm writing about Google, they often pitch me stories which is more than I can say for a lot of other companies. Greg: So that's a news flash. Google pitches you stories. Laurie: They do. They're very proactive and I think Yahoo! has recently picked this up. I realize this is an aside, but some of these companies are just starting to figure out, “Hey, we need to be more proactive or we're not going to get the same sort of hype that Google has been getting.” And I certainly get the same thing from Facebook, Twitter less so, but I have. But LinkedIn, the same thing, they're all very proactive in terms of coming to the media. Greg: Now, I'm fascinated about Google because it's one of the world's largest technology companies. How are they pitching you? Is there something they're doing within the realm of technology that's any different? Laurie: You would be shocked. They have a PR person for every, I don't know, two people who work there. It's huge. It's huge. And they have so much power. But yeah, I would say at least once every two to three weeks they'll be in touch with me. 15
  • 16. Prioritizing Stories Greg: How do you make sense out of all of this? You have to report on it. How do you prioritize your stories? Is it by trends that are breaking? The size of the brand? What's driving your coverage? Laurie: I think a lot of it is the size of the brand. I work for a financial magazine—right? So the goal is to follow the money. So that's pretty much what I do and how I figure out how I should organize my time. But, yeah, a lot of it has to do with the size of the company. But that's not necessarily what it is all the time. There will be trends that pop up that have to do with social networking but maybe aren't making a lot of money right now. I know I wrote recently about two companies, ShareThis and AddThis, which are the social buttons that you see when you go to a website. And that's how you send articles and pictures to friends. And they're not making a ton of money right now, but they're helping our companies make money—right? And so that's a sort of follow-the-money kind of story. Story Origination Greg: Riva, why don't you chime in here? Just share with us, you're a freelancer, you cover a lot about security, banking, privacy, data online. Your stories appear in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal which I think is a remarkable tightrope walk. Where do your stories originate from and what role are some of these social networks and social media playing in that? Riva Richmond: My stories originate pretty much the way they would for any beat reporter, probably similar to Laurie. Yes, Google pitches me and so on. I will throw in there that I covered Google when they first went public and it was not easy to get any kind of reply to anything, so they've just grown so much and they've built their PR organization. And, actually, I was just visiting with them a couple weeks ago in California and there are, I don't know, they showed me an area where there were 50 PR people. But when you're pitched by PR, you always as a reporter are looking at that and saying, okay, what are they after? Because I don't serve Google, I serve my readers. And in particular, a lot of what I do for the Times is consumer advice about how to stay safe online, how to protect your personal data. I certainly wouldn't be almost in a—not adversarial role—I want to say with Google or Facebook. But, you know, we have very cordial relationships, but there's a tension. So they certainly do pitch me, they certainly let me know, like this week Google let me know about a couple of things including some new research that they've just done on fake antivirus scams which appeared today in the Gadgetwise blog. So they give me heads up on things often, and then I go and try to look to experts to flesh it out. Is that answering your question? 16
  • 17. Greg: It is. It is and I'll just move to Sara who, I found it interesting what Sree said, what was the term you coined? Tradigital? Sree: Sig Gissler. One Journalist’s Migration from Traditional to Digital Media Greg: Well, Sara, I think, fits well within that arena, having come from traditional media and then starting a digital property, Recessionwire. And we'd be interested, there are a lot of journalism students in the class, just hearing a little bit about that migration and how it went and how it's going and what it's like to be a startup at the very emergence of what's going on digitally. Sara Clemence: Well, those are all very good and interesting questions. I actually started Recessionwire with a couple of partners, in part, a little bit out of necessity and a little bit out of seeing the need. I was an editor at Portfolio, which no longer exists, which is the situation that a lot of journalists are finding themselves in these days, unfortunately. Either their publication doesn't exist anymore or their position doesn't exist anymore. So it was one of the big takeaways from launching a media startup these days. We were three experienced journalists with $1,500 and a WordPress template. I mean, we had pretty limited resources, but we had a lot of experience and we had a lot of knowledge and skills about this very topic we're talking about today, storytelling, about journalism, about providing information, about connecting with people and the resources that are out there today allow you to take that limited package and create something. I was just thinking about this as we were all chatting and talking about Twitter. A More Level Playing Field Sara: By providing the information that Recessionwire has provided, we've actually ended up on one of Twitter's recommended lists. And, again, we were three media people and $1,500, and we're on a recommended list with CNNMoney and The Wall Street Journal and much, much bigger, much more deep-pocketed organizations. So it's very much the technology that has leveled the playing field for a lot of people. Greg: And so it's leveled the playing field. What does that mean for writers and reporters? It's leveled the playing field. You have the ability now to go direct. It's complicated when you're a co-op such as AP and you have the ability to go direct. More and more of the guys I grew up with and the girls who were writers when I was young, they've gone to build brands online by promoting themselves and creating a blog and tweeting about micro topics. What does that mean and is that something at the top of your mind? 17
  • 18. Sara: Yes, absolutely. The level playing field has advantages and disadvantages for all of us. I mean, it's one of the reasons that traditional media has been suffering. There are so many other sources of information out there, and yet it's also the current reality. So if you are in media or related to media and you're not acknowledging that and taking advantage of it, then you're really going to be left behind. So the leveling playing field is what might change your life, so get onboard. Students Clamor to Get into Journalism School Greg: Sree, come around for us. Tell us about the students that you see coming to Columbia Journalism School and is it a good time, a bad time? What do they tell their parents about their $50,000 tuitions and whether this is a good investment? Sree: And we should have Jennifer chime in as well, since she teaches at the J-school. But it's amazing that people still want to go into journalism. Young people are so optimistic. We've got 1,400 applications from 60 countries this year. We're in the middle of application season right now. And when you talk to these students, obviously they're very worried about where the jobs will be and all of that stuff, but at the same time they understand that it's not journalism that's broken— right? It's the business model that's broke, or having trouble, anyway. And so the amount of, as I said, optimism, energy, enthusiasm, when you talk. We're going to have admitted students there the weekend after tomorrow and there are going to be all these students there. They're admitted students and then we'll see how it goes. You know, I think that what you've been hearing from these folks, also, ties into something that a gentleman named Les Hinton said. Les is the publisher of The Wall Street Journal and somebody who thinks a lot about content. And he said something on a panel that I was listening to, and I think it's kind of burned into my brain. A Scarce Resource: Human Attention Sree: He said that the scarcest resource in the 21st century is going to be human attention. And I believe, as he does, that the companies, brands, people, and journalists that know how to get a sliver of that human attention are going to stay in business. They're going to be viable, are going to be important, and the rest are going to go away. So we all have to learn how to do that, and that's not easy. But I believe that that's one of the skill sets we need to know. But I want to go back to what I said first, that traditional part is still important because what are you going to get that attention with? Because once they come to you, you've got one shot. If they don't like what you're doing, they'll never come back. 18
  • 19. The reason Recessionwire got lots of attention was not because of the name. That was some of it, but once they came, they saw the profile of these folks, the kinds of stories you were doing, and that made an impact. Was it today that the study was released that The New York Times is linked to once every four seconds on Twitter? That's a stunning statistic. Quality Journalism and Storytelling Greg: Ah, so it comes back to good journalism underneath it all. Jennifer: And I'd just like to echo because I've been teaching at Columbia now for three years and I am just struck by the passion of the students, the commitment to quality journalism and storytelling, the same kind of commitment that I saw as a young reporter here working at the Daily News and at The Bulletin and the long history of fantastic journalism here by The Philadelphia Inquirer. Ted: May I add one thing? Greg: Yes, certainly, Ted. Ted: It's interesting because you say it comes back to the journalism. And Sree says he's amazed. I'm not surprised at the enthusiasm of now because I was at a conference a couple years ago and someone was talking about how to sell media—and a perfectly legitimate topic, it's something we're all thinking about very intently—and they came out with the notion that think of it as something like toothpaste or deodorant. A Public Trust Ted: You have to package it, you have to sell it. And that's reasonable, but I don't recall toothpaste being mentioned in the First Amendment. We are—and I like that line, I use it occasionally—we have a public trust and that public trust attracts people. And I think that hasn't changed entirely. We are thinking much more intently about business models, we are thinking much more intently about distribution methods and about how to, not only build, but move around audiences. But behind all that is this notion that we're doing something that's a bit righteous in a good sense, and I'm not sure that that's a bad thing, that it's something that needs to keep re-emerging now and then as we talk about business models. And I'm interested to know if my fellow panelists take issue with any of that. I think that we need to keep that in the back of our heads and sometimes in front of our heads. Greg: What about it, Riva? Are you committed to truth, justice? Riva Richmond: Certainly I don't know a journalist who got into the profession because they didn't think it was an honorable profession. They could be part of the conversation and they 19
  • 20. could influence things and they could write about important stuff going on in the society or business or government. That's what drew all of us into it. This transition is just very tough for us, obviously, because the jobs are not remotely what they were before. There was so much opportunity when I got in 10 years ago, more than 10 years ago, and today there are not as many good jobs. But it's forcing, I think, a lot of interesting change. Engaging the Media’s Audience in Conversation Riva: Journalists have to become more entrepreneurial. They have to think more about what their audience wants and to engage them in a conversation. For example, in social media. And, yeah, recognize that traditional media is our social conversation. Reading The New York Times is always that for me. And now Twitter is a place for conversation. And I do think that the best content will rise and I think it's great some new players will come and there are others like me, I'm continuing to write for the traditional media. But there's so much change going on in traditional media to adapt to this and we're all having to learn. Those of us who grew up in the traditional media, I started at a wire service and I was worked in a wire service for a long time, and blogging was a totally new thing for me. But it was exciting, exciting to be able to write in first person and have 250 comments to a post and people clearly cared about it and that definitely goes to energy to keep going and to keep pursuing it. No one will get rich doing journalism. Greg: It's remarkable. Here on the other side, on the corporate side, I'm often asked that very question about the first person, about the voice and companies not wanting to have a voice, professionals not wanting to have a voice. They've always had this gray corporate identity and they don't want to really put their own personality on it, but really, people do gravitate to those personalities. So it's interesting that for you as a professional writer, and I could empathize with this when faced with a similar challenge, it is about money. One thing I want to ask Jen about is the metered model and where The New York Times is going with regard to some of those business models that Ted brought up and Riva played into and what that looks like coming maybe 2011? It Can Take Some Time to Figure Out the Best Approach to Social and Digital Media Jennifer: Yes. I'm really not the right person to describe the metered model, but I can tell you a couple of things about it. The New York Times took a very long time to figure out what the best approach was. And we announced earlier this year that we were going to move to the metered model and then we also announced that we were going to take the year to make sure that we got it right and to 20
  • 21. create—and this is one of my new favorites words and I saw it cited numerous times during the leadership development conference in the last couple of days—a frictionless experience for our users, meaning that it would be easy to hand over that money that you were just talking about. But one thing that clicks from social networks will be free. The New York Times recognizes, as I said, the value importance of being wherever the conversation is taking place, and our content will be out there and people who click to click through to come to our website will be able to see, of course, what they wanted. Sree: Jen, are you breaking news here tonight? Is that something that everybody realized? I don't know if I—this may have been out there before. Jennifer: Oh, yeah. No, Martin and Jen had said that from the very beginning. Sree: So that's a big deal, though. It's an important thing, though. Content Pushing Jennifer: Absolutely. Because one of the trends, and I think one of the things that we are trying to do here tonight, is discuss a little bit about where we're going. And one of the trends that I think that we've all seen, not just in our own website but just across the board, is the trend of the push. You know, traditionally people have gone to search and they have just typed in what it is they're looking for. Now there is a growing expectation. We're finding where people, a growing number of people, want content pushed to them. And what we all, I think, recognize is the power of the recommend, the power of the trusted referrer. And that's one reason why, for our businesses, it's very important, and it's one reason why we've made a big push in the last 18 months on Twitter. Facebook, Facebook, Facebook Jennifer: We have like hundreds of accounts on Twitter and we're doing very, very well there. In 2010 everyone came back from South by Southwest saying foursquare, foursquare, foursquare. And I said, uh, uh. It's Facebook, Facebook, Facebook—400 million users, 200 million people signing in every day, seven hours a week average time spent on Facebook. And, come on, they're not all playing FarmVille. Just my kids, right? Just my kids. Like at my house it's like, “Mom, get off the Twitter.” And I'm like, “Yeah, well get off the FarmVille.” But I think that you're going to see publishers, because of recent changes that Facebook has made, changes that are coming up, I think that you're going to see more publishers playing in the Facebook space. 21
  • 22. Fake Sincerity Doesn’t Play Well Ted: And that trust in the recommender, I think, is very key. But I get the sense that people can lose that trust very quickly by being self-serving about their recommendations, by being transparently self-promoting or company promoting. People want something of value even on that micro level and if they don't get that thing of value and they feel that people are gaming them, even on status updates and links, they're going to turn away and it will be very hard to get them to turn back. Jennifer: People are looking for what we're all looking for when we go into the voting booth every November. You're looking for someone who is real. Greg: Authentic. Right? It's all about sincerity and once you fake that— Brian: And just to add onto that, what our approach is that there's a transformation of not only our writing in general from what we call the macro to the micro level, which is historically before social networks. Journalists were behind brands who represented the journalist's content. Create Engagement on a Micro Level Brian: But that's been flipped because on Twitter each journalist can have their own personality and create engagement on a micro level, which the brand itself may not be able to do since Twitter is microblogging with people of micro level interest. So, as an example, when I say breaking news, what do you think of? Well, I don't know about you, but I think something like Haiti, plane landing on the Hudson. But what if I were to say Carnival Cruise Lines has a new itinerary for the Caribbean? Is that breaking news? Absolutely, because if you're a cruise enthusiast on Twitter, that's something that's relevant to you in your world. And that's news that can be broken at the journalist level who covers cruise, the cruising community. But it's not something that USA Today at the ground level would break. And that's why we're going to see much more empowerment of journalists representing the brand rather than the other way around. Greg: So these micro topics which go back to, it’s got to be of interest—right? Sree, it's got to have something that pulls people's attention. Point, Curate, Aggregate Sree: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that the point that was made earlier about the trusted source is going to be very important. And I would recommend to everybody, I mean, what I tell my 22
  • 23. students when they ask how often should they tweet, I say tweet as many times as you want, but one in every five tweets should be something you care about, that's about you, self-promotional only at maximum. I'd say in one in five so they'll do one in two. But it's harder for a brand. A brand is going to have to do three out of three or two out of three or something like that, but that early point I made about being a pointer. Point, curate, aggregate. Show good stuff, people will follow you. People care. And what I've also learned is that if you have good stuff, this idea that Jennifer was saying, people will get it because it's pushed out to them. It will be pushed out by multiple people. And if something is important, it will come. Too Much Stuff on Twitter? Sree: Let me do a quick survey. How many of you are on Twitter yourselves? Just raise your hands. That's a lot of people. But for the others who are not on Twitter, it's always a concern to know there's too much stuff on there and how do I keep up? The good news, I say, Twitter is like e-mail without the guilt. Meaning, we're here, Twitter is look at this, they're all talking about us behind our back in front of us. There's all the hash tags, people are talking about us and some of it might be great insight and some of it might be calling us names, but it's all out there and it's fascinating to see. Greg: Let me ask the question across the panel and, Jen, Brian, you don't have to answer. Sree, how long before The New York Times doesn't have a print edition? Viability of The New York Times Print Edition Sree: Well, if I knew that, I'd make a lot of money. By the way, I wrote a column two weeks ago about a week without newspapers and I'd be happy to send that to anybody who wants it. Greg: It's a great column. Mike Lizun shared it with everyone in our firm. It's a tremendous column. Sree: And the last line, I was forced to because I was at Disney World for a week and it was very hard to get a newspaper, but one of the things I learned— Jennifer: With twins. Sree: Yeah, with my twins. She has twins, too. And it was hard to get a newspaper and it was very tempting to go and steal one off someone's lawn. But I also learned that people, you think that this Twitter/Facebook will be enough, you can check in at night. And it's not enough is one of the things I learned. 23
  • 24. Second is that a lot of your friends will try to help you, and they're all sending you stuff because they're worried I was getting left behind. And then my last line, particularly in that, was that I believe I will be a subscriber to the print edition of The New York Times until there no longer is such a thing. So the short answer is I don't know that, but I imagine for a lot of people my age and above, The New York Times is something that they will have. I imagine—I mean, I hate to say this—it might get smaller, it may get more analytical, more contextual, having more explanations of the world and trying to tell you what matters. I think it will do more of that and be more expensive than it is today. But it will still be around for a long time. Greg: Anyone else want to venture a guess. Sara? Sara: This is very much a guess, but I'm thinking five to seven years. Sree: We should make a bet. Sara: Okay, all right. We'll regroup in five to seven years. That said, I think that the devices like iPad are going to be very influential on print, in print media, giving people a way to read The New York Times on a subscription basis, but that isn't actually paper. Greg: So, Laurie, you're going to jump in there also. Laurie: I was just going to point out USA Today, they're giving out a full-page ad. It's $190,000 value right there, right? That's still a lot of money. And if they're able to pull that in, I think it'll be a while I mean, we're hurting, definitely. This is an industry that's seeing diminishing returns on advertising, but it's still coming in. It's not what we were getting 10 years ago, that's for sure. But it's still a lot of money and I don't think that's something that's going to go away. And there will be the Carlos Slims of the world who love The New York Times so much that they'll keep it. Greg: And what about the iPad? Is it going to be a game changer? Brian, what do you think? Brian: They have one of the best iPad apps. It's definitely been a good couple of weeks for us, that's for sure, very busy. With the number of iPads that were released and the number of USA Today iPad apps downloaded, the USA Today iPad app is on one in five devices. And it's certainly, well, as soon as we pick up USA Today, we're colorful, we're informational, approachable, and it lends itself well to the iPad. I'm really am an early tester, not so early adopter. But the iPad, sometimes those of us like this panel are kind of a homogeneous community where we can say, yes, the iPad is going to be the next great thing. It might be. I think it's still a little too early to say because it certainly lacks some features that it should include, and for a lot of consumers it's like yet another device that's too big to replace your phone, and it's too small to function as a computer. So I think we'll still wait and see. However, I 24
  • 25. do think it helped advance us a couple of phases from where, perhaps the Kindle is from its current version. Jennifer: I just want to add that I came here to Philadelphia right out of college to work at The Bulletin. And shortly after I joined The Bulletin, they folded. So this whole like newspapers are dying, newspapers are dying, it's been going on for like a few years because like, you know, I'm one of the old people here—okay?—and then I went at worked in New York at a startup, startup newspaper. Eleven years and it folded. Don’t Call The New York Times a Newspaper Jennifer: So it's just like, it's change, and I think a couple of things that I just want to share. One, don't call The New York Times a newspaper. It's not a newspaper. We haven't been a newspaper in a wicked long time, you know, really long time. We're a news organization, we have one of the most incredible, most dynamic interactive websites in the world. So it's a news organization. And I would even argue that, for a lot of news organizations, it's really not about news and it's not even about opinion. It's about ideas. And if you're someone who is in business or if you're a lawyer, you need to be in the world of ideas, and that's what, I think, that all of us offer as journalists is that we offer content like trends, ideas that you need to make smart decisions in your business. The other thing I'd say about the print publication: “Hey, there's an app for this, there's an app for that.” You want an app that's beautifully designed, that is delivered in a blue bag on your driveway every morning by 6:15, we have an app for that. It's called The New York Times Home Delivery Service, and it's awesome. It'll cost you a lot of money, probably the price of an iPad for a year's subscription, but it's awesome. So I think that the Times and many news organizations have adopted this multiple platform strategy years ago. This is not new, guys. And we are wherever our readers/users are and we're all doing it. And the other thing that I think is really cool, which is different, is that like when I worked at the Philadelphia Daily News and my husband worked for 18 years at The Philadelphia Inquirer, there were things that we wouldn't discuss because we were like competitors. Everyone’s Part of the Creative Process Jennifer: And I think that the one thing that's been really awesome is that there is so much collaboration among news organizations now and journalists and marketers and product managers and technologists and developers. You've got to love the developers who figure this all out together. And I think the really cool thing about the social stuff is that we're now engaging our users, our readers, to help us figure it 25
  • 26. out. And you know what? We get a lot of really good ideas. We try to involve our users, our readers, our partners in a creative process every day one way or another, and that's what makes it all good. So this whole, you know, it's like a really difficult time in journalism. Well how about losing your job at The Philadelphia Bulletin and having your father say, “I told you. You should have been a nurse.” You know? So it's like, this is like a really exciting time to be a journalist, and I just love being here with all my colleagues and all of you and we're in the social space and if you have ideas on what we could be/should be doing on that monetization thing, bring them on. Bring them on. We're all, I think, in this together. Greg: I think that's a great way to sum up this portion of the panel. We do want to open the floor to questions and I'm going to, does anyone ever watch Craig Ferguson in the room, the late night guy? When he concludes, he puts his feet up on the desk and he goes, so what did we learn here today? And I think the most important thing we learned, we heard from these people from the front lines, just how they're doing social media to build their brands and to reach out to their readers. Take that and reverse it. Talk about customers and talk about content and talk about what we need to do to take control of our own narratives and our businesses. Never before in the history of communications could organizations or individuals do that, as Sara said, with $1,500 in your pocket. And smart organizations are getting their arms around that, trying to learn how Twitter fits in and blogging fits in and generating the kind of micro topics and macro topics that can advance their narrative so they can find new audiences, new shareholders, new opportunities. So really, this has been a reflection of what businesses are moving towards, and it's been a very, very eye-opening evening. We thank you for coming here. I'd love to open the questioning up to the floor so that you can ask the panel questions. Questions? Laurie: I've got one. Greg: Laurie, and I'll just say, this is the first time Laurie's been to Philadelphia, so if you could just say welcome, Laurie, to Philadelphia. It's not such a bad town. Laurie: It's amazing. Look at this view, right? It's phenomenal. My question is for Brian and Jennifer. You get a lot of analytics, I'm sure, about the different social networking sites and how you're using them. And I'm just wondering, are you noticing any trends? Is one surprisingly more valuable than another? We don't hear a lot about LinkedIn. Maybe it's more valuable than we think? 26
  • 27. Brian: Certainly, social media sites we get a significant amount of traffic from them, one that makes USA Today a little bit unique with the social media traffic is that we've formed a partnership with the social media news aggregator Fark. Maybe you're familiar with Fark. So those of you who are not, they aggregate headlines from many news sources and rewrite them in an irreverent snarky off-beat kind of way. We became the first mainstream media site to partner with them, and we sponsor their geek tab and that's been a wonderful opportunity for us because it exposed our brand of content to a demographic that probably wouldn't have been as familiar with us or given us the chance before. And similarly, we're able to give Fark new opportunities as well, as well as new monetization opportunities for both of us as far as some of the traditional types of social sites, or traditional media, I guess, in the last 18 months. Facebook and Twitter, they both perform very well for us and we utilize Omniture for on-site analytics, but also to see how we stack up against the competition, like my good friend Jennifer over here. We use Hitwise which allows us to see the amount of traffic that goes from, say, Twitter or Facebook or Digg or other sites, and that percent that goes to USA Today versus New York Times versus Wall Street Journal, etc. And that's how we use it as an engagement benchmark, because it's not just about the fans and the followers, but also traffic. So you can't just look at any one metric to say New York Times is better or worse than USA Today in category X. You need to look at all the different metrics. Laurie: And I would just add to that, that the scale of Facebook is 400 million users. I keep on saying that because that's a lot of users. So with Facebook there is like enormous scale. And one of the big problems with the Twitter—and I'd be interested to hear if you have this problem— with a lot of the analytics, a lot of people who use Twitter, and we had a ton of traffic from Twitter, use applications and that comes to us under a direct navigation. Brian: That actually was addressed yesterday at the Chirp Conference and written about in ReadWriteWeb about paid content, where Twitter actually said, alright, we're going to lift up the hood and kind of show you a little bit more about how we work here, and they released some very interesting statistics. And the one that I love and actually sent in an internal e-mail to all in our organization, is that it's estimated that 75 percent of traffic from Twitter occurs from apps like TweetDeck. So I immediately went back to our internal metrics to say, oh, it's not X but it's actually three times that amount. 27
  • 28. QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR Q: What are journalists looking for in PR pitches? Audience member: I have to admit that I was once a journalist and I abandoned the field for the world of public relations, so don't hold this against me. But now I work for a corporation and my question to you is, we talked a lot about the media and how it's changed and your organizations and how they've changed in terms of news. But from the terms of us in public relations pitching to you, how has that changed in terms of what you're looking for from us? Or has it not changed at all in terms of the social media? Are you looking for a different type of value from us? The same type of value? What sells you today versus what sold you in the past? Sara: I'm happy to answer some of this as somebody who has a startup and has been an editor at a large newspaper. I think we're looking for good stories, like that kind of doesn't change. And whether they're stories about what you're doing on the traditional side of your business or what you're doing in social media, give us a good story. Ted: I do think, as well, that in a way the pitching process is something of a microcosm curating. We're going through and we're evaluating things, and we're seeing what might be of value to our readers, and so we're the proxy just as a user on Facebook would be the proxy deciding what to curate and what to pull and pass on to their followers. So if you do think of it in that respect, that would you want to read what you're sending us? Riva: Yeah, I think that's a big issue. I get so many pitches that are so obviously marketing for the company and so on, and I understand that that's a job to do, but I would actually argue that the public relations job is not a marketing job. You should be thinking more like journalists, like what trend do we fit into? Are we at the leading edge of something new that's happening that's important that the public needs to know about? I'd like to see more pitches like that. Sara: I would also say one of the things that's changed distinctly on the PR side is the amount of people you guys need to keep track of, right? I mean, you're no longer just pitching to The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. You're pitching to Dealbreaker and bloggers and maybe even people who have their Twitter feed as their main media stream. So that's a lot tougher and keeping up with that is also very important. I'll add in, though, I realize that many of you are responsible for building the client's social media pages, and if you do build a large following, that says something. Sometimes I'll get a page, I'll look at the company, and if they've got 40,000 followers on Twitter, I'll look at it more seriously as well. So it is involved. What you're doing outside of just the direct pitch, I think, is important. 28
  • 29. Riva: I think another interesting thing, I have several PR people who alert me when an expert in the company has written a blog post that's really interesting. And that has many times sort of sparked an idea and becomes part of story. And I write a lot about security privacy, so I'm very interested when a malware expert is talking about something new that's out there. And I may not see that blog because there's just such huge volume of stuff up there, but if someone alerts me to it, that's great. Q: Will there be a cross-cultural communication going on? Audience member: Hi. I'm a student at Villanova. I just have a question about the future of social media. Do you feel like it will have cross-cultural validity that is globalized? And do you think that social media is something that is just a Western individualistic phenomenon, or do you think other cultures might embrace it just as much, and will there be a cross-cultural communication going on? Ted: Let's keep in mind that the social media is, in essence, a media. And it's the most basic medium. So I think that there are vast cross-cultural implications here that are limited only by what people can come up with and how to use it. I think you make a valid point that this stuff, to some extent, has emerged from the West, although I'm not sure about that, I don't know the extent of that. But I would say that there are all kinds of cross-cultural implications, not only within cultures, but in terms of connecting to other cultures. I don't think we've begun to see what can happen. Greg: Sree, you're chomping. Go ahead. Sree: Yeah, I'll just say that we haven't seen anything yet in terms of where this is going to go. Sitting in Philadelphia, sitting in New York, Washington, we're looking at a lot of people who are doing things on smart phones, doing things on computers, but where this is really going to explode is on the cell phone. If you look at a continent like Africa which had 5 million land lines until recently and now has 500 million cell phones, and the fact that you can tweet via SMS, you don't need an iPhone or an iPad or any of those things to use social media effectively, you're going to see tremendous growth. You're also seeing that Hispanics, for example, in America over-index in mobile, and once they are also in larger numbers using their cell phones, we're going to see tremendous, tremendous growth. It's also interesting to see that, as I look at this around the world, many countries have their own particular social networks that they use, or that they're more amenable to. Things that are failures in America are big successes elsewhere, things like Friendster and Orkut. 29
  • 30. Is anybody here from Brazil or know anything about Brazil? Every Brazilian on earth who is digitally connected or has a phone is on Orkut. Every single one. But what has changed in the last two years as I talk to my Brazilian friends? They say we're still on Orkut, but we're also now on Facebook. Orkut is to talk to each other and Facebook is to talk to the world. So that's where you're going to see that growth. I think Facebook is going to hit 500 million by the end of the year and you're going to see Twitter and all of these things grow because of that. Ted: Look at Tiananmen Square in 1989. First, the student organizers were faxing to get their message out. Then for a while, before the crackdown, they started faxing each other to communicate. Was that social media? Yes. Q: Do I need a journalism division at my company to help us to get our story out? Audience member: And given the context here, it's even difficult to frame the question, per se, but what I'm hearing from you is that, particularly with digital media, that there's a democratization of storytelling going on, that you don't have to own the press anymore to be the arbiter of the story. And so as a north-of-50 CEO of a company, trying to figure out what this means for my organization, do I need to think about actually having a journalism division of my company to help us to get our story out? Is that a way to think about this? I'd be curious about that. Jennifer: There is a whole trend and actually. Laurie and you guys might be about the whole inbound marketing trend where companies are creating content around their business because of search and to drive and pull people to them. But, again, it's not something new. It's like an advertorial; I think that some of you have heard about them before. So I would think with inbound marketing, are there other kinds of trends regarding content? Greg: I’m going to chime in on this one for you, Tom, because I have a blog post that’s going up in a week on this topic. And this is what I see. As I go out and I meet with Fortune 500 companies, I think there’s going to be a new title. It’s going to be chief content officer. And this individual is going to be responsible for maintaining the voice of the corporation. He is going to report, he or she, will report to the chairman, to the CEO. And their job will be somewhere between PR, IR, and marketing. They will communicate to the investor, to the customer, to the partner. They will report on a whole range of issues that companies have information in their own four walls. It can be what they did on their softball team that year, all the way up to a new stock offering, or whatever it is. And these people will be strong enough to beat back the marketing speak, the corporate autocracy that overtakes a lot of this communication. It will be as close to real transparency as we’re ever going to get. And you’re seeing that emerge at a couple of companies. Ford has a designer who does this very well. 30
  • 31. And I think that’s the great area of opportunity for people who have the skills, like the individuals up here. Sure, it will be biased, right? It will be up to these individuals up here to filter it and to determine those biases. But I think we’re going into a new phase where that’s going to be a very key important component of marketing here on out. We have some more questions. Mike: We have one that came in on the TweetChat here, if I can read the bottom. It says, “Do you still recognize the traditional press release?” Sree: I want to tell everybody here about something that one of Jennifer’s colleagues is involved in that’s called PressLift.com. That’s what’s called a social media press release, I guess. She was the buzz marketing manager of The New York Times, Soraya Darabi, who is terrific. You should follow her on Twitter. And what she has done is, working with a company called drop.io, and many of you know, it's a way to share big files. They now take your press release and make it accessible to bloggers and journalists. Your rich media release with all your photographs, and everything all in one place. And I’ve seen it in use and it is really amazing. You’ve got to check that out. Jennifer: So much of what companies are sharing now, it goes beyond text. It’s multimedia, and drop.io, PressLift, allows you to do that. Yes, I would definitely recommend that you follow Soraya. She’s like @SorayaD. Brian: And I’d just like to add something. We’ve transformed some of our art inner workings on the business side at USA Today. As we still release the traditional press release, although we’ve also gone to another format, which we’ve launched two months ago, our social media blog that I and my social media teammate, Alex Nicholson, authored. We were the first mainstream media news site to have business people operate a social media blog. And some parts that I talked about, what we’re doing on the iPad or Twitter, that also creates a place for conversation between us and our audience, analysts, advertisers, as well as showcasing some of our internal case studies of what we’re doing and works for us. This way other organizations can learn from that, hopefully see us as thought leaders in certain areas, and apply that to their own organization. And that’s at social.USAToday.com. Q: What about the term “citizen journalist?” Audience member: You hear the term “citizen journalist” or whatever they like to call themselves, talked about by cable news organizations, local television. And normally what it turns into is somebody is sending their foolish picture of their dog out in the snow or some other exciting little story. 31
  • 32. Is the idea behind that more of a fad and a gimmick so that people can participate and engage in your paper? Or do you really find that as the wave of the future by which you’re going to get more stories and more information? Laurie: I get a lot of story ideas from Twitter. But I tend to follow the experts at a company, or a lawyer, or a university and see what they’re talking about. And it sparks a lot of ideas. Brian: To answer your question, I’d say neither. There’s going to be an increasing place for citizen journalists, but particularly for those truly macro breaking news events. Macro in the sense that it affects, impacts all of us. Like when a plane landed on the Hudson. The first picture that was taken was from Janis Krums, if I pronounced his name correctly, Janis Krums. It was taken from the ferry and anyone with a cell phone can become a journalist at any given moment. And there’s no way that anyone can obviously predict spontaneous events like that. And citizen journalists will beat mainstream media every time. However, to get more details on the investigative side about, why this happened? How did it happen? How can we prevent it? That’s where mainstream media can fill that in. Going back to my macro breaking news example. While the cell phone citizen journalist can jump in, for those niche areas like Carnival Cruise journalist, is typically going to break the news for that community first before a citizen journalist would. Ted: I just have one more thing to add to that. Let’s keep in mind that the term citizen journalist is a newfangled term for an age-old thing. The first people who ran newspapers are citizen journalists who were printers that happened to do journalism on the side. The bank clerk who caught the picture of the firefighter in Oklahoma City in 1995 holding the two year old after the bombing was a citizen journalist. So let’s not lock that into social media. That’s something that has been around and is now just being expressed in different ways. That’s your ultimate citizen journalist. Audience member: My name is Kaizar Campwala and I’m with NewsTrust, who is actually the benefactor of all your donations today. So, thank you. NewsTrust is a social media nonprofit startup and what we try to do is really find some of the gems of good journalism. Both from traditional media sources, but also new media sources and promote them. Q: Does analytics impact editorial decision making? Kaizar: And it’s sort of a citizen engagement process where we’re trying to get people to think a little bit more critically when they read the news and engage with the news. And my question for the panel was about the pressure that analytics places on the editorial decision making. Because now that stories are sort of unpacked from the packages that they used to be part of in the newspaper, you can tell exactly which stories get a lot more traction than others. And how 32
  • 33. does that affect the decisions you make to pursue one story over another? And do you feel like there are certain areas of journalism, certain beats that are suffering because of that? Laurie: I definitely do. I’ll answer that. I think we’re getting into bad habits, certainly. We’re getting to. We need Michelle Obama to come out and tell us how we consume our journalism, because we’re not getting enough Brussels sprouts on this. I think I can honestly tell you that I have personally have gotten into bad habits. I covered a company called Threadless, which is in Chicago. It’s a T-shirt company, right? It’s a great company, but it’s no better than any other one. It just happens to have a million Twitter followers. And it got more traffic, probably, than any other story I’ve written. Then after that happened, my editor said, “You know, we need to find another Threadless and write about them.” That’s normal. We need, we all need those Threadless companies to keep up our traffic so that we can continue writing other stories, right? But I do think that the Brussels sprouts are being pushed aside a lot of times. Ted: The New York Times calls it without fear or favor. It used to be. Every era has something that you have to make decisions on what you publish against, and the analytics are a hugely valuable tool. They’re something that inform. They’re something that can give us amazing real-time information and inform our decision making. But they’re not the decision making. They’re part of it, they’re information. Sree: Can I make a couple quick points on this? One is I’m the only Asian in the world who can’t do math, and that’s why I became a journalist. So it pains me to say this, but analytics and metrics are absolutely crucial. I tell people, not just in journalism. If you’re going to be a 21st century knowledge worker or somebody that sits in front of a computer, you’ve got to learn how Google analytics works, and what it does and where the traffic comes from. But what’s fascinating about that is Edward R. Murrow used to ask for the ratings every day after his show, every morning. He wanted to know—for those of you who don’t know, he was the guy, not George Clooney in “Good Night and Good Luck.” He’d asked for this because he wanted to know what the ratings were so that he could understand the traffic, and the equivalent of traffic, and who was coming, who was seeing, etc. So that’s really important. One of the problems I have with Twitter is that number because the numbers are so prominent. We’ve started to fetish-ize those numbers. And we all do it. I do it as well. And that means that we think if somebody has a million followers that they’re interesting, useful, interesting, helpful, etc.—when they’re not necessarily. 33
  • 34. If that was true, then we’d all be listening only to Ashton Kutcher, Alyssa Milano, and folks like that. What we need to realize is that some of those numbers don’t translate. I had somebody who has a million followers tweet something for me. I got 100 clicks. Alright? Now, what that tells you is, and there have been studies that show that when you have a 10,000 follower becomes a million follower guy or gal, the level of engagement doesn’t necessarily change. And Andy Carvin at NPR has two accounts. He’s got a 15,000 person, his own personal account, and an NPR main account. He says sometimes when he’s tweeting on both accounts just to see. There will be much more engagement on the NPR account because it’s real people invested in it. A lot of people follow these big folks just to follow the big folks. So keep that in mind as well and don’t obsess about it. I think, as much as many of us, including me. That’s doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a million followers if you could. But that shouldn’t be the only metric. These metrics can kill us as much as they can help us. Greg: Do you ever worry that it is being gamed on you? I’ll give you an example. A month ago The Philadelphia Inquirer did a story about Michael Mann of Penn State University. The meteorologist who evidently got involved with some e-mails on global warming, right? If you look at the comments, it’s one of the most commented stories on The Inquirer in the last month. If you trace those comments, you see how they’re made and who is making them. You can’t really figure out who they are, but you can figure out where they’re coming from. It’s a group that is vehemently against the notion of global warming. So lots of comments. Same day, the story appears on the commercial real estate market in Philadelphia, which I think is pretty important to the local economy of Philadelphia. There’s six comments, right? It’s about buildings. I called someone into my office and I go, “I’ll make you a bet this month we’re going to see a lot more coverage of pundits or opponents on global warming.” Sure enough there’s a story on AccuWeather and how their meteorologists are not bought into global warming. And I’m thinking, you know, that might have been gamed. You know? That might have been really rigged here with the comments. Do you ever worry that could be happening in tracking these kinds of things? Sara: Well, I was just going to answer Sree’s comment. Actually I think that as analytics evolve and become more sophisticated, maybe it might actually be helping us be smarter about what we cover. An example is we did a story on Recessionwire. It was written by a relationship columnist, and the headline happened to be something about cheap sex. And unsurprisingly, we got a lot of hits on that story. But when we dug into the numbers, it turned out that a substantial amount of those hits were coming from a prison. And that’s not our audience. That’s not the audience we want to reach. 34
  • 35. But being able to see that in the numbers, maybe we’re not going to do stories like that anymore. That’s not who we’re trying to hit. If you’re talking about a commercial real estate story versus a global warming story, or a controversial or a sort of sexy story, maybe you don’t want to be hitting the same demographic that’s looking at celebrity. That’s looking at something as sort of news is entertainment. Maybe you want to be hitting an audience that is a little more, wants a more nuanced approach, or is a little more educated, or is a little more expert in that end. As we get to look at the numbers more, we can figure that out more. Ted: I feel like that’s a real next step. We need to be pouring a lot of insight, wisdom, and resources, and to figure out how to move audiences around. How to segment our own audiences and figure out not everybody may want something. We need to figure out how we target things within our existing audiences and how we build audiences. And I wouldn’t say control them because that’s A, wrong. And B, not possible. But how we get the content to the people who care the most, not just in aggregate, but in segment, segment, segment. Laurie: And actually I think that’s probably going to be developing more. I cover advertising and notice a lot of publishers or, not a lot of them, but a select few and even companies who are now acting like publishers, developing content that mimics advertising. That is to say that it targets its users down, right? So something like an American Express now has a content ad module that has videos inside it. And it’s maybe about Tiger Woods or whatever golfing or boating that might be of interest. But it follows users down. So I think we’re going to see more of that, publishing acting like advertising. Jennifer: I just want to add, because it’s a trend and we should all be aware of it. I think you’ll also see a lot more publishers use Facebook Connect. With Facebook Connect that means people will bring their identity to news sites and to news organizations. I think that will have a big impact in regards to commenting. You might say one thing when you’re anonymous, and then you might say something else when you are who you are. So I think full identity is really important down the road. We moderate our comments now and there’s a big debate in news organizations right now. Do you moderate? Do you not moderate? What we’re looking for, and what I wish we were talking about this before the panel; it would just be so fabulous just to get into a room with like a group of brilliant developers and together figure it out. And what am I talking about? We need tools for our users to engage with each other and with our journalists. We need tools that allow people to take their conversation, like from Twitter, from Facebook. Right now we have a lot of fractured conversations taking place and we’re fine with that because 35
  • 36. we will be wherever the conversation is. I think for news organizations, engagement is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have for all of us. For all of us. For your businesses and for all of us. But you know what? We don't have the utility yet. There’s nothing out there and, trust me, I'm a really good reporter. That’s what I used to do. I just really have not found anything out there that really just allows a news organization to build a beautifully set dining room table where people can come in from Twitter and talk about arthritis. You know if that’s what they want to talk about. Or talk about cilantro. That’s what they’re talking about on The New York Times for the last two days. I wonder if it’s still on the top of the most e-mailed list. I mean, you love it? Greg: It is. I e-mailed it to my wife. She loved it. Jennifer: There you go. But I think full identity is a big trend. And getting the utility so that we can all help users engage with each other, find each other to solve problems, answer questions, like on our sites and off our sites. Greg: Well, I could stay here all night and discuss this, but we are drawing to a close. I’d like to thank our panelists for coming here to Philadelphia today. Laurie, we’re going to invite you to return at any time that you’d like. I’d like to thank all of you for coming out as well as my staff at Gregory FCA. You just did a superlative job at putting this together. So thank you and I can tell you, it was enlightening. ### 36