Talking about PR issues on Inside PR 457

Twitter Moments for all of us. Large publishers’ growing dependency on Facebook. Thinking ahead about the implications of AI in our devices and apps. And the ethics of the close-hold embargo. Gini DietrichMartin Waxman and Joseph Thornley are back with another episode of the Inside PR podcast.  

#IPRMustKnows

Create your Own Twitter Moments

Twitter Moments, introduced for media and select users earlier this year, is now available for all users. This is a useful feature for anyone speaking at a conference or participating in an event or discussion that they want to curate and preserve. Bit by bit, Twitter is becoming even more useful.

Large publishers are becoming dependent on Facebook. But where is the revenue?

A report published by the International News Media Association and reported on by Nieman Lab indicates that 30% of visits to large publishers websites are referred from Facebook. That’s huge. But if publishers are becoming ever more dependent on Facebook’s network effect, and with Facebook favouring content published natively on it, the big question continues to be, is traffic paying off in revenue?

Getting out front on AI

The increasing introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) into apps, social networks and internet-connected devices raise a broad range of ethical, legal and policy issues. And where that happens, government is likely to act. So, it should come as no surprise that large businesses are banding together in a number of organizations to address these issues in order in advance of legislation and regulation. Of course, we can only hope that the voice of civil society will be heard alongside that of business.

A media relations issue to ponder: Close-hold embargoes

Charles Seifewriting in Scientific American, introduced us to a practice we had never encountered: A close-hold embargo. And it gives us the opportunity to ponder the line between transparency and manipulation and the ethical questions that public relations practitioners must confront when negotiating terms of access with news media.

This post was cross-posted from the Inside PR podcast blog.

MOZ’s Rand Fishkin reminds us that success and constant reinvention go hand in hand

Gini Dietrich, Martin Waxman and Joseph Thornley are back with another episode of the Inside PR podcast.  

#IPRMustKnows

Snapchat is a Snap

If you missed the news, Snapchat has rebranded and at the same time begun to move outside of its core business, including the promise of Snapchat video glasses. Snapchat may well pull off what Google Glass failed at.

Why Allo?

Google Plus redux? Do we need yet another duplicative app?

The sprit of selfless sharing

MOZ, the SEO app is a useful tool and source of expertise for many PR people who need to learn and apply pragmatic SEO to their programs. Recently, Ran Fishkin published a remarkable post in which he was both candid and insightful. And we contemplate his observation that “Inbound marketing never really became a thing…” A big deal if you are repositioning your company into the inbound marketing space. Something for PR people to think about as we reposition our businesses for the future. Not specifically about inbound marketing. But about any space we are moving toward. Will it still be there when we arrive?

Even the most conservative advertiser follows the audience to Facebook

Rapidly changing how it communicates with Canadians, the federal government is on pace to spend more on Facebook ads in the Liberals’ first year in office than it did between 2006 and 2014 combined.

Here’s a sign of the times. Government is a risk-averse, conservative institution. Traditionally a heavy user of print and television advertising, the rapid increase in the federal government’s Facebook spend is clear indication of where we, the audience, now spend our time.

Other interesting facts in this report:

  • “The Liberal government spent at least $3.8 million on Facebook ads between November 2015 and June 2016 targeting Canadians and foreigners of various age groups and demographics, and is on pace to spend well over $6 million during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first year in office…”
  • “In the 2011-12 fiscal year, just over 10 per cent of federal government media placements purchased through its agency of record were on the Internet (including search and display ads, and paid social media ads). That number more than doubled to over 25 per cent of media placements by 2014-15.”

The data was released in response to a written question from Conservative MP Martin Shields and reported by Jason Fekete in the Ottawa Citizen. Click the link below to read Fekete’s complete report and find a link to the source document on Scribd.

Source: Liberals have spent more on Facebook ads than total amount spent between 2006 and 2014

Talking about the New York Times creating video for Facebook

Gini Dietrich, Martin Waxman and Joseph Thornley are back with another episode of the Inside PR podcast.  

#IPRMustKnows

Martin Waxman’s Social Media Marketing for Small Business is on Lynda.com

Yes, this is a shameless plug. But since it’s Joe writing this, Martin doesn’t have to be embarrassed. In fact, I think Martin is as smart about social media as anyone I know. And now Martin is sharing this knowledge on Lynda.com. Martin tells us about his trip to California to record a video course, Social Media Marketing  for Small Business.

Buzzfeed News isn’t entertainment

Buzzfeed separated its Buzzfeed news operation from the Buzzfeed entertainment operation. Prelude to a possible sale of Fuzzfeed News. Buzzfeed News Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith says no.

WhatsApp shares user data with Facebook

As happens so often with privacy concerns, after an initial spate of bad press, public protestations about Facebook’s decision to share user data from WhatsApp with Facebook seems to have died down. Our concern with privacy is something that spikes occasionally. But then we put it out of mind as we enjoy the experience of social media.

Wired tells us about teens and social media

A few things in Wired’s profile of teens and social media caught Gini’s eye. There are a lot of do’s and don’t’s. It’s not about understanding young people. It’s about looking at the social mores being established by a cohort that doesn’t have the baggage of previously shaped expectations and behaviour, a cohort that can lead the way in assessing new channels and defining norms of behaviour on them. As Martin says, “One generation’s romantic is another generation’s lurker.” (Apologies to John Cusack.)

The NY Times on Facebook

Liz Spayd, The New York Times Public Editor, recently offered her take on the content that The Times has been creating for Facebook. In her analysis, Facebook Live: Too Much, Too Soon, she states

“…here’s the problem. After watching countless hours of live video in the past few weeks, I have hit upon many that are either plagued by technical malfunctions, feel contrived, drone on too long, ignore audience questions or are simply boring, by I imagine most anyone’s standards.

“Too many don’t live up to the journalistic quality one typically associates with The New York Times.”

This leads Martin, Gini and I into a discussion of the nature of content appropriate to social media. It’s not always going to stand up to The Times’ traditional standards. But it will be effective in its new place, for different reasons.

Also worth noting in this article is something I hadn’t seen before. The New York Times has a contract to produce video content expressly for Facebook.

“While the terms of the deal are secret, the transaction requires Facebook to give The Times a guaranteed sum (reported to be $3 million a year) in return for a prescribed amount of video (so far it’s averaging upward of four a day). Neither Times officials nor Facebook would discuss the deal, citing confidentiality. Several other media companies, including BuzzFeed, Huffington Post and Mashable, have also signed on. Their job: to stock Facebook’s pond with high-quality video so it can compete in the rapidly growing market for live-stream video.”

The Times as content creator for Facebook. That’s something different from The Times posting its stories on Facebook. Different even from The Times posting its stories natively on Facebook. It is instead The Times creating content to meet Facebook’s needs. That is different – and worth watching.

Words to live (on the internet) by

They comment on other people’s posts.They like other people’s posts.They share them.They don’t always talk about themselves.They have kind words for other people.They help other people without expecting anything in return.Even so, they reciprocate when people help them out.They add positive energy to the net.They always try to see things from other people’s point of view.They genuinely listen.They stand up for people who are being hunted.They read posts before responding to them.

Thank you, Dave Winer, for reminding us that we don’t have to be part of the bad behaviour that seems to have become so much the norm on social networks. Small gestures by individuals can make a difference.

Source: What do nice Internet users do?

Why I won’t be using Twitter’s new content filters

Some new features to help you control what you see and who you interact with on Twitter

Twitter logo

Twitter opens a window on the world. We can see events as they occur through the eyes of first hand witnesses and we can discuss events and issues with others. We can be entertained. We can learn. We can expand our horizons.

Unfortunately, these positive experiences may be offset by exposure to trollish behaviour and harrassment.

Yesterday, Twitter announced two new features that will allow people to filter the content that they see in their notifications and main twitter stream. A new Quality Filter will suppress content that Twitter’s algorithm considers to be low quality, such as “duplicate Tweets or content that appears to be automated.” In addition, a new control will be added to the notifications pane to enable users to “limit notifications to only people they follow.”

Providing users with greater control over what gets into their Twitter feed will be welcomed by many.

I, however, do not plan to enable either feature. Why wouldn’t I use these features? For a couple of reasons.

First, because I curate my feed, the trolls don’t find their way into it. I am not a profligate follower. I don’t automatically follow everyone who follows me. I follow only those people who have caught my attention with their views and thoughtfulness or their humour or just the fact that they are interesting people. So, I rarely have the problem of seeing garbage content. And when I do see it, I unfollow or block the source.

Second, I don’t want an algorithm to make my content decisions for me. I especially do not want to be limited to seeing only the content of people whom I have already followed. I do want to be open to the person who I have never met but who comes into my notifications because he or she shares my interests and has responded to something I said. And that doesn’t mean just someone who agrees with me. It also means the people who disagree with me, but who offer something worth considering in their disagreement. I want to discover these people. Because contact with the people I disagree with is my protection against homophily, the tendency we all have to seek out and associate with the people we agree with, the people most like us.

Homophily is the enemy of open-mindedness. And my open Twitter feed, a feed that is open to discovery, is my protection against being trapped in the bubble of likemindedness.

And that’s why I won’t be using Twitter’s new filters. They may create a safer experience. But at a price. A price I’m not willing to pay.

WordPress 4.6 “Pepper”

Version 4..6 of WordPress, named “Pepper” in honor of jazz baritone saxophonist Park Frederick “Pepper” Adams III, is available for download or update in your WordPress dashboard.. New features in 4..6 help you to focus on the important things while feeling more at home..

I have been using WordPress since I launched ProPR.ca over a decade ago in 2005. And one of the things I look forward to are the videos they include with the notification of each upgrade to the platform.

Today’s it’s WordPress 4.6, named “Pepper.” And the video is straightforward and helpful. It doesn’t oversell. It tells me about the major changes and then gets out the way.


Hey WordPress team: Well done!

Source: WordPress 4.6 “Pepper”

Email and Twitter messages give behind the scenes picture of Ottawa sinkhole crisis management

Correspondence from key city officials after the massive sinkhole opened up reveal a scramble to control the situation — and the message.

In mid-morning June 8,  a gigantic sinkhole opened up in the middle of Ottawa‘s busiest shopping district. When I say gigantic, the sinkhole was big enough to swallow a van.

Luckily, no one was injured or killed. But the sinkhole broke gas mains, disrupted electricity to nearby businesses and close down one of the busiest intersections in Ottawa for several weeks. It also flooded the tunnel for auto was new LRT line, which was being bored beneath the location of the sinkhole.

Ottawa Council was sitting at the time of the incident. And you can only imagine what went on behind the scenes as the Mayor and Councillors pressed city staff and emergency workers on the scene for information to respond to news media questions. Well, actually, you can do more than image it. Thanks to the Ottawa Citizen, which filed an Access to Information request for the communications relating to the incident. The City of Ottawa delivered texts from email and twitter. On Friday, the Citizen published the verbatim highlights of the communications between the Mayor, Councillors, staff and contractors. And it makes interesting reading for anyone working in a communications position who have yet to have their first experience in real life crisis communications.

What do these communications show? People doing their jobs, trying to separate conjecture from fact and attempting to provide an honest, but responsible picture for the media and public of what they know and what was happening. Among the highlights:

  • This really was a “near miss.” Two city buses passed over the road only minutes before it collapsed.
  • In a world in which citizens provide witness to remarkable events, it was ironic that one of the first people to post a picture on twitter was a CTV weather announcer. Some days, you’re just in the right place at the right time.
  • Trolls will be trolls. Amidst the otherwise dry exchanges of information are a couple emails best not responded to. One writer copies Ottawa Jim Watson on an email addressed to Ontario’s Premier Kathleen Wynne sarcastically comparing Ottawa’s sinkhole to the province’s Climate Change Action Plan.
  • In the midst of things, you just have to find a moment to smile. One city staffer found humorous relief forwarding an article in The Beaverton that attributed the sinkhole to the weight of people waiting in line to use the bathroom at a nearby McDonald’s.

Bottom line: the emails give a good picture of a system working as it should. Contractors and staff getting to the bottom of things and working to fix them. Politicians responding to the public and media. A classic case of finding focus in chaos.

Source: Emails from city officials show chaos after Ottawa sinkhole opened

Perceived bias or real bias? Inside PR 451

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Twitter opens verification to everyone. Yahoo closes an era. Anthony Ponce is a backseat rider. And the New York Times Public Editor shines a spotlight on the importance of perceived bias.

Gini Dietrich, Martin Waxman and Joseph Thornley cover these topics on Inside PR 451.

#IPRMustKnow

RIP Yahoo

Yahoo once was the directory of the internet. So, we couldn’t let it fade into oblivion without marking the event.

Verify me, Twitter

It has been a widely-coveted symbol – the Twitter blue verification check mark. Now, we all can apply for it. Many will be called, but few will be granted? Have you applied for Twitter verification under the new process? Has your application been approved?

Backseat Rider

Anthony Ponce left his job as an on-air news anchor to spend full-time driving tax and posting the stories he picks up to his Facebook page. An interesting experiment. Politicians long have known that the best briefing they could get when visiting a city is the discussion with the taxi driver. They go everywhere and see everything.

Bias in News Media Redux

This is the issue we live with on a day by day basis. It’s also something which viewers of Fox News seem to accept, even welcome. Liz Spayd, the recently-appointed Public Editor at the New York Times reminds us that perception and reality do not necessarily converge when it comes to the issue of bias in news coverage. We’ve talked a lot about bias and personal perspective. And Spayd’s column brings us back to this topic.

Listen to the full podcast

Download Inside PR 451.