The State of the News Media 2015

state of news industry 2015One of my favorite annual reports is the Pew Research Center’s State of the News Media 2015. Now in its 14th year, the report is one of the best indicators of the health of the news media industry. The major theme from this year’s report is the rising challenge news organizations face managing mobile and social media audiences. Most notably, 39 of the top 50 digital news websites have more traffic coming from mobile than from desktop computers.

For those of you working in digital marketing or related fields, this should come as no surprise to you. More consumers are accessing all kinds of websites via mobile devices than from desktop computers. What’s surprising is how slow news organizations are adapting to the rise of the mobile consumer. This may be intentional, as mobile visitors are less valuable to advertisers (and therefore publishers) according to Pew (validated by comScore data). [Read more…]

Periscope and Meerkat : The New ‘Twitter’ for Reporters

Periscope, Meerkat - New Twiter for ReportingBelieve it or not, Twitter has been around for nine years now. Shortly after Twitter launched in March of 2006, The American Journalism Review (AJR) published an article that referred to Twitter as “…the latest in an ever-lengthening list of overhyped technologies and cultural techno-fads stretching back to CB radio.” The industry largely doubted the viability of Twitter as a news platform. They will not repeat this mistake with Periscope and Meerkat, two new live-video apps that enable anyone with a smartphone to broadcast a live-video feed to their Twitter followers. Just as Twitter has become the first broadcast breaking news in text and photo formats, so too will it now bring us live-video coverage of news as it unfolds.

Back to the AJR article for a second – because it provides a great illustration for how news organizations have evolved their approach to new platforms and consumption patterns across their audiences – the author posed the question of whether Twitter was a fad, or if it could actually end up being useful for news distribution, reporting or source-building. It was a wait and see attitude that dominated an industry rooted in traditions and paralyzed by a lack of innovation and willingness to change.

In one of my first blog posts on Journalistics, nearly two years after the launch of Twitter, I shared the results of a survey I conducted with more than 100 professional journalists at the time. I interviewed reporters and producers about the biggest challenges facing them in preparing the news in a rapidly-changing media environment. Not surprisingly, there wasn’t a single mention of “learning how to use Twitter in my reporting.” I’ll say it again, that was two years after the launch of Twitter.

Fast-forward to 2015 and we’re witnessing the next transformation in social media-based reporting with the launch of Meerkat and Periscope. These services launched over the course of the past couple of weeks. Every minute, news organizations, reporters and a bunch of other early adopters are starting to leverage these new platforms to broadcast their live-video feeds to anyone that will watch. If you aren’t yet familiar with how this works, once you click a button to begin the stream, your Twitter followers are notified that you’re broadcasting. They just have to click the link and their preferred device becomes the new window into the world of breaking news (or anything else publishers choose to broadcast). [Read more…]

Top Trends, Campaigns and Platforms of SXSW 2015

sxsw 2015Despite the drone-free skies at SXSW 2015, there is still plenty flying around Austin this weekend. While this isn’t a statistically valid analysis of what’s trending at SXSW 2015, here’s my rundown of the trends, activations and platforms that made the most noise in Austin this year. It’s an exciting time to work at the intersection of marketing, technology and communications.


Big Data – well, “big data” is here to stay in our marketing vocabulary. By far, the most common buzzword I have heard at SXSW so far has been “big data”. The longest lines for sessions have been for topics revolving around big data. Every vendor seems to now be in the big data business, and it’s clear everyone wants a piece of the “making sense out of data” pie. By and large, I think this is a great thing. For too long, we’ve made business decisions with limited and dated research – or hunches. The better we get at using accurate (and if possible, real-time data), the better informed and productive these decisions will be. The challenge for most organizations will be selling the value of big data internally, as it’s costly to fund the tools and people required to be successful.

ibeacon sxswProximity – while there have been a few failed attempts at leveraging proximity-based mobile applications at past SXSW events (Highlight or Banjo come to mind), practical applications of proximity-based messaging technology – most-notably through the use of iBeacons – have utility. SXSW is using iBeacons at the conference this year to alert users of its app to interesting things going on at the conference. When you carry your mobile device around with you, you’re essentially telling people where you are. Privacy concerns aside, this is the future of location-based marketing – pushing content to users in the moment is one step closer to realizing those scenes out of Minority Report. I’m most-excited about seeing the adaptation of iBeacons for driving proximity-based engagement in retail and event applications.

egg minder internet of thingsInternet of Things – EVERYTHING is going to be connected to the Internet in the next couple of years. That’s the general theme of the dozens of Internet of Things sessions at SXSW. There are too many products out there in the Internet of Things – or IoT – sector to mention in this post. Just know that every for every product you own that plugs into the wall (or recharges), somebody is working on one that connects to the Internet. Honestly, there are a lot of products that you don’t currently need that will connect to the Internet too – like a device you can put your eggs in that will tell you if they’re still fresh. Don’t put all your IoT eggs in one basket, I guess?

There are surely some follow-up trends of note to be on the lookout for when it comes to the IoT. First, there are some considerable privacy and security issues that will emerge (opportunities for smart entrepreneurs to capitalize on). When everything is connected to the Internet, it brings with it the same risks and vulnerabilities of any other device on your network. Than there is the issue of overwhelming your home network with too many devices competing for a connection – there are limits here that will need to be addressed. Finally, it makes sense that we’ll see common aggregators emerge that enable you to manage all of your Internet things from a single interface. My guess is Google will emerge as a leader here, as it’s in line with indexing all of the world’s information – and yeah, back to that big data thing… there’s a lot of data behind all of our things being connected. Anybody making a product today needs to consider how that product will connect to the Internet – that’s a mega-trend if I’ve ever seen one.

uber sxswGetting From Point A to B – personal transportation is an interesting trend I’ve noticed at SXSW. From the Ubers and Lyfts of the world, to tap-and-go Smart Cars you can see all over Austin, to similar applications for hailing taxis and pedicabs, it’s clear that smartphones with their GPS and mobile payments capabilities have made it easier than ever to find a ride than ever. Look for developments in ride-sharing to be a trend in coming months, as Uber recently announced its plans to enable you to team up with other users to get where you’re going.

Read more about the brand activations and platforms making a splash at SXSW 2015. [Read more…]

Taking a Newsroom Approach to Content Marketing

content marketing trendsBrands have never cared more about content marketing. It is the hot topic for 2013, as brands look to leverage great content to expand their reach, drive more engagement or improve their search engine rankings – to name a few. Don’t believe me? Search any content marketing related keyword in Google Trends and you’ll find a spike in conversation this year around the topic (the graph to the right is for “content marketing” news headlines). [Read more…]

Will Google, Apple and Amazon Fuel Newspaper, Magazine Subscriptions?

While a lot of people in the media industry spent the past couple of years figuring out how to make old media business models work online, and media critics droned on about the death of newspapers and magazines, technology innovators focused on fixing the problem.

What problem? Getting consumers to want to pay for digital content. I took a pretty hard line on the issue of free versus paid content, pushing for free as the answer. I now pay for a dozen or so subscriptions across the various electronic devices I use to consume content. [Read more…]

The Death of Blogs?

In case you missed it last week, Gawker Media (home of Gawker, Deadspin, Jezebel, Lifehacker and Gizmodo) announced they are restructuring their sites effective January 1st, to make them look less like a blog and more like a news magazine.  The Wall Street Journal quoted Gawker founder Nick Denton as saying “I’m out of blogs…I don’t want to be the No. 1 blog network anymore.  That’s like being king of the playground.”

Some would argue that Gawker legitimized blogs as a form of journalism. So if their founder is arguing that he no longer wants to be in the blog business, does this signal the death of blogging as we know it? [Read more…]

Journalism Online Will Make You Pay

Journalism Online, a new startup created by former media executives, thinks it’s time for you to start paying for online content. You were always willing to pay for content before the Internet came around and publishers started giving it away for free. Why shouldn’t you pay for it again, and help print publishers pull themselves out of the death spiral they’re in? That’s my takeaway from reading the company’s mission.

Now, don’t get me wrong, some content is worth paying for. Most online news content should be free, there just isn’t that much value from one outlet to the next. Now that advertising isn’t paying the bills, going back to consumers to ask them to pay just doesn’t feel right. Journalism Online thinks you’ll gladly start paying again though, because you value the information that much. [Read more…]

Will Your Newspaper Be Around in Five Years?

Will your newspaper be around in five years? I don’t think anyone knows for sure what will happen, but I think it’s a safe bet you won’t have the same number of newspapers in your market in five years (and I’m not saying there will be more). I know there are a lot of people who will continue to get their news from print, just as there are people who still continue to buy their music on vinyl. It’s the experience and nostalgia of it all. [Read more…]

Building Media Relationships in the Midst of Newsroom Instability

Newsflash: 90% of the reporters on the targeted media list you created in January are out of work. They’re not responding to your emails because they’ve packed up their belongings and gone home. Which is probably a change from why they usually don’t reply to you (ahem, spray and pray?). As newsroom staff dwindles, reporters’ roles and responsibilities are shifting and we’re left scratching our heads, wondering how to keep up with constantly moving, undefined targets.

Yes it’s true. The days of creating a media list and letting it sit unmodified for a year are over. No, the days of thinking of journalists as little more than another email address you blast your news to are over. But you know this. Change isn’t just coming anymore, it’s here. So, where’s the silver lining in these pink slip-laden newsrooms and inboxes full of bounced emails? I’ll tell you. As the number of reporters per publication declines, competition for coverage will become increasingly intense, forcing us PR pros to tighten up our game and play smart or be sent to the sidelines to cry on the bench. [Read more…]

On The Future of Journalism

“In times of change learners will inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to work in a world that no longer exists.” – Eric Hoffer (1902-1983)

This is one of my favorite quotes. Few places does this quote ring more true than in the world of traditional media today, where the ‘learned’ continue to resist change and refuse to accept that some of their business models no longer make sense.

The Rosen Group conducted a recent survey of American readers about the state of current and future media, finding that nearly 80% of respondents still subscribe to magazines and 83% find that daily newspapers are still relevant. In the same survey, only 45% said they think newspapers and magazines will exist in 10 years, while 40% were uncertain.

While it’s easy to get distracted by the fact that consumers still subscribe, it’s nothing short of alarming that many don’t think newspapers and magazines – at least not in their current print bodies – will exist in 10 years. If that’s the case, what will the future of journalism look like for you and me? If the ‘learners’ have anything to say, it will look much different. [Read more…]