Category Archives: Publishing

The Future of Journalism

Great piece from Nieman Reports by BusinessWeek editor John Byrne titled “The changing truths of journalism.” He talks about how context is as important as the content itself and explains why publishers need to become “editorial curators” – sifting through and organizing articles (regardless of the source) and serving them back to communities of readers. Skip the first few grafs and get into the meat of how magazines and newspapers need to evolve in order to survive – as evidenced by BusinessWeek’s recent launch of Business Exchange, a series of online microcommunities organized (by readers) around vertical topics. Worth the read.

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From the CMO Archives: “Soothe Sayers”

Collateral Damage asked for it, so you got it: an article we published in December 2004 on marketing in times of high anxiety. The lessons are still relevant (perhaps even more so) today. As an aside, this was my favorite cover ever. I’m still trying to figure out how the photog convinced the CMO of MasterCard to stand in the middle of Times Square with mid-day traffic whizzing by:

What Not To Do on Your “About Us” page

An About Us page is a checklist item for any business’s website (and many personal blogs, in its more informal About Me variation). Here’s what NOT to do on your “About Us” page:

  • Don’t put your “About Us” page in the “Past News” section – this implies that, well, you are old news.  
  • Don’t put embeddable ads in the text. That tells me a lot “about” you – all of it negative.
  • Don’t say you have an experienced staff, but then provide no information about or access to those people.
  • Don’t post text with numerous typos (and compound the oversight by calling yourself an “award-winning” media publication).

If you don’t think any established website could possibly allow any of these egregious errors to go unchecked, think again: I found one that features ALL of them. And I’m sad to say I used to work for them. What a disturbing decline for a once-great publication.

Media Slam Dunk: Eliot Spitzer

“Feeding frenzy” takes on a whole new meaning with 7/24 news cycles. Witness the Eliot Spitzer scandal. This guy was buried in a New York minute. My favorite tabloid covers:

spitzer-nypost3-11.jpgspitzer-newsday.jpg

You can even write your own NY Post headline.

Google News search results for “Eliot Spitzer” for March 11: 16,199

Google-indexed blog posts referencing “Eliot Spitzer ” on March 11: 2,160

Best jokes, compiled here.

Even advertisers are getting into the act.

Nothing’s more tasty to media folk than a holier-than-thou public figure caught with his pants down. The Steamroller gets steamrolled.

I May Have to Try This

From a spam press release I received today:

David Hancock of Morgan jams Publishing offers the advantages of a New York Publisher without the drawbacks. His entrepreneurial publishing model gives authors control over their own books, influence over cover design, and most importantly, his authors retain full rights to their books and earn a 20 per cent commission on each sale.

Hancock teamed up with Glenn Dietzel of AwakenTheAuthorWithin.com, whose Entrepreneurial Authoring Program teaches clients to write a money-making book in 12 hours of actual writing time<emphasis by Magnostic>. Clients who complete the program discover how to write a book that is “entrepreneurially sound” and are guaranteed acceptance with Morgan James Publishing, without writing a book proposal or going through years of submission and rejection.

Dietzel’s Entrepreneurial Authoring Program and individual business mentoring teach clients how to create a book that is an entrepreneurially sound lead generator for a well-structured business. A book that is entrepreneurially sound naturally leads readers to interact with the author and continue to do business again and again. The book is specifically designed as an invitation to take part in the author’s other services. Special offers and free gifts of value to the reader are tucked into the pages of the book.

I once aspired to write a novel, but an “entrepreneurially sound lead generator” sounds much more romantic.

Corporate Journalism and the Benefits of Authenticity

Lately, I’ve been categorizing my editorial consulting work as “corporate journalism” – the practice of creating balanced, fact-based content for marketers. It’s a more authentic alternative to the usual PR drivel and marketing fluff that companies have traditionally used to annoy customers, journalists and other target groups. The content can take many forms: white papers (reported with real-person interviews, not made-up quotes), articles, blog posts, video, etc. – all the stuff you’d see on a typical media site. The content development work is also similar to traditional journalism: understand the target audience (customers vs. readers), identify the experts (internal and external), and get them to help you tell the story (through interviews or direct contributions). The result is more engaging, more believable marketing communications. (And it’s a good next career step for disgruntled, aging journalist types.)

I take no credit for coining the term. I first heard it from David Churbuck when talking about the time we spent together at McKinsey helping to re-do the company’s knowledge management platform (a Herculean task). He may or may not have borrowed the phrase from the 1999 book “Beyond Spin.” From the publisher’s description:

In Beyond Spin, three experts detail the techniques of corporate journalism–an ingenious communications model that hinges on open, accurate, and strategically weighted reporting inside a corporation.  

I wouldn’t go so far as calling the practice “ingenious,” but corporate journalism is an important step away from traditional PR/marketing. Churbuck takes a broader view of the concept than the book’s apparent (I never read it) focus on internal mar-com; he uses the phrase to refer to the lens through which companies must view external communications as well:

Organizations need to report upon themselves with the objective eye of a journalist, holding any statement or action up to the same skeptical, unconflicted scrutiny that an outsider would hold, to determine how it will sit with the most important segment of its public – its customers.

I found another good post on the topic at Contentious.com, this one dating back to 2004:

It takes courage on the part of the corporate communications/PR people to step beyond the simplistic goal of persuasion – to acknowledge and address controversy, shortcomings and skeptical or critical perspectives without being dismissive. In short, to try to fairly present more than just the preferred corporate view.

Random end note: Google “corporate journalism” and the Wiley book and Churbuck’s blog entry both trail a 3800-word Noam Chomsky Q&A with Radio Havana on conformist subservience, building a better world, and Cuba’s courage in the face of the repressive American superpower. I’m still trying to make the connection.   

New Articles in 1to1

I have two short articles in the current issue of 1to1 magazine. One is on some of the new metrics that marketers are adopting to help them measure the performance of their online and offline programs, as well as the value of their customers. It includes a sidebar on the impressive results that Petco is seeing after adding user-generated content – a.k.a. customer product reviews – to its website.

The second looks at the expanding skill set that today’s CMO needs to survive. The big three: General management experience, a deeper grasp of new media, and an eye for talent.  

Both require registration to view.