I Want to Know … Right Now!!

June 30, 2009

by Dan Ward

Late last week, I posted a tweet that generated some debate … after reading tweet after tweet proclaiming the L.A. Times and other traditional news media irrelevant because “celebrity gossip” outlet TMZ broke the Michael Jackson story, I said this:  “Enough … getting ‘scooped’ on MJ doesn’t make newspapers irrelevant. Role isn’t to be 1st, but to provide in-depth reporting & b’ground.

My point wasn’t to defend newspapers; they ARE less relevant today than 5 or 10 years ago.  But the problem isn’t just that they are getting scooped.  It’s that in their rush to join the online revolution (which they admittedly neglected for far too long), they’ve forgotten what has always made them different … their ability to provide depth and background to a story that you just can’t get from a 100-word blog entry or a 30-second TV news clip.

It’s this rush to feed information to a public expecting immediate gratification that leads to headlines like this, from none other than Time magazine: “What Killed Michael? What the Autopsy Could Reveal.”  The autopsy could reveal a million things … drug overdose, undiagnosed disease, even a moonwalking accident.  Maybe instead of competing in the speculation game, Time should report on what the autopsy actually does reveal.

TMZ is a fun read, and should be commended for its amazing wealth of sources and ability to move quickly.  But it also makes statements like this, which I hope to never see in Time: “And this is interesting … Katherine Jackson apparently doesn’t know Prince Michael’s date of birth. Yesterday, in the guardianship papers, she listed his DOB as 1/21/02. The birth certificate says he was born on 2/21/02, one month later.”

Time and the Times both got scooped on that one, but perhaps they chalked up the typo to a simple mistake by a woman grieving the tragic loss of her son.  Being first isn’t the same as being right.


June 30, 2009

by Roger Pynn

Partner Kim Taylor, our resident social media guide, shared a great post from Chris Brogan’s Community and Social Media blog chock full of tips for anyone contributing to the online conversation … but as someone to whom strategy is everything what stood out applies to the essence of business success. Said Brogan:

“Strategies are flexible. People don’t realize this. If your goal is to land more sales, then making one decision and sticking to it is not likely going to be the best way to plan your blogging methods. For instance, if you decide to write about product features every post, and that doesn’t convert to sales, would you still do it? No. You’d adjust your strategy and try new content approaches.”

Isn’t that true of everything you do in business? If you’re stuck on a single approach – just like a blogger stuck on a single topic – you’re not likely to get a lot of traction.

A set of complementary strategies with a tactical “coat of many colors” support system will be far more interesting than a black and white, set-in-stone method. That’s why, for instance, even though we are primarily known as a public relations firm we emphasize to clients that advertising has to be part of their mix. And public relations doesn’t mean publicity … it means a cornucopia of communications techniques from traditional to cutting-edge that let you create lines of communication with a cross-section of stakeholders.

Most importantly, as Brogan suggests, you have to constantly ask yourself “is this working?” You can’t be afraid to shift to a new approach if the winds have changed and left your sails airless.

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