Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Time to Offer Video News

At Time Inc’s HQ, during the Digital Outlook briefing for the media vice president John Squires believes Time can compete with networks by creating compelling original stories in video format.

I called for the blended news model of newspapers and broadcasts to share content, leading to more revenue online, but if you have the resources as I would imagine Time would, why not keep it in house?

We'll see where this goes.

PR Newswire in Times Sqaure

In case your client asks you where your press release was picked up, you can now say millions have seen it...

Seen by more than 1.5 million people per day, "the 7,400 square foot digital billboard located in Times Square will feature a regular stream of PR Newswire customer photos throughout each day. The photos will be accompanied by a news release headline, and will be displayed in fifteen-second increments. Appropriate types of photos for this new medium include product images, executive headshots, special event images, brand logos..."

Question: How much? Regardless, probably not worth what it will probably cost for your 15 seconds of fame.

How did PR just become part of the advertising business?

InfoWorld Loses its Wings

As most of you (in tech PR) already know, InfoWorld has discontinued its print version. The news leaked out late last week by InfoWorld staff, the usual bloggers and then finally was confirmed Monday by Steve Fox.

Additional thoughts by Ed Foster can be found here.

In recent months, we’ve seen many changes from Time Inc. reducing its staff, Line56 folding, Intelligent Enterprise moving to online only, Red Herring moving to PDFs with rumors still circulating of its closure and now InfoWorld moving to the online format. Whatever the case, the trend has been that the print version has gotten thinner and more opportunities have become available online.

I’m one of the few relatively new PR guys who still enjoy “getting my thumbs dirty.” Plus it’s always an awesome feeling to let a client know that they will be featured on the cover of a magazine. While that may be true, what it really boils down to is exposure and those sales leads that have your client buzzing, so the delivery mechanism of your clients messaging really doesn’t matter. That said, securing a cover has become increasingly more difficult, regardless of the publication because so many PR folks have clients in the same space that are vying for that spot as the publication continues to get thinner.

As PR pros, it’s our job to know about the different opportunities and how we can best delivery the company’s messaging. One dying trend, at least in my eyes is the podcast. It’s just a hassle to download or wait for podcasts to buffer. Webcasts are still great because it’s still a live interactive forum but a podcast is not convenient because you have to wait for something you don’t even know you want. I think we’ll continue to see more and more innovation online. Maybe in the near future, we’ll see a face-off of executives from competitive companies’ face-off in a live debate that can be viewed in cyberspace, instead of contributing 400-word articles. Or maybe the cover stories now will become the full text on the landing page every Monday.

Can’t wait to hear what other changes are coming next.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Is it TIME yet?

While many are taking guesses at what will enable Internet news sites to become profitable, Time (also in yesterday's WSJ) has focused on content. Not news content, but analysis and opinion by established writers that have a following. The question remains, how to draw readers to online sites and make it profitable. While the reason for the spurt in online readership is simple – you can share it with friends…"I’ll send you the link” instead of “did you see today’s paper?"- it's profitability is still at question.

As long as half my stories in newspapers are coming from the Associated Press, there is no reason for me to read any particular newspaper over another. Placing value on individual writers for the angle they bring to the discussion table will spur more debate and increase reading and sharing of links. What does this mean for advertisers? Not much, at least not yet. When the media “quadruple play” is in full force (the merging of broadcast, audio, print and Web) along with growing fascination with user contributed content, I’m sure there will be plenty to money to go around. However, delivering consistent localized and unique angles will enable newspapers to regain its trust and readership. Relationships will be the key...the way local papers use to do it way back when...

Holla At A Playa...Or We'll Come to You

Despite the midst of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the focus has shifted from who’s in the Sweet 16 to who will return next year. The attention drawn by Ohio State University’s Greg Oden and Texas forward Kevin Durant has landed several basketball executives in hot water…actually just a slap on the wrist. From Michael Jordan, Danny Ainge to Don Nelson, they all have been slapped with a fine of between $15-30,000. I’d say that is a small cost to say, “hey Kevin Durant, we want you here.”

Of course all this would not have been necessary if the National Basketball Association did not impose a requirement that requires you to be 19 year old or one year removed from high school.

Maybe the hope was to send them to college for at least one year and hope that the college coaches and professors would be able to convince those student athletes to stay in school longer. But regardless, how could you turn down millions of dollars to say I need to go to school? And then say I should go to school for four years and get a diploma but risk getting injured, which could lead me to never make millions.

The real hope was not to hope for better education for the blue chip stars, it was just so the NBA can appease the naysayer of high school All-Americans going straight to the pros. The sudden increase in blue-chip talent has elite programs using and losing great talent in less than 2 years. What does that mean for the rest of the teams? The verdict isn’t in yet. But while elite teams substitute All-Americans from year to year, other schools are losing out on the opportunity to land quality talent. Well, everyone except USC. O.J. Mayo’s representation insisted that he play at USC. Coach Tim Floyd wasn’t even thinking about the most coveted player in the nation but Mayo’s desire to become legendary as a player and make connections to launch his “famous career” at USC a reality.

How different would PR look if we had straight from high school talent? It wouldn’t work but maybe in a few years when social media gives these kids all sorts of talents that PR firms will need, that may be a different story.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Free New Media Event and Webinar

UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism
Spring New Media Lecture Series

Featured speakers are Lisa Stone, Blog Her; Kevin Sites, Yahoo!; Rob Curley,
Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive; Matt McAlister, Yahoo!; Sean Connelley
and Katy Newton, Oakland Tribune; and Joe Howry, Anthony Plascencia, Colleen
Cason, and Tom Kisken, Ventura County Star.

Sunday, March 25, 2006 - Wednesday, March 28, 2006

North Gate Hall Library, Hearst at Euclid Avenue, Berkeley

This event is free and open to the public, and no RSVP is needed. The
presentations also will be webcast.

For more information, including dates and times of the particular talks,
please visit:

Directions to the Journalism School are here:

Presented by: UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, Knight New Media
Center and Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation
3:00 – 4:15 p.m. – "Building the Multimedia Newsroom"
• Joe Howry, Anthony Plascencia, Colleen Cason, Tom Kisken, Ventura County Star
12:30-1:30 p.m. – "Blogging and News Sites: Joining the Conversation"
• Lisa Stone, BlogHer
7:45-9:15 p.m. - "Multimedia Backpack Reporting"
• Kevin Sites, Yahoo!
12:30-1:30 p.m. - "Multimedia Storytelling From Start to Finish"
• Sean Connelley and Katy Newton, Oakland Tribune
7:15-9:15 p.m. - "It's Not About the Device, It's About The Information"
• Rob Curley, Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive
1:30-2:30 p.m. - "New Technologies and the New Journalism"
• Matt McAlister, Yahoo!
Event contact:
Lanita Pace-Hinton or Emily Moses
510-643-7429; 510-642-3892;

newmedialist mailing list

Friday, March 16, 2007

Value Add Copy Store Does Not Equal PR

The Portland Business Journal writer Matthew Kish incorrectly labels PR Store offerings as “PR for the masses.” Items including brochures, business cards and letterhead can be customized and ordered at PR Store. Or you could just go to your local Kinkos.

PR Store is unique in that small businesses can receive small Web sites and logos designed or have copywriting needs met. All these are marketing materials. However affordable and convenient for small businesses, it shouldn’t be miscategorized as public relations.

I guarantee you PR Store won’t get you a press release with analysts, customers and partners or that hit in a business publication that you are dreaming of. It takes lots of creativity, strategic thinking and tenacity that you can’t find at a Kinkos-type store with a few value-add services.

Outsourcing Your Blog

Here are some good tips from Todd Defren of SHIFT Communications regarding outsourcing your blog.

When I started this blog, I decided not to blog specifically about my clients to keep it neutral. However, when there is news that peaks my interest, I will discuss it.

CNET Introduces BNET

According to Bacon's Media Blog, CNET Networks will launch a new business Web site called BNET in May. "The site will be designed to help business managers succeed by combining business information with community features and offering managers the solutions and tools to solve day-to-day business challenges."

My favorite so far is the "How to Manage your Boss" package. When did common sense not become common sense? I could go on but I won't...

Overall, this site should be useful for helping employees and employers maximize opportunities. Only time will tell when the real launch happens in a few months.

Chiquita Banana Slips

According to the Associated Press, high-ranking corporate officers at Chiquita paid about $1.7 million between 1997 and 2004 to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia to protect its employees. Despite being considered a terrorist group by the U.S. government and known for some of the worst massacres in Colombia, federal investigators ordered Chiquita to pay $25 million in fines. When did growing bananas become such a lucrative business? But more importantly, I could understand the government not wanting U.S. businesses to support terrorist groups but this was an act of protecting its employees. How could you find fault in that? I find Bush's oil war far more offensive. Can we fine him?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Survival of the Fittest - Newspaper Style

San Francisco Chronicle columnist David Lazarus wrote on Wednesday about the lack of a functional business model for the online portion of the newspaper despite growing audiences and decreases in readers wanting to get their fingers dirty. Lazurus said “newspapers' online operations typically account for only about 5 percent of overall revenue.” He offers several of his ideas for how to make online newspapers more profitable.

Now, I’ll offer mine.

  • I already know that Bill Gates is a billionaire and Microsoft is very profitable. Let’s hear about what smaller companies are doing to change the landscape of particular industries. I want to know what solutions exist to stop cyber crimes like phishng and man-in-the-middle attacks, not about how Microsoft fell short of expectations this quarter and only made $4 billion while Gates was sleeping last night.
  • Leverage assets you already have and get assets you need. I don’t blame publications for laying off reporters for cost cutting measures. However, newspapers need to better integrate with local news channels. More and more local news stations have Web sites that have great video interviews but some very poor articles. Sometimes I’ll watch it on the news or hear about it the next day and I want to go back to the clip. But other times, I’ll see a video and want to hear about what’s being written about it. But if I can find it all in one place, then that would be even better. This will attract more readers and viewers and enable revenues to go up on both sides. So, you might be asking, wouldn’t television revenues go down? Not really, unless you have Internet clips in HD, it should remain steady. Then get some young guys who surf the Web frequently to find creative new multimedia techniques for the latest vehicles for news delivery.
  • Personalize newspaper content. This is a challenge and may not be doable. When I went away to college, I wanted to read my local newspapers. Primarily for the sports section but also for some of the local news. With so many connected newspapers you might think it’d be possible to live outside the Bay Area and get my daily dose of the A’s, 49ers and Warriors while still getting my fingers dirty. I had to instead resort to viewing stories on the Internet. And instead of getting my local news through family and friends, I can read what is happening beyond my block. Now I can’t get enough of the Trojans. Fight on!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

AJAX Answers March Madness

March Madness is a great time. If you have an office pool, you can take your bosses money right out of his hands when it's all said and done. Watching the clock wind down as the last buzzer beater launches from the opponent's hands makes for a great game that can make you fall to your knees as your entire bracket crumbles.

According to Computerworld's Heather Havenstein, built its site using Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (or AJAX) to add Web 2.0 functionality for picking your brackets. Instead of printing out the PDF and handing in your sheets, you can move around your picks all you want before you click submit without the need for white out or the eraser after calling your brother, cousin and NCAA die hard to help you with your predictions.

Good luck if you are playing!

Flash Drives Continue to Gain Momentum

Flash drives are getting cheaper and gaining increased functionality. With more memory and places to plug into in like your car stereo, gaming consoles, DVD players and TVs, you don't have to be stationed at your computer. But if you are stuck at a public computer or at a friend's place, you can load programs to pass the time such as games, photo editing tools or save your favorite Web settings. Joining the party on Monday was Intel. What would happen if Microsoft joined the party with its proprietary and heavily used Microsoft Office and Outlook suites? It won't said leading industry analysts.

Monday, March 12, 2007

DHS Launches National Computer Forensic Institute

InformationWeek reported that The Department of Homeland Security will be partnering with the state of Alabama to create the National Computer Forensic Institute to process computer forensics and digital evidence. The United States Secret Service will also be heavily involved.

Increased education and collaboration is a great idea. But as long as cyber criminals are using bartering systems found in Internet Relay Chat (IRC) rooms, cyber criminals both organized and unorganized, have a leg up in bypassing the latest detection, blocking and patching technologies. With undetected keylogging and deceiving phishing and Man-In-The-Middle attacks, it’s already an uphill battle. But combine sophisticated attacks with factors like free widespread WiFi and WiMax availability, get ready for a bloody war of greed.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Real National Women's Day

Today is International Women’s Day that has been commemorated by the United Nations and designated by many countries as a national holiday. If you read my previous blog posts, you may know about my disapproval of Valentine’s Day but this is something even I can appreciate…well maybe not completely but the basic concept.

Inspired by a hundreds of years of women wanting equal footing including a sex strike against men to end war in ancient Greece, “the idea of an International Women's Day first arose at the turn of the century, which in the industrialized world was a period of expansion and turbulence, booming population growth and radical ideologies,” according to the United Nations.

Right here in San Francisco, the Charter of the United Nations, signed 1945 was the first international agreement to “proclaim gender equality as a fundamental human right. Since then, the Organization has helped create a historic legacy of internationally agreed strategies, standards, programs and goals to advance the status of women worldwide.”

However, I want to shed some light on some interesting facts about modern day inequality for women.

In San Francisco, we have heard, seen or read many times about the Asian massage parlors, brothels and backrooms of businesses that are known to exist in our backyards. Many of the sex slaves are Korean and it’s disgraceful to see crime of this nature being carried out against our own people. Even more shameful because of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent comment that there was no proof Korean women were forced into prostitution, despite countless accounts by survivors even today.

Sex trafficking is an $8 billion worldwide business with more than 800,000 sex slaves and forced laborers with many more unaccounted for.

Recently, a friend of mine and fellow USC Trojan alum went on a short-term mission trip to Thailand and told me about her experience firsthand. I hope to have a longer conversation and share some of her photos in a future blog post but for now, here are some sad facts.

Despite prostitution being banned, police don’t do a thorough job of raiding downtown areas. After noisy sirens from police cars went down a busy street in a tourist area, it was revealed that police were making sure there were no prostitutes. When the police failed to check the back rooms and up stairs, someone asked why they didn’t, the police avoided answering. However, the real reason was that the police own some of the bars that these prostitutes work in.

Looking at some of the young petite ladies, you might think the girls are underage. While some are, others are in their 30s wearing school girl outfits so they can look like a young teenager as these are the girls most attractive to Johns.

Journalism Ethics Line Challenged

The New York Times acknowledged Tuesday that in June 2005, former staff writer Kurt Eichenwald provided a $2,000 check to Justin Berry, who at the time was an 18-year-old star in a seedy network of child-porn sites. Used to gain the trust of Berry, it led to the teenager stopping his drug use and quitting his involvement in online porn.

It later turned into an article in the Times about Web sex sites run by teenagers and debate ensued regarding whether Eichenwald had crossed an ethical line by getting too close to his subject and paying the boy. Eichenwald explained that he and his wife decided to try to get help for Berry.

Even on Tuesday when Eichenwald was reached, he was in Detroit, waiting to testify in the criminal trial of a man accused of molesting Berry.

Having been on the journalism side, I consider it a competitive disadvantage for other journalists to pay a source. However, this has almost a Patch Adams feel to it. I commend Eichenwald, despite his failure to disclose the check to his editors and readers. He acknowledged that was a mistake. Hell, sometimes I don't know how some journalist can write a story and not step in. Where's the ethics in that?

There are plenty more contentious journalism ethics horror stories in the world like Sarah Lacy’s cover story in BusinessWeek on Digg founder Kevin Rose.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

PR Blunder by Steven Blinn

Now, I admit I haven't kept up with but this shocked me when I read this today. How can Blinn PR "PRESIDENT", Steven Blinn send out a ridiculous email pitch with the subject line: "Anna Nicole Smith Would Be Six Feet Under If She Used" Now I'm a big believer in taking advantage of current events but this is over the top. On the company's Web site it says, "At BlinnPR, we effectively combine the focus of a boutique public relations agency — working smarter, faster and more efficiently — with the senior-level staff experience of a large agency." Now does that really fit the bill? With clients that include WWF (now WWE), CitiGroup, Chase, Dow Jones, New York Special Olympics and Inc. Magazine, they must be doing something right but this is tragic for the PR industry. Gets Enhancements? announced this week its new redesign to enhance the "community" user experience. With bigger photos, exclusives and blogs and user contributed comments, member personal space/blogs/avatars, tagging and search functionality. It's a great idea and a step in the right direction but there are kinks to be worked out including delayed rollovers and ads flying everywhere that make this seem more tabloid. One thing that is very evident is drawing readers to the print edition. I still prefer to get my fingers dirty even though my generation loves online content.

Here's what Forrester's Charlene Li has to say. It also links to what Steve Rubel's and Michael Arrington's take.

In-game Ads - Cool or Unjust?

Ever hear about how film studios paid to display products during filming and then seen how the roles reversed with products like Coca-Cola paying for top dollar for the limelight. Well gamers have become the next target, except they think it's cool.

CNET reported that "two-thirds of all men in television-owning households between the ages of 18 and 34, and 80 percent of those between 12 and 17--prime gamer demographics--have video game consoles in their homes," according to a Nielsen study released on Monday. But the bigger number is that U.S. households with televisions that also have video game consoles has risen from 38.6 million to 45.7 million homes over those two years. That's a huge audience and advertisters are taking note. But what's the reaction of gamers? Seeing billboards with Coca-Cola logos and other top brands makes the game seem more realistic and cooler.

While these guys may be more heavily focused on watching cartoons in between hours of gaming with buddies, I'm thinking, I should be paid everytime I'm forced to watch an ad on the game I paid $50-60 for.

Monday, March 5, 2007

HP 2.0 - Walmart Employee Exposed

The US Attorney's office and the FBI are investigating the actions of a Walmart employee after he intercepted pager, text messages and taped phone conversations between the company's media relations staff and New York Times reporter Michael Barbaro. The technician and his supervisor was fired while another man was disciplined. Walmart's CEO also apologized to the NY Times CEO and reporter Barbaro. The reasons for the tapping are yet not fully known.

Is Walmart hiding something or is employee just looking for gossip? I guess only a few may know. At least this time, it isn't a corporate scandal and just a dumb employee acting a fool.

How to Recover from the Rat Race and More

Over the course of the last few years, I’ve been very fascinated by the crisis communication portion of public relations. Although, there are several incidents that I can’t talk about, I will talk about those that I haven’t been exposed to confidentially. One of the most interesting is the San Francisco 49ers in-house training film. More recently we have the KFC “Rat Race” and the Jet Blue “Extended Stay.”

Recently, Rhonda Weiss, CEO and Chair of PRSA appeared on CNN In the Money to discuss the recent disasters, the impact of the Internet, the role of the CEO in a crisis and the forgotten group in disasters like these.

To read the transcript, click here.

The Power that is the Internet Exposed in London?

Today and tomorrow, or yesterday and today if you’re in the UK is the Financial Times Digital Media and Broadcasting Conference. It should be a great event where many are gathered in London to discuss how the Internet is stealing TVs thunder and maximizing opportunities on the Web. With many broadcasters, internet content providers, ISPs, technology platform producers, media groups, investors and advertisers in attendance, it should be a great event. I’m still thinking that one day my HD Internet idea will be future but we’ll see what the experts say.

Confirmed speakers are from Oracle, Reuters, European Telecommunications Network Operators, National Geographic, Disney, CNET Networks, Sony, Sling, Microsoft, Advanced Micro Devices, MySpace, Sun Microsystems, Mozilla, BBC,, and Google.

I'd love to hear more about the discussions from this conference.

Where Art Thou Starbucks? How About Some...?

Maybe it’s because there’s a Starbucks on every corner outside my office building, I don’t find this useful. Within a one to two block radius, I can count about SEVEN Starbucks. If I want to count coffee shops, it’s closer to ten. If I want to include places where I can get hot coffee, it’s maybe 13. The Seattle Times reported last week (or in today’s San Jose Mercury) that those craving coffee can text a zip code to MYSBUX and be sent a text message with the closest locations, I had two thoughts. One is to try it to see how many locations I get sent back and two is that this is the most useless thing ever. Okay, I couldn’t resist but I’m not wasting 10 cents on a text message. Instead I went to and found that there are 59 Starbucks within a 2 mile radius.
Now if I’m driving, the last thing I want is the guy next to me text messaging Starbucks while in his car because he hasn’t had his caffeine. But I guess it can't be worse than the girl applying mascara while talking on the phone and yelling at her kid.

But I wouldn’t mind it for some other purposes like, where can I get some Chicken & Waffles…heck in the city, I’ll settle for fried chicken.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Rats Come One Year Early

While some of you may have recently celebrated Chinese New Years, the Year of the Rat is not scheduled until 2008. However last week, a KFC and Taco Bell in Manhattan's Greenwich Village had unwanted visitors and was forced to closed its doors when a TV crew caught more than a dozen rats running wild inside the restuarant after business hours. The franchise owner said construction in the basement stirred up the rats, which the health department believes is an infestation problem that is running throughout the building. The health department closed the resturant until the problem could be addressed. Yum Brand's Taco Bell restaurants are still recovering from last year's E. coli scare, so this should help improve their image drastically. But I don't believe the Kernal Sanders is smiling either. Check out the comments from bystanders in this video.