November 1, 2012

Guide to events & conferences in December


A scene from Le Web London this summer. The original Le Web, in Paris, returns next month (Photo by kmeron on Flickr).

Ayelet NoffDecember, with all its holiday cheer, eases the pace of conferences and events in social media, marketing, and technology.

This December I’m most excited about Le Web in Paris, the city of lights, love and Internet innovation. This year Le Web will focus on how Internet-driven devices are taking over the world; just look at how much time people spend surfing “le web” on their phones. I’m also thoroughly excited for the 2012 startup competition where sixteen emerging startups will duke it out on stage. To learn more about this great conference read my take on Le Web.

For the full year, see our full Calendar of 2012 social media, tech and marketing conferences.

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June 28, 2012

Integrity is inherent in earned media but not paid

http://www.mindjumpers.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Sk%C3%A6rmbillede-2011-11-23-kl.-5.02.52-PM.pngChris AbrahamYesterday I wrote a post called Blogger outreach is earned media not paid, right? wherein I asked if earned media was a think of the past and whether payola, pay-per-post, pay-per-link, sponsored posts, and site sponsorship were the new de facto in digital PR. This morning, Gail Gardner wrote a post in response, accusing us digital PR professional of stealing from bloggers since we agencies do get paid for doing blogger outreach only to “talk bloggers into working for free” on our behalf:

These companies want to argue they deserve “earned” media coverage when what they are really doing is BUYING that awareness by paying PR agencies to go out and sell it for them. They aren’t earning it by some good deed or being awesome – they are spending money to get a PR agency to talk bloggers into working for free on their behalf.

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September 21, 2011

How not to treat bloggers and how not to pitch blogs

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_mbX7X5qGMrM/TTROLWnEGzI/AAAAAAAAAHc/t-wh7qZsGVU/s1600/angry-blogger-300x251.jpgChris AbrahamLast week, I talked about how blogger outreach is scary, and I talked about why this fear exists for most people before they start talking to bloggers. In great measure, these fears exist because of the horror stories that have resulted from wrong-headed approaches.

In the five years that we’ve been reaching out to bloggers, we’ve learned just as much about how not to pitch as we’ve learned about the right ways. The main thing to keep in mind is how you feel when you are on the receiving end of a misguided PR pitch. If you just stick with that mindset, you’ll avoid the lion’s share of pitching mistakes.

I have been getting pitches for my blog, Because the Medium is the Message, since 2004 or so. Now, Marketing Conversation gets loads of pitches as well. Some of the insulting things that abuse me to no end include sending your pitch to “Dear Blogger,” or to “Abraham” when my name is Chris Abraham and my partner’s name is Mark Harrison and there is no one named “Abraham Harrison” in my company. I can generally tell when a compliment is hollow: they’re either too general or way too recent and specific. It is very easy for even the least sophisticated of my fellow bloggers to sense sucking up or kissing up, especially if you haven’t done any homework or any research at all.

Also, if you don’t have your formatting sorted and it looks like you obviously copied and pasted back and forth and I can make out weird spacing and a strange mixture of fonts and sizes, I can tell you’re probably cutting corners and doing things carelessly and without concern for how I will perceive it — as though half-assed is all I am worth since I am not a Mashable or TechCrunch. People don’t like it when they can obviously tell that you’re going through the motions until something else better comes along. Bloggers will always call you out if they sense you’re just calling it in. Continue reading

July 29, 2011

12 tips on how to approach bloggers

 

David SparkOn July 27 I attended and moderated a panel at the PR Summit in San Francisco. This blog post is a report being submitted for Intertainment Media, makers of the desktop communications and content app KNCTR and the real-time chat translation tool Ortsbo.

Pestering bloggers. It’s a PR rep’s time-honored tradition. A client has something to announce or show off, and PR reps go out of their way to get the attention of bloggers. But what’s the best way to approach them?

At the PR Summit in San Francisco, four bloggers and I tried to answer that very question:

  • Ryan Singel (Wired.com)
  • Jolie O’Dell (Venturebeat)
  • Beth Spotswood (SFGate, Huffington Post, and CBS)
  • Michael Leifer (Guerilla PR)

12 recommendations on the best way to engage bloggers

Here are 12 tips and arguments that came up in the discussion on how to approach bloggers:

1. Keep it short and sweet. Far too many email pitches have endless copy. Ryan Singel was really impressed with a particular five-line pitch. It’s OK if you have more information. Just send it once the blogger expresses interest. Continue reading

October 7, 2009

BlogHer, the FTC, ethics and conflicts of interest

How BlogHer deals with reviews and conflicts of interest from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaI‘ve been struck by the varying reactions to this week’s news that the Federal Trade Commission will now begin to regulate product endorsements not just in advertisements but also on blogs and other forms of social media. (PDF here; the regs don’t start until page 55.)

Two heavyweight bloggers and longtime free speech champions Jeff Jarvis and Dan Gillmor — bless them — have lambasted the FTC for its move into the online arena (here are Jeff‘s and Dan‘s posts, and reader comments). While I think skepticism is in order, and the specifics of the government’s involvement need to be more clearly defined, in the end I believe the FTC’s move is a healthy and welcome development for social media.

I’m coupling my thoughts on the FTC ruling with an interview (above) I did a while back with Jory Des Jardins, co-founder of BlogHer, which I’ve just gotten around to publishing today. In it, Jory describes how JCPenney approached BlogHer with the idea of having bloggers in its network of 2,500 blogs write about its new line of Linden Street furniture as part of BlogHer’s review program.

As in its past dealings with retailers, the BlogHer exec team decided on this approach: It would allow a dozen bloggers to accept $500 gift cards to purchase furniture from JCPenney, but only on the condition that the bloggers fully disclose the relationship with both Penney and BlogHer, that the bloggers be free to write reviews and produce videos telling about their experience — both positive and negative — and that the reviewers could not accept any advertising from JCPenney. Importantly, they were not paid to write product endorsements but to write reviews. BlogHer then assembled their posts into a widget, which they ran across their blog network.

JCPenney was “thrilled” with the program, and so were the bloggers. (You can judge for yourself about the quality of the reviews; this one was typical. The authenticity is what makes this valuable to marketers.) BlogHer has run several similar retailer partnerships — and in each case, Jory says, the key ingredient was disclosure.

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo

Lisa Stone, another co-founder of BlogHer, evoked the same themes in her keynote address to the Online News Association conference on Saturday. One reason for BlogHer’s continued growth and success, she said, was they adhere to the same standards and practices that traditional journalism institutions have built up over the decades. By 2006, BlogHer “became the schoolmarms of the Internet,” Lisa said.

Every one of the 2,500 bloggers participating in the BlogHer network must fax in a signed agreement to abide by BlogHer’s community guidelines. BlogHer blogs must not contain “editorial content that has been commissioned and paid for by a third party, (either cash or goods in barter),” the guidelines say, and so I wish the guidelines page would address how reviews fall into a different category. (For the record, I think the way BlogHer has done this is absolutely fine, though this would violate many newspapers’ policies.)

Lisa also made clear that BlogHer has no desire to impose its guidelines on the entire Internet. “We don’t believe in a universal standard for the Internet,” she said.

Fair enough. It’s not BlogHer’s job to police the Internet. Nor mine. Nor the Media Bloggers Association’s. Two years ago I chaired a committee to write the association’s Statement of Principles, which includes this:

“Clearly disclose conflicts of interest including personal relationships, financial considerations or anything else that might influence or appear to influence your independence and integrity. If you accept payments from advertisers or sponsors, clearly demarcate advertorial from editorial content.” Continue reading

September 18, 2009

AP News Registry aims at most flagrant infringers

AP IP

More details about Associated Press’s move to protect its content unveiled at Seattle summit

JD LasicaI left the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association Summit of newspaper publishers and ad managers yesterday just as two executives from the Associated Press were winding up their presentation on the new AP News Registry.

The new initiative, announced in July, contains two key components:

• All AP stories will be released online wrapped in a new microsoformat that includes rights info, who created it, etc.

• The wrapper also will carry a built-in “digital beacon,” or tracker, to monitor use of the content by others to track usage and compliance. (As I understand this, the content is not encrypted but carries a lightweight bug technology.)

As a social media consultant and journalist who spoke at the summit just an hour earlier, I asked whether the dialogue and AP’s plans were public information, and Kevin Walsh, AP’s Kevin Walsh, Vice President of Marketing, responded, “It is now.”

AP’s plans were met with the predicable negative reaction in the blogosphere (see, for example, the comments at bottom of this article). But AP should be credited with its transparency during this process, and from what I heard at the summit, its plans make a lot of sense. Thousands of sites are unfairly piggybacking off the work of journalists, and if newspapers and news organizations like the AP are to survive, there has to be a mechanism for compensation.

As an internal AP document titled Protect, Point, Pay – An Associated Press Plan for Reclaiming News put it: “The evidence is everywhere: original news content is being scraped, syndicated and monetized without fair compensation to those who produce report and verify it.”

Fair use won’t be easy to define

It’s a topic I have some familiarity with, having written Darknet and reported on Hollywood studios and media companies’ reluctance to embrace their digital future. At the time I wrote the book, there was widespread music file sharing (there still is) but also an increasing recognition that the original Napster was misguided and the music industry needed to devise legitimate forms of compensation for the artists. (Apple’s iTunes and Rhapsody are among the companies still trying to create a frictionless business model.)

My view on the new AP initiative is similar: Some reuse of AP’s content is socially and legally acceptable, but there needs to be limits. What will matter, in the end, is how this plan will be carried out by AP and the cooperative’s members. If they go too far and claim “all rights reserved” around the first two sentences of every AP article, the blowback will be enormous. Fair use exists, and in the past the AP has paid too little heed to those concerns — even though AP reporters rely on the same fair use doctrine in their reports nearly every day. (For example, I didn’t get the AP’s permission to use the graphic at the top of this post.)

Todd B. Martin, AP’s Vice President, Technology Development, reassured the publishers in the room that the intent of the news registry isn’t to go after every blogger who borrows a snippet of an AP news story.

“We’re focused on removing the ambiguity around the use of our content.”
— Todd B. Martin, VP for technology, AP

Instead, Martin said, “We’re not going to stop a blogger from cut and pasting an article. But we are giving you visibility into the 20,000 other domains where your content appeared and the top users and where it was monetized. So you can get a list of the top 100 [infringing] sites with over 100,000 views, and then facilitate business development opportunities” with the sites in question. The registry, Martin said, would help create new business opportunities and products and also buttress more rigorous legal enforcement of the AP’s intellectual property. Continue reading