Monthly ArchiveMarch 2011

Ann Arbor, Michigan PR Firm &Corporate Communications &Journalism &Social Media 29 Mar 2011 04:54 pm

A Big Step Forward for Newspapers

On Monday March 28, The New York Times announced that it would instill a pay wall into its online content. Content that readers used to receive for free from the paper’s website, on smartphones or tablet apps will now be charged as subscription packages. If the pay wall is successful for The New York Times, it could mean that future changes lay ahead for other newspapers as well.

Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the paper’s publisher, announced the launch of the digital subscriptions and explained its parameters. Home delivery subscribers will have access to all of the Times content both online and on a cellular device. International Herald Tribune subscribers will also have full access to content. Yet non-subscribers will be required to pay 4-week packages based on the amount of content they wish to access. Additionally, readers will be limited to 20 Times articles a month if they don’t have an online subscription.

In my communications class Monday, we discussed the pay wall and what it might mean for the Times and the survival of other newspapers. My fellow classmates both argued in favor and against the pay wall, some saying that they wouldn’t pay for news content that used to be free, while others said they would be willing to begin paying because of the paper’s superior qualities.

The Times appears to be targeting long-time readers of the paper and readers who value and often read its content, and therefore are willing to pay the subscriptions. The new pay wall will certainly be a test of whether the Times will benefit financially and long-term from the online subscriptions, or lose readers to other publications.

If the pay wall is successful, other newspapers and news outlets may follow suit and charge for their content. Publications that cannot retain their readership after implementing similar pay walls may fail completely, since online advertisements are no longer sufficient sources of revenue. Free access to news online may soon become a thing of the past entirely, and although the Wall Street Journal has been charging readers for a while now, the success of the New York Times online subscriptions could be a big step forward for newspapers in an increasingly online and digital society.

By Dana Prainito

Uncategorized 25 Mar 2011 03:14 pm

Google Steps Up Globally in Times of Natural Disaster

In recent years, the Google Corporation has been criticized for its dominant market position — a status the company has slowly accumulated based on the multi-faceted services it offers.

Most people are familiar with Google Search, which is the most dominant web search engine in the United States, because it is the company’s most popular service. But Google actually offers some 100 other products and services. Google is able to offer most of these programs free of charge because its profit is primarily derived through advertising programs.

And in the early morning hours of March 11, 2011, Google launched yet another program that would temporarily silence any critics of the company’s global hold in the market.

In the aftermath of Japan’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake, which set off colossal tsunamis that wiped out infrastructure and uprooted thousands of civilians, Google’s Crisis Response team initiated a Japanese version of its Person Finder.

Google’s People Finder is a multi-language database tool that aids in locating lost family members and friends in the time of crisis. Users have the ability to search for the names of people they’ve lost and to post news about people they have found.

Because national disasters often disrupt traditional channels of communications, Google has attempted to create a tool that can mediate the organization and registry of people who may be missing. Specifically, Google Ideas is a think-tank that studies where technology can help solve the world’s problems — and then actually develops them into usable products and services.

Although the Google Corporation has an increasing multinational presence, its ability to create a massive online database that facilitates the location of alive and deceased crisis victims is unsurpassed.

This not only shows the positive role that Google’s People Finder has played within countries during times of crisis, but also demonstrates the growing presence that technology has in our lives today.

Caitlin Smith

Uncategorized 25 Mar 2011 03:03 pm

Social Media is Slam-Dunk for NCAA Tournament

This year college basketball fans across the country have, arguably, the greatest access to the NCAA Tournament than ever before — giving them all the more reason to dance.

March Madness has become something larger than a selective showing of games on just one exclusive television network. Coverage of the 2011 tournament has expanded to four broadcast stations, as well as incorporated a medley of social media platforms.

Fans are now able to tap into the game through live online streaming and cell-phone applications—a trend that proved highly popular in 2010 as some 11.7 million hours of live streaming occurred for tournament games. However, viewers now also have the option to take a more interactive approach to the tournament.

Social media has exacerbated the buzz around college basketball by targeting fans and specific niche audiences. Viewers now have access to social hubs, such as the “Social Arena,” which is an online space, funded by the NCAA and Coke Zero, that fans can go to for professional commentary and fan chatter.

Advertisers are also promoting the big dance through Facebook and Twitter, posting tales about former tournament legends and creating sweepstakes. There is even a social bracket being created on Facebook based on the number of ‘likes’ each team in the tournament receives.

“We have to be where people are spending their time,” Vance Overbey, executive director of advertising for AT&T said.

And so market behemoths such as Coca-Cola, Papa John’s and AT&T have upped their social-media spending. Coke, specifically, has increased its spending tenfold—dedicating more than 20% of its tournament budget on social media this year compared to 2% last year.

For these companies, investment in social media could prove to be a slam-dunk marketing strategy—a chance for companies to utilize the tournament as a coax for consumers to be exposed to, and purchase their brands.

“It’s the ultimate sporting event for social media,’ John Kint, general manager at said.

Caitlin Smith

Business of PR &Marketing &Marketing Communications &Media &Technology PR Insights 25 Mar 2011 01:11 pm

Markers of Change: From Traditional to Interactive

In 2007, LG released their first television set with DVR installed allowing viewers to skip show advertisements entirely. The worst financial crises since the Great Depression shocked the nation in 2008, which called for innovation in the media industry. And in 2009 Google, controller of two-thirds of the search market, began using Behavioral Targeting advertising, changing the way the industry defined effective ad campaigns. All of these events precipitated a change in the public relations, media and advertising industry.

First, traditional media performance began to level as digital media took root. Marketers and PR professionals have been more reluctant to engage in digital campaigns because of their negligible reach in comparison to television. Still, Internet is showing alluring promise with its savvy capabilities. Furthermore, PR professionals are slowly coming to recognize the importance of fit of the message, over reach, which is where digital may have the upper hand.

Second, traditional media began to adapt to advances in technology and changes in consumer behaviors. The future of television’s 30-second spot is looking at changes toward interactive commercials, which encourages research on the analytics end about consumer preferences. With Behavioral Targeting, digital advertisers have also begun exploring the effectiveness of relevant ads, or ads that focus on fit, to an interested audience.

Still, these professionals may be stuck in the old frame of mind. Jeff Einstein, digital pioneer of the Brothers Einstein, claims advertisers are focused too much on ineffective reach and do not recognize the potential of message fit.

“In an on-demand media universe the right audience always qualifies and declares itself simply by showing up. But in advertising, getting the right audience to show up is the easy part. The hard part is delivering the brand message once they get there because no one ever goes anywhere for the ads.”

As digital marketing and advertising continues to popularize and industry leaders are looking to gain the edge over their competition, the industry may see a move toward campaigns that aim to appeal to their audience through fit, rather than simple through reaching as big an audience as possible. In the future of this industry, it could very well be the case that quality of fit better predicts campaign success than quantity of target reached.

Jackie VanSloten

Social Media 11 Mar 2011 02:46 pm

Social Media: Redefining Message Influence

In the communications industry, influence can be defined in terms of breadth, depth, and time. In essence, material that reaches the most amount of people, is most thoroughly discussed, and connects to the audience quickest is more influential than information that does not. Social media has been most successful in imparting information because, unlike other media, it has mastered two of the more alluding aspects of influence: breadth and time.

Facebook is a prime example of mastery of influence by breadth. According to Social Media Today, 2010 estimates predicted that 41.6% of the US has a Facebook account. It is because of the sheer size of their audience that advertisers are looking to profit from social network sites. Apart from company advertising opportunities, the targeted audiences also benefit from social media. Because customer opinion can now be widely and quickly spread, companies are held more accountable for bad products and poor services. Since friends’ recommendations are consistently one of the top considerations that customers use when making purchasing decisions, according to The Economist, companies are warned not to underestimate the power of social media.

Twitter utilizes time to the fullest in promoting their influence. Twitter messages are brief, concise, and most important: instant. Admittedly, I was initially skeptical of the influence Twitter could have because of its resemblance to Facebook’s “status updates.” Still, with its recent usage in Tunisia and Egypt, sharing information to organize rebellion despite governmental censorship, I am beginning to rethink the benefits of Tweeting. Whereas previous communication held delay, Tweets are unpolished, bare, and in the moment. In addition to sheer speed, it is the website’s instantaneous nature that opens the door for frequency; messages can be repeated often. Twitter provides a new definition of the term “current news.”

Social media is redefining influence measurement in the communication industry. In particular, Facebook and Twitter are setting new benchmarks on communication speed and audience breadth. This becomes especially apparent when comparing the social media with a traditional form of media, such as a newspaper. Examining breadth, newspapers reach a largely pre-determined audience each circulation period. Often the reach is not international, as is the case with Twitter and Facebook. Considering time, many newspapers are circulated every 24-hours. Therefore, information can be at least a day old before reaching its audience. This isn’t even taking into consideration the disadvantage of the newspaper as a secondary source of information meaning an accompanied time-lapse between event occurrence and newspaper receipt of news. In contrast, with Tunisia and Egypt’s use of Twitter, news emerged from the source of the conflict; information is often direct when using social media.

Breadth and time have been discussed extensively, yet social media incorporates depth, or the extensiveness of information and discussion about a topic, successfully as well. With the websites discussion threads and invitations to comment, social media is a hotbed for depth. Still, depth is less alluding to traditional media. Newspaper is seasoned in providing depth; articles and opinion pieces boast a vast source of information. The difference between depth in traditional and social media: traditional media is one-way communication while social media is a community-generated knowledge market. Ultimately, these social media sites promote more intense interconnectedness, allowing us to be better-informed consumers of information, whether that be social, political, or commercial.

Jackie VanSloten