Gladwell Meets Twitter, Facebook, Flickr…


I grew up in England with people that rarely told you much about themselves. It simply wasn’t done. Some of those same people are now friends on Facebook and are people I follow on Twitter. I’m finding that I know more about them now than I did when we lived in the same city. Are Facebook and Twitter therefore becoming a measure of the degree to which you know someone? Should you rank your personal network based on those that you interact with via these social networks more highly than those you simply meet from time to time? Of course some people use Facebook and Twitter more than others, just as some people blog more frequently than others (yes I know what you’re thinking). The active participants are of course the ones you will know most about, which leads me to my next thought: I can see someone like Malcolm Gladwell doing a book on social exposure, the degree to which we expose our personality and thoughts online and how that defines us. Are ‘mavens’ in Gladwell’s Tipping Point, likely to have large social networks and to divulge large amounts about their likes and dislikes on Twitter and Facebook? Are his ‘connectors’ the ones that simply drive the creation of social networks? I can see technology that analyzes people’s Facebook pages and then slots them in to Galdwell’s character types. Would that be useful for PR people? Maybe.


iPods disrupt another market

A friend is leaving for France next week with his family. They are doing the usual mix of Paris and Provence. He’s a fan of the Rick Steves‘ travel guides and TV series and has used his advice for many parts of the trip. One thing they are taking advantage of is a series of guides to places like the Louvre and Versailles that are available as a free download on the Rick Steves site. In other words you can download a podcast on to your iPod on all the places you think you may visit on your vacation and then simply call them up while you walk around the museum, castle or whatever it is you’re interested in. This saves potential expense, standing in line and you ending up with a handset trying to guide you in the wrong language (that happened to me when I was last in France – I got a guided tour of some Roman ruins in German. My German is non-exsitant).

Now of course it makes sense for a site like Rick Steves’ to offer these podcasts but I also wonder if it may also be worth Google and Microsoft adding these podcasts to their maps. So if you drill down on a map and see a museum, you could download the audio tour and perhaps even a video tour. Another idea would be for these museums or places of interest to offer a ‘pre tour’ introduction, giving you an idea of how long the tour will take, what you can expect to see, learn etc. It may include the items that would be of interest to young children or for that matter that would bore them. In other words it could guide you on how to get the most out of the… guide.

You may think this an obscure market and an obscure idea but given the popularity of the iPod and iPhone, I can see this changing the way we all enjoy and learn about our history. Imagine walking up to a Rodin sculpture at the Cantor Art Museum and being able to play a short video on your iPhone that shows you details you may have missed, gives you an insight into other pieces he created, or he may have taken from other artists etc. In short it gives us all the chance to learn and be entertained in a completely new way.


New York Times Ad Sales Plummet

Ad revenue for the NYT dropped an amazing 31.7% in the last quarter. This tells me two things:
1. Confidence in advertising is at an all time low. If people believed in advertising then even in these relatively depressed times, ad sales at the NYT should hold up relatively well. They haven’t, so they mustn’t.
2. People are turning to other platforms for advertising and to other forms of marketing. From what I’ve seen, few marketing budgets are being cut by over 30%. Indeed a 10% cut seems about normal year on year. So where are the dollars going? Given the NYT results are meant to include their web properties, it would suggest that the dollars must be going to other properties and other forms of marketing.
Last week I also noted a study that said only 3.5% of major news stories started life in the blogosphere. Indeed the coverage of the story (in the NYT) suggested that the blogosphere had been over hyped. My read was that I was actually impressed that from a standing start blogs had made this much impact on news. It suggested to me that within five years, we could easily see that metric rise to 10% and from there to a sizable minority.
Connecting these two news items may not be obvious but to me it demonstrates the pace of change in the media industry away from traditional news outlets. This endorses the view of many of us in PR that we must a) be investing in digital communications and b) we should be helping our clients understand the shift that is taking place.

Looking our best isn’t natural


I’ve been giving some thought recently as to why companies have to try to look their best. For some time I’d believed that looking your best was simply a matter of the right training and discipline and then eventually it would simply become second nature. When taking a photo of my eldest daughter I had a revelation. I asked her to smile. She duly obliged and I got my photo. She then went back to her more normal expression. In short she looked great for a few seconds. Of course like most people she wants to look her best most of the time. When I asked her why she didn’t smile like she did for the camera more often, she said “it’s too much like hard work.” Of course few, if any, people look their best all the time (I look awful most of the day and especially so in the mornings). So why do we expect companies to be any different? It’s also no wonder that like many of us who struggle to smile nicely for the camera, some companes that are trying to look their best, look like they are putting on a false face. I guess the real answer to all this is not to train companies to put on their ‘camera’ face but instead, teach them to exhibit their real qualities – and of course encourage the people observing them to use the right lense. Now say ‘cheese’.


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