Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Incredible Shrinking BusinessWeek

Check your newsstand for the August 3rd issue of BusinessWeek. No, the cover story isn’t the story (“The Incredible Shrinking Boomer Economy”) – even though it’s a very interesting read, especially to me (a boomer), and the reporting continues to rank among the most thoughtful in the business media. It’s the size of the publication itself, indicative of where the media and advertising dollars that support it are going – online. I counted 11 full pages and a few partial pages of advertising, not including the cover positions, that are attempting to pay the freight. When I saw the cover I did a double-take and wondered if it was a Freudian slip. I owe much of my business knowledge to reading BusinessWeek from cover to cover each week for years when I first entered business. Now I usually peruse the publication online since I don’t have the time to leisurely stroll through it myself. Apparently so do tens of thousands of others.

In fact, BusinessWeek’s print circulation continues to hover on or about 900,000, while its online readership continues to modestly grow (to 3.5 million unique visitors, up 1% from last year), as Nat Ives recently reported for Ad Age. With BusinessWeek’s future at stake as McGraw Hill seeks a buyer, even one of its own reporters, Bruce Nussbaum is brainstorming about what business model would work to keep it in business – a hybrid subscriber/advertiser model highlighted by “curated” conversations by smart editors or participants on business issues, or an elite subscriber print magazine at a higher fee.

In fact, most media consumption is going online – even for C-level executives – as my colleague Ken Makovsky wrote recently in his blog. A Forrester Research report earlier this year attested to the fact that BtoB marketers are racing to make up for lost time in adopting social media marketing into their plans -- 91% of of those who make buying decisions in the BtoB technology sector read blogs and watch user-generated video.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Social Media vs. eMail vs. PR

eMarketer recently published a very interesting article citing a Nielsen Online study that shows social networks and blogs edging out email in popularity among people in the U.S. and other leading digital countries worldwide.

At the same time, according to the article, an IDC study found email to be more effective than social media advertising with respect to customer acquisition. Forty-three percent of social network users NEVER click on ads in the medium, and of those that do click on them, only 11% purchase anything. Eighty percent of nonusers of social media click on ads and 23% of them purchase.

My view: public relations blows this out of the water. Relevant information that gets circulated via PR to the right places seems to spur action according to our early business-to-business campaigns. For one of our clients, for example, our campaign to bloggers got upwards of 30% of those targeted to visit our blogger resource site for more information.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

So Much for Lipstick on a Pig

A Cornell study shows that traditional media still beats social media to the news. In the study, reported by Steve Lohr of The New York Times only 3.5% of the time did news storylines originate in blogs and then find their way online. For the main, traditional news outlets have a 2.5 hour jump on the blogs according to this analysis of the last three months of the 2008 presidential campaign. The researchers used extensive web analytics, and while there may be some flaws in the methodology (e.g., it focused on soundbites that could be ‘fingerprinted’ and tracked across media), it’s considered a breakthrough piece of analysis. There were just a handful of blogs that were responsible for breaking news in this study.


In my view, using the presidential campaign may not have been the most relevant tactic for tracking the path of stories between traditional and social media. Most campaign rallies are closed to the general population and covered mainly by correspondents (for the most part from the mainstream media) – so it’s only natural coverage will originate most of the time from correspondents who travel with the candidates. That said, in our public relations campaigns for business-to-business companies, we find that getting a piece of coverage in the traditional media is often an important factor in seeing information spread through the social media, although the lag time for social media pick-up is longer, from days to weeks.


However, the study’s authors point out that even since this study was conducted last fall, the social media universe continues to morph quickly. The implication that if the study were done today, the results might be a little different.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Breathing Earth

Climate change may be among the most important issues facing us today.

If you’d like to see a hypnotically beautiful depiction of countries exhaling tons of CO2, visit the Breathing Earth, a beautiful—and scary—real-time simulation of the carbon dioxide emissions of every country in the world, as well as their birth and death rates, based on the latest available statistics from the United Nations Statistics Division and the CIA World Factbook.

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