Posts Tagged new media

RIP, Geocities

My second thought upon reading the news that Geocities will be shut down later this year was: that’s kind of bittersweet. My first thought, of course, was: wait… Geocities is still around?!

Apparently, it is. For now, at least. Geocities was purchased by Yahoo! in 1999 for 5 billion dollars. Kara Swisher has a fab retrospective (along with her original article about the purchase) at All Things Digital. While most of the discussion of Geocities’ death this week has revolved around its implications for VCs and the current crop of Web 2.0 investments, the thing that struck me more immediately was the contrast between the hyper-literal Geocities Internet of 1999, and the “everything ends in R” Internet of 2009. Indulge my memory for just a moment…

Geocities began as a personal website hosting service in 1994, in a period of time when most people’s understanding of the Internet relied very very heavily on literal interpretations of analogies. Consider: “world wide web,” “information superhighway,” “bulletin board systems (BBS)”… (this was before the “series of tubes” framework had gained widespread acceptance, by the way).

Accordingly, Geocities took a highly literal approach to peddling web sites – sorry, home pages – by offering users addresses modeled on actual neighborhoods, streets, and house numbers, grouping pages on similar topics in the same neighborhood. I know of no technological justification for this, but I do know that in 1994 it was totally normal to be the only one among your friends and family who had a website, and to explain, “It’s www dot geocities dot com, slash SouthBeach, slash Sands, slash 8990. You can see all my favorite quotes from Friends there and listen to MIDIs of Hootie & The Blowfish songs.”

To Yahoo!’s credit, they discontinued the neighborhood-based structure shortly after purchasing the site. A pretty bold move coming from a company whose original purpose was to create a static, manually-updated directory of all web sites. For nostalgia’s sake, though, here is a list of Geocities neighborhoods of yore. Farewell, Geocities. You were adorable while you lasted… and boy did you last.

Any other cute or hilarious memories of the 1999 Internet? Share in the comments. My own favorite Geocities eulogy so far is by a designer/writer/artist named Atherton Bartleby, and can be found here.


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March Communications in PRWeek


March Communications appeared in the March 30th issue of PRWeek!  Martin Jones recently spoke with Nicole Zerillo on the growing use of webcasts and online tactics to reach global audiences. 

We’ve found it to be a very successful tool for providing visual components to news announcements and supporting tradeshows.clip_image0022

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Baby Boomers and Social Media

Social media is huge today—it seems everyone is using it for everything.

However, it is assumed Baby Boomers (those born between 1946-1964) do not use social media. As advertisers and PR professionals have begun using social media as an outlet, it has become a concern, and even problematic to these professionals—how can a message reach this demographic?

No more worrying… a new study came out; stating that Baby Boomers are the fastest growing users of social media—more so than Generation Y. The Baby Boomers are using sites like Facebook and Twitter, reading blogs and listening to podcasts. Within the last year there was a major increase of usage, below is a chart which outlines the adoption of services by each generation.


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Tool Academy

So you’ve got your head around an integrated social media strategy… now what?

As a necessary caveat – we don’t condone starting to ‘do’ social media based on which tools everyone’s talking about (also known as the “we’ve gotta get on that Twitter!” mentality). With that said, it can be daunting to approach the practical aspects, how-tos, dos and don’ts of using specific media.

Soon we’ll be launching an area on PR Nonsense that keeps track of these particulars of using and intelligently reaping the benefit of social media tools – the elements that come after social media strategy. Of course, this is a resource that can never be complete, so to speak. Considering the pace of growth and change in this area, both the best tools for your objectives and the best practices surrounding them are a constantly moving target. So we’ll be collecting and featuring, on an ongoing basis, the best resources and hands-on tool guides we can find.

As we begin to compile these resources, what are some you’d recommend? The more current and specific, the better. General websites and blogs about social media are great, but an article titled “16 Ways YouTube Won’t Help You Grow Your Business” is better.*

Here’s a good starting point for getting familiar with the tools we’re talking about: Brian Solis’ Conversation Prism (the latest version of the prism can be viewed here). This is a consistently updated graphical representation of social media tools by category, useful for comparing tools within each category, but brilliant for exploring the purpose of one type of tool versus another.

* This article has never been written, to our knowledge, but it certainly ought to be!

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The good, the bad and the ugly

Some interesting, some ridiculous and some sublime stories online last week about the state of the media industry and the future of the PR industry…

Let’s start with the interesting one.

PR Week reported that  the media industry is in a real crisis with 2009 potentially its worst year yet.

According to ‘The State of the News Media Report” , people are flooding online but online ad models aren’t going to generate anything like the same revenues as offline (is that really still a surprise?). The report actually concluded that classified advertising at newspapers could be nonexistent within five years!  The recession of course isn’t going to help…

This is the backdrop for the “urgent need for change”, “industry dying on its feet” PR nonsense / detritus that came out of the SXSW conference too.

Now, the Pew Study revealed that while nearly four in 10 Americans go online for news, up 19% from two years ago, they are still largely visiting online news sites like the NY Times (5th) and Tribune papers (6th) – although CNN, MSNBC and Yahoo News were the top three.  Nonetheless even the most popular blogs were nowhere near the top 10 in terms of traffic numbers.

But, according to commentators at SWSW, media relations as we know it is already dead and PR agencies are a dying breed. For me, this falls into the category of ridiculous.

Why on earth would PR agencies not be relevant just because the media landscape is changing? If you consider PR agents as brokers of information, then the more diversity that exists in the channels through which we can communicate the greater our potential.  Most of the people who are fueling this fire have launched agencies that claim to shun traditional PR techniques in favor of new “cutting edge” media techniques – the likes of which a normal PR agency is just incapable of comprehending.  Like rich media content creation (taking that enormous step from the written word to the spoken one) and social media press releases (really, how can those words even be used together!?).

In reality of course, intelligent PR people will just evolve their skills in tune with the evolving media (and non-media) landscape, adopting and incorporating new tactics and strategies as they always have.

And now the sublime – and I don’t think I have ever read a more ridiculous piece, dressed up as it is as an independent issues-based contribution to Ad Week.  No wonder the media are going out of business if this is the sort of thing they are willing to put their name to.

Who Owns Social Media – a clue:  don’t look to digital agencies or PR shops

Written by a guy who just launched his own…wait for it….social media agency.

“But don’t take my word for it. Continue to vest your future in companies that build elaborate destination Web sites, construct parties that nobody shows up to and deliver ostensibly social solutions that reek of control, manipulation and fakery.”

Now there’s a bit of competition bashing that smacks of desperation to me!

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Do you KNOW the media…?

How important is it that your agency knows your target media?

This is a question that comes up time and time again with prospects as they evaluate whether an agency is the right fit or not.

But honestly, should this really be the gauge of whether an agency is going to get you the results you need?

I think not.

You don’t necessarily need to know the media personally in order to successfully place editorial.

What you do need is an understanding of what that media is trying to achieve and how that fits with your client’s story and objectives. Obviously, the more you know a journalist the more informed you will be on what they are interested in writing about, and indeed upcoming opportunities. But we all know that most PR people overstate their relationships with the press.

In this day and age, there are many ways of finding out what journalists are interested in and looking for, and many ways of researching what they have written about before and are therefore interested in.

Twitter, HARO, Google, Vocus, ProfNet – these are just a few of the many many resources out there helping PR people ‘know’ the media.

We’ve shown time and again that we can get top coverage for clients in sectors we have never worked before.

So it’s really not who you know, it’s about making sure you understand the media and what it is trying to achieve with its audience.

All this… “I can place any story for you Mr. Client because I have your target media in my back pocket” is quite frankly….PR Nonsense.

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Googled yourself lately?

From Seth Godin this week: Personal Branding in the Age of Google.

It surprises me a bit to see Godin writing about such a well-trodden subject. Hasn’t it been the “age of Google” for almost a decade now? While his post is about all of the well-known ways Google search results can hurt you in the professional sphere, there’s been far less attention paid to how the relative permanence and authority ranking by Google can help your branding – as an organization or as an individual.

A quick Googling of my own name turned up about fourteen pages of results filled with (in order of appearance):

I’d say this is a pretty accurate and fair representation of who I am, what I’ve done, and where my professional and personal expertise lies. And for a person with a relatively uncommon last name, I have a fairly long Google record. This is unsurprising; I live a lot of my life on the Internet, and don’t expend too much effort trying to keep things from showing up in Google results… as Godin advises, “The best plan is to overload Google with a long tail of good stuff and to always act as if you’re on Candid Camera, because you are.”

I am predicting, however, that the matter of maintaining one’s own Google presence will become both more urgent and more complicated in the future. Employers, prospects, and customers will start being as concerned about what isn’t discoverable about you on Google as what is. Claim to be an expert on a subject, but Google can’t find any articles you’ve written on it? Advertise that your company has top tier customer service, but it has no presence on social networking sites, and no visible responses to conversations about your product? While there may have been perfectly valid excuses for these scenarios five years ago, this is not the case today.

It’s tough (and in some cases impossible) to erase the online record of things you wish you’d never done or said. But it’s never too late to start doing the opposite – leaving a long-term trail of realistic, flattering, and credible evidence to support the values of your brand.

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