COM0011 – Blog post 6 – Survival of the fittest: are social media making traditional news media extinct?

 

Recently, I viewed a fascinating discussion on the future of traditional news outlets such as television and newspapers. Entitled “Media Watch”, the CBC news-panel discussion dealt with the future of print and network news in an age of social media. The discussion zeroed in on key trends and factors that are shaking the traditional news business to its very foundations.

Foremost among these trends is traditional television-broadcast news and newspapers are seeing their audience numbers in free-fall. In North America, for example, network news in the 1980s used to garner some 50 million viewers nightly; now, they’re lucky if they can get half that number.  News consumers, particularly the younger generation, are flocking to other formats and platforms like social media, where they can get their update of news when and how they want.

Audiences migrating to social media means ad revenue drops for traditional media

Advertising revenue sources for traditional media are drying up.  As audiences migrate toward the Internet and social media, so too do advertisers’ dollars.  Many readers and viewers no longer rely on traditional media as a vehicle both to get their news and to learn, for example, about sales at the local shopping mall.  The result:  traditional media such as newspapers find themselves with less and less ad revenue to fund their operations, including hiring reporters. This leads to a decline in these outlets’ ability to pay for gathering the “hard” news associated with traditional news networks. Instead, these outlets may be forced to chase advertisers’ dollars through such things as “branded” content, which may cross the line from information into entertainment.  This in turn can further erode the credibility and trustworthiness of traditional media, and therefore reduce their perceived value, at least in the eyes of many of their traditional audience (read “boomers and older”).

Where have you gone, Walter Cronkite?

The panelists also discussed the notion of skepticism among younger audiences. Many no longer seem to trust traditional media outlets in the way audiences used to.  News anchor Walker Cronkite (for those of you old enough to remember) was virtually unchallenged as the “voice of God” back in the 1950s and 60s. The credibility old-style news anchors enjoyed back then does not seem to have translated into the digital age. Now, users will check several internet or social media sites to verify if what they’re hearing is valid, but have no enduring loyalty to a given news channel. This trend further erodes the influence, power and profitability of traditional media.

Who or what defines “news” now?

Those participating in the panel discussion nevertheless defended traditional news outlets, maintaining there is still a need for someone or something to filter or curate the “real” news.  Once upon a time budding journalists needed to go to journalism school, and then gradually earn their stripes as reporters under the watchful eye of various editors and publishers/owners. Now, anyone can create “news” in the sense of a story that gets worldwide attention (witness the recent viral saga of “the dress”). The question:  when something goes viral does that necessarily mean it is of significance?  Indeed, in an age of social media when virtually anyone can produce “news,” who and what can the average person have faith in for legitimate news?

Another point raised by the panelists is the challenge, particularly faced by traditional news outlets, to include an appropriate level of detail in the news. Whereas in the past traditional television and newspapers could generally count on the fact their audiences had little prior knowledge of the news of the day, today social media may break stories faster than their traditional news counterparts. From a content standpoint, it is more and more challenging for traditional news outlets to tailor their stories to the knowledge level of their audience, and do so in a timely way, making traditional outlets’ job even more difficult.

Traditional news outlets:  RIP within five years?

The panel discussion concluded with predictions about whether traditional television news and newspapers would still be around in five years. Consensus was while traditional news outlets might still exist, their role and significance would be reduced:  they might possibly shore up their role by adapting to the inclinations of their millennial audience for shorter, menu-driven, and on-demand formats.  But the jury was still out on their long-term survival.

How do you see the evolution of news in our society? Is the traditional newspaper or television news format featuring appointment viewing (the 10 p.m. news) with a news anchor delivering a pre-determined line-up of curated stories on the way out? How do you see social media fulfilling the news gathering role?

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UPDATE – Blog 5 – COM11- Personal branding: Safeguarding your child’s online reputation now can pay school and job dividends in the future

graphic 1While I was recently surfing things Internet, I came across an intriguing site that highlights a new phase in efforts both to curtail cyberbullying and to promote a prudently managed online reputation for children.  The movement, as explained on the site, originates in southern California. It aims to make parents and children aware today about the potential risks in the future that post-secondary institutions or employers might search a person’s online history to see if anything turns up that might compromise that person as a candidate for study or employment.  For example, those selfies of 13-year-olds availing themselves of a questionable substance might have seemed innocuous once upon a time.  However, the images might take on a different context ten years from now when those same students are applying to law school, and school admission officers happen upon pictures of their (mis)adventures on Google.

 

Avoid “dad fail”

A heightened sense of reputation management as part of personal branding was brought home to me in a very immediate, if not quite comical, way recently.  My son casually mentioned that he has a student computer-account at his primary school. This enables the school authorities to monitor what he is viewing, for example, on the YouTube channel at home.  Just as casually, he mentioned he has occasionally gotten up from the computer but not necessarily shut off the school-account monitoring function.  I, his dad, recall having logged on to YouTube after my son unwittingly failed to log off from it while in his school account, and I was thus unaware that the school authorities could still monitor me. This is not to say things I was viewing were too risqué you understand, though I couldn’t say categorically that every video I viewed would have passed his Catholic school’s propriety test!  Oops, “dad fail.”  Moral of the story for dad:  safeguarding your, and your child student’s, online reputation is something you have to watch closely, carefully and regularly.

The “safesmartsocial”web site in question offers a number of tips to help ensure a “clean” online presence for parents and children, including:  

 Monitor

Parents should check what their child is posting, including posts the child initiates as well as comments he or she may receive or forward about others.  Anything questionable should be flagged and consequences (such as barring access to the computer) applied as need be.

Keep an eye on who they connect withgraphic 2 magnifying-glass

Consider it a given that any person your child is connecting to and from, including posts and tags, can be found; in other words, such activity may not ever be able to be completely erased from the social media platform on which it was originated.  Any dubious person or thing your child or your child’s friends are involved with posting today may resurface in the future, with unintended and unfortunate results.

 Keep it uncluttered and clean

The advice on the website is to review the content on social media the child has access to, and update it to make sure that there is nothing dated, irrelevant, or perhaps questionable, if seen by others, perhaps a year or two or more from now.

Focus on building a positive digital footprint

wrench imageA final suggestion on the website:   encourage children to use social media in a positive way to showcase their achievements, talent and potential.  Doing so will solidify students’ online reputation and enhance their opportunities to be considered, for example, for scholarship or job applications in the future in the event school admissions officers or employers Google them.

 

Now, if I can just finish that apology letter to my son’s school principal about my surfing the Kardashian and AC/DC videos…:)

What’s your take? Should parents and children today be exercising greater discretion and judgement about what they post online today and how it could affect their prospects for the future?


Clip art credits: 1) clipartpanda.com; 2) Hit Toon *illustrations Of.com 1095593; 3) clipartpanda.com

 

Blog 5 – COM 0011- Personal branding: Safeguarding your child’s online reputation today can pay school and job dividends tomorrow

 

While I was recently surfing things Internet, I came across an intriguing site that highlights a new phase in efforts both to curtail cyberbullying and to promote a prudently managed online reputation for children.  The movement, as explained on the site, originates in southern California. It aims to make parents and children aware today about the potential risks in the future that post-secondary institutions or employers might search a person’s online history to see if anything turns up that might compromise that person as a candidate for study or employment.  For example, those selfies of 13-year-olds availing themselves of a questionable substance might have seemed innocuous once upon a time.  However, the images might take on a different context ten years from now when those same students are applying to law school, and school admission officers happen upon pictures of their (mis)adventures on Google.

 

Avoid “dad fail”

A heightened sense of reputation management as part of personal branding was brought home to me in a very immediate, if not quite comical, way recently.  My son casually mentioned that he has a student computer-account at his primary school. This enables the school authorities to monitor what he is viewing, for example, on the YouTube channel at home.  Just as casually, he mentioned he has occasionally gotten up from the computer but not necessarily shut off the school-account monitoring function.  I, his dad, recall having logged on to YouTube after my son unwittingly failed to log off from it while in his school account, and I was thus unaware that the school authorities could still monitor me. This is not to say things I was viewing were too risqué you understand, though I couldn’t say categorically that every video I viewed would have passed his Catholic school’s propriety test!  Oops, “dad fail.”  Moral of the story for dad:  safeguarding your, and your child student’s, online reputation is something you have to watch closely, carefully and regularly.

The “safesmartsocial”web site in question offers a number of tips to help ensure a “clean” online presence for parents and children, including:  

 Monitor

Parents should check what their child is posting, including posts the child initiates as well as comments he or she may receive or forward about others.  Anything questionable should be flagged and consequences (such as barring access to the computer) applied as need be.

Keep an eye on who they connect with

Consider it a given that any person your child is connecting to and from, including posts and tags, can be found; in other words, such activity may not ever be able to be completely erased from the social media platform on which it was originated.  Any dubious person or thing your child or your child’s friends are involved with posting today may resurface in the future, with unintended and unfortunate results.

 Keep it uncluttered and clean

The advice on the website is to review the content on social media the child has access to, and update it to make sure that there is nothing dated, irrelevant, or perhaps questionable, if seen by others, perhaps a year or two or more from now.

Focus on building a positive digital footprint

A final suggestion on the website:   encourage children to use social media in a positive way to showcase their achievements, talent and potential.  Doing so will solidify students’ online reputation and enhance their opportunities to be considered, for example, for scholarship or job applications in the future in the event school admissions officers or employers Google them.

 

Now, if I can just finish that apology letter to my son’s school principal about my surfing the Kardashian and AC/DC videos…:)

What’s your take? Should parents and children today be exercising greater discretion and judgement about what they post online today and how it could affect their prospects for the future?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog 4 – COM 0011 – Branding: Can the “Big Apple” rev up Cadillac to catch Porsche?

A discussion of branding can lead to a certain ambivalence or skepticism about the term, and what it stands for. This skepticism extends, in my mind, to certain aspects of corporate car branding, and I wonder if these questions can also feature in notions of personal branding. For example, is building a brand really founded on authentic, credible reputation management or could some of it be classified as “smoke and mirrors?”

 

Image result for free clip art automobile            Versus                          

 

A case in point:  I heard a recent media report  saying that behemoth carmaker General Motors (GM) was moving its Cadillac marketing staff from Detroit to New York City – not the actual design, engineering and manufacturing staff mind you, just the marketing people.  Apparently, the high-end luxury models Cadillac sells are losing market share to foreign upscale brands such as Porsche. The corporate thinking behind GM’s move appears to be that by moving the marketing and branding employees to a trendy district in the Big Apple, “the bright lights of the big city” will impart more cachet to the Cadillac brand.  Eventually, the thought seems to be, the perceived “sizzle” of New York will be reflected in the Cadillac brand, thereby enabling it to better compete with its upmarket German rival.

I’m curious about the wisdom of GM’s decision to relocate its Cadillac marketing staff. Admittedly, the Big Apple is known for having high-profile and sophisticated cultural, artistic and media life. On the other hand, for example, a significant number, perhaps even the majority, of residents of New York are known to favour the subway, train, bus or some other non-car form of travel in the city, particularly when commuting to and from work.  Compared to the more freewheeling car culture of say, Los Angeles, New York’s predominant car orientation seems to be decidedly “pedestrian” (pun intended).

Image result for free clip art new york skyline

Will GM’s marketing staff be able to translate the hipster vibe of New York into an enhanced Cadillac brand?  Or, is the world-class cachet of New York even enough to overcome the limitations of engineering and manufacturing that may be inherent in the Cadillac product.  In other words:  can or should the hype of the “sizzle” overcome the drawbacks of the “steak?” My sense is solid branding can enhance solid engineering, but unless the product is solid at the outset the resulting “disconnect” between what is said to be offered and what is actually offered  can be problematic for the brand.

Brandchannel, a website dedicated to discussing brands, talks about discipline and quality being two key features of car manufacturing and branding. In other words, build a better product and you can brand accordingly.  This appears to be a key part of German car manufacturers’ approach, such as Porsche’s. Interestingly though, according to marketer Terry O’Reilly on a recent episode of his CBC radio program, “Under The Influence” , even though many German car brands including Porsche are ranked highly by the owners for their “gratification” (brand perception) in owning one, the German brands are not necessarily highly ranked in surveys of vehicle dependability. In fact, in many cases, German luxury carmakers trail by a large margin other brands such as the Japanese (Lexus) in vehicle quality.  So even when the brand perception (gratification) of initial quality is evident, actual ongoing vehicle quality may not be!

What do the Cadillac and Porsche branding experiences suggest about personal branding?   How do we best ensure that our personal brand is a credible and authentic image that is consistent with our own “product” offering?

 

 

 

Blog 3, COMOO11 – A selfie stick, a President’s policy agenda and social media

My wife, son and I were, as we often do, scanning our computers on a recent snowy Saturday night, looking to see what was out and about on media, both conventional and social. My wife had earlier caught a glimpse on regular CBC news of President Obama’s video clip recently released on Buzzfeed. The three of us then went to view buzzfeed.com to see what all the fuss was about and what 13 million viewers to date had already seen.

obama

 

The President’s video was interesting from a number of perspectives. My 11-year-old son chimed in that the President presented himself “in a new fresh, even hip, way.” My wife allowed as how it showed the President “as relaxed, open, and trying to reach out to the public. Even the way the way his cookie got stuck in his glass when tried to dip it in his milk, and he said (in mock reference to himself) ‘thanks Obama’ created a bit of a chuckle,” she said. For those of you who haven’t seen the video in its entirety, it essentially shows the President making faces in front of a mirror, playing with a selfie stick, doing a drawing of his wife, and otherwise busting out a few informal behaviours for the camera.

At the same time as the President is presenting himself in this down-to-earth, “President as everyday citizen” way, I picked up on an item of note: almost imperceptible in the President’s chuckle-inducing attempts to pronounce “Febru-ary 15” was a reference to the deadline for signing up for affordable health care (“Obamacare”). My sense is that the President’s video succeeded in classic social-media style:  the friendly pitch to register by the deadline was camouflaged in the President’s comic mugging for the camera. The pitch was integrated smoothly and subtly into the overall flow of the video.  It didn’t come across as a jarring reminder to sign up, but more as something you gradually became aware of to put on your ‘to-do’ list, as the video unfolded.

I think the President’s use of social media to advance a policy agenda (encouraging registration for health care) was a brilliantly effective move. What do you think? Can you see the Prime Minister of Canada using social media in a similarly light-hearted way to promote the government’s policies?

Blog no 2. – LinkedIn for business – COM0011

Blog number 2 – COM0011
LinkedIn – Social Networking for Business

Many of you are familiar with LinkedIn (LI), a professional networking site. Last week, Algonquin College hosted a speaker from LI, who delivered a presentation about it. The presenter, Donna Alexander, works for the company and so naturally has a favourable bias toward it. Still, points from her presentation entitled “The Power of LinkedIn” about building your profile, developing your network, and marketing yourself resonated with me. I’ve summarized key ones below.

The speaker cited a number of statistics: some 48% of traffic on LI is on mobile. 13 per cent of LI members are students and recent grads, and 49 per cent of LI users are in North and South America.

According to Ms. Anderson, some 10 million of members out of 19 million professionals in Canada are on LI, as are over 200,000 students and recent graduates in Canada, and more than 200 post-secondary institutions in Canada.

First of all, she noted it is important to get your profile right. This starts with having a good, professional photograph. According to Ms. Alexander recruiters are much more receptive to hiring those who have an appropriate, business-like photo of themselves.

Next, choose an appropriate, engaging headline as part of your profile. This is a key part of marketing yourself in a professional light. Don’t forget, she says, to play up your education and experience in your profile, including volunteer work which can be used to help flesh out a resume that may be short of actual paid work experience. Try for a 100% completion of your profile, she says, to maximize the effectiveness of your brand.

Other ideas for enhancing your presence on LI include using your inbox (messages you receive from other LI members) to comment. This will help bolster your credentials as an influencer or thought leader on LI. You can also join various professional online groups – there may be one related to your educational program – that will help boost your networking and personal marketing potential.

Through LI you can provide and accept “endorsements”. These are essentially testimonials from others about your skills and expertise. Receiving these testimonials from others — and offering to return the favour to others as appropriate – is a good way of strengthening your network.

Ms. Alexander did sound a few cautionary notes. LI is not the place, she advises, to get into “TMI” – too much information. Whether it’s politics or religion, or other controversial topics (including your last blowout party in residence), LI is not the place.  Save them for your “latest and greatest” post on a personal social media site.

How do you see LI as a recruiting tool in your job search?

 

An e-odyssey begins

For a little-long-in-the-tooth corporate communicator like me, an introductory course in social media seemed to me an effective way of upping my game for the 21st century world of digital communications.

While making my way through instructor Rob’s electronic course materials, I came across one of the recommended background readings, a book entitled, “Socialnomics.” What better way to combine business and pleasure on my family’s trip down south last week, I thought, than to read up on the accumulated social-media knowledge of an expert author.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have an opportunity to obtain the book, either in hard copy or electronic copy, before leaving on our planned Caribbean cruise departing from Tampa, Florida. This won’t be a problem, I surmised, if push came to shove, surely I’d be able to find a Barnes and Noble (BN) bookstore outlet in Tampa before we got on the ship. So before we left, I googled “BN” and determined that there was indeed an outlet in Tampa about three miles from the hotel we were staying at prior to getting on the ship. As an avid walker, I felt that this distance didn’t present too difficult a challenge. The only potential issue: would I have time to make the trip on foot to BN and back to the hotel before catching the shuttle to make it to the ship on time.

I mentioned my “plan” to my wife She fixed me with one of those “wifely” looks — a little quizzical, a little annoyed. She also happens to be way more digitally savvy than yours truly. “Why don’t you just download the book from the Kobo website,” she said. “You can save yourself a five-mile walk through who knows what sketchy parts of downtown Tampa, not to mention, you’ll get the e-version a few bucks cheaper than the hard copy, and you can borrow my Kobo e-reader during the cruise!” Hmmmm…looks like maybe my wife should be taking this course.

Anyway, the downloaded book was a good read and provided a lot of solid background information. The only thing I have to work on now: getting myself a tablet or smart phone. You see, I wrote out this blog on a pad of paper “borrowed” from the Tampa Holiday Inn! Oh well, if my wife isn’t available to give me a hand, I’m sure our 11-year-old son won’t hesitate to give his dad some helpful advice on the next steps in my discovery of social media.