Learfield InterActive: Crafting Content for the Long Tail
What do we do?
We help clients build relationships with their unique audience by giving the audience information it wants and values, in place of the traditional corporate blah, blah, blah. Our clients don't just advertise. They educate, entertain and inform.
Young people are congregating here, but I confess--I'm a little bit lost when it comes to these sites. Anyone know of a good spot to get up-to-date? Or is it just a matter of creating a profile and jumping in? (I've got a MySpace username, but when I login, I feel like some old guy who hangs out on a college campus to scope out the chicks.)
I think it's interesting to note that there are several parrallels that can be drawn between this new "created" media and the early days of both radio and television - where corporate sponsors were responsible for producing as well as paying for the content.
I've had a similar thought. What's so inherently bad, for example, about GM producing a program about cars? As long as we know it's produced by GM, can't we just enjoy the show? If it turns into a commercial for GM, we'll figure it out. We're all smart kids here.
GM knows cars. Maybe they'd have something interesting to say on the subject, y'think?
MicroPersuasioncompares and contrasts "created media" with "earned media." "Created media" is the stuff a company (or organization) produces on its own. "Earned media" is the coverage a company (or organization) gets from TV, radio, newspaper, etc. I commented there, but here are my thoughts on the issue:
"Created media" makes a lot of sense for several reasons, in the long run. The main one is that companies (or nonprofit organizations) are experts in their respective fields.
We've all had the experience of listening to a reporter talk about something we know a lot about -- and hearing the reporter completely botch it. It's not entirely the reporter's fault--a reporter can't be an expert in everything, after all. So although a place will remain for third-party media, the splintered audience will eventually find experts. Those experts often are the ones who are in the business already. Over time, the businesses that excel will be the ones who most successfully communicate their expertise to their interested niche audience, and build the loyalty that drives business.
Steve Rubel notes that the most popular blogs seem to be centered around similar topics: politics, tech, entertainment/gossip, etc. And he wonders what that means for blogs about less popular topics like art, health and travel.
Are these blogs out there? For sure. However, they don't have the same
level of activity, community or influence that blogs that, say, focus
on Google have. On the other hand, every one of these same sectors has
one or more publications or a section of publication that carries huge
influence. So clearly, there's a splintering going on here between the
blog and the media worlds.
So what does that mean? From a practical standpoint, not much, I think. The theory of the Long Tail tells us that it's possible to make a go of it by focusing on a very small, but loyal niche audience. But it doesn't tell us that things like hit movies, or best-selling books, or really popular blogs will go away. There will always be large audiences and small audiences. The key for those of us along the Long Tail is to focus on refining our message precisely to hit the niche audience we're aiming at, rather than to broaden our aim to include a bigger niche. It's about loyalty, not numbers.
I got to tag along with Steve Mays for his panel appearance at a meeting of PR folks, titled "Revolution in PR Technology: Take Command of the Technologies That Are Transforming the Practice of PR -- Blogs, podcasting, wikis, RSS, and audio streaming technologies are transforming the world of communications." Steve and two others were trying to explain the wide world of wikis, blogs, podcasts, and RSS to about 260 PR professionals in an hour. I don't envy them. You can find lots more details of the event, including audio (23mb MP3), at the site Steve created.
I was especially impressed with the information presented by Richard Callow from Public Eye. He's done a lot of the work for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, who's blogging and podcasting. A few snippets of information from his presentation:
Their first blog was created by a young press aide, and reported mostly on the campaign's inner workings.
Soon, the blog was getting more traffic than the regular campaign site, and was driving traffic to the campaign site.
The blog was usually a half-day ahead of TV coverage and a full day ahead of newspaper.
The mayor now gets media calls and questions about the things he posts to his blog.
They have not advertised the current blog site, but they get 9,000 visitors per week. Each weekly podcast is downloaded 3,000 times. Those numbers are growing.
We've talked to some campaigns about helping with blogging and podcasting, and we've seen some initial interest. The success story of Mayor Slay's site will be something to show other politicians as a model for how it works, when it's done right.
Beth and Amy Gahran have some interesting thoughts on blogging and its use by nonprofits. Count me firmly in the "Nonprofits should be blogging--yesterday" camp. But Beth and Amy are doing some good thinking about whether it's always the right solution. According to Beth's Blog:
Like all technology tools, we aren't going to see all nonprofits adopt all the tools. However, I think there are probably some places where it does make sense for some nonprofits to use blogging and the other Web 2.0 tools. Perhaps there may some scaffolded ways to introduce the use of these tools to realize outcomes like knowledge sharing, organizational learning, or efficiency.
Amy adds, "Although weblogs get a lot of attention currently, I think it's important to recognize -- and respect -- the spectrum of options and tastes. I really do believe that, when it comes to conversational media, there can (or at least, there should be) something for everyone...
Amy's got a point when she says not everyone will say they like "blogs." But that depends on what you mean by a blog. Blogs are pretty flexible tools. I believe a lot of people read them and don't even realize they're looking at a blog.
I'm coming to believe that most organizations should make a "blog" their main face on the Internet. That doesn't mean we all need to ditch our static pages, but a "blog" should be front and center, because that's where the dynamic conversation is going to take place. And nonprofits, just like for-profits, are all about the conversation; the relationships; the trust. A blog doesn't have to look like a blog. But it's such a valuable, flexible tool for conversing with donors, customers, clients, etc., I think anyone who refuses to adopt a blog, in some form, is missing the boat.
Via Micropersuasion: The president of Sun Microsystems, Jonathan Schwartz, says Sun turned its business around through blogging.
“We've moved from the information age to the participation age, and
trust is the currency of the participation age”, Schwartz said.
“Companies need to speak with one voice and be authentic. Blogging
allows you to speak out authentically on your own behalf, and in the
long run people will recognize that. Do it consistently and they trust
Amy Gahran over at The Right Conversation is musing about the best way to describe "conversational media" in 10 words or less. Well, I've been an editor for 10 years, so slashing word count is one of the things I can actually do. The first thing I've come up with is this:
Conversational media is (where)....
...two-way communication builds trusted relationships, ultimately increasing sales.
My favorite of Amy's is, "...The "audience" gets heard alongside the publisher." It's short. Seven words. But I dunno...it seems to leave out a lot of what this brave new world is all about. Then again, it's just an elevator speech--guess it doesn't have to convey everything.
Legendary literary figure Napoleon Dynamite once opined, "Girls only want to date a guy who has great skills."
Like the girls in Napoleon's school, we, too, are looking for someone with great skills. We don't ask that you be good with nunchuks, or be able to hack into a computer. But we do need someone who "gets" this Web 2.0 thing, and who understands the concept of the Long Tail. And above all, we need someone who can get out there and sell potential clients on the skills our company already possesses: writing and telling stories and, ultimately, communicating. So how do we find someone who has sales & marketing experience, and also understands this brave new world? Post it to the blog--or at least, that's my hope. If you're interested, email me using the link over on the right side of the page.