“Quality” in Media = Usefulness

Advertising Age had an interesting article Wednesday – “Lowered Expectations: Web Redefines ‘Quality’” – regarding the challenges big media conglomerates have in a world in which publishing has been democratized. Here a couple of relevant excerpts:

Publishers from The New York Times to Condé Nast to NBC have been arguing for years that, ultimately, demand for quality would give them advantages over online upstarts: Users would demand it and advertisers would always covet the environment that quality can confer.

But they’re facing two trends that appear to be inexorable. Audiences that do not intently seek out quality are increasingly inured to traditional media brands on the web. At the same time, agencies and advertisers are adopting technologies that allow them to target individuals independent of whatever media they may be absorbing, making the media brand itself less important, perhaps even irrelevant.

“Today there seems to be a bigger premium on popularity — substantiated or not — than there is on authority,” said Group M CEO Rob Norman.

Big, established brands are the ones that least need the authority of media, and indeed many are adapting to a diminished world of old media by producing their own content. Where it starts to hurt are smaller brands that don’t have those advantages. Mr. Norman said it tends to be smaller brands that rely on the “the conferred quality, authority and scale of more traditional media forms to deliver brand messaging or persuade audiences.”

While I think this article highlights an important trend (that of quality being judged by average users instead of elites and big media brands), I have a bit of a different take. I agree that big brands that already have a substantial degree of trust have a great opportunity to create content and reach consumers directly, but I don’t see that smaller brands are terribly disadvantaged. They have an opportunity through the Web to reach “audiences” or “communities” directly, just as the more established brands do.

But whereas Mr. Norman says the new standard of quality seems to be “popularity” as opposed to “authority,” I think the real standard to be met is usefulness and trustworthiness. Web publishing enables real experts (for example, physicians and scientists) to contribute content, as an alternative to journalists and the mainstream media. So it’s not always popularity vs. authority; it can equally be one kind of authority (medical, scientific) vs. another type of authority (journalistic objectivity.)

The real opportunity for those who have been advertising is that instead of paying to interrupt consumers of quality media content with unwelcome marketing messages, they can produce content of their own that people actually want. That they find useful.

If TV Newsrooms Are Requiring Versatility…

…do you really think as a PR professional that you will be immune from the need to retool and innovate?

See what the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rosenthal reports today about restructuring at WMAQ-TV, Chicago’s NBC affiliate.

News producers, writers and editors at NBC-owned WMAQ-Ch. 5 were told Wednesday they must reapply for new multi-faceted positions, the demands of which reflect the station’s efforts to provide content not just for TV but the Internet, mobile devices and other emerging platforms.

The new jobs – with titles such as platform manager and content producer – are to be posted beginning Thursday, not just for internal candidates but outsiders as well.

In response to concerns about whether existing staff will be able to adapt, station manager Frank Whittaker says WMAQ plans to make training available.

Continue reading “If TV Newsrooms Are Requiring Versatility…”

Blogging 112: Pages vs. Posts

The great thing about blogs is that the newest and freshest material is always right at the top.

And the bad thing about blogs is that the newest material is always right at the top.

So you can write a great post, but over time it gets pushed further away from the front page, accessible only through the monthly archives and via Google.

That’s why Pages are a helpful alternative to Posts.

Pages become the overall high-level structure of your blog. So, for example, on this blog the Pages are

The Curriculum page is the “Parent” page for the Blogging, Core Courses, Facebook, Podcasting and Twitter curricula.

Then each page can have links to posts that have been done over time. So, for example, the Podcasting page has links to courses from Podcasting 101 through 110. These posts were written between March 31, 2008 and July 29, 2008. During that same time, I probably wrote a couple of dozen other posts, and I didn’t write the podcasting posts in numerical order.

By creating the Podcasting page, though, I could bring links to all of the podcasting-related posts together in one place, so that people stumbling upon SMUG (or one of the podcasting posts) can work through the related posts in a sequential manner.

As I write this post (part of the Blogging curriculum), it is Sept. 30, 2008. Soon it will be part of a previous month’s archive, and within a couple of weeks will be off the front page. But several months from now, when someone is wanting to learn all about blogging, she will start at Blogging 101 and work her way through.

Creating Pages is easy. In your WordPress dashboard, click the Write link:

Writing a Post is the default, but if you then click the Page link, you’ll be able to write a Page.

From that point, it’s just like writing a post, except a Page becomes part of your overall navigational structure.

Use Pages with care; once you start them you shouldn’t get rid of them. But if you need to bring order to your blog, Pages are important tools.

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Frost & Sullivan SEO Vital Viewpoints

Panelists for this session were:

It’s important to buy PPC to supplement your natural search. If you have a natural ranking, advertise there too. People are more likely to click the natural result, and you can double your natural clicks just by being there in the paid rankings, too.

H-P suggests writing for the web first instead of adapting print materials.

Val says you need to integrate end-to-end, and make sure your landing page matches the keyword you are buying in PPC. This is a science with a little bit of art. Testing is critical. Creative, keywords and landing page all need to relate.

Protect your real estate. Buy competitor names and buy your own name too. Put defensive money into the game.

Val’s don’ts:

  • Don’t think about search as a standalone strategy. It’s part of your mix. Have a single design team with cohesive campaigns.
  • Remember that there are other search engines besides Google and Yahoo. Some search engines are targeted to particular subject areas. Buy keywords in French in the Canadian market.
  • Test, test, test. Don’t set it and forget it. You need to check on this every day.

Yahoo Site Explorer and Google Webmaster Tools were recommended.