Native Advertising: When it’s good, it’s very very good

I’m not a big fan of native advertising. But I have to admit that this video worked for me. It made me miss my own King Charles Spaniel. It made me want to rush out and bring home a puppy. And it made me think positively about Puppy Chow. A content marketing and native advertising trifecta. Emotion tapped. Intent formed. Positive connection (with the brand) established.

Marketers take note: Make video for mobile users

New research from Google and Ipsos MediaCT provides further evidence that the future belongs to mobile and the future of mobile is video.

According to Google,

  • “people who view videos on their phones are 1.4X as likely to watch ads as those who view videos on desktop computers or televisions.
  • “Smartphone viewers are 1.6X as likely as TV viewers to turn to their peers in person and talk about the video content they’re watching.”
  • “smartphone video viewers were nearly 2X as likely as TV viewers to feel a sense of personal connection to brands that show video content or ads on their devices and 1.3X as likely as desktop viewers.”
  • More than 50% of the smartphone video viewers we surveyed said they used video to help them make product decisions in stores or on company websites…” and
  • one in three shoppers actually prefers to use a smartphone to find additional information rather than ask a store employee for help….”

Video has an impact on our online behaviour and our in-person behaviour. So, if it hasn’t already, it’s time for marketers to adopt a new perspective on video.

Are you thinking about your mobile audience when you produce video? Are you producing video that works best on the smaller screen? Or are you still producing video with the desktop in mind?

The world is going mobile. Are you?

 

Best Practice: Disclosure by a Journalist

In the world of native advertising, sponsored content, journalists supplementing their income with paid speaking gigs and the freelance economy, it’s hard sometimes to know where “news” content is coming from and what has influenced it. The personal disclosure statement is a helpful tool in identifying potential sources of influence and conflict of interest.

Trust matters

David Akin

David Akin

David Akin is a capable journalist who found himself, along with 200 others, out of a job when the Sun News Network ceased broadcasting last week. I’ve followed his Twitter feed, Facebook profile  and online writing for several years. So, when news broke that Sun News Network, where he hosted a nightly news program, had abruptly shut down, I wondered how this would affect him. Yesterday morning, he posted a piece on the Maclean’s site about Sun News and its controversial programming. And at the bottom of the post, he included a link to DavidAkin.com. I clicked on it out of curiosity to see what is there. Basically, it’s an online business card site. But with one very important distinguisher. One of the clearest disclosure statements I’ve seen from a journalist. Here’s Akin’s disclosure in full:

DISCLOSURE: I am a freelance journalist and, as result, the journalism I do is paid for by the news organizations that purchase it. I receive no fees, considerations, etc. for organizations or individuals I write about or speak about. I may, from time to time, accept speaking engagements from non-news organizations. I will endeavour to keep a list of those here. I am not, nor have I ever been during my 30 years as a professional journalist, a member of any political party. No member of my immediate family is a member of or campaigns on behalf of any political party. Neither I nor anyone in my immediate family own shares or equity in any corporation or business. Any investments I have are in widely-held mutual funds. If you think other disclosures are appropriate in this space, I’d like to hear from you. All of my contact details are always at www.davidakin.com.

Pretty clear. No equivocation. Akin clearly draws a line about what he does and doesn’t do. The man’s not for sale to corporate interests. In this era of equivocation about journalistic standards, David Akin’s disclosure stands out like a breath of fresh air. I wish every journalist could be this straightforward in their disclosure.

Context

Jay Rosen has taken a diary approach to his disclosure.

Jeff Jarvis discloses business and media ties, investments and a wide variety of potential sources of influence on his views.

Richard Gingras and Sally Lehrman wrote about the steps that might be taken to earn trust in journalism.

Georgia Sapounas on Canada’s Digital Olympics Strategy

Georgia Sapounas, the Canadian Olympic Committee‘s (COC) Digital Media Director, came to Third Tuesday Toronto last night to talk about the COC’s social media program for the Sochi Winter Olympic Games. And like the participants at Third Tuesday Ottawa the previous night, the Toronto attendees posted their observations and thoughts on Twitter. Here are the highlights of the Twitter stream that was posted to the Third Tuesday Toronto #3tYYZ hashtag.

Continue reading…

Georgia Sapounas sees Social Media on the Olympic Road to Sochi

The Canadian Olympic Committee’s Digital Manager, Georgia Sapounas, traveled to Ottawa yesterday to provide the Third Tuesday Ottawa participants with a glimpse into the Canadian Olympic Committee’s plans to use social media during the Sochi Winter Olympic Games. And as always, the Third Tuesday participants tweeted extensively about what they were hearing and thinking. I’ve captured some of the highlights from the #3tYOW Twitter stream.


Continue reading…

Everything you need to know to publish a book

So, you want to publish a book.

You know that you have something to say. You produce and regularly publish great content to your blog, Tumblr or podcast. And now you want to go the next step and publish a book.

The book publishing industry is being transformed by technology and shifting media consumption habits. And as this happens, it is becoming possible for anyone with something to say to publish it in book form and to reach an audience.

If you think you have a book in you and you are wondering how to publish it, you must read two posts: Jay Baer’s 25 Secrets – How I Wrote and Marketed a New York Times Best Selling Business Book and James Altucher‘s How to Self-Publish a Bestseller: Publishing 3.0.

Jay is the author of Youtility, which charted on the New York Times Business Book bestseller list. James is the author of Choose Yourself, which ranked on the Wallstreet Journal bestseller list. And both authors share generously, not just about how they wrote and produced their books, but also about the savvy marketing and promotion programs they conducted to earn their place on the bestseller lists.

Jay Baer obtained a deal with a traditional publisher and then put together and ran his own promotion campaign. James Altucher self-published, but relied heavily on marketing pros to promote his book. Two different paths. One common element – success.

A few highlights to whet your appetite for reading their complete posts.

Jay BaerJay Baer

“Always go with the most enthusiastic publisher, even if the terms are not quite as good.”

Recognize that you, not your publisher, will sell your books. So, put a lot of time into your marketing plan.

Signing with a major publisher brings credibility, but not necessarily more money.

Develop your ideas in advance of the book through presentations.

Establish a schedule for your writing and stick to it. 1,500 words per weekday and 5,000 words one weekend day per week enabled Jay to write Youtility in six weeks. You can do this too. But it takes discipline.

Covers and titles matter. Invest in producing great ones and test them on your social networks. Your followers will tell you what works best.

Build your own bookstore to sell your books. It gives you more control and data on purchasers.

Aim for the most sales you can get on day one. It’s your best chance to chart on the bestseller lists. Offer incentives for pre-orders.

Be clear-headed about the effectiveness of advertising. Pre-order ads drove awareness but few direct sales.

Publicists can produce results for you. Working with a publicist as well as his own outreach, brought Jay over 50 interviews and podcasts.

Help bloggers to cover you. Reading and reviewing a book may be more work than all but the most dedicated are prepared to do. Many will gladly take a guest post. So, develop topic-specific posts from your book that you can guest post on popular blogs.

Don’t stop with the book. “Atomize” its content for things like an ebook with the 25 best quotes. You can get much more life for your content in different forms.

Promote. Promote. Promote. Speak at events that will sell books. Produce a video. Produce related content as a bonus for book buyers. Conduct contests. Remember, you are responsible to sell your book.

James AltucherJames Altucher

“The distinction now is no longer between “traditional publishing” versus “self-publishing.” The distinction now is between professional versus unprofessional publishing.”

Self-publishing will enable you to maintain more control over your content rights (think international markets) and also the content in your book. It also will enable you to bring your book to market much faster than you could through the traditional publishing system.

A traditional publisher will want to see evidence that you can be successful in promoting your own book sales. “But if you already can hand-deliver the customers, what do you need the traditional publisher for?”

You can become your own professional publisher because the professional resources you need are available to you. “…for the first time, the best editors, designers, marketers are no longer working at the big publishing houses. Instead, they are striking out on their own and independently charging for their services.”

Edit. Edit. Edit. James and his editor went back and forth more than fifteen times. And then, after Altucher read his book for the audio version, he edited again for the things that didn’t work when read aloud.

Like Jay Baer, Altucher obsessed over the right title and the right design. And he also hired a publicist who delivered results.

In this new publishing world, ” I am not limited to who is on the publisher’s staff but I can pick the absolute best people in the industry. With millions of books out there, the competition is incredible. … Hiring the best editor, design firm, marketing firm, and audio firms were all part of that. Not just the best around but who I felt were the best in the world.”

You can do this too

So, you have the content. You have the writing talent. Can you publish a book? Yes you can.

What are you waiting for?

Bonus Content

Are you struggling with writer’s block? Mitch Joel tells you how to End to Writer’s Block.

Still reading? Let me leave you with one final bit of inspiration: the story of Terry Fallis, the PR executive who self published his first novel in his late forties, only to win a series of awards and become a serial bestseller. You CAN do it!

Goodbye Mouse. Hello Touchpad.

I love technology. Not so much that I crave every new shiny object. But I do love to get new things that make my life easier or extend my reach.

While I love learning and mastering new things, I know that not everybody is like me. As a business owner, I have to be pragmatic in what technologies I introduce into our workplace. I have to respect those people who would rather keep working with something that does the job just fine than spend time learning a new way of working for what might turn out to be a marginal improvement in productivity or capability.

And that brings me to Windows 8. On one hand, I see the promise of the first major upgrade in the  personal computer interface since Windows 95. On the other hand, I am concerned that the effort to learn a new user interface will far outweigh its potential benefits. So I’m going to make myself the test dummy for Windows 8 at Thornley Fallis and 76design.

I’ve ordered an initial Windows 8 notebook computer to test Microsoft’s new operating system. It’s a Dell XPS 13, a truly sweet Ultra book. I’ve been using one of these systems with Windows 7 since last spring and it’s the best notebook I’ve ever owned. Thin. Light. Capable. So it’s a natural platform for my first test of Windows 8.

From what I’ve read, Windows 8 is a much different experience. It’s built so that I can navigate using gestures on a touchscreen. That works when I have the notebook sitting on my lap. But when I’m at my desk, that just doesn’t work for me. My notebook is hooked up to a larger second screen and it sits behind a wireless keyboard. A surefire recipe for back trouble if I’m constantly reaching across the keyboard to touch the screen.

I want to replicate the touchscreen gestures on my desktop, without the need to lean forward to reach my computer screen.

So, it’s goodbye traditional mouse. Hello touchpad.

In anticipation of the launch of Windows 8, I ordered one of Logitech’s brand-new T650 Touchpads. This touchpad promises to let me use all of the gestures I would use on the screen itself, but on a glass trackpad sitting on my desk beside my keyboard where the mouse traditionally would be.

It arrived this morning.  And within only a few hours of use, I realized that I will never go back to a traditional mouse. Even on my current system operating Windows 7 it makes everything on the computer easier. Scrolling. Selecting text. Switching between programs. It’s all just so much more fluid using the touchpad. Even if I ultimately don’t move over the Windows 8, Microsoft has done me (and Logitech) a huge favour by prompting me to look for a modern alternative to the mouse.

What about you? Do you still use a mouse? Have you tried a touchpad? What do you think of each?

IABC launches online social media workshop for communications professionals

International Association of Business Communicators

Professional communicators who want to extend and deepen their knowledge of  social media will be interested in a new online social media workshop being offered for the first time this month by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).

The course, Develop and implement an integrative approach to social media, will be delivered through online training modules that participants can review at a time convenient to themselves combined with live sessions with the instructors. The program material has been prepared by Shel Holtz and me – and we will be the live instructors for the first set of sessions.

We’ll start with an orientation session on January 9 during which Shel and I will outline the course content and answer questions from participants. Following this orientation, the first two of eight learning modules will be available to participants to review at their convenience. Then we begin the weekly live sessions on January 19 and they will run through February 23.

Each module will focus on a different aspect of social media:

  • Module 1: Social media’s role in communications and PR
  • Module 2: The key categories of social media
  • Module 3: Monitoring social media
  • Module 4: Strategizing and measuring social media
  • Module 5: The core skills communicators need to acquire
  • Module 6: Social media behind the firewall
  • Module 7: Adapting corporate culture to embrace social media
  • Module 8: Social media during a crisis

So, in just eight weeks, you will acquire up to date knowledge on how social media is being integrated into corporate communications and the best practices you can apply in your organization.

Does this sound like something you can use? If so, click over to the IABC site to register for the IABC’s social media online workshop.

This will be only my second experience offering online training. So, I’m very much looking forward to sharing what I know with the participants and learning from their feedback.

 

Be creative by listening like a jazz musician

Spontaneous creativity is the beating heart of jazz music. Fans of jazz delight even more in the live performance than they do the studio recording. Why? Because no two jazz performances are alike. Jazz musicians are constantly improvising, building new ideas into what they play, finding inspiration in the moment.

How do great jazz musicians create something coherent and fresh each and every time they step onstage? In a recent TedTalk, Jazz vibraphonist Stefon Harris illustrates how attentive listening by individual players can spark creativity in an ensemble.

Business can learn a great deal from the spontaneous improvisation of jazz. All too often, we pay lip service to listening. In fact, many apparently skilled managers have made a fine art of the seemingly sincere, but ultimately empty acknowledgment of  others’ ideas. Harris and his group drive home that actually acting on the new and different idea can lead to something remarkable.

I’d recommend showing Harris’ TEDTalk to your team at the beginning of a brainstorm. It’s a great message that will surely put an end to the “yes but” mentality that can stifle creativity.

 

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Also worth reading: Dannielle Blumenthal approaches the importance of being open to listen to different perspectives in her post, Are you secure enough to handle an engaged employee? Good advice for anyone leading an employee meeting.

It's HOW you play the game that matters

When Terry Fallis and I founded Thornley Fallis, we were two guys working on folding banquet tables in borrowed space. And we set out to create the kind of company that we’d really like to work at. A place that reflected our values.

Well, it’s 16 years later – and I just had one of those “back to the future” moments.

I was part of a team pitching a potential new client. We really wanted the business. But we also saw that there were problems with the way the potential client had spec-ed the Request for Proposal. So we proposed an approach that we thought was right for them. And it didn’t match 100% the things they had said they were looking for in the RFP. The senior officer at the table called us out on this and we had a good discussion about why we had proposed the approach we had. A really good discussion. At the end of it, he said our approach would make demands on his organization that he wasn’t sure they were ready for. He didn’t say that we weren’t going to be selected. But he did give us an honest response to our honest advice.

And then it happened. The other client representative in the room leaned forward and told us that he recalled reading our founding principles many years ago (when he worked for us; yes, it’s a small world.) He remembered that one of our founding principles was: “Give the client the advice they need, not the advice they want to hear.”

Whuff! One of those moments that remind you it’s about walking the talk. Doing what you say you want to do.

I’d love to win the account. I don’t know if we will. But I do know this: You have to really believe that it’s HOW you play the game that matters. Be true to your principles and have faith that you’ll get your fair share of wins in the long run.