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Round Up: John Roderick talks narratives, Big Data in PR Week

July 26, 2013


This week in PR Week, John Roderick covered it all. He took us on a journey that started with the royal baby as a microcosm for how narratives are instantaneous shaped in the current media landscape, to a road map on how companies can leverage Big Data to break into the top tier zeitgeist.

To read Roderick’s full pieces, click on the link below the excerpts:

There is a roughly one-to-two-hour window following that initial news announcement when companies and individuals with a stake in the story have an opportunity to shape the news cycle by offering thoughtful content. This can include infographics, historical data, mathematical projections of future outcomes, smart quotes, etc. – that help journalists achieve that distinctiveness they are chasing.

PR Week — How to Shape the Narrative in 90 Minutes or Less

The same principles that make these vast troves of data so attractive to the C-suite also have an uncanny knack for attracting top-tier press coverage. Just as senior managers of large corporations now need their decisions to be supported by quantitative evidence, journalists are more likely to cover a trend if the empirical proof is there to support it.

PR Week — Big Data Obsession is Treasure Trove for Comms

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Sulia, Hegemony, and Social Strategy Grab Readers’ Attention in 2012

January 2, 2013


2012 was a year of experimentation. Brands tried new ways to engage their customers, mostly in the form of aggressive content creation and social campaigns. Journalists attempted to solidify their places in the digital world and the media conversation moved on a dime as one very influential scripted show seemed to incite a Murrow-esque resurgence of confrontational reporting.

So what stories rose above the rest? Here were our five most-read blog posts of 2012:

5. So Long, Schlocky SEO!

We’ve all seen our fair share of hack jobs trying to infiltrate the Google algorithm. But Google’s “Penguin” finally rewarded quality over quantity when it comes to content marketing.

4. 2012: The Year of the Infographic

PR pros’ embraced infographics much the same way Jason Segal’s character Marshall on How I Met Your Mother expressed his affinity for charts, and John Roderick saw the writing on the wall all the way back in the waning weeks of December 2011.

3. Did HBO Drama Influence Sanford Weill’s Glass-Steagall Proclamation?

Aaron Sorkin’s latest drama, The Newsroom, and fictional news anchor Will McAvoy made plenty of noise when it hit the airwaves in June. But did life imitate art when, just days after the show took on deregulation on Wall Street, Sanford Weill charged the 1999 repeal of Glass-Steagall as the impetus for the Great Recession?

2. Paste Magazine: The 50 Best Band Logos of All Time

Digital music has never been bigger, but the great band logos of all time live on. So what does this mean for their overall brand? And is there something to be gaining by dealing in the currency of nostalgia?

1. Is Sulia Helping or Hurting Journalists?

Seemingly overnight, journalists on Twitter had a new toy: Sulia. The cumbersome platform that allowed journalists to tweet longer also confused readers to no end. Why did writers use this? What was the point? And did they get paid for it? Brian Erni tackled those questions and more in our most popular post of 2012.

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Why should we care redux: MLB shows huge social gains for All Star Game

July 11, 2012



Brian Erni

Piggy-backing on yesterday’s post, I’m still wondering why this matters. Surely, Major League Baseball shared some sincere, congratulatory handshakes over these stats. I’m sure they’re specifically tickled with the apparent success of the MLB Social Media Room they set up for players such as Matt Kemp, R.A. Dickey, Robinson Cano, and others, to tweet when they came off the field. But watching the game last night, I didn’t feel FOX’s broadcast was enhanced by this presence. Nor did my opinion of MLB change for the better (or worse, for that matter).

I’m just curious what the next step in all of this is…

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INFOGRAPHIC: Is social media making us social awkward?

June 15, 2012


Graphic courtesy of and Mashable.



Brian Erni

Brian Erni

This is a great representation of the scope of social media in the world. While the social impact of it is up for debate, this should leave no doubt to promoters how captive the audience is on these platforms. What they do with it remains to be seen…

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Scorecard, yearbook, sepia tones: Instagram a hit at the ballpark

June 1, 2012



Brian Erni

Guilty as charged! Yes, I have an Instagram account, and yes, the majority of my pictures are at beloved Citi Field. Apparently, I’m not alone, as the home of the Mets ranks seventh of the 30 MLB ballparks.

It’s interesting that a photo-sharing app that can transport your pictures back in time happens to have a correlation with America’s longest-lasting love affair. And I think it says something profound about how Instagram is used so frequently at baseball games, which have a distinct visual element to them unmatched by any other sport. Based on that line of thinking, it’s probably fair to say that Instagram’s most effective use for a promoter is when their products have a similarly strong, visual element to them. Certainly there is something that’s causing this trend, and it’s just waiting to be leveraged.

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Facebook Phone Rumors Begin to Swirl…Again

May 29, 2012


According to the New York Times, Facebook plans to release their own smartphone by next year. Citing sources inside the company, the report says Facebook has already hired more than half a dozen former Apple software and hardware engineers who worked on the iPhone.

“One engineer who formerly worked at Apple and worked on the iPhone said he had met with Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, who then peppered him with questions about the inner workings of smartphones. It did not sound like idle intellectual curiosity, the engineer said; Mr. Zuckerberg asked about intricate details, including the types of chips used, he said. Another former Apple hardware engineer was recruited by a Facebook executive and was told about the company’s hardware explorations.”

This is not Facebook’s first exploration of the smartphone market. In 2010, TechCrunch reported that Facebook was working on a smartphone, but the project crumbled after the company realized the difficulties involved. AllThingsD reported last year that Facebook and HTC had entered a partnership to create a smartphone, code-named “Buffy,” which apparently still in the works.

Brian Erni

And herein lies Facebook’s problem. Saddled with the disappointing opening for their IPO, analysts and consumers alike are starting to ask some tough questions: How much of a shelf life does this social network have? What’s the long-term future of the company? And what’s the next great Facebook innovation? Facebook has plenty of answers to these questions, but how many are realistic? We might jump on Facebook to see some vacation pictures or vent our frustrations, but a whole phone powered by it?

The Times report goes on to quote a Facebook employee who says: “Mark is worried that if he doesn’t create a mobile phone in the near future that Facebook will simply become an app on other mobile platforms.” That concern is understandable, but…isn’t that what Facebook is? When Facebook expanded with gaming and instant messaging and Timeline, it made sense; a natural progression for a brand devoted to organizing our social life. But does a jump into the smartphone world push the company too far past its core business?

This reminds me of mid-to-late-’90s convergence. The tech boom gave birth to new companies that were suddenly swallowed up by big conglomerations. Corporations were diversifying, and all of a sudden AOL was running a wrestling organization (WCW) and television networks (TNT, TBS), Disney owned two sports teams (the NHL’s Mighty Ducks and MLB’s Anaheim Angels), and things stopped making sense. What can  Facebook bring to the table as a mobile platform that it doesn’t already do as an app? How will that differ from the iPhone or Google’s Android devices? And does the love/hate relationship Facebook users have for the brand translate into monetary sales? This should be interesting.

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WSJ: GM to Stop Advertising on Facebook

May 15, 2012


According to the Wall Street Journal, General Motors has announced that they plan to stop purchasing ads on Facebook, due to what the company is characterizing as a lack of effectiveness.

The report says GM spends about $40 million on its Facebook presence. About $10 million of that is paid to Facebook for advertising, while the rest covers content created for the site, agencies that manage the content, and daily maintenance of GM’s pages.

Overall, Facebook boasts $3.7 billion in total  revenue. To read the full story, click here.

Brian Erni

Well, file this under bad timing. Just two days before their IPO, Facebook is saddled with the country’s biggest automaker coming out and questioning the effectiveness of marketing on their site.  What is the end-game for GM in announcing this today?  Is this part of a GM strategy to assert themselves as the 800 pound gorilla of consumer advertising? Do they have an ax to grind with Facebook? Your guess is as good as mine.

The one certainty that does loom is this: on Thursday, Facebook’s world changes forever.  The social media giant will be open to a whole new world of scrutiny, and with it could come shots across the bow similar to the one GM dealt this afternoon. How they handle their reputation in the face of  endless criticism could shape the future for the nearly-decade old site. Remember: we all once thought Myspace was infallible.

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Paste Magazine: The 50 Best Band Logos of All Time

May 11, 2012

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Paste Magazine has named the 50 best band logos of all time.

Among them are the Grateful Dead, Metallica, Run DMC and Weezer.

To see the full report and check out all the logos that made the cut, click here.

Brian Erni

Interestingly, as I scrolled through, the first logo I looked for to see if it made the list was Nine Inch Nails. Am I a big fan of their music? Not really, but I remember drawing that logo over and over on my notebooks in 6th grade. That mark seemed like it was everywhere you looked during that 1995-’96 range: Drawn in white-out on backpacks, branded on lockers, scribbled on bathroom walls. Along with the cover for Green Day’s Dookie, the NIN primary mark was probably one of the most resounding pieces of musical imagery from my adolescence.

Now, as music has evolved, album art has essentially gone by the wayside. Sure, we still get it in small form on iTunes, but remember how you used to walk through a record store and your eye would draw you to a certain album? Or be pulled to buy a certain magazine on the news stand?  We were reminded this week that eye-popping or controversial covers can still get our attention, and I’m sure a buzz worthy album cover could make us stand up and take notice, too. But frankly, I think the potential for those instances are now few and far between.

That said,  music promoters have recently played on the symbol of nostalgia. The Beach Boys new album, That’s Why God Made the Radio, was shown for the first time on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon as a vinyl record cover. Rita Wilson’s first musical collection was flashed in similar fashion on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live. So maybe we are in for a resurgence of album art? Even though my gut says that’s unlikely, we could see similar themes. Even though consumers continue to move further and further away from physical and into digital, I think there’s something comforting about analog mediums. If designers and promoters could find a way to tug at consumer heart strings and  harness design in a similar way, they could stand to carve out an interesting niche in the market.

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Cult of Mac: The new Apple HDTV?

May 8, 2012


According to Cult of Mac, Apple is preparing to launch a line of high-definition televisions, possibly as soon as this year.

The report cites a source who claims to have seen the set, and says that the new product will include Apple’s popular AirTime, Siri and FaceTime features.

Based on the source’s description, Cult of Mac’s Dan Draper created this mock up:


Brian Erni

Everyone has been waiting on this, and for good reason. Apple enjoys a sought after and unique hold on the marketplace; many believe it isn’t done right until Apple does it. Whether that perception holds up on the merits of a product-by-product comparison is irrelevant. The key is that an obscenely larger chunk of consumers stand to benefit from an Apple HDTV than a comparable product put out by any other company. That is why an Apple HDTV could be the agent for the change we’ve been forecasting.

Think about it: Apple’s consumer base is incredibly diverse. Every age demographic from toddlers to senior citizens can recognize an iPhone. I’ve known kids as young as 9 or adults as old as 75 to own Apple’s mobile device.  And as a result of the mass consumption, people are comfortable with their iOS, and they believe in their innovation. If an Apple HDTV could take their most popular features and integrate every iPhone, iPad, and iPod into the television experience, it changes the game.  Think what iBooks did for reading, only without the Kindle to balance the market. As a result, the entire media landscape could be readying for a revolution. We’ve warned you before, and we’ll warn you again: be prepared.

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NY Times: Nielsen Reports a Decline in Television Viewing

May 3, 2012


According to the New York Times, the number of households with a television set or access to a television service provider has shrunk to 114.1 million. Brian Stelter says that, while the vast majority of American homes still have functioning television sets, more than one million households “no longer meet Nielsen’s definition of a ‘TV household:’ those that have at least one television set and a cable, satellite or antenna connection.”

The declines comes just one year after Nielsen said the number of such households had dropped to 114.7 million, from 115.9 million previously, despite a rise in the number of households in the country. That 2010 drop off was the first of its kind in 20 years.

Brian Erni

We’ve been forecasting it for a few weeks, and these numbers seem to confirm our suspicion: the television industry is on the precipice of radical change. The rise of on-demand, web-based platforms, such as Netflix, Apple TV and Hulu, seemed like they were at the center of this evolution, but most Americans use those platforms as an augment to their existing hook up. So what is causing people to ditch the set?

What these figures seem to imply is that tablets, mobile phones, and other handheld devices pose more of a threat to the television than where the content lives. Assuming that’s the case, the change more pressing is in how Americans consume programming, as opposed to how it’s delivered. Is congregating with family and friends around a TV a thing of the past? Will our experiences of coming together around an individual point of interest (something that has a long lineage in human existence) shift to a largely individual experience? Each person sitting on their side of the couch with their own programming coming through their own device? And should that happen, will viewers expect more customized, interactive content to satiate needs presented by these new perimeters?

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