Introducing Pacific Content

Some big news for me – I’m thrilled to announce the launch of Pacific Content.

I am a passionate advocate of the power of content, especially in the digital space. As more and more companies realize the necessity of moving beyond traditional advertising and marketing, I believe we are the dawn of an “era of content.”

Today, every company must act much more like a media company. Every company must produce great, compelling content in order to grow relationships with audiences, customers, and their own staff.

I am thrilled to be very busy already working with TELUS and CBC and will have more announcements coming soon. If you’d like to know more about what we’re doing, our website is www.pacific-content.com.

I’d love it if you could help me out by following Pacific Content on our new social channels and signing up for our newsletter – we won’t abuse the privilege and promise to deliver value. Here’s where to find us in the social universe:

Facebook
Twitter (@pacificcontent)
Instagram (@pacificcontentco)

And please sign up for our newsletter here.

Thanks for reading and hope to talk to you more about Pacific Content soon.

Steve

Productivity Tips Are Killing My Productivity & Blogging Tips Are Killing My Blog

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Twitter. I enjoy Facebook. And my RSS Reader is full of blogs that I read every day.

But they’re taking over my life. I’m using them as a crutch to avoid DOING anything productive.

Checking statuses, tweets, and blog posts have turned into a form of procrastination where I trick myself into thinking that I’m learning new things or keeping up on current events, when in fact, most of the stuff I’m clicking on and reading  are ‘how to’ posts and strategy articles about things that I already know about and should be actively be DOING and not passively READING about.

I’m not trying to trash ANYONE’s posts, but with the amount of time I spend working on and thinking about digital media in my job, I don’t think I really need to read any more thoughts about ‘How To Write Killer Headlines,’ ’30 Tips For Creating Great Content,’ ‘5 Steps To Better Photos,‘ or ‘Insider Facebook Tips.’ And yet I STILL keep clicking on and reading these damn things. WHY? For the love of all that is good and holy… WHY?
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The Changing Face Of Conferences – Traditional Media vs Social Media

I recently had the opportunity to speak about the future of radio at both the Northern Voice digital media conference in Vancouver and the Multimedia Meets Radio conference for European Public Broadcasters in Prague. In both cases, I came away learning a lot from the other presentations, but the lasting impact will be the realization that it’s the attendees, more than the speakers, that are transforming the definition of these gatherings by making them more interactive, social, and meaningful experiences.

‘OLD’ CONFERENCES

Every year, I go to a few conferences that are pretty much exclusively targeted at ‘traditional media’ – people who work for broadcasting companies. Here’s what happens at a typical one:

Continue reading “The Changing Face Of Conferences – Traditional Media vs Social Media”

15 Top Tips & Professional Secrets For How To Make Better Videos

As someone who’s spent many years working in television, I usually get requests for advice on how to make videos look better at this time of the year.  A lot of people received new video cameras over the holidays, they’ve tried them out, and don’t understand why their movies look pretty… Ed Wood-ish. I probably should have posted this BEFORE Christmas, but better late than never…

So here is a list of my personal best practices and tips:

  1. Think about your end product before you start shooting. Is this going to be a 2 minute video?  Is it going to be a 2 hour opus?  Is it just for your family to watch or is it going up on YouTube for the whole world to check out?   Is it a montage of your kids opening Christmas presents or is it a documentary about holiday traditions?  Is it supposed to be funny, informative, sweet, sad, or dramatic?  How much context does your audience need to understand it?  Is your audience younger or older?
    If you know the answers to these questions, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and effort. You’ll also have taken your first step to a focused video shoot, which is a must-have ingredient in a great final product.
    Continue reading “15 Top Tips & Professional Secrets For How To Make Better Videos”

The Most Creative Resume I’ve Seen In Years

I get sent resumes every week and since the financial turmoil kicked in a few months ago, the number of resumes coming in has increased noticeably.  This week, I received one that I will not soon forget and thought it was worth sharing here (with permission!).

Creative vs Standard Resumes.

There’s always a great debate in resume-writing-land about how unique and creative to be with your C.V.   You want to stand out from the crowd, but you don’t want to come across as a showboat, an egomaniac, or a weirdo.  Some will say anything you can do to get noticed is good, from using coloured paper to having it couriered directly to the hiring decision maker (so they have to sign for it, will open it themselves instead of H.R., etc).

Others will say that you need to be professional, stick to standard formatting, and make yourself stand out with a customized version of your resume tailored to the particular position you’re applying for.   I’ve seen both work and have hired people with each type of resume.

As a rule of thumb, though, plain resumes are generally tougher to distinguish from other plain resumes.  And when you get a brilliant, creative resume like the one I’m going to show you, you won’t forget the person today, tomorrow, or next year when you’ve got the right position for them.

Success and Failure with Creative Resumes

About 10 years ago, I had a lot of success by using this site’s URL to host what was at the time very new – an online video demo reel.  I got so sick of dubbing and sending tapes that I put the reel online (in a VERY small quicktime window) and instead just gave everyone the link.  Some didn’t like it, but the ones who did were the ones I wanted to work for anyway.  And it helped let potential employers know that I was interested in digital media and was trying out new ideas.

And before I show you the amazing example of a creative resume, I should say that creative resumes can backfire pretty hard, too.  I once had someone applying to be an on-air host send me a giant plastic tube of candy… nice, except that there was  a GIANT, NUDE PHOTO of himself taped to the outside of the tube.  Creative yes.  Instant no for the job?  You bet.

The Most Creative Resume I’ve Seen In Years

So here’s the gold!  Sabrina Saccocio is a TV, radio print and web producer who has put together the perfect eye-grabbing resume for a young, creative type looking for unique and interesting work. Check this out and tell me you’re not impressed…

Continue reading “The Most Creative Resume I’ve Seen In Years”

10 Twitter Tips For Traditional Media

It seems like Twitter is finally starting to penetrate the mainstream media. CBC recently invited some experts in social media in to share their ideas about how a traditional media company might use tools like Flickr, YouTube, Facebook… and Twitter. While I wasn’t there, it sounds like it was a big success and got people excited to dig in and use these new tools as part of their show programming.

Twitter even seems to be replacing blogs as the ‘cool’ go-to news source for ‘what’s happening on the web’. However, many mainstream media companies are still clearly struggling with what Twitter is and how to best use it.  So I’ve put together my personal…

10 Twitter Tips For Traditional Media (try and say THAT 10 times quickly…)

1. Twitter is NOT an RSS feed.

I know that the New York Times, The Globe and Mail, CBC, and others are using Twitter as a news feed, but I don’t personally subscribe to any of them. I can get that EXACT same information from an RSS feed (which I do…) and I don’t personally like my Twitter feed clogged up with every news item under the sun.

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An Argument For Test-Driving: The Best Promotional Tool Is Your Best Content

As I’ve written about before, traditional media is pretty blatant with a lot of their web material.  They want you to watch TV, listen to Radio, or subscribe to Magazines.

So here’s my ideal solution to achieve the goal of getting more people to leave the web and go to a traditional platform…

Give them the content on the web for free.

Using your top content as a hook is the best way to increase the likelihood of a user trying out the traditional media property.  For old-media types, that’s a pretty insane and counter-intuitive idea.  (And that’s probably why not enough media outlets are doing it.)

The prevailing mindset is that if you let people experience the content for free, why would they go to TV, Radio, etc afterwards?  Answer: if you don’t give them a  test drive, they’ll never buy the car.

Audiences have an unbelievable amount of choice and power and everyone is competing for their precious time and attention.  So what’s going to win you new converts?  Ads or amazing content?  You need to give it your best shot.

Here’s how I see the decision tree for a brand new audience member:

OPTION 1

-I come to your site
-I see a promo for a show that grabs my interest
-I click on it and get a generic show description, a 30 second trailer, and information that the show is on TV tonight at 9pm.
-I might make a mental note to watch it tonight, BUT, my guess is that younger audiences especially will just move on to somewhere else on the web where they can consume content.
-Or they’ll search for your show on YouTube or BitTorrent and watch it where you can’t track them or make any money.  They’re GONE.  And they’re not coming back. 
-They came for a test drive, but you wouldn’t give them the keys, so they went to another dealer.

OPTION 2

-I come to your site
-I see a promo for a show that grabs my interest
-I click on it and start watching / listening / reading instantly
-If I like it, I will find out more about the show and likely make an effort to watch / listen / read again. 
-The test drive leads to increased likelihood of a ‘buy.’

Don’t get me wrong – not all of them will convert back to traditional media.  Many of them may greatly prefer your online offering.  And you may not make as much money off of them. But some WILL follow you to traditional media.  And they probably would never have found your traditional platform without the free web content.

There are some serious perks to this strategy:  you’re thinking multi-platform distribution, you’re bringing in new audiences that have never sampled your ‘traditional’ content, you’re setting yourself up for the future, and you’re increasing the odds that new people will end up on your traditional platform.

The win for traditional media is creating a win for audiences on the web.

So don’t use your promotional space to sell the air date and air time on the traditional platform.  If your content is so amazing, let the show sell itself. Make me care.  Make me click. Get me hooked on your program.  Make me want MORE.

And THEN, maybe I will also click on the TV or the Radio.

Have you ever done a test-drive on the web that’s led you to ‘traditional media’ to get more?

10 Reasons Traditional Media Should Use The Tools WE Use

Why doesn’t traditional media like to use the Web 2.0 tools we use?  There are 5 very good answers:

  1. They want total control over their own user experience.
  2. They want a unique user experience that is differentiated from their competitors.
  3. They want to make all the profit from their own content.
  4. They want their content separated from the user-generated masses to ensure it continues to be seen as premium content.
  5. They want to drive traffic almost exclusively to their own website and become a ‘destination’ instead of being just one channel in big, vast, occasionally tough to search YouTube / Flickr universe.

These are VERY valid points.

BUT just to play devil’s advocate…

10 Reasons Why Traditional Media Should Use The Same Tools That Their Audience Uses

  1. Fish Where The Fish Are. The audience has clearly chosen the tools (like Flickr, WordPress, YouTube, etc) that THEY want to use.  Isn’t there a big win for a traditional media company that meets their audiences where they already are?
  2. No Learning Curve. Audiences know how to use the tools and don’t have to deal with usability issues, learn new functionality, etc.  That also means your production staff will be able to learn it and use it easily – HUGE perk.
  3. Best Place To Find New Users. Not only can existing audiences find content on your site, but new users who know nothing about you can stumble onto that content and discover you for the first time on places like Flickr and YouTube. YouTube has 250 million users worldwide.  How many do you have?
  4. Easy To Get User Generated Content. Your users can contribute to your content more easily by using tools that they already use
  5. Easier To Go Viral. Your users can share your content much more easily because the Flickr and YouTube tools are almost always easier to use, with better functionality than traditional media photo and video tools (including embedding, sharing, rating, etc).  And again, on YouTube, 250 million people have easy access to your content.
  6. Is Developing Online Technology Your Core Business? Traditional media often can’t keep up with the development of new technology. Developing the ultimate online video experience is YouTube’s core business and with Google’s bank account behind them, I’m betting that they’ve got serious resources going into the ongoing evolution and development of their player.Can traditional media say the same thing? They don’t have billions of dollars to invest in R&D, web developers, etc.   So MOST traditional media companies work with ‘enterprise’ solution companies who build video players, blogs, commenting, and photo tools that are generic, and more often than not, a wee bit clunky.  And by the time it gets customized and implemented into the infrastructure of a traditional media company, it’s usually out-of-date compared to its online-only rivals.
  7. Save $$$. Media companies can save some serious cash – MUCH less spending on buying, developing, maintaining, supporting tools a media player, a blog engine, photo uploading tools, etc.  Significantly less infrastructure, too.  And if you’re using a public platform, you’re also not paying for bandwidth, which is a considerable expense if your content is popular.
  8. Take Advantage of Community Development And Innovation Instead of Doing It All Yourself. In the case of tools like WordPress, there are large, talented communities developing amazing new plugins, designs, and modifications to the platform that are available for anyone to use.  The wisdom and resources of the crowds will almost always trump the evolution of an internal company product (unless, as is sometimes the case, that is their core business and their core product).
  9. Deliver A Precise Target Audience To Advertisers. When it comes to selling targeted advertising and hitting only the audience you want, who has the best-in-class tools to reach people of a certain age, certain location, speaking a certain language, who have a set of interests that perfectly match your content and have disposable income to spare?  And who can best measure consumption habits and conversions of those people?  The ones who are masters of aggregating and analyzing data.   Google vs a Traditional Media company – there’s no contest.
  10. It’s Going To End Up On YouTube Anyway. Finally, if you don’t use tools like YouTube and Flickr, your audience will put your content up there anyway. (If it’s good…) Wouldn’t YOU rather control the YouTube experience – make it quality, get some revenue from it, track it, etc – instead of letting Johnny in his basement control your YouTube experience?

Content Vs. Distribution

Here’s the big question for Traditional Media that might help answer the question of whether to use existing, popular tools – is your future the content business or the distribution business?

In the past, it’s been both, but today is much murkier.  It’s going to be VERY tough to stay relevant in the distribution business on new platforms.  There are simply too many different platforms and there are industry leaders that control or have access to the pipes on each one of these platforms.

The Future Of Media

The future is pointing to a world where an individual’s content consumption will be personalized through aggregation across a vast variety of content providers.  I don’t necessarily want all my news from one content company, all my comedy from one source, or all my music from one source.

I want a service that can aggregate all my favourite content from a wide variety of content providers, package it nicely, and deliver it all to me in one tidy package.

That doesn’t’ sound like something a traditional media company is set up to do.  (Can they continue to make the amazing content I want to read, watch, and listen to?  Absolutely. But work with other broadcasters?!!? The horror!)

Now Google, on the other hand, sounds like they’d very much like to deliver me that tidy little package. They’ve repeatedly said that they are not in the content creation business.  They’re in the distribution business and they’re in it for keeps.

And if I was a traditional media company, I’d have second thoughts before stepping into the ring with Google.  But that’s just me…

Questions!

I know Hulu is a possible exception  to this line of thinking – are there any other good examples of traditional media companies that are leading the pack with their own technology?

As an audience member, what tools would you prefer to use?

Are there good reasons for traditional media companies to use their own tools?

#motrinmoms Use Blogs & Twitter To Ravage Motrin Brand & Ad Campaign

Earlier this week, I wrote about how companies can no longer control their brand once the web gets hold of it.  Today, there’s a HUGE real life example in action.

Motrin has just launched a new ad campaign aimed at Moms.  It’s a text-based video ranting about the pains and sacrifices of baby-wearing – the use of slings, baby carriers, and any of the other plethora of gizmos to strap an infant to your front or back.

Motrin’s point: we do SO much for our kids, but too often, we forget about the toll on ourselves, especially the back pain that ensues from carrying your young kids around for extended periods of time.  The solution, of course, is their pain-relief product.

Check out the ad for yourself and see what you think…

The response from mommy bloggers on their sites and on Twitter was quick, furious, and ENORMOUS.  It appears to have started just yesterday with a post from Amy at crunchydomesticgoddess.com and a Tweet from Jessica Gottlieb.  In less than 24 hours, it has taken off like wildfire.

It is the number one topic on Twitter with THOUSANDS of Tweets…

It has mobilized an army of mommy bloggers all writing online about it…

It has taken down the Motrin website…

And it has already brought Amy a response from Motrin: they’re going to remove the video from the website immediately, and stop the print campaign as soon as possible, too.

The good news for them is that the first apology letter seems to be earning them early kudos from commenters, many of whom are happy to see them acknowledge the error of their strategy.

Unfortunately for Motrin, the damage has already been done.  In ONE DAY, a brand new, presumably very expensive ad campaign is GONE. It has also caused them enormous damage and will likely irrepairably harm their brand within a significant, vocal, and powerful community.

So what should Motrin do?

  1. Continue to acknowledge they made a big mistake and continue to explain the original intent was to sympathize and empathize with the struggles of motherhood (good start on the letter to Amy!).
  2. Comment on as many of the mommy blogs as possible.
  3. Use Twitter to talk about what they’re doing to fix it.
  4. Set up a Facebook group to allow people to discuss the situation and get feedback on their response and solutions.
  5. Come up with a special offer especially targeted as those offended by the ad.

Right now, I’m pretty confident that the one place that will be increasing it’s consumption of Motrin is… Motrin’s marketing headquarters.  They’ve just lost total control of their brand and are in full-scale damage control mode.

So what’s the lesson from this?  There are lots of them, but the big one for me:

  • Don’t ASSUME you know your audience. If you’re going to speak on their behalf, you should ask them first.  Telling a passionate, devoted group of people that you know exactly what they’re thinking is dangerous and risky.

Motrin could have consulted a team of mommy bloggers or baby-wearers before they made the ad, or at bare minimum, could have held a focus group before launching it.

Beware the power of the web to wreak havoc with your brand…

What do you make of the Motrin controversy?  Are the mommy-bloggers justified in the havoc they have wreaked?  What else should Motrin be doing right now?

Some other blogs analyzing Motrin-mania today:

http://hardknoxlife.wordpress.com/2008/11/16/congratulations-motrin-you-just-proved-why-every-brand-needs-to-understand-social-media/

http://www.trishussey.com/2008/11/16/motrin-tries-to-reach-out-but-gets-hand-bitten-off-by-potential-customers/

http://www.successful-blog.com/1/motrinmoms-the-spectacular-opportunity-to-rise-from-a-colossal/

http://www.mathewingram.com/work/2008/11/16/flash-flood-mom-bloggers-and-motrin/

http://bloombergmarketing.blogs.com/bloomberg_marketing/2008/11/motrin-a-case-s.html

http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/allyson-kapin/radical-tech/motrins-pain-viral-video-disaster

http://www.darrenbarefoot.com/archives/2008/11/mommy-bloggers-find-tempest-in-motrins-teacup.html

http://www.miss604.com/2008/11/motrin-mom-video-mishap.html

And here’s one from the Ogilvy PR agency:

http://blog.ogilvypr.com/?p=491.

You Don’t Control Your Brand. The Audience Does.

Traditional branding is dead. The days of ‘choosing’ your brand and pushing your choice out to passive consumers are gone.  Today, you have to earn your brand.

Thanks to social networking and Web 2.0 tools, you simply can’t ‘control’ a brand by saturating a market with endlessly repeating messages and advertisements.  It’s too easy for your audience to call your bluff, share their views with an enormous number of people, and create the exact opposite impression you were intending.

So how does today’s branding work?  You actually have to provide value for your audience or your customers.  If you give them a stellar experience, they will tell others.  If you give them a bad experience, they will also tell others.   The word of mouth about your content or product IS your brand.

Let’s say you upload 100 music videos and 5 comedy videos to YouTube.  In traditional media thinking, that means that you’re mostly a music service.  However, if only 10 people watch your music videos, but 3 of your comedy videos go viral, to the audience, you’re a comedy company.

The point is, you don’t get to choose. The audience creates your brand with every click of a mouse, every content rating tool they use, every comment they make about your content, and every link they send to their friends.

So forget trying to ‘sell’ people with endless hype.  Focus your energy on building a relationship with them by giving them a terrific experience first.   The days of ‘promising’ a brand are over.  The days of having to deliver on the brand promise are here.