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Friday, March 27, 2009

Obama - Not A Tweeter? Tell Me It’s Not True!!

In the NY Times article When Stars Twitter, a Ghost May Be Lurking by Noam Cohen, he reveals that, “Candidate Barack Obama, as well as President Obama, has a social-networking team to keep his Twitter feed tweeting.”

The fact that he’s not really tweeting doesn’t shock me, it’s that he has an entire team behind each tweet. Hey folks – it’s only 140 characters!!

I can just see the morning meetings where the team gets together for an hour-long discussion to decide what that morning's presidential tweet will be.

The article also reveals that many other famous Tweeple are not doing their own tweets. I wasn’t surprised that the likes of Britney Spears, 50 Cents (aka Curtis Jackson III) and others don’t really tweet. I’d be surprised if any of them can spell in the first place.

So what is to be done about this? I know – everyone should set up (or hire) ghost tweet receivers/responders. It could spawn an entire new industry. People - who are not who they say they are, tweeting to people - who aren’t really who they say they are.

Believe me – if someone can figure out how they can do that and make money at it – it will be here before you know it.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Increasing Taxes on Wine Not A Healthy Solution

First off, keep in mind that wine is already heavily taxed, yet California lawmakers Assemblyman Jim Beall Jr., D-San Jose, and Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, both want to increase those taxes even more. Increasing the already high “sin” taxes on wine is just not a very healthy idea. And here's why.

On Beall ‘s Web site he states, "The alcohol industry creates devastating problems -- traffic accidents, alcoholism -- and walks away with money stuffed in its pockets while the public -- including non-drinkers -- are left to pay billions for the mess." BUT WAIT ONE MINUTE ASSEMBLYMAN, study after study has shown that wine in moderation is healthy. Literally hundreds of studies have shown that drinking wine lowers heart disease, strokes and some forms of cancer. Studies have even shown that the children of women who drank small amounts of wine while pregnant grew up to have higher IQs. Alcoholics are not about to spend $10 or more to satisfy their addiction when they can get more bang for their buck with hard liquor, so why pick on wine?

DeSaulnier, says he wants to collect the money for an Alcohol Abuse Treatment Program Fund. But the state already has a program and there are many other free programs available. The problem isn’t the need for more programs, the problem is getting people to admit they have a problem and seek help.

If either of those lawmakers were truly concerned with Californian’s and their health they would lower the current taxes on wine, or better yet start a program that encourages more people who currently are not wine drinkers to enjoy a glass or two with dinner each night. Just imagine the savings in health care costs the people of California could reap if 90 percent of the people, instead of the current 10 percent, were enjoying the health benefits imparted by drinking a glass of wine every day. Now that's an idea someone should explore further.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Twitter Reaches New Heights

Twitter has certainly taken off in the past few weeks and everyone in our office wants to keep up with how this communications tool is changing the way we, as communicators, do business. I lot of the discussion has been about how the rise of social media is changing or pushing out traditional media outlets.

I'm always happy to see traditional media outlets embrace new approaches, as the Chicago Tribune did today. Today's masthead features the Twitter handles of the publisher and editors.

Pretty cool! I know a lot of reporters are using Twitter to interact with their community but I think the Chicago Tribune may be the first to make the linkage so blatant. I'm curious if there are other papers out there that are already doing this and, if not, who's next?
~ Nicole

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Will E-mail Follow in the Newspaper Industry's Footsteps?

Aside from using the Internet for research, e-mail has long been the most popular activity online. But according to Nielsen Online, nowadays more people in the U.S. and other leading digital countries around the globe are using blogs and social networks more than e-mail. Surprised? I have to admit I was a little bit.

Top Five Online Sectors Worldwide*, Ranked by Active Reach, December 2007 & December 2008

According to the report, while search and destination sites remain the most popular online activities, social network and blog use exceeded that of e-mail, increasing their reach by 5.4 percentage points. In addition, time spent on social networks and blogging sites is growing at over three times the rate of overall Internet growth.

This just reaffirms the fact that social networking and blogs are here to stay, at least until the next big thing comes along.

~ Nicole

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Not So Sweet After All

When I sit down and watch TV, I usually tune into a sitcom to entertain myself with humor. Much to my surprise, it was a commercial last week that caught my attention and made me laugh out loud. Those creators of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), you had me chuckling at your ads, but more concerned about your deceptive approach.

If you haven't seen it, the Corn Refiners Association introduced a campaign titled "Sweet Surprise" explaining and promoting the benefits of HFCS while fighting the argument of what its opponents say. Oh and this campaign? It's not cheap. Just around a cool $20 to $30 million dollars.

HFCS is in EVERYTHING! Not just in Popsicles, candy and soda, like the commercials promote, but in bread, tomato sauce, granola bars, cereals and ketchup to name a few. HFCS is made from corn starch and contains fructose and glucose -- two sugar building blocks. It's in these products because it adds flavor, helps processed foods sustain a longer shelf life and it's cheap. It's sweeter than refined sugar, which is popular among manufacturers because they can use less.

But the price of consuming HFCS is much more costly. A simple search on Google will introduce you to how it does damage to our bodies. It contributes to obesity, type-2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, bad cholesterol levels and liver disease.

Don't let the commercials and pretty Web site fool you. It's best for you and your family to avoid HFCS. Here are some simple ways to do that.

  • Do not buy over packaged foods and processed foods containing byproducts from corn growth
  • Give up corn-sweetened or preserved foods
  • Look for products that are sweetened with organic cane sugar
  • Organic foods may still contain corn products, but it's still a better alternative because you know that it doesn't contain pesticides, herbicides and inputs that pollute soil and water

And my message to the Corn Refiners Association. You can take your money and eat it! It's probably healthier than the HFCS you're advertising right now.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How Newspapers can use Social Media to Save Themselves

It's all over the headlines . . . the demise of the newspaper industry at the hands of social media. Now it may seem counterintuitive, but newspapers can leverage social media tools to boost their circulation, and hopefully their profits. How exactly do newspapers successfully use social media? I found this great list from Woody Lewis.

1. Twitter headline feeds
With more than 280,000 followers, the
New York Times’ main Twitter feed dwarfs the Wall Street Journal (19,000+), the Washington Post (4,800+), and the Chicago Tribune (5,200+). Many metropolitan and small-town dailies have followed suit, creating a Twitter handle as an extension of their brand, but the Times, like other large dailies, has gone one step further, establishing channels for Books, Arts and Entertainment, and other sections.

2. Acquiring providers of social media services
In November, 2008, Gannett Co., publisher of 85 daily newspapers, acquired
Ripple6, Inc., maker of a social networking platform that links marketers to end users. By investing in a company that has already helped Procter & Gamble with its social media initiatives, Gannett will be better able to collaborate with its advertisers.

3. Creating more online events to attract readers
The German newspaper
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) introduced a thematic Web site last month to promote the translation of The Kindly Ones, a controversial novel that has generated a lot of publicity in Europe, and more recently the U.S. By posting streaming video and a downloadable mp3 of a popular actor reading chapters from the book, and then creating daily discussion forums around related topics, FAZ generated a significant increase in traffic to its Web site.

4. Promoting and monetizing user-generated content
In 2007, the Cincinnati Enquirer created, a photo-sharing site where over a thousand local photographers uploaded nearly 12,000 images. The best shots were featured in Capture Cincinnati, a coffee table photo book that included a DVD, selling at a retail price of $39.95. Last year, the numbers continued to improve, and the Enquirer expects strong sales of the 2008 edition as well.

5. Story-based communities
The Toronto Globe and Mail uses
Cover It Live, a live-blogging/discussion tool that provides interactive coverage of breaking news and live events such as conferences and hearings. Real-time comments, audio and video postings, and polls are among the types of content that can be recorded and then embedded in the story, like this piece on a subway shooting in January.

6. Collaborative outsourced news services
While British startup
Yoosk bills itself as an “interactive news magazine,” it represents the type of outsourced service many newspapers may wind up using as their own resources dwindle. Yoosk allows its users to put a question to politicians and celebrities, to comment on the publicly viewable answers, and to submit their own ideas for interview features. Its founders hope to collaborate with established news sites, including newspapers willing to outsource parts of their magazine sections.

7. Customized delivery
MediaNews Group, publisher of such major dailies as the Denver Post and Oakland Tribune, has announced plans to test a “customized news delivery service called ‘I-News’ or ‘Individuated News” this summer with the LA Daily News. This service would allow subscribers to choose from different categories, including news from other parts of the country. Blending the offerings of regional newspapers into a separate platform may help more of them survive.

8. Branded communities
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has launched
MySTLtoday, a branded community featuring areas such as user-created groups, user-posted content, and special interest sections like St. Louis’ BestBridal. Excerpts from shared stories are printed each week in the legacy paper. This might seem old-school, but it strengthens a traditional middle American brand, and it promotes more interaction, which helps advertisers pinpoint their targets.

9. Publishing APIs for third-party developers
The New York Times has taken the lead in an area sure to attract other organizations. By publishing application programming interfaces, or APIs, for third-party software developers, the
Times Developer Network has encouraged the creation of a new class of social media applications. Developers have already produced mashups that combine Times content with other resources. Advertisers should see new opportunities to embed messages tailored to the end user, and the Times may partner with those developers it deems worthy, avoiding the incremental cost of creating new applications internally.
UK’s The Guardian has announced similar plans to
open up its content with Open Platform.

10. Burning the boat that brought you
Unfortunately, this isn’t the most agreeable method for many, but social media applied to a smaller, virtual organization might be the way of the future. As
reported here last week, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer may move to an online-only version of its daily newspaper. This is the ultimate way to save a paper through social media: make the Web its only channel of distribution, and leverage the history of the brand. Loyalty won’t be hard to track, and the test of that loyalty will be the price point established by subscriptions, for individual sections or the entire publication. The argument “would you save this paper for the price of a latte?” becomes very cogent, especially in Seattle.

~ Nicole

h/t Woody Lewis