September 15, 2017
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The Big Stories
Unleash your superhero with AI -- "Every PR person who manages to surf the new AI wave will get instant superpowers, including the ability to predict the future," according to this VentureBeat piece. The article gives a big shout-out to Shift Communications for using "AI and machine learning in predictive analytics, text mining, and advanced attribution. During a recent client crisis, Shift was able to crunch more than 15,000 content-rich blogs for a medical client in just 1.5 seconds to identify insights, trends, and keywords in hopes to identify the root cause of a situation. Through the process, Shift was able to uncover an entirely different reputation issue that the client is now able to address." The piece also notes that the big agencies are lagging far behind, which can only put smiles on the faces of Shift's leaders. Read more
How not to launch a business -- Two former Googlers introduced their startup, Bodega, with a vision of rendering "centralized shopping locations" (that is, mom-and-pop owners of real bodegas) obsolete. Owners of bodegas, their customers, and a wide range of others provided epic backlash to the idea, which is essentially a vending machine that watches you while you make your purchase. One of the co-founders backtracked a day later, but the outrage didn't subside. The reaction signals a growing weariness and skepticism around Silicon Valley startups that attract huge amounts of money for iffy ideas that don't address a real need. Read more
Pew identifies personas of information seekers -- People don't all look for facts and information from the same starting point. Pew Research has identified five categories of Americans who seek information: the eager and willing (22%), the confident (16%), the cautious and curious (13%), the doubtful (24%) and the wary (25%). "The typology suggests that one size does not fit all when it comes to information outreach," the report says. "For instance, information purveyors might need to use very different methods to get material to the Eager and Willing, who are relatively trusting of institutional information and eager to learn, compared with the tactics they might consider in trying to get the attention of the Cautious and Curious, who are open to learning but relatively distrusting of institutional information." This study bears careful attention from communicators accustomed to publishing content designed for consumption by, well, everybody. Whether you're trying to sell something or convince people of a position, making content relevant means crafting content designed to convince each of these five types. Read more
Blockchain is emerging as a way to protect your identity -- If your records were hacked from Equifax, you know what an onerous set of tasks you're facing to protect your identity and your credit. It turns out that blockchain could be the antidote to such issues, giving us "more control over (our) information, and with proper applications allow us to present just the minimum amount of information a given party needs to identify us. That could be your date of birth at a bar, your credit score at a bank, or a unique identifier to access an online service." Several months ago, I suggested in a Robert Scoble-initiated thread that blockchain could provide this kind of identity management, for which I was mercilessly attacked by one participant for my utter cluelessness. Blockchain, he insisted, made everything about you accessible. Who's clueless now? Read more
Agencies tapped social media during Irma -- After an initial request from the Coast Guard that residents use 911 and other emergency numbers instead of social media during Hurricane Irma, it became one of several government and responder organizations to get information out. Read more
Nextdoor also provides a lifeline during hurricanes -- Along with Facebook and Twitter, Nextoor allowed neighbors and stranger to band together to help each other during hurricanes Harvey and Irma. People used these tools to help one another find shelters, figure out where to volunteer and make donations, and figure out where gas and food were available on passable roads. Read more
A senator is concerned about Face ID -- U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minn) is concerned about privacy and the potential for abuse that could arise from Apple's introduction of Face ID, part of the just-unveiled iPhone X. In a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Franken asked whether a third party might be able to extract faceprint data from a user's phone. He also voiced concerns about reported higher error rates when people of color use Face ID. Read more
Resistance to Apple's cookie-killing plans -- In a letter to Apple, six big advertising trade associations have expressed their opposition to Apple's plan to limit cookies on the next iteration of its browser, Safari. Apple plans to purge cookie data every 24 hours; advertisers and marketers are accustomed to the data being available for 30 days. Read more
Twitter's Dorsey admits he has tough challenges ahead -- When they shared a stage recently, WPP CEO Martin Sorrell pummelled Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey with questions, prompting Dorsey to admit that Twitter hasn't "made it easy enough for people to find their interest. We should deliver what matters in the moment and what's relevant to people -- and to make it easier to join those conversations." Read more
Facebook separates Instant Articles from Messenger -- Facebook will no longer make Instant Articles accessible through Messenger, saying they're focusing on Instant Articles as a Facebook app feature. Read more
New options for Instagram Stories -- Instagram's wildly popular Stories can now be included in Facebook's full-screen Canvas ad formats. (It truly is becoming a multichannel world, with lines between content marketing and advertising getting blurrier all the time.) "Brands can use camera features, like face filters, boomerangs, and drawing tools, to create a piece of media, then repurpose it as an ad." Read more
Microsoft Teams has room to grow -- Microsoft's Slack competitor, Teams (a part of Office 365), has attracted 125,000 organizations (businesses, schools, etc.). With 100 million members, there's room for growth. To get there, Microsoft is adding features like guest access (the ability for a team to invite a contractor or other outsider) to chat. Mostly, Microsoft is appealing to larger organizations while Slack looks to smaller companies. Read more
Slack introduces shared channels -- Meanwhile, Slack has introduced shared channels as a means for different companies to create joint chat rooms to do business together. The open beta is available only to paying customers. Read more
Testing: 1, 2, 3
There was enough news about tests and experiments by social media entities this to warrant its own category.
Facebook tests WiFi video downloads -- Instant Videos lets you download Facebook videos while you're on a WiFi network so you can watch them instantly (or have them ready to go when you're out and about) without tapping your data plan. Read more
Go ahead, send that questionable message -- WhatsApp has started testing the ability to delete messages you sent by mistake (or regret having sent) before it can been seen by whoever you sent it to. This "unsend" feature is already built into competitors Telegram, WeChat, and Viber. Read more
Could Facebook be the new LinkedIn? -- Another new feature Facebook is trying out helps users find mentors and mentees. When you find a match, you'll see common interests, friends, educations, and professions. Read more
Twitter tests tweetstorm tool -- Twitter is testing a feature in its Android app that would let you publish a string of tweets (a tweetstorm, that is) all at once. Read more
A private profile for your closest friends -- Yet another test from Facebook would let you create a more detailed or personal profile viewable only by your closest friends. Read more
Businesses are obligated to address societal issues -- That's what 74% of respondents to Fleishman-Hillard's Authenticity Gap study said, while 63% want companies to drive "the interchange of ideas products, and culture on the world stage." Americans were most vocal in that view; Germans were the least. Other results: Companies need to do more to provide cybersecurity, people associate a CEO's integrity with that of his or her company, people expect companies to make the occasional mistake, most consumers have experienced disappointment with a company, and customer care generally fails to meet expectations. Read more
PR's influencer role in the climate change debate -- A study in the peer-reviewed journal Risk Analysis finds that Americans of all political stripes are more inclined to support politics to address climate change after seeing news and images that inspire hope rather than fear. PR has a role: supplying journalists with credible information, images, video, and other hope-focused content. Read more
YouTube dominates Android -- YouTube's Android app accounted for about 80% (some 9.5 billion hours) of the 12 billion total hours consumers spent using the top 10 Android video stream apps in the year ending July 2017. That's way ahead of competitors Netflix, Twitch, Hulu, and Amazon Video. Read more
Instagram video is driving mad engagement levels -- New data finds that videos posted to Instagram by top media publishers saw engagement spike 53% over a year ago; photo engagement grew only 46%. Overall, photos generate higher engagement levels than videos, but the spike in video engagement for top publishers is raising eyebrows and leading others to add video at faster rates. Read more
Reddit's ban of toxic subreddits succeeded -- While there was plenty of skepticism and opposition when Reddit banned some of its most hateful subreddits, a study shows that it has had sustained positive effects. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology found the people who were posting the hate speech mostly didn't take to other channels as new forums for their hate and members of the banned communities left Reddit in droves. Read more
But tagging fake news on Facebook doesn't work -- To tackle fake news, Facebook has partnered with third-party fact checkers to tag questionable content. It's not working, according to Yale researchers. It turns out that the tags don't have much of an impact on whether readers perceive the headlines as true. Read more
Short videos are a must -- The average person thumbs through 300 feet of news feed every day -- the height of the Statue of Liberty. Most people are on the go when they're checking their feeds, not leaning in or leaning back. Short videos satisfy those people assuming they also incorporate creativity, craftsmanship, and great storytelling. Read more
Podcast measurement improvements are here -- Apple will deliver consumption metrics to podcast creators and Panoply (the podcast network owned by Slate) has partnered with Nielsen to provide audience targeting for ads it inserts into shows. That's a big improvement from being able to measure only downloads. Now if only I can get the same metrics from my podcast hosting service, Libsyn. Read more
Artificial Intelligence, Chatbots, and Smart Audio
The camera is your new keyboard -- Artificial Intelligence is "quickly becoming the retail sector's next big digital shopping experience" and the smartphone camera is at the heart of AI's capabilities. AI-powered image search "understands consumers' interests based on the images they look at online and the social pages that they 'like'." Consumers can also upload a photo (on Pinterest, mainly) to find pins containing similar images. Read more
Evidence surfaces of Facebook's voice aspirations -- A past version of Facebook's mobile app includes code for an unreleased voice assistant. The discovery adds fuel to speculation that Facebook is working on a voice-enabled digital assistant to compete with Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant, and Amazon's Alexa. Read more
The rise of voice and the marketer's role -- There will be 20.4 billion connected devices in three years and many won't have visual displays. Voice will be the primary means of interacting with these devices, complementing smart speakers and smartphone-based digital assistants. The best way for marketers to prepare is to start developing Amazon Skills and Actions on Google, which will help you develop a better sense of conversational interfaces. Read more
Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality
Apple partners with Snapchat on AR filters -- During its big reveal on Tuesday, Apple announced that it has partnered with Snap Inc. (Snapchat's parent) "to create hyper-realistic filters that can track your facial movements. The news led to a 2% bump in Snap's share price. Read more
Should you move your company blog to Medium? -- The pros: a huge existing audience, a simple editor that produces gorgeous content, SEO authority, built-in social amplification, easy republishing of content from elsewhere. The cons: less control over aesthetics, no built-in lead generation, and weak analytics. This analysis also covers the pros and cons of a company blog. Read more
The promise of socialm edia runs headlong into disaster hoaxes
What is it with the inability of people to control their impulse to create fake images during disasters (or send attribute images to the disaster that have entirely different sources)? Whatever it is, people share these posts in drove, calling into question the credibility of any information shared via social networks. I long for the days of mailing lists and CompuServe forums where members of tighter communities came to trust and even depend on one another. (That's one of the reasons Nextdoor is gaining so much traction.) Read more
Place: Part 13 in My Series on a New Model for Employee Communication
Whether it's the cities where your company has facilities, the interior design, or the art on the walls, place has an impact on culture (both good and bad). Here's how employee communicators can help reinforce the positive elements of place. Read more
The latest from the FIR Podcast Network
- Employee communication thought leaders Paul Barton and Sean Williams joined me on FIR episode #104 to talk about whether companies have improved their crisis and emergency communications since 9/11; why change communication should be part of the employee communication effort United Technologies will engage in as a result of its acquisition of Rockwell Collins; the heavily criticized crisis communication from Equifax in the wake of their recent data breach; the gap between HR and executives’ perception of corporate culture; and why communicators need to stop looking at collaboration tools as communication tools. Listen
- Paul and David tackled two topics on this week's FIR B2B: the Equifax data breach disaster and how they like to get PR pitches. Listen
- Companies and countries around the world are starting to implement the four-day workweek. We may not all get the great fortune of a long weekend every week. For those of us stuck in the five-day workweek, here are tips from the Young PR Pros hosts for turning your week into a short week, leaving you a whole extra day to tackle bigger things and get ahead. Listen
- Digital India looks at WhatsApp for Business. Also, Amazon's seasonal job oppoertunities during India's festive seasons, Google's new personalzied news feed in Hindi, and more. Listen
- In the first of two FIR Interviews this week, I talked with Jen McClure about JEM Consulting's "State of Employee Advocacy" survey, including the connection between employee advocacy and social selling, whether employees who participate in an employee advocacy should have their involvement reflected in their performance evaluations, the role of advocacy amplification apps (and whether they can constitute an entire advocacy program), and some of the challenges of maintaining enthusiasm among ambassadors once a program is up and running. Listen
- The second FIR Interview features Edelman's Phil Gomes, senior vice president of U.S. B2B Digital, discussing his new blockchain white paper, published by the American Association of Advertising Agencies. that makes the case for marketers and communicators to add blockchain technology to the list of technologies they must understand, some of the startups whose work could change communication processes and content, as well as other dimensions of blockchain that will soon be part of communication workflows. Listen
On the Calendar
- On September 18, I'll give a talk at the Association of Women Communicators national conference in Dallas.
- I'm speaking at an Igloo Software user's conference in Nashville on September 20.
- I'm giving multiple presentations at the Professional Speechwriter's Association on how speechwriters can use social and digital media. It's set for Washington, D.C. on October 16.
- I'm speaking at the Social Media #Mashup at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, which will be held October 23-25.
- On November 1, I'll present a preconference session on the four key focus areas from my new employee communication model at the Great Places to Work conference at Genentech in South San Francisco.
- On November 16, I'll present the opening keynote address as well as a breakout session at the Library Marketing and Communication Conference in Dallas.
- On December 4, I'll be in Cambridge, MA, speaking at an Intranet Best Practices conferences at IBM's offices.
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