Active Storytelling: Using Video News Releases for PR Professionals (FT Press Delivers Elements)
This is a trend we first talked about but in an incisive post Talking Points Memo Editor Josh Marshall sums up the ingredients for a digital media crash that, he says, nobody wants to talk about.
From Flyers & Posters to Google & Facebook
The use of emojis in email storylines and mobile notifications are further ways in which journalists are gaining new skills around visual literacy. The internet was not all doom and gloom in It was also the year when — because of social media — we were all talking and laughing at the same things again.
We have got through the review of without mentioning Donald Trump, but it would be remiss not to point out that, against expectations, we predicted last year that he would continue to personally run his fiery Twitter account while in office and indeed that many other politicians would try to emulate him. Amidst all the uncertainly of the year ahead this is one prediction we are happy to roll-over.
For each theme we lay out a few suggestions about what might happen next. I am especially worried about the share of the advertising market the big platforms have and the lack of alternatives from media companies. Not all tech companies are viewed with equal concern. On a scale from 1 to 5, there is a more positive view on average of Google 3. Sentiment towards Facebook in particular seems to have worsened following its perceived role in promoting fake news, the lack of promised revenue for video, and a sudden drop in Facebook referrals to many news websites since the summer.
This dramatic switch round reflects increasingly divergent strategies of Google and Facebook, driven by their different business models. Facebook is trying to maximise time spent within its own website and apps and sell that attention to advertisers. Choking off organic referrals is helping increase the value of paid-for advertising while it is also hoping to take a share of TV advertising budgets with its push into video. Though tensions remain over whether Google should pay more to content producers, there has been significant movement on key publisher complaints. Many of the European publishers in our survey have benefited from its news innovation fund and publisher outreach programme DNI , which also helps explain the higher scores for Google.
Google has made a true effort in steering its relationship with the media in the right direction. Initiatives such as the DNI and collaborative product management such as AMP illustrate how publishers and platforms can actually work together. The image of progress without any is probably the worst situation to be in. Facebook is beginning to address the destructive side effects its platform has on the news ecosystem.
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And the first Google funded projects that try to increase digital revenues for publishers enter the marketplace. One example of this came in the autumn when, without warning, Facebook moved all publisher-posted content away from the news feed — which users see by default — to a new Explore Feed in six countries Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Bolivia, Guatemala, and Cambodia. In many developing countries, like Guatemala and Cambodia, there are fears that the loss of Facebook traffic will stunt the growth of independent media that had started to provide a balance to state owned media and also to extreme perspectives that have become rife in many parts of the world.
In particular, in developing countries like Myanmar and Cambodia where Facebook is the internet, basically … this is a big threat to real democracy and freedom of speech. But George Brock of City University suggests that Facebook may be in a weaker position than it seems:. From our survey it is clear that many publishers still feel that platform companies need to do much more to face up to their wider responsibilities. Advertisers are demanding greater transparency over measurement and for more protection for their brands.
Politicians, regulators, and ordinary users will be adding to that pressure too. Something significant is likely to give in In combination with increasing exposure and attention to fact-checking this is likely to ease the misinformation problem but at the expense of reducing exposure to a wide range of legitimate news. One alternative option for Facebook might be to remove in-feed-based news content but to replace it with a news trending module linking to the Explore section like the Apple News widget.
A key theme from many of the comments in our survey was the desire to take back control. Expect more news organisations to pull out of deals with Facebook, Apple, and Snapchat that they consider are not delivering sufficient financial return, focusing instead on building more direct readership. Platforms will be forced to take on thousands more extra editorial and policy staff — either because of regulation Germany — or as a way of staving off regulation UK. YouTube alone will be employing a total of 10, human moderators by early and these will be assisted by algorithms that flag potentially worrying content.
No need to worry just yet about humans being replaced by computers in the age of automation. Facebook or Google will be regularly accused of censorship this year after protectively removing content which they feel might leave them open to a big fine. Indeed Facebook and Twitter have already removed content from a far-right member of the German parliament , for alleged incitement, as the new laws covering social media platforms come into effect.
Elsewhere, Facebook has started the year by removing the accounts of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov because he had been added to a United States sanctions list — which would have exposed the company to financial penalty. The lack of clear and transparent rules about which content — and which accounts — should be removed will become an increasingly thorny issue for platforms in and an increasing source of tension between the US and undemocratic regimes.
Accusations of double standards by American companies will be hard to counter, particularly if the US president himself continues to promote inflammatory material via his Twitter account. Campaigners argue that Silicon Valley companies should not be forced to be the arbiters of free speech or human rights and argue for new independent oversight.
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Revelations about manipulation of platforms in the US electoral process has brought home not only how problematic the role of the big platforms is, but also how challenging the issues are to fix in a way that is in tune with our core democratic values. News chief at a leading US publisher. Beyond new rules on political advertising, there is likely to be little concrete action against platforms in Scaled-up moderation and a continued charm offensive by platforms more money for news literacy, innovation is likely to head off extreme regulation, not least because there is little agreement on what should be done.
With only a year to run, the European Commission may find it is easier to focus on headline-grabbing initiatives — such as making platforms pay a bigger share of taxes on European sales. As our own research Nielsen and Graves, has shown, from an audience perspective, the term covers a multitude of sins — crystallising audience concerns about biased and shoddy journalism, political spin, misleading online advertising, as well as deliberately fabricated stories distributed via social media.
There will be no quick solution to this complex mix of different but related problems. Although many of these concerns spin, propaganda have been around for decades, it is clear that digital and social media have fundamentally changed the rules of the game. Kevin Kelly, co-founder of Wired magazine, points out that: As a result there is less faith than there used to be in traditional media brands. At the same, the internet has exposed citizens to a vast array of new perspectives.
Facts, alternative facts, and counter-facts now sit side-by-side online for example, in a social media feed in a way that is often confusing to audiences. So far attempts to tackle these problems fact-checking, greater transparency have assumed that it is possible to rebuild public trust in the media. Greater scepticism towards the facts is the inevitable consequence of exposure to a wider range of perspectives. In itself this may not be a bad thing as long as it is supported by better source labelling, signals of quality, and improved news literacy. The damage that has been created by misinformation, propaganda, and abuse represents an enormous challenge for platform companies as they try to balance their commitment to maximum freedom of expression with a need to rid their services of damaging content.
For the first time engineers have begun to realise the consequences of what they have created, but also that technology on its own cannot solve the problem. Expect the deployment of a range of targeted new processes and algorithms to spot different kinds of abuse, and flag these to human moderators.
Much will be made of the way in which these algorithms can learn from these human interventions AI and become smarter and more self-sufficient. Canadian start-up Lyrebird is working on audio impersonations. Whilst these are being created for entirely legitimate purposes, these examples show how voice morphing and face-morphing could, in the wrong hands, produce realistic fabricated statements by politicians or other public figures.
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Platform and government funding of independent fact-checkers will increase in , along with technical semi-automated solutions to help them do a better job. Visibility will increase in social networks and search engines as data-driven experiments reveal where and when they can have most impact. In December, the Weekly Standard became the first conservative US publication to join the list of verified fact-checkers.
In the fragmented world of the internet, the focus is shifting from figuring out what to believe to who to believe. The ability to identify trusted brands or people quickly will be at the heart of healthy information ecosystems but we are still some way from that. By the end of expect significant progress in this area. Google says it will do more to surface more high-quality, credible content on the web, which in turn requires better tagging and description of content at source. The Trust Project is already providing indicators about ethical standards and journalistic expertise, which will start to be integrated into algorithms this year.
At the same time, platforms will increase the space given to news logos to enable familiar brands to be more easily picked out and new tags to describe content such as breaking news or analysis. Education around how to avoid fake news will be part of the story this year. Away from fake news and relationships with publishers how can we expect the social landscape to change this year? The Reuters Institute Digital News Report is one of many surveys showing Facebook usage is high but stagnating see the next chart.
Another sign that we may have passed the peak has been the decline in participation on Facebook. As a result, some sharing of personal content has shifted to smaller, ephemeral, or more closed communities, especially for video and pictures. In our Reuters Institute data, messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are growing rapidly in general but also for news, while Snapchat resonates most with 18—25s.
Instagram has also been one of the fastest growing networks over the last two years as it moves to capitalise on new mobile behaviours and richer story-based formats. Meanwhile, Twitter continues to struggle for growth though it has been making attempts to improve usability, adding algorithmic selection of content, better threading and a longer character length.
But will this be enough to save it? Research in the US shows that three out five parents say their unders use messaging apps, social media, or both. National Parent Teacher Association study working with Facebook. FB Messenger Kids will be rolling out through , offering a service for this age group where parents must approve and verify all new contacts, though they are not entitled to see the content itself.
It is possible to imagine this eventually expanding into a much wider platform for age-appropriate entertainment and education content. With many of the FB management team now parents themselves, it is not surprising they are focused on creating a service that works from cradle to grave. With over m users, Instagram stories have already surpassed Snapchat in popularity. Effectively these are easy to create slideshows that you can animate add filters, effects, text, and stickers. Users can mix pictures and videos and you can also create live video stories, which can be archived for later.
Journalists are increasingly using these powerful tools to tell their own mobile stories. We going to see more of these visual, swipeable story formats in Facebook is boosting the prominence of its own stories and will also enable cross-posting of Instagram ones. Re-engaging user-generation in this way could help solve the problem of context collapse mentioned above. Now Facebook has proved how easy these features are to copy from Snapchat , expect to see more mainstream media companies deploying them within their own mobile websites and apps — as well as using third-party platforms that offer these formats.
Facebook Live has not been as popular as hoped while early attempts to create original online shows have failed to turn Facebook Watch into a must-visit entertainment destination. Facebook has pledged to spend billions of dollars advancing its TV ambitions. In this respect, it may be looking to compete more with Netflix and Amazon than with YouTube. In turn this will require shifting consumer expectations. Long-form linear content is not an obvious fit with social media and is still mainly watched on TV-sized screens. The quickest way to changing habits will be to acquire exclusive must-see content.
That is likely to mean sports. A looming battle is expected for Premier League streaming rights for the period —22, with Facebook, Amazon, and Google all likely to be in the frame. The auction, which includes UK and international rights, is due to be completed by February this year. All this is likely to mean even more money for sports clubs and perhaps joint bids between tech companies and media businesses to keep the costs affordable. Partners like BuzzFeed, Mashable, Attn and Vox Media have benefited from direct payments from Facebook to create original online content, but Facebook is on record as wanting to reduce those payments over time and is already restructuring deals.
Ad revenue is still limited though new formats are due to be tested within the Facebook Watch destination in Many publishers will need to decide whether producing lifestyle or unscripted video for Facebook still makes sense. Video production is expensive, logistically difficult, and hard to scale. Even basic news production will need re-evaluating: We will see a scaling back of investment by publishers in syndicated short-form video. This is a significant turnaround. Adjacent display worked well in print, was largely ignored on the desktop, and has become irrelevant on a mobile screen.
The economics of supply and demand has driven down prices, ad fraud is rife, and ad-blocking is widespread. This will apply to many newspaper groups but also to venture capital-funded pure-players that may have leaned in too far with a distributed model. Against this background it is not surprising that commercial media companies are looking at new approaches for and in particular towards different forms of reader payment.
For now it seems that many publishers are hedging their bets. The majority of print and digital-born publishers in our survey are pursuing multiple revenue streams, with an average of six different options viewed as or very or quite important. I think that increasingly they are realising that distributed content, video, VR and AR are not the one-shot saviours that people hoped they would be.
The real value in this business is the same as it ever was — great journalism. The trick is getting people to pay for it. Digital Head of UK publisher. The shift to subscription is driven by a combination of desperation and hope. Research shows that some young people, perhaps sensitised by Netflix and Spotify subscriptions, are more interested in paying for news than we had thought.
One-off donations to the Guardian in the last year , have brought in millions of pounds of new revenue. Its paying membership option reduces dependence on advertising while keeping the benefits of open access. On the other hand, there are still many reasons to be cautious. Most people have no intention of paying anything for online news today or in the future. In practice there will be no one-size-fits all model for reader payment or for business models in general. In our survey, those focusing on subscription tend to be in the richer parts of the world like the US, Germany, and Nordic countries.
Publishers from Southern and Central Europe and from Asia and Latin America recognise the need but find it much harder to see how in the short term they can move away from their dependence on advertising. Elsewhere, there is another more practical concern. Small publishers with an existing subscription business like Follow the Money in the Netherlands worry that they might lose out if more publishers launch paywalls. More publishers will focus on reader revenue … but will the number of readers who are willing to pay increase? Otherwise we will end up competing for the same subscription money.
Jan-Willem Sanders, publisher, Follow the Money. The move to reader payment is a challenge to the idea that the web can open up information to all — and in the process drive democracy and progress. If more high-quality content disappears behind a paywall, there is a danger of widening the current disconnect between the elites and the rest of the population. Up until now, most attention has been focused on getting domestic customers to pay, but as that gets harder the focus will switch to an international audience with differential cheaper pricing to drive numbers. Paywalls are being tightened.
The New York Times has recently moved from ten free articles a month to five and new trial offers, sampling, and pricing options are being prepared. The Times has set a stretch goal of 10m subscribers by sometime in the s and that will require a much more international and multilingual product with more local journalists for customisation. Another key weapon in the battle for paying eyeballs will be bundling. Local newspaper partnership will also play a role. Expect to see more bundling deals in and especially with utility, phone, and pay TV companies looking to provide more lock-in value for customers.
Concerns about misinformation and market failure in commercial local news provision should be rallying support for public media, but populist politicians and strains on public funding are pushing hard in the opposite direction. It is highly possible that a referendum in Switzerland in March to scrap the compulsory broadcasting fee will pass — reshaping the media landscape. Populist pressures are building elsewhere with a right-wing Danish party proposing scrapping of the licence fee there.
In Eastern and Central Europe public broadcasters increasingly serve as promotional arms of their governments. Licence fee money has already been top-sliced to pay for local journalists in newspaper newsrooms. I am increasingly worried there may be little long-term survival for most commercial media, but that they may try to drag public service media down with them in an effort to gain traction for paywalls, leaving the public with no strong media at all in the longer term.
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Just when we thought digital advertising was finished, could see a partial revival of its fortunes. The advent of browsers that automatically block overly intrusive advertising is the culmination of several years of work from the Coalition for Better Ads, an alliance of platforms, industry bodies, advertisers, and publishers. On the way out are ads that flash, autoplay sound and video, and those that take over the page. Retargeting of ads across websites will also become much harder in Europe after GDPR regulations come into place in May.
Worries about ads being placed next to poor-quality content could also help publishers sell premium advertising either on their own or in alliance with others. More publishers are likely to pull away from automated ad exchanges to focus on higher quality premium experiences. The Chrome web-browser incorporates ad-blocking by default from mid-February. By addressing the worst abuses, Google hopes it can stop users from downloading stronger third-party tools e. Brave and Cliqz that block its own ads and tracking systems. This strips out advertising, branding, and contextual related links, which may have a more detrimental effect on publishers.
The greatest threat to the so-called duopoloy looks set to come from Amazon in Brands say they are planning to invest more in Amazon ads around its shopping search engine and live streaming of NFL games opens up new advertising opportunities. Amazon will overtake Twitter and Snapchat in advertising revenue in That will also mean fewer journalists. Consultant Kevin Anderson expects to see legacy players such as broadcasters with deep pockets up snapping up digital-born operations: These could be around advertising alliances Portuguese publishers, Schibsted in Norway and Sweden , content BBC and local news , selling subscriptions Washington Post and local papers , or technology solutions Washington Post and Globe and Mail in Canada.
This could be the year when media companies recognise how critical data will be to their future success. This is the next battleground for media — and having the right data infrastructure and skills will be the key to making it work. As one example, UK publisher the Daily Telegraph wants to grow registered readers to 10m as it moves away from a mass reach strategy to one based on maximising revenue from a smaller number of logged in users.
This has already delivered 23m registered users, creating the conditions for BBC News and Sport to also deliver more personalised recommendations on the website, in the app, or via mobile notifications. Norway publishers are looking at collective national registration schemes to provide better scaled data that can compete with Facebook. One additional factor pushing sign-in is upcoming European regulations that require publishers to gain explicit permission from readers to contact them.
Publishers will also be required to provide mechanisms e. A requirement for clearer and simpler privacy policies and the right to transfer or have data deleted is also part of the package.
As with much new regulation, it is not entirely clear what compliance will mean or how strictly it will be enforced. The biggest impact of GDPR could be on consumer experience, with irritating messages asking for permission and new opportunities to forget passwords. In terms of the economic effects, GDPR could favour premium publishers that have enough trust to obtain consumer consent, leaving other sites struggling with less valuable advertising lower CPMs and a loss of and economic competitiveness.
With tech firms betting their future on AI, publishers are also looking to understand how this range of complex technologies could be deployed in their businesses.
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Surprisingly, almost three-quarters of those we surveyed said they were already using some kind of artificial intelligence, by which we mean computers that learn over time — independently — to improve outcomes. Respondents told us about projects to optimise marketing, to automate fact-checking, and to speed up tagging and metadata. Onward links are currently added manually or with simple CMS logic, with most users seeing the same stories, but AI could change this. A new recommendation service called Jame s, being developed by The Times and Sunday Times for News UK , will aim to learn about individual preferences and automatically personalise each edition in terms of format, time, and frequency.
The algorithms will be programmed by humans but will improve over time by the computer itself working to a set of agreed outcomes. These combine ideas of general relevance and personal relevance so individuals are not caught in a filter bubble but are still exposed to more content that they might enjoy. But some go much further. Replika is an AI assistant that, with a bit of training, picks up your moods, preferences, and mannerisms until it starts to sound like you and think like you. In the future, maybe it could mimic your posts on Twitter and Facebook — and keep doing it while you are asleep.
AI can also help journalists fact-check political claims in real time — possibly even while conducting a live radio or TV interview. Start-up Factmata is deploying Natural Language Processing NLP with previously fact-checked databases of political claims to test this kind of service. They are due to be released at the end of This work is being done with partners in Argentina and South Africa. The use of algorithms to recognise patterns in data and make predictions machine learning is also being used to drive commercial decisions.
This already tells Amazon the sort of books you like based on previous purchases. Applying this to news, AI driven paywalls will be able to identify likely subscribers and based on previous behaviour serve up the offer and wording most likely to persuade them to subscribe. Another use will be to create more personalised advertisements or push e-commerce recommendations based on previous interest shown in particular brands or types of responses. News organisations know they have to do more with less; they have to find ways of making journalists more productive without leading to burn out.
Intelligent automation IA is one way to square this circle. As one example, the Press Association PA in the UK has been working with Urbs media to deliver hundreds of semi-automated stories for local newspaper clients. In example below a journalist finds a story using one or more publicly available datasets NHS and population data. The journalist then writes a generic story that is then versioned automatically by the computer to create multiple bespoke versions for different local publications.
Another potential usage of AI is for reporting of live events. Executive Editor of Quartz, Zach Seward, recently gave a speech in China at a conference organised by tech giant Tencent. This was turned into a news story by a combination of AI based speech to text software, automatic transcription, and an automated newswriting programme called Dreamwriter. Around 2, pieces of news on finance, technology, and sports are created by Dreamwriter daily.
Another early example of intelligent automation is Perspective, an AI powered tool developed by Google-offshoot Jigsaw to help improve moderation of comments. This uses machine-learning models to score the perceived impact a comment might have on a conversation. Jigsaw believes that this human inspired collective intelligence will be far more powerful than existing efforts to stop trolls, but critics argue that early results show the dangers of algorithms mirroring existing biases by marking down comments containing words like black and gay.
These are early days for AI and freeing the internet from trolls will be one of the hardest nuts to crack. Jigsaw stresses that these systems will only be part of the answer and are designed to help humans do their jobs more efficiently. But as AI assisted moderation becomes widespread, expect to hear more concerns about censorship and greater calls for transparency.
These stand-alone devices are reshaping home ecosystems, with voice becoming an increasingly important way of managing entertainment and controlling smart systems like lights and heating. These systems are taking off in the home first because there is less social stigma than in other locations and because voice is proving a quick and convenient way of managing a range of tasks. While other players were focusing on the smartphone, Amazon has been building a powerful position as the lynchpin of the connected home.
This year will see the smart speaker wars hotting up further, with Amazon and Google facing competition from Sonos, Samsung, Apple, Microsoft, and possibly Facebook. This really matters because many see AI-powered smart speakers as an increasingly important gateway to the home, not just for media but for commerce and communication too. These devices are already changing consumer behaviour, with media content a main beneficiary. All of this will increase the disruption of radio schedules and stimulate more on-demand audio usage. Many of us continue to underestimate the acceleration of voice use in the home and on mobile.
Some of these devices will have screens but it marks a clear departure from dense text as a way to convey information. A Business Wire survey notes the best time to pitch the media is in the morning:. Craft your emails ahead of time and schedule them to go out at 8 a. You might start your day with a high response rate. Nobody wants to open an email and get a huge block of text without bullets, paragraph spacing, or returns.
Long emails do not win the race. Keep the email short, to the point and be mindful of using white space well with bullets, spacing, font size, emojis, photos and end the message with a call to action. Aggressive and serious or funny and playful? Humor and authenticity go a long way but stay professional and appropriate.
You can get a good read by following your audience on Twitter or another social channel to get the personality vibe. You may lose credibility using those old-school email addresses notorious for spam. Make sure you have a legitimate and well-branded email address. Info or asst will decrease your chances of credibility and increase your chances for deletion.
Facebook is the primary social media platform journalists use when working on a story followed by Twitter and LinkedIn. Supporting facts and strong headlines are top considerations and photos are the most important supplement a press release can have. Making sure your headline and body have relevant keywords to have a higher chance of getting picked up in Google searches in the future.
Paying close attention to Google best practices with links in press releases and being mindful you are writing for humans and not just for search engines. Online newsrooms serve as a content-rich portion of a company website that is visited by prospects, investors, decision makers, influencers, and your customers. How about adding a Facebook Messenger chatbot to your online newsroom for immediate communication? Now your chatbot is the new media relations hero! More and more media relations and networking are happening on Twitter.
Journalists and newscasters are expected to be building a personal following on social for added reach, so interacting on Twitter is where media coverage can begin. Create private Twitter lists for your targeted media, journalists, writers, and influencers and set up a system to monitor and share their content when it makes sense.
Turning on the social video channel — live video on social media — is the latest trend that is nothing to joke about or miss. Video content is thumb stopping. GlobalWebIndex data indicates that nearly 30 percent of internet users have watched a live stream on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Video will make up 82 percent of all internet traffic in , according to Cisco. Brands like Cheddar, BuzzFeed, and Tastemade are crushing it.