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Robots: The New Journalists

July 15, 2014

“Can a robot write a symphony? Can a robot turn a ... canvas into a beautiful masterpiece?”

From I, Robot

Who wouldn’t want to replace reporters with robots?  It’s understandable when you consider the advantages.

Robots are available when needed.  They don’t call in sick, don’t complain, don’t make annoying demands and they’ll even work on holidays.  Their work may be flawless, they always make deadlines and they’re 100% objective.  They don’t gossip, don’t waste time talking about sports and won’t try to unionize.  They don’t collect a paycheck and they don’t need health insurance.

Robots make great employees, because they’re not human.  So it’s not surprising that the Associated Press this month has begun using robots from Automated Insights to generate up to 4,400 quarterly earnings reports.

AP isn’t the first to use robowriters.  Forbes uses algorithms from Narrative Science to research and write brief stories about companies whose stocks are performing well, while The Los Angeles Times uses bots to publish stories about earthquakes and homicides.

Becoming Your Own Publisher (Content Marketing, Part 2)

April 22, 2014

Content marketing is a form of self-publishing.

Instead of publicizing company news, publishing articles in media or arranging interviews on newsworthy topics, content marketers typically write and post content on a blog, then “amplify” their message by tweeting it, and posting on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and elsewhere.

Blogs are the media and social media are the channels for distributing your news.  An e-blast can serve both purposes.  In either case, you get to control your news, develop your messaging and target your audience as narrowly or as broadly as you’d like.  However, you also have to develop your own audience.

Goodbye Public Relations, Hello Content Marketing (Content Marketing, Part 1)

April 21, 2014

Today, content marketing rules.  We create content, manage content, share content and even try to amplify content.  Content is being promoted, optimized, aggregated, repurposed and even curated.

So what is this thing called “content marketing” and how can it help your business?

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

The CMI provides plenty of free information, but it could use some help with its content, which is loaded with marketing clichés, so allow me to translate that definition for you.

Ginormous News: A Secret Blog Entry about Beyoncé

December 29, 2013

OMG!  I’ve been thinking about writing this blog post since I heard about Beyoncé’s no-longer-secret album two weeks ago.

Yet I’ve kept it secret, even from my wife, from Beyoncé and from Beyoncé’s producer, because apparently no one tells him anything anyway.

I’ve kept this blog post a secret for the same reason that Beyoncé kept her album a secret.  If I told anyone about it when I first thought about writing it, it wouldn’t be news today.  But since I’m telling you now, it’s big news.  After all, we’re talking about Beyoncé.

Maybe, like Beyoncé, I can get 1.2 million tweets within 12 hours of posting this.  Maybe I can break Bey’s new record of more than 5,300 tweets per minute.  On the other hand, I don’t have a social media and public relations team working non-stop to promote my blog.  But maybe I can get a few comments!

Beware of Fake News

December 6, 2013

What do you get when you combine an advertisement with a news story? Those in the industry would say, “An advertorial.” Those who have spent money on advertorials, though, would say, “Not much.”

The advertorial is the illegitimate child of advertising and journalism. It represents the worst of both worlds, as it lacks the credibility of journalism and the effectiveness of advertising. It’s as tacky as an infomercial and generally as worthy of attention as yesterday’s weather forecast.

Public Relations vs. Propaganda

June 4, 2013

In more than 20 years of business, I have never had a client ask me to cover up the truth.  If one did ask, I would walk away.  Dishonesty is not only morally wrong, it’s almost always disastrous for the client.

Influencing Behavior

May 30, 2013

Guest post from Tom Hagley Sr.:

I like to challenge people to define public relations in two words. Other professions define themselves in two words—doctors practice medicine, lawyers practice law, accountants keep records. People in these disciplines define their work in two words, issue invoices and get paid accordingly for their expertise.

Not everyone in PR can do the same because many people—yes, many people— in public relations cannot define what they do.

We’re Writing for Your Customers

May 29, 2013

The most difficult task we have as marketing professionals should be the simplest – convincing clients to think like their customers.

It’s difficult, because clients are wired to think in the language of their industry.  When we translate it into English, it sounds foreign to them.

What’s Your Title?

May 23, 2013

Those who practice law are called lawyers or attorneys.  Those who practice medicine are called doctors or physicians.  Those who cover news are called reporters or journalists.  Those who practice public relations are called … well, there’s really no consistent title.

Are we public relations practitioners, still practicing after all of these years?  Are we public relations specialists or public relations professionals?  Are we publicists or press agents, which implies that all we do is get our clients published?  Are we flacs?

Kill the Beast!

May 20, 2013

"Maybe there is a beast. ... maybe it's only us.'"

William Golding, Lord of the Flies

 

The anarchy of the Internet is one of its greatest attractions.  Anyone can say anything.  And, when leaving comments, we’re all equals.

So what should I make of the discussion I began in the LinkedIn group Public Relations and Communications Professionals that has attracted more than 250 comments?