Archive for January, 2011

ASME pushes clarity in online advertising

Friday, January 28th, 2011

The American Society of Magazine Editors this week released additional guidelines aimed at online product placement, paid links and interruptive advertising, which are aimed at making sure the reader is “able to distinguish ads from edit,” AdWeek says.

“The new guidelines say paid or sponsored links should be identified as such; Web sites should not promote products in exchange for advertising; and sponsored microsites should be visually distinct from the main Web site. A section on interruptive advertising says such ads should be subject to editorial approval. ASME wants such ads to have a prominent ‘close’ or ‘skip’ button and last no more than 10 seconds.”

Also, ads for tablet media should “look different from editorial pages to avoid confusing the two, since tablets’ ads often aren’t displayed opposite editorial the way they are in print.”

The guidelines, like ones released last fall, are purely voluntary and, particularly in this economy, are likely to be ignored, the report says.

Forbes, for one publication, is unconcerned. It is expanding a program begun last fall that puts advertisers and outside contributors on equal footing with its editorial staffers, AdWeek says in another report this week.

“Under a three-month-old program called AdVoice, advertisers could pay to have their labeled blogs appear alongside those of editorial staffers. Now, their contributions can run anywhere on the site that a staff writer or contributor can appear, not just the blogs section,” AdWeek says.

Microsoft and Toyota have signed on.

“The idea of Lewis D’Vorkin, the company’s new chief product officer, to mix advertising content with edit is a dramatic shift for a historic business brand that once prided itself on not using freelancers,” the report says.

Charlotte Observer reverses e-mail request

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Charlotte Observer Editor Rick Thames said Monday the paper would shelve its request for local residents’ e-mail addresses. “While we did not view these invitations as a ‘commercial use’ of the e-mail lists, we respect the concerns of those who did,” he wrote on his Inside Story blog.

People registered with the Charlotte/Mecklenburg County website received  an e-mail last week explaining that the newspaper had requested the e-mail list and that, because of the state’s open records law, the local government had to provide the names. The request came from the newspaper’s director of strategic products and audience development.

Media critics, this blog included, complained about the move, suggesting that the ability to gather public information for profit is not the point of the state’s hard-won open records laws.

Thames said Monday the paper wanted the addresses “to invite citizens’ input on news coverage” and that they have other ways to do that.

So, is there where we all call them weenies now for backing down?

Elsewhere, Charlotte/Mecklenburg County notified its subscribers that it will seek legislation that would allow it to deny requests for e-mail databases and instead allow only public inspection of this information. Wake and Yadkin counties already have such exemptions.

E-mail info request for ‘better journalism’

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Update: Scott Hepburn, a Charlotte-based PR consultant, social media strategist, trainer and public speaker, explains in his Media Emerging blog why the Charlotte Observer’s grab of private citizens’ e-mail addresses is wrong.

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Charlotte Observer Editor Rick Thames is defending the newspaper’s collection of what WFAE FM says is more than 20,000 e-mail addresses from Charlotte-Mecklenburg County.

“I’m using them to build better journalism,”  Thames told the radio station. “I think it’s good for the community, but I don’t see it as (benefiting the paper) anymore than it is for people in real estate to have records of home sales. Do you?”

People registered with the city/county website got an e-mail this week explaining that the newspaper had requested the e-mail list and that, because of the state’s open records law, the local government had to provide the names. The request came from the newspaper’s director of strategic products and audience development.

Thames says they want to ask people “if they would like to occasionally advise us on how we’re reporting and what they would like to know more from their government and more about their community.”

Former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett calls the request “a blatant misuse of the ‘right-to-know’ laws by a for-profit company that is looking to expand its readership.”

(We were clued in to WFAE’s work on this by @McClatchyWatch.)

Social media a boon to branded content

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Social media is providing a boost to fashion magazines’ use of advertorial copy — also called “edvertorial” and “branded content” — to the point that “editorial is the new advertising,” according to  Women’s Wear Daily.

“After seeing the power of marketing effective viral content, brands are scurrying to invest in this type of material — and in many cases, are cutting back on their traditional advertising spending as a result,” the report says.

“It’s taking an editorial approach to telling your brand story, and the social-media space just lends itself so beautifully to that combination,” said Miki Berardelli, chief marketing officer at Tory Burch.

But, as online technology continues to find its footing, advertisers say they still get a better quality of reader with print magazines. So, regardless of  the quantity or readers available online and the fact that its results can be immediately tracked, print ads won’t be going away entirely anytime soon.

The old editorial/advertising divide argument is moot in the fashion world, WWD reminds us. “[F]ashion magazines blurred that line long ago — just check the credits in fashion shoots against what labels advertise.”

A bright spot in the trend, sort of, is that “as magazines cut staff or shutter altogether, the new editorial focus of fashion brands is providing a soft — and sometimes lucrative — landing spot for journalists and editors.”

Observer taps city’s e-mail to develop ‘audience’

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Folks registered online with the City of Charlotte/Mecklenburg County got the e-mail below today, notifying them that The Charlotte Observer wants to know who they are. We’re not so sure the work to expand North Carolina’s open records laws was meant to benefit “Strategic Products and Audience Development” at the Observer.

From: CharMeck.org [mailto:webrequests@ci.charlotte.nc.us]
Sent: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 10:31 PM
To:
Subject: City of Charlotte Email Subscriber Notice

This is a courtesy notification that The Charlotte Observer has requested the City’s email subscriber list.

The City must provide this information under the North Carolina Public Records law.  Please direct any questions or concerns to the Charlotte Observer c/o Steve Gunn, Director of Strategic Products and Audience Development at sgunn@charlotteobserver.com or 704-358-5077 or 600 S. Tryon St., Charlotte, NC, 28202.

News & Observer to drop 20 positions

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

The News & Observer is cutting 20 positions, explaining that “the slowly recovering economy continues to hurt ad sales.”

Most N&O staff members will also be required to take five days of unpaid time off by April 18.

The losses at the Raleigh McClatchy paper are to be “across its operations,” and will include about five in the newsroom. A copy desk supervisor in Sports has announced he’ll leave, and movie/pop culture critic Craig D. Lindsey has been let go. An assigning editor is leaving (it’s not been announced publicly, yet) and the positions of a rank-and-file copy editor in the Raleigh office – the Charlotte and Raleigh copy desks are one – and a reporter will be eliminated. If volunteers don’t step forward, seniority will dictate who goes.

How long, we have to wonder, does The N&O’s advertising department fail to meet revenue goals before the paper’s publisher quits blaming the economy and realizes it’s the people running the show – management – who aren’t getting the job done.

Publisher Orage Quarles III could talk to anyone who no longer works for his advertising department, no longer fears reprisal, and they could tell him how  productivity is stifled and morale is quashed by a management style that relies on threats, insults and verbal abuse.

Blogs influence women’s buying

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Women are more than two times more likely to buy a “beauty product” because of what a blog says than because of a magazine, a survey by the women’s blogging network BlogHer and DeVries Public Relations says.

“Women turn to and trust ‘familiar’ bloggers more than store Web sites, social networks, or message boards when seeking beauty-product recommendations,” WebNewser reports.

And though they buy products at stores four times more often than they do online, women first research products online.

Simple Prescience

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

The Huffington Post sees into McClatchy’s future in North Carolina:

The Charlotte News & Observer notes a rather significant point of contention regarding Brown’s connection of HIV/AIDS victims to the gay community.”

Market analyst: newspapers going down

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Don’t let recent good news from newspaper publishers fool you, the stock market analysis website Seeking Alpha warns. The industry is dying.

The site keys on the relatively rosy picture pushed by McClatchy last month, saying “publishers across the board got a big boost when The McClatchy Company announced that its advertising revenue rose during the fourth quarter. What’s more, CEO Gary Pruitt said he expects these improvements to continue this year.

“As the third-largest newspaper publishing company in the United States, McClatchy’s news caused some bullish activity in the industry. But the fact remains that we’re talking about newspapers here. So even though McClatchy publishes more than 70 of them – including The Miami Herald and The Charlotte Observer – they’re still just … well, newspapers.”

And, in fact, since the first of the year, McClatchy’s Kansas City Star has announced layoffs, while at  The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., buyouts have been mentioned by management amid rumors of furloughs and layoffs. At Gannett, one-week furloughs in the first quarter are already policy at most of its papers, while some of its papers in New Jersey face much more drastic measures.

Elsewhere, the Washington Post said this week it returned to profitability in 2010 and expected to remain profitable in 2011.

Seeking Alpha leads the reader through the familiar decline of newspapers, concluding that “a daily paper simply can’t compete with the up-to-the-second Internet in terms of news. Plus, there’s the added incentive that the Internet is free, leaving publishers scrambling to find a way to successfully monetize their online product.”

Online advertising revenue presents a glimmer of hope,  including a 13.9 percent gain in the second quarter of 2010 – the first quarterly gain since 2008, and a rise in McClatchy’s online revenue for the quarter that boosted its stock price.

“But even if this trend continues, it’s still not enough to combat the rapid decline of printed ad revenue,” Seeking Alpha says. “The numbers have been in a freefall for 14 consecutive quarters … with no end in sight.

“The bottom line is that newspaper publishers are going down. They won’t all bite the dust, of course. But it will take a few more years of closings, mergers and tinkering with online advertising before the real winners emerge. So don’t let McClatchy’s bounce fool you – this is one industry to dodge.”