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What print news can learn from social media geeks

print newspapers are not dying

The day printed newspapers were created, they’ve been dying. Beginning in the early 1700s, newspapers in America began competing with each other. Often one newspaper would be circulated in the morning and the competitor would circulate evening news.

Later, newspapers would compete with radio and then with television. Nightly news anchors would deliver the day’s news before newspapers would be circulated the next morning.

Printed newspapers have never been able to keep up with breaking news. But they were still one of the most trusted places to get your news. And because of this, newspapers never learned how to adapt.

Fifteen years ago, many of us in journalism were giving up our pica poles, floppy disks and proportion wheels. Digital media was beginning to rear its ugly head and “The Internet” became a dirty word.

There are journalists and publishers who cannot accept the fact that the Internet has became today’s medium for breaking, local and national news. In fact, many small business owners are still struggling with how to use the Internet to advertise their company.

Those newspapers have gone out of print or are close to doing so.

What many old-school publishers don’t realize is that there is still a place for journalists in today’s digital media. Recent college graduates can tell you the convergence of all types of mediums are necessary in order to keep journalism alive. Today, reporters must know how to write copy for print, television and radio. YouTube and Facebook have become some of the best tools for newspapers that give breaking news online.

The trick to keeping newspapers alive is to realize two things: the Internet is not your enemy and your reporter is your brand.

The Internet has given us a way to update our readers instantly when there is a traffic accident they should avoid or when a flood is imminent.  Our Internet readers are looking for quick updates and breaking news, and that’s what we give them.

Print newspapers give reporters the chance to go in-depth and talk about upcoming news.  This works well for those who want to sit down and put some thought into the story. Print newspapers are still key when it comes to informative news and great photo layout. Print newspapers still drive the most consumers to local businesses when marketed correctly. (As a side note, there is a trick to keeping readers without making them pay for your online content. Unless you’re as big as the New York Times, paywalls are a very bad idea for print newspapers.)

Social media gives readers the chance to become part of the story and interact with reporters in a way they never could before.

In the early days of the Internet when newspapers began going online and readers were able to comment on stories, editors made it clear that reporters were never allowed to respond to reader’s comments. Doing so was a clear violation of most newspaper’s policies. You were allowed only to correct a fact or error; you were not allowed to have an opinion.

That, however, is not what readers have asked for. Yes, they want unbiased news, but they want it from a real person they can trust.

Roland Martin has over 90,000 Facebook followers and nearly 80,000 Twitter followers. He’s an analyst for TV One and CNN. Roland has learned that he IS the brand. Those who follow Roland trust him not just because of his intelligence and political know-how, but also because they can connect with him and ask him questions. You may be halfway across the world and know zero about politics, but ask him a question on Twitter and he just might answer you. Plus, it is harder to swear at him when you disagree with his politics because he often uses a profile picture of a child – presumably his own.

Prior to social media, the brand was the newspaper, radio show or TV station. Now you find reporters personal Twitter accounts at the bottom of their articles. The brand is the reporter, talk show host or news anchor.

Print newspapers, radio and television will always have their place. But unless publishers learn to use the Internet and social media as an additional tool for reporting, they will soon find themselves irrelevant in today’s changing world.

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2011 in In Jen's Opinion

 

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What’s the Real ROI on Social Media?

You’ve jumped on the bandwagon, you’ve joined dozens of sites and now your business is going to grow ten fold because you have a Facebook business page. Or is it?

Dr. Shannon Treece, author of Strategies & Tactics for Women, did a study on whether social media really pays off. You might be surprised by these 32 answers from real businesses who have tried it for themselves. But just remember, “Social media will NOT equal dollars if you’re just posting willy nilly, and also it doesn’t ‘make’ relationships but it can open doors.”

For 32 tips on maximizing your business with social media, visit Treece’s findings at http://blog.drshannonreece.com/2011/03/21/does-social-media-pay-32-perspectives-on-roi/.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2011 in Social Media & Business

 

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Social Media – Everyone’s Doing It

social mediaOh how I love the concept of Facebook: Keep in touch with friends from years past, track down old high school friends to see how they have aged, play Scrabble with your best friend because she lives in an hour away so you don’t get to see her often. I love Twitter, quick and brief news updates, Instagram, FourSquare, LinkedIn, Yelp … the list goes on and on. And now there is a new thing called “Stik” that I haven’t checked out yet.

“But, Jen!” <gasp> “It’s part of Social Media and you MUST do it!!”

That might be true. And it might not be. I haven’t looked into it yet to see if it is.

I really do love social media, but that doesn’t mean you HAVE to do it. You’re shocked, I know.

I am currently putting together the marketing analysis for the company I work for. It is several dozen pages and includes what we’ve been doing, what we need to be doing, and the timeframe. And guess what? The social media part comes in later, much later.

I’ve been watching businesses jump on board with Facebook and I think it’s great. Engaging your customers and fans is a wonderful idea and Facebook pages is a good way to do that. But now you’re throwing out your marketing and PR plans and thinking that Facebook is going to bring in this huge revenue and you did it for free! Um, back up a few steps. Social Media does NOT replace customer service. It does NOT replace personal contact. It helps spread word of mouth referrals but I sure hope you aren’t putting all your eggs in that basket.

I love teaching people how to use social media in their companies, but I think one of the most important things that you need to remember, is that social media should enhance your current marketing plan – not replace it. This week I’ll be putting together an article titled “How to Incorporate Social Media Into Your PR and Marketing Campaigns.” I hope that you find it useful and that you can try the things I’ve learned from the experts I’ve come to trust.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2011 in Social Media & Business

 

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Are You Attracting Readers?

I received an email from the Examiner today with five tried and true tips for getting more readers. I know that it was an email meant for us journalists, but I think it also applies to bloggers, social media posts, etc.

The very first, most important tip, they explained, is quality, quality, quality. That has always been true and always will be.

I taught a PR and Social Media Marketing class not long ago and I showed the class many examples of good and bad blogs, Facebook business pages, marketing campaigns and PR campaigns. And I can attest that the Examiner is 100% correct. Quality is the most important thing you can have to attract readers and get good attention.

So what does that mean? In newspapers it means that your articles are timely and for the good of the community. In blogs, it means that your blog has a purpose (Unless you’re like me and you are all over the place. I think the purpose of my blog is general advice and sometimes inspiring). Are you using your blog to bring attention to a charity? Maybe it’s for gluten-free recipes. I have another blog that is dedicated to the brokenhearted who write love letters to their lost love (I know, I’m a romantic at heart). I have a friend who focuses on marketing and social media tips. Another who focuses on relationship advice and getting over him. And I even know someone who appears to be using it as a diary or a place to complain about local business members (probably a bad idea).

In Facebook business pages it means you are interacting with your friends, talking with them not at them. You are engaging them, not spamming them with constant posts. In twitter, you have gotten the etiquette of 140 characters while still making your point and including a short URL and some hash tags. Congratulations if you’ve mastered that one!

The point is, you can pay a lot of money to buy links and you can pay a lot of money to an SEO company and there are many many things you can do. But if you have poor quality, it is money and time down the drain. You will not keep your readers coming back. Focus on quality first, everything else second.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2011 in Social Media & Business

 

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Facebook is for grownups

Some major, and VERY good changes, have gotten in the way of my blogging, but I want to share something with you that my friend Harminee said today. “Take it MySpace. Facebook is for grownups!”

She was referring to a comment we saw on Facebook where one person, to put it bluntly, was being very immature. Here’s a note for everyone who thinks Social Media is a good place to vent about your ex, his new girlfriend, your old best friend – no one will take you seriously if you don’t show respect to your friends.

Writing bad things about someone else is not going to help you “get him back” or make you feel better about a fight that you had, or make the person look back even. And when you say horrible things about someone else, your other friends will just wonder what you say about them when they aren’t around.

Remember, social media is viral. And often what you put on Facebook can’t be taken back.

– Your unsolicited advice for the day from a girl who joined the “No Drama Club” last month.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2011 in Social Media & Business

 

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My New Year’s Resolution

I’ve never made a New Year’s resolution before. Probably because I’m one of those people who does whatever I want anyway. Good or bad, I’ve never had a problem making a decision, running with it, and hoping for the best. Usually there’s a planning process in there somewhere, too.

But this year, I’ve made two resolutions. The first are some changes to my dating rules after having my heart broken at the end of a seven-month relationship with someone I thought was pretty dang wonderful (hindsight is 20/20 though right?).

The second involves my businesses – I’m the Publisher of St. George News and co-founder of The Social Network Site. Currently, St. George News is run by volunteers who enjoy writing for a newspaper that believes more in the community than it does in sensationalism. I would like to see it turn into a full daily newspaper by the end of the year and with the incorporation of two new business partners coming on board next month, I think that is definitely a possibility.

The Social Network Site is still in the planning stages and with the training we’ve done ahead of time, I see this becoming a very good service to the community. (P.S. we have a Facebook for beginners class coming Jan. 12. Email me for more info: jwatkins@stgnews.com).

But my really big New Year’s resolution when it comes to business is to finally finish the novel I started two years ago and work on getting it published.

Being a first-time New Year’s resolutionist (is that even a word?), I think of this more as setting goals. But putting them in writing might make me feel more obligated to accomplish them.

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2010 in Relationships & Personal Growth

 

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The new threat: “I’ll un-friend you”

Yesterday my column in Alive! magazine was posted to their website and then I re-posted it to the Dixie Press Facebook page. The column was about Bob Bennett, his interview in Inc. magazine and his ousting from the Senate; and the selfishness of politicians these days in general.

But a Dixie Press reader very quickly called me a “Tea Party mouthpiece” and threatened to un-friend me for it. Keep in mind that I posted a sign a business owner had put up about Obama and was told I was being biased for supporting Obama (those who know me know that I am a liberal Republican who did not vote for Obama but did vote for Democrat Jim Matheson).

I digress, as usual. After being called a “Tea Party mouthpiece,” it became the new threat around the “office” (Rachel’s Coffee) – “I’ll un-friend you.” Dixie Press writer Ashlyn Neves even made it her Facebook status. But today I had to stop and think about what that could mean for businesses because today I un-friended a business from Facebook (Yes they had set it up as a profile and not a page – someone slap him on the hand). But I would have “unliked” him because he sent me yet another Facebook email trying to sell me something.

The more I get into social media, the more I learn about even email marketing campaigns. And here is an article I found overly useful, and I was slightly embarrassed to read. There are some very valuable tips to keeping your customers happy, and spamming them with email is never a good idea (as I apparently spammed over a thousand people with a LinkedIn request recently). As this article points out, just because you have their email, doesn’t mean you can use it.

The link to the article is here:
http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/build-your-email-list-value-today-chris-brogan

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2010 in In Jen's Opinion

 

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