Are we all news reporters?

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I was having a chat with my wife the other night about what news had become in the modern day. It made me slightly sad about what we have come to, when it comes to what we deem as news or newsworthy and how news stories are created these days.

What has the word ‘news’ become?

I can’t remember how we got on to the topic of conversation that we did the other night, but it made me think a lot about how we use the word ‘news’. The word ‘news’ used to have a gravitas about it, but now it seems social media has stolen the word news by referring to collections of friends posts on social media, as a ‘newsfeed.’ As a society now we seem to be more interested in what is happening on our ‘newsfeed’ than what is actually happening in the news.

I also can’t stand the way that a lot of news has changed now. Many articles seem to be written in order to be social media friendly or to appeal to the social media community. Even worse than this though, is how many news stories are being based on things people like you and I have been posting on Facebook. Somehow now what we post has been deemed ‘newsworthy.’

Social media runs the news

The news stories that seem to get better placed online are the ones people are posting about the most on social media. Rather than reading or watching the news and deciding what we think the big issues of the day are, the social media community are really stirring what we are having our eyes and ears drawn to.

All of this means is that in todays world, we are all news reporters. If you have a blog, a social media page etc. you can break news. What you write has as much chance of being news as everything else. What is for sure, is that in some ways it is not a good time to be a journalist. Well thought out articles are being lost against a tide of irrelevance. We are now in a quantity over quality situation, where it comes to things to read on the Internet. Sadly there is so much vying for our time and attention that we can’t find and read all the good stuff. I just hope as many people as possible continue to write clever and informative pieces and that one day they win out.

Not being glued to the phone

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This weekend saw the start of the Formula 1 season, a sport my wife and I follow closely. Sadly this year without Satellite TV we can’t watch all the races live, instead we have to wait for the highlights of most races on Channel 4. Because we were busy yesterday we decided to record the highlights and watch them in the evening. We didn’t want anything from the race getting spoiled so my wife and I both turned the Internet and mobile data off on our phones, so that we avoided spoilers.

Making my phone boring

So much of our days seem to be spent glued to our phones, checking social media and trawling the Internet. Going on your phone seems to be a hard impulse to break but by not having Internet or data switched on, it made my phone boring and made me not want to go on it. I still found myself forgetting at times during the day that I had everything on my phone switched off, so I did have moments of getting it out of my pocket but for the majority of the day I spent it without my phone in my hand.

Without the phone I found myself engaging more with the world around me, listening more and just enjoying quiet time. The little things in life just got amplified like just staring at our gorgeous daughter. I found myself thinking more and daydreaming more. No conversations started with – did you see this on Facebook? It was a great day.

Do you miss out?

After we finished catching up with the F1 we turned the Internet and mobile data back on. Had the world changed? Probably for someone but had I missed out on anything important to me – no. Did I find out much interesting by going back on my phone – no. I think sometimes we are so worried about missing something that it keeps us on our phones but when you take time out you realise more often than not, you don’t miss anything at all.

I would rather miss out on anything happening on the Internet or social media than miss out on anything happening in the world around me. Phones and social media are hard things to avoid but I know that in the future I am going to try and take more days where I switch the Internet and mobile data off on my phone and enjoy the world around me.

Promoting Good News

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There is so much bad news in this world that I think it is important to promote, make and share good news wherever we can. Thanks to rolling news, social media and the like we are bombarded with peoples thoughts and opinions that we never asked for or wanted at every turn. Sadly in the most the majority of these thoughts, opinions and news are negative.

I read and hear so much everyday that I don’t agree with and a lot that is just flat out wrong. We now seem to know peoples views in a way that we never did before, thanks to over sharing. Some of these views make me sad and it makes me sad when you see people have views that you never thought they had.

Don’t despair

To try and stop from despairing I now try to post as much positive and good news as I can online. As part of what I talked about last week about showing love instead of arguing, (https://adamsibley.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/love-wins-any-argument/) I am also where I can trying to actively post good and positive news, thoughts and opinions where I can, in the hope that people will be impacted by them.

I don’t believe that when you see something you don’t like on social media that unfollowing, unfriending etc. etc, is the way. I think it is important to stay in the conversation and in the connections & relationships you have built up. Never forget the reason you connected with them on social media in the first place, if it was because you care for them then what they share / say shouldn’t matter as you should still care for them.

Keeping relationships

The only way you can help, inspire or give hope is by keeping these relationships and to keep on sharing positively. Sometimes it is so hard not to react emotionally about what we read, hear or see and to react in a kneejerk way but we need to fight this as much as we can. People may not agree with what I say, my views or what I post online but as long as they read it, one day it might affect them when they least expect it.

When the world seems a sad, bad or miserable place try not to get down, just keep doing your bit and keep spreading positivity as that is all you can do and all you can do is good enough.

The thing that annoys me about Facebook

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The ‘Trending’ section of Facebook really sums up what is wrong with society, media and news. I never really give it much notice when I am on Facebook but will normally give the column a customary glance, whilst very rarely clicking on any of the stories. Over the last few weeks though I have noticed an ever-increasing tide of irrelevancy popping up in that section.

Like one the other day, I went on and one of the trending items was a famous person whose name I can’t remember wears bikini on a beach that I can’t (again) remember what beach it was. When did these things become a) news and b) worthy of our attention?

Not news

Stop press – someone wears bikini on beach – shocking! Where somebody is and what they are wearing isn’t news! Don’t get me wrong I am not looking for thought provoking, deep or investigative news on Facebook but this, really? If you want social irrelevancy, isn’t that what your timeline and newsfeed are for?

I am guessing to become trending it means that a lot of people on Facebook are talking about it but surely the reason people are talking about it is because Facebook pages with lots of likes are posting about it and spreading it round the world that way? I could be wrong but it seems the trending section is not organic and is just giving more publicity to what news and media companies want us to be talking about.

Substance

I know celebrity stories are always going to be popular and be a part of news, I just wish the stories had more substance. News headlines shouldn’t be made purely on what a famous person is wearing and where they are when they were wearing it. Today I am wearing jeans and a hoodie, which isn’t newsworthy, but if a celebrity was caught out of the house wearing jeans and a hoodie someone would be reporting about it somewhere in the world, it would then be put on Facebook and everyone would know that vitally important update.

I think Facebook would be better served to have an editorial that gives a range of the subjects that matter to people on Facebook, not just what the most talked about or read post is. Don’t like starting my week with a rant but I have wanted to write about this for a little while now and am glad to have it off my chest.

What viewing statistic is most important?

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In today’s viewing world what is the measuring stick for popularity? Is it TV audience viewing statistics? Youtube views? Social Media engagement? Streams? Downloads? Number of saves on to a DVR? Or is it a combination of some or all?

Camouflage

I think it is much easier in today’s world, for media companies to camouflage poor performing programmes by using different statistics to the old fashioned TV audience statistics or by using a combination of statistics.

If you ask most companies that produce programmes the figure that will be most important internally is the TV audience figure, as that is what can make them the most money, if those figures are high they can sell their programme for a higher value to a TV station, without it they have little chance of making good money.

Profitable

When companies find ways to make putting content on Youtube more profitable and ways to make more money out of social media engagement then these will be very important areas to grow but I don’t think we are quite there yet.

TV production companies want to make the most money they can per viewer to their programming so this is where Youtube and Social Media can help in an indirect way. By boasting big numbers in these areas, they can use these to help in negotiations with TV companies to squeeze more revenue from the channels and networks.

Streaming

Nowadays programmes are licensed to the big providers like Netflix and Amazon on a revenue per stream deal, so if no one watches your programme you don’t make anything. This is why I love the streaming market as although the revenue per stream should possibly be higher at least then a programme gets a fair revenue based on its viewership. Some TV stations have been stung in the past by paying big bucks from programming, for it to not to deliver the numbers that they expected for their outlay.

The problem with media is that in a lot of instances you have to speculate to accumulate and although you can have great research to back up a theory on why a programme is going to be successful, until the numbers are in you can’t take anything for granted. Thankfully all sides of the media have to do this from the Production Companies that fund programme creation to the channels that acquire it.

There are a lot of shows on TV but few runaway successes and I think everyone in the media game has to remember that.

Marketing and publicity

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As we are now a month away from Christmas I am starting to try and ramp up the marketing and publicity of my book “unbreakable Bond”, to try and benefit from the extra retail spending that is going on.

I have a very small marketing budget and no marketing team for my book, so it’s just about me working hard and using the money wisely. I want to make sure that I get the most out of the fund that I have and get a great return on investment.

Free publicity

The first thing I am trying to do is get free publicity. This involves me emailing countless media outlets in the hope that one will pick it up and feature a piece on my book. After every piece of media there has been about my book, I have noticed a rise in sales so I feel it is worth investing my time in writing countless emails. I know most will come to nothing but that time investment is worth it for the one that does.

Next thing I am trying to do is to get dementia websites and member organisations to feature and talk about my book. This involves a lot of speculative emailing again, as well as sending copies of my book to these organisations in the hope they feature something on the book. This has worked quite well so far with a handful of dementia websites featuring the book. The brilliant thing about doing this is that it gives the book more credence when a respected dementia organisation talks about it, as it is like an endorsement.

Promotion

I try as much as I can to promote it for free online, posting links to buy the book on websites and posting about it on social media as often as I can. The great thing about this method is you never know who is reading what on social media and with the right people liking, commenting on or sharing something I post, it can help expand my audience greatly and get in front of people I wouldn’t have been able to reach without it.

The next plunge this month is to do paid for advertising on Facebook. I haven’t done this before, so I am bit cautious about how much to invest and how to tailor the advertising but I am excited to see how it goes. I think social media is such an important an accessible market now, that I need to have a good presence to get the book noticed.

My mission through all of this is just to get the book in as many hands as possible. For all those out there plugging away promoting something they have created, I salute you and for anyone with some money in their account I would ask you kindly to follow this link and buy the book.

http://www.unbreakablebond.co.uk/#!grab-a-copy/cqh1

 

 

The best marketing is free

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Over the last couple of months I have been doing something I have always wanted to do and that is working for a Professional Wrestling company. It has only been as a volunteer but I have had an absolutely awesome time doing it. The company is called Plymouth Wrestling Association and they are a fantastic group of guys.

I felt really passionately about helping a local promotion out as I want to see more quality live wrestling happening in my local area and I want more people in my area to get in to wrestling. I may not have the ability or the desire to become a performer myself but I have skills in media, PR and communications so I was determined to use those skills to help them. So many people these days either hire their own marketing staff or outsource to a marketing company but me personally I would prefer to see those funds used to improve the product and the company, not to market it.

Unfulfilled promises

When you have something you want to advertise it is tricky to know where to begin. It is so easy for companies to plough money in to advertisements, gaining email addresses for leads etc. etc. etc. but in many cases these will not lead to increased business at anywhere near the rate of investment splashed out. There are too many media organisations making promises to businesses that they can’t keep and sadly too many people getting suckered in by them.

There are so many ways to get attention to your product or business that don’t cost a single penny, which so many people are not exploiting. The best return on investment is when you see increased business from doing something that cost you nothing. So before you think about investing in marketing, why not invest some time and energy in activities that don’t cost anything and see what response you get.

Think creatively

At Plymouth Wrestling Association we had to think a bit creatively this week but because of a bit of creativity we have had a daily feature on the biggest commercial radio station in the area on their breakfast show, we have a slot on the local BBC this Saturday the day before the big show and we are all over social media and the internet. All of this activity has led to us nearing a sell out of tickets before doors open which is an incredible achievement.

Your audience has never been closer and easier to get in direct contact with so lets use these opportunities. Why pay someone to do something you can do yourself. At the end of the day that is what marketing is, I don’t know of many people on this planet who don’t have the ability to let someone else know about something.

Ideas

You don’t need to be a marketing guru to have a good idea of how to get the word out. Ideas aren’t linked to experience or intelligence. So if you are trying to promote something stop and think to yourself, who are your audience? Where are your audience? And how can I reach them?

There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your own hard work pay off and if your willing to work hard at marketing your product you will see the rewards.

Refugees

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One subject I had to blog about this week is the current refugee situation happening in the world at the moment. I am not a huge fan of the word ‘immigrant’ so excuse me if I don’t use it how it is being banded about in the press but I really wanted to share my views on the situation.

I think as a global population we should be doing everything we can to help those that are risking their lives to reach safety after being forced to flee their own homes and homeland due to instability, war and safety concerns. I know for many of us in the west it is so hard to comprehend their plight, as it is something that in the current world we would never have to do, but it is so important that we do and that we help them. If you have the luxury of being able to live in safety and have your own home you are lucky and it is important that as many of us with the capacity to help – do something.

Easy for the privileged

If you have money you can buy a visa or citizenship to another country. If you have had a good education and have unique skills you can get a visa to another country because of those things. Nobody says anything bad about these people wanting to move to another country but it seems that people, who haven’t had those privileges are seen as awful for wanting that same opportunity, but for much more compelling reasons.

As the public of the western world we have to be very careful to not get desensitised to what is going on. At the moment there seems to be so much media coverage of the situation, which is a good thing but we need to be careful about how we respond to it. We can’t afford to let the news and images we see lessen what we feel or let it make us feel helpless.

Don’t hide behind social media

The other thing we have to be very careful of is hiding behind social media. Social media is a great place to share feelings about situations and news about situations but we have to be careful of not getting in to the mind-set that sharing about something on social media is enough and that it will solve the worlds problems. We have to follow it up with action.

I think as a world we need to do something to help those caught up in the current refugee situation to find safety but long term it is important that we all try and stamp out the things that lead to people seeking refuge in other countries. People should be able to live without fear in their home country. If people are to move to a new country it shouldn’t be to flee it should be because it is a decision they want to make.

The one thing we all want regardless of our situations is a better life or the best life and I wan to do all I can to help as many people obtain that.

Think before you share

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One thing I have noticed a lot recently online and in social media, is how quickly and easily people share things, without giving it much thought. People will stumble across a post, photo or video, then quickly decide they like it and hit the share button. Without much knowledge of where the post came from or who was behind it, they are happy to associate it with their name and their feed, showing friends that they either like or support it.

A not very discerning audience

This isn’t a revelation by any means and this means that many organisations are cashing in on it. People and companies know the social media audience isn’t very discerning, so with a well thought out idea they can promote themselves easily to millions by people sharing it on their feeds. People my have compelling and interesting arguments to promote, but if you don’t research it you won’t know how true, how real or how valid what you are sharing actually is.

The way social media seems to work these days is that someone posts something, people start sharing it, the news starts reacting to it and then a day later people report on social media and the news on how fake or invalid it is. Myself personally I would prefer to wait before sharing something I liked, to let this timeline play out and to do my own research.

Popularity doesn’t equal quality

Just because millions of others have shared or liked something it doesn’t mean the item is quality, it might just mean that millions of people have fallen in to the trap of not checking the back story.

One thing I don’t like is when companies or organisations with a bad reputation or that do horrendous things, then post images that they know people will share, like patriotic things for instance, which in themselves are harmless just to get people to share. They know that when people share, people don’t first click on their page to find out what they are about and when you have already hit the share button it’s too late.

An instant world

Social media is an instant medium but it doesn’t mean we have to turn in to instant and impulsive people. There are many people out there who prey on the fact that the audience is sadly like that and take advantage of it, so the only way not to be taken advantage of online is to take your time and think things through.

By sharing things you run the risk of promoting something you would never promote in real life and promoting something at the expense of your reputation and standing. Social media also has such an impact on the way we think about the world around us and view the stories we read about in the news, so by sharing something you could be influencing the way people think about something, so use that power wisely.

Getting the world talking

In today’s social media age it has never been easier to get the world talking about something. Sadly we don’t call it getting the world talking any more, we call it trending. The question I want to pose today though is this: Do companies know the difference between trending and engagement?

Having millions of people posting at the same time about something, is really cool, but if no one is talking about it 12 hours later, what did it matter and what did it change? The real gauge of interest isn’t how many people post online using the right hashtag or click a link; the real gauge of interest is what action people take about something that is trending.

What to believe

The other problem we have in social media land now, is not knowing what to believe. When you see a post online you don’t know whether someone has been paid to put it up, has paid to make it more visible compared to other posts or if the person posting is a real account and not a robot or a fake alias. On social media, popularity is for sale and anyone can pay to make a topic, an event or a company trend.

When I log on to Facebook I always look at what is trending and it is a function that has made me aware of things that I hadn’t picked up on in the news. It is sad though that I think one day, what is trending will be the news and we will be more interested in what is trending, than we are traditional news. I think more and more that trending is how we find out about the stories of the world around us and I too am guilty of that, but that just shows how much of a powerful tool it can be.

Importance of Trending

Because of the importance put on getting things to trend, it ramps up the pressure. There seems to be a badge of honour that comes with getting something to trend and when it does trend, people then can’t wait to let people know that their stories trend.

The longer we digest social media in this way continues, the more competition there will be to be trending and all I can see that doing, is meaning on average that items will trend for even shorter periods than they do now, so it will turn in to a case of blink and you will miss it.

Slow down

Just because the online world moves fast, it doesn’t mean that it is always a good thing. If you are involved in putting content online you should want longevity in your content. When I look at stats for this blog, how many people view an article on the day it publishes doesn’t bother me, what I am interested in is how my posts from last year are doing, as that is the test of timeless content. The other stats I am interested in are – how many people comment, follow, like and click through to other articles after reading their first one.

My advice to the online community is – let’s stop worrying about the moment and think about the lifetime.