An Obituary From The Future

Yesterday on Reddit, user NoFlag posted an obituary he wrote for himself as part of a project for his journalism class: John X. Noflag was pronounced dead at the age of 225 this Thursday at the Mons Olympus Medical Combine, following complications with a voluntary nanotech experiment.

Observers say a procedure to fully immerse Noflag within a nanotech swarm ended abruptly as his body dissolved before their eyes. Due to the failure, most of the nanotech was collected and deactivated, although some escaped. The escaped sample is not believed to be self-replicating, but it could not be confirmed.

Born on Earth in Somecity, California, Noflag was one of the later immigrants to Mars after the Earth ban of age enhancement technologies and strict regulation of nanotechnology, being commonly heard to say “Earth will pay for its lack of vision.” He is survived by two fully mature clones and a youngling.

A public funeral and ceremonial burial is planned on the grounds of the Noflag Estate.

In lieu of flowers, mourners are asked to send money or weapons to the Nanotech Defense Front.

He's seems like a pretty smart kid, and I'm sure  he can probably see far enough into the future to know that he probably won't be a journalist when he graduates.



WikiLeaks: Supplementary Reading

When I was in University, a lot of my classes had a supplementary reading list. You didn't need to read these articles or books to pass, but they were related to the subject matter and might help your understanding of it. As I'm reading more and more about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, I've become reminded of some great articles or stories that I've read over the past few years. Below are a few of them that I think anyone interested in WikiLeaks might also be interested in: The Cypherpunk Manifesto - "Privacy is necessary for an open society in the electronic age. Privacy is not secrecy. A private matter is something one doesn't want the whole world to know, but a secret matter is something one doesn't want anybody to know. Privacy is the power to selectively reveal oneself to the world," wrote Eric Hughes in 1993 as the opening lines of The Cypherpunk Manifesto. And while that was almost 20 years ago, it feels incredibly relevant in the context of the Wikileaks case breaking now. As the text continues, I can't help but feel it must have very influential on a younger Julian Assange:

"Cypherpunks write code. We know that someone has to write software to defend privacy, and since we can't get privacy unless we all do, we're going to write it. We publish our code so that our fellow Cypherpunks may practice and play with it. Our code is free for all to use, worldwide. We don't much care if you don't approve of the software we write. We know that software can't be destroyed and that a widely dispersed system can't be shut down."

Anything about Sealand - While I haven't been following the Wikileaks case closely enough to know where exactly the information is being hosted these days, the talk of finding an independent data haven reminded me of the brief obsession I had with The Principality of Sealand. This off-shore platform was built in international waters during World War II and has had a colourful history of pirate radio stations, pretenders to the throne, secessionists and so on ever since then. For a while, I remember there being talk of it being used as a data haven by online gambling (and more nefarious organizations) wanting to keep their information safe from the prying eyes of government.

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson - While it is a work of fiction, the plot of this lengthy tome is about a group of people trying to set-up a data haven somewhere in the South Pacific. Its got historical adventure, techno-babble and the type of writing you can't put down. If you want to have a taste of some the research that went into writing this book, I strongly recommend also reading "Mother Earth Mother Board," an epic article that Neal Stephenson wrote for Wired Magazine in 1996 about the business of laying undersea fibre-optic cables across the world. In the age of Wi-Fi, it can feel a bit dated at times but is still a top-notch read.

Assassination Politics - I feel like there have been a couple of calls for the assassination of Julian Assange, and the whole thing got me thinking about Jim Bell's concept of Assassination Politics (an article I read about the same time as The Cypherpunk Manifesto). The concept is basically that with the right type of cryptography, the type that would allow us to exchange information and money without either side of the exchange knowing the identity of the other, you could set up a sort of assassination market that would easily collapse governments. Jim Bell's article is a great thought experiment, particularly when combined with some of the other articles in this list.

What would you add to the Wikileaks Supplementary Reading list?


The Guardian: Taking the Guards Down

Chris Thorpe, Developer Advocate for The Guardian presented one of my favourite sessions at Mesh this year. He spoke about The Guardian's open platform program which opens their API, data, and content to developers. This is a stark contrast to the many newspapers in North America that have started charging for content, placing it behind pay walls and forms. Chris believes this will ultimately decrease their influence, reach and engagement, leading to lower traffic and ad revenue. He explained that the longer people spend browsing on your site, the more pages they view and the more likely they are to click through on ads, increasing revenues overall. If you block off your content, you can kiss those extra eyeballs and advert dollars buh-bye.
Before you get the wrong idea, Chris and The Guardian aren't giving away the farm for free. They are implementing developer agreements (revenue sharing, syndication, etc.) on data and API codes to build businesses with developers. The four stages of newspaper production are creation, production, monetization, and distribution. Chris says to put a "co-" in front of each stage. Involve the public and the audience in the process.
Why is this a good thing?
First, it gets people engaged in the journalistic process, using the engagement of the audience and the readers to bring out more information and news. He cited the example of G20 "protester" Ian Tomlinson who was killed by police. The police told one story, but the pictures and video sent in by other protesters told quite another. Time has come for the public to take back some of its power in bringing truth and justice to the forefront. By empowering the world's citizens and bringing them into the process, trust in mass media as a source, and newspapers as a medium, can be restored.
Second, it allows developers to use The Guardian's data to develop new websites, microsites, and apps weaving The Guardian into their fabric. This will put The Guardian in front of new audiences and increase traffic to the newspaper's website. It will also increase ad revenue and provide information needed for more targeted ads both on the partner sites and The Guardian's own website.
Third, most developers are creative and entrepreneurial. By working with, instead of against, developers The Guardian will reap the benefits of new and innovative business models.

Chris sees The Guardian as an online business, not a print business, and he believes that in order to survive, news entities must restructure their business models to work with the online shift, not against it. He believes that by opening up their content and data, The Guardian can one day be the world's leading liberal source. With already more than 40% of their traffic coming from outside the UK, this certainly seems to be within their grasp.
What do you think?

Tricky Flacks, Slippery Slopes and Lazy Hacks

A few days ago, I wrote a post about the case of a journalist that had posted a copy of my friend's news release as if it was his own article. This got me thinking:

The smart newspaper editor (or whatever the title of the guy who is in charge of the copy on a newspaper's website) might see this and start to look at his website traffic more closely. If he was really smart, and had the right information, he'd begin to find out whether it was the articles written by journalists or the news releases written by PR pros and simply posted by journalists that got the most traffic.

The smart editor would also have to pay attention to the types of traffic he was attracting. 1000 visitors that don't click on ads or otherwise generate revenue are worth less than the one visitor that buy's a print subscription to the newspaper, clicks on an ad or otherwise helps them keep the lights on and server running.

The smart PR pro might then realize that they could tilt the balance of things in their favor by writing news releases that can be easily re-purposed by journalists, and that will also result in revenue-generating traffic. It is probably easier said than done, but that doesn't mean it is impossible.

And is it a slippery slope, as Todd Defren writes? Definitely.


Accepting Swine Flu (The Good Ol' Days?)

I remember that when I was in high school and university, people still smoked in bars. When going to a restaurant, the hostess would ask you two questions: how many people in your party, and whether you wanted to sit in the smoking or non-smoking section. When I speak to student groups these days, I tell them that when I was in university, I didn't have a mobile phone. They're shocked by this, and don't really understand how I got in touch with my friends. (And c'mon, I'm not even that old: I graduated in 2004, which was right on the cusp of when university students started using mobile phones.)

Ten years after 9/11, and the security theatre at airports is part of our culture and threat levels of various colours are part of our vocabulary.

In all three of these cases, we almost look back at the recent past and laugh about how we used to live our lives. "I can't believe people used to smoke in restaurants!", "How did I ever meet up with friends without a cellphone in university?", or "Remember when you only needed a driver's license to cross the Canada-US border?" are all pretty common comments about "the good old days".

Is our current state of pandemic panic going to persist as well? Will I be telling future generations that they used to send out memos to people reminding them to use hand sanitizer?


PS: If anyone has suggestions for a brand of swine-flu preventing face masks that look good with a suit, let me know.

A Round Table of Music-Blogging Knights

Via The Hype Machine's blog, I came across an interesting round-table discussion on The Morning News among a group of music bloggers. It's interesting to hear their thoughts on the relationship music bloggers have with the Public Relations people in the record industry, and there is definitely some take-away for all PR pros there.

Matthew Perpetua, who writes, says, "I am glad to get records sent to me because sometimes I get something that I really enjoy." However, as a hat-tip to the growing importance that PR pros are placing on reaching bloggers rather than traditional media, Perpetua adds, "I work for the regular press too, and aside from my experience with New York Magazine and Pitchfork, the difference seems to be that no one really cares about what I write for money, but they are sometimes very invested in what I do for free."

When asked if they read other music blogs, the panellists said almost universally that they did not. I feel like this kind of mentality is what has set them apart from other music bloggers and is similar to my suggestion that PR props stop reading PR blogs.

And as great as all that is, I think that this round-table discussion is more important to understand the opinions of these bloggers about giving away content for free and the future of the music industry.

It is slightly depressing to hear Andrew Noz complain that CDs will "be all but unattainable to towns with only one Wal-Mart" without him acknowledging that a) the CD is essentially a dead format and b) thanks to blogs like his, people in towns of all sizes have access to way more music than they would have ever discovered before.

I also disagree with Sean Michaels and David Gutowski, who both think that the future of music is in paying for subscription services packaged with our phone and internet plans. To think that the way for artists to make money off of the art they make (whether it is music or film or writing) by sharing their revenues with wireless and internet providers is ridiculous. All that does is replace one inefficient middleman (today's record companies) with another.

However, some of the bloggers do seem to get it. "I believe pretty strongly that the next frontier lies in monetizing live performance", says John Seroff. In fact, his suggestion that perhaps we'll see something "along the lines of $20 for an album, four live shows and access to ongoing projects" sounds pretty Masnickian and forward-thinking.

Andrew Noz and Oliver Wang seem to support this line of argument by saying that physical products in the form of deluxe or limited editions of albums will help fund artists' careers.

Later on in the discussion, as the topic veers towards the "free culture" movement, John Seroff does a great job of comparing his writing being shared online with the way music is being shared online: "I figure anything I write or make that ever hits the internet is gone and I don't resent people doing what they want with it... that's the internet, and that's how it works." He also goes on to say that, although some artists might not like this new way of doing business (giving away their content freely, making a profit on things like live performances rather than individual CDs), "it might not jibe with your professional/creative goals, but thus has it ever been."

His basic point is that you should adapt to the new internet economy. Things have changed, and artists should change with it.

The whole discussion is worth a serious read, as these guys talk about everything from their favourite music, to their actual blogging process (and how to avoid burnout after 5+ years). Read the Music Blogging Roundtable on The Morning News.


Everything I Need To Know About Social Media I learned From The Globe and Mail

@parkernow gets a laugh as he disses the title of his own session at #CdnInst A few days ago, I gave a presentation as part of the Canadian Institute's Managing Social Media conference here in beautiful, downtown Toronto.

As often happens with these things, I agreed to participate in the conference months ago, and I'm not even sure how I arrived at the title of "Integrating Social Media With Traditional Media" for my talk.

As I began to put my slides together, I realized that I'd need some solid examples of organizations that had successfully "integrated social media with traditional media".

The one that kept coming up was The Globe and Mail, and I think that communicators can learn a lot from the way this organization, which used to be a traditional, print newspaper, has morphed into combination of newspaper and social media portal at

The main lessons that I think we can learn from them are below:

1.) Make it easy for people to get the information they want in the format they prefer: By this, I mean offer your content across different channels and in different places. The Globe and Mail has a print edition that I can buy at the newsstand, I can download a PDF version from their site, I can subscribe to their news via RSS, or I can read the actual stories on their website. The point is that I can access it in the way that I want.

2.) Embrace multimedia: The Globe and Mail is a newspaper, yet they use audio content in various sections on their site, and they also frequently embed video in their articles. This is similar to point one in that it offers the information in other formats.

3.) Easy URLs: Social media is about sharing. Make it easy for people to share your information (or access it in the first place) by giving them easy URLs. The example I use in my presentation is how The Globe and Mail has done this by telling readers of their print edition that they can access more information about the Toronto International Film Festival at Its easy to share, its easy to remember and both of those mean that there is a greater chance that people will view it and give it to others to check out.

4.) Do It Live: The Globe and Mail used to print a paper edition once a day (they might have also had an evening edition or something), as most papers did. However, they constantly update their website. They also frequently hold live chats with reporters and cover events live using tools like Cover It Live. Communicators can adapt this kind of strategy by holding press conferences online, or making their spokespersons available for online discussions.

5.) Keyword-rich, easy-to-understand headlines: Admittedly, this isn't something I learned from The Globe and Mail, but another source. (Props to my friend Michael Allison for pointing this out to me!)

6.) Be part of the community: Inspired by a quote I heard attributed to Mathew Ingram, that "Linking to other sources and reading comments makes journalists stronger", I suggest that the lesson for communicators is to get involved in the community they are trying to reach. Their messages will be more relevant, and chances are the community will be more likely to accept the messages if they come from a trusted member.

7.) Keep it fresh: The reason people read the newspaper everyday is because it has new information everyday. Stories have updates. The take-away from this is that once a story goes live, you don't have to forget about it. Follow up on it, provide more information, and keep the story alive in the public eye with a new angle.

8.) Try new things: As I said in a post earlier this week, stop thinking about best practices and case studies and just go out there and do something new and interesting. The Globe and Mail is undergoing all sorts of change, and I'm sure they are the first ones to try some of the things they're doing. Let's learn from that.

I've embedded the slide show below. Since I'm as much of a student of the Masnickian school of Powerpoint presentations as I am his thoughts on economics, the deck has 103 slides that I covered in just under 40 minutes.

You can also download it at Thanks to the Canadian Institute for giving me the chance to speak and to everyone in the audience for listening.

And special thanks to Joe Thornley for preserving on his blog what the Twitter community said online during my presentation. Credit for the photo above also goes to Joe.


Did Mainstream Media Win The Online Journalism War Against Bloggers?

Like Christie Blatchford before him, David Olive is one newspaper reporter that really doesn't understand blogs and the internet. In his recent article on ("Bloggers hitch wagons to the traditional media") he argues that... you know what? I'm not really sure what his argument is. He seems to be critical of bloggers and seems to be trying to defend traditional media.

The problem is that he doesn't do a good job of either.

After dismissing bloggers as nothing more than "Internet diarists," he applauds Newsweek, The Atlantic, Maclean's, The Nation and even his own Toronto Star for either hiring bloggers or turning their journalists into bloggers.

Just one paragraph later, he says that the reason these bloggers are turning to newspapers is because "there is little 'stumble upon' factor in blogs—strangers who come across a website by accident and become fans. You won't stumble across the website of prolific blogger Mark Steyn at the dentist's office as you will Chatelaine."

I find fault with this statement for a couple of reasons. The first is that if the major problem for bloggers is the lack of "stumble upon" traffic, why would writing for a newspaper website get them greater visibility than writing for their own website? Similarly, if blogs result in such little traffic, why is David Olive so happy to let us know about the prestigious print publications that now have their journalists spending time writing blogs on the publications' websites?

I'd also argue that blogs DO get a lot of stumble upon traffic—both from the fact that they link to other blogs (something David Olive doesn't seem capable of doing) and because of a little something called StumbleUpon. Most of the blogs I read today I read because I've come across them via a link from another blog. Either that, or I've found them via StumbleUpon—a tool that plugs into your web browser and lets you stumble around the internet.

I also question the validity of his statement that "the lifespan of the average blog is two to three months." I don't know where he got this information, and I'm not doubting it. I've got plenty of friends that have thought it was a good idea to set up a blog and given up after only a post or two. However, that's because the barriers to entry are so much lower for starting a blog than for starting a newspaper. If you honestly want to compare failure rates, how many people have given up trying to start a nationwide print publication after coming up with an initial idea and perhaps drafting one or two articles?

David Olive might declare that the war is over and that the mainstream media have won it, but I disagree.

I don't think there was a war in the first place. I think there was an evolution, and that the media everywhere is changing. Bloggers are thinking more like journalists, while traditional journalists and editors are thinking more like bloggers. If anything, the borders between the two are blurring.

For a guy writing an online article with a comments section (despite the lack of links), he's doing a pretty good job of not understanding what a blog is or how it works.


CNW Goes Big On Twitter

CNW Group has always been committed to getting our clients' news in front of journalists and the media. For years, the only way to really do this was via the news wire. When fax machines became an accepted way to send and receive news and information, CNW Group embraced that technology to reach members of the media. Similarly, when email became a popular form of communication, CNW offered interested parties the ability to subscribe to our clients' news via portfolio email. The same, too with our categorized RSS feeds. The point is that as technology has changed, CNW Group has changed with it in order to make it as easy as possible for both members of the media and the general public to get news and information from our clients.

That's why I'm excited to announce that we've officially launched hundreds of unique Twitter accountsto distribute our clients' news over Twitter. The accounts are based on our existing news categories, and all releases posted on our website and over the wire will also go out on anywhere from one to four of these accounts (depending on how the release is categorized).

By breaking the news into these seperate categories, we're making it easy for interested parties, be they members of the media or the general public, to find and follow the type of news they are interested in. Similarly, by offering news via the traditional wire, by fax, by email, by RSS and now by Twitter we are making it as easy as possible for people to get news from us.

Read the official news release from CNW Group about this, or check out the full list of accounts at


(note: Although I am an employee of CNW Group this post, like all my posts on BlogCampaigning, reflects only my own personal views and opinions and not those of my employer)

Get Outside and go Hyperlocal

I recently came across, a self-described "hyperlocal news and information service" that helps you "get news for the places and neighborhoods you really care about." The site tracks 35,312 towns and neighborhoods. You can either enter a post code or the name of the neighborhood you want to get stories about. Results are sorted by date and tags.

Neighborhoods can also be searched by categories such as 'Arts and Culture', 'Bars and Clubs' and 'Education.' This will result in an alphabetically sorted list of places with news and blog posts about them.

If you want to get even more local, you can use the radar function. It's customized to exactly where you are and what’s going on right around you. Enter a location and you'll see everything happening right around you: Blog posts, news stories, discussion posts, and Twitter updates.

The site can be a bit messy. You can't search local places by tags, just by categories. Why, for example, isn't there simple search for a 'news' tag? The category search also needs be refined, e.g. the robbery of a pharmacy was listed under services...

These little issues aside I think the basic premise of the site is great: Being informed about wherever you are.

Why rely on the local press when you can utilize a multitude of information? All the more, given that some local markets are completely dominated by one media conglomerate and its products. Breaking monopolies on information is certainly a good thing.

To utilize the site's potential even better I'd suggest the implementation of a democratic catalyst – aka a voting system a la Digg – as this would bring noteworthy local stories to the attention of more readers, a function the traditional press still excels in.

The site should also be optimized for mobile devices to exploit its potential best; another possibility would be an app for the iPhone which instantly let's you know what's happening in your hotel's/ business partner's/ friend's neighborhood. Wherever, whenever. GPS detection would even make make entering a post code redundant.

You could combine the service with a program like Calibre. Calibre has built-in ‘recipes’ to download articles from news outlets' RSS feeds to present them in a much more streamlined e-book type format, and can then transfer this information to mobile readers. By this, the articles can also be consumed offline.

Imagine customized RSS-feed turned into your own personalized local newspaper complete with all the sections you'd normally expect from a press outlet. From politics to sports, complete with illustrations, except with more updates.

The potential of sites like is tremendous. No wonder the future looks tough for the traditional press.


Israel's use of Social Media

Photo of Israeli soldiers taken by Heather's friend Brian Mosoff, The following post was written by Heather Morrison

I recently returned from my first trip to Israel. During the last leg of my trip, the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas came to an end. The news coming through from Gaza was anything but comforting. My fellow travelers and I spent time each day checking various websites and news stations for updates and information. Upon returning to Canadian soil, I continued to check for Israel-related news and was interested to find that Israel has looked to Social Media to further its voice.

The Citizens Press Conference hosted on Twitter December 30, by the Israel Consulate in New York, was first to grab my attention. Questions from the Twitter community were directed to 6 members of the Consulate staff who answered them live, later posting the transcript to their website. The conference was seen as a great success by the Consulate in getting the official message to their audience in real time. The event received positive attention from various blogs such as Global Voices Online, as well as the mainstream media including CNN and the Washington Post.

In a follow up interview, David Saranga, Media and Public Affairs Consul, said Twitter was the best platform for this type of conference because it delivered full, to the point answers to a younger generation; and allowed Twitterers already discussing Gaza to engage in conversations with an official voice – helping to dispel confusion and myths.

YouTube has also been put to use. The IDF (Israeli Defense Force) created a YouTube channel December 29th to house video blogs and footage of the ongoing crisis, while the Consul houses less conflict-related material on their channel.

Israel is also making use of the blogosphere to convey messages to the public. Both the IDF and Consulate have blogs which can be found at and, respectively. also includes a question/answer section, for ongoing dialogue and discussion, and links to Israel’s official Facebook and Myspace sites.

All in all it looks like Israel has seen the benefits of social media and continues to use different applications for various events/situations. Given the success political campaigns have realized by incorporating Social Media, will other nations follow suit?

Heather Morrison is an Account Executive at CNW Group. Her previous post for BlogCampaigning is entitled "Building Your Twitter Empire" and she is @HMorrison on Twitter.  For more on the use of the web in the recent conflict, check out this article by Jart Armin about how the battle is being fought online.

The Media isn't Dying, it's Changing.

A little while ago, someone started a Twitter account with the name TheMediaIsDying. Although their bio says that their aim is to help "flaks pitch better and update lists," they seem to take delight in reporting they primarily seem to report on stories of print, broadcast and web outlets that are folding or cutting staff as a result of the rapidly changing media and economic landscapes.

To make the claim that the media is dying is to make the claim that it will no longer be possible to receive news or entertainment.

Yes, I'd agree that the traditional media is probably dying. I feel that I'll probably see the death of the traditional, printed newspaper in my life time. In fact, I can't believe that it isn't dead already. Someone wiser than myself once made the point that if today you proposed the idea of printing out thousands of copies of a general assortment of news every night, then hand-delivering them to people's homes early each morning, you'd be laughed out of the room. It is an outdated business model.

But that doesn't mean the newspaper industry will die, only its printed form. The websites of major newspapers are and will continue to be a primary source of information for many people. Thanks to the hard work of people like Mathew Ingram (and despite the head-in-ass stance of people like Christie Blatchford), newspapers will evolve to meet the needs of an online world.

The same goes for other forms of media. While JPG Magazine might be folding, how many great photography sites and online photoshop tutorials have you come across?

As I Tweeted earlier, For every print publication that @themediaisdying reports dead, how many well-written, unique websites pop up?

Did the invention of the printing press kill off the spoken word? No. It just meant that hand-lettered books were no longer necessary, and it gave more people access to literature and information.

Did the invention of radio kill off the written word? Again, no.

Did television indeed kill the radio star? No, but it might have forced some radio stars to adapt to become more television-friendly. And it also created a whole knew breed of radio stars.

Did the internet kill television? Again, no. If you're like me, you might not use an actual television set but you probably still enjoy watching television shows on your computer or portable device.

As a result of cringing and loving to hate almost every single tweet that @themediaisdying makes, I've started an alternative twitter account to spread good news about any media organizations,  journalists, broadcasters, writers or videographers that are getting by just fine and adapting to the change we're seeing in the media world.

So if you've got any stories about how the media is changing (rather than dying), hit me up by emailing or on twitter: @mediaischanging. (and feel free to follow me on twitter, too. I'm @parkernow)

The media isn't dying, it's changing.

viva la media!


How To Get Your Company Into The Financial Times

Occasionally we're lucky enough here at BlogCampaigning to have someone guest write a post for us. The latest person to share their knowledge with our readers is Malte Goesche, CEO and cofounder of, a website that "allows users to publish and share products with the broader public which they find cool, innovative, exceptionally beautiful, or just weird. Included with every item is a link to an online shop where it can be purchased." He's written a post for us about how his company got a great deal of publicity without the help of PR companies or newswire services.

If I say it is not that hard to get into the pages of the Financial Times, you might not believe me, even though it only took two well-written emails to get there. Of course, I’m leaving out a lot about building a startup (from having the idea to build the product and get funded), but this is supposed to tell you more about how we built and established the brand of

Out of our team of four,  one of my jobs was to get our name out there. Since I didn’t take PR & Marketing 101 I just did what I thought would be the way to do it: find publications (online and offline) that I liked myself and found suitable,  then get in touch with the the right person at each publication, approaching them as directly and personally as possible. It sounds easy, but I think my naivety back then saved me from making many mistakes (I guess that’s what these 101 classes would’ve been good for). I didn’t write press releases or generic emails. By browsing through the chosen publications I found out which authors would be the right fit and then I went ahead and introduced myself via email as what I was back then: a student who had a website with some friends and who would be happy to hear some feedback or a have some review their site. I wasn’t pretentious, didn’t lie and never bullshitted anyone. People seem to have appreciated that a lot.

I believe that approaching people on an eye-to-eye level is very important. When you are writing (I intentionally don’t use the term pitch here due to its spammy connotations) to a smaller blogger you don’t want to come off as the big-headed founder of a startup, just as another internet/tech savvy person/fan who wants to share what he created with others. Be approachable and open to people. Even if whomever you reached out doesn’t write about you right away they might remember you and get back to you once your startup is just the one they need to write about at some point. To go back to the article in the FT, in this case I was lucky, because I emailed the journalist right when she was researching a piece going into our direction. Sometimes a little bit of luck helps.

When writing that email try to keep it short and simple. Remember that you are writing to a human being and don’t just copy and paste some impersonal marketing piece. Let the recipient know that you did your research about her/him and why you think that they could be interested in your product. Just imagine you are meeting that person face-to-face somewhere and act/write accordingly.

After putting in weeks and weeks into researching journalists and bloggers and then writing emails, quite a few publications wrote about us and we also started to write few press releases. I don’t really know about press releases. We did spend the money on sending one out through PR Newswire once with zero response. Unfortunately, it was just a waste of time and cash; as a small startup €800 is real money. Here I think it depends on what your product is and I believe it can’t hurt to try it once. If the ROI is satisfactory, great and if not you know where you can save some money in the future and you've  learned a lesson.

I like to rely on my personal mailing list that I built and keep building. Sending a message out through it every few months has always brought good results.

Some people will also tell you to hire a PR agency. That of course depends on so many factors. If you are a small startup you might not want to spend a monthly flat fee (I found that they usually started at around $10k for mid-sized agencies) for many services you might not need, but it all depends. If no one in your team wants or can handle the PR work this might be the right type of thing to outsource. Some startups grow so fast and have so many press requests coming in that it makes sense for them go down that road. I can only speak for us, and say that so far we haven't needed a full blown PR and marketing package. Although we did spend some money to get some advice from a few experts, I believe there is nothing we can’t handle ourselves.

Well, this post was very long considering that my main message is actually very short: Try different approaches and see what works best for you. Do some PR A/B testing, carefully evaluate the results and sort out what didn’t do the job. Learn those lessons and keep moving forward. Or, as the world's best basketball player Michael Jordan once said:

“I have failed over and over and over again in my life – and that is why I succeed.”

Feel free to email Malte at malte (at) i, follow him on Twitter (he's @malte) or to read his blog at Don't forget to check out!

What do you think of Malte's thoughts on getting coverage?

Dear Globe & Mail, (a letter to the newspaper industry)

Dear Globe & Mail, I really like you. I don't have a subscription to you because I'm normally too busy to read you every day, but I often buy a copy of you from the newstand in my building because it is simply easier (and more environmentally friendly) to share you with my coworkers, or to simply read you online.  As I've written before, one of my favorite Saturday activities is to buy your weekend edition and read through it over a coffee.

Despite what everyone says, you also seem to be pretty popular with the fickle blogging crowd. I mean, as of today you had a almost 60,000 blog reactions on Technorati, and over 200,000 inbound links according to Google blog search. You're still a primary source of information for these people.

If the recent debacle of CNN erroneously reporting that Steve Jobs was in poor health is anything to go by, citizen journalism is as flawed as Andrew Keen says it is. As a traditional media force, people still respect you.

But then you go and do something like trying to charge me $4.95 for a newspaper article that I've already paid for and read, and this hurts me (telling me that this content will only be available for 30 days only adds insult to injury).

Your greatest asset is the thousands and thousands of pages of information and news stories that you have in your archives. People want to view this content, and just as they have endured advertising in your print publications, they'll endure the same kind of advertising on your website.

I understand your thinking when it comes to locking up this content behind a pay wall: it is valuable information, so people will pay to see it.

The problem is, you are only half-right. It is valuable information, but only when it is easy to access. In the age of Google, people will quickly move on and find the information elsewhere, somewhere where it easier to get at.

I know that you have a lot of people working for you (like Christie Blatchford) who don't understand very much about computers, the state of media today or even life in the 21st century. But that doesn't mean you have to end up as a failure. It just means that you have to pay attention to the people that want to help you.

Change your ways, Globe & Mail. or we're through, and it won't be because I'll stop reading you. It will be because everyone stops reading you, and you'll cease to exist.



PS: You should probably forward this letter to some of your other traditional media friends. I know that they are going through some tough times as well.

Best. Headlines. Ever.

I meant to blog about this earlier, but two of the best headlines that I have ever read were both from last week: "More Than 2 Dozen Cheerleaders Rescued From Jammed Elevator"

The two things that crossed my mind after reading this story were "only in Texas, eh?" and that the elevator repairman will be telling this story for the rest of his life.

"Mexican Woman Fights Off Lion With Machete After It Attacks Donkey"

A great read, and for some reason it reminded me of the Wikipedia article on Bear-baiting that mentions an event from the middle ages featuring a pony with an ape tied to its back against three dogs.


Woof, woof!!

Guest post: Hans Geelmuyden is a partner and leading senior adviser at the norwegian public relations agency Geelmuyden.Kiese. Since 1989, he has acted as adviser to major Scandinavian projects involving power changes both in the public and private sector, and he is often employed as a lecturer in strategic communication. In journalistic circles, trusting communication advisors is not considered quite comme il faut. I’ve worked as a journalist and an editor myself and trust both occupational categories. So why is the trust not mutual?

An editorial in “Klima” (“Climate”) magazine no. 2/08 may illustrate the point. The editor, Tove Kolset, writes as follows: “I’m holding an interesting document in my hands: “A green car population demands political action.” Behind this brochure is Volvo Passenger Cars in Norway, assisted by the communication agency Geelmuyden.Kiese (GK), called in to put the message through. To be honest, I must admit that I felt more positively towards the brochure before I noticed GK’s involvement.”

Is there anything apart from prejudice behind Kolset’s distrust? Does she feel herself to be cheated? The information in the Volvo report is based on facts and research which Kolset is free to check. Kolset documents no faults in the factual information. She simply dislikes that Volvo has been assisted by professional communication advisors in making the report. Would it seem more satisfactory if the car manufacturer had done the job on their own without outside assistance? Or is it the very professionalism that’s bothering her? Should Kolset prefer the brochure to be produced by an amateur team from the middle of nowhere?

Economists are taught that perfect information is the basis of a perfect market. As neither perfect information nor perfect markets exist, communication advisors do. Each and every second, a battle over interpretations and interests is being fought in our society. Communication advisors as well as journalists participate in this battle, but in different roles. I trust journalists because I appreciate their role as guard dogs for the general population.

For myself, I claim no ideal purpose. Communication advisors represent the interests of one party. This is legitimate as long as these interests are openly presented. One-party interests should obviously be thoroughly examined. Journalists seeking knowledge do just that. They’re checking several sources and have little to fear from communication advisors. Journalists who instead reject information on the basis of emotions and prejudice are unprofessional, as are communication advisors out to fool to public.

Hans Geelmuyden

Interview With Journalist Bernard Simon

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to take part in a one-day writing course offered by the Canadian Investor Relations Institute. It was taught by Bernard Simon, a former managing editor of the Financial Post and now a foreign correspondent for the Financial Times (view some of his work here). I am constantly trying to apply what he taught in my everyday writing, both for this blog and at work.Bernard was kind enough to let me interview him for this blog, and his answers to my questions are below.

BlogCampaigning: How has the internet affected your writing?

Bernard Simon:The internet has had a profound effect on journalism.

It has dramatically sped up the news cycle. Many journalists accustomed to writing stories once a day or once a week are now filing pieces for their publications’ websites, and updating them regularly.

The internet has turned reporters into multi-taskers. Once upon a time, reporters expected simply to research and write stories. Now, many appear on website videos, host blogs and use cellphone cameras to add a new dimension to their stories.

Stories are no longer spiked for lack of space in the paper. Those that don’t fit in the paper can now run on the internet – one less source of newsroom complaints!

BlogCampaigning: How do you think blogs are influencing the way we write and read the news?

Bernard Simon: The most obvious impact of blogs is the array of new (and some loud old) voices that they bring to the news process. Many media websites have become non-stop town-hall meetings, with all that entails. Readers have access to a far wider variety of views. Conversely, they can make their own voices heard more loudly.

It’s both good and bad. For instance;

-- Blogs bring a welcome diversity of views. Some are wonderfully well-informed and insightful; others are ill-informed, badly written, and not much better than diatribes.

-- Bloggers and those who post comments are quick to point out journalists’ mistakes. Yet many are reluctant to admit and correct their own.

-- Blogs have broken some big stories, and added useful perspectives to already-published ones. But they tend to have fewer resources than the established media, with the result that some do not match the standards applied by mainstream media outlets (for instance, fact-checking and quality of writing).

BlogCampaigning: Do you have anything else you want to say about blogs and/or online news?

Bernard Simon: It’s really important that we don’t allow the advantages of online news – speed, accessibility and variety of views – to undermine the reputation for fairness, accuracy and balance that mainstream media outlets have painstakingly built up over the years. This is one of the big challenges facing established media outlets as they open their websites to more outside voices.

Thank you very much for your time, Bernard!