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Irish Media Movement

Vincent Boland is the new Ireland correspondent for the Financial Times, after Jamie Smyth moved to become Australia and Pacific correspondent.

Michael O’Kane and Catherine Farrell are the new programme editors for RTE Radio 1 Morning Ireland.

Sean MacCeartaigh has left the Irish Examiner to join the production team of TV3′s Tonight With Vincent Browne.

Cystic Fibrosis campaigner and journalist Orla Tinsley has joined the Independent.ie team and will write a weekly column every Monday.

Edelman Ireland 2014 Trust Barometer

Another year, another launch of the Edelman Trust Barometer. Despite being around for approximately seventeen years now, the research never fails to spark interest and this year was no different. The 2014 findings were quite striking for me, primarily if you compare the results to previous years as they show that the great hope the Irish public had for change around the last general election has dissipated and levels of trust are around the same levels as 2011 (click the image for an enlarged view.)

Trust in Institutions

The other striking result is the clear lack in trust by the public in politicians and business leaders across a range of actions, highlighting an embedded skepticism in society (click the image for an enlarged view.)

Leadership - A crisis of trust

The launch event itself was quite stimulating with a thought provoking address from Dr Tom Clonan, who recounted his experience of serving in the Irish army in Lebanon, later as a whistleblower revealing the systematic sexual harassment of Irish women soldiers, and more recently his experience as a father of a disabled child.

Clonan’s account highlighted that we don’t do transparency well in Ireland and here is a clear need for reform across a variety of institutions in the country. He highlighted the lack of diversity in a range of areas in terms of political representation and media commentators. The same accusation could equally be made of the business world.

So where do we go from here? My colleague and Edelman Ireland chairman Jim Glennon summed it up best when he wrapped up the event with his comment – ‘You always learn a lot more from a defeat then you do from a victory.

We’ve essentially been through the wars in Ireland in terms of the collapse of the Celtic Tiger and revelations of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The crisis at the Central Remedial Clinic is just the latest in a series of scandals that has rocked the public conscious.

We essentially need to create a culture of transparency in order to rebuild trust in institutions. Tom Cloonan only had to point out the commentary around the Garda whistleblowers who presented to the Public Accounts Committee last week which shows that we still do not have an environment where whistleblowers can feel comfortable to come forward. A lot of work obviously still needs to be done if we hope to achieve this.

While there is clearly a link between economic performance and levels of trust, the positive signs around the Irish economy should not mean that we forego the continual self-examination to ensure we have learned from the mistakes of the past and also make sure that we put a system of accountability in place. As one of the panelists at the event, Simon Harris TD, said at the launch, “We don’t need a return to blind trust, we need a society that always probes.

The spotlight on the Irish charity sector at the moment offers a unique insight in terms of the challenges and opportunities organisations in the space face. Clearly a lack of transparency on executive pay and poor governance by a handful of organisations has had a huge impact on the whole sector. As a result there is a requirement for executives involved in the running of charities to proactively communicate how they operate and demonstrate the results they are achieving.

There is also a requirement, however, for the public to also educate themselves better. Simon Harris made a good point about an exam he sat in school where he was asked what Mary Harney’s position in cabinet was at the time. Apart from having to know her title, there was no requirement for actually understanding what her role involved.

The danger of an unengaged public is that it sweeps through society. Dr Cloonan underlined this when he made a point about the lack of interrogation in the media about the era of austerity. Just as we didn’t question the fundamentals of the boom, we’re making the same mistakes again. One of the primary reasons for this is the lack of diversity in our political representation and in the media.

I’m reminded of an article on the New Statesman website about how the majority of media commentators are white men aged 50+ and the negative effect that has on discourse in society. I’ve highlighted a key quote from the piece below.

…for the time being the ancient kings still rule. The old make the news for the old, and politicians watch and obsess as if the images flickering across their screens are somehow relevant to the hopes, dreams and fears of the population they so dismally fail to represent.

The full research deck for the Edelman Ireland 2014 Trust Barometer can new viewed below. More commentary is available on the Edelman website.

Stuff That Caught My Attention #25

A couple of PR stunts that caught my attention before the end of the year.  Obviously enough they are mostly Christmas related.

The UK video game retailer GAME was quite busy trying to stay top of mind with consumers.  The stunt which grabbed most publicity was their Christmas dinner in a can.  Their tongue in cheek product aimed to cater for gamers who were too hooked on Christmas presents to tear themselves away for their dinner.  The all-in-one Christmas dinner consisted of nine layers including turkey and potatoes, scrambled eggs and bacon, and mince pie.  Not particularly appealing, but it generated wall-to-wall coverage.

GAME followed that up by hiring a nine year old as a Non Executive Director of GAME Junior to “give clueless parents advice on what games to get their children this Christmas.”

PUMA’s personalised boots to announce their sponsorship of Mario Balotelli was inspired.

A number of UK shopping malls brought in lie detectors to see if the children that came to visit Santa really had been naughty or nice.

Hats off to Waterstones who turned around this riposte to Amazon’s drone delivery announcement, which was made the night before.

Just thought I’d share some examples of corporates using social media in recent weeks.

Elon Musk recent used Tesla’s blog to counter a narrative that seemed to be gaining consensus in the mainstream media that the Tesla Model S, the firm’s flagship model, posed a greater fire risk than traditional vehicles. Musk took to the company blog to dispel the flaws inherit in this narrative and set out the company’s position. It’s a simple and effective tactic that more companies surprisingly don’t take advantage of. It is their own unedited platform and can be used to counter criticisms laid out against a company in the press.

Permanent TSB pursued a similar strategy after the announcement that the deposit and loan accounts of customers of Newbridge Credit Union had been transferred to the bank. A video statement by PTSB Group Chief Executive Jeremy Masding was posted to YouTube and offered to media during the course of the day to set out their position on the announcement.

Making Paywalls Pay

BusinessWeek has dubbed 2014 the year of the paywall. In Ireland, it is certainly going to be a topic up for debate.

Both the Irish Times and Irish Independent have discussed launching paywalls, but it seems like a bit of a Mexican standoff as Irish media outlets try to figure out how to charge for content when free alternatives like RTE and TheJournal exist.

One outlet that has already taken the plunge is the Irish Sun. Unlike its UK counterpart, however, it hasn’t had the benefit of being able to offer Premiership Goals as a sweetener for subscribers. The Irish Sun’s editor, Paul Clarkson, tweeted over the weekend about content that it has secured and I wouldn’t be surprised if additional exclusive content is announced over the coming months.

 

The question remains whether the lure of football highlights will draw in the paying punters. A similar strategy in the UK hasn’t gotten off to a great start and there is plenty of competition for content rights, particularly with BT seemingly intent on taking on all comers.

How Much Are You Investing In Content?

It perplexes me when I see organisations invest in websites and then rarely update them. Their social media strategy seems to revolve entirely around sharing links, images or videos that they’ve found elsewhere.

This is completely ridiculous. It’s the equivalent of buying a house, but not actually purchasing any furniture, sticking pictures of chairs and tables from magazines on the walls instead.

Think of it this way. If you are trying to sell online, then your focus should be on driving people to your website in order to try and convert them to customers. If you are not posting new content to your website on a regular basis, then there’s no reason for them to return to your site. Similarly if your social media content simply revolves around sharing other people’s content, then all your are doing is sending your business elsewhere.

In terms of an equivalent, the general rule of thumb when you are investing in a sponsorship is that you need to spend three times what you paid for the sponsorship rights in order to activate it. So if you are investing in a website and spending hours fussing over what it will look like, make sure you stand back and ask yourself what your strategy is to make sure people visit your site on a regular basis.

You will obviously have a budget set aside for the site development, but if you haven’t thought about budget for regular content then you’ll find yourself with the equivalent of a gorgeous house on the outside, which turns out to be bare once you open the front door.

Were you ever about to give a presentation or be interviewed, but found yourself a little flustered due to nerves. Sometimes we find ourselves quite anxious because of an elevated heartbeat. Here’s a simple tip for how to calm down. Take a note from professional athletes and focus on your breathing.

Make sure to only breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Focus on taking your time and taking three seconds to breathe in and then exhaling for another three seconds. This focus and method of breathing will quickly lower your heartbeat and calm your nerves, helping you give a better performance.

The Future of Interactive Displays

The video below is simply jaw dropping. inFORM is a Dynamic Shape Display from the the minds at MIT that allows the user to interact with 3D content. For example, the user can move objects on a table remotely. The potential of the technology is huge, particularly when you think about the amount of people who interact over video Skype or FaceTime.

inFORM – Interacting With a Dynamic Shape Display from Tangible Media Group on Vimeo.

Media Movement in Ireland

Emmet Ryan is the new technology correspondent with the Sunday Business Post after Dick O’Brien’s departure.

Tom Lyons and Fiach Kelly are joining the Irish Times as senior business correspondent and senior political correspondent from the Sunday Independent and Irish Independent.

INM has made a series of appointments also with Tom Molloy, Fionnan Sheehan and Shane Doran being appointed as Group Business Editor, Group Political Editor and Editor of the Herald respectively.

Some Thoughts On The News Business

I read two good articles recently which got me thinking about the news business.

The first piece is a Techcrunch interview with Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter, about his new venture Medium. In the interview, Williams talks about his hopes “to shift our daily reading habits away from consuming incremental news bites” and criticises the media industry’s “incessant need to trump up mundane happenings in order to habituate readers into needing news like a daily drug fix.”

The second article by PaidContent is a summary of a presentation given by Hal Varian, Google’s chief economist, about the challenges facing the newspaper business. According to the article, Varian points out that newspapers have never really made money from news; that the news business was always cross-subsidized by ads, but that cross-subsidization doesn’t work as well online; and notes that the real challenge for newspapers is to get people to spend more time on their site.

Williams is spot on with the phrase “incremental news bites.” Despite the financial struggles of media outlets, we’re overwhelmed with news. No matter where you turn there’s journalists tweeting headlines the second a press release lands in their inbox; endless updates on news sites, etc. Just to put this into context, Kevin Anderson uses the following statistic – just over a decade ago the Wall Street Journal published 22,000 articles, but in the first six months of 2010 it had already published 21,000 articles. So it’s certainly a case of information overload. Anderson sums up the news business’ challenge in a nutshell – “In the attention economy, journalism competes against everything that competes for people’s time and attention.” Anderson’s full presentation is available below.

So going back to Varian’s point, how do newspapers get people to spend more time on their site? I have two trains of thought on this.

One – Newspapers create a tremendous amount of content per year. Just look at the personal finance section, there’s advice on managing bills, tips on bargains and consumer rights. Yet after an article is published, it’s pretty much forgotten. There isn’t a central resource that a consumer can turn to if they want advice on a specific topic at any given tip similar to a site like MoneySavingExpert.com. It’s madness that newspapers aren’t making better use of the information they’re publishing. Jeff Jarvis expands on this by talking about journalism as a service – “Stories aren’t always the best vehicle for conveying information, for informing the public. Sometimes lists, data bases, photos, maps, wikis, and other new tools can do a better job.”

Two – Give readers a unique experience. One aspect of Lionel Barber’s memo about the changes at the Financial Times that caught my eye was the phrase about shifting further away from reactive news gathering, i.e. as TheMediaBriefing.com put it “rather than reactive everyone-else-has-it news.” The most obvious example of this from a traditional media perspective is the New York Times Snow Fall feature. Closer to home, UsvsTh3m is a great example of how a traditional media organisation, the Trinity Mirror Group, can provide entertaining content to keep visitors engaged. In a Quartz feature about the site, Malcolm Coles of Trinity Mirror says “the main original use case was ‘I’m bored.’ What can I do for ten minutes?” Some of the games they have developed include Iain Duncan Smith’s Realistic Unemployment Simulator and How Much Are You Hated By The Daily Mail, both of which tick the box in terms of Varian’s argument that newspaper sites to get people to spend more time on their site.




Piaras Kelly
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