Can iPad save newspapers and magazines?

CNET recently held a Reporters’ Roundtable, assembled to discuss the future of print publication, and what effect the iPad, and other changes in technology, will have on the magazine and journalism industries.

The panel included Damon Darlin, the technology editor of the New York Times, and editor of PaidContent.org Rafat Ali.

The group examine several questions, including what is the problem with print media, why didn’t the web save newspapers, how much will readers pay for digital content, and are newspapers antiquated?

It’s 30mins long, but worth a watch…

Happy 25th Birthday .com!

In the busy world of Tech PR, pause for a moment to celebrate the 25th birthday of .com! On the 15th March, 1985, a computer manufacturer based in Cambridge, Massachusetts called Symbolics, Inc was the first company to register a .com address. Now, with close to 80 million .com addresses registered, the .com suffix has become one of the most ubiquitous keywords of the internet.

Now if only I’d registered .com for BradJ, Technology PR and Online PR whilst I had the chance. BradJ.com wasn’t taken back in the early 90’s, but .co.uk was much cheaper (and still is), and had a better ring to it…

http://www.25yearsof.com

New Tory poster campaign a stroke of viral genius?

This week saw the launch of the Conservative’s latest nationwide campaign, seemingly aimed at reaching out to those who have never voted Tory before.

Along with the usual YouTube videos, leaflets, tweets, etc, there are also three accompanying posters.

The Tories’ last poster campaign, you know, the one sporting a rather smoothly airbrushed David Cameron, looking more like Morph then a regular human being, didn’t take long for the blogosphere to say something about it.

Doctored versions of the poster started springing up everywhere, from Facebook to websites such as mydavidcameron.com, which even uploaded blank templates for people to edit as they saw fit.

And it only took a few hours Monday morning for exactly the same thing to happen again:

If the Tories had replaced their entire poster campaign from the previous in order to stem the effort non-conservatives were going to with parodying their messages as The Independent had reported, they failed. Before lunchtime #ivenevervotedtory was trending worldwide on Twitter:

  • #ivenevervotedtory because actually I think Gordon and Alistair have done a great job … mwahahahaha
  • #ivenevervotedtory because that New Labour, New Danger ad campaign still gives me nightmares
  • #ivenevervotedtory because I believe in genuine co-operative values not made up twaddle
  • #ivenevervotedtory because of their position on Europe. Oh and because they remind me of all the stuck-up braying arses I was at uni with!
  • #ivenevervotedtory because Phil Collins will come back if I do
  • #ivenevervotedtory because they are home to homophobic bigots and promote an unequal society
  • #ivenevervotedtory because Jim Davidson does. And you don’t want to be associated with that c**t

By mid week, the ‘I’ve never voted Tory but’ poster parodies had made pretty good coverage, both online, and nationally. They had spread across all manner of social networks and news sites, from Facebook to New Statesman. Seemingly a fail for the Conservatives, and a win for the Government. However, was this exactly what the Conservatives wanted to happen? (Cue evil genious laugh)

As Paul Owen wrote in his blog over at the Guardian, the new posters practically beg to be altered. The slogans are set out on big blue oblongs, making them so simple to edit my 5 year old cousin could manage it, and that half sentence; “I’ve never voted Tory, but” pleads for defacement louder than a whitewash wall in the middle of Hackney.

The defacement of the posters helped elevate public interest in the original campaign to levels well above what our political apathy often allows for, and at far lesser cost. Plus, by the end of Monday, #ivenevervotedlabour had replaced #ivenevervotedtory, which was no longer trending:

  • #ivenevervotedlabour because ultimately they run out of other people's money
  • #ivenevervotedlabour and never will because the bastards have stolen my hard earned pension
  • #ivenevervotedlabour because they are a bunch of joyless self righteous authoritarians who want to dictate how we all lead our lives
  • #ivenevervotedlabour because their policies are designed to keep poor people poor
  • #ivenevervotedlabour because ALL Labour Governments run out of our money in the end
  • #ivenevervotedlabour Because quantitative easing is the economics policy of Mugabe

The Tory tweeters had come out in force, in their Uggs and Jack Wills, probably sitting in the Sloaney Pony in Parsons Green, tweeting furiously on their iPhones.

If anything, the tweets from both sides provided a lot of public opinion, more so than you’d expect to get from spending thousands on focus groups.

As the dust slowly starts to settle and the posters continue to bounce through peoples’ inboxes, you’ve got to ask, was this a stroke of viral marketing genius? 

Tech PR agency wins Miss Universe?

What do Maria Vicente, Dayana Mednoza, Yeidi Bosques and Chameleon PR have in common?

Good question. And this is exactly the question I found myself asking as I logged into YouTube to check out their latest changes to their interface for an upcoming blog post. 

When searching for a recent video we uploaded (Chameleon’s view of PR in 2010’ – a short video highlighting some of our predictions for public relations in the new year), I took note of the ‘Related Videos’ to the side.

Whilst Steve was insistent that the relation of our video to clips from Miss Universe 2010 had something to do with the fact that he was first to appear on the film, after a quick look we realised it was in fact the titles were very similar.

This is interesting as the tags for each video are completely  different. It would appear that for the moment, YouTube is favouring indexing videos via the titles, placing less of a weighting on the tags users have specifically selected to categorise their content.

Whilst having the advantages of stopping users spreading content across YouTube, tagging videos with irrelevant key words, with the internet expanding rapidly, and more and more digital content pouring onto the internet, have YouTube picked the proper way to index their videos? Is there a better way?

Cold fingers…

As the country is slowly brought to a standstill, Chameleon soldier on. Since Christmas, us Tech PRs all managed to soldier in to the London office, through tretcherous conditions Sir Ranulph Fiennes would have thought twice about…

That’s if you’re to believe what the BBC have been saying about the ‘Arctic Freeze’ we’ve been facing over the past week. Truth be told, most people in this country are just looking for a day off work. Not us! Even when someone decides to leave the heating off over the weekend, and we come in Monday morning only to be faced with temperatures that could send a shiver up a polar bear’s back.. I stole Lucy’s fingerless gloves just to cope..

The newspaper is dead. Long live the news

A little over two months ago, in response to Martin Veitch’s tweet, I stated that both the book, and the newspaper will never die. I’m preparing to eat some humble pie. This week saw the launch of the Guardian’s new iPhone app. I’ve been using it for a little over 48 hours now, and I’m starting to wonder… Do I ever need to buy the paper version again?

I’ve always liked The Guardian. Not for its editorial (I prefer The Times), its business pages (I prefer the FT), or its rugby reviews (The Telegraph wins here). It’s simply the nicest paper to read, visually.

When it comes to colour, design, layout, font, The Guardian has absolutely nailed it. It’s a great looking paper, a visual masterpiece. Whilst sitting in Nude Espresso (one of the best coffee houses in East London) as usual either before work or on a Saturday morning, it’s the paper of choice.

This morning I tried something different. Instead of reaching for the familiar blue masthead, I took my phone out of my pocket, and with a quick swipe and a tap, I had The Guardian.

iphone

The Guardian team has done an amazing job on this app. It’s no doubt the BEST news app available for the iPhone. It’s slick, and looks like Apple has designed it in-house. With a smooth interface, I found myself flipping through stories faster than a Japanese origami master could ever manage with the paper version.

Gone was my argument for the need for tactile feel of the pages. The iPhone already feels great. Plus there’s all the benefits of going digital. There’s slick animations, access to photo galleries, and better still, access to all The Guardian podcasts on the move!

But the real kicker with this app is ‘offline reading’. In short, it allows you to download huge chunks (or all) of the daily news to your phone to read offline. For most news apps on the iPhone, this is their Achilles’ heel. As soon as you’re out of signal, you lose all access to the content which is effectively being streamed over the 3G connection.

So not only is it smaller and lighter than the paper, gone are the days of wrestling for an extra few inches of reading space on the tube to prop your triple folded paper just in front of your face, to then have to wait until the next station before you’re able to change the page.

As Marketing Week reported earlier this month, newspaper circulation is continuing to fall. In the first 24 hours of the app being released, it was already the top paid-for app in the UK and the US. In the app world, this is the equivalent of getting a global Christmas number 1 hit in the charts. It gives you prime place in the app store, and sends your downloads through the roof.

As it stands, it’s not going to replace The Sunday Times for me. £2 for what seems like more editorial than a Dickens novel, cracking open the plastic to reveal more supplements than a pharmacy would stock, you can’t beat it.

But I do fear that from now on, it’s the only paper I’ll ever buy again…

Guardian

I still stand by my prediction that the Kindle won’t catch on, beyond the early adopter levels. It’s too low-tech. However I do believe that in the near future, Apple will no doubt soon release a tablet to beat all tablets (I’ll probably camp out overnight again like I did for my iPhone). The trick with these things, much like The Guardian has proved with its app, is that it’s all about the user interface.

For the reproduction of both books and newspapers on electronic devices, the key for designers is to not re-create the same interface that the reader has with paper. That is impossible. Paper feels too good. It’s too tactile, too romantic. Instead the only way to beat paper is to make the interface more fun, more interactive. Readers need to prefer digital to paper. Environmental concerns won’t cut it here.

So, I’m officially eating a big fat slice of humble pie. The death of the hardcopy newspaper is nigh, consider this its obituary. Books I believe will follow also, to be forever cast into the deepest depths of the country’s libraries museums.

The newspaper is dead. Long live digital news…