Becoming Professional: A Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Hult International Business School

Where people are getting their information is changing. But what is it changing into? The process is on-going, but I thought I’d delve into my own habits to see where it is heading. I may not be a representative sample, but I am a digital native. So, let’s see the results.

What paid media do I read/watch/listen to?

“Paid”? What is this word, “paid”? In all honesty, I do tend to purchase books, both those in paper and those for my Nook eReader. More and more, the eReader is carrying my library. I’m even considering rebuying some books just to have them on the more portable device!

I don’t buy much else, though. Occasionally a magazine or a DVD, but that’s almost once in a blue moon. I just satisfy my needs elsewhere. Sorry traditional publishers!

How do I stay up to date with the world?

sky news left hand site navigation

by Bobbie on Flickr

Hehe, news? I confess that most of my news happens almost through osmosis. But I can list a few channels that it tends to seep in from.

Facebook (social): If it weren’t for Facebook, I’d never know the current political developments in my home town. After all, it’s a Red State. Most news just says its Red and live with it. But I’m Blue, and I like to know how my fellow Dems are doing. On social media, like Facebook, news is pushed to me from my more up-to-date friends.

Twitter (social): If it weren’t for Twitter I’d never have known that that the British Queen wore yellow to her grandson’s wedding. Or, on a more serious note, I would not have known about the Japanese earthquake of recent past and the subsequent nuclear reactor fallout. More important to me, I would not have been able to keep track and support the various charities going on to help Japan.

Yahoo News Homepage (B2C): Ah, Yahoo. Home of lots of inane stupidity and occasional nuggets of must-have info. This is how I found out about Osama Bin Laden’s demise.

Google Reader (Agreggator): If you are talking about world news, then nope, not from this channel. I’m not that dedicated to staying informed. I should be, but I’m being honest here. However, I do gather industry blogs so I know what’s going on in the digital marketing world. If you don’t, I recommend you do. It’s quite handy.

Various Blogs (generally B2B): Of course, if I’m listing off where I get my news, I have to also list off the blogs I read for industry information. Here are my favourites:

  • Facebook Insider If you want to know what is going on at Facebook, this is the blog for you. Keeps to the point.
  • Social Games Insider I love games, and social games are where it’s at. Run by the same folk who do Facebook Insider (can’t you tell?). Does game reviews as well as publishing industry statistics.
  • Hubspot Blog I love Hubspot. All about how to attract customers rather than reaching out to them. While they do publish a lot of amusing articles, when something happens in the industry, they let you know.
  • SEOMoz If you want to know about SEO, then you want to read this blog. Every time Google changes something, they are on top of it. And they also teach you how to use it.

Looking at this list, it seems I do not rely on what could be described Consumer to Consumer media, or media written by a consumer for the benefit of other consumers. An example is a book review on an individual’s blog. Actually, this blog could be C2C, since I’m not writing it on behalf of a business. Though I do read blogs written by individuals, they tend to be used to support that individual’s business practice. I’d qualify them as B2B. It’s a grey zone. I do find it odd, myself, that I read few personal blogs, since C2C is one of the more interesting developments in publishing.

What media do I use to keep up with my hobbies?

Hobbies? Do I have time for any hobbies?  I tend to read books, watch anime, or read manga as my major hobbies. When I need a new book or series to watch or read, I put out a call on Facebook for suggestions. If all else fails I hit the generic “Top 10” lists for ideas. I tend to find those via Google searches. I suppose that my parents would read specialty magazines for this kind of information. Not this digital girl.

What about for entertainment?

A fantasy novel's cover art

One of my favourite books

For entertainment it’s science fiction and fantasy novels, music on Spotify, DVDs of television series and movies, YouTube and other online videos, and sometimes a good essay written on an entertaining topic – think why Harry should have been with Hermione and not Ginny. Good laughs. The essays tend to be published on blogs, most often on LiveJournal.

This is one section where I do consume C2C media. Those goofy essays are almost always published by consumers for fellow consumers. Consumers even post good short stories online, as well. So while my news is almost exclusively distributed by businesses, my entertainment online tends to come from fellow consumers.

Free? Paid? Online or off?

Perhaps more interesting than what media I consume is where I do it and at what price: how much do I pay for and how much to I consume offline?

As I mentioned, I pay for my books and I have no problem handing over money for a DVD, but how many DVDs do I own? Currently 3, and one is actually a friend’s. (Don’t ask about the books. I really do own a library.) So in terms of paid media, I only consume books and DVDs. It should also be worth noting that these are the only media I do not consume online, even though they may be digital, particularly my eBooks.

I get a lot more of my entertainment for free and online. I watch online videos, not all of which are about silly cats, and read short stories or those essays I mentioned. Music, too, is free, thanks to the freemium version of Spotify, though I might start paying for that. The commercials are killing me.

The Publishing Take-Away

So, judging from this, my news is published by businesses, but free. I find out about it, though, often through social media. My offline entertainment tends to be B2C as well, but online I find C2C entertainment readily available. I pay for media I consume offline; I expect free in regards to media consumed online.

Publishing is changing, but maybe, if others behave as I do, an effort should be made to focus on offline products for revenue and online products for publicity. I don’t mean “traditional” by “offline,” since my eBooks are distinctly digital. Even my DVDs are. Rather, I just mean media not consumed directly on the web. What do you think?

*This post was written as part of an assignment for my

Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School,

but since the topic was interesting, I decided to use it for this blog.


AZCentral logo

Large newspapers and magazines are posting digital versions of themselves online and in app stores, but what about the small guys? The national papers seem to be surfing this digital wave with an okay success rate. They aren’t wiping out much, lately. But what about the local papers?

How is, for example, my home town’s AZCentral doing? It calls itself “Arizona’s Home Page” and is the digital version of the Arizona Republic, the largest local paper in circulation in the capital city of Phoenix. But how is it coping with the digital revolution? Is it riding high or wiping out?

This is a look at how a smaller, less well-known newspaper is adapting to digital. Sometimes it’s good to look at something other than the celebrities once and a while.

A Bit of Background

According to the website’s About section, the news website AZCentral is the digital arm of the Arizona Republic, the oldest and largest news publisher in the state with over 110 years of history. It reaches about 1.5 million readers per week and is one of the top 20 dailies in circulation in the country. The website itself is the most active website in Arizona. It allows users to catch up on the most recent news, surf job listings, look for new real estate, entertainment news, and community information, amongst other topics.

However, perhaps more important than the strength of the brand is the fact that my little hometown newspaper is owned by a national company, Gannett Co, Inc.

How Digital Is This Digital Site?

AZCentral screen captureAs you can see from the above image, it is basically a digital version of the newspaper. This is rather to be expected. Most online newspapers are like this.

But we can still see how digital has wormed its way into how this online news source operates.

  • Most Read The lists of articles can be sorted, and not just based on the publisher’s opinions. They can also be sorted based on how popular an article is. The users can create their own customer experiences.
  • Update Recently? The website also says when a category of articles was last updated. Speed is critical online where people want, and expect, up-to-the minute news availability. This is one way that a news publisher can gain respect and loyalty from an audience. (Though I always wonder how good fact checking is done at this speed…)image of the share function on azcentral
  • Easy Sharing One of the differences I noted between digital and traditional publishing is well in evidence – the ability to easily share articles.
  • moms like meContent From Other Sources AZCentral is also snagging content from other places. Because the owning company is so large, they present a “Moms” tab for a category on their homepage, but it leads to the website below.
  • Comments Anyone? AZCentral is also offering readers the ability to comment and “Make your voice heard.” However, I think it is worth noting that they don’t have a forum.

comments feature on AZcentral

In general, AZCentral is actually quite digital, to an extent. They are using the tools available to make sure that their news gets out with easy sharing. They are saving their budgets by snagging content from partners like MomslikeMe, and they are creating a reputation for speedy news by showing off how quickly they update their sections. They are even allowing for a customizable experience in some respects, like how news is sorted.

But I am worried. They have no community. They allow for comments but I highly doubt they act on them. Most comments are rather banal, like we’re used to seeing on news sites, and are not always allowed, such as on political articles like this one about President Obama. Though honestly, I can’t blame them for that. It would just deteriorate into a name calling fest.

The Future for AZCentral?

The future is an unwritten book. AZCentral is doing several good things, but as I described in my article on what exactly is publishing, though the message is very important, the community that feeds on that message is also important. AZCentral doesn’t have much of a way for readers to develop that community.

They are also spread out very thinly. The website covers a lot of content, but I, for one, never went there for anything but entertainment news and things to do around the city. In fact, the events section is the only section where they allow direct reader participation. Individuals can submit events for free to their calendar. They do not even have a blogs section so that their individual staff writers can develop their own personal brands. I fear that their brand is a bit diluted and they could do with a bit of trimming. After all, if my hunch is correct and entertainment is what they are good at, why do the rest of it? Just link to another source and save the money.

*This post was written as part of an assignment for my

Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School,

but since the topic was interesting, I decided to use it for this blog.

Subscribers to this blog may have noticed that I have posted a lot about publishing in the last few days. Well, I’m taking a class on Digital Publishing, so there’s your reason. But that does beg the question: What is publishing, anywho?

A Potential Definition

image of an antique printing press

by kladcat on Flickr

John Batelle provides an interesting definition of what publishing really is. According to him, Publishing means connecting a community through the art and science of communication. Basically, he goes back to the beginning and explains that when we didn’t have printing or writing, the message and the medium were the same – I spoke and communicated my message. When publishing came out, this conjunction of message and medium stayed. The message – the content – was seen as inseparable from the medium – the printed word. Batelle holds that this is not true. Publishing is about the message, not the medium.

I would agree with this, to a point. Something written has no point unless it carries a message, and that message has no point unless it has an audience, and thus a community. But Batelle carries this idea farther than I would. He insists that publishing should be thought of as speaking and so things like social media are included in that definition. He doesn’t come right out and say it like that, but that’s where his logic takes me. I can’t agree with that.

Now, I’m not belittling social media. Not only do I love it, it’s what I do. And I will acknowledge that there is a gray area. Blogs like this one are often considered as part of social media, but there is no doubt in my mind they are also publishing mechanisms.

Published Messages Stand Alone

image of the Washington Monument in DC

by Wes Thorp on Flickr

While publishing has morphed and is no longer about the printing press and paper, it is still about the message, and a particular type of message at that. Publishing does not include conversational messages. If I post “Hi there! How was your day?” on Twitter I am not publishing, I’m engaging in social conversation. If I post a well thought-out haiku on Twitter, I am publishing. My message does not rely on a response for its meaning.

I think that that is the key. Communities rely on this response, so Batelle’s definition in really a definition of conversation. I think published content can be the focus of a community, like any novel’s fan-club, but it carries a meaning and a message by itself.

Comments Inform that Message

a picture of statues having a conversation

by cliff1066™ on Flickr

Responses are going to be important to the future of publishing. Comments from readers will inform the next thing to be published, tying the published material more closely with the community that feeds on it.

This blog is a good example. I write my message here, in the post section. My message has been thought-out and stands on its own. By including links, I’ve inserted it into a general body of knowledge and commentary on a question – “What is publishing?” But those links are back story or examples. I’ve coopted them for my message, which is what I’ve written here. Now, you, dear reader, can post comments, changing the context of my message but not my content. Your comments may inspire me to engage with you in conversation by replying to them, or they may inspire me to write a new post, linking to your comment, and thus coopting it into my message even as I give you credit for it. (Any graduate of high school had to learn to cite other works, after all. That doesn’t make my work any less original for the citation.)

So, go on. Engage me in conversation in the comments. What do you think of my definition of publishing?

*This post was written as part of an assignment for my

Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School,

but since the topic was interesting, I decided to use it for this blog.

So digital has shaken up the publishing world. Major magazine’s have folded, newspapers are dying out, and journalists are scrambling to find something that resembles job security. But how, exactly, is digital different from traditional?

This is the question that has caused so many journalists and editors so many headaches. After all, the news and stories haven’t changed, right? Just the medium, right?

a picture of a messy desk

by gudmd.haralds on Flickr

Well, not really. With a digital publication, the writers write and the editors make sure that what is written will appeal to the audience. In a way this hasn’t changed, but the relationship between the two has. Editors no longer have to rely on their own stable of authors. They can shop around. On the internet it is a very simple thing to link to another publication or to get permission from a freelancer to post his or her work (with payment, of course). And authors can get their work placed in a variety of websites and magazines. When I was working for the Phoenix Comicon I noticed a trend. More and more journalists didn’t say which magazine or newspaper they worked for. Rather they listed where their stories had appeared. I expect this trend will continue. Journalists turn freelance and editors become curators.

The traditional magazine or newspaper is also morphing. Before digital, magazines and newspapers each ran their own unique stories. No two articles were exactly the same and a battle existed to get exclusive content and be the first with a story. Now, even if you are first with a big story, it will be an hour or two before a competitor grabs it, too. Though getting a story first remains important, newspapers and magazines are now focusing on maintaining a consistency of topics and tone, according to Susan Currie Sivek in this article. They are becoming less a catalogue of content and more a brand where consumers can expect a to find the same presentation and general genre of content. The focus is shifting from the story to the brand. I’ll leave it to you to decide which is better.

a UPS truck

by zyphbear on Flickr

Lastly, before the Internet, a newspaper’s circulation territory was only as big as it could profitably deliver its product. With the Internet, this is no longer true. This is the key reason why the Boston Globe was able to expose the Catholic Church to world wide criticism in 2002 when it covered the trial of a priest pedophile. Not all Bostonians really cared about the woes of Catholics. But Catholics around the world sure did. Because the Globe was now easily available world-wide to anyone who spoke English, the message could be easily shared. Before the internet, sharing was too difficult and the base circulation too small.

So the Internet has, indeed, changed publishing. The relationship between the people who make publishing happen, the role of branding, and even the audience have all changed. Some things remain the same. It’s still a message being sent from one to many. But a lot is different, thanks to digital technology.

*This post was written as part of an assignment for my

Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School,

but since the topic was interesting, I decided to use it for this blog.

Yes, you are that important. Well, at least you in aggregate. Just having the tools available to change the world won’t do much if the behaviors and habits aren’t in place to use them. Today’s content consumer not only has the tools but the behaviors to shape how digital media consumption and delivery will work in the years to come.

The two main behaviors that are affecting digital media’s place in our world are sharing and shopping around.

mail box with flowers

by kla4067 on Flickr

We Share Everything

We are share-happy, passing on restaurant reviews, news articles, comments on current events, and their our own insights with equal enthusiasm. I’d guess that sharing is on the rise and only going to get bigger.

Sharing has already had a tangible effect on the way digital media is consumed and used. Josh Catone tells of how sharing launched the Minneapolis/St Paul television station WCCO into celebrity. The station broke the news of a star NFL quarterback signing on with the Vikings with a Twitter post, before it even got the article up on the website. That day “WCCO” became a trending topic on Twitter. This only happens when people ReTweet or mention a subject a lot, thus sharing it. This fame helped the station to gain notoriety and build a reputation amongst Vikings fans, something important in the battle for attention. Clay Shirky, in his book Here Comes Everybody gives another example of the power of sharing: how the Boston Globe in 2002 published a string of articles about a Catholic priest’s pedophilia and forced the Catholic Church to reform. Of course, it wasn’t actually the Boston Globe. It was the hundreds of people it reached via sharing. Not everyone in Boston would care about this story. But Catholics around the world sure would, and did. Thanks to sharing and new forms of communication, people beyond the circulation boundaries of the Globe were able to communicate and organize themselves, spreading the news as they did so and giving the Globe a whole new audience to work with.

shopping bags held by a girl

by andrewarchy on Flickr

We Like to Shop Around for News Sources

The days of getting all your news from your local morning paper are long gone. People no longer have to sift through a bunch of filler to find the articles they want to read. Instead they are having that done automatically with news aggregators or a simple Google search.

This means that people are now getting their news from a variety of different sources. Sports from Yahoo, Politics from MSNBC, and society news from a list of cool bloggers. People are not going directly to websites anymore, they are going to RSS readers, link aggregators and social networks like Twitter. The articles can be thought of separately from the actual publisher because the reader isn’t going to that publisher, she is simply going to a cool story hosted on that publisher’s website. From there, the publisher may be able to rout the reader to something new on their website, but maybe not. As Clay Shirky points out in this talk, websites don’t have a front page because each page is a front page with the ability to grab and keep a reader’s attention. But because people are browsing multiple sources for stories rather than just a single newspaper, it is hard to get the consumer to click on the link and go to the website. The competition for that click is tougher because all the news sources are lined up next to each other with nothing but a brand name, short description, and a headline to work with. And worse, the newspapers don’t know who the potential readers are because much browsing is done on aggregator websites. It’s hard to target specific demographics without knowing who you are talking to.

The Future Will Look…

… different. My crystal ball gets bad reception, so I can’t predict how publishing will look in a few years, or even tomorrow. But, however it looks it will be shaped to accommodate sharing and aggregated browsing. I like to think that both sharing and aggregated browsing will meld, kind of like Digg or even StumbleUpon. It may even become a layer to a social networking site.

What do you think?

*This post was written as part of an assignment for my

Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School,

but since the topic was interesting, I decided to use it for this blog.

Image of three coffee mugs that playfully make a sheep

by Little Hippo on Flickr

Many people have enjoyed the habit of waking up in the morning, grabbing the morning paper, settling down with coffee and cereal, and learning what happened to the world since the day before. I used to watch my mother go through this ritual daily. I never did.

The question isn’t how do we get young people to read newspapers. The question is – is it even possible to save the traditional newspaper or magazine?

Unfortunately, I don’t think it is. Traditional print media, according to Clay Shirky in his article Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable, relied on the fact that printing presses are expensive, thus limiting competition and creating positive returns to scale. The press is no longer expensive. It’s pretty dang cheap. It’s the Internet. As I’ve stated elsewhere on this blog, I’m using free Internet (well, included in my rent), and the free version of WordPress. Competition has just boomed, but the costs for traditional printing remain the same.

Beyond simple infrastructure, the institutional organization used by traditional print media is being challenged by a more fluid and agile structure – one without managers. As Shirky described in his book Here Comes Everybody, businesses and organizations pay a price to be so organized. So they can’t cover everything, like special interest pieces or all the little town hall meetings that might, though probably not, blow up into a big story. Considering the cost of covering such stories, the returns simply aren’t there. However, in this new digitized world there are free or cheap tools that allow groups to organize themselves, such as wikis or simply shared blogs and e-mail, without having a concentrated managerial layer. When the structural framework is digitized to this degree, the transaction costs are lower, allowing these new publishers to tackle more niche subjects – and reap the benefits traditional publishers can’t touch.

The way news is presented when it is digital is not analogous to a newspaper, either. Digital news is often accessed through news aggregators, who categorize based on subjects or categories. News is no longer bundled with a bunch of different topics, like finance and movies, sold to the same consumer, who may only want one. Putting all types of stories in a single paper makes sense when you have to balance printing costs. But it makes no sense when data is digital. People just switch to a source perceived as better for that type of news or pull it straight off of news aggregators.

Image of an iPad open to a blog post

by Yutaka Tsutano on Flickr

Finally, people approach digital content differently from printed content. They want it cheaper. Susan Currie Sivek pointed out that a study by the Reynolds Journalism Institute found that though users thought that reading magazine apps on their iPads was about the same as reading the traditional print versions or going to their computers, they would be more likely to purchase these apps if the prices were lower than the print version prices. People simply think digital material should be cheaper. The news institutions have to meet these price points or deal with more piracy.

The traditional printing industry simply can’t survive in a world where data is digital, both the institutional and the articles. The digital world simply has very little resemblance to the traditional marketplace they were created to serve. This is not to say the institutions can’t adapt to this new world, but they won’t look the same as they do now.

*This post was written as part of an assignment for my

Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School,

but since the topic was interesting, I decided to use it for this blog.

Image of a newspaper vending machine
by laffy4k on Flickr

We all know that traditional media, particularly print, is looking rather sickly. I won’t list all the examples. I’m sure you know a few.

Rather, I want to list the reasons. I want to ask the question: “What disrupted the traditional media system and made it go bonkers?” Here are five digital disruptions that helped end the world of print media that we knew and (sometimes) loved.

  1. Sharing Because we can now share just about anything at the click of a button, the old model of paying for content went out the window. Of course some companies have taken to suing the people who do the sharing, calling it piracy, but they can’t sue enough people to persuade all the others to stop doing it. This was true in the beginning when sharing was via e-mail, and it’s doubly true now that sharing has become an integral part of our culture. In fact, Susan Currie Sivek describes how important sharing is to us. Apparently, when the new iPad magazine apps started coming out, one of the biggest complaints was that there was no easy way to share content. Allowing for sharing content may even be one of the reasons Flipboard had such an incredibly strong lunch. Not only did they let users share cool articles, they showcased the articles side-by-side with social commentary. When they launched they had to struggle to keep their servers up. The best worst case scenario.
  2. Aggregators And when people share, they often put it where lots of others can see it, on sites like Delicious and Digg. Or even certain Twitter feeds. Unfortunately for publishers, these aggregators allow people to skim headlines, get the gist of the news, and never actually visit the website. The publishers can’t claim these users for advertisers. They are, in a sense, wasted eyeballs. More than that, though, aggregators also throw the new breadth of competition into light. Suddenly users not only have a general idea of what the leading stories in different newspapers are, they see all sorts of topical stories lined up side-by-side. Competition goes from vague to very tangible as the story description or the headline either gets a reader or allows the other guy to get it.
  3. Lower Entry BarriersOf course, there is also more competition. Publishers used to have a monopoly on publishing because it cost a lot of money to run a printing press. Not any more. Heck, I’m publishing
    Stack of hundred dollar bills
    by AMagill on Flickr

    this right now and, as you may have noticed, I’m using the free version of WordPress. All I have to do is have Internet, and the local Library offers that for free, too. Suddenly, competition is potentially everyone with Internet access, which is not based on monetary investment, which the publishing companies still have to pay. And yes, much of what amateurs post is useless (except my posts, of course), but amateurs can also be a relevant news source, helping people stay up to date on hurricanes or spread political news.

  4. Advertiser Alternatives These new amateur publishers provide advertisers a host of new opportunities, from sponsored blogs posts and product placement to simply new places to stick ads. Advertisers also have the ability to post their own worthwhile content, like Kodak’s A Thousand Words. They can make games, post advertising to Facebook, even be on Facebook. Perhaps we are seeing the real value of advertising for the first time, as Clay Shirky suggests in this talk; advertisers pay a pittance to put an ad online versus what they pay to get one in a newspaper or magazine. What’s more, newspaper ads are not very targeted since the publications themselves are made to appeal to a very diverse group. Who would pay a premium for that when so many alternatives are available?
  5. Instantaneous The last major disruption is based on time. Suddenly the speed of everything is heightened. If a publisher wants to break a story, it has to move fast. Josh Catone gives us a great example of speedy news-breaking. TV station WCCO based out of Minneapolis/St. Paul broke the story of NFL star quarterback Mark Rosen’s move to the Minnesota Vikings on Twitter, even before they got an article up on their website. Because of this quick thinking, WCCO was able to triple their website audience and become a trending topic on Twitter. If a blogger had broken that story first, these gains would never have happened, but how many institutions do you know that can move that fast? The ability for news to fly on the internet is a major disruption to the way publishing has traditionally been done, including rigorous fact-checking.


So, do you have any other disruptions that digital has brought to the press media world? Share them in the comments!

*This post was written as part of an assignment for my

Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School,

but since the topic was interesting, I decided to use it for this blog.



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Who Am I?

I am a Digital Native who is trying to puzzle out what exactly that means. I share my thoughts on social media, digital business models, and PR here on this blog.

I am currently getting my Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School, having gotten my B.S. in Marketing from Arizona State University. Everything is on track and I am making headway towards my dream: World Domination... or being a productive, helpful citizen and marketer. Whichever comes first.

Don't hesitate to get in touch. I Tweet daily at @KateDavids and also have a science fiction and fantasy blog ( and Twitter (@Masked_Geek).

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