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Top 10 Tips For Young Aspiring Journalists

Posted in Tips on 27 November 2014

As a member of the media and purveyor of career advice, some of the top questions I receive by email and in person are how I got to where I am today and whether I recommend pursuing journalism as a profession. Most come from students in high school or college, and this one seemed so sincere that I decided to answer it in public, to perhaps help other young, aspiring journalists.

Hello Ms. Goudreau,

As with many other high school juniors, life is rapidly unfolding and confusion and chaos are in full force; primarily, due to the choices and considerations for careers, jobs, college, and the future ahead. I enjoy writing and would love to become a Journalist, but (there is always a but), I am apprehensive, as I also live Florida as you did. Prospective jobs in the field seem slim, and competition and relocation seem eminent. Since you have made the big steps, and have been witness to the process, is there any advice that you could provide to someone who is in the indecisive state of confusion? In other words, what are some tips and advice you would have given to yourself before you started on your journey, such as the process, imperative education, job opportunities, and pay? I would to do what I love, but in this economy, choices like this are a big risk. Any advice or mentoring-like comments and suggestions would be appreciated. Also, if you could write an article about this topic it would be helpful to a great deal of people. Thank you in advance.

Sincerely,
Alyssa T.

P.S. What instigated your love for putting pen to paper? My middle school English teacher and the film His Girl Friday, starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, made me more interested in journalism.

Thank you for your question, Alyssa. Let me break it down in parts.

1.   Inspiration

My love for putting pen to paper started early. Before I could even read, I begged my mom to teach me. Once I could, I loved writing stories. In elementary school I wrote and bound a 10-page book on friendship, wrote song lyrics for our all-girl rock band The Crying Onions and worked on the school “newspaper” (more like pamphlet, filled mostly with my poems about the weather). It all sounds very adorable, and I’m sure it was, but the point is: I have always been a writer and storyteller.

When I started asking more practical questions—how do I earn money with my skills?—journalism seemed obvious. You get to learn every day, meet interesting people, write and speak about new ideas, and occasionally get a sweet swag bag. How do you know you love it? I can’t answer that for you. But if you choose to pursue this field, you’ll need to have talent and passion to ride out the hard times.

2.   Education

I got undergraduate journalism and sociology degrees from New York University. I recommend pursuing a journalism degree and double majoring in something wildly different to diversify yourself. If I could do it again, I would double in computer science. Some of my colleagues in the industry didn’t study journalism and have been very successful. It’s not required, but it makes it easier.

Still, journalism is a doing field. At the end of the day, you need to be able to talk to people, see trends, organize your research and communicate it in an engaging way. Online, the editing process is changing. More and more, the onus is on individual journalists to come up with the ideas and report, write, edit, publish and promote the work themselves. That takes independence, drive and attention to detail, which can’t be taught in a classroom.

3.   Job Opportunities

Although media is evolving rapidly, I still put journalism jobs in two buckets: broadcast and print. In broadcast, meaning TV and radio news, you can either be an on-air personality or a writer/producer of pieces that end up on air, or a mix of both. My work has mostly been on the print side, but if I could go back, I’d take at least one broadcast-journalism class. Online writers are now asked to create their own web videos, and print writers generally are often asked to go on the air to promote their work. By print I mean physical and digital newspapers and magazines, wire services and websites.

On the whole, the field is contracting, but if you’re good and smart about it, you can find work. Helpful resources are mediabistro, JournalismJobs and Indeed. One good option for young, aspiring journalists is to get in the door at a wire service like the Associated Press or Dow Jones. They administer news tests through universities and, if they like you, place you in one of their markets. I was offered a reporter position in Florida just out of school but, for reasons I’ll discuss shortly, turned it down. While I had different plans, this is a great opportunity for many.

4.   Location

In media, the market you’re in means a lot. While an accountant or nurse can find jobs all around the country—and world for that matter—the market a salaried journalist works in greatly impacts their career. Most national media companies in the U.S. are headquartered in New York, NY. You’ll also find major bureaus in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and San Francisco and overseas in places like London and Hong Kong.

When I was in school, the traditional wisdom was that you start out in a small market and work your way to a major market like New York. However, I was already living and working (in media internships) in New York and thought it would be better to start in the biggest market. Both strategies work, but know that there are more journalism job opportunities here and in urban centers than anywhere else.

 

5.   Competition

This is a competitive field. Period. It’s competitive to get a job, especially now that there are fewer of them. It’s competitive to keep the job you have and much more so to move up. It’s performance based. On TV, you need ratings and major “gets.” In print, you need big ideas, good relationships and solid writing. Online, you need traffic, social media audience and compelling work. You need to bleed story ideas and execute them well. It’s hard to sustain, but it’s possible.

6.   Process

In terms of the process of getting a job and moving up the ladder, here’s what I did. In college, I did two internships at major magazines—one paid full-time position for three months and one for-credit part-time position for five months. I wrote for both the publications while there. I also wrote for the school paper and did freelance work. That meant when I started looking for full-time salaried jobs I had a portfolio of work and work experience at big brand names.

My first salaried job was as an editorial assistant, in which I also wrote for the magazine and website. I was promoted to reporter a year and half later. Some journalists remain reporters for their entire careers, getting bigger and bigger assignments. Some become editors and move up the ladder as managers and editorial decision-makers.

7.   Timing

I recommend starting early. Some people make mid-career switches to journalism and are successful, but I believe the earlier you start and succeed, the higher you’re likely to rise. Internships are a great way to get in the door and meet people in the field. Some of them pay, so try to find those. Also, the bar is lower for editorial assistant positions. They’re usually lower-paying and staffed by young people. You don’t have to start there, but the intermediate reporting and editing jobs can be fiercely competitive.

8.   Pay

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, reporters, correspondents and broadcast news analysts earn a median salary of $36,000. Writers and authors (including advertising, magazine, book, TV and film) earn a median salary of $55,000. Editors earn a median salary of $51,000. In bigger markets and bigger outlets, you’ll earn on the higher end of the spectrum. Many reporters supplement their income with side projects like book deals, speaking engagements and regular columns (for those in broadcast) or regular TV appearances (for those in print).

Negotiate. In my first job, I didn’t. That was really dumb. I was offered the exact amount I expected and took it. At the time, I didn’t even know I was supposed to negotiate. Always ask for more money. The best time is when you’re first coming into a job, immediately after an offer is made. Check sites like Salary.com and Glassdoor.com to learn what the median is for the position, company and market. They may say no, but if you don’t ask, you’re ensuring you won’t get more.

9.   Relationships

This is a relationship business. If I could turn back time, I would have invested even more in building and maintaining strong relationships with mentors, colleagues and peers. Journalism professors are often working in the field and can introduce you to the right people. Many of your classmates and internship peers will go on to work in the industry and can make great contacts. Your bosses and colleagues, whether they remain in your company or leave, can advocate for you if a position opens up. Additionally, good relationships with sources and subjects will make you better at your job. Do not underestimate or shortchange your relationships.

10. Risk vs. Reward

So what does it all mean? The industry is contracting, competition is fierce, the pay’s not so hot, and you have to be really good and, frankly, emotionally stable to deal with the highs and lows. The industry is changing, but it won’t disappear. People are consuming news more than ever and with a voracious appetite. There will always be demand for trusted news sources.

In the last few years, I’ve written over 500 stories. I’ve interviewed heads of state, corporate CEOs, billionaires and celebrities. I’ve traveled to Chicago, Seattle and Melbourne, Australia. I’ve had a coffee tasting with Starbucks’ master blender and a soup tasting with Campbell’s head chef. I’ve spoken at conferences, on panels and on television and given a seminar to other writers. I think that’s pretty cool. I’m glad I ended up here.

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5 investigative journalism tips from New York Times’ David Barstow

Posted in Tips on 27 November 2014

After a publisher chopped away at one of David Barstow’s early investigative stories, he considered ditching journalism and heading off to law school. Since then, Barstow — now a reporter at The New York Times — has gone on to win three Pulitzer Prizes for journalism that has exposed poor working conditions and bribery in America’s companies and manipulation of the American media. But Barstow’s professional journey hasn’t been easy. It’s one that left him with “scar tissue” and an evolving understanding of the best way to approach cagey sources, unyielding spokespersons and impatient editors.

He shared some of that knowledge Friday with senior faculty member Butch Ward for Poynter’s inaugural “Master Class,” a discussion on the trajectory of his career and some of the stories that shaped it. During the discussion, Barstow described some of the psychological, narrative and interviewing tools that go into his work. Here are five tips we pulled out from the class:

Establish a track record to earn more time to cover investigations

Barstow felt like he had two jobs when he began his career. He would “feed the beast” during workdays and chip away at ambitious enterprise stories on the nights and weekends. Then, when he knew those stories were almost ready to be published, he would ask his editor to place a “small bet” on him: a few days to bring the story to its conclusion.

After he established a history of turning in these ambitious stories, he was able to ask for larger investments of time from his editors at small and large newspapers.

“If in my first month at The New York Times, I had gone to them and said, ‘you know, I have this really great tip about potential corruption in Mexico by Wal-Mart, and I’m going to have to spend months in Mexico and it’s going to take forever,’ they would have politely said, ‘maybe we’ll ask the Mexico bureau chief to take a look at this.’”

Never let ‘em see you sweat

Barstow’s hands used to sweat before he conducted showdown interviews with the powerful corporate leaders in his stories. He would wipe them on his pants before he shook hands or blow on them to conceal his anxiety. When they could feel the sweat on his hands, they knew they had him, he said.

But Barstow adopted a strategy to help kill the pre-interview nerves. He prepares “relentlessly”, sometimes for a week at a time, and he enters the room alone, dressed down, with his documents in a milk crate.

When the approach works, he wears down the other side, he said. As the interview progresses, the lawyers or executives he’s questioning start to slump in their chairs as he demonstrates mastery of the story, and they’re less likely to “say obviously ridiculous, stupid things,” Barstow said.

Frame big stories tightly

After the U.S. invaded Iraq, many reporters wanted to know: where were the weapons of mass destruction that propelled the county to war? Barstow was assigned to a group at The New York Times that tried to answer that question.

“That’s a simple question, but when you start getting into it, when you start wandering down those roads, you could spend all kinds of times looking at chemical weapons or biological weapons or nuclear weapons,” Barstow said.

To tackle the complex story, Barstow narrowed his field of focus. He wrote about aluminium tubing, which the Bush administration said Saddam Hussein was using to create material for nuclear weapons. This allowed him to ask targeted questions about something specific and connect his reporting  to the larger issue of how the U.S. was using its intelligence to provide justification for the war.

“By scrunching the field of focus down, it allows you, first of all, to target your reporting much more precisely,” Barstow said. “But it also, then, allows you to bring in all the complexity within that tight little frame.”

Bring a piece of paper with you for sensitive interviews

Barstow says getting someone to talk can be extremely difficult. He tries to show up unannounced, between the hours of 6 and 8 p.m., with an object — such as a piece of paper — in hand to pique his subject’s curiosity. Common politeness often gets him in the door. Once inside, he takes every opportunity to prolong his visit, including accepting offers for coffee and, if he needs to, using the bathroom.

Convince editors to buy into the investigative “journey”

Journalism is not a business that embraces patience, Barstow said. Many conversations between editors and reporters are driven by the need for timely content, and this can sometimes lead to an impulse to publish a story prematurely.

But editors can also be allies in the reporting process, Barstow said. if reporters convince them to buy into the “journey” of an investigation, they’re more likely to advocate for the story to their bosses.

“You want some other people in the foxhole with you,” Barstow said.

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An Effective Digital Marketing Strategy Starts With Knowing Your Customers and Your Goals

Posted in Tips on 27 November 2014

As digital marketing continues to expand, it has become more important than ever for companies to learn how to succeed. According to a report published by Ascend2, lack of effective strategies remains the most significant obstacle to succeeding in digital marketing. The report went on to indicate that 51 percent of marketers stated that strategy issues prevented them from achieving their digital marketing goals. Other obstacles cited by digital marketers for preventing them from meeting their digital marketing goals include budget constraints, lack of training or experience, ineffective metrics and analytics, and inability to prove return on investment.

Planning a digital marketing strategy is essential to getting ahead of the competition. The ability of a business to thrive in today's economy is based on how well that organization is able to adapt to digital media. From social networks to smartphones to tablets, the digital tools available today make it possible for consumers to interact on a global scale. As a result, regardless of your business's industry or size, it is imperative that you learn how to leverage the ability of consumers to interact and engage.

Many businesses find the sheer number of digital marketing choices to be daunting. As a result, it can be difficult to determine where to even begin. One of the biggest mistakes that many businesses make, particularly small businesses, is trying to do it all. Between YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and other digital tools, the choices are overwhelming. Even worse, many companies attempt to set up a specific team to handle each tool. The right digital marketing tool can help your company to expand your marketing efforts, and even save time and money.

Without the right strategy, you are simply wasting resources. The key is to begin by developing an understanding of your customers, identifying the goals you want to achieve, then selecting a digital marketing strategy that will help you to reach both your target audience and goals. For instance, are you attempting to reach new customers? Are you looking to gain insight into your current customer base? Do you have a new product or service to launch?

Without identifying a solid strategy, it is impossible to determine whether the digital marketing tools you are using are actually helping you to meet those goals.

With so many options, it is easy for a business to get caught up in the technology hype. This is certainly understandable with so much news, almost a weekly basis, about the latest digital marketing tools. Simply jumping on the latest digital marketing bandwagon to conform is not the key to success.

Developing a successful digital marketing strategy is as simple as:

1. Identifying your target audience.

2. Developing your business goals.

3. Designing and implementing a strategy for meeting those goals.

4. Monitoring your chosen strategy.

MarketingProfs reports that 69 percent of senior marketers expect an increase to occur in digital spend next year. With so much riding on digital marketing, the time to get it right is now.

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10 ways to get yourself a new job in Events with LinkedIn

Posted in Tips on 27 November 2014

LinkedIn is the Facebook of business professional. It is a gret tool and there are many ways it can actually benefit your career. Here are few tips on how to use it in the proper way.

I am writing this post because having more than 5000 contacts and managing a popular group, I got an idea on what needs to be done to make the most out of the tool. I thought I might share

1. Complete your profile

It is mandatory to complete each and every section of your profile. Think about it as an electronic resume. Your potential employer is looking at it so you want to be as precise as possible.

Links:

– LinkedIn Profile Makeover

2. Get Recommended

Although it is part of the above I definitely suggest you dedicate extra attention to this. We all know the power of direct references, sometimes they work more than a great entry in your CV. Therefore try to get quality recommendations from quality people in the business.

Links:

– LinkedIn Recommendations Toughts

3. Join a Group

LinkedIn poses boundaries in the way you can reach people. If you are not connected in any way to say an hiring manager the only way to get in touch is to send an InMail. To get InMails you need to upgrade your account. The good thing about Groups is that for most of them you can contact members directly. The Event Planning & Management Group now counts on 2400 members, just picture the opportunities within the network!

Links:

– EM&P Group

4. The more contacts the better

I don’t agree with the say “link only with the people you know”. For me Linkedin is a great way to meet new people. I am more than happy to expand the reach of my network to new industries or businesses. In this sense it is very important that you select the information you publish as well as the contacts you use in order to save your privacy. Having a dedicated email usually works.

Links:

– Get LinkedIn or be left out

5. Go through other’s networks

Look out there for interesting contacts with similar interests and ask for Introductions. Introductions are a nice way to skip the InMail part and get to a contact. Remember to state why you want to be introduced and what you have to offer.

Links:

- How to create and respond to Introductions

6. Ask and answer questions

You will see on the top left corner a Q&A section. Ask a lot of questions in your field and try to answer as many as possible. Should your answer be rated as the “Best Answer” you will see in your profile that you soon became an “Expert” in that category. Expertise is what you are selling and perspective employers like it.

Links:

– LinkedIn Answers to create expert status

7. Download the Linkedin Toolbar

If you are looking for a job on popular websites this great tool will tell you if you have connections to the hiring manager and that is very handy.

Links:

– Browser Toolbars for Internet Explorer and Firefox

8. Bring your network live

Try to meet the people in your network because online is fine, but live is different. I am running events in London and scheduling Meetups all over the World. I’ll keep you posted.

Links:

– Linked in London

9. Upgrade to business

Basic account is fine, but upgrading gives you more information about who saw your profile as well as more InMail to send, which cannot always be avoided.

Links:

– Upgrade your account

10. Be proactive

It is ok to have an account sitting there forever just because everyone has one. Nonetheless, I strongly suggest you become proactive and don’t get scared about going out there and reaching out for new opportunities, after all Linkedin is a tool to do exactly that!

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20 Event Planning Fails Our Guests Hate

Posted in Tips on 27 November 2014

It has happened to the best of us. Sometimes things go wrong. Some other times, it is actually our fault. This post is about the latter case.
If you plan events, you will be familiar with failure. It is around the corner at every moment of our event. Failure is your friend, you have to embrace it.

On the other hand, there are universal archetypes that p£$$ off attendees. We are aware of what they are. Yet we keep disappointing both our guests and ourselves by repeating the same mistakes.

The Difference Between Failure and Repeated Mistakes

Failure is a great learning experience but repeated mistakes are just upsetting. There is a difference between something that fails out of our control and us deliberately ignoring aspects that will enrage our attendees.

I believe sound event professionals learn from failure and do not repeat mistakes. Don’t you agree?

So let me give you a list of instances where lots of us (me included) keep being shallow or lazy. Embrace this list, feel the pain and change for the better. Guests, Sponsors and Boss will be happy. Specially if the boss is you.

A word of warning, the language may seem direct if not harsh in some instances. I believe this is how we should talk to the lazy bit of ourselves. The bit of ourselves that stops us from being better professionals. This is how I talk to myself when I spot something I don’t like.

Always the Same Speakers/Performers


This drives me nuts. Keeping performer diversity is paramount to keeping your event fresh. Whenever I see always the same names, the circle of friends of the lazy event or education planner, I immediately pass on attending.

As a speaker I tend to avoid coming back speaking at same events. If you attend events for the event industry this is the norm. I urge you to compare the programs from the last 3 years of large association gatherings and trade shows. While there are of course some exceptions, the norm is being lazy.

Wifi not Working

For heaven’s sake, it’s 2014. Wifi was invented in 1985 and commercialised in 1999. Is it possible that 15 years are not enough to fix the issue?

Guests require to be connected at events, period. They need to check their email, tweet, like or pin. This is specially true if your super cool venue is in the basement of a building where reception is non existent.

Wifi is as much of a requirement for any venue RFP as toilets are.

‘We’re having issues with the Wifi’ is a mantra that does not apply anymore.

PDF Schedule

I am sorry but downloading a pdf with the programme of your event is not acceptable. The performers and content of your event are key marketing triggers. I won’t let you relegate them to a file that needs another window or worse, download, to be opened.

Another great way to look lazy is to have a blurry jpg with the schedule on it. Impossible to read.

There is no excuse to such practice. Having a dynamic schedule can be very easily achieved in hundreds of ways, event mobile apps included.

No Slides Collected in One Place

I’ve attended hundreds of conferences over the last 2 or 3 years. I believe only a couple of times, have I been given a content hub where I could find all the slides from the conference.

The laziness ranges from making you stalk the speaker to ask for the slides to random emails with massive attachments.

You have tools like slideshare.net where you can collect slides from an event or you can host your own hub on the event website. No excuses.

Not Knowing Where to Go and What To Do

Some people describe event managers as people with attention to details. I believe it’s actually people with nerve and confidence.

They lead attendees towards what’s next through their extensions: staff, coordinators, emcees and venue partners.

Yet in some events you inevitably encounter that feeling of being lost with no one there to tell you what happens next.

If you see your attendees wandering and feeling a bit lost, you need to act. Planning means making guests feel catered for at all times. If they decide to walk around and wandering that is fine, as long as it is their decision, not the result of not having a clear plan in place.

Not Knowing the Hashtag

Hashtags are the conventional methods of referring to events online. Communicating the hashtag clearly is as essential as giving a name to your event.

I wrote the first article on using Twitter at events in 2008. That was followed by very specific advice on the use of hashtags, specially since other social networks joined the hashtag party.

Not communicating the hashtag clearly was acceptable in 2009, it is not in 2014.

Crappy Event Website


I am witnessing the explosion of event technology, everyday there is someone creating new tools for the event industry. Yet the average of event websites is demoralising.

The event website is your home base. It is your centre of command. It’s where attendees will purchase a ticket. It deserves better treatment.

No Video from Previous Events

Technology does a great job in easing the risk we feel when we attend an event. That is especially true for video.

Back in the days we had to mentally envision what to expect at the event. Nowadays putting a video on your website form last year’s event takes less than 30 minutes.

I will not let you hurt your marketing for such as simple mistake. I am sure you know how valuable it is, so fix it.

Too Much Technology and Social


Have you spotted the trend? Some events are overdoing tech and that upsets me as an attendee. I am an early adopter and I love using tech at events. I don’t like taking it too far though.

Download our app, join our community, join our second community, share a picture on Twitter, like us on Facebook, send us a video, oh, don’t forget to pin stuff to our board, rate the speakers on our other app, send pictures via our ARS system. Oi! Give me a break!

As an attendee I like consolidated technology and very few calls to action from the event management. Investing in one or two techs and then being present and not pushy on social networks, does the job for most attendees. So let’s not be too eager.

No Tech at All

Extremes are never a good sign. The willingness not to try anything tech, from registration to social media also signals disrespect for some if not most of your audience.

Don’t get me wrong, in some instances your audience does not care at all about Twitter and it is safe to completely ignore it. Yet using a dynamic schedule during the event, have live polls or automated registration are clear winners for everyone.

Embracing the basic tech that makes events modern is a requirement.

White Male Speakers

This is a variation of item number one. I called this false freshness. When speakers change one year from the other but they always represent the same demographic.

I say this as a caucasian male, if you do the above you suck.

Faxing Registration Forms

What can I say. Download the registration form, print it and then send it via mail or fax. When we researched online event registration for our Good Event Registration Guide, we identified 300 providers.

There should be a reason why this technology is so popular. With so many providers there, the solution for you is out there. Just do the homework.

Not Catering for People with Disabilities

I could write a book about the subject. Which is not if your venue is accessible, rather how you involve those who are prevented from participating the ‘normal’ way.

Read the 56 comments in this discussion and change the world!

Slow on-Site Registration


There is nothing appealing about waiting in line. Nothing. Have you done everything in your power to speed up the registration process?

Can attendees download their ticket and just get scanned to get in? Even better without printing anything and directly from their email or event app.

Usual Boring Formats

If you program looks like:

– Registration
– Opening Remarks
– Keynote
– Session 1, 2, 3
– Session 4, 5, 6
– Networking Party (let’s get drunk)

I won’t feel excited to attend. Probably I will if you did a great job with speaker selection and content but your format is making me yawn.

All events are special, even recurring ones. What are you changing in your format to make it so?

Nervous staff, Manager and Coordinators

It’s a fact events are stressful. Yet the real professional is who can always project a fresh image of themselves.

Looking frantic, nervous or tired is not an option. I am sorry but this what the job is. If you are feeling tired is often times better to ask someone in your team to cover rather than turning up on the show floor to vomit your stress.

I reckon this is not an easy one and you have all my understanding, yet we are paid to look professional, it’s 50% off our job.

When Alcohol is the Objective

In some countries alcohol is a problem. The promotion of alcohol to compensate for lack of concept or content is upsetting.

I am not saying we should go back to prohibitionism but there are much better ways to foster networking than making everyone drunk.

See the CLAMP example from the Meeting Support Institute.

No Hotel Live Rates

Leaving your attendees to the nightmare of having to go through booking accommodation for themselves is not fair.

Also giving them one premium hotel option only is unjust.

One of the biggest trends for 2014 is live hotel options. So what are you waiting for?

Not Thinking About the Environment


I remember 2009. Green events was the buzzword. That scared me. I imagined what could have happened if such an important topic was treated as a fashion.

I have my fair share of guilt in this. I should have given more space to sustainability. I am welcoming anyone who wants to write on the subject. Just get in touch.

There are terrific events where you can learn more about green events such as SES from GMIC.

Giving Away Attendees’ Data for Wild Marketing

Top reasons for sponsors to give you money is to obtain attendees emails and contacts. No surprise there.

Yet there something inherently wrong about giving away registration data without caring about what your sponsors will do with it.

Let me give you an example. You registered a high profile attendee for your conference. They trust you and are willing to listen what you have to say. After all they paid a lot of money to attend.

You talk to them and send updates about your event. Great.

The event is over, you hand the contact to a clueless sponsor. They start bombarding them with emails with your event name in the subject. Guess what happens when you send an email asking if they want to attend?

They won’t even open that email. They will just report you as spam and that’s it.

Setting rules and restricting what sponsors and partners can and can’t do with data means protecting your attendees and securing repeated business.

In Conclusion

I know this post came across a bit harsh in some instances. See I did a similar post in 2008 and funny enough, some items still stay the same.

I believe we can change these recurring mistakes of event planning by just being a bit more curious and eager to learn.

Now go and plan an awesome one!

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European Parliament votes to split Google

Posted in News on 27 November 2014

A vote taken today, Thursday, at the European Parliament has returned in favour of splitting Google’s search operation from its commercial business.

The motion put forward to the European Parliament proposed creating a more level playing field for internet search – an area in which Google unmistakeably dominates with 90pc of the market in Europe.

One remedy suggested for the long-running anti-trust saga is to split Google’s search business from its commercial services. Votes have been cast in Strasbourg and the resolution passed with 384 MEPs in favour and 174 against.

While the opinion of the MEPs is clear, the vote is largely ceremonial as the European Parliament has no authority to exact the break-up of the US tech company. However, it is a clear indication of the European legislators’ attitude to Google.

The draft motion by Germany’s Andreas Schwab called for an “unbundling [of] search engines from other commercial services should be considered as a potential solution to Google’s dominance,” and was backed by the European Parliament’s two main political blocs, the European People’s Party and the Socialists.

In a separate move on Wednesday, the European Union’s data officials called for the ‘right to be forgotten’ from search engine results such as Google’s to be extended, while the European Commissioner for the Digital Economy Günther Oettinger is also considering an IP tax that has been labelled ‘anti-Google’.

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Tumblr and Pinterest now fastest-growing social platforms

Posted in News on 27 November 2014

Earlier this year, Instagram was leading the pack as the fastest-growing social platform. Now, it's Tumblr and Pinterest, which have edged out the picture-sharing app for greatest increase in active users.

Tumblr's active users grew by 120% in the last six months, according to new stats released by the Global Web Index first spotted by TechCrunch on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Facebook's active users grew by just 2%.

Pinterest comes in behind Tumblr with a 111% growth in active users, who are users that say they've actually used the site with some regularity. Earlier this year when GWI released numbers, Instagram was on top but has dropped to third place. Of the top eight, in fact, Facebook is in last place, behind LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Google+.

Still, these numbers only refer to growth. While it's growing fast, Tumblr still comes in at eighth place for active users overall. Facebook maintains a considerable lead when it comes to popularity, but the social network seems like it could be reaching its peak concentration for users. Tumblr's audience also skews young, while Facebook's — more than any other social platform — skews old, according to the data.

 

For mobile apps, Snapchat saw the most growth, with a 56% uptick in six months. Facebook Messenger came in second, though this isn't too surprising because Facebook essentially forced many of its users to download the companion app. Instagram came in third for app usage, followed by Line, Pinterest, Kakao Talk and Vine.

The GWI report's author notes that Facebook has some "major challenges" to face as it moves forward. Many people are growing bored with the platform, the report notes, and 50% of U.S. and UK members are using it far less frequently than they used to. For now, Facebook's king status seems safe, but the market of social media is ever-saturating.

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Mozilla Previews New Firefox Interface With One-Click Searches

Posted in News on 27 November 2014

Mozilla gave users a glimpse of its new search interface for Firefox this week, revealing one-click searches.

The revamped Firefox will feature an improved, more organized search suggestion design with an array of buttons below to offer users alternative search suggestions. The buttons permit users to find the term they are searching for more easily on their site of choice.

“How often have you done a web search, already knowing that you would click the first result that looked like a Wikipedia page?” writes Mozilla’s Philipp Sackl. “Quite often? Then Firefox is about to make your life easier. With the new one click searches, you can instantly find what you are looking for across the Web.

“We are shipping Firefox with a set of pre-installed search engines that are tailored to your language. You can easily show and hide them in your search preferences.”

Mozilla has also made the new Firefox interface customizable to better fits its users’ needs.

Users can add additional search engines to their one-click searches be it a dictionary site, a parenting site or a site for Web developers.

To add a new site, simply click on the magnifying glass in the search field while on the site of choice and select the site to add.

There are, it seems, a lot of changes going on at Mozilla of late.

Just last week Mozilla announced Yahoo would become the default search engine on Firefox in the U.S. beginning next month, ending Google’s decade-long partnership with the firm.

The companies have struck a five-year partnership in which a new Yahoo Search experience will be introduced to Firefox users in the U.S. It will feature a modern new interface and will also support Do Not Track (DNT).

Although Yahoo will be the default search engine, Firefox will continue to offer built-in as alternate search options including Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, eBay, Amazon, Twitter and Wikipedia.

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Three Reasons Marketers Need Big Data Platforms During The Holidays

Posted in News on 27 November 2014

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are officially less than a week away. Retailers are scrambling, holiday hours are about to go into place, shoppers are setting their alarm clocks, things are about to get real – and there’s some serious cash on the table to be had by the brands and shops who appeal most to their customer. And, while the collection and usage of big data by marketing and customer service teams has become, more often than not, a “need to have,” professionals across the country are waiting for 2015 to kickstart such efforts. Unfortunately, by doing so, those in the retail space are going to miss out on the largest data collection opportunities of the year.

The budget: it’s a word we all become familiar with long before we embark upon our professional careers. We learn young that not everything we see can be ours. We learn later to balance checkbooks (or whatever the kids are using these days) and then to pay off loans. We understand that a few splurges here and there means ramen for dinner until the next pay day. We are all familiar with not only the idea but the consequences of not sticking to your budget. And yet, it is strict budgets that are preventing so many retailers from implementing a big data solution. In the meantime, the following complaints are commonplace around those very same offices:

“I have to pull reports from at least three different platforms to get you the correct CTR and attribution metrics.”

“We segment our emails, but based on customer actions, like a purchase or a download, rather than by their individual interests.”

“We know that people buy, but we can’t figure out what good our blog or customer service outlets do, other than knowing we need them and that they contribute somehow to our overall revenue.”

These aren’t just small complaints. These issues are symptoms of a greater problem around internal silos and incomplete data solutions. But solutions do exist. Harnessed appropriately, big data actually solves these exact problems, and more.

Let’s be honest here: being a marketer is tough, and being a marketer in the retail space is even tougher. These days, marketers need to be able to account not only for creative solutions that make their brand stand out, but for the metrics behind why that campaign was successful (or wasn’t).

Yet, most marketers (and customer service reps, which are, in large part, an extension of the marketing team) are bottlenecked by the inability to pull all customer data into one platform, to holistically visualize their efforts and connect the dots between email campaigns, social paid campaigns, clicks on site, time on site and, ultimately, customer lifetime value. Here, the top 3 reasons marketers need big data, not next year, but this holiday season.

1. Marketers are expected to simultaneously be a creative agency and data guru.

Being creative and simultaneously analytical typically involves two very different brain processes. And while it may be a headache within the marketing realm, it isn’t going to go away. In the not-so-distant past, marketing more so resembled the Don Draper era, where the creatives were creative and the metrics of success fell wholly on another department, where people born to number crunch got to live out their spreadsheet dreams.

Today, while finances are delegated to the numbers department, success metrics are not. As many before me have stated, the role of the CMO and the CIO are merging rapidly, so while the monitoring of revenue is another department’s responsibility, calculating a campaign’s success metrics – leads, impressions, shares – is on you, my marketing friend.

2. In general, a marketer’s tenure is short.

The average CMO simply doesn’t stick around long. Why? Often it comes down to this simple fact: marketing is ever-evolving.

Consider the rise of the social media manager over the past decade. That role simply didn’t exist in generations past, yet it has become essential to the modern marketing team. Any CMO who couldn’t anticipate that rise in need is probably no longer the CMO at their (former) company.

And that doesn’t just apply to social media roles or needs. They say marketing has changed more in the past two years than it has in the past 50, which means that CMOs need to be ahead of the curve, with their finger on the pulse, 24/7, all while performing their day job.

3. Marketers are in the midst of a technology revolution.

Marketing automations promise the best tracking insights. We have listening platforms to measure sentiment analysis. There is no shortage of CRMs and DMPs. My inbox is constantly overloaded with emails from sales reps promising me increased ROI, deeper insights, lower ad spend – the list goes on.

How do I know which platform is truly the best out there, for my company and for my team, or if it’s worth my time to consolidate and create a hybrid platform of sorts. And how much money would that cost?With the need to provide detailed analytics in order to solve the two aforementioned issues, the real difficulty of the CMO arises here: which do you choose, and on how small a budget can it perform?

What’s the takeaway here? Well, that marketers need audience insight, and actionable audience insight at that. See, audience insight, or consumer insight, is a marketer’s most powerful tool. It allows you to take calculated risks that put positive success metrics on your spreadsheets and in your presentations to the executive team. It allows you to maintain a long-term tenure and keep your eye on what your audience sees as the prize (and then deliver). So the solution here is actually pretty simple: pay for the system that gives you the most of what you need – audience insight.

Big data plays the integral role here, especially when it comes to second-party data (or data collected via social media). Via permission from your users, you can use social authentication to collect data points on your audience’s brand affinities, social habits, demographics and, ultimately, their personal concerns, needs, wishes and desires. Couple that with on-site analytics and suddenly there’s context around the people who bounce and those who don’t, those who request a demo and those who read the blog, those who share and those who comment. And, finally, you can treat all of those customers the same way their local boutique would: as an individual.

It’s time to stop digital monetization via non-personalized experiences that serve ads based on cookies or push customers down a funnel in a way that doesn’t wholly suit them. Each one of us has a digital doppelgänger that represents who we are on the web – and each one of us has the option to share that doppelgänger with the brands we trust in order to receive an improved, more convenient and more engaging online experience.

The holidays are when more customers are more likely to reach that point. Between the stress, the need to research new products and make purchases and the giving back within it all, now is the time to capture some of the richest customer data you can truly use to propel your brand forward in 2015. Don’t let monetary constraints dampen your customer relationship.

Be client-centric. Be data-driven. Use the available technology to cater to your customers’ wants and needs – without having to survey them as to those wants and needs. This is about convenience. This is about loyalty. And the brands that use big data now to up the ante on their online experience will win lifelong loyalty. And that pays off every single time.

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If Online Marketing Isn't One of Your Priorities, Read This

Posted in News on 27 November 2014

No longer can entrepreneurs focus solely on billboards and direct mailers. In today’s market, it’s imperative to include online marketing as a major component of any company plan.

Day-to-day operations and economics center on accessing the Internet via mobile devices and making micro-transactions in short periods of time. With the public’s attention span continually shrinking, a valid online marketing approach is the difference between success and failure for your firm.

Online marketing includes several components. Email, social media, and SEO are three of the major ways companies use their online platform to drive business. Entire businesses in the marketing world are dedicated to all three online marketing types, and they provide tangible returns on investment.

Navigating the components of online marketing

Email marketing campaigns can give potential customers information about discounts, events, company changes, and more. When they use it in conjunction with a customer/client relationship management tool, marketers have the ability to look at the results across a demographic, which allows them to target the market more effectively and make email marketing relevant to the consumer.

Social media provides real-time information in a fast and digestible manner. News, deals, and company information can reach the masses through Twitter TWTR +3.45% and Facebook in a fraction of the time that a traditional marketing campaign operates.

Pinterest has excellent product promotional features. Blogging provides a target market with relevant information at their fingertips about a particular industry.

As an added bonus, social media provides companies with a way to let the consumer see the business’s culture. Humanizing an organization builds trust throughout the client base and can make the consumer feel like he or she really knows the firm.

SEO — search engine optimization — is an integral part of an online marketing strategy to drive traffic to a website. If you tweak the information across the site to include key words and descriptions, search engines such as Google GOOGL -0.24% will pick up on those keywords and match visitors with the information they seek.

Without those keywords and the other factors Google and analytic sites use, a webpage with quality information can become lost in the ether. The following are some of the top reasons to employ online marketing when you’re an entrepreneur:

Greater visibility. Merely having a social media account or website is not enough anymore. Consumers expect tailored content to be available to them through search engines and relevant information posted in online forums. Companies that expect to keep up with market trends and drive revenue need to be engaged online.

People notice trends and interesting articles; information provided in a neat and concise social media package will garner attention. Being engaged in a meaningful way will generate brand recognition, drive traffic to websites, and even promote in-person conversations and relationships.

Higher conversions. Online marketing strategies not only furnish data that’s easy to understand and highlight areas that need improvement; they also increase conversion rates. Conversion rates don’t necessarily refer to a sale. They refer to visitors who move through your site in a meaningful way.

Numbers of clicks and common pathways comprise rich clues about ways to improve the process. The small steps that consumers take on a site are sometimes referred to as micro-conversions. Studying these over time can lead to financial gains.

Increased profit. The likelihood of profit increases with the expansion of your audience. Finding relevant ways to engage with consumers online requires an investment on the front end. When properly executed, a marketing campaign that reaches people through several different media will surely lead to more revenue. For some of the online marketing platforms, tracking real ROI is a challenge because it fosters intangible ROI or relationships that have the potential to lead to a sale or partnership.

Better relationships through social media. Companies are finding that social media forces a level of transparency that makes the closed-nature business models of the past nearly impossible. Instead, all levels of the business have a potential to engage with the client base and create relevant information.

Even attorneys are finding social media a useful tool for spreading the word about changes in laws that affect communities. This in turn helps the firm retain longtime clients and bring in new ones. According to web hosting company Bluehost.com, online marketing through social media can enhance a brand and is a great way to make a solid impression.

Faster communication (email over snail mail). There is no doubt about it: Online marketing will reach 10 times the target market of snail mail. There will probably always be a niche for magazines, physical newsletters, and invitations, but online is fast and effective.

The most important thing for companies to remember when they’re creating an online marketing presence is voice. A company with a distinct voice and brand that are consistent across all platforms will help build reputation and trust, and create a lasting impression for all users who gain access to their campaign materials.

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