I suppose anything is possible in the realm of communication. The direction we’re heading with media convergence and new improved social media being developed every day is leading us to an entirely connected society. Net Neutrality remains an incredibly troubling issue as the powers that be continue to mess with something that isn’t broken…so why fix it? In an ideal world, we’d have free internet for everyone and free education for all so that we could encourage people to innovate and create new technologies, propelling us further into the future. Right now, it feels like we’re dragging our feet. The major cell phone companies have yet to release 5G, which we’ve all been waiting patiently for several years. The cell companies have also been continuously rereleasing the same phone with only minor improvements for the past several years. Seems like ever since Steve Jobs died, real innovation has gone the way of the dinosaur. We need vision. The Elon Musk’s of the world don’t care about communication, they’re focused on transportation. We need to open up the net, make education available and watch as the hottest new apps are developed by our brilliant young minds in any city in the U.S. and not just Silicon Valley.
PR is a crazy world. Having worked in the field for close to twelve years, it’s a wild and wacky place to play. It’s a significant relationship game, but that’s changed recently to be more of a strategy game involving the company, the talent, and the media all working in tandem. Advertising has always been a bit of a mystery to me, especially in the new age of digital. Fortunately, in my new job, I’m very closely connected with my sales team, so I get to witness the chaos of media buys first hand. These deals have little to nothing to do with PR, but sometimes certain elements of an agreement can be incorporated into a publicity campaign to get the hype. Using brand leverage to boost your client or talents profile can sometimes be of assistance when it comes to promoting products. If there’s an ad spend in place, it’s best to connect with the brand’s publicist directly to see if that leverage can be used or maybe held for a later time. With the dissipation of print media and the increase in online content, specialized or general, there’s no better time for PR to push talent to become “thought leaders” in their specific arenas to grab the attention of those press partners who might be covering. But paying to play is never a good thing, that’s why we have to advertise – to tell us, not show us.
Well shit. Easy targets are sometimes the hardest to find in regards to new ways to take them down. There’s nothing to like about the Trump campaign. He’s proven to be a vile businessman, which is the platform he ultimately ran on. In regards to journalism, the fact that his team eventually grabbed a flavor-of-the-week term of “Fake News” and then built his campaign promises around deflecting poses too many ethical issues with how he made his money, how he still is making money and how his cronies will run a shadow government is just F-grade material.
I mean honestly, if I came into your class and told you that I knew everything you were going to talk about, you had absolutely no business being a professor because I had more “job” experience than you, and perhaps you had some weird email debacle with Syracuse that was old-dead news and continually repeated that rhetoric until you gave me a decent grade – I would be absolutely shit-out-of-luck. And I’ve disagreed with curriculums before, but the rate at which the media cow-towed to the great orange Cheeto is troubling.
I will give a B-grade to the underdogs, however. The Teen Vogue’s and rogue agents of the National Parks systems of the world are doing a great deal of journalistic justice for their audiences, and it shows. These real truths, real reporting, and real talk are what is necessary to show what is really going on in our crazy society. The lack of actual reporting from major media networks has opened up a whole new world of possibility for the lower tier media to step in and take command.
It seems the time has come for Congress to impede on the rights of everyone who uses the internet once again. Whether it be net neutrality or something a bit more sinister, the government wants to watch our Internet behaviors and unleash them to the highest bidder. The greatest thing that big data has to offer our higher powers is the ability to know how we operate and what we want on a day-to-day basis so that they can ultimately control us.
So perhaps that’s a little morbid, but the deregulation of the internet has been a hot topic in this class and its been a hot topic in the world as a whole as we enter into this new age of men trying to keep the next generation at bay. Allowing our search histories to be sold to companies for advertising or other nefarious things isn’t going to change the fact that majority of people aren’t going to notice the rug being sold out from under them. Maybe they will notice and take action against their representatives? Who knows. It seems we’re in the wild west of tech when we should have moved beyond that, been smarter than that by now, but maybe we’ll just have to keep waiting for that dystopian future we were promised back in the 1960’s until it’s sold back to us through our own data.
In its final days of exisitence on servers around the web, where oh where does social media go to die?
Think of the various sites you’ve signed up for over the years and how many of them you actually access now. There’s most likely a ton of sites which have fallen from grace and are decaying on the internet or have shuttered completely. Think about all the information, time and effort you put into those sites. Let’s take MySpace for example, and a great example it is.
When MySpace was in its boom phase, somewhere around 2006, everyone was on the site. Music was discovered there, and musicians were signed from MySpace. My previous employer found new talent on MySpace and published some of their work. It was THE place to be. But then, something changed. Suddenly interest started to fade as the corporate entities began valuing the massive amount of data available. And the die-off began.
MySpace didn’t even make it to the point of optimizing for mobile because by the time News Corp purchased them, the interface had been changed, fans had been alienated, and the kids abandoned ship to Twitter. But even in death, all that data still lives on. Held in limbo by Justin Timberlake, waiting to either be closed or sold again to the highest bidder.
There’s a lot to be said about social media these days. Seems every morning there is a new catastrophe brought on by our own elected officials or by some outside force, even a force of nature. We become reactionary. We hide behind our screens. We see news pop up and depending on the social media options you use, you’ll either see more or less – but you’ll still have to face the social element of the media.
Those that are just focused on people meet and greet apps are prone to running into those that don’t share the same political opinion. Swipe left to avoid a potentially awkward encounter. Of course, in those apps like Coffee Meets Bagel or Soul Swipe you don’t have to dive as deep into the political sphere in your profile so you may chance an encounter with a new connection only to find out that they’ve drank the Kool-Aid of the opposing view. This assumes you actually meet in person and you don’t spend majority of the time texting back and forth.
So let’s take texting apps in into consideration. What if you actually had to talk to the majority of the people you were communicating with. Texting and emailing is very much the preferred comms method of the day, with apps like WhatsApp and WeChat simplifying the go-between, but does it actually make us more social? I’d argue that we’ve become much more anti-social because of social media these days. Sticking to characters and emojis rather than reaching out to call someone, or god forbid have a face to face conversation.
More and more social media apps will continue to pop-up, but the real question will be whether or not we will ever be able to have civilized discussions and debates ever again or if we’ll all succumb to the social media bubbles we exist in and leave face to face interaction to chance.
The long tail. The generated sales based not on the popular traditional media, but on the lesser known selection now widely available through various digital channels. The article “The Long Tail” which appeared in Wired’s October 2004 issue went a long way into foreshadowing the next decade to come. There was much that I found particularly eerie, as I’ve watched the fall of several major retail institutions that I grew up with and enjoyed frequenting when I had the time.
Let’s begin with Blockbuster. I spent my Friday evenings there from 1993 – 2003 with my Dad, siblings or friends preparing to get into our weekend ahead. Every time you walked in the door, you didn’t know what you were looking for (or maybe you did) but when you found it, it was like striking gold. One movie, one video game, one candy was the standard rule. Conversely, there was always the risk you wouldn’t find a copy of what you were looking for behind the box cover for the latest game. There were several weeks in 1993 where Mortal Kombat wasn’t available on any system, and I was devastated. Nothing like seeing shelves lined with empty boxes because the games were all checked out. You didn’t need the recommendation, you went by the cover and the summary description on the back. If it looked halfway decent, you rented it. So different today, with the age of Netflix and Sling where everything is on demand, streaming and at your fingertips. Along with user ratings and recommendations based on what you’ve previously viewed. There’s a small element of chance with it, but looking back it really takes the fun out of the experience.
Now, I began my PR career in the music business. I have the utmost respect for musicians of all genres trying to sell their music for pennies on the dollar. The long tail sales game that’s come out of the digital revolution is an ugly one. The Wired article didn’t take into account that streaming services would ultimately kill physical sales entirely. Of course, piracy factors heavily into that as well, but piracy was just as much a part of the digital revolution as streaming video. The ability to rip a song onto MP3 and listen to it on an iPod in 2001 was brand new. I remember seeing my first iPod when I got to college in late 2003. I was amazed. I couldn’t wait until I could afford one so that I could stop burning CDs. I had already discovered the long tail upon working for my college radio station and realizing there were incredible bands, specifically from Scandinavia that I would have never heard had I not discovered them through the radio and the internet. I sought out any MP3’s I could get my hands on from these rare bands and found myself stockpiling burned CDs. The iPod would make that much easier. Of course, that didn’t mean I wasn’t still completely bummed out when my local Tower Records and Sam Goody closed down because of the digital revolution. I loved the feeling of going into a record store and picking an album out that I’d never heard and playing it in the car as I drove home. While I can still do that today through the last remaining stores like FYE or Best Buy, digital music has just made finding weird bands that much easier.
The Economist’s article “Hidden in the Long Tail” published a little over ten years after Wired’s article ran brings many valid points to light about the technological advances helping the lesser known brands and media properties succeed in the present day. No longer is it truly necessary to have a brick and mortar storefront, instead a well-designed e-commerce site and good word of mouth or SEO promotion can gain you a customer base. If you have a product that caters to a niche audience, like documentaries or the like, and you’ve found a platform to do it in – by all means, advance the system. I think the Long Tail for Netflix, while they beat the system by offering so many titles through the mail, was that they saw the digital revolution happening with the music industry and beat every other competitor to the punch by adapting to video streaming faster than any other company. Now their stock is soaring. If you’d invested 10 years ago, you’d be making great returns now. Same goes for Amazon. But not so much for Blockbuster, Borders or Tower Records.