Old Media. New Tricks.

The CanWest newspapers recently launched redesigns to their web presences.

I saw this two page ad in The Province on the weekend explaining their new look.


If it takes you TWO full pages complete with boxes, diagrams and pointers to explain your website redesign to people, it’s TOO complicated.

Google’s website has 28 words

I’m not saying your site needs to be that brief, but using Google’s site design and approach as a starting point is a good place to begin your planning.

Laying out a double page gatefold to explain your website redesign is perhaps the last place you’d like to find yourself.

catch the buzz … pass it on.

Yes, you need to be as inclusive as possible when targetting a broad audience, that’s why it’s called broadcasting.

But at the same time, you need to realize your audience is smart, sophisticated and capable of some pretty cool stuff.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Are you a part of the momversation?

catch the buzz .. pass it on

It’s one thing not to participate in the online conversation, but do you monitor the conversation others are having about you and your brand?

This is vital for not only old media, but any company trying to succeed in the modern era.  No longer are people talking about you behind your back, whispering about their negative experiences at cocktail parties.  Bouquets and bombs when it comes to customer service and brand opinion are now aired publicly with Facebook groups, blogs, message boards and live flow conversations on Twitter.

This past weekend Motrin had a major brandjack when the conversation about their new ad exploded into a huge negative backlash.  The conversation was left unchecked for the entire weekend and nothing but hate, anger and vitriol spread amongst the active online community.

Motrin tried to reach into new media to spread a message, but instead of monitoring and nurturing it – they just planted the seed and left.  Weeds grew and nobody knew, until Monday.

Starbucks goes about things a little differently.

They monitor the conversation, they participate in the community, they diffuse situations before they erupt.

This morning I tweeted about a negative experience at my local Starbucks.  Double cupping was the default practice.

Within 2 hours I had received a tweet back from @MyStarbucksIdea responding to the situation.

If your radio station doesn’t have a twitter account, fine.  If your radio station doesn’t have a facebook page, fine.  If you’re not active in the social media conversation, that’s fine, but you’ve got to monitor the conversation others are having about your brand.

Go to Google, set up a Google Alert for keywords associated with your brand.

Go to Twitter Search and set up an RSS feed associated with your brand.

Not participating in the online conversation is a problem, not listening to the online conversation is a fatal flaw.

catch the buzz … pass it on.

It’s called social media, because it’s about being social.  You don’t broadcast your message anymore, you share it.

If you’re a newspaper, you move to the web.  If you’re a radio station, you add video.  If you’re a television station, you had blogs.  You become multi-dimensional and engage your audience in participatory media.

Gary Vaynerchuk nails it.

Comme toujours.

catch the buzz … pass it on

Old media talks down to its audience.  New media engages its audience.

Do you recognize how vastly different those two sentences are? Those two simple sentences hold all the answers to all the problems old media, and old companies, have when it comes to new media.  You can’t preach to your consumers, you have to inspire them.

Radio station websites need to not only have the recent chart and concert listings, it needs to have a two way dialogue between host and listener.

Blogs are VITAL for the survival of the radio station brand, but they need to be a two way street.  Just shouting out content at the listeners, without a way for them to interact is like a radio station without a request line.

Whether or not you actually take requests is not the point, the listener needs to feel like they’re engaged in the process and have ownership of the station.  Blogs and the ability to interact with the audience using new media works the same way.

catch the buzz… pass it on.

Let’s build more on the last entry about link love.

Jeff Jarvis is a big proponent of the link economy.

All content must be transparent: open on the web with permanent links so it can receive links. It’s not content until it’s linked.


He’s campaigning for old media to tear down it’s walled garden of content, and participate in the global market of crediting sources, linking to deeper coverage and providing some sort of path for readers to follow a story.

The problem is, old media is very protective of it’s content.  They spend the resources to dig the stories and they don’t want to provide any means for people to leave.

Okay, I “kind of” understand why they would be protective of their content. I think it’s silly, but I “get” why they might think it is prudent behaviour.

The thing I can’t understand, however, is why an old media site wouldn’t want to link within itself.

I subscribe to a few feeds from The Vancouver Sun.  One of them lists news stories they will be following throughout the day and points to links within their site where more information can be found.  I say “points to links” but it doesnt actually activate those links.  Here’s an entry from earlier this week.

See the trailer for one day only at vancouversun.com under Editor’s Picks

[Vancouver Sun]

That is on the VancouverSun.com webpage, but it is merely a word-for-word transcription of what appears in the print edition, complete with lack of active linking.

Kirk Lapointe, Managing Editor of the Vancouver Sun acknowledges they have challenges in moving to the link economy.

“Part of our challenge is the automated nature of our own feeds from our services,” he said in a Twitter message. “We’re asserting more local control in a few weeks.”

Babies roll over before they crawl.  Crawl before they walk.  Walk before they run.

Old media is online.  I guess that would be the equivalent of rolling over.  They still have a long way to go before they’re running with the rest of the pack.

catch the buzz… pass it on.

Traditional media outlets on the web are notorious for not providing link love. They simply post the content from print to the web with no annotation, link or way for readers to learn more or examine the sources. Even articles they write about technology or websites are devoid of links. Sure, they’ll put the address in the article, but the link won’t be active.

They build a fortress around their content. The only links allowed keep visitors within the garden through the nav bar, or take them off to buy soap and shampoo through sponsors. This is no way to build loyalty, trust or respect from your audience.

For more on this concept, check out the post Getting Credit for Word of Mouth.

catch the buzz … pass it on.