For anyone who wants to catch up on their reading during the holidays, is just looking for inspiration to start the New Year with or for those who suffer from FOMO, here is our list of ten blog posts from 2014 that you should have read.
What is the media industry suffering from? Is it just the declining popularity of advertising and the rise of bloggers and content marketing, or are there other forces at work that threaten the profession of journalism? Mathew Ingram's take on the subject is certainly refreshing. Although not everyone agreed with him:
'I have to say I didn't really expect the post to be that popular, but the fact that it became so just reinforces that many journalists and others in the media are very sensitive to the issue. Almost all of the negative responses came from professional journalists, who seemed to see it as a denigration of their jobs that anyone would suggest journalism competes with other things.'
Same topic, different angle: Shane Snow from Contently arguably wrote one of the most thorough analyses of the challenges and opportunities that face the media industry this year. Again, there are many arguments that journalists will disagree with (like 'Pure Journalism Has Always Been Subsidized'), but there is no denying that the writer offers some clever solutions for the struggling media industry.
A report from the inside out is offered by BBC tech journalist Dave Lee. The blog post doesn't comment so much on the decline of tech media; instead, Dave Lee points out that the most important developments do not necessarily have to be covered by tech journalists. Take Edward Snowden, for example:
'Case in point: the Edward Snowden revelations. A story broken, not by a technology writer, but by a civil rights specialist with a background in law. Which makes a lot of sense. Snowden is a story about democracy, a political crisis, a threat to our human rights.'
The only way for technology journalists to survive, Lee argues, is to divide into two camps:
'The geekiest aspects — new chips, R&D, and yes, start-ups — need to move back into the trade press.
The technology journalists who don’t want the geeky path need to step up to the plate and start tackling the important stories involving how technology is changing our lives.'
It's an annual tradition: after the Cannes Lions awards the PR industry collectively wonders why so few PR agencies manage to win an award. This year PR firms were responsible for about 40 percent of all the entries; none of them were among the 13 Gold Lions winners.
Paul Holmes took a stand against PR's frustration by asking the fundamental question: does it even matter?
'Several of the Cannes Lion winners would not have been considered worthy of a SABRE. I looked long and hard at one Grand Prix winner, and saw it as a finalist in the publicity stunt category at best. Last year’s winner would probably have picked up something in the In2 SABREs (which focus on content creation) but not as a campaign.
That’s not to say that either SABRE or Cannes has higher standards, but it is to say that they have very different standards. In addition to valuing work that is more visual—almost inevitable, given the critical role that video plays in the application process—and more emotionally impactful, Cannes appears to value creative ideas that are bold and simple, ideas that can be communicated clearly and concisely; it does not appear to value complexity or to reward process.'
David Meerman Scott has a strong opinion on what PR should be about, and always finds original angles to tell that story. In this recent blog post he didn't argue that PR should only be about lead generation instead of media coverage, as the title might suggest; the article is about adopting different criteria for success. That is: Google ranking over clippings.
'Instead of focusing on a media relations program that tries to convince a handful of reporters at select magazines, newspapers, and TV stations to cover us, we should generate our own content to communicate directly with our audience, bypassing the media filter completely.
(Ironically, the better your online content, the more journalists will find you. No pitching required.)
Each of us has the power to create our own media brand in the niche of our own choosing.
It’s about being found on Google and the other search engines! It’s about people sharing our work on social networks!'
We can all use fifteen minutes of TED inspiration every now and then. PR Week listed a few of their favourite TED videos for PR professionals, including the somewhat obvious ones (like Simon Sinek and Sheryl Sandberg) and some surprisingly good ones.
Our favourite: Julian Treasure on five ways to retune your ears for conscious listening—to other people and the world around you.
Courtney Seiter's post on PR Daily had all the ingredients for a big hit: it contained a list, best practices, it was based on research and the article revolved around one of the finest arts in writing - coming up with a good headline.
What happens if a journalist replies to every PR email for an entire week? Zach Schonfeld decided to take this challenge. What happened: he sent a lot of emails and worked late.
It is worth the read if you want to know what it's like to receive hundreds of press releases and pitches (and how to escape the delete button
Just as practical was Gini Dietrich's post on capturing blog post ideas. The overview is not only useful because finding new topics is any blogger's main struggle; she also asked eight bloggers what works for them.
This one in particular, from social media strategist Mack Collier
, stood out for me:
'As I am surfing I will come across an article that will spark an idea for a blog post. Then, before I forget it, I will go to my WordPress dashboard and create a new post with a title describing the post, and in the post I will write some quick notes about what I want to talk about and a link to the article I found. Just so I have it down and then later I will come back when I have time and write out the post.'
The more content we produce, the harder it will be to get the message across to our audience. 'Like any good discussion on economics, this is rooted in the very simple concept of supply and demand', according to Mark Schaefer
. In fact, we are investing more and more into paying people to read our content.
We asked the author about the buzz that was generated by the article.
'More than 700 blog posts have been written about that one article, not to mention podcasts, conference panel discussions, and even some infographics! The post had nearly 900 comments.
There is no way you can predict that or plan for "viral" but I do think there are some lessons to be learned. First it was a highly original piece by explaining content in economic terms. Second, it was written for readers, not SEO. There is no SEO advantage of this article at all in fact. 'Content Shock' was a made-up phrase. Finally, it was long-form content. Research shows that longer, more in-depth posts seem to attract more social shares.
I'm proud of this post because it largely defined the marketing conversation in 2014. It moved the conversation ahead from 'keep creating content' to 'creating content is not enough - we have to be more strategic.' Simply creating content is not enough any more. We have to get it to move and connect with our audience.'
The Content Marketing Institute is always a good resource for useful content. This one on measuring the performance of content marketing campaigns made a huge impact across social media: it was shared more than 3.5 k times.
'Surprisingly, nobody has yet created a periodic table for content marketing, so I thought I’d have a go.'
Sometimes, that's all you need: a creative angle and a nice visual will get you 11k shares and 59 comments. And a spot in the top 14 of 2014, of course.
For every online tool you use, there are ten really good ones that you just haven't discovered yet. The Next Web listed 29 of them.
Our personal favourite: SharedCount
, which helps you track how often a URL is shared, liked, tweeted or plussed.
The best parody on newsjacking of the year. In case you haven't seen it (either on Adage or anywhere else), you should have a look.
We are glad that this was shared: a tweet should be max. 100 characters, a Facebook post less than 40 and a Google headline under 60. The ideal length of a headline is six words (see what I did in this post?). Buffer said it and they have the research to prove it.
The LEWIS team wishes you happy holidays. And keep on blogging in 2015!
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