Not sure what caught my attention more: The front page Wall Street Journal story about "annoying Orange" or the escalating saga of the lost iPhone4?
Lucky for folks already registered for a conference later this week in Palm Springs - they'll get some expert commentary on both. (Well, maybe not about Annoying Orange).
Perhaps the experts can sort it out for me. Like, why I'm more inclined to watch multiple episodes of Annoying Orange rather than figure out the First Amendment battle over the lost iPhone4?
The Palm Springs panel this Thursday (April 29) will have top mainstream journalists analyzing the influence of online journalism and blogs, and how we in the PR profession use social media channels to distribute news about clients, causes and organizations.
I'm moderating the panel. As it was, I had plenty of other stories and case studies to offer up to the panel for analysis. Then I came across the dynamics of "Annoying Orange" and the scandal of the lost iPhone4.
For sure, the panel will tackle topics and issues critical to how public relations professionals conduct themselves and how we recommend strategies to clients. Namely, what is the influence of social media on mainstream journalism?
The issue is one of the more pressing ones for PR pros today. As PR pros continue to use (exploit?) social media to promote clients, products and causes, there are growing risks of credibility and influence. Mainstream journalism is still considered the most credible, by most surveys. Yet, mainstream journalism has lost audience share to social media channels, blogs and specialty online-only news sites.
Public attitudes and viewing habits continue to shift, such as with product reviews. CNET, Wired and other mainstream sites are holding their own, but then Gizmodo breaks a story about Apple's latest phone and all bets are off. Are mainstream journalists changing their reporting techniques in deference to the influence of blogs?
For public relations professionals, understanding how these parts are moving and where the machine is headed are critical to our future. We need to remain relevant, on top of our game.
Do we ask: Is a Facebook buzz better than a front page story on The Wall Street Journal. Is a YouTube video with 200,000 views better than a story picked up by the Associated Press for a national run?
For PR pros, there are generally two key considerations when using social media: Where to place product or other news and how to place it. "Where" depends on what research is telling you about getting the most buzz. In many cases, PR folks will develop a strategy that suggests placing news at "XYZ" blog first , where it will soon blossom into greater and greater coverage because "XYZ" blog is so popular. "How" usually suggests either "exclusivity," a multi-faceted launch on multiple channels, a gimmick like a YouTube video (or lost phone?) or perceived "leak."
In the end, the key is to get "influencers" and "tastemakers" interested - to buy product or move the needle.
Many still consider mainstream journalism a very important channel for influencing, especially when dealing in the rapid spread of misinformation over the Internet.
So, for example, a question to the panel will be: At what point does a journalist from a mainstream news outlet start noticing fast-moving "news" on a blog and turn it into a story? It's been nearly 20 years since a "leak" about problems during a beta test of a Microsoft browser software changed the rules for online information and what constitutes "news." Since then, we've had hundreds, perhaps thousands of crisis communications fires that began on the Internet.
Do mainstream journalists feel compelled to set the record straight, even if the information is false? Does a rumor become "news" just because "it's everywhere" on the Internet? I promise we won't revisit the Domino's Pizza video.
But, I can tell you that many mainstream journalists first viewed the lost iPhone4 story on Gizmodo as a prank by Apple.
One question I may pose to the panel deals with freedom of the press and whether CA's trade secrets law trumps the 1st Amendment. Charges are likely in the missing iPhone4 story since police issued a search warrant on the reporter's house. Could this case have a chilling effect in the blogosphere? Or perhaps with mainstream journalism?
OK, you ask: What about Annoying Orange? There is no real PR consideration for Annoying Orange, other than to marvel at its popularity. And, that its fame rose to a point where it was finally noticed by one of the biggest mainstream news outlets.
I won't spoil my opening line at the panel on Thursday.