Who really wrote “A Visit from St. Nicholas?’” The question will finally be answered during the mock trial of “Livingston vs. Moore.” Our office 225 River Street, once housed the Troy Sentinel newspaper. On December 23rd in 1823, “A Visit From St. Nicholas” was published anonymously and later attributed to Clement Clarke Moore, who acknowledged authorship. Join the trial on Dec. 18 to find out the true story behind this famed classic.
Learn more about it here in the Times Union.
The Capital Region was greeted with not-so-surprising news this week that Journal Register Company publications The Saratogian and The Record would be placing their websites behind a paywall. It’s thanks to a new strategy from JRC owner Digital First Media.
The two JRC publications will join the company of other local publications including the Daily Gazette, the Post Star and the Business Review. It is now clear the industry will march inexorably towards paid online models, with limited outliers.
And that will be great for readers.
How could parting with more money be a blessing, you ask? Well, it won’t be – unless papers make their online products worthwhile.
With any luck, the paywall wave will serve as the trigger that forces more newspapers to go beyond words with their online product, and truly harness the power of photography and videography in a bold new type of storytelling.
Paywall pioneer The New York Times has signed up droves of online subscribers by breaking the paradigm and offering compelling online content. This story about an avalanche and this package on life in the South China Sea are among the finest examples of 21st-century journalism out there, and an encouraging signal about the future of the photojournalism craft.
Local news outlets can make the same efforts. They might not be able to fund full digital departments, but the great thing about newspapers is they’re almost universally staffed by smart, dedicated and creative people who are coming up with ways to use the internet to deliver compelling content. Smaller outlets can create photo galleries, interactive pothole maps, build Storify-type digital storytelling… the list goes on. And a few paywall dollars can fuel that innovation.
Here’s hoping the paywall revolution will help papers – and readers – decide how important digital truly is to the future of news.
Yesterday, the Times Union unveiled a new mobile website, allowing readers in the Capital Region and afar to stay up to date on breaking news from their smartphones. At first glance, the new mobile site delivers everything I would want: easy navigation, live updates, social media integration and visual enhancements.
Last month, I wrote about a study conducted by app maker Locket, revealing that the average person unlocks his/her smartphone 110 times a day. The new mobile site shows that the Times Union is listening not only to its customers, but also to industry trends.
Working in public relations, I’ve had the Times Union’s app on my phone and often visit it multiple times a day. I look forward to now making the mobile site part of my daily reading, starting each morning with the Capitol Confidential A.M. Roundup.
The Huffington Post is putting a stop to the Internet “trolls.”
Last month, the online publication enforced a new policy: readers must now provide their name in order to post a comment. Anonymous comments are no longer an option.
The public has been firmly in support of the publication post-rollout. It raises the question, how long before others follow in their footsteps and anonymous comments become a thing of the past?
Popular Science has moved in that direction by shutting down its online comment section on most articles.
“We have many delightful, thought-provoking commenters,” Popular Science stated in an announcement. “But even a fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader’s perception of a story, recent research suggests.”
In the past, many news outlets have encouraged comments as a way of creating a conversation with and amongst their audience, but anonymous commenters have always been given the opportunity to take these conversations from interesting and insightful discussions to hateful and offensive rants.
While comments were devised as a way to generate Internet traffic for news websites, the problem lies in the fact with the ability to remain anonymous lends the courage and motivation to speak freely without the fear of judgment. That can lead to rude and incendiary comments.
It’s time to clean up the Internet discourse. Whether you are a fan of commenting or not, it’s hard to deny that most comments are simply pure vitriol, stated by Internet “trolls” with nothing better to do than sit around and hide behind their rude and cowardly comments. Let’s hope that more news sites get behind the belief that if you have something to say, you have to own it.
Julie Byrne Smith
Administrative & Operations Coordinator
A recent study by app maker Locket revealed that the average person unlocks their smart phone 110 times a day. While some may shake their head and find this number to be unrealistic, I find myself above average based on this study (still making Mom proud!)
Working as a public relations professional during this digital age, like many others I have no choice but to be addicted to my phone. Between email, social media, apps….at times it can seem impossible to keep up. When I want an update on breaking news, I’m on Twitter following local, regional and national media. When I want to get a live update on the Yankees score (unfortunately not this postseason), I’m visiting the ESPN app. If I have a down minute, my instinct is to grab my phone and update myself on one of the 1.2 million apps currently available. Currently I have more than 25 apps on my phone, and I find myself constantly updating based on what provides the most value for me.
Why? If you work in public relations, you love and crave news. You love creating news. You crave reading news. Our job is to tell stories, and if you are not keeping up on what stories are told and how, you are not doing your job. The news does not wait for 6 and 11pm, or the AM edition anymore.
Apps should not be used solely as a one way conversation to receive live updates. Whether the app is informational, social media or even a game, they all allow the opportunity to create and foster connections with individuals around the world.
Reporters are no longer confined to a notepad at a press conference. They are continuing the conversation through blogs and social media apps that provide direct interaction with the public. Companies are receiving and valuing feedback from their consumers through apps. If you are not tapped into digital apps, you are not leading your clients or company to the best of your capability.
Digital platforms will become even more prevalent and necessary to connecting and fostering conversations and dialogues. At this rate, unlocking my phone 110 times a day to access 25 apps may be viewed as minimal in only a matter of years. Maybe it’s generational, but this “addict” sees no negative in that.
Al Bellenchia, Managing Director at Gramercy Communications, had the opportunity to present to the Public Relations Society of America’s Capital Region chapter. Having a conversation on “Communications (and amidst) Chaos” with local leaders and professional communicators.
Shaped by 30 years of experience in helping organizations of all sizes engage their key stakeholders, he discussed today’s PR trends, issues and opportunities.
Connections are easier to create and maintain in today’s world, but building and keeping trust is harder than ever before. By connecting through mutual discovery and owning the customer and influencer conversation, communicators have the opportunity to take charge of discussions with stakeholders. By being in charge of the conversation with stakeholders and gaining their trust, you will gain the respect of management.
We live in an age where communicating is easier than at any time in human history, but building meaningful connections is also more difficult than ever. (No, this is not the reposting of a George Carlin monologue.)
Communicating today is so easy that a caveman could do it. A quick thought, a few keystrokes, and voila: Grok sends message.
Maybe that’s why communications often seem to be conducted by proverbial Neanderthals. We are bombarded by articles, sound bites, tweets, posts, ads, videos, billboards and texts, built into marketing programs, narratives and campaigns that we mostly ignore. Thus, the age-old marketing lament continues: where are the results?
Think for a moment:
How often do you hear a story that arrests you? One that makes you stop and think, reconsider your position on a subject or issue and that motivates you to take an action?
That’s what effective communications should do: connect with someone on a personal level and create an affinity that leads them to care about you (and your cause, your need, your product) and do something tangible, measurable.
It’s hard to make a connection if you are just pitching yourself.
Connecting is not about you, it’s about them. It’s about engaging on an individual — not institutional — level, even when you are an organization communicating to a mass audience.
Here’s the deal: Focus on those whose support you need, not your own self-interest. Turn your eyes around – look outward — and connect with an authentic voice, telling stories that have meaning for your audience, lead to conversations, build trust and create interactions that are mutually rewarding.
It’s why PR, properly conducted, holds the key for building conversations, connections and communities, more so than any other communications discipline. It’s why I’m happy to be back in the game.
Gramercy Communications announced today two senior staff additions to the firm. Al Bellenchia and Wallace Altes have joined the growing Tech Valley strategic communications firm. Bellenchia will serve as Managing Director, overseeing client management and the ongoing development of the firm’s staff and services. Altes will serve as Executive Counselor with strategic oversight of new business opportunities.
“Gramercy Communications continues to grow and we’re at a critical point in our evolution,” said Tom Nardacci, Gramercy Communications President & Founder. “We’re expanding the range and depth of skills and capabilities. Finding the right mix of talent is key to continuing to capitalize on the opportunities we have, and more importantly, in generating excellent results for our clients. We are excited and energized by having individuals with the breadth and depth of experience that Al and Wally bring to our team.”
Bellenchia comes to Gramercy Communications with more than 30 years experience in communications, marketing and business development. He has provided strategic insight and counsel at the highest levels of some of the world’s most recognized companies and organizations, including AT&T, DuPont, ExxonMobil, First Albany, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Mechanical Technologies, The Procter & Gamble Company, Visa USA and Yahoo!, among others.
For nearly a decade, Bellenchia was with FleishmanHillard, one of the world’s largest communications consulting firms, where he rose to Senior Partner and head of the firm’s financial communications practice. He was responsible for the New York City office’s corporate and business communications group. Familiar to the Capital Region landscape, he later established Fleishman’s operations in Albany, N.Y. Bellenchia is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University. For 2013-2014, Al is the chair of the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Business Education Program Committee and leads the Chamber’s Business Resource Forums.
Wally Altes is well known throughout Tech Valley and New York State for his work in the business community and with many educational and cultural organizations. He is the former President of the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce. During his tenure as President, the Chamber became the third largest in the state; received national recognition for its administrative and programmatic activities; and, was honored as being among the three best Chambers in the country. In 1998, Altes was credited in part with the naming of the ten-county area of New York’s Capital District as “Tech Valley.” Wally has more than 30 years of strategic business development experience, including leading his own human resource consulting firm and directing large and complex business associations.
Wally has served on the boards of many local and regional organizations, including the Center for Economic Growth; the Albany Institute of History and Art; WMHT Public Television and Radio; the Community Foundation; Southern Vermont College; the United Way of Northeastern New York; and the Regional Food Bank.
At 4:30pm Monday August 5, Washington Post Publisher Katherine Weymouth dropped a bombshell to Post employees and the media world. The venerable newspaper, after 80 years of family ownership, had been sold. The news shocked the media world, and is another example of the rapid changes happening in the media business. Whether or not this single event will be transformational or hindering to the newspaper industry – only time will tell.
The news that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will purchase The Washington Post for $250 million rocked the headlines, and ignited a social media frenzy. This news was hailed as everything from the end of an era to a needed revolution. The move comes just a week after Red Sox owner, John Henry, purchased the Boston Globe for $70 million from the New York Times Company. And we can’t forget about the controversial billionaires Charles and David Koch, who have run into political opposition in their quest to acquire the Tribune Company.
What do I think this means for the future of newspapers? In the case of The Washington Post specifically, it can only mean good things. Bezos is an innovator, a risk taker, and a successful businessman at that, who can transform The Post into a digital distribution giant. In the digitalized world we live in, dominated in part by Bezos’ Kindle platform, The Post will have the necessary resources and outsider thinking to put the paper at the forefront of technology and consumer consumption. It could very well set the standard for how newspapers will not only survive, but thrive, in this new era of journalism.
As I’ve stated before, journalism is alive and well. And although we have seen a change in the industry, it hasn’t had an effect on the way consumers view news. They want news from trusted sources. Whether it is delivered to your doorstep or to your iPhone, consumers deem pertinent information more reliable when it comes from a byline they know.
Bezos explained in a letter to Post employees on Monday, called “Jeff Bezos on Post purchase”, that the values and integrity of the paper would not change as they continue to focus on serving its readers. And although no plans were announced for the newspaper’s future, Bezos is sure to shake things up in the near future. We can put money on that. Journalistic integrity needs to come first and he signaled he gets that.
With a revitalized strategy to feed today’s consumer the news, coupled with Bezos’ understanding of consumer behavior, I foresee The Post thriving in this new era. The buyout will prove to be trendsetting. What some might call Bezos’ transitional ‘billionaire hobby’ may be the most groundbreaking and industry shaping move to hit the newsstands yet. I have to believe that the guy who transformed the internet by teaching us all to use the online shopping cart can develop the recipe to transform the newspaper industry.
Every day, new business ventures, filmmakers, musicians and other artists turn to online “crowdfunding” platforms like Kickstarter, RocketHub and Fundable to get “backing” for their projects and endeavors. Kickstarter is the most used crowdfunding platform, and has helped launch more than 100,000 projects and raised more than $700 million from individuals around the world.
Gatherer’s Gourmet Granola recently turned to Gramercy Communications to assist with their Kickstarter campaign through development and production of an online video. Gatherer’s Gourmet Granola, located locally in Schenectady New York, is a pioneering company in its industry, producing a line of delicious gluten-free products like Fox’s Fancy, Squirrel Bait and Chipmunk’s Choice. The samples we took back to the office, didn’t last very long. The company is using Kickstarter to fund the launch of these three new certified gluten-free and non-GMO flavors.
Gramercy Communications is a firm believer in the power of digital storytelling which is now an essential component to any social media campaign, and a linchpin of crowdfunding efforts.
Please take a look below and help Gatherer’s Gourmet Granola if you can. In just a few short days they’ve already surpassed the $3,000 mark towards their $15,000 goal.
CLICK HERE to view the Kickstarter video and visit their fundraising page.