the role of journalism and reader participation

There’s an important discussion going on here in Sweden at the moment, about online newspapers and the possibility to comment on articles, and wether or not it’s working. Some leading newspapers think it’s not at the moment. Leading representatives are heavily engaged in this discussion, that reached some sort of climax (and resulted in shut-downs or changes to the commenting functionality) due to extremely racist comments, but not solely because of that, during the tragic incident in Norway.

They are, quite rightly, looking at this from a technical, resource and reader involvement perspective. Recently a media industry expert (Sofia Mirjamsdotter, Resumé) said it’s no surprise that this happened (closing down, limiting and/or changing privacy policies) as none of the newspapers had a participation/comment strategy. That’s looking at things from a very narrow perspective given the massive impact of (possible) reader involvement in online journalism. You don’t have a strategy for comments, you have a strategy for online news publishing, if at all that’s what you choose to call what you do.

Anna Hjalmarsson of Aftonbladet hopes that in five years, they’ll have found better ways of handling discussions where readers openly, and respectfully, meet each other and newspaper representatives. She also says that many active commenters express themselves as if nobody from Aftonbladet is going to read what they write, as if the discussions in the comment fields is something for the readers only.

Now that’s spot on, and it’s most likely contributed to a negative language and a tone. If an official representative (i.e. article author) revisits and responds, well, we’d probably have a more nuanced discussion. Maybe even a professional one. A comment function has less to do with the possibility to make yourself heard, and more to do with getting a response, a reaction. We talk to/with people. If the response is from somebody calling you an idiot, wishing you dead. Well.

Björn Hedensjö of says they’re genuinely interested in reader involvement, but at the same time they have limited resources. He says that the editors must make an active selection when it comes to which subjects should be discussed and then also engage in that following discussion. That’s a very good start. Selecting what articles and pieces are most relevant and likely to inspire, and facilitate, discussion. And because selecting is already a key aspect of journalism, it’s a natural extension of that. What is news worthy and what’s not, is a constant question. Why shouldn’t what is talk worthy? Often they overlap, but far from always. They are different and have different selection criteria. Especially considering the resource issue.

So considering this, I think we arrive where the real challenge sits. The key question with regards to journalism in general today, is the role it plays in society. Media (organisations), traditionally defined by the properties of the specific media (TV was always very different from radio, technically speaking), the organizational structure (ownership and possibly political associations) and funding/financing (licence and/or ad financed).

Media has always been institutions in society. They’ve always helped shape culture in the broadest and biggest sense. But newspaper journalism has mostly been about them writing and telling us about things. It’s been about sender-receiver. It’s been like that because of the technical context when it started, and when it was defined, explicitly or not. The technical properties of media used, did that. It’s all a product based on what was even possible. Now that’s changed. When an article starts and stops is changed. Finite has become infinite. What news story telling is (can be), has changed. So really what needs to happen, which is the reason it’s not about a strategy for comments, but rather a strategy, and definition, of online news journalism, is rethinking the sole purpose and role of online journalism. Which, of course means, the role of journalism in general. In this case mostly, but not exclusively, from a written word point of view. I really hope the question is answered on this level, and not mostly on a technical level, as many comments seem to suggest.

amex, small businesses and the concept of sponsorship

I vote for this guy not only because it looks delicious but because he seems like such a great guy.

But It’s a tight race because these guys are doing exactly what I’m missing; fast food that’s good for you. I just want some good ol’ fashion husmanskost on the go, but all I can find is fat dripping pizza on every damn corner. Hate that.

And I’m very impressed with the Amex Open Forum initiative and the momentum they have. Even though I’m disappointed by the card (at least in Sweden and online). From the small business saturday idea (below), to partnering with Facebook to provide “an Amex way” of paying for ads, and Vote Big Break above.

Being involved in a sponsorship strategy for another big global American brand, I can’t but help but reflect over the role of sponsorship. Simplified being about 1, brand awareness, and letting context/sponsored event/team/sport/etc indicate what the brand supports and affiliates itself with and thus 2, manifest position/meaning by getting a brand attribute rub-off effect. But there’s so many examples of very weak sponsorship strategies where all you get is your logo out there with very little meaning attached to this.

Not so long ago, It was impossible for Amex to do what they’re doing here, which is sponsoring small businesses and everything that comes with that; having to struggle, be a smart marketer (perhaps first time at it), smart with money, doing a bit of everything (balance sheets and tax laws anyone?), and being frustrated with hardly making ends meet. Sponsoring them by doing things for them is something that simply could not be done before. Not with this massive reach and impact. To a large extent this falls under sponsoring in my book. Supportive sponsoring. Extremely targeted and relevant. I think the concept of sponsoring is changing quite a bit.

an open brief to Nokrosoft developers

“find that next big thing that blows away Apple, Android, and everything we’re doing with Microsoft right now and makes it irrelevant—all of it. So go for it, without having to worry about saving Nokia’s rear end in the next 12 months. I’ve taken off the handcuffs.”
– Stephen Elop to developers

Pretty good article in BusinessWeek about the Elop goes to Nokia business. How’s the above for an open brief… Still don’t know what to think about the Microsoft/Nokia future though.

words on turning ideas into action

The 99% Experience: Insights On Putting Your Ideas Into Action from 99% on Vimeo.

I think we’re quite a few who have experienced a variation of blockages, often invisible, that occur when trying to move an idea of some sort into action. Or even getting a seed of an idea to more of a full fledged idea. Procrastination kicks in. A coffee sounds perfect even though it was 30 minutes ago since the last cup. The situations are many and the reasons for the blockage as well.

I think there’s a few good suggestions in this clip from the 99 percent. Setting the egg timer is a good one I think. Really low-tech but effective in its simplicity. And I really do think there are devices that help us to be productive with, as well as within, technology.

I like what one guy says, as he likes the idea of micro failure but not macro failure. Perhaps something that can help you with just doing it and rather micro fail fairly quickly.

beating competitors in it or beating competitors to it

There are a lot of rumours surrounding Nintendo’s next home console. Is the company’s biggest challenge at the moment to come up with something completely different from its competitors?

I think when you talk about competing against others, the problem is that you refer to something that’s been done already and try to beat it. Rather than looking at what other companies are doing, the focus at Nintendo is on uniqueness. Providing new means of entertainment is the important thing.

– Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo
Article in from The Guardian

we won gold, by opening a bordello

OK, some self promotion. Sorry. We just won gold in the Swedish Effectiveness Awards (100wattarn), in the public awareness category, for opening a bordello. 1 in 13 Swedish men buy sex. Scary right? We live in liberal times and that goes for attitudes to prostitution as well. It’s a touch discussion to take and it’s not at all clear cut. I don’t want the state to tell me what I can and cannot do, but the problem is that when you look into it, see the statistics, talk to the people within the police and other institutions such as anti-trafficking units etc, you start to see some really disturbing “back sides”.

What happens is that organized crime gets involved. The demand for women is high so trafficking is the only way to secure distribution. Trafficking is the 2nd largest income for organized crime, right after drugs. You want prostitution? You will have to accept trafficking. That’s how it works.

With very limited funds we needed to get people to react, reflect and hopefully change their attitudes. There’s one arena where you can do that if you hit home, or completely disappear if you miss. In Almedalen – a place where all the politicians, PR people and organizations with a civic agenda meet for one week. An opportunity, and a great risk. Here’s the story:

Bordellen i Almedalen from Gyro Scandinavia on Vimeo.

Swedish only, sorry.

Did we manage to make something out of the opportunity? Yep, we were awarded “media factor of the week” making the greatest impact, got a 7 minute section on national news, live news coverage called “the duel of the bordello” and so on. People reacted and attitudes shifted. Only problem is; you need to keep going at it because the liberals still don’t get the trafficking connection it seems, and attitudes are fragile.

connecting [fashion] people to [fashion] brand

I came across “Who you are and what you do is your brand“, over at Seth Hosko’s blog, about how Gap does things the wrong way, and that they should learn from H&M and Uniqlo. He’s not alone. If the crowd sourced logo re-design was a hurried and panicked decision or a plan, I don’t know, but what they’re doing doesn’t strike me as strategically sound (and it’s a badly executed one too, but that’s more subjective). The statement is definitely right in the H&M case; that who you are and what you do is your brand, as they’re about affordable fashion for everybody and they really connect with everybody. Affordable fashion yes, but still they have a key to the finer fashion world through collaborations with well known fashion designers. They’re quite remarkable in vision, strategic decisions and in how that is carried out.

Here’s a project we did for our client H&M (full disclosure; I work for Gyro and H&M is a client), and pretty much all about connecting people to brands. The Lanvin for H&M launch, for the first time via digital/social media only and not as they usually do; with big outdoor campaigns, TV and that package.

So really simplified; how do we launch the designer collaboration through social media only, and sustain interest, and engagement, over a significant period of time?

H&M launched lots of cryptic films, if you will, about design and what it is, where it comes from and its importance to many. Framed in a way that it generated heaps of commenting and guesses.

Films kept coming, and so did comments and guesses.

Fast forward. The designer is out; it’s Alber Elbaz of Lanvin. Fashion world exclaim woohoooo!! Trending topics on twitter and all that. The films have talked about his view on design, influences and inspiration and consequently his way of transferring this to fashion. Successful fashion to boot. Fashion that is loved.

At the same time, 4m+ H&M fans on facebook, many of which are fashion interested bloggers, are spending time and energy on expressing what they like and perhaps even live for. It’s about their inspiration, their taste and their influences. They too transfer this into something appreciated by others and hopefully even commercially successful.

We facilitated a collaboration with these people, in order to spread the word about Lanvin even further, while giving them something back; traffic and attention. Hard currency in a blogger’s world. A widget helped gauge the love for their blog, and give them a chance to win the exclusive trailer to the big Lanvin for H&M show. Only to feature on the winning blog, with H&M directing traffic their way. So people joined, got the widget and gauged their blog love.

Competing blog

Zet Fashion - the winner of the competition

This little widget had value for fashion bloggers, and relevance in where and who it came from. The strategy was to connect. And the small execution was the connection, reaching millions of people, engaging tens of thousands and finally promoting only one. It generated heaps of traffic and attention to the winning blog (strangely enough, the clip wasn’t ripped as we had thought, given we didn’t have an embed code. After all, views should happen on the winning blog). One lucky winner enjoyed a wave of interested fashion peeps. Here’s the case film.

Untitled from Gyro Scandinavia on Vimeo.

stop thinking campaign

I recently did a presentation, with 3 colleagues of mine, for Ericsson employees. Marcom people. It was about storytelling and we basically talked about both uncontrolled and controlled storries. The magnificant campaign for Halo 3 is incredible storytelling of course. Controlled, directed and well thought trought. We all love it, who in the industry doesn’t?

Another aspect of storytelling, or perhaps rather story creating, is uncontrolled. I mean social media, free media. Facebook groups that hate or love your brand for example. Your story is being told/created/added to right there. Get over it. Presentations on slideshare – spreading uncontrolled. Everything is getting more and more transparant and that transparancy will have/has had implications down to product development and quality. Support and contact etc. WoM weighs heavier than any traditional advertising. If you want thumbs up, create a good product. The thumbs up will come, via free media channels and real people. This is not an ad campaign, but it drives sales and brand liking or whatever you want to call it. Clients have a hard time getting that. I mean really getting it.

Now I met with a couple of guys today (one of which was Piers Fawkes who was in stockholm, so we had a quick likemind get together; nice to meet you). I’m going to make the long story short – they have a great idea, soon on the market, that scans blogs and analyses the posts, and posts linking in to posts, from a psychographic perspective. I can’t explain, but fucking awesome. The amount of research that I, and other planners, need to do to get the info they presented is heaps! And it takes time! It was a bit like motivequest but another step, if I’m not mistaken.

Now in order to have an incentive to stop thinking campaigns, I think this tool (and others that will come) is the tracking/measurement that’s lacking. And the research community, that’s talking about what research methods to use in the future will like it. They’re talking about it but not much is happening.

On another note; I wonder how the meaning of the word “friend” will change now that we befriend people online but also defriend them for different reasons. All of a sudden friend is not just connected to an actual person and face as it used to be (or dog or whatever, but flesh and blood anyway). Maybe not at all and I should stop wondering about dumb ass stuff like that.

asymmetrical competition

Umair Haque has written about asymmetrical competiton on his blog, a very interesting phenomenon partly driven by the internet and the result being that strengths aren’t perhaps strengths anymore. Read for your self. This video is a good example of this. I mean it hooks me, even though I’m an Obama fan anyway. But what if I was pending? It’s not like everybody check sources very well, and a lot in the clip below could just be fake. But imagine what it can do. Brands live in an asymmetrical world, politicians too. Challenger brands might still be challenger brands – but they have the opportunity (theoreticaly) to reach out to wide masses and distort the media dollar strength that used to be a great one.

bigger strategies and smaller ideas

A lot that was said yesterday, at Patrick Collister’s presentation, really tilted towards smaller ideas but more frequent. I agree. I feel that strategies, however, need to be bigger. Grander. Big – how – I ask myself. Well not bigger as in more rigid, stiff, carved in stone, but more flexible and perhaps even less controlled in a way. Flexible in a way that allows more stuff to happen. More unplanned stuff. Quick. In order for smaller ideas to be “OK” – I think a big strategy that leads to objectives not through planned trails, as they most likely change quicker than they can be trodden, but rather flexible, adjustable strategies. A brand’s vision, belief and personality must be the primary influencer of a brand strategy.

I see a parallel to warm, smart and genuinelly good people. They are big people with big hearts and big brains, and they’re not affraid or insecure as to not change their mind and ways. Small people we all know, and they’re not easy to work with and most likely not very fun to be with and have a conversation with.