Thursday, July 7, 2011

Two cancelled ABC soaps will continue as multi-platform stories produced for the web

Reuters reports that canceled soap operas "All My Children" and "One Life to Live," will have a new home -- not on television but on the Internet, mobile phones and other online formats.
ABC said it has licensed the two staples of daytime dramas to Prospect Park, a Los Angeles-based production company, in a multi-platform deal that "enables the soaps' storylines to continue after their run on ABC is over."
Prospect Park says it intends to produce the two shows in the same format and length as ABC, but make them available on new devices, including Internet-enabled TV sets.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Katie Couric sees new ABC talk show bridging broadcast and digital storytelling

The ink is barely dry on Katie Couric's contact with Disney/ABC for a talk show that will debut next year, but her recent interview with Hollywood Reporter reveals that digital storytelling will be part of the program.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Game Over? Can PlayStation users trust Sony with their personal data?

Fans of virtual world gaming face real-life concerns about the security of the personal data they provide when purchasing a title online. Such is the case for upwards of 100,000 Sony PlayStation users who recently learned that Sony’s user data system had been hacked ...yet again. 

No doubt Sony will do whatever is needed to fortify its data system, but whether it can regain consumer confidence remains to be seen. Indeed, the gaming giant's competency at protecting personal information is now open to question; the company must be quick, transparent and forthcoming as it navigates this very real pr crisis.

It’s easy for people to put their trust in slick social media and online entertainment, especially when big brand names are involved. But anytime a much-publicized privacy breach occurs consumers are reminded that there's risk to handing over personal information to any company. 
Brands that routinely collect and store customer data put themselves at substantial risk, too. Public trust is precious and conditional; any failure to protect customer privacy can have swift and far-reaching consequences.  

Monday, May 2, 2011

Real Marketing in Virtual Worlds

Virtual worlds can provide strategic brand visibility and real-world context 

“Virtual world” games offer brand marketers a range of promotional opportunities, from simple billboards to immersive, highly engaging play experiences. See Mashable’s recent roundup on innovative marketing in lands of make-believe.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Search and Facebook Marketing Surge

Search marketing will grow 16% this year to $19.3 billion and 74% of North American ad agencies say their clients use Facebook, according to a study released Wednesday.
The report, from the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, is based on an online survey of 920 companies carried out in February and March. The companies reported a rise in mobile marketing, which accounts for some of the rise in search advertising. Local search was cited as the most significant new trend, though the respondents said behavioral targeting is becoming more important as well. The survey also found that more marketers are outsourcing their SEO and social media to agencies.

For highlights see Mashable’s post about the study. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

5 Questions Help Filter and Align Social Content

Anyone managing a brand's robust social media program knows the pressure of pumping out continuous content.  There are lots of ways to feed the content pipeline, like generating original material, re-purposing old content, tapping syndicated sources, re-tweeting, commenting on forums, posting news links, etc. Being flush with content isn't enough, however. It's important that every bit of content that feeds out connects back to the brand in a meaningful way.  

One way to keep content on-strategy is to use a brand filter against which all content - original or borrowed – can be judged.

Filtering brings focus and discipline to content management and an effective filter can simply pose five key questions:

  1. Does this content accurately position the brand?
  1. Is it relevant to our target audiences?  What value does it provide?
  1. Does this put the brand in proper, authentic context?
  1. Will it have traction in media channels that reach our targets?
  1. How does this content tie back to the business?  Does the message leverage brand news, a competitive attribute, keywords, or promote a measurable call-to-action?

 How do you align content with your communications and business strategy?  Do you use a filter? 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mens e-tailer crafts smart content to cultivate luxury tastes

I’m not much for clothes shopping, but I have a particular disdain for shopping suits. I find the experience numbingly dull, offline or online. 

So I have to hand it to, the recently launched men’s luxury goods website that makes shopping seem like a stroll through a smart lifestyle magazine.

The website’s design is downright serene – spare and neatly organized around a mix of product and editorial pages. Instead of over-the-top fashion layouts Mr. Porter puts “style” in reasonable context with intriguing stories, informative videos and sharp features about real men of taste and substance. Indeed, the site succeeds at being relevant and "aspirational."   

The marketing folk at Mr. Porter use email well, I think. I receive several each week that simply flag something new about the site. It's all very low-key and since I like the website I generally save the latest e-mail to open at the weekend. 

Mr. Porter is doing many things right. Yes, the website is properly optimized but what's more the site's content is extraordinarily sticky. According to visitors to devote roughly four minutes per visit, viewing 5.5 unique pages on average and spending roughly 41 seconds per page view. Wow!

I tip my hat to you Mr. Porter, sir. Well done.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Transmedia storytelling engages audiences who want to be heard and validated

Digital Media Wire recently posed five questions to  Jeff Gomez, CEO of Starlight Runner Entertainment and a leading figure in the emerging field of cross-media storytelling called "Transmedia." 

DMW’s Q&A is a very good read; here’s a sampling of what Jeff said:

“For me, transmedia narrative is a kind of subset of cross-media content. It's the technique of conveying messages, themes and storylines across multiple media platforms in a way that is both artful and coordinated with care.

With transmedia you're not repeating the same story on a movie screen, a TV screen, a novel and a videogame. You are using each one to tell a complete piece of your story, and combined they can all become a deeper, richer and more immersive experience.  Different aspects of the story or story world are created to play to the specific strengths of the medium.

From a business standpoint, much has been said about how transmedia can help build franchises and maximize return on investment for entertainment properties. The toughest aspect of getting transmedia right is that you have to build two-way communication into the apparatus of your narrative.

Everyone talks about Star Wars to exemplify good transmedia, but I love talking about Glee, because what makes transmedia so unique and relevant is that it is fundamentally about telling stories to a generation of people who want to be heard, and who are used to being validated for their participation. That's what interactive media is about in essence: response.

On April 25th in Los Angeles, Jeff Gomez, together with Digital Media Wire, will host the first in a series of transmedia workshops on how to use and leverage the most effective transmedia techniques.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Peter Gruber's new book about the "Hidden Power of Story"

Great video Q&A courtesy of Harvard Business Review: Peter Guber, chairman and CEO of the Mandalay Entertainment Group, explains how to establish an emotional connection with any audience. His new book Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story (March 2011, Crown Business) is sold on Amazon.

Incidentally,clicking the anchor text above will take you to my new Storyful page where I took a crack at curating material for this post. I must say, excited as I am about the storytelling potential of curation services like Storyful and Storify I've yet to find one that is easy to use. It's surprising that Storyful does not offer a quick tutorial because the site is not very intuitive in my opinion. I'll continue to putter with it to see what I can do with a bit of practice.

Are you using curatorial tools and if so what's been your experience? Any recommendations?

Monday, February 14, 2011

"Vook" at the future of multimedia book publishing

I sensed impending doom while roaming my local Borders bookstore this past weekend. It’s been rumored that Borders will go bankrupt and sadly I believe it will - based on what I saw. Signs of the retailer's struggle abound. 

Border's midtown Manhattan store's once hefty art section has been reduced to a dim, colorless nook wedged beneath a non-working escalator. Not long ago its music and film departments  buzzed like a beehive; now each stands eerily quiet and nearly depleted of inventory. Elsewhere seemingly full shelves are stocked with expected titles, but little in the way of selection. To really browse books these days one needs to go online. 

Amazon isn't to blame for Border's demise. Technology is fundamentally changing the book publishing business, from how titles are conceived and packaged to how they are marketed and delivered. Global sales of e-readers such as the Kindle are projected to reach $8.2 billion by 2014, according to the Yankee Group, a Boston-based market research firm. Indeed many books in the (very near) future will be electronic, multimedia productions best "experienced" on portable e-readers, tablets, smartphones. 

One pioneer in multimedia publishing is a company called Vook, which enhances well-written stories with audio and video features, interactive web links and social media. (Vook Demo) Vook launched in October 2009 with four debut titles, published in partnership with Atria, an imprint of Simon and Schuster: Promises, a romance by Jude Deveraux; The 90 Second Fitness Solution, a fitness book by Pete Cerqua; Embassy, a thriller by Richard Doetsch; and Return to Beauty, a health book by Narine Nikogosian.

For more about Vook and the state of book publishing and retailing read this recent blog post on WSJ "Digits." 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Q&A websites help experts exert more influence

Expertise is a powerful form of narrative marketing. Thanks to the web and expert/searchable Q&A based websites such as Quora, being a guru - or picking the brain of one - is fast and easy. (Click here to see Quora's video demo).

Of course today's guru needs social communications skills. I've had brilliant clients - scientists, attorneys, artists, engineers, etc. - who resist paring big ideas down to pithy web-friendly nuggets. Some equate brevity with dumbing down, when in truth  "social speak" makes their thought-leadership more efficient and influential. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Graphic publishing's grown up use of multimedia and social communities

Comic books aren’t just for kids. Nowadays graphic publishing has a much wider fan base driven by mature storylines, dynamic multimedia and active social communities.

A leader in the comic publishing space is, a cutting-edge entertainment digital content delivery system and community platform that creates an immersive social experience and marketplace around digital comics and associated entertainment properties.

 “Our community is looking for more than just an online digital comic store,” said stated CEO Micah Baldwin. “They know comics are not just colorful stories for children, but beautiful art, with deep story lines that are best experienced socially and interactively that extend beyond the page. Imagine being able to play video or listen to music within the comic — on your iPad! 2011 is the year we bring that into existence.”

The company currently has more than 150 publisher and creator relationships, including Marvel Comics, Archie Comics, Archaia Entertainment, IDW Publishing, Top Cow and BOOM! Studios, and it was the only company to release applications for the desktop with Windows 7 and Adobe Air; mobile with iPhone, iPad, Windows 7 Phone and Android; and the web as a featured partner with the Google Chrome Web Store.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Everyone loves a good laugh. So it's little surprise that some "plain-vanilla" marketers are enlisting stand-up comics to stage branded “social” comedy campaigns.   For example, P&G's Downy fabric softener and Macy’s hired comedian Mike Birbiglia to live and sleep in a store window for the next seven days - to promote “Clean Sheet Week” and Ultra Downy's claim that it helps keep bedding smelling fresh longer. The stunt borrows thematically from the brand's new advertising campaign.  Mashable reports that Birbiglia will stream a “Daily Video Confessional” via Facebook – and to keep his gig going he'll answer crowdsourced questions and elaborate on anecdotes from his book Sleepwalk with Me.

Last week HP launched a live comedy show on YouTube featuring comedian Rob Riggle and members of the Upright Citizens Brigade. That program was broadcast simultaneously on the brand’s Facebook page.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's tutorial time for tech-giddy public

      Time to tame technology
Dr. Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Center, believes the public have reached a tech plateau and need to refocus on personalizing their digital experience. For more on this read Dr. Rutledge’s 15 techno-cultural trends for 2011, featured recently in Psychology Today

Monday, January 10, 2011

Will better times spark creative renaissance?

The Three Graces/Primavera (Allegory of Spring)
Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Boticelli
Stuart Elliot of The New York Times reports growing optimism along Madison Avenue on predictions that an economic rebound in 2011 will bring heftier ad/PR budgets. 
It won't be business as usual though now that the digital genie is out of the bottle.  The terrible economy actually drove growth in digital advertising, according to Geoff Ramsey, chief executive at eMarketer.  Online marketing is the new reality and to be successful brands need integrated (offline and online) communications.   

To achieve this advertising, public relations, promotion firms can no longer operate in silos. The digital frontier demands interdisciplinary teamwork - the kind that will revolutionize brand marketing with strategic and creative innovation.  

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cable cutters lead the charge toward web TV

Web television should be huge, right?  It isn’t, at least not yet. But a growing number of folks disenchanted with commercial TV are cutting the (cable) cord - opting to search the web for better (and often free) programming. I myself recently cancelled my cable service (as an experiment) and frankly I am astonished by the wealth of online video I'd happily view on my TV screen. 

There’s Hulu and iTunes for standard TV fare, but lesser known sources for news, interviews, documentaries, concerts and lectures abound. Among my favorites are TEDLink TV, Factual TV, Flora TV and PBS. Another great find is Academic Earth, which aggregates university lectures (including courses taught at Ivy League institutions). I’m now enjoying Yale’s semester course on the History of Roman Architecture and it's absolutely free. I'm also following overseas news outlets like RT Russian TV, Mosaic World News and Al Jezeera

Finding quality programs online is much easier thanks to, a search engine that combs the web for free and fee-based video. recently launched an integration app with Facebook that even suggests programs based on your profile and friend “likes.” 

Web-based TV is still pretty raw, of course. There are big industry hurdles to clear before platforms like Google TV can deliver programs of prime-time caliber; networks and cable operators still have a lock on big-time shows, after all. 

But who's to say that indie talent won't popularize entirely new forms of TV devised just for the web? 

Right now there's growing interest in transmedia - richly integrated entertainment delivered across multiple channels. Early executions have aired on NBC, Disney, Nat Geo Channel and MTV. Tablet computers fit neatly into this trend by making it easy to converge web streams onto one screen. 

For sure the way we watch television will dramatically change. A must-read on this subject is Jessi Hempel's story "What the hell is going on with TV?" in Fortune magazine. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

For Weight Watchers Dieting has Always Been Social

Anyone interested in narrative marketing should look at the commercial weight loss industry, a fascinating business and can-do culture that promotes talking, sharing and success story testimonials. Weight Watchers International for example has a huge asset in its network of staff and members who delight in advocating the brand - holding themselves up as proof that the program works.

It’s no surprise that Weight Watchers embraces storytelling. The company began in the early 1960’s when founder Jean Nidetch, an overweight New York housewife, hosted weekly pep talks for her dieting friends. She discovered that talking about one's weight struggles and successes was highly motivating, and today millions around the world attend weekly community-based Weight Watchers meetings where sharing is integral to the program.

Of course the web has given rise to all kinds of online diets, and many incorporate peer support via social networks. Indeed Weight Watchers does, with its own private network for members supplemented by branded channels on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.  According to Mashable other dieting giants like Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem, and diet-friendly food brands, effectively use social networks, too.

Each brand is anchored in its own brand story - Weight Watchers USP is its proprietary POINTS System. But the commercial story is secondary to the millions of very real, truly engaging, utterly inspiring member stories that continually encourage fellow members to succeed while (quite organically) helping promote the superbly managed brand. 
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