Category Archives: Publishing

Online selling is here to stay

No doubt you have heard the mad ravings of big store retailers like Harvey Norman, Myers, and Borders complaining about unfair competition from online retailers.

Please note that much of their ranting fails to distinguish between online sellers in Australia and overseas, although the propaganda campaign really targets non-GST payments of overseas retailers. Mind you, Gerry Harvey has had a long-time spat with Australian online retailer Ruslan Kogan who sells televisions in direct competition to Harvey Norman. Perhaps Gerry Harvey has had it so good for so long he has forgotten what competition is all about.

The GST exemption is for goods under A$1000 in value purchased by Australian consumers overseas. At 10%, the maximum tax that could be applied is a pretty paltry A$100.

But of course most people who buy from online retail (about 2% of all retail sales)  don’t do it for tax reasons and don’t necessarily spend big. For example, I buy the odd book or CD from overseas when I cannot source the items in Australia. If  my purchases come to A$60, then the GST exemption saves A$6. I bet it would cost more than A$6 to manage the application of GST to such small individual purchases. But then, the big Australian retailers don’t have to fork out for the costs of administering the tax – the Australian taxpayer does.

The PR campaign from big Australian retail is a whinge that reflects more their lack of adaptability in the market than enything else. Business journalist Michael Pascoe sums it up here and Michael Fox here.

More fundamental to the attack by dinosaur retail in Australia on new methods of consumer shopping is the fact that consumers have far greater visibility on choice of product and price. Whereas before, Australian consumers pretty much had to take what retail offered in their stores. Nowadays Australian consumers can buy what they want and when they want from anywhere. Moreover, Australian consumers can see the different prices for the same goods from many, many different retail suppliers.

Along the same lines, but at least a dinosaur moving into the 21st century, is newspaper mogul Rupert Murdoch with his proposed Ipad newspaper. The digital newspaper will be called the “The Daily”, but the launch has been delayed slightly. Murdoch has in the past vociferously complained about news media’s failure to generate income from news on the internet. This new venture is obviously something Murdoch is pinning his hopes on for the future.

The content will be important if it is to generate big sales.  Murdoch’s News Corporation has often been criticised for right-wing bias (Fox News in the US is a classic example). It will be interesting to read the tone of the content on the digital newspaper and what that means for online sales.  If Murdoch gets his content and pricing structure right, then this will be a huge success.

One of the myths about online is the belief that people want everything for free. The massive increase in online shopping over the past five years belies this myth. The fact is that people will pay for a service or a good online (like anywhere else) when they see it delivers what they want at a price they find acceptable.

It will be interesting to watch the digital newspaper take-off in the same way it will be interesting to watch loud-mouth big Australian retail adjust to the new shopping realities brought about through online shopping. (It seems that the Australian big retail bully boys will persist with their campaign – read here. A more sensible response can be found here).

All of this will have a huge impact on online marketing and communications; a trajectory that continues to advance online media over the traditional forms of media communication.


On media needing multiple platforms

Hot on the heels of my blog post yesterday, an AFP syndicated article on the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) website today says that media companies must look at multiple publishing platforms to enhance revenue streams. 

The article, Media need multiple platforms: execs, says that “with advertising revenue eroding and free content abundant, media companies are going to need to adapt their strategies to the new environment ushered in by the internet, they said at the Bloomberg BusinessWeek 2010 Media Summit.   Hard to believe it has taken the media companies this long to work out this very fundamental change to publishing and content creation!

And why is it that media companies have been so slow?  Perhaps it comes down to sticking one’s head in the sand and pretending change isn’t happening. Or perhaps a media company might like to think it can bully alternative publishing and content creation providers out of the media business.  But perhaps it all comes down to the fact that changing traditional media publishing means doing new things.  And doing new things means thinking very hard about a changed publishing environment where control is no longer the sanctity of media company monoliths.  We already see how traditional and control-centred companies like to work in the music industry; desperate to hold onto oligopolistic control of music content and distribution despite a rapidly networked digital world.

However, change is inevitable and some media companies are actively looking at all the opportunities.  Julie Michalowski, vice-president for business development at Conde Nast, was quoted in the SMH article as saying:  “What we want to continue to do is to build digital relationships so that we can have a multi-channel relationship with our consumers that includes print and includes other ways that they want to access us”.  Hooray for that!

On the media tsunami

Readers may recall a blog post I wrote last December called On sailing ships and dodos.  The post was about traditional media moguls trying to keep control of media publishing and content.  In the new distributed world of publishing and content generation, this traditional strategy of publisher control is breaking down.

Indeed, traditional media will face even greater competition as the media tsunami hits in 2010, according to media commentator Tom Foremski in this recent online article.  Foremski is a former Financial Times journalist who started a news blogging service in 2004, called Silicon Valley Watcher.

Foremski writes that “the many different forms of media will continue to flourish and splinter and to compete with each other in 2010, only at a far greater scale.  This is all made possible because of the availability of very powerful and inexpensive self-publishing tools and services”.  These new self-publishing tools includes blogs, Twitter, podcasting, Facebook, etc.  Whilst many of these tools for self-publishing have been around for a few years now, they are becoming easier to use, with improved functionality and integration.

Not only will all this self-publishing have an impact on tradtional media empires, but it will also impact on advertising and public relations.  Dilution of advertising and public relations messages within the media space will become a real problem as more self-publishing and user-generated content competes for eyeballs.

In my opinion, media and PR will need to be far more focused and targeted, using the right communication tool and content, to reach the right audience.  A one-size fits all publishing model won’t work.   Moreover, companies will need to better understand all the different types of media, communication tools and channels, to work out how best to integrate their media campaigns, and support (rather than compete) the different types of media channels.

In other words, a more networked publishing model needs to develop to take advantage of different forms of media publishing and content generation.  And more attention needs to be given to the re-creation of content in different forms in order to tailor information and content in ways more useful and specific to individual consumers.  The web 2.0 “mashup” approach is something to consider by making a range of information available to be reconfigured in different ways.

The times are a changing. Organisations, especially media companies, better get used to the idea.

On advertising and web 2.0 for knowledge management

Just received my latest UTS Alumni email newsletter.  I completed two postgraduate degrees from UTS.   I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the The Fred Hollows Foundation won the world’s best not-for-profit television advertisement at the International Fundraising Congress in the Netherlands.  Readers may recall that I did a nine month contract with The Fred Hollows Foundation before coming to AusAID earlier this year.

The full excerpt from the UTS alumni newsletter is here:

Fred Hollows’ ad voted best in the world

An advertisement featuring the late Professor Fred Hollows has been named the world’s best not-for-profit television ad at the International Fundraising Congress in the Netherlands. Heading up the advertising campaign was BA Communication (Hons) graduate Joe Boughton-Dent, The Fred Hollows Foundation’s Communications and Community Engagement Manager.

“The 90-second advertisement started out as a YouTube clip… It got a great response and was viewed over 50,000 times, so we knew people were interested in Fred and what he achieved,” says Boughton-Dent.

“People really respond to a positive message that one person can have a real impact,” he says. “This award shows that Fred Hollow’s message is as powerful today as it was when he passed away in 1993.”

The other finalists in the best not-for-profit advertising category included Action Aid, RSPCA and Operation Smile.

The award-winning Fred Hollows ad has been aired on Australian television since June this year. To view it, [visit the clip on] YouTube.”

The knowledge management take from this success is that YouTube clips can make a difference. I firmly believe that such clips are an excellent way of getting important organisational messages and information across, whether internal or external to an organisation.

There really is no excuse for organisations NOT to consider YouTube and other web 2.0 technologies as a legitimate part of the knowledge management and communication armoury. Importantly, web 2.0 technologies like YouTube and audio podcasts should be key considerations for effective knowledge and information management within an organisation’s strategic and functional  information architecture.

On a writer in residence and the airport experience

The bods at Heathrow Airport in London are reported to have hired author Alain de Botton as a writer-in-residence. The idea is to give de Botton unfettered access to the airport so that he can write about the modern experience of airport life. As de Botton says in the article, airports are a good microcosm of the global themes of human life (ok, I paraphrased a bit here).

However, de Botton will only have full access to Heathrow Airport for a week so perhaps the tag writer-in-residence is a little on the exagerated side. I guess that the term short-term publicist doesn’t have the same sort of public interest as writer-in-residence for those high brow types in London. But let’s wait and see what de Botton gets to the bottom of at Heathrow first before speculating any further as to the outcome of the exercise…

I suppose the bods at Heathrow Airport are hoping that de Botton can write something positive about the airport experience since it has continually underperformed passenger expectations. The opening of Terminal Five last year was a disaster. And when I travelled through Heathrow in 1986 on the day Terminal 4 opened, there was a baggage handlers strike and the best part of the Heathrow experience back then was leaving it!

Yet now in this modern age I am surprised that de Botton wouldn’t just blog or tweet about his airport experience. The fact that he has been contracted to write a book based on his one week tour of duty at Heathrow smells suspiciously like a publicity stunt to me. Moreover, the chap needs to be given more time – let’s say a writer-in-residence for three months. We all know that one week doesn’t make a summer!

So de Botton will write a book that will be published and all will be revealed then – hopefully including the answers to many a passenger problem at Europe’s busiest airport epicentre.

But speaking of answers, Heathrow Airport should just listen to the thousands of customers that use the airport each day if they really want to know what goes on in the airport and what people really think. Having a well-known author intermediate these airport experiences in the 21st century is no longer necessary – go straight to the source and get the information direct from the people using your services and respond accordingly. I am sure there would be plenty of narrative fragments (stories) that could be collected from customers and suppliers,and then aggregated to identify common patterns or themes that the airport owners would need to address.

That is, of course, if you’re really serious about understanding the true airport experience.

On blogs and CoP’s

Joitske Hulsebosch blogged about the potential of using blogs with communities of practices (Cop’s). Joitske gives four very useful ways in which blogs can support CoP’s but I just want to focus on one of them. Quoting Joitske:

“A weblog with summaries of discussions can be a repository for the community. An example is the weblog Everything you always wanted to know about capacity development . It is a weblog from ICCOcapacity building advisor”.

Using a blog as a repository for summaries of debate and rich content is a great idea. Some threads in a vigorous discussion in a CoP can be lost in the rumble-tumble of debate. Sometimes the debate is at such an intellectual depth that a summary of the salient points would be a nice feature to have to bring the level of discussion into a broader realm of understanding. This latter point was highlighted for me with a sterling debate among three key protagonists on actkm recently – a debate I really enjoyed but at times found difficult to follow (not helped by my part-time tracking of this exchange at one of my contract jobs).

I liked the thinking behind Joitske’s use of blogs to support CoP’s. As a result, I am doing some thinking of my own as to how weaving narrative into the blog summary may be used to create another dimension to understanding rich content.

On tagging and the enterprise (and RSS)

I want to conclude my blog summary from the presentation I gave last week on tagging and the enterprise. The previous three entries should be read in conjunction with this instalment, if you haven’t followed the story so far…

I used IBM’s dogear as an example of an enterprise using tagging within the firm. However, instead of me explaining all about it, I have listed here three sources that explain the way in which social bookmarking and tagging may be used within the enterprise, including dogear at IBM:

Am I being lazy? Well, the web is all about links so I may as well use them!

Finally, as an aside, I discovered today a way of using RSS feeds to populate a newsletter. Yes, it is an interesting combination of web 2.0 (RSS) and the old way of communication (newsletters) but it may well work as a valuable bridge for people still not accustomed to the full array of web 2.0 communication channels. The product is and it’s relatively new. It is definitiely worth a look if you want to mesh RSS content within a newsletter format.

And if anyone knows about other services like this, please advise with a comment!