Posts Tagged ‘Digital Media’

Why PR Firms Should Be The Ones To Handle Social Media

PRWeek Recent Posted An Article Entitled “Report: Social Media Falls Mostly To PR” – You Need a Subscription to Read It…Sorta, A Quick Google Search Will Get You The Article For Free, But For You Lazy Folks, I’ve Included It Below (I Don’t Subscribe Either, Don’t Worry)

Anyway, It’s a great read and something I discussed in a recent post of mine on the topic of People Relations

Here are my Top Reasons Why PR Firms Should Be The Ones To Handle Social Media

1. PR has always been about communicating. That’s been accomplished through traditional media, through events and stunts. Social media is all about communication and conversation – exactly what PR people have been doing all along. Social Platforms are just another means for PR professionals to do the job they’re best at.

2. Look at the alternative – advertising, marketing, sales – people don’t want their social spaces invaded by brands trying to sell them products. If a brand is going to be active on sites like Twitter – it can’t be about marketing or advertising, it has to be about initiating or participating in a conversation and providing new information – adding value – to interested parties – again, something PR has been doing via traditional media outlets all along.

3. Traditional Media Relations – Despite what people are saying, print and broadcast are still far from dead. Many journalists and media outlets have taken to using Twitter and social media as a way to promote their content – turning these sites into glorified News Channels – the environment PR professional are more familiar with than their counterparts at Marketing or Advertising agencies.

4. Blogger Relations – Reaching out to bloggers is an integral part of any modern PR and Media Relations Strategy. These are the individuals most active in the social space and forming relationships with them is no different than building one with an editor or reporter at a newspaper. There are trendsetters and influencers who impact what content will circulate in these social channels. Identifying these individuals and cultivating relationships with them; understanding their interests and providing them with information to share; this is where PR professional excel and have the most experience.

And For Those Of You Without a PRWeek Subscription, Here’s The Article:

Report: Social media falls mostly to PR

Kimberly Maul

August 11, 2009

LOS ANGELES: PR leads digital communications at 51% of organizations, while marketing leads 40.5% of the time, according to the 2009 Digital Readiness Report from iPressroom, Korn/Ferry International, and PRSA.

The study found that PR generally leads several aspects of digital communications, including blogging, where PR leads at 49% of organizations, compared to 22% for marketing. PR also leads microblogging (52% to marketing’s 22%), and social networking (48% to 27%). Marketing usually leads e-mail marketing and SEO aspects of digital communications.

“Social media puts the consumer in control, and PR professionals have always interacted with customers who are in control, also managing the brand reputation and relationship with them,” said Barbara McDonald, VP of marketing for PRSA. “It really is almost a no-brainer that PR would be taking the lead in the social media environment.”

Several industry professionals commented to PRWeek separately that they have seen these findings play out within their work.

“The findings are in line with not only what we expect, but what we’re experiencing,” said Corey duBrowa, president of account services for Waggener Edstrom. “Our industry is utilizing, and in some ways even pioneering the use of, these tools.”

“The way we look at it, social media is a subset of word-of-mouth in many ways, so for us, it’s a natural extension of some of the things we’re already doing on the PR side,” said Greg Zimprich, director of brand PR for General Mills. But, he added, the company works to teach the entire company best practices and benchmarking, saying, “We see social media as a competency that really will reach across the organization.”

Jonathan Kopp, the global director of Ketchum Digital, suggested that PR will continue to lead the way in digital, because “the speed of engagement is changing in the digital space and PR moves faster than advertising and marketing, so it gives them an opportunity.”

He also explained that PR agencies are working with clients to set up social media policies, train employees in social media, and create social media divisions within organizations, cementing their position as digital leaders.

The report also found that social networking skills are increasingly important for PR job candidates. Eighty percent of respondents said knowledge of social networking is either important or very important for a job candidate, compared to 82% saying traditional media relations was important or very important.

The 2009 Digital Readiness Report surveyed 278 PR, marketing, and HR professionals over six weeks in this past spring.

So What Do You Think? Who Should Handle Social Media for Brands? PR Pros? Marketers? Ad Shops? All of the Above? Specialized Social Media Agencies?

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David Mullen, in the latest of his daily dose of insight, has opened up the discussion on yet another important topic for many of us experimenting with social media and developing campaigns for clients who are more than a little bit skeptical about venturing into a territory with which they are, for the most part, lost.

I strongly urge you to read Mr Mullen’s post – Should Brands Approach Social Media with a “Pilot Program” Mindset?

There are arguments to both sides of the issue. A “Pilot Program” helps ease the client into this scary and unfamiliar terrain. The downside is that you may not see results or ROI if you don’t commit to a thought-out, long term, strategy. Kind of a catch 22. There is, IMHO, a middle ground. A way to create a small scale, but comprehensive social media attack. The key is to develop a strategy that can be narrowly focused, initially, and then expanded and expounded upon, both in terms of goals and means to achieve those goals, as the data from the first phase can be analysed. Those metrics will provide feedback for you as you grow the initiative from a fine, targeted, endeavor, to a more far reaching and all-encompassing social media presence, and with it, your own unique approach and attitude.

I think it’s more about choosing the right channel – Pick one vehicle – facebook, youtube, twitter, a blog, etc…and focus all efforts on that one medium. This way, you’ve got your pilot program mentality in that you’re not trying to tackle the entire social space in one fell swoop. It’s not overwhelming; you have time to manage and monitor one platform, and thus you can develop a system in which consistancy is maintained.

Additionally, Choosing one medium allows for much easier measurement and analytics, to determine if the effort has delivered and if it’s worthwhile to expand.

Of course, to do this, you also have to Define your primary goal – customer service, marketing, branding, PR…etc. – pick one & stick to it – let your goal be the guiding influence in choosing the most effective social platform and your method for measuring results.

This is my “Pilot Program.” It has longevity, a goal, consistency, and it’s measurable. If it’s deemed to be successful, you can adapt this mini-initiative to other social media, or expand your goals, if desired. Either way, limiting yourself or your brand to 1 goal, 1 platform, 1 campaign is the best, IMHO, form of Pilot Program – insofar as that it has all the elements of a traditional and comprehensive campaign, while keeping things simple enough to act as a test of your needs, capabilities, and suitability for the effectively utilizing these media.

What do you think? Remember – My Blog is Your Blog – Share Your Thoughts!

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Today’s Top Posts and Articles – Everything Social Media, PR, Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Twitter, Internet, Media & TV.

If you have any other articles or posts you think should be on the list – email me or @/DM me on Twitter.

Enjoy:

Beer Sales Sputter During Key Fourth of July Holiday – AdAge

‘Family Guy’ abortion episode unlikely to air on Fox – Life Feed

Deloitte network melds expertise, social affinities – Ragan Report

Could this be the end of electric power cords? – Los Angeles Times

Facebook Makes Baby Steps Towards Its Twitter-Like ‘Follow’ Feature – TechCrunch

Three words every PR pro should ban – PR Daily

Lab Watches Web Surfers to See Which Ads Work – New York Times

AOL Webisodes Put Kids in Space – AdWeek

HOW TO: Build Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn – Mashable

CNN’s iReport Vandalized Again With False Report Claiming CEO’s Death, Coke Binge – Business Insider

It Doesn’t Matter if the Client is Ready for Social Media – PR Squared

Grifters defraud artists in twist on ‘Nigerian scam – Portland Press Herald

Facebook loses sizzle for Martha Stewart – CNET

5 More Things You Do To Get Business On Twitter – TwiTip

Top 10 Tasteless Ads – Time

NPR’s Digital Makeover: Can the mainstream media learn anything from National Public Radio’s new look and business plan? – Newsweek

You Know You Have a Communication Problem When… – Little Pink Book

Q&A: Probing the Amazon-Zappos Deal – BrandWeek

Social entrepreneur finds money-making power of Crowdsourcing – Chicago Tribune

Use Your iPhone to Track your Happiness – Fast Company

105 Twitter Applications for PR Professionals – Everything PR

Is ‘kick-ass’ appropriate for a press release? – AdFreak

Yahoo Refines Image Search to Trump Google – eWeek

Bing to Power Yahoo Search? – Mashable

Tappening project takes on the truthiness of bottled-water ads – BrandWeek

19 Guerrilla Social Media Marketing Secrets – Closing Bigger

The Future of Twitter – Time

Full Disclosure: Sponsored Conversations on Twitter Raise Concerns, Prompt Standards – PR 2.0

The 10 New Rules of PR – Jeff Bullas’s Blog

Tweetmeme accuses Retweet.com of stealing its code – TechCrunch UK

How to pitch USA Today’s bloggers – PR Daily

What Social Media Can and Can’t Do for You – Future Now

73 Ways to Become a Better Writer – Copy Blogger

LaunchSquad – Best Time To Be In PR – Silicon Vally Watcher

PayPal Case Study – Social Media Ignorance – Social Media Today

Time.com brings news to BlackBerry – CNET

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Media, in all its forms – new, old, traditional, print, digital, social, etc. – has evolved to the point where the lines once separating production and consumption, brands and their patrons, outlets and readership, are blurred, if not altogether obliterated. Of this, there is little doubt. But it raises a vast multitude questions that plague many of us who reside in this nebulous field that is Public Relations, Advertising, Marketing, Communication, Customer Service, and Social Media.

Question #1: Under Whose Aegis (of the aforementioned disciplines) Does The Realm Of Social Media Fall?

Marketers would argue…well, Marketing, for obvious reasons. To those outside the industry, and thus unfamiliar with its nuances, this is often the first inclination. Others might try to woo you to the side of Customer Service, winning you over with tales of happy customers who have had their problems solved upon textually screaming “Help! My PC Crashed,” unknowingly calling forth a veritable army of Dell’s finest minds who scour twitter in search of such opportunities. As a Publicist & Digital Strategist, I would have posited only weeks ago, and still might, that Social Media and platforms like Twitter & Facebook, should be run, or at the very least, curated and moderated, under the auspices of the Public Relations Department or Agency. Why PR? Because Public Relations is about defining and promoting a brand through said brand’s message, values, and principals. While traditional media was a one way vehicle, social media, by definition, is an open conversation. Public Relations professionals can, and do, continue to take that message and engage consumers and mass audiences, but now on the level of the individual or micro-community, as this degree of interactivity is presently expected of, though not necessarily delivered by, most brands. The popularity of blogging and platforms like Twitter, built on an ongoing public dialogue, allow publicists and digital strategist to identify, interject, and engage those who would be interested in learning about and associating with the brand’s values and core beliefs. Facilitating this discussion, in my opinion, should fall to those who have been doing so until now…publicists.

Question #2: Who Made The New York Times (or WSJ, CNN…) King?

That is to say, we live in an era characterized by the public’s ability and desire to produce and disseminate their own content, whether via Blogging, Tweeting, Facebook, YouTube, FriendFeed…etc. So, why do brands still rely on traditional media outlets to broadcast their message, insisting that these are the more powerful channels? Obviously, most reputable organizations have, at this point, begun reaching out to bloggers and utilizing social sites. In this light, a Daily News article begs the question “Will it matter who you watch anymore?”

My answer would be a resounding NO. In fact, for people and brands alike, I’d go so far as to pose a corollary that may be even more telling of our times, “Why should I watch them, when they should be watching me!?”

I recently attended GasPedal’s Blogwell Conference in Chelsea Piers, at which I was privy to the social media insights and experiments being conducted by some of today’s most recognized national brands, including, Microsoft, GE, Coke, Nokia, and Johnson & Johnson.

GE struck me as really having taken advantage of some of these sentiments, in the creation of their GEReports website, which acts as a hybrid between blog & media outlet. The site is designed to serve as an additional voice for GE and a portal for niche audiences to find relevant, interesting information – an innovative and seemingly effective way to employ social media and capitalize on the public’s unwavering desire to be heard and have their specific interests catered to. Yes – I ended a sentence in a preposition…deal with it.

After fighting my way through the crowd, I was able to catch GE’s Communications & Social Media Specialist, Megan Parker who kindly informed me that one of the foci of the site, and the primary basis for both content and measuring success, were the comments posted by their readership…and I thought “Brilliant.”

I pondered the connection between these questions and concepts for a while, implicitly understanding a significant relationship existed between them, but unable to articulate it, even to myself. That is, until I came across a series of blog posts rallying the PR industry to step up and embrace the evolving landscape of media. Almost simultaneously, though perhaps not coincidently, I stumbled onto a twitter conversation about “People Relations.”

Ari Herzog directed me to a post by David Mullen in which he coins the term (as far as I understand it) People Relations, resultant of a discussion with Shannon Paul. The post, The “P” in PR Should Stand for “People” is an enlightening one and hits on some very interesting and very true points about today’s society.

As Mr. Mullen eloquently puts it,

Shannon Paul suggested that integrating social media into communications strategies was putting the “P” back in PR, renewing a focus on public instead of media. I agree with Shannon a bit, but wanted to up the ante.

Shouldn’t the “P” stand for People? My wife and I aren’t a public. We’re people. I’m willing to bet you’d say you’re people, too.

Yes, I know that “public” refers to groups of people, but that still feels a bit cold to me. This is more about changing our mindset, for those of us who need it. People expect more personal relationships and one-to-one conversations. People want to share their dreams and fears. People want to be heard. People want connections.”

I say, we take this one step further. These once disparate, yet intimately intertwined and overlapping, arenas of PR, Communication, Customer Service, Advertising, Marketing and Social Media, are now coalescing and ‘People Relations’ is the resulting amalgamation. A new industry is developing, borne of necessity & experimentation; Social Media agencies, in order to actualize their eponymous mission, must become People Relations agencies, and they must draw lessons from their predecessors in order to succeed.

The New York Times & CNN are no longer the kings of content and the importance of blogger relations, so recently the epitome of successful digital marketing, is now losing meaning (though not value), as everyone’s voice becomes equally valid. I don’t need to be an avid or established blogger to tweet a scathing, 140 character, early adopter’s review of some new tech gadget that can result in the same damage as a comprehansive, half page analysis David Pogue might give the same product in the New York Times a month later. As soon as I have an opinion on anything, I have a plethora of media vehicles – textual, graphical, audio/visual, even musical – at my disposal by which to express myself.

One does not need to be a veteran video journalist to capture groundbreaking events on a phone and upload it to YouTube (or snap a shot of a plane in the Hudson River and ‘twitpic’ it before major news outlets are aware of what’s (not) flying. Not to mention the ever growing mass of new media celebrities such as lifecaster, Jill Hanner, comedian/musicians Rhett & Link, and the TMI group, whose show was recently picked up by an NBC outlet, all of whom must have ventured to, at some point, ask themselves, whether implicitly or explicitly, “Why rely on Big Media to broadcast our content when we have the means to do so ourselves?”

People Relations means catering to each and every individual – it means that marketers, publicists, customer relations specialists, and advertisers must understand – The single person is no longer a small fish; individual voices rival, or have the potential to rival, even the largest, most authoritative of the old media outfits. This is why & how brands should employ twitter. Not by barraging innocent followers with an endless stream of promotions and marketing propaganda; nor should they limit themselves to mere customer service. They must learn to treat each and every individual, to the extent that it’s feasible and cost effective, as if they were the editors of the Wall Street Journal, the way tech start-ups have come to treat TechCruch’s Michael Arrington.

The sense of entitlement associated with today’s youth and adolescents will only grow with each new generation. Publishing giants will flail and fall, and eventually fail. And while the rest of us wax nostalgic, this ever-growing legion of young producers will simply proclaim “New York Times? I AM the New York Times.”

Please…Feel Free To Share Your Thoughts & Share This Article!

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1. A Prerequisite When Hiring New Talent -Basic Knowledge of HTML & Web Design

Right now, the realm of social media is up for grabs. Marketing and advertising agencies are vying for the rights and for PR to remain in the game, publicists need to do more than develop the ‘creative’ behind digital campaigns. Whether it’s simple HTML coding for helping build out a clients blog, or fully developing website widgets and mobile and Facebook apps, having knowledgeable developers and programmers on staff is essential on claiming the social media territory in the name of PR and wresting the burgeoning landscape from the hands of competing industries.

2. PICK UP THE PHONE (But Don’t Leave a Voice Mail)

The media is shrinking and, as an unavoidable and unfortunately consequence, journalists, sadly, are being laid off in droves. This means fewer reporters covering a greater quantity of topics and beats and receiving more emails and pitches than ever, making it all the more difficult to get noticed/be heard. Thus, placing clients in top tier outlets has become as hypercompetitive as the job market itself – Catching the receptive ear of a friendly journalist, never an easy task, has become a more difficult feat that it was only a year ago. The easiest way around that – PICK UP THE PHONE. That doesn’t mean barrage the media with a never ending stream of emails, follow-up calls, and voice mail. But if you target your reporters and outlets well and understand the deadlines and time constrains of their daily routine, a well place phone call can go a long way. And it seems a lot of PR Pros…myself included…have forgotten this once-popular means of communication in light of the ease of email.

3. Predict & Preact!

Read & React, the old M.O., worked pretty well for a while. Now, however, reactive methods are obsolete as headlines fly in and out of the public’s attention so quickly, by the time you read an article in a mainstream media outlet or see it covered in the news, get your client’s perspective on the issue, and start pitching it, the story is long dead and the masses have shifted their interests to a dozen other fleeting topics. The key is to identify trends and popular stories before they hit the airwaves and papers. A few years ago, one could argue that this is easier said than done, requiring psychic powers. I’d posit that now, with the advent and growing popularity of twitter and news aggregators like digg, spotting the trending topics is easier than ever. If a publicist is good at his/her job, Predictive and Proactive pitching is not only possible, but crucial. If you are familiar with an outlet or a journalist’s goals and interests and with what issues (or gadgets, or causes, etc…) the masses are currently consumed with, this should come naturally. You should be looking for tomorrow’s headlines, not today’s.

This preemptive and instantaneous approach isn’t just essential for publicists to understand, it’s also vital that clients are fully aware of the immediacy and urgency entailed in effectively capitalizing on current, or soon-to-be current, events. A publicist’s best efforts are only as successful as the client will allow. Ensuring that your client ‘gets’ the need for a timely response will allow you to capitalize when you do spot that topic that fits perfectly into his/her area of expertise and is about to break out of the niche into the mainstream.

4. Corporate Blogging/Social Networking Policy

Many PR Pros & employees already are, and should be, utilizing social media in their daily activities. However, when it comes to blogging and engaging the public on open platforms, speaking as the voice of an agency or on behalf of a client can be dangerous, despite all the potential benefits. Thus, policies, procedure and protocol for such engagement are necessary to ensure that both the firm and its clients are accurately represented.

5. Training ALL Employees in Basics of Social Media

Again, if you or your employees aren’t targeting your outreach to bloggers, micro-communities, and the appropriate niche audiences found online, you are missing out on reaching a vast population that want to hear your (client’s) message. Most likely, this isn’t due to apathy or laziness, rather a lack of understanding. The world of social media is evolving so rapidly, it’s difficult for even the youngest and brightest to keep up. Routine training and briefings updating employees on the latest and greatest social and online media is a must.

A Note

As Always…I’m Looking Forward To Your Thoughts & Feedback. Agree with me, Argue with Me, Either Way – The Value of Any Blog, Mine Included, is dependant on the thoughts of its readership and the quality of the commentary…So Please: Share your insights on the matter – How do you think PR Firms & Publicists should Adapt? Can We? Am I Wrong? Is PR Destined for Obsolescence? Is Social Media Fated to fall under the auspices of Marketers and Advertisers? You Tell Me!

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Also, My Boss, Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5W Public Relations has put up a new video on this very topic. You can see it, below (it’s short). You can also subscribe to the 5WPR Youtube Channel Here. Enjoy!

Last Week, David Mullin Posted a Great Article “We’re Setting Up Young PR Pros for Failure.”

Today, Meg Roberts Posted a Follow Up Piece “Are We Forcing Social Media Tunnel Vision on Young PR Pros?”

In it, she wonders”

“are young PR professionals being set up for failure because they aren’t being given enough opportunities to investigate and learn traditional tactics and strategies?

As companies continue to look at younger staff members for social media expertise, senior employees, recent graduates, and interns should work together to ensure young professionals have well-rounded task lists that include a variety of skills necessary for communication campaigns – both online and offline.”

I think she’s really hit the nail on the head. I’ve heard many stories, including my own, of young PR pros who have become the de facto social media experts at their firms, purely predicated on age.

Personally, I’ve embraced this role, as I’m passionate about social media and I do have a background in traditional PR as well, so I don’t feel as if I’m missing out on crucial work experience (yet). But this isn’t usually the case and I fear that she is correct – people in our generation are almost obligated to focus on social media, precluding them the necessary experience of traditional PR and media relations.

Not only that, but despite the popularity of social media and digital campaign, the actual ROI of social media is still very much disputed, and if things continue to move in this direction, we may very well be setting ourselves up, not just for failure, but for lesser value in the workforce.

I think this is indicative of a larger problem as well – the idea that social media campaigns are inherently, or should be, independent entities, intentionally disparate from traditional media endeavors. This is a MAJOR problem IMHO. I won’t knock Social Media, I can’t seeing as it’s probably my future and is my passion. However, even the best social/digital strategy must be integrated into a larger PR or Marketing approach. SM on it’s own can only do so much and go so far. Traditional marketing & PR tactics must be used in congruence with an online approach in order to capitalize on any successful social engagement on behalf of the brand or company.

These problems are intertwined. Social Media isn’t something that one person should be tasked with, nor is it a campaign in and of itself. A firm, properly employing social/digital strategy, would do so by training all employees to complement their traditional PR/Marketing with the added benefits of social media outreach…something that many are hesitant to accept.

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Today, Tech Bloggers are playing Kids at the Candy Store, as they attend Amazon’s Press Conference (Kindle DX Launch), Tweeting, Live-Blogging, and generally soaking up all the Kindleness they can.

But what caught my attention is the Amazon Press Release (http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1285140&highlight=)  announcing that several major Newspapers will be offering a subsidized Kindle DX to interested parties…BUT ONLY TO THOSE WHO LIVE WHERE HOME DELIVERY IS NOT AVAILABLE!!! WTF

Amazon Kindle - Newspaper Launch Press Release

Amazon Kindle - Newspaper Launch Press Release

The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post to Launch Trials Offering Kindle DX to Subscribers Who Live in Areas Where Home Delivery is Not Available

Yes, Congratulations are in order. Newspapers are starting to catch on. But this half-assed move won’t take advantage of everything the kindle can offer these publishers.

  1. Printing Costs – If they made the Kindle Available to ALL subscribers they could cut down on the enormous financial drain entailed by the printing process, not to mention all the trees they’d save. One large initial cost of supplying reduced priced Kindles to subscribers vs. the prolonged costs of printing and distribution – I’d say this one’s a no-brainer, but that’s just me, I’m no financial guru.
  1. Mobility – The New York Times is launching their Adobe Run Times Reader 2.0 desktop application, which is all fine and dandy, but isn’t conducive to our mobile lifestyle. People need a compromise between reading the news on their Blackberry/iPhone and traditional print papers. That’s where the Kindle comes in…something we can use on the bus or the train…without squinting.

In short – Newspapers and the Kindle are made for each other. I don’t know if this quasi-partnership is just a testing phase for a bigger move (which I really hope it is), or if these Newspaper Execs still don’t get it.

Thank you Rob Pegoraro for bringing this to my attention. And stay tuned for his coverage on the topic for the Washington Post at http://washingtonpost.com/robpegoraro.

kindle-twitter-timeline1

Please share your thoughts!