A quote which just about sums up British offline publishing at times for me, from this story over the weekend.

The departure of Greg Hadfield, head of digital at Telegraph Media Group marks another nail in the coffin for the mainstream Press in the UK, but also highlights ongoing issues for offline content producers and distributors as a whole in this country.

The fact that Hadfield is off to join a cool, funky, contemporary agency and partner with some of the top Brands in delivering new and innovative content-based digital solutions also proves that journalism and entrepreneurship can co-exist. Or they should.

Let’s face it, if you’re a content producer – whether that’s a Hack, commercial copywriter, business editor, newly-qualified journalist or similar – and your offline medium is being continually cut to pieces to extinction, what would you do? Stay on board until the last editorial liferaft has set sail for digital safety, or re-invent yourself, learn new skills, get online and secure a career?

No brainer, really. And the future does actually look bright for agencies and individuals which are embracing digital  and getting online. Pretty simple business concept: go where your customers are. Give them what they want, when and where.

Hadfield went onto say:

“The future is much more diverse. There’s not a dichotomy between being a journalist and an entrepreneur – the future is the individual journalist, not big media. The challenge is for big, monolithic media to recognise that being entrepreneurial is corporate ethos, to reflect in the structure to leverage the skills of the individual within the organisation.”

Here’s a guy I respect and admire – aswell as the agency he’s left the Telegraph Media Group for. Interesting times, indeed.


According to this fascinating debate on the future of journalism as digitalisation advances ever further, it looks as if the human-based selection of news and content – particularly online – could transform into something very much based on the reduction of human inputs and randomness, instead surpassed by technical selection and internet-assisted preferences.

I’ve long advocated traditional journalists embrace the digital challenges, stop moaning and start upskilling. To an extent, this is already happening with online Press, as their headlines (for example) are written with keywords attractive to Google news taking priority over emotive human choices. Interesting times indeed.

Part of the debate around the continued industrialisation of journalism – and, for me, the wider structurisation of content production and distribution – is actually concerned more with the shift of power amongst the publishers: look at the ongoing Murdoch vs Google debate in recent weeks.

Here we see an ageing, old-school media mogul firmly rooted in the past and intent on grasping hold of a slipping power struggle in which the audiences are pulling all the punches.

The power of Search and real-time audience requirements will probably be the demise of Murdoch in the end, but it’s the way in which journalists adapt (or not) which will see the final transformation of how content will be produced and delivered both online and offline. Content-producers not monitoring with extreme prejudice this evolution do so at their collective peril.

So, is content production and distribution going to be owned by the machines, or will human Hacks triumph?

If it comes down to the usual method, you flip the coin. I’m calling Heads on behalf of those who welcome digitalisation.

Pondering the question as this incredible film screens again tonight.

Tagline for Stephen King’s screenplay? ‘Miracles do happen’ and on the face of it, we might just see a few yet. In time.

In a week which saw the juxtaposition of the first annual Golden Twits awards in the UK for top tweeters alongside concerns over the threat posed to British creative industries from filesharing, it seems hard to see anything miraculous evolving for many media types in the current online climate. Jobs continue to be cut, journalists continue to leave the industry, the media platforms continue to lumber forwards. Where, oh where, are the miracles?

If we follow The Green Mile, miracles arrive from the most unusual sources.A scampering mouse, a gigantic lifer on death row.

For example, the growth of digital agencies and their focus on utilising content in the development of search engine marketing: the days of putting content online for the sake of it seems to be a dying activity. The gigantic lifer on death row can be likened to traditional media operations, whilst the scampering mouse could be a social media start-up, offering hope and new revenues.

The lesson is this: miracles can happen for our hard-pressed journalists, but they have to be carefully sourced.

And for these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to be discovered, both newly-graduated journalists and experienced Hacks alike need to be adaptable, open-minded and above all, willing to accept things they cannot necessarily see evidence of.

Such as social media: it doesn’t seem to represent anything other than a time-consuming fad to many hard-nosed, traditional media types and online marketers. The ROI isn’t immediate. Bin it. Lose the platforms and re-invest in what’s been done before.

However, what these old-school diehards fail to see is that for a miracle to work, it needs nurturing. Devotion. And time.

Time to engage, grow, and excite audiences. Time to allow offers, services and products to be introduced. Time for social media channels to become the miracle opportunity which a select few organisations and individuals are starting to see presently.

In the dark? Wondering how social media can be your next content-based miracle? Thinking it’s just a waste of time?

Watch The Green Mile – the mouse has all the answers.

The proliferation of social networks represents both an opportunity and a threat to many. Therein lies the juxtaposition of ‘We know our audiences are there, but how do we engage them?’

Here are some low-cost, high-impact ways in which you can engage audiences using social media:


Social media networks are useful for attracting, engaging and building a community of loyal audiences. This can be powerful for online communication efforts on a number of levels, including talking to existing audiences, building rapport with potential readers and advertisers, and linking them together to increase a sense of community.

Many communicators have used Facebook, with more than 300 million current users, to set up fan pages and inform their audiences of products, services, news and offers.

Product Research

Social networks are a powerful research and development tool. The collection of people mixing and exchanging news, information, spending patterns, dialogue and feedback can give you a wealth of information for current and future products and services.

This can be delivered through crowdsourcing, or direct one-to-one contact with established readerships.

Customer Service

Social networks are a powerful research and development tool. Social media networks can provide a plethora of opportunities, and without an expensive marketing research campaign behind them.

Twitter, for example, has been leveraged by a number of companies, such as Zappos, which set up an account on this social network specifically to deal with customer service queries. Their Twitter account is followed by more than 1.3 million people.

The company has 400 employees, all of whom have Twitter accounts and who contribute to the company’s Twitter feed. This has helped to bolster customer service, provide an excellent point of contact for customers, and also to act as a showpiece for the firm’s outstanding approach to servicing customers both online and offline. It has also helped to increase revenues over time.

Marketing & Promotion

One of the biggest benefits of social media networks can be the speed, ease and global efficiency with which new products and services can be launched. Routes to market, via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, iTunes and blogging, can be leveraged effectively and in a timely manner.

Competitions, product launches, service initiatives, online forums and polls – there are countless ways social media networks can be utilised to add value to an audience online whilst increasing the buy-in.


At a time when traditional advertising has less impact than at any previous point, and customers are able to voice poor service or treatment instantly across social media networks, the ability to show transparency via social media networks is a great credibility-builder.

The days of purely broadcast messaging as we know it are coming to an end.

The audience, particularly the increasingly social media-focused customer, now requires a rapid response to queries, great service, information to be readily available, and not to be sold to.

In short, transparency wins with the modern audience.

Is your social media engagement reflecting this?

Not sure, but it’s looking like the traditional PR providers are on their death knoll, according to recent reports.

Such as this article from PR Twitterati and non-traditionalist Mark Borkowski, highlighting that tools such as Sidewiki are pushing the Ab Fab brigade to the brink of extinction. Not that he cares of course – his kind of PR is contemporary.

Then there are the new breed of PRs, such as We Are Social – instigators of the Innocent Drinks Twitter feed and much, much more. I can imagine traditional PRs reading this new kind of PR delivery and quite literally crapping themselves when a client mentions the words ‘social’ and ‘media’ in the same sentence. Great work, and totally audience-focused for Innocent.

Wondering what a traditional PR looks like? Check out Rubella Pymley-Bowles from Ostentacious PR for a few clues. Awful.

Let’s face it – editors are pulling sources of news and articles from a multitude of areas now, including social media channels. The availability of news, comment, and public interaction means that the Press no longer ‘relies’ on PRs to fill up empty spaces offline and online when deadlines draw nearer. That’s right, PRs – the Press don’t need you, even if newsroom numbers have been cut.

Another important fact for those buying PR is this – the “It’s who you know” argument – so often rolled out by PR firms to newly-signed clients – is less and less relevant: let’s be honest, most media contacts are shifting weekly at the moment, let alone staying put on a publication or news site online for months on end. Those days are relegated well and truly to pre-Recession.

So, the death of PR? Maybe the end of a certain type of PR. As an editor, I’m not sorry to see it go. I welcome in the new and say a goodbye to the bad old days when up-their-own-arse PRs controlled far too much content supply into the British media.

My predictions? More and more media channels will open up, leading the Press to work with fast, reliable, non-pretentious distributors of information. Contemporary PRs have nothing to fear. Old school Ab Fabs? Time for a career change, I think.

…short and simple – check this for information. Superb.

According to this story, with nearly 300 companies going down in the period up to June of this year. What does it really mean?

Well, apart from a newly-redundant editorial and design pool of media types pounding on doors for work, there is the discontinuity effect on ex-clients: where do they go to get their account work delivered?

Maybe some of the ex-employees deliver on a freelance basis to some of the old clients, but this is only a piecemeal and short-term solution, particularly if a client has been used to getting full-service Agency account handling.

With this level of media companies going to the wall, more mergers look likely – and when the editorial power lies in the hands of the few, we know from experience that it is the employees who usually suffer, as their job choices are permanently limited.

Great advice here for journalism students on securing new online opportunities, but what about seasoned Hacks? What lies ahead for them – apart from expensive re-training? And can any of them adapt to online journalism? Place your bets please.

It could be argued that in these ever-advancing times of digitalisation, the trusted press release has little or no purpose for the modern and evolving newsroom. Not so. A good press release, well, written, impeccably delivered, and with stunning press photography will always be of value to the time-pressed Editor.

After throwing my thoughts on the subject into the arena in the past, there are further valuable hints and tips here on that trickiest of subjects – the winning press release. There are many, many PRs that need to read, digest, and utilise the information shared.

Great inputs, as always, here from Jeff Jarvis – and yes, collaboration surely lies the grassroots of survival for journalism.

But, the biggest challenge is surely how to get competing newspaper publishers to collaborate to create sustainable opportunities: I recall working on a newsdesk within a regional publisher delivering two local dailies across a region, and being amazed to see no tangible co-operation or collaboration between the journalists, editors and number-crunchers there – and they were part of the same newspaper Group! The attitude was “If it isn’t directly in my remit, I don’t want to know”. And this is typical in regional journalism across the larger publishers across the UK.

So, Jeff, in the light of a complete lack of any desire, motivation or reason for these guys to collaborate – even in the midst of fighting for commercial survival – how exactly will they come to a place of collaboration? I am struggling to see solutions.