Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

Fresh Eyes: what can journalists learn from a branding expert?

Posted in Fresh eyes series, Journalism by Adam Westbrook on March 3, 2010

What happens when you ask a film maker or a musician about the future of journalism? What skills can the next generation journalist learn from a coder? As part of Fresh Eyes experts in non-journalism fields cast their eye over the digital revolution and offer their wisdom.

Jon Moss, Marketing Consultant

After nearly a decade working for a FTSE100 company, Jon decided working for other people sucked and now runs his own marketing consultancy, theappleofmyi. He specialises in branding, online marketing and social media, and is the founder of the Hull Digital group, a meetup of tech lovers in East Yorkshire, UK.  Check out the HD website, for some great talks from the likes of Audioboo, TechCrunch UK and the BBC.

Would you choose your brand?

“Your brand is formed primarily, not by what your company says about itself, but what the company does.”

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO.

Except when you are talking about a journalist, blogger, freelancer or anyone for that matter, it’s not the company, it’s you. That’s the big question.

What are you doing?

Brands have an incredibly powerful, emotive and frequent part to play in virtually every buying decision we make. Day in, day out, we are making decisions based on our current or historical perception of a brand, or a brand experience. It can be a good experience, a bad one, or a mediocre one. They all play their part. Whether using a Mac or PC, which toothpaste you choose, what pair of trainers, and what car you drive. Brands.

Brands used to be tied, or rather cemented to TV advertising and perhaps big billboards. Of course with the onslaught (and make no mistake, it is an onslaught) of digital communication and the rise of the connected online world, brand experiences have changed forever.

You probably haven’t considered TV advertising, but you almost certainly use the web. Which means that you compete with the big boys, the multi-million dollar companies. The internet is a great equaliser, nearly everyone uses it, and it is not going away in a hurry.

The way you answer the phone, your answerphone message. Your business card, your website, your blog, your email signature. You name it, it is all part of your personal brand

65% of consumers report having had a digital experience that either positively or negatively changed their opinion about a brand. Of that group, a nearly unanimous 97% say that their digital experience influenced whether or not they eventually purchased a product or service from that brand. Digital is not only a place to build a brand: it can also make or break it. (Source – 2009 Razorfish Digital Brand Experience Study).

So, we’ve set the scene on brands and digital brands. You are starting to understand that brands and brand experiences are not just for Apple, Coca Cola and Nike.

Your brand matters. It matters a lot, and, critically can help in your marketing flow. Marketing is simple. 5 words simple: know, like, trust, use, recommend.

So having a good brand can most certainly help with getting known, getting liked, gaining trust and being used. The web can exponentially accelerate it.

Your personal brand is something you should be considering, building and adding to on a daily basis, and it is not only online. Remember that your personal brand encompasses every single touch point that a client, friend, colleague, prospect or family member could have with you, or something that represents you. The way you answer the phone, your answerphone message. Your business card, your website, your blog, your email signature. You name it, it is all part of your personal brand.

Nine questions to ask yourself

How people perceive you, your service, your business is all part of your brand. There are a few questions you may like to ask yourself to see how your brand measures up…

  • Q. Can people find you easily online?
  • Q. Have you got an interesting and extensive web presence?
  • Q. If they can, is it professional?
  • Q. Are you valuable to people?
  • Q. Do you influence or are easily influenced?
  • Q. Do people remember you for the right reasons?
  • Q. Do you have an opinion?
  • Q. Do you contribute and participate?
  • Q. Do you listen and learn?

You must socialise with your peers, clients and prospects. It cannot just be push. You need to join in, contribute and have something to say, an opinion or view. People want to work with people who are doing something, that have ideas, that are joining in. It’s important to be practicing what you preach.

Ten things to do in 2010 to improve your brand

If you only do a few things in 2010, this is what you should consider as a minimum:

1. Own your name online (you do own your own domain name, don’t you?)
2. Make it easy for people to get in touch with you
3. Be memorable, and not for bad things
4. Contribute and engage
5. Do something different
6. Decide what you stand for, what makes you special and different
7. Start something
8. Meet people and volunteer your time
9. Be polite and enthused – ask, because if you don’t, you won’t get
10. Treat others as you would like to be treated

P.S. Have some fun 🙂

Jon Moss is a marketing and branding consultant based in East Yorkshire, UK. He runs theappleofmyi.com and founded the popular Hull Digital meetup group.

Idea 005: the digital magazine

Posted in Ideas for the future of news by Adam Westbrook on December 17, 2009

In Ideas for the Future of News I’m collecting positive, tangible, practical examples of business models, products and content which could pave the future.

To catch up on previous ideas, head to the Ideas for the Future of News page.

Idea 005: Mag+ concept

By: Berg London and Bonnier R&D

Magazines have a value above newspapers: people don’t just read the words, they buy them for the amazing photographs, lifestyle statements, and sometimes just because it looks great on the coffee table.

Magazines will be revolutionised by technology – but in a really positive way. For proof, see the work of Berg London and Bonnier R&D.

They’ve had a really good think about how future e-readers (like the much mooted Apple Tablet) could work with magazines – and crucially they have started with the benefits of magazines and worked from there. As the creaters explain:

“The concept aims to capture the essence of magazine reading which people have been enjoying for decades: an engaging and unique reader experience in which high quality writing and stunning imagery build up immersive stories.”

They’ve looked not at the e-readers themselves, but how magazine layouts should adapt to them. They have created, I think, a very enjoyable reading experience, which will add huge value to magazines.

“We don’t want to interrupt the core reading experience,” says Jack Shulze from Berg, “we’re very keen to make sure the UI doesn’t get in the way of the experience – it’s not covered in buttons.”

It’s 8 minutes long, but I highly recommend you watch this video, a demo of Mag+ in action.

(Hat tip: Hull Digital)

A business model?

Could the e-reader provide a financial saviour for magazines? In short, yes. For two reasons: firstly, as I mentioned they add extra value to the magazine itself. The experience of scrolling through pages on a touch screen is so enjoyable, people may buy mags just for that.

And more importantly people will pay to download an electronic magazine and experience it on these e-readers.  They won’t pay to view the content on a website.

Berg London and Bonnier R&D’s ideas are very new, but magazine owners should waste no time in chasing this concept and making it a reality. Newspapers too need to wake up to the possibilities and ask how the Mag+ concept could help them.

Their success though depends on the readers themselves. Who will make them and how much will they cost? Magazines will need to think about subscription models again, but that shouldn’t be too hard as that’s how many magazines make money anyway. And how will you download the content? Will it take long?

But these creases will no doubt be ironed out over the next two to three years.

As well as keeping current magazines afloat, they could also inspire a new generation of magazines, and most importantly keep journalists in business doing what they do best: writing great content and presenting it with great designs and pictures.

Future of Journalism presentation

Posted in Journalism by Adam Westbrook on July 15, 2009

I was very kindly asked recently by marketing consulant Jon Moss (@jonmoss) to give a presentation at the increasingly popular Hull Digital event in Hull. The subject: the intimidating title “The Future of Journalism”.

I dusted off my Open Office and Powerpoint skills and put together a presentation back in June. Off the back of that, I was asked to give the same presentation at HumberMUD, a multimedia meetup, also in Hull.

It is now online for you to enjoy, critique and add too.

As I was talking mainly to non journalists I wanted to break the complicated (and ever changing) story right down.  It is also not comprehensive; if I had room I would like to have talked more about Networked Journalism and Hyper-local websites.

Hull and the Humber area has a growing and very talented digital community – if you are in the area I strongly recommend getting involved either at Hull Digital or HumberMUD.

And later this year the inaugural Hull Digital Live event’s taking place -with the just confirmed key note speaker Rory Cellan-Jones. Awesome!

Update: you can now watch my original presentation on the Hull Digital website – or part one here: