Introducing the New-Media Survival Guide

New-Media Survival Guide

Today I’m both pleased and relieved to announce the publication of my first e-book, the New-Media Survival Guide. (If you just can’t wait to buy a copy at the bargain price of $2.99, click here now. Not that impulsive? Then you might want to read more about it here.)

My goal in writing this e-book was to give people trained in traditional media—journalists in particular, but also people from public relations, marketing, and other areas—an easy-to-read, practical, and concise introduction to the new-media revolution. If it’s successful, readers will understand that the ways of new media are not be be feared, but to be welcomed.

If you’re skeptical or concerned about new media but want to understand it better, this is a great starting point for you. And if you’re a social-media maven, you may not need this book, but you probably know someone who does. Here are a few reasons why you may want to read or recommend it.

  • It can be read in one sitting.
  • Though it’s short, it provides numerous sources for further reading.
  • To my knowledge, there’s nothing else quite like it (or if there is, please note it in the comments—this is an equal-opportunity blog!).
  • For the moment, at least, it’s very up to date.

In coming days, I’ll be reflecting on the process of writing and self-publishing an e-book and why I recommend it. In the meantime, I hope you’ll learn more about the New-Media Survival Guide and let me know what you think of it.

Three Ways to Turbocharge Your New-Media Career

MUD day 9:

For anyone involved in communications, coming to accept new media is only half the battle. The next, much harder fight, is in leaping into and mastering the ways of new media. There are probably an infinite number of effective approaches to doing so, but, based on my recent reading and on my experience this month as a blogger, I’d start with these three:

1. Be Gutsy. In a recent interview with Nieman Journalism Lab’s Megan Garber, retiring newspaper editor John Robinson offered his profession this advice:

What editors really need right now, Robinson says, “is guts to do the nontraditional things”: to consider new approaches to newsgathering and dissemination, to be open to new ways of knowing the community they’re meant to serve.

Robinson is pointing out here something that isn’t often emphasized: It takes courage to adopt new-media tools. You might just be wasting your time, or worse, risking your job.

2. Be Weird. Though the title of Seth Godin’s latest book is We Are All Weird, its premise is that most of us don’t realize or admit it. Our traditional mass-market culture and ways of doing business are built around serving the mass, the normal.  But as Robinson notes in his interview, “The sooner that we grasp that we aren’t mass anymore—that there is really no mass, that everything is broken apart—the better.” To use new media effectively, you have to be willing to look weird to a lot of people.

3. Be Arbitrary. If you worry too much about how to use new media, or what platform is best, or how to make the most of it, you may never move forward. Pick a platform, set a goal for how to use it, and stick to your plan. If you choose Twitter, for instance, you might pick a number of tweets to do each day and a number of people to retweet. Or, like me this month, you might set yourself a goal of writing one post a day in a set period of time. You might not hit your goals, but you’ll be giving yourself an excellent chance of mastering your new medium.

The Lure of a Dying Profession

I saw pale kings and princes too / Pale warriors, death-pale were they all

On his Guardian blog today, Roy Greenslade noted a curious phenomenon involving current journalism students. Though they don’t actually read newspapers or use other traditional media, nearly all want to work for these declining mainstream outlets rather than pursue new-media and entrepreneurial opportunities. Never mind, as Greenslade notes, that “they know the risks” and “have been told there will be few job openings.” For them, “mainstream media remains a lure.”

Though it sounds irrational, I understand it. For these acolytes, the morbid state of the print profession is a large part of its appeal.

I should know. Years ago, I applied not to journalism schools but the even less promising career route of graduate English programs. My college professors were encouraging (“follow your bliss!”) but cautionary (“of course, don’t expect to find a job”). Later, when the application packets started to arrive, they all included an emphatic word or two about the weak job market and how post-doctorate employment was not guaranteed.

Were they really trying to scare me off? I think not. If anything, those warnings simply increased the appeal of graduate school. It wasn’t impossible to get a job, just really, really difficult, and I, (like all my fellow applicants, I imagine) was way above average. If only one in ten got jobs, why, I would be that one. The message my future profession was sending was not “don’t apply,” but “only special people like you will be accepted into our fold.”

Greenslade writes of those journalism students that “they may be digital natives, but their ambition is to work for others rather than themselves.”  The reason, I think, is the need for confirmation, to believe that you, perhaps alone among all those others in the lecture hall, will be taken into the elite society of journalists. That society is still defined by the old-media professionals, not the new-media entrepreneurs. Journalism schools, it seems, are, consciously or not, complicit in maintaining this mystique.

Will journalism students be sucked in by this mystique, only to have their hopes dashed and end up alone and palely loitering?

I don’t think so. We’re all entitled to some romance in our career plans, and I have no regrets about mine or how they turned out. Those students may not be thinking about entrepreneurial, new-media careers now, but I bet many of them end up there anyway.

Still, why not inject a little romance into achievable careers? There may be few alternatives to traditional jobs for graduate English programs, but those for journalism schools are both numerous and exciting. It’s time to make the future just as romantic as the past.

Content Marketing’s PR Problem

With publishing luminaries like Paul Conley, Joe Pulizzi, and David Meerman Scott urging journalists to turn to content marketing for rewarding career options, you might think there would be a stampede of ink-stained wretches leaping into the field. But though you can find examples of such career shifters, the numbers are small. In part, this may be because the field is still nascent. But it’s also due to a public relations problem. I mean this literally: to many journalists, content marketing is just another term for PR.

Three weeks ago, in my last post on this blog, I asked the question, “Is B2B Ready for Corporate Journalism?“. My silence since then, alas, doesn’t mean I found the answer. (For my lack of production, blame a combination of travel, special projects, and, of course, my lizard brain.) What spurred my reflections was a comment from a journalist who didn’t believe that content marketing could live up to its journalistic ambitions.

That journalist, at least, understood those ambitions. But for every one who does, there must be 10 others who don’t.

Recently, for example, an esteemed B2B journalist I know said that content marketing is not new: “we used to call that PR.” There are two serious problems with this common confusion.

First, it means that journalists don’t recognize the challenge that content marketing poses to their traditional livelihoods. Unlike PR, which relies on third-party publishers to disseminate its message, content marketing simply cuts out those middlemen. Instead, companies that used to be advertisers go to the audience directly, in essence becoming publishers themselves.

But the confusion is also a problem for the discipline of content marketing. To fulfill its potential, it needs journalists. If those journalists think it’s all PR, they won’t bite.

So let’s try to clear it up.

Journalists: Content marketing is not PR, nor is it, in any sense you expect, marketing. In the broadest sense of the term, it’s publishing. It may not always be practiced with traditional journalistic values, but it often is.

Content marketers: Let’s face it, you have an image problem with journalists. If you want them on your team, you’re going to have to talk less about marketing and more about journalism. I agree that neither David Meerman Scott’s favored term, brand journalism, nor its cousin, corporate journalism, quite fits. But unlike content marketing, neither phrase makes journalists want to run for the hills.

Corporate journalism has a bright future. But until content marketers and journalists speak the same language, it will remain stubbornly in the future.