Monday, November 27, 2006

Using Existing Content in Different Ways

One thing I'm always preaching around the office is that we need to find new ways to use existing content. Yes, this used to be called "re-purposing" but now people don't notice it as much as they once did.

I don't mean just copying a piece of text and placing it elsewhere, but I'm talking about doing things like recording an interview with a customer, then creating both a podcast and a written case study from the same material.

I live up the street from a small, but well-known bookshop called Newtonville Books. Owner Tim Huggins has been amazing at using different media to get his voice heard. He was one of the first small, local shops to embrace email as a communications tool. Keep in mind, he launched his shop in 1999 or 2000, right around the time that the massive Barnes and Noble stores as well as were said to be taking over the book business. Conventional wisdom said that starting a small, independent bookstore was suicide. Well, not only is Newtonville Books still here, it's thriving.

Apparently Tim has launched a podcast series with the Boston Globe stemming from the writers that regularly come through his shop. Newtonville Books is a major place to go for readings from new and established authors, its "Books and Brews" series is awesome. It's not just a way to get a reading from an author, but you get to sit down with that author over a beer. How great is that?

Well, it seems like Tim just brought in a microphone, started recording the authors (I'm sure he has their permission), edited it down and put it online. PERFECT!

I just heard about it and haven't yet listened, but as soon as I get a moment it's going to be part of my playlist. The fact is, even though the store is up the street I still don't get time to go as often as I like. Now I can still interact with the brand when I don't have the time to go up the street.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Does Violence Have to be a Selling Point?

When it comes to watching NFL football, CBS owns the rights to the AFC games. Since we're fans of the New York Jets (the reason I have DirecTV and the NFL package) that means in our house, CBS is our primary choice on Sundays.

But the commercials often have my 7-year-old son covering his eyes and ears. For some reason the promo people believe that blood and violence sells TV shows, so a gun shows up on just about every commercial break. It's not just CSI Miami, but also Without a Trace and the entire Sunday night lineup. It's a bit frustrating to try and watch a game with your children when there is so much violence. The worst part is, I can't avoid it. Sure, I don't have to watch those shows (I don't) but I can't really help but watch the commercials, since you're never quite sure when the game will start again. The only true solution is to get TiVo and skip the ads, but isn't that the problem TV faces in the first place?

This past weekend the Jets played the Chicago Bears on Fox, so I had a chance to watch those commercials instead. Fox manages to show action-packed shows like Prison Break without all the violence, focusing instead on quick cuts, pounding music and intense quotes. That said, the promos for Family Guy had a little too much sexual content for my taste.

Keep in mind, I'm no prude and I don't believe in sheltering my children, but there are limits to even my tolerance.

That's why I'm happy that no bigger a name than Steven Spielberg agrees that the promos are way over the top.

But I would say that the responsibility goes beyond just the TV networks and extends to such properties as the NFL. If the NFL wants to continue to attract a young audience, it must put pressure on CBS (and Fox) to ensure that its programming between the programming be family-friendly. This doesn't mean halting promos but just changing the tone.

Monday, November 20, 2006

I've never been one for celebrity news...

Frankly, I don't understand why people wait hours to catch a fleeting glimpse of someone famous. They're just people who do a job.

Regardless, this weekend my wife left the TV on in the bedroom and while I was getting dressed some reporter I've never seen started talking about the Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes wedding. So here is this lavish affair with celebrities coming from all over the world, and what does Brooke Shields bring?

A blender.

That left me laughing all weekend.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Launching TanoPhoto

This is a cross post from the TanoBlog.

I'd like to let everyone know that I've launched TanoPhoto, which is a blog that will showcase my photography. I've been playing with a number of different services, including Tabblo, PicasaWeb, Flickr and a few others, but I felt I needed a site of my own to make this work.

Part of the reason for this is that I'm hoping to start doing child portraits, and I needed a place online where people could go to see my work. This blog doesn't meet that purpose.

So check it out. You can also subscribe to the RSS feed. Over time I'll add a few more features. It's not going to be a place for my family photos, for that I'll still use the TanoBlog and Tabblo, but for the pieces of my work that classify more as "art photography," those will be there.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The lines are blurred... now what?

When I talk with people who don't understand the changes going on in media (and there are many) I often point to the TiVo box. I note how life will get interesting when you return home from work, turn on the TV and see consumer-generated videos co-mingled with high-cost products produced by the major networks.

The way I see it, when the DVRs take content from the Internet just as they do from cable or satellite providers, and that content is delivered automatically based on your viewing habits, the distribution wall comes down. Throw in some smart search and you don't even need to put things on YouTube, you just put them on your blog or on your personal site, give it the right tags and viewers' boxes find the content.

Think about a person who loves historical documentaries. Imagine if they return home and find a documentary about small town in Wisconsin right next to a documentary about Jessie James from the American Experience.

I saw such a video during a recent trip to Milwaukee that traced the history of a piece of property. The man who owned the property commissioned it from the local historian just so he could show his friends what he owned. What if he put that on the Internet so it could find an audience? That audience may be just 10 people, but so what? It's already produced, the cost of distribution is almost nothing, why not put it up, tag it and let the audience find it?

Today TiVo took a step in this direction by announcing that it will expand its Internet-based content. That's not the only step toward this world. This weekend a John Markoff article in the New York Times indicated that Web 3.0 is about smart search. Maybe it's more hype than truth, but the search world is moving slowly in this direction.

So, what does this do to the traditional advertising and media relations model? Both are built on the one-to-many concept. That is, put out a few well-placed ads and you can reach a large audience. Buy an ad in the Sunday New York Times or on Lost, and people will see it.
Place an article in USA Today and the audience comes flowing in.

And that still works. But for how long? Advertisers are already starting to look at their spots more as mini movies and entertainment than just product ads. The idea is to make the ads as compelling and enticing as the rest of the content. Media relations companies are also branching into blogger relations and other open communications concepts. These are all great steps.

The thing is, the answer may not lie in marketing, it may lie in product development. If the market becomes fractured, then it's hard to reach a massive audience with a single product. You can, however, deal with the customized world by creating customized and personalized products.

For an example just look to the open source world. Need certain functionality but not others? Then go in and tweak the code. Or maybe someone has created the code you need.

Look at the tuner generation in the auto world. A used Civic may cost just a few thousand dollars, but the car they create has tens of thousands of dollars on top of it. The car is a platform.

Even with all this, I still think we're a long way from a completely diversified media market. There will still be blockbuster shows and big hits, but now is the time to learn how to make all this work.