It’s been said that Public Relations has a “PR problem”; while the majority of people aren’t sure exactly what a PR does, almost all of them seem to have a negative impression of my profession. So when people ask about my career and I tell them I work in communications and marketing, their natural follow-up is usually “what does that mean?” Contrary to one popular misconception working in PR is not synonymous with the “Press Release”, which is just one tactic in the arsenal of a Public Relations professional. In fact working in PR has so many connotations that the PRSA led a rebranding effort in attempt to help redefine our work, or at least clarify what we do in the most transparent way.
Most would call my work in Public Relations, although depending on who you ask, you might get a different answer; in grad school we called it Public Communications, which helps distinguish our responsibilities are not limited to working with the press. If only my colleagues knew that calling myself a PR rep was the best shorthand for all the work our profession does: everything from researching public opinion, to crafting marketing strategy and crisis communications plans, to writing press releases and blog posts, to media relations and publicity which our profession is best known for. Continue reading What is Public Relations, and Why It Matters in the Social Media Age→
The media universe is constantly expanding, so as consumers adopt more devices and gadgets their usage of how they watch, shop, and connect continues to evolve; today the media universe revolves around the consumer. As the media landscape changes, PRs, Advertisers, and Marketers must navigate this new media universe, understanding not just all the gadgets consumers own, but also how they use media across devices to form their own behaviors.
Working with Nielsen’s data to provide insights into cross-platform media usage, I helped design the 2012 Consumer Usage Report from concept through completion, including the above inforgraphic meant to help navigate the media universe just in time for CES in January 2013. Using the common marketing metaphor of the “universe”, meaning all people in the target audience, this visualization provides a snapshot overview of the US media market. Visualizing the media universe as a solar system of planets (devices) which revolve around the sun (consumers), this infographic maps consumer ownership of digital devices (computers, mobile, tablets, etc) and devices connected to the TV (cable/satellite, game consoles, etc). Pulling these devices together is gravity, illustrated by how are consumers spending their media time, and some may be surprised that the overwhelming majority of time spent (150+ hours per month) is watching traditional and time-shifted TV.
At the same time consumers’ media habits are rapidly changing, and the media universe continues to expand to incorporare new devices akin to a technological big bang. During 2012 smartphones became the majority of mobile users in the US for the first time, and nearly 1 in 5 households now owns a tablet computer. Social media usage continues to grow, and while many more consumers are using it on the go most still connect to social networks using their home computers. And for cord-cutters like me who get much of their viewing through online stream sites, it may be surprising to learn only 4% of households own IPTV sets, but with 56% of homes using video game consoles it seems likely at least a few are watching video on Netflix and Hulu on their TVs as well.
Last week I asked the love of my life, Miss Lauren Reid, to marry me and she said “Yes!” Normally I wouldn’t share much from my personal life on my professional blog, but this is too big a part of my life not to mention the good news. We’ve both been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and well-wishes from friends and family, and we share their excitement as we start to plan our wedding and to begin married life together. After sharing the big news with family over the phone and with friends through social media, we started to set up a wedding website which is already up and running (like our wedding plans, it’s a work in progress).
Since you’re visiting my website, there’s a good chance you already know a little about me. So I wanted to take a moment to introduce my fiancée Lauren Reid, whom I’ve been dating for more than 6 years. For anyone who hasn’t met Lauren in person: she’s super smart and has a witty sense of humor (but is never afraid to laugh at herself). I think she’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met (and have over 1000 photos on Flickr tagged with her name), but she’s also sweet, loyal, and caring; all great qualities for my best friend and now fiancée.
Lauren is also quite active online and in social media, which helped us stay close even when we were far apart; although we grew up only a few miles from each other in St. Louis we met each other later in life, and for the first 3 years we were dating long-distance. On our fifth anniversary in 2011, I compiled some of my favorite moments we shared over social media as a timeline story of our courtship, which I’d like to share as an introduction to us as a couple: Continue reading Good news: I’m engaged to be married!→
As another year comes to a close, I wanted to take a look back at the media that shaped my life during 2012, or at least a few of my favorites. Like most bloggers I love makings lists, and since my career is in communications and marketing I spend a lot of time watching, listening, reading, and playing with the latest media across devices; I’d like to think I’ve developed some critical experience (if not expertise), enough to make a few recommendations While this blog has written more about measuring my own media usage and the quantified-self, these lists take on more qualitative measure to rank what ideas were most interesting and useful over the last year.
Top 12 Memes of 2012
Top 12 iPhone Apps of 2012
Best New App:Timehop. While most of social media emphasizes the daily pulse of online buzz, Timehop makes your past posts useful again by bringing you daily doses of nostalgia. I’ve been using Timehop for the past 2 years over email, and now it’s even more useful as an app by giving the ability to share old updates with friends.
Most Improved:Facebook. Recently upgrades to Facebook’s iPhone app, which made it into a native app rather than universal, have improved the app’s functions and increased the rate of upgrades to the app.
Notable Mention:Aereo. It may not replace a cable subscription, but it will help you watch TV on whatever device you want, including on the iPhone. It’s not strictly an app, but the mobile screen first approach for this great technology merits a mention in the
Other apps considered: FitBit, Pris, Sonar, Untappd, ScoreCenter, various Subway apps, CinemaGram, Movember, and GetGlue.
Top 12 Mobile Games of 2012
Best New Game:Turf. This Kickstarted project turned Location-sharing iPhone app turned my daily routine into a real-life game of Monopoly. Picking up where Foursquare’s gamification left off, Turf is an addictive game with creative pixel-art graphics that won me over in 2012.
Most Improved:Pocket Planes. This pixel-art inspired spin-off of the Tiny Tower franchise makes simulator games fun again, by making players into owners of their own airline empire. I started playing the game over the summer, and many tweaks and improvements (including one update doubling the maximum amount of cities you could own) kept me playing through the beginning of 2013.
Notable Mention: Draw Something. The first few months of 2012 belonged to a game called DrawSomething, which put a Facebook-connected game of Pictionary into the hands of millions of smartphone owners. Like many others, I’ve found myself playing this game less as the year went on, but it was fun to play with my friends.
Other games considered: Game Dev Story, Tiny Wings, “Zombies, Run!”, Ghostbusters, Sonic Jump, Tetris, Epic Win, Sonic 4, and Tiny Tower.
Top 12 Social TV Apps of 2012
Best App:GetGlue. This isn’t a new app, but GetGlue continued to be the best to discuss TV, Movies, and more with like-minded friends. Upgrades to their app this year made GetGlue into a program guide, using your own checkins to recommend new shows, and creating new tools for shows to interact with some of their most engaged fans.
Most Improved: IntoNow. Another popular app for Social Tv already made checkins a breeze with its audio fingerprinting, but the app added several new social tools. My favorite new addition allows you to use stills from the episode to write your own LOL captions.
Notable Mention: Olympics Apps. If 2012 was a breakout year for Social TV, then the Olympics was it’s coming out party. When NBC released a series of apps which allowed for viewing and engagement during the games, it encounted some backlash from experienced digital natives, but it also brought new casual sports fans to the social TV party
Other Social TV apps considered: Miso, Viggle, SocialGuide, Yap.TV, Tunerfish, Zeebox, Clicker, Hulu (kind of), and Boxee.
Top 12 Music Albums of 2012
How I listen to music changed significantly during 2012, as streaming music services like Spotify and Rdio made a bigger portion of my time spent listening to music. As a result I had the chance to listen to more new releases, but also to explore older albums of favorite artists and making new discoveries of my own. Still this post is about what was new and great in 2012, so here are tracks from my own top 12* albums in 2012:
Movember is about much more than growing a mustache, it’s also about putting a new face on men’s health issues. When I first heard about No-shave November I didn’t know about the connection to men’s health, so I had no reservations about shaving my mustache for a job interview. But a year later when my new employer sponsored Movember participants I learned all about their fundraising for cancer research and raising awareness for health issues such as prostate and testicular cancer. For a third year I’m participating in Movember, but the history of Movember actually goes back much further and serves as a great case study of using social marketing to promote men’s health.
When Movember started in 2003 it was just a fun idea between two friends in Australia, but it quickly grew into a global phenomenon. Within a couple years their small group of friends expanded to reach thousands in Austalia raising millions of dollars for prostate cancer research, incorporating into the Movember Foundation by 2006. Gaining charity status in the US in 2009 helped the organization grow abroad, but also to attract partners to their cause alongside individual participants. Today Movember has nearly 1 million participants in 14 countries who raised over $100 million last year.
Key to Movember’s success is not just the great cause it supports, but also the global marketing campaign that promotes it. Anyone who visits their website will be impressed by the creative media ; everything from videos starring famous mustachioed celebrities to personals flyers and smartphones apps, used by participants and for supporters of Movember. But perhaps the most important promotional tactic is much more personal- their mustache growing participants:
Mo Bros effectively become walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November. Through their actions and words they raise awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health.
Another popular part of Movember is their own social network, MoSpace, which gives each participant their own page to raise funds and interact with supporters. Mo Bros and Mo Sisters use the social network to make updates on their progress and also allows them to share their Movember campaigns on other social networks. The site also serves means to personalize their Movember efforts within their social group, a proven tactic whether to raise funds or awareness within a social marketing campaign.
Comparing how the Presidential candidates are using new media this year, the 2008 race looks like the social media stone age. Back then Myspace was still the largest social network, Facebook was considered a mainstay for mostly students, and the most followed account on Twitter was then candidate Barack Obama. That campaign was noted for it’s pioneering use of new media, at a time when few politicians had social media profiles, but the benefits were immediately understood and adopted by nearly every campaign since 2008.
I never thought it could happen to me, but last year I had an iPhone stolen out of my own hands while riding the subway late one summer night. Even though I had read news stories and blog posts before about how the theft of smartphones and iPads was becoming more common while riding public transportation, I thought I was safe until I became another victim.
My first instinct was to share my experience through social media, where I learned that a few more of my friends had also had their phones stolen riding the subway. A little further research led me to see the problem was growing across the US, and that many more shared my frustration being unable to recover my handset, even using the Find My iPhone feature. Most recently, in acknowledgment of the growing theft problem the FCC proposed changes to how the carriers manage reported thefts, hoping to help consumers avoid the hefty costs often associated when their stolen phones.
About a year and a half ago I created MattHurst.com as a social networking hub, which I hoped would help make a more personal connection to a new audience while uniting my social media profiles on a single site. Initially the site drew some interest from my friends, even earning me a few kudos from other social media pros, and shot to the top of search results for my own name. But over time the micro-site did not sustain interest, or at least did not attract many visitors to the site.
It’s hard to know exactly why the site didn’t receive much traffic, but one trend I noted was that most visitors to the site came directly, rather than through search or referral links. Using Google Analytics I conducted an audit of the site’s performance, and found the site not only had fewer visitors than expected, but that visitors to the page didn’t spend much time – often less than 1 minute. Since the site didn’t host any original content but rather aggregated my social media streams, it seems that the site didn’t offer visitors any compelling reason to stay on the site once they arrived. In short, the site failed to achieve my goal to connect with a new audience.
While it’s disappointing that the site didn’t attract as much interest as I’d hoped, like any good online marketer I knew I needed to change the strategy based on my measurements of how people used the site. So last week I relaunched MattHurst.com, using my Tubmlr site as a new means to connect with would-be visitors. Starting with over 1000 posts I’ve published over the last 3.5 years updating this Tumblr blog, the new site offers original, compelling content I hope will interest readers/viewers.
My new site also gives me an outlet to connect with people in a different way than my professional blog at MatthewHurst.com, by serving as an outlet for my interests in infographics, internet memes, and cultural commentary that might not reflect my professional brand as much as my personal tastes. And as before, I’ll be keeping a close eye on my site’s performance, and making any adjustments necessary to meet my goals
As television networks kick off the upfronts introducing new programs and picking up where existing series left off, there is increasing conversation about using social media to connect fans and viewers with their favorite shows, as well as how many may be cutting-the-cord altogether. Full disclosure: I’m an employee at Nielsen, who have a great perspective of cross-platform insights into what consumers watch, but the measurements shared in this post are my own and are not necessarily shared by my employer.
First, here’s a funny and surprisingly accurate primer on how TV viewing is measured in the US (from Jess3 and ESPN):
For the last two years I’ve been using social media tools like Get Glue, Miso, and IntoNow to track my viewing and to share my favorite TV shows with friends. These social networks use websites and smartphone apps to encourage more social viewing, opening up the sometimes isolated TV watching experience by connecting viewers who check-in to the same program and generating conversations among fans of the shows. For example, here are some of the shows I’ve checked-in to most recently: Continue reading TV by the Numbers: How I cut-the-cord and share my viewing online→
With the recent update on Facebook to both personal profiles and pages using the Timeline interface, many brands are reevaluating their marketing strategy on the social network. Likewise individuals promoting their personal brand should consider updating their Facebook presence to take advantage of these new opportunities.
Recently I’ve written about how timelines can be used for visual storytelling, and likewise Facebook’s new design lends itself well to creating social narratives out of photos and status updates, especially by highlighting key events in our lives. Timeline’s changes to personal profiles gives individuals greater control not only of what information is shared publicly vs privately, but to highlight their own accomplishments and personal stories with friends both new and old. And because we know most employers look for Facebook profiles of job candidates during their evaluation, it’s critical to make sure your timeline reflects your personal brand.
Timeline also changes the Facebook pages for brands, and earlier this year I converted my Facebook Open Graph application (for this website) to a full-fledged page. Facebook pages can be built for personal brands to share career accomplishments and insights with like-minded professionals, which might otherwise come across as spammy to your friends; one of the top reasons people are unfriended is for sharing too much work-related information. Many brands have used applications to customize their pages in the past, but now Timeline will become the public face of these pages, allowing them to create more engaging stories which reflect their history. So far I’ve added my work history and career accomplishments to my Timeline, showcasing my professional development for all to see, with the most recent stories highlighed at the top of my timeline (a bit like a blog).