Friday Wrap #115: Podcast suit settled, tweets from strangers, interns gone wild, PR’s gender gap

Friday Wrap #115
Flickr image courtesy of Michael Coghlan
The Friday Wrap (which is what you’re reading) is a curated rundown of news, reports and posts from the past week that, while they didn’t go viral or attract much attention, are still interesting and useful for communications professionals. I select Wrap items from my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow.


Vine allows video import—Casual users and superstars alike have not only made do but made some amazing 6-second videos with Vine despite the fact that you could only shoot the videos on your phone. Brands are accustomed to applying more serious production techniques to their videos, and Vine wants brands, so now you can transfer a video to your phone and then import it as a Vine. As a result, many expect more brands to take a crack at the short-form video format. Read more

Adam Carolla settles podcasting patent suit—A patent troll, Personal Audio, sued comedian and podcaster Adam Carolla and a couple other podcasters over its patent for “a system for disseminating media content representing episodes in a serialized sequence.” It’s an instance of the U.S. Patent Office issuing a patent it shouldn’t have, since there was plenty of prior art before the patent was issued. Carolla had rejected an offer from Personal Audio—which has previously sued Apple, CBS, NBC, and Fox—as it had a couple other suits. Carolla raised $500,000 from listeners to fund his legal battle, but the settlement means that he won’t challenge the patent, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Read more

Browser extension calls out native ads—In his blistering commentary on native advertising, HBO’s John Oliver identified the critical problem: Readers are hard-pressed to tell the difference between a native ad and editorial content. He called native ads “camoflauged.” Google Product Engineer Ian Webster, inspired by the Oliver segment, aims to unmask native ads. His AdDetector is an extension for Google Chrome and an add-on for Firefox that displays a large red banner at the top of the page when it uncovers sponsored content; the sponsor’s name appears in the bar. Read more

Your Twitter timeline now features tweets from strangers—Your Twitter timeline has, since the service’s 2007 inception, featured only tweets from people you follow, along with their retweets and the occasional ad. Now there’s a new category of tweets you’ll see: those Twitter thinks you’ll like. An early analysis suggests these are mostly tweets favorited by people you follow that are popular or relevant. It’s all part of Twitter’s effort to attract more new users. Read more

Tumblr will scan images for brands—Holding a can of Pepsi in a photo posted to Tumblr? Tumblr will know, thanks to a deal with Ditto Labs that analyzes photos looking for logos, trademarks, and other means of identifying a brand affiliation. Tumblr will make the data available to advertisers interested in seeing how they’re being portrayed on the platform. Read more


Interns gone wild—Thinking he was using his own Twitter account rather than that of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, an CSIS intern sent a message to Amnesty International, telling them to “suck it.” The apology, from CSIS’s senior VP of external relations, explained the mistake in his apology. If that sounds familiar, it’s because interns or low-level staff have shouldered much of the blame for organizational social media missteps. If companies are throwing interns under the bus, that’s a problem, but not as big a problem as if the keys to social media are routinely being handed over to people who aren’t ready to be responsible for an organization’s image and reputation. Read more

Twitter is for Ferguson, Facebook is for ice buckets—If you’ve been struggling to explain the difference in the kind of content you see on Facebook versus Twitter, recent news stories can help clear it up. Twitter has become “a gripping nightly forum to follow the protests in Ferguson” while Facebook News Feeds have been fairly free of the unrest in Missouri, though it has been flooded (pun intended) with videos and other content related to the ALS ice bucket challenge. There hasn’t been much of the ALS challenge on Twitter. “The difference,” according to Businessweek, “highlights how each service approaches presenting the material posted by its users. Facebook’s algorithms filter the news, presenting a selective feed of updates tailored to a user’s individual preferences and past actions. Twitter, on the other hand, lets it all fly.” Read more

Nextdoor extends its reach to 25% of American—Nextdoor hosts private social networks for people who live in the same neighborhood. As a Nextdoor user, I find out about missing pets, when there’s a policeman checking speeds at the bottom of a road, and when a college student home for the summer is looking for housesitting and dog walking work. Launched in 2010, Nextdoor is now up and running in 25% of American neighborhoods. Read more

Watch as the church-state separation between advertising and editorial crumbles—A spreadsheet leaked from Time Inc. ranks writers on a 1-to-10 scale on a number of criteria. Most would not surprise a writer—writing quality, productivity, social media prowess. But “beneficial to advertiser relationship” made jaws drop. According to a Newspaper Guild representative, reporters have even lost their jobs based on the chart’s criteria. When Time suggested the wording of the criteria could have been better, he suggested more appropriate language might be, “Does what they create or who they are capture the attention of Madison Avenue?” That’s not much better. It’s not the journalism that’s supposed to attract the ads; it’s the demographics of the readers. Read more

Data tool analyzes employee emails—A lengthy Washington Post article introduces RedOwl Analytics, developer of software that scans employee communications—email, text messages, and posts to internal social networks. Analyzing the patterns and contents of these messages, RedOwl’s software can determine who takes too long to respond to information requests, who talked out of school about a company activity, who’s planning on leaving the company, who’s producing great sales leads, and who might be best for a leadership role. And not once in all that text does the reporter raise the issue of privacy or the impact on employee engagement when workers know their every word is being dissected and analyzed. Read more.


Reporters want press releases—The fact that the study was commissioned by Business Wire, which distributes press releases, may make the results a little suspect, but the 2014 Media Survey found that reporters want press releases to give them breaking news, supporting facts, and interesting story angles. And they want photos included. In addition to photos, reporters are looking for graphics, infographics, logos, and videos, signalling the decline of the text-only release. Another useful tidbit from the study: Reporters don’t want to be pitched on any social media platform. Only 10% want to be pitched on Facebook. Your odds are better on LinkedIn, where 25% say a pitch is okay. Read more

Women dominate PR—but not at leadership levels—Thirty some-odd years ago, IABC produced a study titled “The Velvet Ghetto,” which explored the demographics of the communication profession, which was populated mostly by women with men occupying most of the executive suites. That situation hasn’t changed, according to the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), which is in the midst of its own study, “Mind the Gap.” The reasons women aren’t advancing could be cultural, it could be “negotiated resignation” towards the glass ceiling in PR, or a sense that there’s something wrong with addressing gender inequality in the post-feminist era. Read more

Customers want service and support via text message—Messaging has exploded through tools like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, SnapChat, and a host of others. Even Pinterest has added messaging to its service. So it no surprise that 64% of American adults would prefer to get interact with customer service through text messaging. Among the activities that would better serve consumer via text messages: checking order status, scheduling or changing appointments, making or confirming reservations, asking questions, finding store locations, and checking balances or due dates. Read more

Marketers haven’t been taking branded videos seriously enough—Survey after survey tells us that marketers don’t consider production of video a priority, and 53% of marketers in a recent survey said they don’t think consumers want to see videos from their organizations. Yet branded video ad views reached 2.89 billion in the second quarter this year, up nearly 400 million since the first quarter and nearly 2 billion since the same quarter last year. Nearly 60% of US adult Internet users watch videos when visiting a brand’s site, which is were most prefer to view them. How-to, instructional, and tutorial videos were most popular, with comedy and spoof videos in second place. Marketers tend to produce as many event videos and how-tos, followed by interviews and testimonials, which don’t make the list of what consumers want to see. Read more

If you’re not in entertainment, real-time messaging may not be for you—A study of 1.6 million brand tweets found that real-time social messaging works for entertainment, but brands in other businesses aren’t getting the same level of engagement through the practice. SocialFlow’s study of 1.6 million posts also found that data-driven posts—those published based on predictive algorithms—have 91% more reach and 25% more user response than scheduled posts. Read more

The role of age and gender in viral marketing—Content provider surveyed 485 people to explore the emotions at play with content that went viral. Younger participants (81-24) reported feeling fewer positive emotions—specifically joy, trust, or surprise—compared to the participants in the other age groups.” A sense of surprise in particular can help make content go viral. The 25-34 demographic also reported “feeling fewer interest/anticipation emotions compared to the older two age groups.” As for gender, men reported feeling more joyful emotions than women, though they did feel trust more than men. Read more