Why we click on news stories

For news organizations, clicks are tracked closely. They generate advertising revenue and help newsrooms to better understand audience interests. But what motivates news users to click?

great news headlineThe reasons are diverse and perhaps unexpected, according to a study forthcoming in the academic journal Journalism by Ph.D. candidate Tim Groot Kormelink and journalism studies professor Irene Costera Meijer at VU University Amsterdam. Kormelink and Meijer are part of the research consortium The New News Consumer.

Stories can garner clicks — or lose out on clicks — for many different reasons. To reach this conclusion, Kormelink and Meijer asked 56 different news users to “think aloud,” or share exactly what passed through their minds while browsing news on a site and device of their choosing. The 20- to 40-minute interviews were transcribed and then carefully analyzed to find themes.

Common reasons for clicking included the personal relevance or social utility of news. Stories that spoke to people’s lives and their need to be informed in social settings attracted interest.

“Common reasons for clicking included the personal relevance or social utility of news

Unsurprisingly, news about nearby locations and about unexpected events garnered more clicks. The important reminder from this research, however, is how much variability there is in what counts as “nearby,” and what counts as “unexpected.” For example, one participant saw an event happening 15 miles away as near, but another did not.

headlines for blog in 2017News about topics that seemed familiar, but that participants couldn’t quite recall, also generated clicks. Think of reading a headline about a name that sounds familiar, but you can’t quite remember who it is.

Site design and layout affected people’s decisions about what news to view. Prominently placed news and attention-grabbing visuals both motivated clicks, but a long perceived load time or presence of videos, however, deterred clicks in some instances. This was because participants wanted to conserve their time and data plans.

The emotional impact of a headline influenced clicking behavior. Headlines conveying disheartening news attracted attention up to a point — if the information seemed too disheartening, people avoided the story. Light-hearted news also resulted in clicks among those looking for stories would lift their spirits. Stories that actively irritated some of the participants, such as an article describing an anti-gay law in Uganda, yielded clicks.

Several expected reasons for clicking on news articles were surprisingly absent from the decisions described by the news browsers. The timeliness or recency of the article were rarely mentioned as reasons to click on a story. Further, few said that they chose articles because they agreed with the conclusions reached.

The timeliness or recency of the article were rarely mentioned as reasons to click on a story”

In addition to uncovering reasons for clicking on news, the authors also learned why people avoid clicking on news.

A number of the study participants said that they weren’t interested in news that seemed too obvious, or that seemed to replicate what they already knew. They also avoided stories that seemed to require background knowledge, or that appeared to provide the middle of an unfolding story.

headlines breaking news 3Headlines that conveyed most of the information about the story — even though the topic may have been of great interest — also did not earn clicks. And in some instances, people didn’t click on stories because of their schedule — longer news stories, for instance, didn’t make sense when people were checking the news briefly on the way to work.

The research provides ample evidence that there are many different reasons that people click on news — in particular, they are drawn to news that is relevant to personal interests or happened nearby, news that gives them something to talk about, and news that provokes emotional responses.

The most interesting takeaway from this research is the potential ideas about how to present news in ways that cater to why people click in the first place. For some, a set of short headlines is sufficient — this would support creating newsletters and quick summaries. Allowing people to save articles for later can help those who don’t have time to read longer stories during certain times of day. Finding ways to adopt a user-centered approach in news design could be the true answer to more clicks.

Research shows people click on stories that happened nearby or gives them something to talk about.

This article courtesy of American Press Institute, insights, tools and research to advance journalism.

Micro Moments = Newest Battleground for Marketers

Micro moments are the intersection of sending the right message at the right time and you reach the consumer just when they are ready to buy.   The good news is that consumers are actively look at ‘media’ on their cell phones and computers – nearly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Remember when advertisers were sure no one was ‘listening’ on holidays or weekends?  Thanks to the mobile consumer there is a fundamental change and we now have thousands of these ‘moments’ available to us as marketers.connections-2

How best to find these micro moments?  Think With Google posted this story below and I had a micro-moment just reading it – hope you do too!

Consumer behavior has changed forever. Today’s battle for hearts, minds, and dollars is won (or lost) in micro-moments—intent-driven moments of decision-making and preference-shaping that occur throughout the entire consumer journey. Read more about this new mental model for marketing.

Every day your customers are checking the time, texting a spouse, chatting with friends on social media.

But then there are the other moments—the I want-to-know moments, I want-to-go moments, I want-to-do moments, and I want-to-buy moments—that really matter. We call these “micro-moments,” and they’re game changers for both consumers and brands.

Micro-Moments

Real-time, intent-driven micro-moments are the new battlegrounds for brands.

Consider these findings from some recent research we conducted:

• Of leisure travelers who are smartphone users, 69% search for travel ideas during spare moments, like when they’re standing in line or waiting for the subway. Nearly half of those travelers go on to book their choices through an entirely separate channel.

• Of smartphone users, 91% look up information on their smartphones while in the middle of a task.

• Of smartphone users, 82% consult their phones while they’re standing in a store deciding which product to buy. One in 10 of those end up buying a different product than they had planned.

• Of online consumers, 69% agree that the quality, timing, or relevance of a company’s message influences their perception of a brand.

The successful brands will be those that have a strategy for understanding and meeting consumers’ needs in these micro-moments.

What Benefits and Perks Are Being Offered to PR and Marketing Professionals? Here’s the list!

With thanks to Dennis Spring of Spring Associates, Inc. here is their ever-growing list of 91 benefits being offered to PR and marketing communications professionals.  To learn more about Spring Associates, specializing in executive recruiting in PR & corporate communications, here is their website:  Website: springassociates.com

                                  Bucket List of 91 Benefits and Perks
  • Assistance with continuing education courses
  • Assistance with student loan debt
  • Birthday off
  • **Biz class seat for 3 hour+ flight
  • Casual dress policy
  • **Charitable matching contribution
  • Childcare
  • *COBRA (need 20+ employees)
  • Clothing allowance
  • Commutation assistance
  • **Commuter card
  • Company credit card
  • Company smartphone or laptop
  • **Country club membership
  • Defined benefit pension plan
  • Defined contribution pension plan
  • Disability insurance
  • Employee assistance program
  • **Employee referral bonus
  • Employee stock purchase plan
  • **Employer funded annuity
  • Exceptional service bonus
  • Expense account
  • *Family and medical leave
  • Family (or pet) to work days
  • Flexible work schedule
  • Food discounts
  • Free admission to specified museums
  • **Free coffee
  • Free massages
  • Free parking
  • Golden parachute
  • Grooming allowance
  • Gym membership
  • Health insurance
  • *Health insurance for companies (with 50+employees)
  • Health savings acct (HSA, FSA, HRP & HRA)
  • Holiday parties
  • Hybrid car allowance
  • Jury duty supplemental payment
  • Lactation room
  • Liberal vacation policy
  • Life insurance
  • Matching charitable gift program
  • **Monthly car allowance contribution
  • **Monthly mobile contribution
  • New business commission
  • On-site amenities, e.g, haircut, spa, cafeteria, dental care
  • Paid association membership
  • Paid holidays
  • Paid internships
  • Paid family leave
  • Paid holidays off
  • Paid legal costs for H-1B visa
  • *Paid maternity leave
  • Paid maternity leave (less than 50 employees)
  • Paid or unpaid sabbatical
  • Paid time off for bereavement
  • Paid time off during summer
  • Paid time off to join protest rallies
  • Paid volunteer time off
  • Performance bonus
  • **Productivity contests
  • Profit sharing
  • Relaxation lounge
  • Relocation assistance
  • Retirement savings plan
  • Semi-annual performance review
  • Service recognition awards
  • Severance pay
  • Sick and personal days
  • Sign-on bonus
  • *Social security, Medicare & FICA
  • Sponsor approved college degree programs
  • Stand-up comedy training
  • Stock options
  • Summer hours
  • Team-building company retreats
  • Telecommuting options
  • **Tenured sabbatical
  • Tickets for sporting events
  • **Travel retreats
  • Tuition assistance
  • *Unemployment insurance
  • **Unlimited vacation days
  • Vision insurance
  • **Weekly happy hours
  • Wellness pay
  • Work remotely
  • Workers’ compensation insurance
  • Yoga breaks
TOTAL = 91
* = government mandated
** = added since 08/03/17

A great list, helping employers better understand what they are up against as we compete for the best candidates!

8/2/1982 – 35 Years Ago … A Burning Desire

renderedWith a burning desire to open an agency and think big, do things differently, follow my instincts and have the freedom to make a difference, I took a leap of faith and my savings and opened Bennett & Company on the easy to remember date of 8/2/82.

I’ve never looked back and for the life it has given me, I could not be more grateful.

Thirty-five years ago I opened what is today Bennett & Company PR and Marketing. Miami was a new city for me and alive with possibilities. There was no better place on the planet to open this agency and thanks to that beginning it has thrived.  Together the wonderful people who have been part of Bennett & Company have evolved, prospered and made a difference for one another, for our clients and our community.

Also in 1982:  The smiley, the very first emoticon, was introduced

The Weather Channel premiered and so did USA Today

EPCOT opened at Walt Disney World

and the average purchase price of a home was $67,800

The second office in Orlando turned into the main office in the late 1990’s as the internet allowed the team and the clients to be connected from anywhere.  New professionals from as far away as Poland and Spain joined the team as clients had needs and we became a 24/7 operation with the freedom to be global.  Experiences have included working with a President and a Pope as well as start-up entrepreneurs,  some of the largest companies in the world and others who had big visions and allowed us to help them come to life.

For me there is no greater satisfaction than knowing as the world has changed, so did the agency, and so did I.  My mother often said “Let me get this straight, you are doing what you love and people pay you?”  Yes Mom that pretty much says it all and I wish you were here to celebrate with us.

Thank you to all those who have played a part in this ongoing journey.  

Thank you in advance for what’s to come.

Happy 35th Anniversary Bennett & Company!

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Do NOT Hire a Social Media Consultant Before You Ask These 10 Questions

What is a “Social Media Consultant”?  It could be anyone with a personal Facebook Page and a large number of Twitter followers wanting to sell you on their services.

I too often see someone touting this service (for far too high a cost) who have only a Twitter account or not much of a personal or business presence anywhere on the web.  And while these “consultants” might be available the question is are they right for you?  

You ONLY want someone who knows your industry 

and has the maturity to know what NOT to post too.

Once you make the decision to outsource, you’ll want to strongly vet potential consultants and/or agencies.

Here are 10 things Social Media Today recommends you ask or consider:

1. Can they demonstrate a proven track record?

Ask what brands the person or agency has worked with and is currently working with (to ensure they’re not working with a competing brand).

Don’t be shy about asking for references. Ask about a brand they worked with where something didn’t work out – how did they handle that? Were they able to quickly adapt and change course? Do they have the necessary experience in your industry to properly advance your business?

The more they know about your industry, the less of a learning curve there’ll be, and the more resources they’ll bring to your brand. What are their first steps when taking on new clients?

2. Where can I find current and past examples of your work?

Anyone with experience will be readily able to show you a portfolio of work as well as links to initiatives they’ve either run or been involved in creating.

Look for campaigns that have been repeated. You know things are working when you keep doing it.

Have the campaigns led to brand exposure? Sales leads? Will this experience help your market?

3. Who will be handling my account and what background does this person come from?

This is the biggest question – don’t buy into a sales pitch and then get a very junior person.

The background of each person working on behalf of your brand is important. If you’re looking for marketing, PR and/or social media help, you want people that have leveraged those skills working with prior companies.

Do these people have knowledge and experience with trends in these areas?

4. How will we track ROI?

We know that not everything has immediate return that’s trackable when it comes to social media. But you can track most things.

You want to know that this consultant or agency isn’t simply looking to add likes, followers or fans, but is actually able to analyze conversion rates.

Brands that hire an outside agency will want to know that the agency or consultant is consistently monitoring results, and is being held accountable. You’ll want to know there’s a standard monitoring and reporting process in place that works for both you and the agency or consultant.

5. What is their process for reporting?

How often will you meet with them? How often will you be provided status updates or check-ins?

If the agency doesn’t have a method to suggest immediately to you on how they’ll communicate, it might be a red flag that the agency isn’t as connected with their clients as you’ll want to be (or that they haven’t even thought of this yet).

6. What will you do if something goes wrong?

How would you handle a social media crisis? This is the question that will give you real insight into their value.

Marketing campaigns that look great on paper can go wrong in application, no matter how seasoned the consultant is.

How will they react? How do they respond to negative reviews? Tweets? Negative Facebook comments?

7. How do they come up with strategic plans?

How much does writing content figure into their experience and plan for your business? A good consultant will have a workflow that works for them and you.

They’ll know how to integrate social media with PR and traditional media.

They’ll want to talk to your sales team and find out what plans they have and will know how to integrate them into all they are doing.

8. How will content be developed?

And, will you have to approve all of the content written on behalf of your brand? Will it all have to be planned, or will you trust this person or agency to create on-the-fly content for you? Does this person have the experience necessary to understand the nuances of writing content specific for each platform?

Content developed for your brand needs to be likeable and shareable. A consultant or agency should be able to show you examples of previously created content for other clients, as well as their content calendar, or what their content creation process looks like.

9. What does success look like, and how will we measure it?

Brands that are investing in consultants and agencies must have clear goals in mind when starting this process. An agency should be able to help you achieve your KPIs. The consultant or agency you choose will help you establish these KPIs and will (with you) write strategies and tactics to hit those goals.

10. What will this cost?

Outside of the monthly retainer or fee you agree to with the consultant or agency, you want to know that your budget is being kept in mind in all they’re doing.

Thank you http://www.socialmediatoday.com – one of my favorite sources for all things social!

AI Is What’s Next – As Communicators We Are The Front Line

Do a quick Google search for AI and you get a new definition from WikiPedia:  Artificial intelligence is being defined as Intelligent Agents.  Let that sink in.

AI is becoming part of all businesses and part of nearly every part of our lives.  From the way your communications are answered to the way you get to work – everything is changing thanks to artificial intelligence.   Having just attended three different conferences for clients; one on real estate, one on travel and one on school nutrition – I can tell you all three had at least one seminar on how this technology is changing our world.  As one speaker said:  “Ten years ago we did not realize the impact of social media, AI is already here and moving into the marketplace at warp speed.”

As communicators we are the front line.  We need to embrace this technology, understand it deeply and be able to explain how it is impacting our companies and clients to others.

As machines become intelligent there will be great ethical debates and concerns – be ready as you will be needed to shape the conversation.

TED has an excellent playlist about AI – https://www.ted.com/topics/ai

         This New York Times piece offers a summary of where we are: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/14/magazine/the-great-ai-awakening.html

The post below came from AdAge, here is a direct link to the full article:  http://adage.com/article/agency-news/chief-ai-officer-big-title-media-agencies/309667/?ito=792

Any time an explosive new technology takes hold, agencies have to navigate how it fits into their business. While some may be waiting until it has taken a deeper hold, others, like New York-based Crossmedia, are bullish.

The independent media agency just hired a new executive director of cognitive solutions, who will head up the agency’s work in that area — covering everything from client projects that use AI like chatbots or Alexa skills to other areas of cognitive solutions. The field includes data-driven creative work that might change according to weather, stock fluctuations or time of day, and data science, which encompasses deep learning and pattern detection.

For Karim Sanjabi, who’s taking on the new role, it’s a step agencies are going to have to take. Sanjabi previously started Freestyle Interactive, which was acquired by Carat Interactive in 2003, and most recently was CEO of Robot Stampede, a creative tech company based in San Francisco.

“If agencies don’t make this kind of change right now, and really understand they have to really commit to it, we’re going to have an evolutionary separation,” he said. “We’re going to have two different species of agencies: One that evolved with AI and one that didn’t.”

He said snubbing AI would be akin to an agency turning its back on social media 10 years ago.

Though Sanjabi has taken the top seat at Crossmedia’s new cognitive consulting practice, he wants to handle it in a way where the work bleeds across the entire agency, instead of siloing AI off into a separate business unit. His mandate, he said, is to help the agency sift through the tech options and find ways to improve internal operations and client solutions using these new concepts.

“I want our existing media buyers and planners, I want everyone in the company to think in terms of cognitive solutions,” he said.

“I just want to be a resource to everyone in the agency to help empower them to come up with this kind of stuff. This isn’t a standalone, separate thing — this is the core of the agency. We’re changing the way everyone thinks about this.”

Champions over chiefs
As the possibilities of AI are becoming known, agencies are grappling with the best way to bring in that knowledge.

“The power of this stuff is such that it surpasses traditional agency shiny object syndrome,” said Dave Meeker, a VP who focuses on innovation at Dentsu Aegis Network-owned digital marketing agency Isobar. “We see really the capabilities of what a well-trained or well-designed AI is capable of.”

Isobar doesn’t have a head of AI, but does rely on employees’ expertise to understand how it can help the business until it’s more deeply ingrained. Meeker said employees work on the forefront of new technologies, and once it really catches on, the company starts more formalized training across all employees. The company has an “Isobar Academy,” an online curriculum available to its 6,000 employees.

“Right now, we’re in this age of understanding this stuff. You need people with really specific domain expertise,” he said. “In time, that expertise becomes cooked into a lot of the software and things that we’re doing, to where it’s not like you then have to have an AI person because all of us kind of have the tools at our disposal that do that.”

Whatever the approach, the key to success, say agency vets, is incorporating the new technology in ways that everyone across the agency can master it. Which in turn could ultimately render the need for a chief of AI obsolete.

Tom Kelshaw, director of innovation at GroupM shop Maxus, said agencies have a history of hiring executives to head up areas like data, digital or innovation. The risk there, he said, is that “it tends to become stale.” Kelshaw pointed out that transformational new ideas should be absorbed across all leadership once a topic is understood, instead of letting it live with a sole executive or business unit.

At Maxus, Kelshaw said when it comes to AI and innovation more generally, his company relies on employees to figure out where tools and techniques can deliver operational efficiencies and improve clients’ business.

“It’s about getting champions, rather than chiefs, into the business,” he said.

Too soon?
Some agencies may feel it’s on the early side to make big investments into this area. Though digital agency PMG does a fair amount of work using AI, the agency doesn’t have any defined titles relating to cognitive or machine learning or artificial intelligence.

“Advertisers and brands realize the need for artificial intelligence, but very few are at the point where they’re going to the board and saying, ‘We’re betting everything on artificial intelligence,’ said Dustin Engel, head of analytics and data activation at PMG. “They know the risk of not being part of AI, but they’re not quite willing to bet the farm on that risk.”

He said factors like data quality make some areas of AI still relatively immature. PMG does work with clients on data onboarding, cleansing and standardizing so it will one day be useful in AI applications. It also uses AI when it come to data science and data innovation.

Engel added that AI appears to be polarizing with advertisers.

“Some are excited about it but don’t have clear use cases. Some are skeptical of the hype of AI being the business disruption panacea. Some are cautiously optimistic — stressing cautiously. So it may be early for advertisers as opposed to the agencies,” he wrote in an email. “As for PMG, we not only see AI possibilities in our client media programs but also in managing the operational complexity of our fast-growing business.”

More Events To Build Your Brand? Yes Please!

New Study Shows Brands Expect to Invest More in Events

The research surveyed more than 1,000 marketing professionals across the globe for insights on budget, technology, and more.

Looking for a top notch dose of what’s new, cool and works?  subscribe to Biz Bash at bizbash.com and you will find event nirvana!  Photos in this post are from a global tourism summit recently produced by Bennett & Company.  From chocolate cake for breakfast to a live social media wall it was the kind of brand building experience that accelerates awareness and is worth every minute of planning.

Brand experiences—from trade shows and sponsorships to virtual- or augmented-reality experiences and pop-ups—are an essential part of the marketing mix, and one in three chief marketing officers expect to spend as much as 50 percent of their budget on such experiences, according to new research from Freeman.

The 2017 Freeman Global Brand Experience Study, which the company commissioned from research firm SSI, surveyed more than 1,000 marketing professionals from North America, Asia, and Western Europe. Released Tuesday, the research shares insights on how marketing professionals view events and experiences, budget, digital and technology integration, and more.

According to Freeman, the results show that “more than nine out of 10 of them agree that brand experiences deliver stronger face-to-face interactions and more compelling brand engagements.”

As a provider of brand experiences, Freeman’s business is built on creating these types of events, and the company believes in their effectiveness, but it commissioned the study because “we wanted to validate that externally,” said Chris Cavanaugh, Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer at Freeman.

“Experiences, when integrated with the marketing mix, build brand affinity, bringing people into the tunnel and dimensionalizing the brands,” Cavanaugh said.

While marketing professionals value experiences and plan to invest more in them in the next three to five years, the research showed that they have yet to make the transition. The top three ways brands are connecting with their audiences are their website, social media, and email marketing.

As brands look to invest in experiences, Cavanaugh said they should plan “highly personal, in-real-life experiences.”

The survey also asked about technology. It found that brands involved in more events—20 or more a year—are more likely to integrate technology into their experiences. Among this group, nearly 30 percent use touch-screen technology, 21 percent use location-mapping or beacons, 16 percent use virtual reality, and 15 percent have added gamification elements to events.

“These are highly engaged people who want to lean into events,” Cavanaugh said.