Tag Archives: News

How the media failed at marketing and made us sick

The Internet did not kill Old Media ✎ By Wayne K. Spear

First, a Venn Diagram.

Venn-Diagram

Proximity is physical distance, Influence is the degree to which something directly affects you, and Control is your ability to do something about it.

At the centre, where the spheres intersect, are far-away events that have little effect on your life and that you have no power to control.

This intersection is the news.

News appears to break the rules of sticky marketing. Since the job of media is to sell eyeballs to advertisers, breaking these rules is a bad idea.

What exactly is it that the media sell?

Before we explore this question, here’s a quotation from Hoover Adams, of the Dunn Daily Record, reproduced in Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick:

I’ll bet that if the Daily Record reprinted the entire Dunn telephone directory tonight, half the people would sit down and check it to be sure their name was included.

I don’t need to explain why the New York Times doesn’t print the Manhattan phone directory, or why the Wall Street Journal doesn’t run stories on happenings around my dining room table.

But if the Wall Street Journal did do this, I’d read with keen and active interest.

Local is a hook. Hooks are sticky—our eyeballs get snagged and we can’t turn away.

The most powerful hook is your name. You can’t not read something that has your name in it.

If tomorrow’s New York Times had the headline “Spear Considers Bold Business Move,” I would buy ten copies.

Come to think of it, reprinting the phone directory is likely a good strategy, in an era when news media struggle merely to survive.

Spending your time focused on things far away, well outside the sphere of your life, that you have no power to control, is the path to mental illness.

At the very least, it’s a recipe for gloom, negativity, cynicism, and resignation.

A healthy person’s Venn diagram intersects at nearness, influence, and control—focused on the people and events that they can influence for the better.

In fact, sticky marketing can be condensed into a kindred formula: you must demonstrate how your product, service, or message solves a painful problem of your audience.

No wonder we loathe a media that is forever bringing us bad news from across the world of things we have no power to change.

Worse yet, the bad news from across the world is emotionally charged.

Emotion is a powerful hook.

In fact, it’s one of the six “hooks” of Made to Stick:

1 – Simple
2 – Unexpected
3 – Concrete
4 – Credible
5 – Emotional
6 – Story

This is the answer to our question What exactly do the media sell?

Powerful, emotional hooks. Outrage, scandal, indignation, horror, pathos, fear.

Lacking the prospect of proximity, nearness, and control, these hooks produce mental fatigue and malaise.

Our logical mind recoils. We ask “why exactly are we reading the news?” We come to the realization that the news, in fact, is best ignored.

Perhaps, then, the Internet did not kill Old Media, or at least not in the way we had thought. Perhaps it was all a marketing failure.

Running explained

Bloodynipples

RUNNING WAS INVENTED 4,600,000 years ago by our human ancestors, Australopithecus. In the 34th Century BCE, ancient Sumerians called this activity Naputu—a verb meaning “to not get yourself eaten by wild animals.”

Four thousand years ago, religious festivals led to the popularization of running as sport. Even before the first Olympic Games, human beings were running in honour of the gods—in particular, Muffinius (god of love handles), Wardrobius (god of things languishing in your closet) and Januarius (god of the three-month GoodLife membership).

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How my school days prepared me for a world which doesn’t exist, and didn’t prepare me for the one that does

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SCHOOL DAYS. They were so long ago, you probably don’t remember them. Or maybe what you remember didn’t happen.

I’m talking about you, not about me. My memories, of being the team captain and MVP, are as sound as any Ken Burns documentary. See how the camera pans across a photo of me, holding an electrified cattle prod to keep from being torn to pieces by sex-crazed females? It’s more dramatic with video, but that’s what you get when imaginary Ken Burns narrates the Dionysian out-in-the-woods madness that was your school days.

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5 tell-tale warning signs that you may be a writer

Warning: you may be a writer!

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WHAT IS A WRITER? The screen shot above has some suggestions: writers are crazy, forgetful and always selling someone out.

Now, I’m a writer and I must object to this libel. I am not “always” selling someone out. Tuesday to Friday I write, Saturday I do laundry, and Sunday morning I take a long walk in the park. That leaves, at most, Sunday afternoon and all of Monday for selling people out.

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5 common mistakes made by writers

PAPER-AND-PENCIL

IF YOU READ this little website of mine, you probably know I’m a fan of science and that I talk about sciency and logically things all the time. My partner Nicole follows IFLScience, where they have some science gift ideas that are cool and that you should definitely check out, for that special science nerd in your life.

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Are you amazing and full of life? Well here is how you know.

Genius Desk

A WISE MAN once said that a cluttered desk is the sign of a brilliant, active mind. And the reason the wise man said this is that people kept coming into his office and saying Oh my god—LOOK AT YOUR DESK! And frankly, I’d had just about enough of that.

Now I would like to update this irrefutable truism to read as follows:

Any mess that I make, anywhere, is a certain indication of how amazing and full of vitality I am.

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In English, this is called a coup

I SAW THIS SIGN on the subway:

french-2050

The caption, which I wasn’t able to photograph in full, reads,

In 2050, the first spoken language in the world will be French

As an uncredentialled but 100% reliable brainologist, I point out that this sign does not say French will be the most-spoken language. But your brain processes it that way. And the creators of this sign, who are probably credentialed French brainologists, know this, and take advantage. I’m not saying this sign is lying. My point is much less bold and much less controversial than that …

Those French people are sneaky

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Civilization is too important to let Venetian old-style serifs fall to the jihadists

Jacqueline Milczarek
I hope it’s Comic Sans and Papyrus!

A FEW DAYS AGO, I told you about my adventures in televisionland. Well, wouldn’t you know it, but right after I published that piece, Bell Media announced a big whack of layoffs. Here’s how Canadian Press reported it:

Jacqueline Milczarek

Jacqueline Milczarek is the host of CTV News Panel, or as I’ve been referring to it for nine months, “this newsy thingy I’m apparently on each week.” Or rather, she was the host, up until now.

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Sex and Drugs and Mowing Lawn

I think this is one of those Spanish-language cop buddy shows where they put aside their differences over snack foods
I think this translates as “Nadie Can’t Resist and Neither Can Sabor.” It’s probably one of those Spanish-language cop buddy shows where the odd couple put aside their differences over snack foods.

SOME THINGS ARE GREAT, and there’s just no denying it. And the measure of greatness is irresistibility. That’s why, on a scale of one-to-ten, drugs are seven and sex is maybe an eight but potato chips are definitely a ten. Because I know that, if there’s a bag of chips on the counter, resistance is futile. I am going to be eating those chips—it’s that simple. Whereas I’m not sure how I even feel about a bag of sex. Is there such a thing? If so, I doubt it’s available in barbecue, salt and vinegar, and dill pickle. Certainly there’s no all-dressed. So chips win.

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Strange Beauty: Podcast 73

Week of 09.11.2014

Beautiful young woman getting facial mask applied

Berlin Wall | Cooking with Blood | Crimes Against Headlines | Music: Freddie Gibbs, “Shame” | George W. Bush Writes a Book About His Father | New Star Wars Movie | Bruce Jenner | Strange Beauty Tips | Jian Ghomeshi

Download entire podcast (320 kbps mp3) | Visit The Roundtable on Facebook.

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Inside the Glamorous Life of an Author

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TODAY I MET my book about residential schools — called … um … Residential Schools — for the first time. For that reason alone it was a good day, and I wasn’t even sure if I’d be up for it, since I spent a good part of yesterday in bed with a fever, dreaming about the apocalypse. Or at least I think it was the apocalypse. It could have just been about the publishing industry. Haha! Ever funny that one.

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Coffee Talk

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HOWDY, and thanks for dropping by! And what a week it’s been! You can tell I’m right about this by all these exclamation marks! Or maybe what’s happening here is that I’ve managed to get all the punctuation my friend Shelagh Rogers is not using today

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… and I have no idea why, but I’ll be sure to ask her and report back. Er, I mean, I’LL BE SURE TO REPORT BACK!!!

Anyways, people, this is the part of my little blog where we pour ourselves a beverage and talk about the issues of the day. So here we go (!)

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