Yale Digital Conference | Digital Trends: New, Now and Next
Articles,  Blog

Yale Digital Conference | Digital Trends: New, Now and Next

– So, thanks, it’s good to be here today. So, like Fran said, I’ve
worked for about eight years in digital marketing and strategy and there’s so much
happening in the space. When I first joined Weber, every two years we would
reevaluate our offerings and what we were doing, and then it seemed like, okay, we’re rethinking things every month, and now it’s like every six months we’re rethinking what we’re offering. And everything that’s
on the screen right now, we could spend the entire 50 minutes talking about any of them. But today I’m gonna pick five of these that I think might be relevant
to Yale sort of holistically and I’m gonna talk about
them at a pretty high level because of the amount
of time that we have, so I’m gonna move pretty fast and I will get you out there
for your drinks in time. This is actually my second
time presenting here. Last time I came I spoke
about content marketing and how do you operationalize
a content marketing team, and the biggest piece of feedback I got was that I was speaking too
much from a corporate lens and not enough for how things
could be applied at Yale. So at the end of every section I have a couple of thought-starters on what these trends might mean for Yale, and hopefully a few of those
land and resonate with you. If not, happy to answer
questions at the end. So, the first thing that I
wanna start with today is a story about stories. The title of this presentation is “Digital Trends: New, Now and Next”. This is very much a now category, not something that’s coming next. This is really something
that we are considering a new best practice that
everyone has gotta grapple with and have a really strong handle on. And when I say stories I don’t mean narrative and storytelling, I mean stories as a technical
format for conveying content. So, one of the ways that I know that I’m getting really old in this space is that I now work with people who have no recollection of
whole eras of the Internet that were vital to my career, and I think this is something that is about to fall into that category when I deal with some of the interns and new people that we hire. If you think back 10 years ago when smartphones were just achieving some kind of a critical mass
of penetration in the market, everyone was thinking about
how you do video on smartphones and everyone was doing what they always do with a new technology, they were taking the old format, the old conventions from
film and TV and broadcast and just slapping them
into the new format. And as a result we have a lot of people really awkwardly flipping their phones to view things sideways, unfortunate incidents
when the sides of content is getting cut out, and it’s very much a
not-native format of video for the platform. Fast forward to today, times have changed. Whereas 10 years ago people
would not have even thought about filming content vertically, and in fact I’ve had many conversations with film production people where they don’t want to
shoot content vertically because it is so against the aesthetic that they were trained with, now people are very much embracing
that as a format overall. People are spending huge chunks of time on mobile more so than desktop
more and more every year. Stories are becoming the
true native application of video on mobile. And just looking around I’m guessing that everyone has a pretty good idea of what I mean when I say
stories, but just in case. Stories are a video format
that combines video components, emoji overlays, typography,
additional graphics into a series of static and
moving images that tell a story. And just a quick little
example of what they’re like. This is one that Honda did. This is actually very
simple as far as stories go. It’s just one video, there’s
a few different overlays, the emojis are playing a key role. Some of them can actually
get quite complex. And the story about stories is that this is something
that started with Snapchat. This was one of the key
features that Snapchat used as a differentiator against
other social networks, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,
that it was competing with. Facebook stole the format. They integrated it into
the core Facebook app. Most significantly they
made it a key piece of Instagram’s functionality. That’s one of the things
that caused Instagram to explode in popularity
over the last few years. At the same time they
kneecapped Snapchat’s growth and were able to keep them
as a second-tier competitor rather than someone who could truly steal a lot of market share from Facebook. But Facebook isn’t the
only that has taken it. Twitter has a version of this, WhatsApp has a version of this. When we think about
across messaging platforms and social platforms, the
use of stories is exploding. Last year, in their Q4 reporting, Instagram reported that on a daily basis, half, 500 million of
their one billion users, were using stories on a daily basis. So they’re either creating
stories themselves or they’re interacting with stories that their friends have created. So, when you think about
the types of content that you need to be
sending out into the world to reach your audiences, stories is very quickly becoming one of the dominant forms
across all social platforms. And so, very quickly, what could this potentially mean for Yale? If you are in charge with
running communications programs that reach out to students
or prospective students, that 100% means mobile and video, and at this point I
assume most people know that those two things are vital to any communications campaign
aimed at a younger audience, but it also means stories. If you’re just doing link share posts or graphics or traditional video, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to talk to these audiences in a native way and you really need to start thinking about how you’re going to
experiment with stories over the next year. I think when people first see stories and process what they are, they go towards this place
of thinking of stories as just a new evolution
of fast snackable content for a generation that
has a shorter and shorter attention span. I don’t think that’s actually correct. Certainly there are some applications that fall into that realm, but if you look at what
news organizations are doing on Instagram, on Facebook, on Snapchat. Institutions like Vox are doing
really interesting things, taking the ability of stories to string multiple different
content pieces together. So, think opening with a
title card moving to a video, moving into a graphic of some kind, moving into a type of graphic
statement back to a video. And they’re actually
finding really engaging long-form uses for stories where you can talk about
really complex topics through a content format that maybe you weren’t quite thinking would be able to bear
that much information. So, when you think about how
you might use stories this year don’t just think about
students and brand affinity and raising awareness and short,
really quick snappy things. Think about how it might also apply to longer form, more complex
topics that you want to convey but you want to get out to audiences on all of the different channels, not just in a written text
or the types of formats that you would usually
think of for long form. Live streaming is the new social. When I got into digital marketing and advertising and strategy, it was the golden era of blogs, so I’m very much of the techno utopian democratization of everything. Not that I believe any of that anymore after the last two years. But I think what we saw happen was as blogging and those technologies faded, social came onto the scene. You have Mark Zuckerberg talking about the way that Facebook and social facilitates community
building and gathering, and I think we’ve all seen
that that is not actually true in a lot of instances lately. But one of the things that
I’m really interested in is the way the there are some new applications of live streaming that may actually be able to bring back just a little bit of that
hope that there could be a true community platform
enabled by technology. So, before we get into
what that actually is, some background. Over the last year, streaming and over-the-top
delivery systems for media have started to surpass
paid TV and broadcast in terms of total number of subscribers. If you look at the growth of
cord-cutters and cord-nevers, these are people who
have either gotten rid of their traditional TV and cable packages or have never actually
had cable and TV packages ’cause they’re getting
it all over the Internet. These are continuing grow. And these types of streaming applications are becoming the dominant
way that people get what we have traditionally thought of as programs, televised media. So, these platforms are starting to gain a majority share of the market over the traditional vehicles. At the same time, they’re also starting
to dominate creatively. So, last year was the first year where the streaming services,
Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, actually commissioned and
produced more TV shows than all the broadcast networks combined. So, we’re now at a place where the dynamic has completely flipped and streaming is now the
dominant and natural way that people are taking
in that type of media. Social platforms are seeing this. It’s been no secret that
for a really long time Facebook’s goal from an
advertising perspective has been to steal away the dollars that would traditionally go to television and realize that as its own revenue. We’ve seen over the last
year a number of platforms, Facebook, Instagram, all trying to launch their own version of streaming television. And if you take a look
at total number of users, which is what this chart shows right now, it seems like they’re winning. There’s more people who are streaming and watching that type of program plus pure, raw,
user-created live streaming than on digital streaming
subscription services, TV networks or site apps or
even gaming applications. But this is all a lie, actually. This data is fuzzy. Facebook would love for
you to believe it’s true but it’s only part of the story. Even though they have
more people by volume than some channels, I think the future of live streaming isn’t necessarily going
to be the social platform, it’s going to be Twitch. It’s going to be places
like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, they’re actually getting a
lot more time and engagement with these audiences than the Facebooks and the
Instagrams of the world. And Twitch in particular I think is poised to
dominate in this space, not necessarily on the
programmed media side but on the raw, live
stream, user-created side. So, for those of you who
don’t know what Twitch is, Twitch is a live streaming platform that’s available on all devices. It’s made its reputation
on the back of e-sports. People who play video
games professionally go on, play each other, stream
themselves playing these games, and while they’re playing
there’s a running live chat with all the people who follow them and they’re engaging with
conversation with those people. They’re reading the comments, those people are
interacting with each other, with the streamer. There’s some really
interesting subscription and incentive infrastructure built in to allow people to support creators and pay them and tip them. There’s interesting incentives that the creators and streamers can send back down into the community to support their loyal followers. And what we’ve seen over
the past few years is not only are people spending huge amounts of time on this platform, there are genuine communities forming around these games,
around these streamers, that for the moment don’t
have some of the same problems that we’re seeing in terms
of community formation and public discussion and
bullying issues, trolls, people coming in to poison the dialogue. For the moment that hasn’t
really happened at Twitch. But at the same time I think
even though that’s how Twitch has become the platform that it is, that’s not what Twitch sees
as the future of the platform. It’s always gonna be an important piece, but Twitch itself wants to become the platform for all live streaming for a whole variety of communities, from musicians to people
who right now are doing beauty blogging on Instagram or YouTube, DIY, politics, travel. Twitch wants to be the place where anyone who has a
use for live streaming and wants to build a community can come and make that
platform their home. And so far we’re actually
seeing some success there. There’s been really
interesting experiments by The Washington Post
and news organizations to jump on the platform and
create their own streams. Amateur musicians are
coming on the platform and building their own communities and finding ways to support
creation of their songs. Nike and other brands are
coming onto the platform to both support the e-gamers and piggyback off of the
streams that they’re doing but also find new and interesting ways to run their own streams on the platform. And as we get into the 2020 election cycle I think there’s going to be
no shortage of live events that are right for streaming and I think it’s gonna be
really interesting to see if Twitch can have a breakout moment in the politics and news space and not just the e-sports community. And when that happens I think
it’ll be interesting to see can they actually deal
with all of the problems that we’ve seen on social media that are inevitably gonna get poured over into that platform as well. So, what does this mean for Yale? Start thinking about a live
content streaming strategy. I’m sure you guys have
live streaming strategies, you guys do tons of events like this. I’m sure there’s no shortage
of streams happening on owned channels for Yale. But what is your live
streaming channel strategy off Yale channels? What would you do if you had to go and leverage something like Twitch in order to meet an
audience where they are and not expect them to come to you? I think over the next year everyone should be watching
Twitch to see what happens. There’s going to be so many
experiments on the platform by brands, by politicians. It’s gonna be really interesting to see where they can break
through and what takes off versus is it gonna just be a blip and be purely relegated
to this e-sports space. And lastly, as you think
about your strategy, don’t just think, oh, I’m gonna go and create my own live stream on Twitch. There are lots of interesting
creators on the platform and there’s lots of ways to
piggyback off of those creators. I think one of the more interesting
things that I’ve seen is climate scientists have
actually been piggybacking onto the live stream of gamers. They’ll talk to someone
who has a following, they’ll play a game
like Fortnite with them, and they will talk about
climate change science with the gamer while
they’re playing Fortnite so that they’re able to reach that broader community of people who are used to following that streamer. Number three, rise of
the machine interfaces. So, I think the big headline point here is we’re living through probably
one of the biggest changes in user interfaces in 30 years. If you think back we had the introduction of the graphical user interface. Things were pretty static for a long time. We got mobile. Mobile for the longest time didn’t even have its own native formats, we’re just getting to that now, it was just a reapplication
of what we had from desktops into a smaller screen. But now we’re actually starting to see much more native applications of how we deal with a mobile-first world, and I wanna talk through
a few of those things, a few of those interfaces
and what they mean. But first I think it’s
important to note that messaging and one-to-one or
one-to-few communications has started to overtake social media. So, what you’re seeing here, the big four messaging platforms back in I think it was, yeah, 2015 crossed over and have more daily users than the social platforms, and that is growing and is
probably going to keep growing. This is driven in many ways by Asia but we in the West are starting
to catch up more and more. And I think nowhere do you see this more than in the way Facebook
is pivoting right now. If you think about all the things that they’ve announced lately, one the most significant is
that they’re going to integrate WhatsApp, Messenger, and
Instagram on the backend to essentially create one
interoperable messaging system. And in part they’re doing that because those messaging platforms
are private and encrypted, and if more people are moving over towards messaging platforms,
Facebook wants to be there. And if that can be in a
private and encrypted format, Facebook doesn’t have to deal with all of the content
challenges that it has right now ’cause it can’t see the content that’s going over those networks. So if people are bullying, if there’s misinformation campaigns, Facebook is technically
unable to even intervene in the way that a lot of
the policy discussions are happening right now. So that’s one reason. It’s gonna solve the moderation
challenges they have. But the other piece is that they see the way that user habits are changing. They look at WeeChat in Asia
and see how it has become the one platform where everything happens. If you’re a user of WeeChat in Asia, you can use it to order
food, you can get your car, you can order a movie or plane tickets, you can shop, you can
chat with your friends. Everything is plugged
into the messaging system and everything, including commerce, can happen through that platform. Facebook wants to be the
one that’s in the position to be the WeeChat of the West and I think that’s also
another reason you see them starting to dip their toe
into the crypto space. It would be great if they could have their own currency within the platform to help negotiate all
of those transactions. But this is actually a big problem for brands, corporations,
institutions like Yale. We do not have as advanced
the messaging platform as they do in Asia here, and if you’re trying to reach people on these messaging
platforms, it’s really hard. It is not like a plug-and-play add system or just being able to get up organically and hope people find you on the platform. Those opportunities are not
nearly as robust in messaging here as they are in Asia, so that is a conundrum
that a lot of brands are gonna have to start dealing with. Pivoting, I promise this
is not a non sequitur. At the same time, we’re
seeing AI begin to transform whole industries and
sectors of the economy. At Weber Shandwick we
really looked at this as an analytics opportunity first, and the chart that you
see here from McKinsey is actually sizing the
analytics opportunity of AI. I know it’s hard to read, I’ll spare you. The upshot is hundreds
of billions of dollars in potential value to
be unlocked through AI just in the analytics
space across industries. But when you think about
marketing and communications inclusive of but beyond analytics, McKinsey thinks there’s a
$1-2 trillion opportunity to be unlocked there as well. And that’s everything from
ways that AI can assist with better content personalization, upgrading service functions. There are lots of ways that AI can aid in communication plans. So, why am I talking about that and what is the connection to messaging? It’s chatbots. What we’re seeing right now
is that AI-driven chatbots are really the initial touchpoint where these two trends are coming together in a way that’s really
impactful for our clients. So, more and more consumers
want to interact with brands through messaging systems. They don’t wanna deal with phone trees and terrible personal customer service. They don’t wanna go and navigate websites where the logic isn’t
constructed according to the way that they want to interact with the brand or how their questions
need to be answered. They want a very simple system
where they can ask questions, questions can be answered, and they can get to the thing
that they need to get to as fast as possible. And chatbots, particularly chatbots that are leveraging natural
language processing in AI to understand intent and sentiment and connect that back up to a
potential bank of responses, those are the places where we’re seeing really successful engagements and a really successful application in bringing AI and messaging together in a way that solves
that messaging challenge in terms of how you reach people through that type of a platform. And even the best chatbot
is still going to be, for now at least, screen and text-based. But that is also not the way that things are trending overall when we think about user interfaces. We’re seeing more and more people are interacting through voice. So, right now more than
1/2 of the US population actively uses voice assistance
either through their phone or through a smart speaker in the home. Excuse me. And this is starting to radically alter both the search market and the way people expect to interact with technology and with brands. So, Comscore estimates that by next year 50% of all searches are
gonna be done by voice. And Gartner says by the end of next year 30% of all those searches
are gonna be on a device that does not have a screen at all. So, that creates another
set of challenges. If you think about what
a search strategy is, how do you make sure that when
people are asking questions to a voice assistant, your results are getting surfaced? How do you create applications that can reach and engage
people on those platforms? We’re starting to see some interesting things
happen in that space. Two in particular that seem
to be successful so far is customer service. We’ve seen some companies,
particularly energy utilities, put together customer service applications that can be activated by
voice on home speakers and walk you through any
problem that you’re having, and they’ve also been
using it for bill pay. So, very common customer interactions, they’re going out, finding
new ways to get people through what can often
be frustrating processes faster using new technology. And so, what does that mean at Yale? I think it’s a few very
disparate things, actually. So, I’m sure a lot of you are
in charge of social strategy for different functions within Yale. So, how is your social
strategy going to evolve as audiences stop using social
and move over to messaging? What are you gonna do when
it’s harder to reach them because the platforms are less open, less conducive to mass communication? When we think about
leveraging AI, chatbots, what are you doing on a regular basis that can be routinized and automated? What are the frequently asked questions that your department gets all of the time that are either buried in web pages or take an inordinate amount
of a real person’s time to run down when they’re
getting them all the time? These are places where some
kind of automated solution like a chatbot or a messaging application can actually solve those problems, give you a better experience to users, and free up your staff time
to do more strategic things or take the people who really
need the one-on-one help and go a lot deeper and
have a much higher level of that personal customer
service over fewer interactions rather than spreading themselves thin over a large number of interactions. And lastly, how is your
SEO strategy gonna evolve as voice captures more and
more of the search market? It’s not gonna be about
optimizing around keywords, to the extent that your pages
are constructed correctly. That always helps but
people are asking questions. Right now they’re asking questions about the weather and news and sports but soon they’re gonna be asking
questions about everything. And are you ready to get
served in the top result for a particular question
that is gonna be relevant to you as an institution and the people that you wanna talk with? So, fake everything. This one’s probably
pretty self-explanatory. I think we’ve all seen the
issues over the past years. We have Russian bots manipulating
political conversations. We have bots in fraud on the ad side. We have the potential for deepfakes to disrupt political conversation, or we are one deepfake away from a company’s bottom
line getting tanked. And even the stuff we saw around Nancy Pelosi just a few weeks ago with the altered video, what
people would call a cheap fake, it’s not even a real deepfake, it’s just been slightly altered, can cause a huge amount of problem. And we’re even seeing some
interesting things happen, it’s not all negative, we’re seeing some interesting positive fake things happening too, like the growth of what people
are calling fake influencers but are actually almost like
digital AI mascots for brands. And these are just a few
influencers that are not real but are just as influential
as many celebrities are today. So, there’s a lot going on in this space. It probably feels like
we’ve reached peak fake but I think it’s actually
gonna get a lot worse before it gets better. And that’s a challenge for our
clients and for institutions. In this environment,
current listening solutions are pretty inadequate. For the most part when you ask people, how are you monitoring
what people are saying? How are you able to know whether
something is real or fake? People will tell you, “Oh,
we’re using Brandwatch,” or, “We’re using Sysomos
or Crimson Hexagon.” And that’s great, but are
they going deep enough to really understand what is happening and where conversations are coming from? ‘Cause conversations
are not just happening on Facebook and Twitter
and YouTube and Google, there is whole other
layers to the Internet and conversations are
starting way down deep, hidden away from most people, and they are percolating up before you see them go
viral on the main networks. And the challenge is by the
time it gets to the main network if you are a company that is, if you are a company that is
being attacked in some way, if you’re a politician or a government that’s being attacked, by the time it gets to the main networks, it’s too late, all you can do is react. You have no chance of
limiting the conversation, redefining the framework
of the conversation. Your ability to proactively
dampen the effect is already gone. So, the thing that we’re
seeing companies do in response to this is really level up their
listening capabilities, and the way that they’re doing that is what we’re calling media forensics. It’s a set of processes and tools, it’s a combination of AI and machines with human experts who
can do real research and understand what the
machines are uncovering and going to places that the
machines can’t actually go. If you think back to all
of the different platforms, the iceberg in that slide, a lot of them have APIs
that can be scraped by listening services,
a lot of them don’t. A lot of them you have to
have a real person inside who understands the
cultures of the platform investigating what’s happening. And we’re seeing companies
bring these two things together to start to understand not just where things come
from and how they’ve spread but also as a warning system
that something may be coming and they’re going to need
to have a response to it in some way. Just a quick example of how
this has worked in the past. So, everyone probably
recognizes Emma Gonzalez, the Parkland’s activist. She was on a Teen Vogue cover shoot with a few of her fellow activists and she was shown ripping up
this picture of a gun target. And way down in some forums that gun right advocates congregate in, they photoshopped the target into a picture of the Constitution. They started to spread that privately through their own networks. It started to percolate up into
Reddit and some other places that then people took it up and spread it into Twitter, Facebook, and eventually it blew
up and got on the news. So, it’s just an example
of how misinformation can percolate through all of those levels, and media forensics is a way to if necessary backtrack through those steps and understand what happened or hopefully proactively see it before it breaks out
and (mumbles) respond. So, it is very much a crisis
mitigation and prevention tool but I think it also goes beyond that. So, more and more consumers
are pushing companies to take stands on social issues. People want to be engaged with companies that are active socially and politically, and this is putting
companies in a bit of a bind. There’s lots of hashtags and memes and things that are flying
around on social all of the time. How do you know whether something is right for you to jump onto or not? Do you understand the
full provenance of an idea that is going viral on the web? And one of the best examples
that I’ve ever seen of this is this reporting by The New York Times. If you haven’t read it I highly
recommend you go and find it and take a look at it later today. It takes like 10 minutes to get through. It’s less intimidating
than it looks at times. But what they did was took
a look at this phrase, “jobs not mobs,” and they
traced the evolution of it from right-wing forums over onto Reddit where it was picked up by Scott Adams, the cartoonist who created Dilbert, promoted onto his social channels, picked up by Fox News and
then eventually tweeted out by the President of the United States. So, again, it’s about
understanding the full context of where something comes from
and how the conversations that we’re having as a
society are developing so that you can evaluate
whether or not it makes sense for you to be in that conversation or not or at least have a game plan for responding to that conversation if it’s something that’s directed
at you as an organization. And so, what it means at Yale? I think this is very much in line with what we typically tell our clients. So, what is your monitoring
solution right now? How deep does it go? What can it tell you,
what can’t it tell you? I think it’s worth taking
a moment to understand what it’s capable of and what
your need is for going deeper and having a different
solution than what you have. Explore scenarios in which fake content might damage your reputation. People that work in public affairs or issues management positions, I’m sure you have an understanding of places where Yale might be perceived as vulnerable or at risk. What do those scenarios look like and then how do you game plan those out? Can you conduct crisis training to make sure that your response frameworks are actually something that’s workable and are not gonna fail you when the moment to deploy
them actually comes. And how do you create
muscle memory among staff who maybe are not familiar
with crisis management and you want them to know
how they’re going to react in the moment when
something like this happens. I’m doing fantastic on
time, this is great. So, last one. This is a new idea so you
guys are my guinea pigs here. I have not presented this anywhere before. What I’m calling personal ecosystems as the new executive equity. And if executive equity is too agency jargony of a term for you, it basically just means how do we promote and raise the profile of
executives within an organization through PR, marketing, advertising. So, I’ve mentioned this before but there really is a strong trend towards consumers wanting CEOs to be engaged on social right now, and CEOs starting to hop on social. We’re seeing that consumers are more likely to trust companies when they see that their
CEO is active on social and responding to issues about the company or things that are happening in the news. We see that employee engagement
and satisfaction is higher in companies where CEOs
are engaging in those ways. And again the consumers are more likely to want to associate and make purchases with companies that they
feel are taking a stand and where they see that active engagement, particularly from the C-suite. And all of this really
points to over the next year an influx of even more
CEOs and C-suite executives on social media that
are on there right now, particularly on the
platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. And everyone will tell you you need to have a strategy
for that, and you do. And my response is, yeah, but social is not really
the greatest place anymore. It’s a bit of a dumpster fire. Is that where you want your CEO to engage? Do you want your CEO exposed
to all of the craziness and the people that are gonna
come out of the woodwork and attack? It’s not really a conducive
forum to complex discussions, as we’ve found right now. And the other thing is I
think a lot of executives who will naturally take to the platform are probably early adopters and they’re probably already there, so I do have my own doubts
about whether or not executives that are
coming on late to the game are going to be comfortable in the medium and really put themselves out there and say things that are interesting enough to get the kind of traction
that they’re hoping to get through a social program. Example number one of course is Elon Musk. A totally native user of social, has used it to essentially
be a one-man PR shop that has vastly increased the reputation of all of its companies. But of late we’ve literally seen him destroy shareholder value with a tweet, so a bit of a cautionary tale as well and again something that I think executives and anyone who’s charged with putting together an
executive equity program really needs to think about carefully. At the same time, I am
completely fascinated by the emergence of slow media. I think there’s a really
interesting creative tension happening right now in
the media landscape. So much is pushing towards faster, more snackable, more
visual types of content. All of the advertising
and monetary incentives of the media system are aligned with pushing for that
faster type of content. And I think because of all the challenges we’re having social right now and relative lower trust in the media, people want to pull back from that. They don’t necessarily want to
engage in all of those things as much as they did in the past. And I think we’re starting to see the development of media systems that are tailored more
towards slower consumption, deeper engagement on individual topics and I think this is why
we’re seeing newsletters have a resurgence in popularity
over the last few years. They’re both able to
cut through the clutter of all of the different things that are coming in on your social feeds and give you a curated view
of what is most important. And a lot of the most
successful newsletters don’t try and boil the
ocean and cover everything, they go really deep on one topic. Like Casey Newton’s newsletter for The Verge that specifically covers Facebook and tech and privacy issues. There’s an amazing blog slash newsletter that is about business and
tech called Stratechery. These are all made for
people who want to spend a lot more time and thought
on a particular topic. And I think nowhere
are we seeing this more than in the rise of
podcasting as a format. So, podcasting seems like
it’s gonna keep growing really fast year over year. The ad dollars are starting to
come there as well right now which bodes well for
the health of podcasting as an overall media ecosystem. And as you can see from the chart here, the amount of time people
are spending with podcasts, which is a very intimate format that allows you to go really deep, really thoughtfully, slowly
on an individual subject, that’s also climbing really fast. Two hours per day people are
spending listening to podcasts. We’re starting to get into TV territory in terms of how much of
your time is taking up, and that’s a really great place for people who want to
get messages out there. And the way that all
of this comes together is the personal media ecosystem
for thought leadership. So, what do I mean by this? I think the best example is
just journalists themselves. Journalists can no longer afford to be employed by one news outlet where they’re writing one column
or just covering one beat, they need to get themselves out there in many different formats because A, it increases their value
to the news organizations and helps them pull in more money, but it’s also job security
and helps them find new jobs if the news outlet that they’re
at goes under or cuts staff. They are able to build up personal brands across multiple channels that they’re able to port
with them wherever they go. And Bill Simmons is a
fantastic example of this. He’s pretty much the master at it. So, Bill Simmons, for
those who don’t know, has made his name in sports. He has founded a wide
variety of media platforms. He has his own online
magazine called The Ringer. Before that he had one called Grantland. He has his own podcast. He has livestream, or he did live stream his analysis of Game of
Thrones after every episode. He has a Facebook Live that he puts on during sporting events. Six million followers on Twitter, 177,000 followers on Instagram. He’s got columns on multiple publications. Esquire, Recode. He had an HBO TV show for a while. He has extended his reach
through multiple channels and really built up a personal brand and connection with a
wide variety of audiences that goes really deep on
each of those channels. And I think this is potentially
a really interesting model for thinking about executive equity and thought leadership overall. So, this is Carla B. PhD, I made her up. She’s not real. I tried to get an AI-generated fake person but the aspect ratios didn’t work out, so, she’s a stock photo. But you can imagine
that she is an employee at a biotech startup in Boston. She knows a lot about biology. She knows about startups
’cause she’s in a biotech. She also cares deeply about policy because how policy is implemented directly affects her
ability to do her job. If you are charged with communications at the company that Carla works at, you could think about
all of the different ways you could raise her profile
and get her out there. You could be getting her
on podcasts as an expert to be interviewed on science podcasts, women in tech podcasts. You could be cultivating
her as an expert source with The Wall Street Journal
on the business side. She could have her own Twitter following. She could be a contributor to
a publication on neuroscience that exists on Medium called The Spike. She could be writing a series
of articles on Boston biotech on LinkedIn and cultivating
an audience there. She could be someone who
appears on Facebook Live during company events. And from a paid perspective, as you’re thinking about sponsored content on podcasts or on newsletters, she could be a voice in those channels. So, I think what’s interesting here is this is something that can be applied not just to a CEO or
not just to the C-suite. Expertise in companies
is not just locked up in those few individuals, it exists throughout the organization. She doesn’t have to be
the primary spokesperson that is there on every
channel all the time, and in fact it’s better if she’s not. We have one client that I
have worked on for a while now where one of the challenges they had is they have a bunch of
different departments all of who have experts, all
of who get pitched to media, and because they all want the same media they’re constantly stepping
over each other’s pitches and it’s actually working across purposes with their communication strategy and they’re essentially
competing with themselves for the same space in news articles. If all the experts had
their own tailored plan for where they were being pitched, how that was happening
from an owned standpoint, from an earned standpoint,
from a paid standpoint, I think the reach of any
one particular individual would be smaller but you’d be able to
build up personal brands for all of these people
that run a lot deeper and you’d be able to have
a much more effective media presence overall. So, what does it mean for Yale? I think first and foremost, the basics. Are school leaders and spokespeople adequately represented on social? I stand by what I said about social not necessarily always
being the best place but it is sort of a
baseline that people expect. So, then, are you taking
advantage of slow media formats? And not to convey
content that is snackable but thinking about the long form really complex things you have to convey and the way that those can be vehicles for those types of communications in a way that standard
social channels cannot. And then if you are responsible for promoting a wide number of people, maybe it’s all of the different
faculty in a department and their scholarship, what is the ecosystem strategy that you could build around
each of those individuals that want to work with you from
a communications standpoint to ensure that they’re
all getting exposure, they’re all getting the
right level of effort applied to their communications, and they’re not stepping on each other trying to secure the same spot or talk to the same audiences. And that’s it. I think we’ve got some time for questions. Thanks. (audience applauds) (gentle music)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *