"I believe in media and its power to change the world." - Christa

News, Startups and Starting Over

News is changing so rapidly every day. I get increasingly excited about being apart of that change (more on that in a future post). There are new and more effective ways to tell stories. Bloggers and social media users are now apart of the them and all of the mediums have changed. The art of telling a good story has not only changed for the journalist, but also for the publicist meaning an entirely new strategy has to be considered on both sides, not simply because you and I have low attention spans but because we’ve found it so easy to find and share information ourselves it takes quite a bit of convincing when relying on another outlet or person to do it for us.

The broadcaster of yesteryear will be reporting live from The Huffington Post tomorrow and I’ll be quite excited when television begins to stream regularly on Twitter and Facebook and live multimedia engagement becomes more prevalent. My heart goes out to those with incredible but very limited skill who are or may soon find themselves in a compromising position but very excited for the innovators, the dreamers, the thinkers, the news nerds who have new ideas and inexpensive ways to implement them. The difficult part may simply be getting News Directors, Executive Editors, Managers and the world itself to listen. There is criticism that the craftsmanship of a great story has gone downhill and news is becoming combed over and simplified. My mind goes instantly to the idea of the “six word memoir”, swiftly told but always leaving the point, a great story is simply a great story. The best, is one that connects with the reader or listener, reads swiftly and is easy to comprehend. If it is not good, extra words or jargon won’t improve it. However, images may, video certainly will and social media changes the context entirely by involving the audience.

This is where the idea of new media start-ups and innovators/entrepreneur-types in large corporations excite me. They….well WE are leading the way in how we receive our daily doses of information and lose interest in our previous sources. We qualify what is news now and for the record, music, entertainment and fashion are and should in fact be apart of the news discussion no matter how trivial. These industries create and supply hundreds of thousands of jobs and influence just about everything from the economy to politics.

The newness of it all changes everything and makes it all that more interesting. It requires both journalists and pr professionals to challenge themselves in new ways to tell different stories and aim at different targets. Can you imagine a six word press release? I’m sure both parties would enjoy it. (If you use this idea, I only expect that you send me an example, I’m sure it’ll be great.)

Now for starting over - I did. This can mean rethinking career paths and business models, rethinking how we tell our stories or update our blog posts, rethinking who we build professional relationships with and what projects we sign on for. Starting over means changing newscasts and news sites. Bloggers can innovate quickly because their operations are nimble and they usually answer to one person, themselves. Why not bring more of them into businesses and give them the freedom to make changes there? This means breaking the rules and tossing out the playbook, in only a short period of time, they won’t apply anyway. Excited yet?

This ain’t Vogue…Conde Nast Moves into the App Business 

Its never a surprise when companies renew their business models, or hop on trends initiated by successful startups over the previous five years. But this may be interesting. While other companies are taking first shots at flash sale sites, new ways to share their online content and reworking what they already have, Conde Nast has taken to something completely new. 

Last week, the publishing powerhouse of titles like Vogue, Wired, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and Lucky debuted “Santa’s Hideout”, an updated twist on the christmas list for kids. The app allows children to shop from a virtual store adding toys to a wishlist that presumably goes to Santa. Parents then set spending limits and share with family and friends allowing each to make purchases. After a toy is bought, it is scratched off the list for the parent but not for the child to see. In the mean time the child can do message exchanges with Santa to which he responds.

So what led Conde Nast into the Santa app industry? A very smart woman, Julianna Stock, who manages a small digital team at the company. The app came after a conversation with her son regarding what he wanted for Christmas, to which he replied, he had already told Santa. The wheels began working. “I was sort of in a quandary and I felt like I needed a solution,” Stock said. Solution she and her team found with an app that’s powered from Amazon’s API  and allows for Conde Nast to take a cut of every Amazon purchase. 

“You never know where that’s going to lead,” Schutte said. “This product…may sell on its own right. Maybe the software has applicability across the company. Maybe it’s something that we spin off into another company one day.” With that sort of curiosity, they just may. 

A Case for Blogging

While there are quite a few posts floating around the internet from the past 3-5 years over the growing importance of blogging and engaging via social media, I’ve noticed something. A lot of people who actually work in media simply aren’t doing it. While my study isn’t scientific, I’ve taken a bit of a tally from all of my friends and colleagues who are in the media industry, either in public relations, journalism or a related field and out of about ten I’ve spoken to about the subject only about two actually have blogs…that they actually maintain.

I can only assume its because of the back and forth as to whether or not bloggers are relevant, whether or not they’re taking away from the value of journalism and whether or not they have a clear grasp or concept of storytelling. These are all true and untrue in some cases, but the point is blogging helps media pros more than it could ever hurt.

I spoke to two different media professionals, both veteran broadcast journalists about getting into a newsroom if you’ve been out for sometime. Both gave the tried and true advice of starting at a small place then building big and then suddenly stopped as if to say, “wait, how could I forget?”. The male journalist - who works at a national network - said you can bypass a lot of steps by “using your own blog to produce your own content”. He was both adamant and ecstatic about that recommendation. The female journalist who works at a local station in New York said freelancers can get in the door by “pitching themselves with their blogs”. Surprisingly enough, while both had spent quite sometime in the business, neither had one.

Non-journalists and media types have found a way to use their blogs to promote their cooking and DIY skills, fashion know-how and obsessions with celebrity culture (and have built great professions for themselves in doing so), yet still, many of the drivers of the industry have yet to jump on the bandwagon.

In reality, blogging in itself is not journalism, or anything else for that manner, its simply a medium, like television, like newspapers, like online publications. How its used is of course up to the person behind the wheel, or the keyboard.

I must say, I’ve landed some of my biggest opportunities and meeting via blogging and social media, its an opportunity to write on whatever you’d like, in your own voice without censorship and editing and connect to just about any reader in the world you desire. There is freedom in  it and to some degree, a great deal of control.

I’ve heard a pr friend time and time again recommend a blog for a client, stating they have little chances at lasting or growing without it and journalist friend telling a younger colleague “Get a blog! Engage!” all while never quite taking that advice.

Well my friends, there is a case for one. Whether the goal is to write great stories or build a great brand, the assortment of blogging platforms, applications and tools gives just about anyone in the world the opportunity to do both. Why should non-media types, aspiring fashionistas and self-proclaimed gossip columnists with no experience in media at all be the only individuals to take them up on the offer?



The pain in my heart on seeing one hungry, thirsty child give another water was overwhelming. Allah protect them. Ameen.


The pain in my heart on seeing one hungry, thirsty child give another water was overwhelming. Allah protect them. Ameen.


Something to reflect on

Something to reflect on


People often ask, “How do you define an ‘Influencer’?” - I believe this gets it just about right. 

Voices of #OccupyWallStreet

This is another one of a series of videos I recorded and conversations I had with protestors down in Liberty Plaza at Occupy Wall Street. Its interesting, when we think revolution, we have a tendency to think radical 20-30 somethings dressed in grunge shouting and making brash demands. We rarely envision the middle-aged housewife who once worked and now peacefully protests for a better future for her teenage daughters. 

I noticed this woman standing peacefully with her sign, not so much as waiting to be heard, but waiting to be seen, both literally and figuratively. She is another one of the unique voices of Occupy Wall Street. Though there are many - people, voices and causes - some tend to stand out more than others. 

The audio here is a bit difficult, but I do suggest listening from beginning to end. I believe this is what the movement really looks like, what it really is.



The voices of #OccupyWallStreet- Bob Dylan and Times That Never Changed

I took this picture this past Sunday - October 17, 2011- I couldn’t help but ask myself what year it was when I looked down at the shot. I was quickly reminded after realizing I was looking at the footage on my ipad, something so far from anything the hippies of 1964 had known. But rebellion wasn’t. Coming together for a cause was something 20-somethings of yesteryear knew well. Are we so far removed?

I recorded the video above walking through Liberty Plaza with a friend who explained to me what had been going on for the past few days, some of the causes and who I should be getting answers from. They say “If you don’t learn from your past, you’re bound to repeat it.” Perhaps we never learned our lesson. The social revolution at the end of The Sixties mirrors the one we’re having today, falling just short of social media and new technology that takes a grass roots movement global in a matter of days.

Gen Y is often defined as a lost generation so different than any that’s ever come before, but do we really differ?

The young man playing the guitar in the video is singing Bob Dylan’s “Times They Are A Changin”. 1963 was the year the song was released. A verse goes…”

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’

The sons and daughters have become the fathers and mothers, grandparents and mentors. Perhaps they’ve forgotten what not only our generation, but theirs joined hands together and sang for.


Watch the video ;)