Wait! What? 7/10: Let’s Get Social!

Facebook...like...obviously. (Thinkstock Photos)
Facebook…like…obviously. (Thinkstock Photos)

This week we bring you the social (Facebook) edition of Wait! What?

Facebook, Facebook, Facebook. It’s all about Marky Mark and his band of merry followers.

  • Sorry Jay-Z, it looks like this may be the end of TIDAL for good. Facebook is getting into the music game – the social network is reportedly bringing music videos and perhaps a music streaming service to its platform.
  • And in other video developments, Facebook has added floating videos, so you can watch and scroll at the same time. Our attention spans needed this.
  • Furthermore, media institutions finding it increasingly difficult to compete in the digital world are now giving up their autonomy and working with Facebook to publish articles on the platform.
  • Meerkat is also turning to FB to drive growth after being snubbed by Twitter. Hopefully, the social juggernaut can save the struggling live streaming service.
  • And in case Facebook’s apparent world domination is making you a little anxious, now there is Joyable, a new app to curb anxiety, which we initially found out about via an ad on Facebook.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @BlancandOtus! Have a great weekend!

Wait! What? 6/12: Non-Sportsball News of the Week

"Let's take a break from this to discuss the latest technology trends." (Thinkstock)
“Let’s take a break from this to discuss the latest technology trends.” (Thinkstock)

While you were all busy cheering on the Warriors this past week (Cleveland fans, please see yourselves out immediately) and contemplating whether anyone actually looks good in Golden State yellow (the answer is no), we generously took some time out of our rigorous viewing schedules and compiled some top tech newsbites for you:

  • Somewhere, a Target PR intern scheduled their first press release this week. We’re going to assume it was also their last. Whoops.
  • In news that really rocked the tech world this week, Blackberry and Android are contemplating what could potentially be the least consequential business partnership ever.
  • A little blue bird told us that Dick Costolo stepped down as Twitter’s CEO this week, but we’re not really sure since we were too busy checking our Snapchat stories and Instagram feeds to care.
  • Whoever called Mayweather v. Pacquiao the fight of the decade definitely did not anticipate Apple Music v. Spotify. In one corner, Taylor Swift and Drake. In the other, everyone who’s been listening to music since iTunes stopped being a thing in 2011.
  • And in what was legitimately the coolest tech development of the week, Facebook and Microsoft announced that the Xbox One will be in virtual reality thanks to Oculus Rift starting in 2016. We’re brushing up on our Super Smash Bros skills this very moment.

Now, back to sports.

Wait! What? 6/5: Swipe right for funding; Google’s magical ocean view

Thinkstock Photos
Thinkstock Photos

While you were busy gawking at #CaitlynJenner’s new following (2.3 million fans on Twitter — more than Obama), we were catching up on some crazy tech news you might have missed. Here it is:

  • Be prepared for excessive temptation to kick in: Instagram just launched a Shop Now button, allowing users to shop outside the app with a click. All of those #filtered photographs just got so much more enticing.
  • Ever wondered what lies in the deep, dark depths of the ocean? Thanks to Google Maps Street View Oceans, you can now see spinner dolphins, humpback whales, giant turtles… and gain access to 70% of the untapped territory on our planet.
  • Better Re: The solution to all panic caused by dead or dying phones. Just pop an old battery inside Better Re and it becomes a portable charger for anything that uses a USB cable.
  • Swipe right for…potential equity crowdfunding investment opportunities? Unusual matchmaking app Tendr launched in the U.K. on Wednesday. It allows investors to “star” investment opportunities, promising to remove friction and thereby increase efficiency in deal sourcing.
  • Finally, meet Huggable, the robotic teddy bear. He’s a high-tech puppet that lives in pediatric hospitals to help alleviate anxiety, pain and isolation. He can even talk and play with patients with the aid of a remote operator. Touching, but also further evidence robots will be taking over in the near future.

And that concludes this week’s news bites. Go out and celebrate the first weekend of June with some time on the beach. Or at least enjoy the ocean through the lens of Google Street View. See you next Friday!

Wait! What? 5/29: Justice for gifs, a robot cheetah

You can finally post this robot cheetah gif on Facebook. #progress #hope #change (Source: futurist-foresight.tumblr.com)
You can finally post this robot cheetah gif on Facebook. #progress #hope #change (Source: futurist-foresight.tumblr.com)

Hey there, Friday people! It’s been a short week, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve some cool tech stories. Let’s get this weekend started off right:

  • Google held a big fancy party for itself this weekend and announced about 18 million new projects in development. Even still, that didn’t seem to be enough for some journalists. They must have been holding out for Google Glass 2.0.
  • Comcast, like the Houston Rockets, couldn’t seem to close the deal to buy Time Warner. But this week Charter announced that it had scooped up the company for a cool $55B.
  • Finally the pressure to actually type responses to friends and loved ones has been obliterated completely – gifs now work on Facebook; this is not a drill.  On the flip side this is totally a drill.
  • You ever get the feeling you’re being followed? Well according to recent reports it may be because Facebook Messenger tracks you by default – so you know, check your settings.
  • MIT has created a robot cheetah and they’ve taught it to jump without losing its pace. While it may terrify some of you, the video is insanely awesome.

Now that you’ve had your fill of tech news, go out there and rewatch the new Mad Max for the second, or third, or fourth time.

Wait! What? 5/22: A handy-dandy email helper, a rapping robot and so much more

Thinkstock
Thinkstock

Hey there, Friday people! Here are a few weird tech stories to start your holiday weekend:

  • Having trouble writing emails? Can’t figure out what to say? Crystal can help – the startup uses public online data about email recipients to help writers craft the perfect note. Finally, a purpose for obsessive Internet stalking.
  • It looks like the music industry could be facing another major setback. DeepBeat, the world’s first AI rapper is taking the stage. He may be crap now, but just wait for 2.0.
  • Has Periscope won? Looks like Meerkat is going to have to go through a major overhaul if it wants to stay relevant…but those critters are just so damn cute.
  • For any identical twins out there, your days of trading places are over. New DNA technology makes it easier for police to catch the right twin. Hopefully this will stem the recent tide of identical twin-related crimes we’ve been seeing.
  • Light Phone is the newest iteration of technology that mimics low-tech gadgets of yore. In this case, the mythical cell phone. While it’s only $100, you have to own a smartphone for it to work. So I suggest an alternative – revive your Sidekick and ditch dumb-smart tech forever. Be free!

That’s all for now; go enjoy the long weekend! And be sure to follow us on Twitter @BlancandOtus.

Wait, What?! 5/1: Drones in Nepal; Secret CEO sells his Ferrari

Drones: they're not all evil. (Thinkstock)
Drones: they’re not all evil. (Thinkstock)

Happy Friday and first day of May! As your day filled with Justin Timberlake memes winds to a close, let’s have a look at what you may have missed in the world of tech:

  • Drones are helping the relief effort after the earthquake in Nepal by identifying obstructed roads or damaged infrastructure. (Proving that tech sometimes actually can save the world.)
  • Apple confirmed that the new Apple Watch may not work properly for those with tattoos. Bay Area hipsters everywhere are outraged and canceling their orders en masse over what they’re calling #TattooGate. Just kidding; they probably don’t care.
  • The secret is out! The founder of anonymous/failed social app Secret announced the company is shutting down for good and selling his Ferrari. Ironically, most employees found out on Secret.
  • Are they or aren’t they? Rumor had it this week that Salesforce has hired bankers to field a potential takeover offer…for a discounted price of $44 billion!
  • Microsoft’s machine-learning team built a robot that can guess your gender and age. We tested it out with a rather blurry photo and it guessed age 16. SPOT ON ROBOT, SPOT ON.

Well, there you have it – our favorite tech stories from the week! If that wasn’t enough and you must have MOAR news, visit @BlancandOtus or check back next Friday!

The New Rules of News and Content Values

Thinkstock
Thinkstock

The line between news and content is rapidly blurring. As many BuzzFeed readers will attest, it’s no longer strange to see an article on Hillary Clinton’s approach to campaigning beside a list of 22 (very important) questions Muggles have for wizards.

An increasingly social and searchable web mixed with commercial pressures has seen online news publications with softer, more positive and humorous voices emerge. At the same time, brands now have the ability to complement media relations programs with content published on owned channels, making brand stories and content more discoverable and shareable that ever before.

As media look beyond traditional news values the amount of news articles featuring cat exploits and brands celebrating 4/20 will only increase. However, the craft of storytelling, journalistic inquiry and understanding of traditional news values remains an important core competency for the modern PR practitioner.

News values, as articulated by Galtung and Ruge (G&R), continue to form the backbone by which media judge the newsworthiness of a story, and should continue to be factored in when developing angles, pitches and media materials. This criteria is also great for keeping corporate blogs grounded, engaging and relevant – lest they become the home of shallow self-promotional waffle and puff pieces.

So if you’re producing content for a brand’s blog or developing a pitch for media, here are some of the modern news/content values you might what to consider:

  • Frequency: An event that occurs suddenly and fits neatly within the content schedule (think Haley’s comet) is more likely to be selected than a one that takes place over a long period of time – sorry, evolution. When it comes to your content calendar, don’t linger too long on a topic.
  • Threshold: According to G&R, events have to pass a threshold before they are news/content worthy – the greater the intensity (the bigger the acquisition or the greater Grumpy Cat’s book deal), the greater the impact.
  • Proximity: How close events are to an audience will have an impact. The smaller the intensity of the story, the closer the news has to be to the audience. From a content perspective, remember where your primary audience is located.
  • Unambiguity/Simplicity: The more clearly a story can be understood and interpreted without multiple meanings, the better. When it comes to content, you are always going to be able to say more, but is it really necessary?
  • Meaningfulness/Familiarity: News/content should be culturally familiar – be kind and keep your audience in mind.
  • Consonance/Predictability: Does the story align with media’s experience? If there are predictable elements they’ll be more prepared to cover the story. Similarly, what stories/content is your team in a good position to tell?
  • Unexpectedness/Unusualness: Unexpected, rare or unusual events/stories are more likely to pique media interest. At the same time, these stories make great blog click bait. Just kidding, but seriously.
  • Continuity: A story already in the news has a good chance of remaining in the news (even if its impact has been reduced) because it has become familiar and easier to interpret. A blog post on a hot topic is a great way to get a brand involved in a conversation where they may have expertise.
  • Composition: Editors often look to find balance – they don’t want too many Apple Watch follow-up stories. In the same vein, your brand’s blog should be mixing it up and adding some content diversity. Variety is the spice of life.
  • Reference to elite nations/people/companies: G&R are talking hard news so references to global superpowers will increase the newsworthiness of the story. From a PR perspective, the same could be said in terms of referencing elite companies. Is there a partnership with a large company you can mention to make your brand more interesting? How many blog posts can you name-drop Apple in?
  • Reference to persons: According to G&R, the best stories are presented in terms of individual people rather than abstractions. Bill Rundle agrees with this statement. Quote and profile customers and partners on your blog, and attribute posts to actual people.
  • Conflict/Negativity: Bad events are generally unambiguous and newsworthy, and opposition or viewpoints that conflict are more likely to hold the media’s ear. Similarly, a blog post with a contrarian perspective will often find favor with like-minded people.
  • Exclusivity/Niche-knowledge: Content that helps solve specific problems in an area that doesn’t receive much media coverage can quickly find an audience and drive search traffic to your blog/website. These posts can also build credibility and position a subject matter expert as an essential source of commentary.
  • Humor/Quirkiness: Newer digital publications are increasingly including funny and quirky stories, which often get widely shared on social channels. When it comes to owned channels, even corporations are allowed a sense of humor.
  • Kids/Animals: ‘Never work with kids and animals’ has become ‘Always work with kids and animals.’ The Internet loves this stuff; give it what it wants. What’s your misbehaving Llama strategy?

This list is by no means exhaustive, and every news publication and blog will give each of these a different weighting depending on the audience. We’re curious to hear from other PR pros and journalists – what are some other modern news / content values? Tweet us @BlancandOtus.

Wait! What? 2/27: Snapchat’s musical venture, Re/code’s high-profile interview, and … Nihilist Arby’s

Arby's: Accelerate your stomach ache. (Thinkstock)
Nihilist Arby’s: Accelerate your stomach ache. (Thinkstock)

Wait, what happened in tech media this week? For one, the FCC decided it will regulate broadband Internet as a public utility. But let’s skip the big picture stuff and dive into some random, less momentous stories:

  • Sometimes parody Twitter accounts do better than the brand’s official channels. Nihilist Arby’s totally gets capitalism and PR – consumers really only care about the BIG questions.
  • Speaking of solid social media campaigns, ever wondered what makes a truly baller PR campaign?
  • And once you’re done mulling over the meaning of PR and/or life, you should probably watch Slow Mo Lab’s video of a rubber ball exploding in slow motion. The company’s approach to online video content is not dumb.
  • Also, in case you were wondering about what is actually important in life, Hillary Clinton just did an interview on the future of the Internet with Re/code’s Kara Swisher.
  • Finally, Snapchat, possibly the newest media titan, is breaking into the music market. Jury’s still out about whether their newest endeavor will be as fleeting as their photos.

That covers it for this week’s top picks – thanks for stopping by. You’re free to return to House of Cards.

Wait! What? 12/12: Say bye-bye to your Instagram followers; Streaming music becomes beaming music

"ALL of my followers need to see these strawberry pancakes. I don't care if they're robots." (Thinkstock)
“ALL of my followers need to see these strawberry pancakes. I don’t care if they’re robots.” (Thinkstock)

From the rainpocalpyse that left the Bay Area soggy and wet to the film industry’s nightmare of a hack, you may have missed the latest and greatest in tech this week. Don’t fret, we have this week’s news digest nice and ready for you:

  • Instagram painted a clear picture of what’s ahead for social this week when it announced it now has 300M monthly users. But wait, where are all of my followers disappearing to?
  • The holidays are upon us, you’ve decorated your tree, the stockings are hung… but have you decorated your beard yet? Movember is taken to a whole new level with beard baubles.
  • Never worry about disturbing your cube mates with your 80’s pop music again! This new speaker “beams” isolated tunes just for you.
  • Behind on your holiday shopping? Good thing 2014 was full of innovative tech gadgets. Find gift inspiration here!
  • Can you say “Hello, Mona Lisa”?! Google is bringing museums to your fingertips with the introduction of its latest platform.

That about sums it up for this week! Did we leave any of your favorite tech stories off our list? Tweet us @BlancandOtus & let us know.

Wait! What? 11/14: Out-of-this-world news that’s not about Kim Kardashian

Space: Tech's Final Frontier, We Guess. (Thinkstock)
Space: Tech’s Final Frontier, We Guess. (Thinkstock)

Were you one of the sheeple too busy taking marching orders from a magazine cover this week to actually pay attention to the news? Please, allow us to divert your attention from another redundant article about Kim K’s best assets (we promise, it’ll be there when you get back) to check out some cool things that actually went down in real life this week:

  • WE LANDED ON A COMET. (Well, not us, but the Euros did.) Who cares that comets are basically just dirty snowballs – this could finally prove our Interstellar-inspired interpretation of relativity is better than everyone else’s!
  • Alibaba’s Jack Ma is officially the richest of them all over in China. His reaction to receiving this title? Le sigh. Honestly, he says, being richer than God is just “a great pain.” We sympathize so, so deeply with his plight.
  • Instagram now allows users to edit their photo captions after posting. Self-important grammarians everywhere rejoiced at the news as they plotted their no-holds-barred attack on people guilty of mistakenly posting captions with a their/there/they’re confusion.
  • Big shocker: those Facebook ads promising unbelievable prices on random plastic surgery procedures you never knew you wanted are too good to be true! Basically, clicking on about a quarter of Facebook ads is the digital equivalent of going to a second location with some dude in Chinatown who promised you a $20 Louis Vuitton.
  • And finally, we’d like to thank the New England Patriots for confirming that our careers will be safe as long as people are people and robots are things that can’t understand why tweeting out racial slurs to a million followers is probably not a great marketing tactic.

Did you catch us slacking on some unbelievably juicy story? Be a pal and let us know on Twitter or in the comments below.