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Posts Tagged ‘Buzzfeed’

PR, Not Traffic, Got Copyranter Fired from BuzzFeed

MarkDuffyBuzzFeedMark Duffy, aka Copyranter aka our favorite advertising curmudgeon, made some waves in the incestuous blog news world last month by announcing his imminent departure from BuzzFeed.

Initially we thought that his cranky critiques just weren’t quite “BuzzFeedy” enough for the audience: too many FAILs and not enough kittens.

Turns out it was less a readership issue and more of a “pissing off potential advertisers” issue. At EOD yesterday Duffy posted a listicle on Gawker detailing the reasons why he got the boot, and angering Unilever with an anti-Axe Body Spray post appears to have been exhibit #1 in the “creative differences” file.

Apparently multiple brand reps called Editor-in-Chief BuzzFeed Ben to complain about posts mocking their ad campaigns, and at a certain point the company decided that Duffy was more liability than asset despite the fact that he “ranked seventh out of about 100 writers for traffic.” As Ben put it:

“I absorb a great deal of heat from targets of stories that we write, from Beyonce’s publicist to politicians to businesses, and I’ve just realized the stuff I am least able to defend is, occasionally, yours.”

The lesson here is that, if you want your big web property to make money via ads or sponsored content or whatever they’ll be calling it in six months, you have to restrain your snark a bit while somehow maintaining the edge that makes you stand out. It’s a tough balance to maintain, and BuzzFeed probably should have known better.

One question, though: who attaches a “CUTE” sticker to a “you’re fired” letter? WTF (no LOL)?

Content Forecast: Partly Sunny Skies, Some Clouds and Fog, High Revenue Pressure Front

AMC 2013 Logo FinalAs the lines around content continue to blur, the media industry assessment and outlook has been mixed. The AM2C / American Magazine Media Conference in New York this week convened a wide range of media, ad and tech industry leaders. They offered an array of diverse and sometimes controversial perspectives, and below are selected excerpts. Much like the classic Farmers Almanac, only time will tell how it all plays out.

Content quality: (Jonah Peretti, co-founder and CEO, BuzzFeed)

“It’s dangerous to only follow the optimization numbers. You need the creativity to experiment with lots of different content types. There’s a broad purview of topic areas we cover, from entertainment to investigative reporting. We create content that people are proud to share.”

“If you only create salacious garbage, then you end up with 90 percent of people that won’t want to read your site and won’t want to return.”

Discovering unique content: (Eric Schmidt, executive chairman, Google)

“In the media industry everyone is at the same confabs reporting the same things. The challenge is to report things that no one else has found.”

“Editorial content tells me things I wouldn’t have otherwise discovered. Google can program 90 percent of serendipity regarding what you’re reading and who your friends are, so we can suggest other interesting items. The other ten percent is one-offs, and there you need gifted editors.”

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Why Fire Copyranter, BuzzFeed?

MarkDuffyBuzzFeedWhen we read today on FishbowlNY that BuzzFeed had fired its bestest contributor Copyranter (aka Mark Duffy) for “not being ‘BuzzFeedy’ enough”, we were all like: WTF. FAIL.

In case you don’t follow him, he talks a whole lot of smack about ads and “branding” stunts, and he’s great at picking out retro campaigns that look even more insane today. Yet the BF let him go after only a year and a half. Were his traffic numbers not good enough or what? Can you think of anything more “BuzzFeedy” than “16 Most Homoerotic Photos of Vladimir Putin” or “10 Vintage Ads That Were Not F@cking Around“?

Our best guess is that some of these posts were a little obscure for the BuzzFeed audience, and we get it because we’re suckers for obvious clickbait too: we shared “29 Signs You Were Raised by a Puerto Rican Mother” even though nothing on that list distinguishes the lady in question from a generic Latin mom (and yes, we asked our PR friends).

This is a bit of a downer because they dumped him before we even knew he was there, but we have a feeling he’ll be fine wherever he ends up.

America’s National Parks and Cities Look Great on Instagram

This week’s government shutdown/crybaby conference provides us with an opportunity to remind everyone that Instagram is a perfect forum for promoting our national parks, which are really quite amazing.

This image is the exception:

Apparently we are late to the party. The U.S. Department of the Interior‘s account has been posting for more than a year, beats the hell out of Shutterstock for landscapes and already boasts more than 150K followers thanks, in part, to no-brainer posts like this one on BuzzFeedthis one on Mashable and this one on Salon.

Here’s another shot ready to become your wallpaper:

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BuzzFeed’s Favorite Marketing ‘Bot’ Account Is a Weird Product Launch Stunt

In case you spend even more time trolling blogs and Twitter feeds than we do, you’ve probably heard of horse_ebooks. Here are prime examples of the feed at work, posted over the past week:

You get the idea. It appeared to be the perfect encapsulation of all the things we love/hate about Twitter and social in general: unintentionally hilarious snippets of automated spam copy promoting random self-published ebooks and posted without so much as a thought toward order or logic.

Many wondered over time how such a beautiful thing came to be. But, as revealed this morning in The New Yorker (of all places) by acclaimed novelist Susan Orlean (of all people), horse_ebooks is no bot—it’s BuzzFeed creative director Jacob Bakkila and partner Thomas Bender, who worked there “until about a year ago.”

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When Sponsored Content Met CSR and Made Magic Happen

Matt Crenshaw, Mother Nature Network

One thing we can all agree on: PR professionals will spend a lot of time working on sponsored content and corporate social responsibility projects for the foreseeable future.

“Sponsored content” is the hottest phrase in PR and marketing right now, primarily because it means such different things to different people. Yes, it’s a new twist on the classic advertising discipline, but SC can clearly amount to more than BuzzFeed listicles barely related to the product at hand or conspicuous blog posts that hang out at The Huffington Post under the “sponsored story” heading.

Last month we spoke to Matt Crenshaw, president of environmental and social responsibility news site Mother Nature Network, to learn about how his organization has begun to serve clients by combining CSR and sponsored content in one fell swoop.

Why are brands increasing their focus on CSR? 

Well, a recent Cone Communications study found that 80% of people feel that brands have a responsibility to tell them what they’re doing for the greater good, and another study found that brands that put “values” at their core outperform the S&P 500 by about 300%. We all joke about Whole Foods being “Whole Paycheck”, but they are really a lifestyle platform based on “values”, and they’ve done a great job of taking this niche movement and making a big business out of it.

What role can sponsored content play in this equation?

We live in an age where brands need to tell a story and hit you on an emotional level. MNN wants to be the Whole Foods for content: if you’re AT&T and you want to reach the high-value, socially responsible consumer, then you don’t talk about a discount on your phone, you talk about these tablets you created for kids on the autistic spectrum to help them learn. So MNN created a documentary series about it:

Of course, at the end it’s “AT&T: Rethink Possible”, and it’s clearly labeled “content provided by AT&T“, but our role is to say “here’s the story behind the brand.”

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Ketchum Placed Vladimir Putin’s Controversial New York Times Op-Ed

Vladimir Putin recently took a break from using 90′s R&B to encourage Russians to reproduce in order to pen an op-ed for The New York Times.

In the article, he urges the American people to resist President Obama‘s calls for military action in Syria, writing that a missile strike “will result in more innocent victims and escalation” and even going so far as to claim that the opposition, not “President” Bashar al-Assad, was responsible for recent poison gas attacks that killed more than 1,000 men, women and children. Putin argues that the opposition, who he labels terrorists, killed their own people in order to “provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons.”

It’s a heavy charge, and Putin doesn’t shy away from characterizing the United States as an international bully that uses “brute force” to get its way; senators in both parties raced to issue statements about how terrible the article was, and this morning Leon Panetta told Today that it’s all part of Putin’s effort to “weaken” the US.

In the midst of this discussion, BuzzFeed reported—and Times public editor Margaret Sullivan tacitly confirmed—that Ketchum PR pitched the article.

Whatever your thoughts on the op-ed itself or the ethical debates regarding its placement, this is big news. How should the world respond? How should the PR industry respond?

PR Fail: Baker’s Chocolate Draws Facebook Fans’ Wrath

We understand that basic economics and the realities of the market sometimes require brands to change their products. It’s not crazy to cut portion sizes and lower prices accordingly in the interest of stabilizing a business’s bottom line. Hell, we even understand how some isolated retailers might miss the message and continue to sell four-ounce boxes of chocolate for the price of the eight-ounce size.

But telling devoted customers on Facebook that the shrinkage came about to address the fact that bakers “were letting leftover chocolate go to waste” and claiming that, four months later, retailers continue to charge twice the price because of a communications issue with your sales team? That’s just poor form. In fact, it’s bad enough for BuzzFeed to get on your case.

Baker’s Chocolate’s killer headache just got worse.

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Don’t Count on BuzzFeed Sponsored Posts to Win the Millennials

The chattering classes were all abuzz yesterday about a sponsored post on everyone’s favorite site to visit for kitty pic listicles and condescending literary rants. (Wait, what?)

Here’s the story: In an amusingly blatant attempt to push its talking points to those young folks who will determine the future of politics in this country, conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation illustrated its distaste for the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, with BuzzFeed‘s trademark combination of one-liners and GIFs.

OMG CUTE LOL! But will it work?

We say meh. :-/

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BuzzFeed Has This ‘Sponsored Content’ Thing Down

The biggest “must read” story making its way around the web this week is New York Magazine’s profile of BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti and his enviably successful approach to paid content.

To sum things up, Peretti, who also helped launch The Huffington Post, was a math student at MIT who grew fascinated with the concept of viral memes and later created BuzzFeed as a tool to identify and facilitate the spread of said memes via algorithm. His goal was to truly capture the magic behind “word of mouth” buzz (the cat GIFs and political reporting came later). Most of the Internet and quite a few of the biggest brands in the world agree that Peretti has uncovered a secret formula for creating native advertising that might just go viral. Here are some revelations from the profile:

  • BuzzFeed editors work directly with marketing specialists from partner brands to create content in a “newsroom”-style environment.
  • The vast majority of traffic for both BuzzFeed originals and paid posts comes from social sharing.
  • The site’s most popular posts don’t go viral after a single big-name personality shares them — they’re simply picked up by several isolated individuals who share them in small groups (average nine Facebook friends) that spawn small “share” groups of their own.
  • There’s a science to this. Peretti has literally devised a formula.

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