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I want my online TV

For once in my life, I’m an early adopter. Like a growing number of people, I consume much of my television via my laptop computer, rather than my television set.

Sure, the image quality’s a little less crisp than real TV, my connection is sometimes slow, causing the viewer to skip or freeze, and I can’t fast-forward through the commercials as with a DVR. But still—instant, free access to stuff I want to watch whenever I want to watch it is pretty nice.

I can say definitively that I now watch more TV and regularly keep up with more shows than I ever did before. And that’s saying a lot since I rarely watched TV at all before I could access it online. My TV consuming habits have changed significantly based on now available technology. My case is probably more dramatic than most, but I don’t think this trend is going away.

Will the TV networks take advantage of this change in the wind? Or will they stubbornly resist it and try to snuff out the freedom the new technology allows, like the music industry did? Based on the current state of CD sales, which the music industry still depends on to measure success, I’d hope TV networks would choose the former option. The old way of doing things isn’t going to work here. Continue reading

March 11, 2008 Posted by | Content Strategy, Content Syndication, Multimedia, Selena Welz, Web Content | Leave a comment

Is news more interesting if your friends are reading it?

The Wall Street Journal thinks so. It just added SeenThis? to its online articles, which allows Facebook users to share WSJ articles they find interesting and see what articles their Facebook friends like.

This isn’t groundbreaking; it’s just a personalized version of the article-ranking systems many online newspapers already have. But it’s more public than the super personalized “email this” feature that allows you to send an article to an individual email account.

Will it boost WSJ online readership? Possibly. I like to scan the “Most Popular” articles listed on some of my favorite newspapers. I’m always curious about what other readers are engaging with, and sometimes I spot headlines I find interesting. (The selections tend to be more fun than useful, but so what?) I think it’s fair to say that this increases the amount of time I spend on the site—and that I can be influenced by the reading habits of others.

The user-review method of boosting sales has certainly worked for Amazon. The ultimate test for WSJ will be whether or not the new article-sharing feature will translate into more paid online subscriptions. People might be persuaded to sign up if they see that highly respected or influential “friends” are reading the WSJ.

What about you? Do the preferences of your peers influence your reading habits? Enough to cough up some cash for a special subscription? Selena Welz, associate managing editor

January 31, 2008 Posted by | Content Syndication, In the News, Selena Welz | 1 Comment

Leave the writing to the pros

It’s true: when you take something away, its value becomes more apparent. I once smashed my thumb in a car door, which debilitated my right hand for several weeks but left me with a much stronger appreciation for my opposable digits.

I’m hoping a similar effect will result from the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike, and a higher value is placed on professional writing skills. The latest effect of writers ditching Hollywood is the canceling of the Golden Globe Awards ceremony, producing some kvetching from those involved with the awards. The Daily Show returned to the air sans writers this week and has managed to pull off two decent episodes, but one wonders how long Stewart and Co. can rely on navel-gazing jokes about the absence of writers on the show. It’s clear that the entertainment industry depends on good writing for its success.

Developing successful content for a website is no different, yet many organizations cheap out when it comes to the writing. The prevalence of bad writing on the Web attests to this. Sure, it might seem to make sense for Jerry the Marketing Guy to develop your Web content, and Jerry might even be great at his marketing job, but that doesn’t mean he’s a writer. (No offense, Jerry.) Relevant professional experience is just as important in writing as it is in any other job category. A car salesman may know a lot about cars, but that doesn’t mean he can fix your transmission.

Quality Web content does translate into monetary value for your organization, so it’s worthwhile to invest in developing your content the right way. If you want a website that will produce results and help advance your organization’s goals, let the professional writers and editors do their jobs. —Selena Welz, associate managing editor

January 9, 2008 Posted by | Selena Welz, Web Content | 3 Comments

Are you inducing content coma?

I love Thanksgiving. It’s not so much the gathering and appreciating our lives together that makes me love it, although that does play a role. It’s because I’m a classic glutton. I love to pile my plate way too high (extra gravy) and eat my way into a happily self-induced food coma. I trust I’m not alone here.

I’ve been invited to indulge my gluttony at a huge Thanksgiving feast hosted by some dear friends. Rather than the traditional, run-of-the-mill dishes, they’ve decided on a Latin-themed menu: Yucatan style turkey with achiote, orange and pineapple marinade; cranberry, jalapeño, and tequila relish; pearl barley and levain stuffing with corn, dried cherries, and cilantro; roasted garlic and Yukon gold mashed potatoes…I could go on, but I don’t want to brag (well, maybe just a little).

This is an exciting twist on the traditional Thanksgiving menu. Sure, the typical roasted turkey with giblet gravy would match my expectations, but that wouldn’t excite me like this menu does. This menu surprises me. It’s memorable. I can visualize it. All of the expected components are there—turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing—but they are presented in an original way.

Is your website copy serving up the same tired menu? Are you blindly following tradition because it’s what you think your guests are expecting? Much website copy is woven with the typically meaningless marketing speak that proliferates all over the Web. And why? Well, because that’s how it’s done. That’s what makes it sound “professional.” But that’s what also makes it sound bland, generic, and completely unmemorable. That’s not the kind of coma you want to treat your guests to.

Maybe it’s time to spice up your menu a bit. Consider the messages that you need to deliver, and find a unique way of presenting them. Give your visitors a reason to pick your dinner invitation over the many others. Serve them something memorable.

On that note, enjoy your holiday feasting! —Selena Welz, associate managing editor

November 21, 2007 Posted by | Content Strategy, Selena Welz, Web Content | Leave a comment

PDFs with video playback?

PDF documents aren’t just for reading anymore. With Acrobat 8, Adobe’s latest, you can enhance PDF documents with audio and video clips, animated graphics, 3D images that can be manipulated by the user, and forms that can be filled out digitally—all without a live internet connection.

This makes for some pretty cool e-brochures. But the technology isn’t quite ready for mass adoption yet: media-rich PDF files are way too big to be attached to an email, and reading them requires Adobe Reader 5 or later, which many Web users are yet to install.

There are plenty of uses for interactive PDFs in the meantime, such as downloadable catalogues, books, and presentations. Users may not be able to forward these documents, but they’ll retain the same display and print quality as you would expect from a PDF.

To learn more, check out Bob Connolly’s book, Dynamic Media. —Selena Welz, associate managing editor

October 29, 2007 Posted by | Custom Content, Multimedia, Selena Welz | 1 Comment

Check out what we’re reading

We’ve updated our blog favorites list! See the results in the lower right sidebar. A few of the oldies were goodies enough to keep around, but we’ve also added a lot of fresh voices. To read a brief description of each item, let your mouse icon linger on the name and a label will appear.

It’s always helpful to know what our peers are thinking and saying. Brand Autopsy and the 1-to-1 Blog help keep those branding and marketing ideas churning in our heads. EContent and WebGuild help to maintain our digital technology radars. CopyBlogger and Read/Write Web help keep our writing pencils sharp.

Other blogs are just fun to read. It’s always entertaining to see what dust Jeff Jarvis is kicking up on BuzzMachine or to exercise our creativity muscles on Creative Think.

So, cheers to the mavens and experts out there, taking the time to share their thoughts with the online community. It certainly makes for an enriching online experience and, in many cases, adds to our professional knowledge.

We hope that our Tendo blog provides our readers with some of the benefits that other bloggers give us. So how are we doing? Is there something you’d like to hear about that we haven’t yet discussed? Post a comment and let us know. ―Selena Welz, associate managing editor

September 11, 2007 Posted by | Selena Welz, Target Audience, Web Content | Leave a comment