Anchor and reporter in broadcast journalism Albert Maruggi was Press Secretary for Member of Congress, the Republican National Committee, and Transportation Secretary Skinner in the Bush '41 Administration (that's the senior Bush). He then ran marketing and corporate communications functions for global enterprise technology companies and a venture capital firm.
He is now the host of the Marketing Edge podcast which is one of the longest running marketing podcasts (4 years). It contains advice and insight on marketing, public relations, podcasting and communication.
Albert and I had the opportunity to meet face to face during my recent trip to Minneapolis. We found each other on Twitter a few weeks ago and have been talking about doing a podcast on the changing new media landscape. In particular, I have been interested in understanding the dynamics of podcasting. Here are my questions and (partial) answers from the podcast we recorded last week [listening time 13:46]
We've been running this series on new media in comparison with print media. Is broadcasting media changing? Are reporters embracing new ways? In print we discussed how many publication editors are now setting their sights on the new media promised land. In your experience and observation who is embracing podcasting -- print or broadcast? Why?
Albert: My take on this is that all Web sites are starting to embrace multimedia. It's a natural fit for broadcast to embrace audio and video on their Web sites because it is just a simple multipurpose use of something they already have. Print is doing some interesting things. To me one of the greatest milestones are the audio commentaries by reporters to the news. One of the best was when Hillary Clinton announced she was going to run for President and the reporter who interviewed her ran a 3-minute commentary on her demeanor.
You’ve got to love the New York Times -- All the News That’s Fit to Print has been their motto on the Masthead since 1897. Now they have audio and video on their website and 20 multimedia people on their desk, so this too is just fascinating.
Run a search on Johnnie's Cave on the NYT. This is a homeless person who lives in cave. You can write very well about something like this. But it's not until you have a video that you can see the despair in his face. There's nothing like video to convey an emotion. Many print publications are starting to use audio and video as a way to enhance their journalistic skills.
Where do you draw inspiration?
Albert: I have 5 children. That might be my motivation, maybe not inspiration. I think I draw inspiration in part from other people on the Web that I read -- I see some of your questions, and other bloggers like Chris Brogan, Jeremiah Owyang, and Jill Foster is a very thoughtful one. Part of the inspiration is from others and I am really caught up in this idea that social media is a movement and not a marketplace. This is also part of my political background.
The whole concept of being social. You and I meeting each other. There is DNA, we are wired as humans to connect - to say we share this planet. Let alone the fact that we are both Italian, writers, and work in marketing and all the other things we may have in common and have yet to find out. At the essence of social media is the need for the human spirit to connect.
Herein lies the challenge for marketers. They are struggling to live in this environment because their mindset is to sell something. And the social media mindset is tell something, share something. The struggle we will have as a profession, as marketers, and the struggle capitalism will have as a culture is how do I participate with a group of people that are of like mind without understanding the benefit to me? In some ways that is a selfish benefit to me.
In other ways in the current mindset of a corporation if I engage with someone somewhere in that dialogue the sales person has to quantify - is this person going to buy something and how much? That is what is called the sales pipeline. Corporations have a need to quantify relationships, to understand how they can place a return on investment.
Social media is not that. I don't know what the ROI is by following Conversation Agent. What I know is that I get good ideas. What is the value of that? I cannot put a number on it, there is value.
Going back to broadcasting. The same thing happened to radio in a way that happened to newspapers and online publications with people who self-publish. Now we have so many podcasters. Do you think broadcasting companies should feel threatened by the idea of user created
media? Where does user-created content fit?
Albert: I do believe that companies should look at podcasters as both a resource and a potential dialogue creator. As a company, if there is a podcaster out there that shares the same space, topic. Reach out to them the same way, or a similar way as you would with traditional media. Get to know them, share your story with them. Give your intellectual expertise the chance to be exposed to that podcaster.
For example, a technology company reaching out to IT conversations for SAP networks for one of their consultants. That's legitimate. You don't have to be in Information Week. But you can still be on other podcasts and reach an audience, hone your story, understand what the audience wants by listening to what they respond to.
I think that radio stations, to answer your question, shouldn't be afraid. At the same time there are many mini radio stations and podcasters out there. There's a big enough pie for everyone. Radio stations should not be afraid. They do need to adapt.
We talk about how blogs have evolved from online journals to ways for professionals to get the word out on what they do - consultants, free agents who use self-publishing as a way to get the word out on their expertise. Has podcasting evolved in the same way. Where do you see it going in the next few years?
Albert: Let's take the Marketing Edge podcast, which I've been running for 4 years and I have no desire to monetize. None whatsoever. Part of the joy of podcasting is to be independent. Do what I want, interview who I want. As long as there is an audience that appreciates that, what I do, then we're fine. But I have no desire to monetize those ears.
If podcasting remains true to the audience or to the topic of that podcaster, the passion they have, that podcaster will grow. If people want to monetize the podcast, the more I have to do that, the more I dilute the topic.
We talked about this. Right now there are bloggers, A-list bloggers who are trying to monetize what they do. If we take the same 20th Century model of having to be on The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times - I've got to be on Oprah, right? - if we take that model and squeezed it down by some fraction and say it's the same thing online. Now we say I've got to be on Scobleizer, TechCrunch to make it, for example. It's the same model.
Anyone at any point in time can have an influential idea. Jut because they don't have 10,000 people listening to them or reading, it doesn't mean that they can't have an influential idea. The ability to find that influential idea is important. Just be out there and participate. Jump in the pool so you can become part of the conversation.
Thank you Albert.