I spent much of the past few weeks on the road -- meeting with journalists, executives and others to talk about the changing nature of media.
I do a lot of that stuff. And I've found that meetings with publishing companies, with few exceptions, take a predictable path.
The folks at Web-only firms are enthusiastic, delightful, smart and engaged. They're thinking several steps ahead of the competition. They're focused on life in 2010 and beyond.
People at these companies are most interested in hearing my opinions on their ideas for the future.
The folks at the trendsetting companies in B2B -- home to those print-based brands that have made the transition to Web-first publishing -- are equally bright. But there's a slight undercurrent of resentment about the ways in which we work today. People are behaving well and talking positively. Yet it's clear that much of the staff longs for the past. People at these companies are most interested in asking me questions about the future.
The folks at other B2B companies are, to be honest, just depressing to be around. Workers at B2B brands that haven't figured out how to adapt are just miserable. Their anger is palatable. Their nervousness is pervasive. No one seems to have a single good idea about anything. Senior management is focused on the next quarter; older workers are wondering if they can hang on until retirement; everyone else seems to think no further than the next paycheck.
People at these companies are most getting interested in trying to get me to reduce my rates.
There is, however, one thing that unites all these companies:
Everywhere I go, there's always someone who hates Twitter.
Now like my friend Rex, I'd like to give up on trying to explain Twitter. But it seems that I cannot. Everywhere I go someone wants to make a snide remark or to engage in a lengthy conversation about how ill-suited a 140-character tweet is for many forms of journalism (My response to those people, by the way, is "Yes. It is.")
And things have only gotten worse since I became a big fan of Yammer -- the Twitter-like application that can be used for internal communications. Obsessive followers of all things new media know that Yammer won the top prize at this year's TechCrunch50. And I'll admit that my first reaction to that win was similar to that of lots of other folks -- a sort of weirded-out disbelief that a Twitter knockoff could win TechCrunch50.
But when one of those Web-only companies I mentioned above launched Yammer for its workforce, I gave it a try.
And quickly became an addict/fan.
And as word got out that I liked both Twitter and Yammer, it seemed no one wanted to talk about anything else. I found myself spending far too much of my time trying to explain to journalists why I think both Twitter and Yammer are cool.
And then, this morning, I heard about something that may change everything.
Take a look at IvyLees, a social networking site that aims to connect journalists with public-relations folks. IvyLees is also a Twitter knockoff -- limiting P.R. pitches to 140 characters and a link.
I have no idea if this thing will catch on. And I don't much care. I'm just thrilled by the concept behind IvyLees.
Because I doubt that there's a single journalist anywhere in the world who doesn't believe that a press release can, and should, be reduced to 140 characters.
Which means the next time I run into a journalist who is cynical about the whole microblogging phenomenon, I can point to something that will make sense to even the angriest journalist -- a really, really short press release.
tags: journalism, b2b, media, trade press, magazines, newsletters, business media, internal communications, employee communications