The Hobson and Holtz Report – Podcast #789: January 5, 2015

FIRMarking the first episode of our 11th year; some reflection on the first 10 years; listener audio comments sprinkled throughout the show;

Quick News: American workers still addicted to email, Swiss luxury brands Montblanc and Tag Heuer reportedly have big plans for smartwatches, it doesn’t pay for brands to try to sound too hip, Barclays Bank launches the first face-to-face video banking service in the UK; Ragan promo;

News That Fits: Five social trends you can expect to see in 2015; Michael Netzley’s Asia Report: How Asia is shaping the world’s EdTech scene; let’s talk about podcasting; the Media Monitoring Minute with CustomScoop; listener comments in audio and from the FIR Podcast Community on Google+; is the ‘social media phase of the internet’ over?; Dan York’s Tech Report: Twitter’s new catch-up feature, podcast metrics, and more; Igloo Software promo; the past week on the FIR Podcast Network; PR: the new Mad Men;

Music from Slightly Stoopid; and more.

Listen Now:

Get FIR:

Messages from our sponsors: FIR is brought to you with Lawrence Ragan Communications, serving communicators worldwide for 35 years, www.ragan.com; Save time with the CustomScoop online clipping service: sign up for your free two-week trial at www.customscoop.com/fir; Igloo Software, providers of an intranet you’ll actually like, delivered securely with our cloud platform: learn more at www.igloosoftware.com/fir.

For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report for January 5, 2014: A 102-minute podcast recorded live from Concord, California, USA, and Wokingham, Berkshire, England.

Links to websites, blog posts and other content we discuss in the show are posted as Delicious bookmarks to facilitate your connection with the discussions and sharing of that content.

FIR Community on Google+Share your comments or questions about this podcast, or suggestions for future podcasts, in the online FIR Podcast Community on Google+.

You can also send us instant voicemail via SpeakPipe, right from the FIR website. Or, call the Comment Line at +1 415 895 2971 (North America), +44 20 3239 9082 (Europe), or Skype: fircomments. You can tweet us: @FIRpodcast. And you can email us at fircomments@gmail.com. If you wish, you can email your comments, questions and suggestions as MP3 file attachments (max. 3 minutes / 5Mb attachment, please!). We’ll be happy to see how we can include your audio contribution in a show.

To receive all podcasts in the FIR Podcast Network, subscribe to the “everything” RSS feed. To stay informed about occasional FIR events (eg, FIR Live), sign up for FIR Update email news.

So, until Monday January 12…

(Cross-posted from For Immediate Release, Shel’s and my podcast blog.)

The FIR podcast and a foundational decade

FIR episode 1: January 3, 2005

Today is a special day for my podcasting partner, Shel Holtz, and I as we mark a milestone – January 3, 2005 to January 3, 2015 – that is ten years to the day since we started For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report, a business podcast that has grown in ways in which we didn’t imagine back in 2004 when we were planning it.

I’ve talked and mused about FIR – as the show has become known over the years, a moniker coined by Lee Hopkins in Australia – from time to time in this blog, as well as reflect on podcasting itself.

Shel has waxed lyrical and in considerable detail about FIR and its history in a terrific post he published on his blog a few days ago. If you’re interested in the detailed history of FIR, please read it.

What I concisely reflect on today is that milestone of quantity and where it leads. Ten years of podcasting. Ten years of commentary and opinion from two communicators who, as we described ourselves in that first episode a decade ago, “think they have something to say.”

788 episodes – and counting – of a show that we did twice a week for half of its life, settling in to its current weekly schedule in 2010. The expansion of the original show into what I used to describe as “the FIR podcast series” – the interviews we did with newsmakers, influencers and opinion-formers from the online technology and organizational communication worlds, and beyond. The book reviews we did (and much done by Bob LeDrew in Canada). And the podcasting book that came about in 2007, just two years into FIR.

I must mention, too, the occasional podcasts of speeches, keynote addresses, breakout sessions, and other recordings from meetings and conferences. The FIR Cuts: virtual clippings of topics that didn’t make it into a show but would have been a shame to just delete the recordings. And quite a few more shows.

So many people involved in all of that, many of whom Shel mentions in his post. For me, names that form a memorable resonance every time I think of FIR are our sponsors present (Ragan Communications, CustomScoop and Igloo Software) and past (TemboSocial); the “here’s how to reach FIR” voice of Donna Papacosta; and our correspondents – past and present, regular and occasional – that include Lee Hopkins, David Phillips, Dan York, Eric Schwartzman, Michael Netzley, Bernie Goldbach and Harry Hawk.

And then, the listeners and friends of FIR – those of you who download or stream episodes and engage in ongoing discussion in the FIR Podcast Community on Google+ and elsewhere. You have accounted for downloads of more than 2.3 million since that first show ten years ago, according to Libsyn, our file hosting service who we have been with for the whole time.

Without all of you, FIR would not have evolved the way it has. Thank you.

FIR Podcast Network

Just over a year ago, FIR began a new phase, reaching for a new level, as the “FIR podcast series” suddenly became the FIR Podcast Network as new voices joined those of Shel and I to offer their opinions and perspectives on topics about which they are passionate through their own shows that extend the FIR brand.

And so we start our 11th year of podcasting already with a network of shows by a raft of talented people from around the world who selflessly give their time and energy to offer comment, opinion and insights on topics that always find listeners – check out the current network shows from (name links go to the show home pages on the FIR website) Rachel Miller; Chip Griffin; Paul Gillin; Kevin Anselmo; Glenn Gaudet; Joe Thornley, Gini Dietrich and Martin Waxman; Chuck Hester; Andrea Vascellari; Dan York; Mitchell Levy; Ron Shewchuk; Kristine D’Arbelles and Julia Kent.

There are new network members and shows coming soon. And a brand new online presence fit for purpose for a growing podcasting network!

As Shel notes in his post, we have big ideas for the FIR Podcast Network and, in due time, we’ll be sharing what we want and plan to do.

In the meantime, please enjoy any or all the shows we publish, and tune in to the 10th anniversary episode of the anchor show (as The Hobson and Holtz Report is known) on Monday January 5, the usual day we publish the weekly show. We’ll be recording at about 5pm GMT on Monday with the show being posted later that evening GMT.

And if you have a burning topic that you’re passionate about that you think would appeal to a global, influential audience as a podcast, well, let us know, we’d love to discuss your ideas!

Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz
[L-R] Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz in London, October 2014.

The Hobson and Holtz Report – Podcast #788: December 29, 2014

FIRNext week’s episode marks the start of our 11th year of FIR: would you like to contribute to the show?

Quick News: TripAdvisor fined in Italy for failing to prevent fake reviews, Coca-Cola dumps voicemail, Facebook finds that not all users want to review their year, Google and Microsoft join forces against Marriott’s wifi blocking hopes; Ragan promo;

News That Fits: Influencers are burned out on influencer marketing; Dan York’s Tech Report: Watching via Twitter as North Korea’s internet goes up and down, thoughts on Plague.io; the arrival of ads where rates are based on time rather than impressions; the Media Monitoring Minute with CustomScoop; listener comments in audio and in the FIR Podcast Community on Google+; are PR counselors ready to respond to the public shaming of company leaders?; Michael Netzley’s Asia Report: Online trends for 2015 that include eCommerce and lawsuits for offending others online, and more; Igloo Software promo; the past week on the FIR Podcast Network; how news outlets use Instagram to tell stories;

Music from Deleveled; and more.

Listen Now:

Get FIR:

Messages from our sponsors: FIR is brought to you with Lawrence Ragan Communications, serving communicators worldwide for 35 years, www.ragan.com; Save time with the CustomScoop online clipping service: sign up for your free two-week trial, at www.customscoop.com/fir; Igloo Software, providers of an intranet you’ll actually like, delivered securely with our cloud platform: learn more at www.igloosoftware.com/fir.

For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report for December 29, 2014: A 95-minute podcast recorded live from Wokingham, Berkshire, England, and Concord, California, USA.

Links to websites, blog posts and other content we discuss in the show are posted as Delicious bookmarks to facilitate your connection with the discussions and sharing of that content.

FIR Community on Google+Share your comments or questions about this podcast, or suggestions for future podcasts, in the online FIR Podcast Community on Google+.

You can also send us instant voicemail via SpeakPipe, right from the FIR website. Or, call the Comment Line at +1 415 895 2971 (North America), +44 20 3239 9082 (Europe), or Skype: fircomments. You can tweet us: @FIRpodcast. And you can email us at fircomments@gmail.com. If you wish, you can email your comments, questions and suggestions as MP3 file attachments (max. 3 minutes / 5Mb attachment, please!). We’ll be happy to see how we can include your audio contribution in a show.

To receive all podcasts in the FIR Podcast Network, subscribe to the “everything” RSS feed. To stay informed about occasional FIR events (eg, FIR Live), sign up for FIR Update email news.

So, until Monday January 5, 2015…

(Cross-posted from For Immediate Release, Shel’s and my podcast blog.)

The shape of movies to come

The Interview

So The Interview got its public showing on Christmas Day in the United States in spite of hacks on Sony Pictures’ computer systems, angry denials by the North Koreans that they were behind the hacks, and intervention by the US President.

The political comedy film stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as journalists who secure an interview with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (played by Randall Park), and who are then recruited by the CIA and instructed to assassinate him.

In what would have been a farce if the situation hadn’t been so serious, the North Koreans accused the US government of state-sponsored terrorism and said the release of the movie would be an act of war. There were also dire threats by shady online groups during the past few weeks to kill cinema-goers if Sony Pictures did release the R-rated movie.

Well, release it they did in spite of announcing a clear intent in the previous week not to release it at all.

Much of the media reporting I’ve seen focuses on the cinema release – The Interview was showing at 320+ independent cinemas across the United States starting on Christmas Day, with box office takings to date reportedly around $2.8 million.

Yet what I found far more interesting were the other distribution methods Sony Pictures employed to make the movie more widely available. This is how Sony announced the movie’s public availability:

Fans can watch The Interview on several platforms including:

Google Play: the movie is available to buy or rent at play.google.com, and can be watched in the Play Movies & TV app on Android and iOS phones or tablets, or streamed in the living room via Chromecast, Roku or the Nexus Player.

YouTube: the movie is available at youtube.com/movies and can be watched on the web, in the YouTube app, or on select living room devices like Chromecast, Apple TV, PlayStation and Xbox.

Microsoft’s Xbox Video: the movie is available to buy or rent on the Xbox Video app on Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and XboxVideo.com.

SeetheInterview.com: In addition, The Interview is available at the dedicated website www.seetheinterview.com, which is sponsored by Sony Pictures and powered by Kernel and with payments through Stripe, a secure payment platform.

In addition to Google Play, YouTube, Microsoft and www.seetheinterview.com, The Interview is also being released in more than 300 United States theaters on December 25th.

It struck me straightaway that digital and online are front and center in the distribution infrastructure, with the physical (cinema) release very much the supporting act. And, releasing a movie this way – enabling people to access and view it through online rental or purchase – is the first time a major studio has done that on the same day of its cinema release.

Although the US box office has produced the lion’s share of viewing sales so far, it’s being speculated that revenues from the movie on the various digital platforms could potentially make this method likelier for movie distribution in the future, if not for the specific reasons surrounding The Interview.

And let’s not forget one thing – all of this is available only in the United States (of course there are workarounds if you’re outside the US) and it’s an R-rated movie, restricting the audience potential in cinemas at least.

It’s a big hit with content pirates, too.

In any case, could this be a clear signal on what we are likely to see in future for movie releases, whether by big studios or indie producers? I’d say it’s a sure bet that digital and online will play a much more prominent role if not the leading role in future.

Imagine – you want to watch the latest Hollywood film on your 50+-inch Ultra HD TV in the comfort and privacy of home? You have many choices of the delivery methods (see above). Then imagine services like Netflix joining the streaming distribution party.

Or, you want the IMAX or other big-screen experience with the popcorn and cokes? Head to your nearest multiplex with its digital audio-visual immersion.

And all the choices happen at once – no more staggered releases.

Traditional mainstream movie distribution and marketing focused only on the cinema and subsequent Blu-ray/DVD sales just got turned on its head.

Finally, what about the PR surrounding The Interview? There’s been commentary and opinion galore over recent months suggesting the whole thing is just a huge PR stunt, with others offering opinion to explain why it couldn’t possibly be a PR stunt.

How long?

Whether it was or not, one thing is sure – Sony Pictures has gained publicity for a movie that has been panned by critics yet looks very likely to receive widespread attention as a result of all the publicity about it (and the bigger picture about the extensive hacking of Sony Pictures that extends beyond The Interview).

Will I watch The Interview when it’s available here in the UK? Probably, just to see for myself what all the fuss is about. And especially if I can stream it to my TV or computer rather than go to the cinema.

Good PR result.

[Update Dec 29:] The Interview has managed to rake in $15 million since its online debut on Christmas Day, reports Mashable:

“Through Saturday, December 27, including all of its online distribution platforms, The Interview has been rented or purchased online more than 2 million times,” read a statement from Sony Pictures. “Total consumer spending through Saturday for The Interview online is over $15 million.”

“[A]fter only four days, The Interview already ranks as Sony Pictures #1 online film of all time,” read the statement from Sony Pictures.

Recode reports that Apple has now joined the ranks of distributors:

It took Apple a few days, but it’s joining the club: Starting [Sunday December 28], iTunes users in the U.S. and Canada can rent and purchase “The Interview,” Sony’s controversial comedy.

The movie became available at Apple’s store at 1 pm ET [Sunday].

The Interview was a huge online success, says Quartz – but for Google rather than for Sony:

Sony’s big internet video gamble seems to have paid off: The Interview, which the company offered for online rental and purchase on Christmas Eve, earned more than $15 million during its first four days on the internet. The film was rented or purchased more than 2 million times from Dec. 24-27, making it the studio’s most successful online release ever, while also grossing an additional $2.85 million from 331 independent North American theaters over the four-day holiday weekend.

[…] The film’s online success might be a qualified moral victory for Sony, but it definitely won’t be a financial one—and that’s even before calculating the significant financial fallout from the hacking scandal, which could be as much as $100 million.

Instead, the biggest winners from the weekend are the internet outlets that first streamed The Interview in North America. Google’s two sites—Google Play and YouTube Movies—were responsible for the bulk of sales, and Google also benefitted from exposing its platforms to consumers who regularly choose iTunes, or other VOD platforms that did not carry the film.

Undoubtedly further analysis will come in the following days.

Goodwill 2014

Greater love and understanding...

Greater love and understanding for other people – these aren’t bad sentiments this Christmas 2014 when you consider some of the recent events that have caused such grief and anguish around the world.

“Peace and goodwill to all men,” is a verse in the King James Bible often quoted at this time of year. While there may be precious little going on in the world to encourage belief in  the meaning of that phrase, it only needs each of us to practice its meaning for it to make a difference. As Dilbert does in Scott Adams’ cartoon from December 23, 1990.

That’s 24 years ago. Not much changes, does it?

Merry Christmas!

The Hobson and Holtz Report – Podcast #787: December 22, 2014

FIRIntro: Contributions for the January 5 (10th anniversary) episode, recording of Cision/Vocus webinar “Social Media Marketing vs Social PR” available;

Quick News: PCs are still tops for video viewing, Doximity the ‘LinkedIn for doctors’ has signed up more than half of US physicians, bad web bots account for one in three visitors to sites, Microsoft free again to ignore Internet Explorer rivals in Europe; Ragan promo;

News That Fits: Dealing with harassment and abuse online: the role for communicators; Michael Netzley’s Asia Report: what can Russian broadcasting teach us about modern propaganda?, Biadu speech recognition, Putin’s PR, and more; content marketing, community, and the long tail; the Media Monitoring Minute with CustomScoop; listener comments in audio, email and in the FIR Podcast Community on Google+; “Distraction-free writing”: a saviour for creating long-form content?; Dan York’s Tech Report: New WordPress 4.1 provides a much improved distraction-free writing experience, and more; the past week on the FIR Podcast Network; Igloo Software promo; mobile update: deep-links extensions, messaging apps, Line and Microsoft’s MixRadio, mobile will revive and redefine content marketing;

Music from Allison Crowe; and more.

Listen Now:

Get FIR:

Messages from our sponsors: FIR is brought to you with Lawrence Ragan Communications, serving communicators worldwide for 35 years, www.ragan.com; Save time with the CustomScoop online clipping service: sign up for your free two-week trial, at www.customscoop.com/fir; Igloo Software, providers of an intranet you’ll actually like, delivered securely with our cloud platform: learn more at www.igloosoftware.com/fir.

For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report for December 22, 2014: A 91-minute podcast recorded live from Concord, California, USA, and Wokingham, Berkshire, England.

Links to websites, blog posts and other content we discuss in the show are posted as Delicious bookmarks to facilitate your connection with the discussions and sharing of that content.

FIR Community on Google+Share your comments or questions about this podcast, or suggestions for future podcasts, in the online FIR Podcast Community on Google+.

You can also send us instant voicemail via SpeakPipe, right from the FIR website. Or, call the Comment Line at +1 415 895 2971 (North America), +44 20 3239 9082 (Europe), or Skype: fircomments. You can tweet us: @FIRpodcast. And you can email us at fircomments@gmail.com. If you wish, you can email your comments, questions and suggestions as MP3 file attachments (max. 3 minutes / 5Mb attachment, please!). We’ll be happy to see how we can include your audio contribution in a show.

To receive all podcasts in the FIR Podcast Network, subscribe to the “everything” RSS feed. To stay informed about occasional FIR events (eg, FIR Live), sign up for FIR Update email news.

So, until Monday December 29…

(Cross-posted from For Immediate Release, Shel’s and my podcast blog.)