Flickr photo courtesy of Goddard Space Flight CenterThe Friday Wrap is back from a one-week hiatus (my wife and I left town to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary). The Friday Wrap is my (usually) weekly collection of news stories, posts, studies, and reports designed to help organizational communicators stay current on the trends and technology that affect their jobs. These may be items that flew under the radar while other stories grabbed big headlines. As always, I collect material from which I select Wrap stories (as well as stories to report on the For Immediate Release podcast, along with stuff I just want to remember to read) on my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow.


Edelman drops coal producers and climate change deniers—The world’s largest PR agency made headlines a few months ago when it ended its lucrative relationship with the American Petroleum Institute. Now the company has announced that coal producers and organizations that reject the science of climate change will need to get their PR services from somebody else. An internal communication obtained by The Guardian said the decision was the result of a two-year review designed to protect Edelman’s “license to lead.” The takeaway: Taking a stand is about more than doing the right thing. It’s also about eliminating the financial risk of failing to take a stand. Organizations should follow Edelman’s lead and conduct audits of their own operations to uncover risks that may exist in the supply chain, strategic partnerships, and other aspects of how the company functions. Read more

Copyright holders have to consider fair use before sending takedown notices—The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that copyright holders are required to consider whether content meets “fair use” criteria before sending a takedown notice. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which played a part in the case that led to the ruling, “Fair use is not just a carve-out of the copyright system but a right on the same level of those described in the rest of the statute.” According to the court, “Fair use is not just excused by the law, it is wholly authorized by the law.” The takeaway: If you work for a copyright holder, help your company or client factor fair use into its legal actions. If you’re a content creator, it just got easier for you to incorporate fair-use-compliant content into your work. Read more

Washington Post blocks content from people who use ad blockers—The rise of ad blockers terrifies content producers who wonder how they’ll pay for their content is ads no longer generate revenue. In one example of how publishers are fighting back, the Washington Post is blocking access to its articles for readers who use ad-blocking software. The pitch isn’t to uninstall the ad blocker, but rather to pay for a Post subscription. The takeaway: Some publishers are getting creative in the approach they’re taking to dealing with the expected impact of ad blockers. Read more

Inova Health lets patients review its doctors—Sites like Yelp and HealthGrades have made doctor reviews common, but hospitals have resisted adding reviews to their own websites. At least one hospital has decided the time has come to let patients use a five-star rating system and unedited comments that will appear on its site. One reason Inova Health Systems is taking the plunge: “More and more reimbursement is being tied to patient satisfaction,” according to one expert. Also, more than 25% of patients begin their health care search online. To ensure balance, at least 30 patients need to review a doctor before Inova will publish the information. The takeaway: Reviews are one of the most important elements of social media, and organizations need to think seriously about more effectively weaving customers into its content. USAA, a financial services company, has long let customers review its products and services. Read more

Uber launches print magazine—airbnb recently launched a print magazine so guests staying in airbnb’s rooms would find the branded publication waiting for them when they arrived. Now Uber is following suit with a print magazine drivers will keep in their cars for passengers. Passengers can take the magazine, titled Arriving Now, with them with the ride is over. The magazine features “pro tips, hotspots, and exclusive details about upcoming promotions.” The first edition was available in New York Uber cars. The takeaway: Repeat after me: Print is not dead. Red more

What you like will determine the ads you see—Facebook will use the data collected from all those clicks of its “Like” and “Share” buttons to determine what ads you’ll see on the social networking site. The move has already raised privacy concerns, though Facebook will let users opt out of seeing ads targeted based on the data it has collected about your online activity. The takeaway:  Data is driving more and more marketing. Companies employing that data will need to consider the privacy concerns of its audiences. Read more

The media got it wrong: Facebook is crafting an “empathy” button—Headlines in hundreds of media outlets screamed that Facebook was finally working on a “dislike” button. It turns out the new button Facebook is building is an “empathy” button that would allow users to signal sympathy, anguish, grief, and other emotions that arise from reading heartfelt posts from friends. The takeaway: If you were worried that your company’s posts would be greeted with dislikes, set your worries aside. How a “sorry” button might affect organizations and brands remains to be seen. Read more

The interactive AP Stylebook arrives—The iconic Associated press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law has been transformed into an interactive e-book. Making the announcement, AP said the e-book “makes it faster and easier to find a relevant style rule.” The e-book is different from the app AP had released earlier, designed to take advantage of e-books’ unique characteristics. The digital Stylebook costs between $9.99 and $11.99, depending on the platform for which you buy it. The takeaway: The AP has figured out that it’s important to satisfy customer’s preference for their platform of choice. Communicators need to adopt a similar mentality, making content available in formats ranging from PDFs to e-books. Read more

Tweet a donation to the candidate you support—A new Twitter feature launched on Tuesday lets people contribute to a political candidate with a tweet. Campaigns sign up for the service via Square. Once verified, campaigns can tweet requests for donations; the tweet will feature a “contribute” button. Fans of the candidate can click the button, enter the amount they want to contribute along with their debit card information and other details the Federal election Commission requires. They’ll also have the option of tweeting the fact that they donated. The takeaway: Communicators need to be aware of the various options available from social media platforms like Twitter in order to figure out how to take full advantage of them. Read more

Bloomberg terminals will feature financial tweets—If you subscribe to Bloomberg’s financial software platform, you’ll soon start seeing financial tweets incorporated into the mix of tools. The deal between Bloomberg and Twitter—which will curate the live tweet feed—will give customers access to real-time insights. Bloomberg terminals will also alert users to spikes of twitter activity about the companies they follow. Sentiment analysis and the ability to graph historical Twitter volume are also part of the package. The takeaway: Twitter may find one of its paths to profitability is to provide context to specific categories of tweets and charge for access to that intelligence. Read more

For a price, you can re-watch Snapchat messages—The ephemeral messaging service’s messages don’t have to be ephemeral. You’ll be able to pay to replay three videos for 99 cents, answering the question, “How does Snapchat plan to make money on messages that disappear?” The takeaway: Snapchat is already making money on content that sticks around for 24 hours (Discover and Live Stories), so don’t let the transient nature of most Snapchat content keep you from tapping into the platform. Read more


Yelp reviews from former inmates have an effect on prisons—Higher star ratings on the social review site Yelp correlates to higher revenue. The ratings of prisons shared by former inmates has a positive impact as well, introducing more transparency into prison life and helping the families and friends of inmates cope with the situation. Bad reviews also reflect poorly on prison administration. The takeaway: If you thought reviews only mattered for restaurants and merchandise, think again. Social reviews have a growing impact on virtually all institutions, products, and services. Read more

Greenpeace puts its own spin on brand journalism—Brand journalism applies journalistic principles to reporting on your own brand’s activities. Companies like Cisco Systems and Intel work with professional journalists to populate their brand journalism pages. Greenpeace is taking its own approach to the practice, hiring former reporters for the BBC, The New York Times, and the Bureau of Investigate Journalism. They’ll work with a network of freelancers, field researchers, and specialists to elevate the role investigative reporting plays in its environmental campaigning. The takeaway: There’s more than one way to approach brand journalism. It’s also worth noting that organizations could find themselves in the cross-hairs of a Greenpeace journalistic investigation. Read more

Agencies scramble to get staffs up to speed on Snapchat—Snapchat’s growing importance as a marketing and advertising platform has agencies scrambling to familiarize staff with the ephemeral messaging app. Some rely on younger employees as in-house experts, some have conducted Snapchat challenges, and others have conducted special Snapchat programs, like Havas Worldwide, which hosted a Snapchat treasure hunt: Employees found clues about where to find free tickets for a U.S. Open match. The takeaway: Agencies have figured out that Snapchat can’t be ignored. What have you done to make sure you and your team know how to use it to its best advantage? Read more

Social media is key to Pope’s plans to win over Millennials—In preparing for Pope Francis’ trip to the US, his team worked with a number of agencies specializing in social media to spread his message of hope and inclusiveness via tools like hashtags and emoji. The takeaway: If the Catholic church’s media company has figured out that these tools are useful in getting a message across, then it’s not beneath your company to employ similar tactics. Read more

Coke gets first custom Twitter emoji—Coca-Cola is the first company to have its own custom emoji from Twitter. Whenever someone tweets the hashtag #ShareACoke, the emoji of a pair of glass bottles with the signature red Coke label will appear. The takeaway: Consider this more evidence of the staying power of emoji. Read more

AP launches branded content department—The New York Times has one. So does CNN. In fact, a lot of media organizations have created units dedicated to producing content for paying customers anxious to take advantage of native advertising (aka “sponsored content). Now the Associated Press is jumping on the bandwagon with its new AP Content Services department that will use video, photo, and other storytelling techniques to create brand packages for brands. Consistent with the trend, AP’s native advertising department will be separate from its newsroom. The takeaway: Despite pushback against native advertising, its growth is undeniable. For communicators exploring pay-for-play opportunities, native advertising should be near the top of the list of possible approaches. Read more

Social media has forever altered presidential debates—Social media has transformed presidential debates into a communal experience, with the crowd forming opinions and pundits providing real-time analysis. Candidates are preparing for debates not just by practicing answers but also by planning “moments”—the pithy one-liner or comeback that gets people talking. Twitter has become the new spin room, where campaigns work to shape opinions of debate watchers. And winners are declared within the first 20 minutes of a debate. The takeaway—It is worth your time to develop an analysis of how social media has altered the way your brand does business. Read more

Brands increase their use of Snapchat geofilters—Geofilters let Snapchat users add images to their videos when they are in specific locations. Companies like Target and McDonald’s are hoping Snapchat users will become social media ambassadors, sharing videos that promote both the brand and the location to a wider audience. The takeaway: If you’re looking for ways to take advantage of Snapchat, consider geofilters if you work for a retailer. Read more


Podcast fans are young, educated, and use mobile to listen to shows—Westwood One’s study, “State of American Podcasting,” found the median age of podcast listeners is 30, compared to 45 for AM/FM radio and 57 for broadcast TV networks. Podcast listeners are also employed, educated, and have more children per household than the total US sample. Half of time spent listening to podcasts happens on mobile phones compared to one-third for computers. The takeaway: The podcast listening audience should be a target for many organizations. Knowing who’s listening should help make the case for podcasting, pitching stories or interview subjects to podcasters, and/or advertising on podcasts. Read more

Confusion reigns over native ads—Regardless of the steps publishers and brands take to ensure readers can distinguish a native ad from an article, readers remain confused about what constitutes and ad and what constitutes an article. Survey results from a Contently study found readers are more likely to see a native ad as an article rather than an advertisement. They also have trouble figuring out what brand is associated with a native ad. On the plus side, those who read native ads they saw as high quality reported a higher level of trust for the sponsoring brand. However, a news site loses credibility when it publishes native ads, and roughly half of readers feel deceived when finding a piece of content was sponsored. The takeaway: There is value in native ads for both publishers and brands, but more work is needed to ensure readers understand what they’re seeing was paid for. Read more

User-generated content builds trust—Seventy percent of consumers rank recommendations from peers above professionally-written copy, according to a study by ratings and reviews company Reevoo. Consequently, the interactions your customer has with your company are increasingly important. The takeaway: You should focus on your customers’ blog posts, reviews, comments, shared photos, and other user-generated content as part of your communication effort to improve your online profile. Read more

Mobile and Wearables

Periscope lets you shoot in landscape mode—Following Instagram’s lead, Periscope has enabled landscape mode for its social live video streaming app. Previously, only portrait video had been available. The takeaway: Aspect ratio matters. If you’re using Periscope, it’s now up to you to decide which format better serves your subject with live-streaming. Read more

Facebook overhauls business pages for mobile—Facebook has revamped its business Pages specifically to enhance the experience for mobile users. The company hopes to demonstrate that Pages can drive conversions and produce leads. The takeaway: Facebook’s addition of a large call-to-action button beneath your cover photo should lead you to clarify your overarching call to action for your Facebook page. Read more

Virtual and Augmented Reality

Recruiters use VR to let recruits experience life at their company—Recruiters for General Mills are using the Oculus rift Virtual Reality headset to let students they hope to recruit get a taste of what it would be like to work for the company. The immersive experience puts University of Minnesota students inside the company’s Golden Valley campus, walking its halls and working out in its gym. The takeaway: Seeing just this one example should open the floodgate of ideas for VR’s utility in recruiting. Read more

Is VR the future of the hotel business center?—Hotel business centers are undergoing a metamorphosis and Virtual Reality could be at the heart of these facilities. According to YouVisit COO Endri Tolka, “VR stations in the business center will not only help the hotels differentiate themselves from their competition but also provide an additional revenue stream with minimal investment. Visitors could come to your LA-based hotel with the purpose of attending meetings physically nearby for the morning, but then have the ability to check in on a job site in Chicago and attend a meeting in NYC, all before having dinner with a new partner back in LA.” The takeaway: The travel industry is experimenting with VR for a broad range of uses. Pay attention to these early-adoption programs to spark ideas for the use of VR in your industry. Read more

Marriott experiments with VR for guests—In a two-week experimental program, guests at Marriott’s new York and London properties can request a Samsung Gear VR headset be delivered to their rooms for 24 hours. With the headset, a visitor can “travel” across Asia, South America, and Africa. Marriott has also launched VR Postcards, “three virtual travel stories told from Chile, China, and Rwanda in an immersive, 360-degree experience.” The takeaway: More and more tales are appearing of brands experimenting with VR. When will your company take the plunge? Read more

Virtual Reality could be coming to your smartphone—Facebook is developing a standalone app that would support spherical videos—also known as 360-degree video—that would let users alter their viewing perspective based on how they hold their phones. Compiled from multiple camera, the format lets users change what they see by tilting their phones. The result is a virtual reality-like experience without the need for a headset. The takeaway: If physical objects are at the heart of your brand, immersive video could be in the cards for your future marketing efforts. Read more

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