In addition to news items and in-depth discussion of trends and issues, you'll hear the Internet Society's Dan York report on technologies of interest to communicators.
FIR #368: AI and PR Codes of Ethics
PRSA has released as set of guidelines to govern the use of Artificial Intelligence by public relations professionals. The association has used its Code of Ethics as a roadmap. In this short midweek episode, Neville and Shel explore the recommendations -- and the landscape of AI ethics guides for the PR profession.Continue Reading →
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24/11/2023 • 15 minutes 2 seconds
FIR #367: Innovation Thrives When Employees Engage in Professional Networks
Individual employees can reap a clear benefit from participating in online social networks. The companies for which they work also benefit from smarter employees who can reach out for help that can speed up the completion of projects. New research suggests that the company's advantage goes deeper depending on how many employees are participating robustly in these networks. Neville and Shel share the research and discusses what businesses need to do to tap into that benefit in this short midweek episode.Continue Reading →
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21/11/2023 • 16 minutes 39 seconds
FIR #366: DIY GPT
Pundits are proclaiming social media dead (or dying), and they have data to back up their beliefs. If it's true, what does it mean -- for society, for networking, and for business? Neville and Shel examine the evidence and trends and discuss the implications in the monthly long-form episode for November. Also in this episode:
ChatGPT pauses new signups and other news
A look at ChatGPT's GPT Builder
The state of news on social media
Generative AI and journalism
A high-profile executive's fake Twitter accounts
In his Tech Report, Dan York talks about Twitter's woes, WhatsApp news, Automattic backing off Tumblr growth, and the Cambridge Dictionary's word of the year
Continue Reading →
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20/11/2023 • 1 hour 24 minutes 42 seconds
FIR #365: RyanAir’s Social Media Chief Doesn’t Leave Quietly
RyanAir has a reputation: For the lowest airfares in Europe, you'll get where you're going with the bare minimum of service. The airline's social media accounts -- notably TikTok -- have done a brilliant, irreverent job of setting expectations for anyone planning to fly on RyanAir, which the social media manager's skills were first-rate. When he left the company -- reportedly because of its cultural shortcomings -- he abided by the 90-day quiet period, then applied his social media skills to share his experience. His posts (not surprisingly) made headlines. In this short midweek episode, Neville and Shel break down what this might mean for RyanAir.Continue Reading →
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15/11/2023 • 16 minutes 26 seconds
FIR #364: Managers’ Most Important Communication Role
Internal communicators have long known how important employees' immediate supervisors are to the communication process. Based on the results of a new study, communicators need to shift their focus. Managers still need to serve as a conduit of information in both directions, but there's an even more important role they play that communicators are best suited to help them learn and apply. Shel and Neville discuss the study and its implications for internal communications professionals in this short midweek episode.Continue Reading →
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03/11/2023 • 15 minutes 16 seconds
FIR #363: Is the Israel-Hamas War a Communications No-Win Situation?
A review of the trove of articles about how brands have addressed the conflict in the Middle East suggests that there is no way to satisfy everybody, even for brands that opt to say nothing at all. Neville and Shel explore the peril of speaking out, even as expectations continue for companies and their CEOs to address societal issues. Also in this monthly long-form episode:
The closure of Pebble (formerly T2) has implications for the entire fractured social media ecosystem
A global PR body has ratified 10 principles for the ethical use of AI in PR and communications
LinkedIn influencers are becoming a force to be reckoned with
A poll from MIT explores key decision points for deploying AI in the enterprise
Silicon Valley appears to have given up on news in social networks
In his tech report, Dan York shares details about the flailing of Twitter, changes in Threads, WhatsApp channels, and Automattic's purchase of Texts.<br
30/10/2023 • 1 hour 32 minutes 4 seconds
FIR #362: Why Did Pebble Sink?
T2 rebranded as Pebble because when tossed in water, pebbles create ripples (except in the song "Ripple," in which "there is no pebble tossed, nor wind to blow"). The microblogging social network created by former Twitter staffers never created enough ripples to sustain it. In this short midweek episode, Neville and Shel lament Pebble's passing, consider the reasons it is shutting down, and ponder what it means for the post-Twitter social media landscape.Continue Reading →
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27/10/2023 • 24 minutes 43 seconds
FIR #361: Is There A Seat At The Table in Corporate Communication’s Future?
A new study from Edelman polled hundreds of Fortune 500 Chief Communication Officers about the future of corporate communications. The results include some surprises, including the scope of the CCO's role and what they're spending their time on. The study also addresses the old canard about the communicator's quest for a "seat at the table." Neville and Shel dig into the report in this short midweek episode.Continue Reading →
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25/10/2023 • 14 minutes 24 seconds
FIR #360: Your AI Chatbot Confidant
At a school in southern England, a headmaster worked with an AI developer to create an AI "robot" named Abigail Bailey to serve as his "headteacher," giving him advice and helping with planning. He has another AI "robot" named Jamie Rainer serving as his head of AI after advertising for a human to handle the job. Can the same principles be transferred to the CEO of an organization? Find out in this short midweek episode.Continue Reading →
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18/10/2023 • 14 minutes 30 seconds
FIR #359: Your New AI BFF
OpenAI is rolling out the ability to have a spoken conversation with ChatGPT. Meta is making it easy to converse with the likes of Tom Brady and Paris Hilton (who have lent their voices to the effort). An AI chatbot called PI was built to let you discuss personal matters. Companies are rolling out AI girlfriends. (That can't end well.) It's all part of what Casey Newton calls the "synthetic social network," and it's the topic of conversation between Neville and Shel in this short midweek episode.Continue Reading →
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13/10/2023 • 18 minutes 43 seconds
FIR #358: EY Goes AI
EY (formerly Ernst & Young), one of the "big four" accounting firms, has launched EY.ai, which is (according to a press release) "a unifying platform that brings together human capabilities and artificial intelligence (AI) to help clients transform their businesses through confident and responsible adoption of AI." Separately, EY has introduced EYQ, an AI assistant for its 400,000 employees. Neville and Shel discuss the news -- and how likely it is that EY's competitors will follow -- in this short midweek FIR episode.Continue Reading →
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05/10/2023 • 16 minutes 48 seconds
FIR #357: A Status Report on AI and PR
Artificial Generative Intelligence (AGI) has been widely available publicly for less than a year, but the public relations industry has moved quickly to assess its potential and begin the process of implementation. How is it going so far? A brief from the PR Academy looks at the state of AGI in PR. Also in this monthly long-form episode:
Acast has risen to the top of the business podcasting services heap
Despite political pressure, marketers continue to focus on diversity
Gen Z journalists are not like their predecessors. What are their values and priorities?
Deepfakes have been a concern for years. Deepfake scams have finally arrived.
Website owners are looking for ways to block AI web crawlers from vacuuming up their content.
In his tech report, Dan York looks at Mastodon 4.2 and the ActivityPub plugin for WordPress.<a href="https://www.firpodcastnetwork.com/fir-357-a-status-report-on-ai-and-pr/"
02/10/2023 • 1 hour 20 minutes 14 seconds
FIR #356: The Long Arc of Network Disruption
It's easy to believe that the internet has already demonstrated its disruptive capabilities by pointing to everything from the transformation of the audience to publishers and the rise of disinformation. However disruptive these changes are, they are mainly uses of technology to do things we were already doing -- just doing it more easily and efficiently. Real disruption -- the invention of entirely new processes and approaches -- could take years, decades, even centuries to manifest, according to Jeff Jarvis in his new book, "The Gutenberg Parentheses". But we are starting to see early examples, and TikTok is the platform on which they are appearing. We'll share these examples, and provide more insight into Jarvis's book, in this short midweek episode.Continue Reading →
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27/09/2023 • 18 minutes 47 seconds
FIR #355: The Future for Hashtags
In this short-form episode, we look at how hashtags have evolved over time and what’s next. Proposed by Chris Messina in 2007 for use on Twitter, hashtags were initially meant to categorize and connect conversations on social media platforms. However, in articles published on Medium in recent months, Messina explains his belief that hashtags have... Continue Reading →
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25/09/2023 • 7 minutes 42 seconds
FIR #354: Law and PR Combine to Protect Reputations
The court of law is not the only place where reputations must be defended. Increasingly, it’s also in the court of public opinion. In response, British law firm Schillings takes on the PR industry by setting up its own agency for clients seeking a different way to manage their reputation. In this short midweek episode, Neville solo (Shel is away) discusses what it means for the PR industry and considers the challenges and opportunities for both professions.Continue Reading →
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14/09/2023 • 5 minutes 32 seconds
FIR #353: Blogging in the AI Era
Generative Artificial Intelligence has a lot to offer bloggers, from easier research to better SEO. It can also let people crank out torrents of posts. In this short midweek episode, Neville and Shel examine the benefits and risks AI presents to bloggers and whether blogs are more or less important in the AI era.Continue Reading →
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08/09/2023 • 24 minutes 19 seconds
FIR #352: AI and Elections — Should We Panic?
Generative Artificial Intelligence is poised to become a wild card in upcoming elections, most notably the 2024 presidential election in the U.S. Its primary use will be the creation of disinformation. But can voters be swayed by this flood of new content that (let's face it) joins the flood of disinformation people have been creating without AI? Neville and Shel look at multiple sides of the issue in this short midweek episode.Continue Reading →
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05/09/2023 • 16 minutes 6 seconds
FIR #351: No Such Thing as Peak Podcast
Can there be too many podcasts? That's just one question a panel of podcast luminaries answered for The Hollywood Reporter. Neville and Shel highlight key comments and discuss the direction podcasting is taking and whether it remains relevant for organizational communicators in this short midweek episode.Continue Reading →
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30/08/2023 • 20 minutes 20 seconds
FIR #350: Success Breeds Imitation
The spectacular success of the Barbie movie has led Mattel to plan more than a dozen movies based on its brands, including Hot Wheels, Barney, Polly Pocket, Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, and American Girl -- not to mention a full-blown theme park (with a Barbie Beach, Hot Wheels rides, and a massive He-Man and the Masters of the Universe laser tag arena. Mattel's competitors are also making plans for movie versions of its products. Movies based on toys are nothing new (we've seen multiple Transformers movies, GI Joe movies, and a He-Man flick). But Barbie raised the bar. Will the inevitable flood of toy-branded movies rise to that level or just be the schlock we've come to expect? Neville and Shel dissect the possibilities in this short midweek episode.Continue Reading →
The post F
23/08/2023 • 18 minutes 54 seconds
FIR #349: Marketing’s Pity Party
"Pity Marketing" is having a moment. Multiple reports have surfaced of people sharing tales of woe, mostly on the X (formerly Twitter) social network, leading many who see the posts to pull out their wallets. Could the same technique work for bigger brands? Also in the August long-form episode of "For Immediate Release":
The Associated Press has published its AI guidelines for journalists
Big advertisers are rushing to take advantage of AI
Gartner has pegged AI at the peak of inflated expectations
Motion identities are now a requirement for brands
Brands are starting to sound alike on social media
In his Tech Report, Dan York reports on Twitch's plans to roll out blocking, new features on Threads, developments with Mastodon, a new fediverse report, and scientists scaling back their use of X (formerly Twitter).Continue Reading
21/08/2023 • 1 hour 28 minutes 18 seconds
FIR #348: The Consequences of AI Panic
Prosecraft was a useful site for wanna-be fiction writers. It violated no copyright rules and did nothing that should have been upsetting to authors whose works were included in the site's library. For several years, nobody gave it a second thought. But as AI has raised worries among creatives, some authors jerked their knees and demanded their works be removed. The loss of Prosecraft is bad enough. The chilling effect could be worse. Neville and Shel discuss the potential consequences of AI panic in this short midweek episode.Continue Reading →
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17/08/2023 • 14 minutes 40 seconds
FIR #347: Digital Media, Star Power, and Wrexham
Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney made headlines when they bought the Wrexham Association Football Club. Since then they have poured cash into the team and applied business savvy to build a global fan base for the obscure Welsh club. Among the tactics employed was a digital media strategy focused on entertaining storytelling centered on team members and coaches. Can that approach work for other sports teams or businesses that don't have the star power of a Ryan Reynolds to draw attention? Neville and Shel discuss the story in this short midweek episode.Continue Reading →
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15/08/2023 • 14 minutes 12 seconds
FIR #346: The Daily Me, Video Version
In 1995, MIT Media Lab Director Nicholas Negroponte predicted "The Daily Me," a digital newspaper that would feature articles that aligned with the interests of each individual reader, leaving out news a well-rounded person might need to know. Now, courtesy of AI, a company is planning to develop a daily 30-minute newscast with AI-generated anchors sharing coverage of stories based on each viewer's interests. The concept can be useful where audience segmentation is important but also raises some serious questions, which Neville and Shel ponder in this short midweek episode.Continue Reading →
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04/08/2023 • 15 minutes 14 seconds
FIR #344: Sloganeering with AI
AI rewrote 50 of the best-known brand slogans, and survey respondents preferred the AI version 48 percent of the time -- even Apple's "Think Different" slogan fell to the AI alternative. Also in this AI-heavy monthly long-form episode:
Newsrooms are adopting standards for using AI
Google is pitching an AI news-writing tool to major media outlets
How should newsrooms be thinking about AI?
A study of more than 5,000 ChatGPT conversations reveals how people are using the chatbot
Maybe AI isn't coming for everyone's job after all
An NFT platform has launched a limited-edition print magazine
What's behind Twitter's poop emoji PR?
In his tech report, Dan York introduces himself to Threads, Mastodon analytics are now available, Vox is ending its CMS, a look at Llam2, worries about AI cluttering the web with useless content, and a new podcast to try.
24/07/2023 • 1 hour 18 minutes 52 seconds
FIR #343: Employees Caught in Activism’s Crossfire
A new activist tactic is targeting individual businesses, concentrating all of the movement's energy and resources on forcing that one business to bend to the group's will. These instances are usually based on business practices that reflect the company's values, such as support for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. How the business responds has a direct impact on the experiences of employees who interact with customers on a day-to-day basis, especially in retail and other customer-facing sectors. How communicators can help both the company and employees weather these storms is the focus of this short midweek FIR episode.Continue Reading →
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20/07/2023 • 19 minutes 2 seconds
FIR #342: Pulling at Threads’ Seams
Meta's Threads, a new micro-blogging platform, is now available to anyone with an Instagram account, and there has been no shortage of people willing to give it a try. Only about two weeks old, Threads is already the subject of speculation about its future. In the meantime, brands and journalists are jumping onto the platform. Should your company or brand be there, too? Neville and Shel share their thoughts in this short midweek "For Immediate Release" episode.Continue Reading →
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18/07/2023 • 20 minutes 54 seconds
FIR #341: Influencers Amuck
In the world of influencers, brands pay for influencers to say what the brands want them to say. In the case of Shein, what they wanted them to say appears to be at odds with the facts. In this case, the blowback targeted the influencers more than the brand, calling attention to the gloss the company wanted to put on its tarnished reputation. Will every follower of an influencer know every time they're hearing a manipulated message? We explore the Shein story and its implications in this short mid-week episode.Continue Reading →
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07/07/2023 • 17 minutes 12 seconds
FIR #340: Will AI Destroy the Web?
All the signs are there, according to observers. As one tech publication put it, "Google is trying to kill the 10 blue links. Twitter is being abandoned to bots and blue ticks. There’s the junkification of Amazon and the enshittification of TikTok. Layoffs are gutting online media. A job posting looking for an 'AI editor' expects 'output of 200 to 250 articles per week.' ChatGPT is being used to generate whole spam sites. Etsy is flooded with 'AI-generated junk.' Chatbots cite one another in a misinformation ouroboros. LinkedIn is using AI to stimulate tired users. Snapchat and Instagram hope bots will talk to you when your friends don’t. Redditors are staging blackouts. Stack Overflow mods are on strike. The Internet Archive is fighting off data scrapers, and 'AI is tearing Wikipedia apart.'"
Is the worst-case scenario inevitable? Neville and Shel explore the possibilities in this short mid-week episode.<a href="https://www.firpodcastnetwork.com/fir-340-will-ai-destroy
28/06/2023 • 18 minutes 51 seconds
FIR #339: Still Virtual After All These Years
The hype around the metaverse rises and falls, but Second Life is 20 years old and continues to draw users and make money. Neville and Shel explore the reasons Second Life enjoys its ongoing modest success in the June monthly long-form episode of "For Immediate Release." Also in this episode:
The state of digital news raises concerns for the public's news literacy, how companies can get their news into the hands of stakeholders, and what "news" means to people today.
The political assault on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) is producing polarization among employees and, in some companies, questionable decisions by leaders.
Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) will have an impact on every department in an organization. That makes it a key focus area for Chief People Officers.
The merger of the PGA and the LIV golf tour caught many players by surprise. They should have been a top priority.
19/06/2023 • 1 hour 39 minutes 58 seconds
FIR #338: Adding Activism to PR
Public relations, both in academia and in practical application, has always been seen as a business practice. A new study produced by researchers from the Missouri School of Journalism and Penn State argues that community activism employs PR strategies and tactics. By recognizing community activism as a form of public relations, traditional PR professionals can incorporate some of the things it does better, including listening and taking a long view. Neville and Shel dive into the research in this short midweek episode.Continue Reading →
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14/06/2023 • 16 minutes 43 seconds
FIR #337: Is It All Over for Influencers?
A new survey finds that 90 percent of Americans don't trust influencers. What does this mean for the multi-million influencer industry? And where can brands turn now, since the old celebrity approach also doesn't carry much weight with consumers? Neville and Shel fill you in during this short midweek episode.Continue Reading →
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08/06/2023 • 16 minutes 46 seconds
FIR #336: Trust, Likability, and Confirmation Bias
Multiple studies confirm that Americans (like most of the rest of the world) have lost their trust in the media. But people get their news and information from somewhere -- or, as a Gallup/Knight Foundation study finds -- someone. "Public individuals" attract followers who turn to them for news and information based on a number of qualities, ranging from likability to subject matter expertise. Many of these public individuals host shows on mainstream media outlets. What does this mean for PR professionals looking for the right outlet to pitch? Neville and Shel break down the study in this short midweek FIR episode.Continue Reading →
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31/05/2023 • 19 minutes 46 seconds
FIR #335: BBC Fires a Shot in the Disinformation War
BBC Verify is the venerable broadcaster's latest effort to combat disinformation. With a staff of 60 journalists, Verify will provide details about the BBC's own reporting and debunk disinformation it finds online (as it has already done with a photo purportedly of a Pentagon bombing that was, in fact, AI-generated). Are there lessons in the BBC's approach that communicators can apply to their companies' online activities? And will other media outlets follow suit, even as they slash budgets and newsrooms?Continue Reading →
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24/05/2023 • 18 minutes 44 seconds
FIR #333: When to Disclose That You’ve Used AI
"Disclosure and transparency are the currency of the internet," wrote journalist and author Evan Osnos. That has proven to be true time and again. It undoubtedly will be true of using generative AI in marketing and communication. But will it be true every time we use AI? Even when we're just using it as a tool, like a calculator? The challenge of establishing guidelines for disclosing the use of AI is the subject of this short midweek episode.Continue Reading →
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18/05/2023 • 19 minutes 20 seconds
FIR #332: Wikipedia Editors in Tug-of-War Over AI-Authored Articles
The volunteer editors responsible for Wikipedia content are divided over the role ChatGPT and other generative AI writing tools can or should play in the creation of articles for the online encyclopedia. Their struggle is most likely being repeated in businesses around the globe.Continue Reading →
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10/05/2023 • 20 minutes 6 seconds
FIR #331: AI Completes Tasks and Raises Fears
The recent releases of Agent-GPT, AutoGPT, and BabyGPT have taken ChatGPT to a new level. Rather than simply responding to user prompts, these tools identify a series of tasks that must be completed to achieve a goal and then completes them autonomously. It's still early days, but the potential is huge. So is the growing risk of bad actors using these tools for nefarious purposes. We discuss these recent developments in this short mid-week episode.Continue Reading →
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03/05/2023 • 20 minutes 18 seconds
FIR #330: Help Wanted. Prompt Engineer.
If your generative AI prompts aren't producing exactly what you want, there's help -- for a fee. You can buy pre-written prompts from prompt marketplaces like PromptBase and Prompt Attack or hire a prompt engineer through services like Fiverr. We dig into this newly-emergent cottage industry in this short midweek episode.Continue Reading →
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28/04/2023 • 18 minutes 52 seconds
FIR #329: Post Once, Socialize Everywhere
Imagine posting to your favorite social network, the one you want your brand to be associated with, and having it appear for all of your followers in the social networks of their choice. It could be possible if the ActivityPub standard continues to spread the way it has been lately. And that could be an important evolution given the meltdown that Twitter is undergoing. Those are just two of the stories in the April long-form edition of the "For Immediate Release" podcast. Also in this episode...
The "have a go" era of podcasting could be coming to an end, depending on how you interpret the data
LinkedIn is going through some changes that not everyone likes
A coalition of 500-plus ad agencies is taking a stand against fossil fuels
A song reportedly produced using AI imitated the voices of some A-list artists, and the music industry isn't happy
Dan York reports on the demise of Spotify Live, some Twitter news, Wikipedia's one-m
24/04/2023 • 1 hour 36 minutes 21 seconds
FIR #328: What’s In Your Crypto Wallet?
Traditional wallets are stuffed full of cash, credit cards, debit cards, and identification. Crypto wallets have only held public and private keys needed to trade cryptocurrencies. Users are increasingly filling their crypto wallets with NFTs and other digital assets. It won't be long before digital wallets hold crypto, NFTs, digital assets, and your credit cards and identity verification. The only physical wallets you'll see will be in museums. Why communicators and their clients/employers should care is the subject of this short midweek episode.Continue Reading →
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14/04/2023 • 15 minutes 37 seconds
FIR #327: Laid Off In The Comfort Of Your Own Home
During the pandemic-related lockdown, with everyone but essential workers working from home, companies had little choice but to inform employees that their employment was being terminated using Zoom, Teams, or other digital channels. Now that people are back in the office, full-time or under a hybrid model, many companies have retained the practice. Some have asked all employees -- even those working in the office -- to stay home during a layoff so those who are being terminated can get the news remotely. In this short midweek episode, Neville and Shel discuss whether this approach is here for good and, if it is, whether there are implications for companies engaging in the practice.Continue Reading →
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11/04/2023 • 19 minutes 52 seconds
FIR #326: The (Metaverse) Winter of Our Discontent
Can the metaverse survive? Is this the Metaverse winter? Is the metaverse dead? Headlines like these appear across media as attention -- and investment dollars -- shift from the metaverse to Artificial Intelligence. Is the metaverse really destined for the trash heap of tech history? Neville and Shel take issue with all the doom and gloom in this short midweek episode.Continue Reading →
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07/04/2023 • 17 minutes 48 seconds
FIR #325: Making AI-Generated Brand Magic
Coca-Cola is one of the first companies to demonstrate a big commitment to generative AI, launching a contest that requires contestants to use both of OpenAI's public tools: ChatGPT and DALL-E 2. Neville and Shel discuss the contest and some other brand experiments with generative AI tools in this short midweek episode.Continue Reading →
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28/03/2023 • 13 minutes 24 seconds
FIR #324: Pitching Original Content
Some PR pros think you should withhold original research, infographics, and other original content from a pitch to a journalist. Others think you can share it, but only under some circumstances. Still others think it best to give reporters what you have. Neville and Shel explore the various recommendations in this short, mid-week episode.Continue Reading →
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21/03/2023 • 11 minutes 23 seconds
FIR #323: Outright Theft Or Fair Use?
All generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) works fundamentally the same: AI neural networks learn from large training sets, gleaning patterns from the contents of those training sets in order to create original content based on their understanding of those patterns. When the companies behind those AI tools use content available on the web for training, do they need to ask permission from the content creators? You and I don't. We can look at as much as we like and learn as much as we can. Is it the same for AI training sets or is it something else altogether, more akin to Napster using existing music without compensating the artists? Neville and Shel are on opposite sides of the debate. Also in this episode:
The University of Iowa's school of business has introduced a program to teach students how to tell stories. Storytelling is a crucial business skill that few businesses value. Communicators can help change that.
A BBC football analyst -- a contractor, not a
20/03/2023 • 1 hour 39 minutes 40 seconds
FIR #322: If Not Twitter, Then Where?
Network outages. Fleeing advertisers. Disaffected staff. News reports of abusive behavior. Rents in arrears. And news feeds are increasingly swamped with posts from trolls and bots. Things are not looking good for the bird site. But if it fails, what's the alternative? The fediverse is questionable. LinkedIn is solid, but its focus is on business. Jack Dorsey's Bluesky is coming, but it's federated, too. Is there anything out there that can serve the function Twitter does? Neville and Shel examine the situation and explore the alternatives in this short midweek episode.Continue Reading →
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09/03/2023 • 20 minutes 29 seconds
FIR #321: Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Crisis Comms
In the laundry list of mistakes and missteps from Norfolk Southern in the wake of the disastrous train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, what stands out the most is that the company seems to be making it all about them and not the people suffering the fallout of the crisis. (At a town hall meeting, a company representative kept repeating how awful everyone at Norfolk Southern felt about the incident. Nobody in East Palestine cares how anybody at Norfolk Southern feels.) You have to wonder if they're getting and ignoring good crisis counsel, if the counsel they're getting is bad, or if they're not getting any professional input at all.Continue Reading →
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03/03/2023 • 19 minutes 46 seconds
FIR #320: The Chorebots of 2033
Artificial Intelligence is already embedded in daily life, from product recommendations based on past purchases to playlist suggestions. If you use a smartwatch or health-monitoring wearable, you're using AI. The leap demonstrated by recently released generated AI apps suggests that future developments are going to come at an accelerated pace. We've also seen amazing robotic developments. (Have you watched a recent Boston Dynamics video or checked out Loona, the robotic pet that was the hit of CES in January?) Mix the two, bake for a decade, and imagine what you'll get.Continue Reading →
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01/03/2023 • 21 minutes 2 seconds
FIR #319: Return to Work Mandates Damage Engagement and Productivity
A lot of company leaders believe a return to the office is a prerequisite to raising productivity and employee engagement metrics. A look at the data seems to reveal exactly the opposite: Productivity rose near the start of the pandemic and plummeted when companies began demanding employees come back to the office. Engagement numbers also fell well after the start of the pandemic in 2020, according to the premier engagement researcher. The world of work has changed, whether senior leaders understand that or not, which puts a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of in-house communicators.Continue Reading →
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23/02/2023 • 17 minutes 24 seconds
FIR #318: AI, Mastodon, the Metaverse — Headlines vs. Reality
Mainstream and tech media alike have filled their pages with headlines about disastrous demos, worrisome uses, fleeing users, and evaporating investments. Is it all true? Or is it a combination of clickbait and a failure to understand what's really happening? In the February long-form episode of the "For Immediate Release" podcast, Neville and Shel look at generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) developments, mostly having to do with ChatGPT and Microsoft's integration of it into limited-release versions of Bing and Edge. Also in this episode:
With all the AI coverage and some media still paying attention to the Metaverse, reporting on NFTs and other aspects of Web3 seem to have fallen off the radar, but there was a big Web3 development when the world's largest pharmaceutical company invested big money in a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) that was launched to circumvent big pharmaceutical companies.
To read the coverage, you would think that all tho
20/02/2023 • 1 hour 49 minutes 56 seconds
FIR #317: The Rise of the De-Influencer
Influencer marketing is a multi-billion-dollar industry, with Instagrammers and TikTokers with large followings pitching products in exchange for cash and other considerations. In response, some on Instagram and TikTok have taken to slamming those very same products -- for free. It's as trend that's on the rise.Continue Reading →
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15/02/2023 • 13 minutes 20 seconds
FIR #316: Back to Blogging
Before Twitter, before Facebook, there were blogs. People who shared an interest in the blog's theme congregated there and had conversations. The general tone was positive, even when people disagreed. As the social media space deteriorates and Twitter's future is in doubt, storyteller and freelancer Monique Judge suggests a return to blogging as the primary means of online social engagement. Is such a pivot possible? Neville and Shel share their thoughts in this short midweek episode.Continue Reading →
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12/02/2023 • 18 minutes 34 seconds
FIR #315: Does Every Company Need A CCO?
In a lot of companies, the PR and communications functions live under Marketing. For a variety of reasons, that is not the best approach. Marketing, after all, has a distinct role to play in short-to-mid-term lead generation and other outcomes based mostly on paid outreach. PR, on the other hand, is all about earned media designed to build reputation and promote thought leadership. Someone needs to sit at a senior level to ensure these efforts and other communication functions, like advertising, investor relations, and community relations, are coordinated and consistent. Call that person the Chief Communications Officer. Is it time every company anoints one? Neville and Shel explore the issue in this short midweek FIR episode.Continue Reading →
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08/02/2023 • 16 minutes 51 seconds
FIR #314: Show Or Tell?
Are written and spoken recommendations received equally? Contrary to what may seem logical, they are not, according to new research. In this short midweek FIR episode, Shel and Neville explore what the study's findings could mean for how marketers and communicators wield influence over the decisions people make.Continue Reading →
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02/02/2023 • 13 minutes 33 seconds
FIR #313: Will Gen Z Finally Kill Email?
There's a perception that people in their 20's, raised with digital technology and accustomed to more effective messaging technologies, simply don't use email. Could that spell the beginning of the end of this clunky, 50-plus-year-old business tool? Neville and Shel consider the possibility in this short, midweek FIR episode.Continue Reading →
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25/01/2023 • 18 minutes 33 seconds
FIR #312: The Social Media Press Release Redux
Everything old is new again, the saying goes. Despite touting the idea of a press release as a destination being a new idea, it actually dates back about 15 years -- and retains all of its value. Neville and Shel explore the idea of defeating paywalls with destination press releases in this monthly long-form episode of "For Immediate Release." Also in this episode:
Follow-ups to stories about Artificial Intelligence (AI) interns and facial recognition used for nefarious purposes.
The 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer -- and whether Edelman can claim to be trust experts
A roundup of news and commentary about ChatGPT
A decline in Mastodon users
Dan York's Tech Report, which looks at some Twitter changes, good news for Mastodon users, a Mastodon instance for Medium users, Getty's lawsuit targeting the generative AI image tool Stable Diffusion, Wikipedia's new look-and-feel, and WordPress's upcoming 20th birthday.
23/01/2023 • 1 hour 36 minutes 21 seconds
FIR #311: What Communicators Can Learn From Librarians
Library TikTok is growing -- organically. Librarians are meeting teenagers where they are, on TikTok, with videos that attract their attention and lead to library visits and more reading. Can this unorganized, grass-roots approach translate to marketing and communications? Is it looking at the idea of "influence" through a different lens? Neville and Shel explore the idea in this short mid-week episode.Continue Reading →
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19/01/2023 • 12 minutes 30 seconds
FIR #310: Shake Up Your Work-From-Home Routine
Working from home has become more commonplace in the wake of the pandemic, with executives who once believed productivity would plummet now reconciled to the fact that remote work, for the most part, has little impact on productivity (unless, as is the case in some organizations, it actually boosts employee outputs). And a lot of employees are thrilled to be working from home. That doesn't mean that things aren't getting a little stale. A Harvard Business Review article suggests remote workers might want to consider making some changes to their routines. The article even inspired Neville to take action he has been considering for a while. It's all part of this short mid-week FIR episode.Continue Reading →
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18/01/2023 • 16 minutes 31 seconds
Measuring Stuff That Didn't Happen
In this short midweek episode, Neville and Shel tackle a question from listener Kris Hansen about developing a metrics dashboard for her organization's leadership.Continue Reading →
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12/01/2023 • 17 minutes 48 seconds
FIR #308: Here Come Virtual Workers
The virtual worker industry is booming in China. For about $14,000 a year -- 80 percent less than it cost just a year earlier -- you can get a three-dimensional virtual person to handle everything from tours to customer support. With expectations that the industry will grow by 50 percent annually for the next three years, the arrival of virtual persons in the West is inevitable. Neville and Shel dive into the industry in this short midweek episode of "For Immediate Release."Continue Reading →
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06/01/2023 • 19 minutes 23 seconds
FIR #307: We’ll Pay You…In A Year
Keurig Dr. Pepper has stirred up a controversy by issuing an RFP that included payment terms of 360 days. While some big PR and advertising agencies may be able to wait a year to be paid for their work, it's most likely a non-starter for small and minority-owned agencies. (If most big clients turned to one-year payment terms, even the big agencies might have difficulty accommodating the requirement.) The agency world has united in its condemnation of the move, and Keurig Doctor Pepper's response is tepid, to say the least. Neville and Shel discuss the situation in this short midweek episode of "For Immediate Release."Continue Reading →
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03/01/2023 • 15 minutes 48 seconds
FIR #306: Brand Name Pronunciation As A Marketing Ploy
It's not unlikely that you have been mispronouncing some well-known company and brand names like IKEA, Hyundai, Porsche, Bayer, and Adidas. Some brands use common mispronunciations as the foundation for a marketing campaign, as Hyundai has undertaken in the UK. Neville and Shel explore some of these campaigns and examine the broader issue of hard-to-pronounce brand names in this short midweek episode of the "For Immediate Release" podcast.Continue Reading →
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29/12/2022 • 16 minutes 40 seconds
FIR #305: We See You And You Can’t Come In
A petulant venue owner is using facial recognition software to keep people with whom he has issues from entering his spaces -- including a mom with a Girl Scout troop. Also in this monthly long-form episode of the "For Immediate Release" podcast, Neville and Shel discuss the value of virtual goods and whether brands should start taking them seriously; business schools are exploring the potential for teaching in the metaverse -- especially classes about digital technology; it hasn't been a great year for metaverse activations, but at least brands are learning; it has been a year since Lush closed its Instagram and Facebook accounts, which means it's time to see how that decision turned out; and the better ChatGPT (the AI text-generating chatbot) gets, the more worried some people get about its impact on truth; and Dan York shares a year-end Tech Report with a range of updates including using WordPress for newsletters, WordPress's State of the Word 2022, and Tumblr Live.<a href=
26/12/2022 • 1 hour 25 minutes 47 seconds
FIR #304: Reaching Employees Through Social Media
Social media consultant Arik Hanson wrote recently in a LinkedIn article that companies should consider devoting some of their LinkedIn activities -- 20 percent is the volume he suggests -- to matters of interest to employees. That's because data shows that 30 percent of a brand page's engagement comes from the company's employees. In this short mid-week episode of "For Immediate Release," Neville and Shel discuss the opportunity for communicators to reach employees on LinkedIn, along with the challenges and possible pitfalls.Continue Reading →
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23/12/2022 • 16 minutes 17 seconds
FIR #303: The Quest for a Twitter Alternative
One list includes 50 potential Twitter replacements -- none of which will offer every one of Twitter's features and none of which includes everyone you're currently following on the bird site. How do you decide where to go when you conclude that maintaining your current Twitter activity is no longer feasible? Neville and Shel sort it out -- with a focus on Mastodon -- in this short mid-week episode of "For Immediate Release."Continue Reading →
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20/12/2022 • 20 minutes 33 seconds
FIR #302: Blockchain’s Widely Exaggerated Demise
New York Times columnist and Nobel economics laureate Paul Krugman wrote recently that the crypto crash is far worse than even the direst descriptions and that it is proof that blockchain was never a viable technology. At the same time, Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO David Solomon sees value in blockchain technology, but only if companies like his control it. The truth is, blockchain is thriving outside of speculative crypto investing. Neville and Shel explore blockchain's future in this short midweek episode of "For Immediate Release."Continue Reading →
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13/12/2022 • 17 minutes 53 seconds
FIR #301: A Communicator’s Look at ChatGPT
ChatGPT is the latest buzzworthy Artificial Intelligence tool. Released just this month by OpenAI, ChatGPT has stirred up a considerable amount of conversation, much of it about experiments people have conducted, while others now seriously question how much longer writers will be employable. In this short midweek episode, Neville and Shel look at ChatGPT from the communicator's perspective.Continue Reading →
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08/12/2022 • 17 minutes 43 seconds
FIR #300: Communicating Pay Transparency
In New York, pay transparency is required by law. It will also be a requirement in California after January 1. There's a lot of good that can come from pay transparency, but for organizations with cultures unready for it, the consequences could be dire. Are companies enlisting their internal communicators to help lay the groundwork for this level of disclosure?Continue Reading →
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23/11/2022 • 12 minutes 55 seconds
FIR #299: From the Metaverse to the Fediverse and Back Again
Despite the forecasts of some pundits, it is still too early to predict Twitter's complete collapse. Still, it is not outside the realm of possibility. (Since we recorded this episode on Saturday, November 19, CBS has halted its activity on Twitter, blaming Elon Musk's "turbulent and potentially devastating moves following his takeover of the company," according to Variety. It is worth considering the consequences of Twitter's demise. How big a loss to society at large would it be? We can take that idea one step further. With Facebook experiencing its own declines and Gen Z demonstrating a preference for smaller social networks over broadcast-style social media, what would happen if social media completely faded into the background? Also in the November episode of The Hobson and Holtz Report:
Thousands of Twitter users are migrating to Mastodon, a Twitter-like interface with some important differences, the key being that it is not owned by a single entity. Instead, it i
21/11/2022 • 1 hour 46 minutes 13 seconds
FIR #298: Social Listening in a Post-Twitter World
While things are not looking good at Twitter, it is not yet time to characterize it as the social network's death spiral. Still, speculation is fun (and inevitable), and one of the prospects about which some people are speculating is the impact a Twitterless world will have on social listening activities. Neville and Shel explore the possibility -- along with some other potential fallout should Twitter shut down -- in this short midweek episode of "For Immediate Release."Continue Reading →
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17/11/2022 • 17 minutes 22 seconds
FIR #297: A Stirling Example of Augmented Reality
The Scottish city of Stirling is investing in the creation of Augmented Reality (AR) layers throughout the city, available on a free dedicated app, to become what they claim is "the first augmented reality city."Continue Reading →
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15/11/2022 • 12 minutes 19 seconds
FIR #296: What Elon Musk Can Learn From Patrick Collinson
Twitter and Stripe both laid off employees last week. The contrast between how these layoffs were conducted is striking. One CEO went to great lengths to ensure the employees remaining post-layoff would feel the least amount of survivor's guilt and be ready to move forward. The other didn't seem to care how survivors felt. Neville and Shel examine these approaches and some of the other fallout from Elon Musk's acquisition of Twitter in this short midweek episode of "For Immediate Release."Continue Reading →
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09/11/2022 • 17 minutes 11 seconds
FIR #295: The Value-Add Potential of NFTs
Neville attended NFT.London, the UK version of the NFT.NYC, which has been held since February 2019. There, he attended sessions that covered various topics, but he was particularly struck by those addressing the value-add potential of NFTs as well as their community-building characteristics. He reports from a semi-quiet corner of the conference in this short mid-week episode.Continue Reading →
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03/11/2022 • 8 minutes 46 seconds
FIR #294: What Hath Elon Wrought?
It's not exactly a news flash that Elon Musk now owns Twitter (Chief Twit, he calls himself). Does he know what he's gotten himself into? It's doubtful, according to much of the evidence we've seen so far, in addition to some stinging commentary.Continue Reading →
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01/11/2022 • 13 minutes 30 seconds
FIR #293: Big Changes at Wikipedia
For virtually all of its 22 years, Wikipedia has confined its technology to the wiki, which was already nearly 10 years old when the online encyclopedia was introduced. But some big changes are in store, including the use of machine learning, all in service of enticing more people to become editors.Continue Reading →
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27/10/2022 • 15 minutes 26 seconds
FIR #292: The Sure and Steady Evolution of NFTs
To hear the media talk about it, NFTs are overpriced works of digital art on which a lot of gullible people will lose bundles of money. In fact, NFTs have utility far being investments, and savvy marketers are figuring it out, right down to local car washes. Neville and Shel share a handful of stories about such applications in this short midweek episode.Continue Reading →
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26/10/2022 • 15 minutes 22 seconds
FIR #291: Adding AI to Applications
AI tools that turn text prompts into images, video, and music are definitely cool, but they get a boost in utility when incorporated into a larger tool designed for a specific purpose. Omneky is one such tool, designed to improve the effectiveness of your social media ads. One element: DALL-E 2 is baked into the software, helping you create images that align with the software's assessment of your current and previous ads.Continue Reading →
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20/10/2022 • 13 minutes 4 seconds
FIR #290: Alas, Poor GIF, We Knew You Well
The first graphic format for the web to gain widespread adoption was the GIF. Even the advent of better formats replaced it for graphical display, it gained new strength through animation; what was once called an "animated GIF" became just a GIF. But today, for multiple reasons, the end appears nigh for all but the most die-hard fans. This short midweek episode is an homage to the GIF.Continue Reading →
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19/10/2022 • 12 minutes 39 seconds
FIR #289: Bloggers, AI, and The Future of PR
New data suggests a lot of bloggers are employing practices that are the opposite of those that deliver results. Shel and Neville dive into the data from a new blogger survey. Also in this episode: Microsoft is bringing the DALL-E 2 AI graphic generator to Office 365 via a new app called Designer, as well as a tool called Image Creator that will be deployed through Bing and Microsoft Edge; virtual influencers, already a big deal in Asia, are making inroads in the US, performing in concerts, signing record deals, and pitching products for brands; Edelman's CEO, Richard Edelman has given an interview in which he outlines his vision for the future of PR and his company; the category of meme creators is heating up but a lot of these people aren't happy with Instagram's rules; a new Danish political party is being led by an Artificial Intelligence.
In his Tech Report, Dan York reports on more digital services copying others, including yet another "stories" feature, this time on Si
17/10/2022 • 1 hour 27 minutes 29 seconds
FIR #288: A Humanoid Robot Artist Gives Testimony
October 11, 2022, was not your typical day at the UK House of Lords, where Ai-Da, a humanoid robot artist, delivered testimony in response to questions posed by peers. The testimony came as some of Ai-Da's original artwork was displayed in a museum. In her answers, Ai-Da was candid about AI's threat to human artists but was also realistic about the role technology has always played in art. In this short mid-week episode, Neville and Shel review the testimony and explore some of the issues Ai-Da raises.Continue Reading →
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11/10/2022 • 16 minutes 32 seconds
FIR #287: Internal Podcasts Gain Momentum
Some companies were experimenting with internal podcasts -- for employees only -- before companies sent employees home to work remotely as the COVID-19 pandemic spread. Faced with reaching and engaging employees who now never interacted face-to-face with their colleagues elevated the value of a podcast, which could establish a personal connection. At the same time, podcasting had gone mainstream, making more employees receptive to listening to one from their employer. In this short midweek episode, Neville and Shel look at some of the companies that have adopted internal podcasting and how they plan to evolve them in the new post-pandemic world of work.Continue Reading →
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06/10/2022 • 17 minutes 16 seconds
FIR #286: Managers Believe Remote Work Produces Lower Productivity
We read everywhere about increased productivity resulting from the remote work the pandemic forced upon companies. In fact, that increased productivity is leading several companies to adopt remote or hybrid work as the new status quo. But research conducted by Microsoft finds that not everyone agrees with the assessment. Managers are not on board with the notion that remote work has led to greater productivity, and the gap between what managers believe and employee perspectives is considerable.Continue Reading →
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04/10/2022 • 15 minutes 44 seconds
FIR #285: Alignment Through Conversation
You have a business initiative, an organizational change, a new value proposition. Success depends on getting employees aligned around the vision and the path to get there. Could small group conversations be the means of achieving that alignment? A new study suggests it's at least worth a shot.Continue Reading →
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30/09/2022 • 13 minutes 23 seconds
FIR #284: Ad Agencies Embrace AI Art
From experimentation, ideation, and storyboarding to producing the actual images to be used in an ad, advertising agency creatives are finding Artificial Intelligence image generators like DALL-E, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion instantly useful, saving time and money without sacrificing the end results. Does this spell the end of the graphic arts business?Continue Reading →
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28/09/2022 • 17 minutes 4 seconds
FIR #283: Communicators Helping Leaders Lead Through Communication
Neville and Shel were together in person to record this episode, which focuses exclusively on leadership communication. The recording happened on Neville's dining room table as Shel and his wife were on a two-week vacation in England and Ireland.Continue Reading →
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26/09/2022 • 1 hour 3 minutes 50 seconds
FIR #282: If You Need Me, Text Me
A lot of the communication with customers for which businesses once used email has transitioned to text messaging -- along with communication among friends, families, and pretty much everyone. To some extent, that even includes employee-to-employee communication. Whether it's SMS messaging or a messaging app like WhatsApp, Signal, or Telegram, people increasingly prefer the functionality and speed of response with text messages. Email isn't going anywhere but its uses may be diminishing.Continue Reading →
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06/09/2022 • 17 minutes 18 seconds
FIR #281: Advertising and Marketing in the Metaverse
Advertising on the Web is two-dimensional, with a consumer on the outside looking in. In the Metaverse, consumers will be active participants in virtual worlds, participating directly with virtual objects and one another. That opens the door for entirely new forms of advertising. In this short mid-week episode, Neville and Shel discuss what advertising might look like in virtual worlds and some of the technical, ethical, and legal challenges that organizations will face selling their wares to denizens of these immersive spaces.Continue Reading →
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01/09/2022 • 16 minutes
FIR #280: What’s Behind the “Quiet Quitting” Trend?
"Quiet quitting" is all over TikTok, with mostly Gen Zers talking about their disdain for going "above and beyond" at work. Is this really anything new, or is it just the first time a generation has used a label to share their feelings online? Or, as some suggest, is it that most Gen Zers entered the workforce during the pandemic when the boundaries between work and life were not clear and now that companies are getting back to what executives perceive as normal, they don't agree with the expectations the company has of them? Is this even confined to Gen Z? Neville and Shel look at "quiet quitting" in today's short mid-week episode.Continue Reading →
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25/08/2022 • 17 minutes 1 second
FIR #279: Business Buys Into the Metaverse
According to a new PwC survey of 1,000 senior U.S. business leaders from across industry sectors, businesses have bought into the inevitability and utility of the metaverse. The study also surveyed 5,000 U.S. consumers who are less aware and enthusiastic than executives are. Also in this monthly long-form episode of "For Immediate Release":
Gartner has released ins 2022 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies.
Consumer trend experts anticipate the impact web3 will have on consumer trends.
Ukraine has perfect the art of advertising in support of its resistance to Russia's invasion.
Each quarter, Microsoft adjusts the language it uses to advise the investment world of its ambitions.
One CEO who had to lay off staff took to LinkedIn to explain how hard it was on him, including a selfie of him weeping over it. Was it effective?
In his Tech Report, Dan York recounts his experience with Reddit's new social audio tool, looks at "s