This Week’s Headlines: PaidContent Acquired by GigaOm, Pinterest Creates Outcry

Never a dull moment in the social media and digital journalism worlds, is there? This week was no exception with the news that GigaOm has acquired PaidContent and that Pinterest is secretly profitting off of pins by adding affiliate links. Here’s as look at some of this week’s headlines:

Pybop’s Shelly Bowen on Website Content Strategy

Portait Headshots of Shelly Bowen for PYBOP.

Portait Headshots of Shelly Bowen for PYBOP.Building a great website is about more than coding—it’s also about developing and producing informative, helpful content that fits a client’s brand and needs.

The burgeoning field of content strategy is dedicated to helping businesses define their content needs and build websites that integrate those goals. Ebyline spoke with Shelly Bowen, principal of the San Diego-based content strategy firm Pybop, about her take on this innovative new field.

What’s your definition of content strategy? What does a content strategist do?

Ah, those are big questions! Content strategy is the practice of ensuring that your content aligns with and supports your business goals. At Pybop, we have a 5-step process that is customized to fit the brand, budget, and resources (both people and content) of the client. This includes:

  1. Audit
  2. Analyze
  3. Plan
  4. Execute
  5. Review and Repeat

Here’s an illustration of that process.

The content strategist works with whatever resources are available to ensure the best outcome. In my case, I do a lot of asking and listening, organizing, and rephrasing to make sure I’m able to share the client’s brand story effectively across platforms.

How do you market your services and attract the right clients?

The large majority of my clients are referrals from other clients. But some find Pybop through social media, search, and old-fashioned networking. My approach is not to advertise, but to be as helpful as I can to potential clients and the content strategy community through different channels. I share articles I’ve read or written, I draw pictures, I share stories. In May 2012, I’ll be speaking at Confab, the content strategy conference.

At what point in the web design/development process should a company bring in a content strategist?

As early as possible. Content influences design and development, and design and development influence content creation and. These people all should talk strategy. The content strategist should be familiar with the responsibilities of designers and developers and their process.

How does a content strategist collaborate with developers and designers?

We discuss our individual approach to different aspects of the project, keep each other in the loop, and get ideas from each other. Specifically, after any of us finishes a piece, we’ll share and provide feedback. That way everyone has a chance to discover opportunities early.

What types of writers are good candidates to get into the field of content strategy? What sort of background and skills are most useful?

Freelance writers who have a broad range of experience may do best in content strategy. These are writers who have worked on many types of content — from advertising to whitepapers and everything in-between, who love to collaborate, analyze, troubleshoot, and organize, and feel comfortable presenting recommendations persuasively to different shareholders, including CEOs, marketing managers, and developers. They need to be flexible and change the gameplan on a dime, based on data and the people involved.

It might be helpful for writers to look at this list of content strategy deliverables to see what kinds of work they might be diving into as a content strategist.


This Week’s Headlines: Sites Protest SOPA, Online Photos Get Ads

Wednesday’s online blackout in protest of SOPA dominated the conversation in many media circles, but it wasn’t the only news this week. Apple made an announcement that could shake up the textbook market and create opportunities for entrepreneurial authors, while eMarketer released a study that should excite all you digital journalists.

Broadcast Journalist Phil Ponce on Breaking in


Phil Ponce is host of Chicago Tonight, a nightly news program on Chicago’s WTTW channel 11 and earned an undergraduate degree in English from Indiana University and a law degree from the University of Michigan. In 1997, Ponce joined the Washington, D.C.-based NewsHour with Jim Lehrer as an anchor. Two years later, Ponce returned to Chicago to host Chicago Tonight; he also teaches at Loyola University Chicago.

Ebyline chatted with Ponce about breaking into broadcast journalist and using digital technology. Excerpts follow.

I see you practiced law for a number of years before getting into journalism – when and how did that switch happen?

I practiced law for six years and then decided that really I was not particularly good at confrontation. It struck me that broadcast journalism would allow me to tap in to some of the analytic skills that being a lawyer enables you to have and helps you hone, and the presentation skills from law I thought would also be effective. I made that segue when I was 30, and I became a weekend reporter for a station in Indianapolis, and then they hired me full-time and I eventually came to Chicago.

How do you view all the technological innovations in your field?

I think the technological developments have been an overwhelming plus, because first and foremost, you’re called upon to prepare for whatever encounter you’re having. My gosh, the ability to prepare now – it’s a different world. The first step to be a good journalist or technical writer is to be prepared.

Does growing up with the internet and its shortcuts decrease the discipline of younger journalists?

The upsides outweigh the downsides. For a journalist who was completely weaned on the internet era – I think he or she just basically has to be aware. The old cliché about Wikipedia:  it’s a great way to start your research and a terrible way to end it. Caveat emptor – you have to beware of the information that you’re consuming. As long as you bring the instinct of double-checking and a healthy skepticism as to your source material – as long as you’re bringing that to bear as you do your research, then I think you should be OK.

Do you have any  advice for people like your students who are just starting to get their feet wet? What tech skills would help them the most?

I would say that the expectation for any employer is that any person is completely web savvy and is completely familiar with the internet and is completely flexible in learning different web-based presentation tools that we have in television – that’s just a given. We assume you have it, and if you don’t you’re in trouble, because you’re not going to be competitive!

Was that instinct of cutting through all that noise and knowing when you have enough something that you had to develop after the internet “happened”? Did you initially find yourself overwhelmed and stressed?

That’s a good question and I would say usually the clock took care of that for me! You run out of time! One of the reasons why, for example, if I’m preparing for an interview and there is a blogger out there and a New York Times profile, and I’ve got 15 minutes? I’m going to go to The New York Times profile because they have a track record and credibility. I’m not saying that that blogger might not be brilliant and better than the Times, but I would say that in terms of going after a brand that defines reliable content, all things being equal, maybe this is an old school notion, I’m going to The New York Times.

Do you recall any time you made a serious blunder in using the internet?

I would say there probably have been a couple of instances where for whatever reason I didn’t find the most recent article, and the question I asked was premised on outdated material. That has happened. And the person has said, Well you know that’s different now, and I say Oh, my mistake, and we go on. As long as you acknowledge it. No one expects perfection out of an interviewer. If you mess up, if you make a mistake on one interview, it’s not a big deal. I think people judge a person’s work over a span of time. All of us are human, and we make the occasional mistake.

2011 Headlines in Review, Part 2

new year

The second half of 2011 brought news of Occupy protests across the country (which were covered at length by professional journalists, citizen journalists, and bloggers). Developments in digital journalism and scandals involving journalistic practices colliding with blogging and copywriting services rounded up the year’s headlines.

Here’s a continuation of our look at 2011 news in the journalism and media business.

In case you missed it, here’s our roundup of headlines from the first part of 2011.

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono /