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Cisco 2017 Annual Cybersecurity Report geeft inzicht in de werkelijke schade na een securitydoorbraak

Cisco vermindert ‘time to detection’ van 14 naar 6 uur

 

Amsterdam, 31-01-2017  - Volgens het Cisco 2017 Annual Cybersecurity Report (ACR) heeft meer dan een derde van de organisaties die in 2016 te maken heeft gehad met een securitydoorbraak, aanzienlijke schade geleden. Deze organisaties hebben een verlies gezien van meer dan 20 procent van hun omzet, van hun klantenbestand en van hun zakelijke kansen. Negentig procent van deze organisaties werkt na de aanval aan een verbetering van hun verdediging tegen dreigingen en processen. Zij doen dat door het scheiden van IT- en securityfuncties (38 procent), meer bewustzijnstrainingen voor werknemers (38 procent) en het implementeren van technieken die de risico’s verkleinen (37%). Voor het rapport zijn bijna 3000 chief security officers (CSO’s) en security operations-teamleiders uit dertien landen ondervraagd.

Het wereldwijde rapport, dat dit jaar voor de tiende maal verschijnt, geeft aan wat de belangrijkste securityuitdagingen zijn. Daarnaast gaat het rapport in op de mogelijkheden die securityteams hebben om zich te verdedigen tegen de aanhoudende evolutie van cybercrime en de steeds veranderende aanvalsmethoden. Voor de CSO’s die hun security willen verbeteren zijn te weinig budget, gebrek aan compatibiliteit en een tekort aan getrainde securitymedewerkers de belangrijkste hindernissen. Ook hebben securityafdelingen te maken met een toenemende complexiteit van hun omgeving. Twee derde van de organisaties gebruikt zes tot zelfs meer dan 50 securityproducten, wat de kans op gaten in de security sterk vergroot.

Cybercriminelen proberen deze gaten steeds vaker te benutten met ‘klassieke’ aanvalsmethoden, zoals adware en e-mail spam. De hoeveelheid spam is weer op het niveau van 2010, aldus het rapport. Bijna twee derde van het e-mailvolume bestaat uit spam en 8 tot 10 procent daarvan is kwaadaardig. De cijfers wijzen uit dat het spamvolume wereldwijd toeneemt en dat de spam vaak wordt verspreid door grote botnets.

Gezien deze aanvallen is het belangrijk om te kunnen vaststellen of de securityaanpak effectief is. Cisco houdt bij hoe snel dreigingen ontdekt worden (‘time to detection’) nadat ze zijn binnengedrongen. Snelle ontdekking van een  dreiging is belangrijk om de bewegingsruimte van de aanvallers zoveel mogelijk te beperken en de schade te minimaliseren. Cisco is er in geslaagd om in het afgelopen half jaar deze ‘time to detection’ ruim te halveren: van 14 uur naar 6 uur. Dit cijfer is gebaseerd op gegevens afkomstig van Cisco-securityproducten wereldwijd en verzameld zijn met toestemming van de gebruiker.

Schade van cyberdreigingen in zakelijke termen

Het 2017 ACR-rapport laat de financiële impact zien van aanvallen op bedrijven, van MKB tot enterprise. Bij meer dan de helft van de bedrijven die met een securitydoorbraak te maken kregen, is deze doorbraak in de openbaarheid gekomen. Operationele en financiële systemen werden het meest getroffen, verder werd de merkreputatie aangetast en liepen klanten weg.

  • 22 procent van de getroffen organisaties verloor klanten – 40 procent verloor zelfs meer dan 20 procent.
  • 29 procent verloor omzet – bij twee op de vijf bedrijven was dat meer dan 20 procent.
  • 23 procent zag zakelijke kansen verdampen na een geslaagde aanval, 42 procent van hen verloor meer dan 20 procent.

 

Hackers hanteren nieuwe ‘businessmodellen’

In 2016 werd hacken steeds meer een ‘zakelijke activiteit’. Snelle technologische veranderingen, aangejaagd door digitalisering, bieden ook cybercriminelen nieuwe kansen. Hoewel aanvallers gebruik blijven maken van vertrouwde technieken, maken zij ook gebruik van nieuwe methoden die de ‘middle management’-structuur weerspiegelen van het bedrijf waar zij het op gemunt hebben.

  • Nieuwe aanvalsmethoden zijn gemodelleerd naar een bedrijfshiërarchie: bepaalde malvertising-campagnes hebben gebruik gemaakt van ‘tussenpersonen’ (of ‘gates’) die als middle managers kwaadaardige activiteiten maskeren. Hierdoor kunnen aanvallers sneller bewegen, hun bewegingsvrijheid behouden en ontdekking ontlopen.
  • Cloudmogelijkheden kunnen een risico vormen: 27 procent van door werknemers geïntroduceerde cloudapplicaties van derden – bedoeld om nieuwe zakelijke kansen te benutten en om de efficiency te verbeteren – vallen in de categorie ‘hoog risico’.
  • Ouderwetse adware, software die zonder toestemming van de gebruiker advertenties downloadt, blijft succesvol. Driekwart van de onderzochte organisaties heeft hier mee te maken gehad.
  • Een lichtpuntje is dat het gebruik van grote exploit kits zoals Angler, Nuclear en Neutrino is afgenomen doordat de eigenaren werden aangepakt. Kleinere spelers vullen echter het gat snel op.

Beveilig de business, blijf waakzaam

Volgens het 2017 ACR-rapport wordt slechts 56 procent van alle securitymeldingen onderzocht. Van de legitieme meldingen wordt minder dan de helft aangepakt. Verdedigers hebben weliswaar vertrouwen in hun tools, maar moeten vechten tegen complexiteit en gebrek aan mankracht. Hier kunnen aanvallers hun voordeel mee doen. Cisco raadt aan de volgende stappen te zetten om risico’s te minimaliseren en dreigingen te voorkomen, te detecteren en weg te nemen:

  • Zorg dat security een zakelijke prioriteit is. De top van het bedrijf moet het belang van security uitdragen en als een prioriteit financieren.
  • Breng operationele effectiviteit in kaart: evalueer securityaanpak, patchprocessen, toegang tot het netwerk, applicaties, functionaliteiten en data.
  • Test de effectiviteit van security: stel duidelijke meetcriteria op. Gebruik deze om de securityaanpak te valideren en te verbeteren.
  • Kies voor een geïntegreerde benadering van de verdediging: zet integratie en automatisering hoog op de lijst om de zichtbaarheid te verbeteren, de onderlinge samenwerking te stroomlijnen, de tijd tot ontdekking te verkorten en aanvallen te stoppen. Securityteams kunnen zich vervolgens richten op het onderzoeken en tegengaan van werkelijke dreigingen.

Over het rapport

Het Cisco Annual Cybersecurity Report verschijnt dit jaar voor de tiende maal en onderzoekt de meest recente dreigingsinformatie, verzameld door security-experts van Cisco, om inzicht te krijgen in securitytrends bij klanten. Het 2017-rapport bevat ook de belangrijkste bevindingen van de derde jaarlijkse Cisco Security Capabilities Benchmark Study (SCBS) die onderzoekt wat het beeld is dat securityprofessionals hebben van de stand van zaken rond de security in hun organisatie. Er wordt gekeken naar geopolitieke trends, wereldwijde ontwikkelingen rond datalokalisatie en het belang van cybersecurity als onderwerp voor de raad van bestuur.

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Alles is uitgekomen!

Met internet is iets opvallends aan de hand. Het is een technologische ontwikkeling die alle beloften – laat ik voorzichtig zijn: vrijwel alle beloften – uit de begintijd heeft ingelost. Dat heeft ongeveer een halve eeuw geduurd. De laatste 20 jaar daarvan zijn ook een mooi voorbeeld van de bekende ‘hype-cycle’ van Gartner. In de periode van 1995 tot 2000 werd internet een absolute hype, die rond de eeuwwisseling zijn top bereikte. Vervolgens barstte de ‘internetzeepbel’ en de ene na de andere internet-startup legde het loodje. De shake-out had zijn werk gedaan: de echte groei van internet kon beginnen.

 

Een citaat uit 1998 (van Roel Pieper): ‘Dankzij de komst van netwerken zoals Internet komen steeds meer mensen over de hele wereld met elkaar in contact, wisselen persoonlijke boodschappen uit en delen ervaringen. Soms gaat het daarbij om zakelijke informatie, maar in toenemende mate is het netwerk een sociaal medium dat niet zozeer computers, maar vooral mensen met elkaar verbindt.’ Let wel, dit citaat komt uit een tijd dat social media nog in geen velden of wegen te bekennen waren.

 

De deur niet meer uit

Die verbindingen zijn werkelijkheid geworden. Sterker nog, die rechtstreekse verbindingen zorgen nu ook zakelijk voor grote verstoringen. Een voorbeeld dicht bij huis: banken sluiten in hoog tempo hun filialen. Nederlandse banken hebben zelfs de veiligheid redelijk op orde gekregen, dus voor geldzaken hoeven we de deur niet meer uit. En voor winkelen trouwens ook niet meer. De grote belofte van twintig jaar terug, we gaan alles via internet kopen, is ingelost. Vooruit, niet iedereen doet het, niet iedereen durft het, maar het kán wel! Zelfs de online supermarkt, lang gezien als een onmogelijke business voor online, is van de grond gekomen met nieuwe kruideniers. Zo zijn er nog talloze andere voorbeelden te geven. Enfin die kent u zelf ook wel.

 

Samenkomen

Nu staat in de inleiding ‘technologische ontwikkeling’, maar in feite gaat het om talloze gelijktijdige technologische ontwikkelingen. Mobility? Zonder 4G was dat niet van de grond gekomen. Zonder snelle energiezuinige processors? Ook niet. Zonder een fundamenteel gemakkelijker bediening ook niet. Snel breedband? Dat wordt nu zelfs gezien als dé voorwaarde om achtergebleven gebieden te ontsluiten. Juist het samenkomen van dit soort uiteenlopende ontwikkelingen zorgt voor de echte doorbraak. Alles overziend is er één conclusie die zich onontkoombaar opdringt: internet is daadwerkelijk deel geworden van ons leven.

 

Net als 20 jaar geleden staan we nu aan het begin van een nieuwe internetfase: het internet of things. Het potentieel van dit internet – en in feite dus dat onlosmakelijke deel van ons leven – zal daardoor exploderen. Net zoals 20 jaar geleden zijn de verwachtingen torenhoog. Als we met de ‘internetwijsheid’ achteraf nu eens vooruit kijken? Wat is dan nu nodig om dat enorme potentieel daadwerkelijk te realiseren?

 

Niet te voorspellen

Allereerst zien we dat de overbekende technologische ontwikkelingen gewoon doorgaan: 4G wordt 5G, geheugens worden groter, processors sneller en zuiniger, enzovoorts. Dan zijn er de verstorende toepassingen die zonder internet ondenkbaar zouden zijn. Neem de blockchain, de technologie achter de bitcoin, die in de hele bankwereld volkomen kan verstoren. Maar alle technologische hoogstandjes ten spijt, we hebben óók nog killer apps nodig, die bijvoorbeeld op basis van sensordata en big data analytics voor omwentelingen kunnen zorgen. Die zullen ongetwijfeld op een niet te voorspellen moment, door niet te voorspellen partijen ontwikkeld worden. Maar hoe dan ook: de onmisbaarheid van technologie zal dan nog veel groter worden dan die nu al is.

 

Tweede zeepbel

Met de wijsheid achteraf weten nu dat we ook niet-technologische zaken vóóraf goed moeten regelen. Security en privacy natuurlijk, maar het gaat net zo goed om regel- en wetgeving. Zo niet, lopen we het risico dat we internet – of meer in zijn algemeenheid technologie – niet meer vertrouwen. Een niet ondenkbeeldig gevaar, gezien de discussie over de impact van technologie op onze banen.

 

Als ook ditmaal de voorspellingen uitkomen zal internet nog veel sterker dan nu mensen met elkaar verbinden. Maar nóg veel meer dan in de periode 1995-2015 zullen technologische én niet-technologische ontwikkelingen dan absoluut moeten samenvallen. En gezien het belang voor ons leven – voor de hele maatschappij – zou dat voor niemand een verrassing mogen zijn. En toch: een tweede tweede dotcom-zeepbel wordt al gevreesd.

 

Hans van Raaij, senior consultant Check Twice

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Gebruiksgemak is mooi, maar wat doet dat met onze kennis?

Technologie wordt steeds gemakkelijker. We zijn niet anders gewend dan te klikken, aan te raken en te ‘swipen’. En met slimme digitale assistenten zoals Apples Siri en Microsofts Cortana hoeven we onze wensen en opdrachten zelfs alleen nog maar uit te spreken. Er zijn natuurlijk nog wel verschillen in de bediening van bijvoorbeeld iOS en Android, maar wie bekend is met het ene systeem, komt meestal ook wel vrij snel uit het andere.

 

Leve de eenvoud en het gemak dus, zou je denken. Maar er is een keerzijde. In juni van dit jaar verscheen op IDG WebWereld een opmerkelijk artikel, met de titel ‘Jonge werknemers snappen niets meer van technologie’. Dit ging over een Amerikaans onderzoek naar de technische vaardigheden van millennials (mensen geboren tussen 1980 en 2000, ook wel ‘Generation Y’ genoemd). Deze mensen, die inmiddels zijn opgegroeid tot jonge professionals, blijken het niet zo best te doen in tests waarin wordt gekeken naar de kennis en het gebruik van technologie. Ze zijn weliswaar groot geworden met internet, mobiele telefoons en andere apparaten, maar hebben daarbij weinig geleerd over hoe die technologie nu eigenlijk werkt. De vraag is dan natuurlijk: is dat een probleem? Een groot deel van de groep die de millennials voorging, mensen die nu tussen de 35 en 65 jaar oud zijn, weet immers vaak ook niet al te veel over de werking van computers en apparaten. Een belangrijk verschil is dat de jonge professionals van nu veel meer kennis nodig zullen hebben voor hun verdere carrière dan die oudere generatie. Als die kennis ontbreekt, is dat een probleem. Niet alleen voor henzelf, maar ook voor de concurrentiepositie van bedrijven – die nu al schreeuwen om technisch personeel – en uiteindelijk mogelijk zelfs voor de economische positie van ons land.

 

Recente onderzoeken duiden er op dat de aard van het werk de komende jaren zal verschuiven naar banen die vragen om meer technisch inzicht en vaardigheden. De verwachting is dat steeds meer routinematige en administratieve taken zullen worden overgenomen door geautomatiseerde processen en robots. Maar er ontstaan ook nieuwe soorten banen, juist ook weer dankzij die technologie. Denk aan ontwikkelaars en architecten van al die geautomatiseerde processen, maar ook aan beveiligingsspecialisten, big data analisten, Internet of Things-experts en – jawel – robotmonteurs. Het artikel ‘Beyond Automation’ op Harvard Business Review gaat op deze ontwikkeling in. De conclusie van de auteurs (Thomas H. Davenport, professor aan het Babson College en research fellow bij MIT Center for Digital Business, en Julia Kirby, redacteur voor HBR) is dat we niet bang moeten zijn dat robots onze banen overnemen, maar juist moeten kijken welke nieuwe mogelijkheden technologie ons biedt en hoe we deze kunnen inzetten om ons te helpen bij onze arbeid.

 

Maar die nieuwe soorten banen vragen om meer dan alleen het vermogen om hier en daar in een venster te klikken of te swipen op een aanraakscherm. Achtergrondkennis en inzicht in de technologische mogelijkheden bieden je de mogelijkheid om net een stap verder te gaan en meer waarde te bieden. Zelf merk ik bijvoorbeeld dat ik dankzij mijn technische kennis (en ik ben zeker geen ingenieur of programmeur) ontwikkelingen, nieuwe toepassingen en innovaties veel beter in perspectief kan zetten. En daarmee mijn klanten beter kan adviseren.

 

Hoe zorgen we er nu voor dat die millennials – en de jonge professionals die na hen komen – meer te weten komen over de technologie achter al dat gebruiksgemak? Daar zullen vooral de overheid en de onderwijsinstellingen voor moeten zorgen. Zij moeten beter inschatten welke vaardigheden er over 5, 10, 20 jaar nodig zijn op de arbeidsmarkt en het curriculum daarop afstemmen. Er zijn ook al projecten om meisjes te interesseren voor technologie, maar dat zou veel breder moeten gebeuren. En ook voor de media lijkt een rol weggelegd. Waarom zijn bijvoorbeeld nauwelijks goede Nederlands TV-programma’s over innovatie en technologie? RTL Z is inmiddels gestart met Bright TV. Een positieve stap, maar er is meer nodig. Want anders is Nederland straks zijn leidende positie in Europa op het gebied van technologie kwijt.

 

Arnout Lansberg, senior consultant Check Twice

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Eigentijdse aandoeningen

Hoe spannend en leuk nieuwe ict-gadgets ook zijn, vroeg of laat worden we geconfronteerd met de keerzijden: lichamelijke en psychische aandoeningen. Van informatie-obesitas tot muisarm en van FOMO (fear of missing out) tot de meest recente kwaal, de technek. Een déjà vu.

Deze zomer brak de technek door als kwaal. Doordat de tablet en smartphones onder een ongelukkige hoek worden vastgehouden, zouden wallen, kwabben en rimpelvorming rond de kaaklijn ontstaan. Gelukkig is er een krant die ook in tijden van zomerslapte de feiten niet uit het oog verliest. Nrc.next ging na  of ‘gecheck op smartphones daadwerkelijk een nadelig effect heeft op de huid van de nek’. Na raadpleging van deskundigen oordeelde de krant dat dit niet het geval is.

Zou het? Eerder dit jaar meldde De Telegraaf: ‘Surfhouding nekt senior’. Volgens onderzoek van de vereniging SeniorWeb zitten vijftigplussers verkeerd met hun laptop, tablet of smartphone. Dat is een ware aanlag op de gewichten. Tja, daar zit ik dan als 50-plusser die al op ‘het Internet’ zat toen daar niet eens Windows-software voor was, maar nog nooit enig ongemak heeft ervaren als gevolg van surfen. Wat is hier aan de hand, of beter gezegd, aan de gewrichten? Is ook dit allemaal onzin, net als die technek?

Twintig jaar geleden toen Windows snel opkwam, kregen computergebruikers last van een ‘muisarm’. Het verhaal was dat mensen hun muis op een onverantwoorde manier vasthielden, met als gevolg hand- en polsaandoeningen. In dezelfde tijd nam ook het gebruik van de mobiele telefoon op en kregen fanatieke gebruikers een sms-duim. Indertijd werd dit allemaal afgedaan als modekwalen. Nu hebben we al jaren niets meer gehoord over die muisarm en sms-duim. Dankzij de aanraakschermen van tablet en smartphone?

Nee, het komt doordat de aandoening jaren geleden een nieuwe naam heeft gekregen: KANS – Klachten de aan de Arm, Nek en Schouders. De muisarm bestaat nog, volgens een verhaal in NRC Handelsblad met de titel ‘We muizen beter, maar RSI is er nog‘. Kennelijk geen onzin, die muisarm. Toch wringt er iets. Het is tegenwoordig allemaal aantikken en swipen geworden, maar waarom horen we niets over een swipe-vinger of een touch-topje?

Net als indertijd houden ‘we’ onze apparatuur niet goed vast, maar de problemen zitten niet meer in handen, duimen en pols. Zo bezien is KANS een goede omschrijving. En die ‘we’ is volgens de berichten vooral de oudere generatie, een generatie die overigens in rap tempo de online-achterstand op de jeugd aan het inhalen is. Waarom horen we niets over KANS bij de jeugd? Die weet kennelijk wél de juiste houding te vinden, of heeft genoeg souplesse om geen last te krijgen van een verkeerde houding.

Het is toch zuur dat senioren die digitaal helemaal bij de tijd zijn, dit zo moeten bekopen. Bij het bovengenoemde Telegraaf-artikel staan negen houdingen afgebeeld die KANS-rijk zouden zijn. Een paar daarvan komen op mij juist zeer comfortabel over. Mijn persoonlijke factcheck: dit blijken voor mij ook houdingen – lekker onderuit en zeer ontspannen – waar een smartphone of tablet perfect bij past. Zou de jonge generatie deze houdingen straffeloos kunnen aannemen, terwijl senioren kans op KANS lopen? Ik geloof er niks van.

Tijdens het schrijven van deze blog kwam het volgende alweer binnen: van appen onderweg ga je raar lopen. Volgens Amerikaanse en Britse wetenschappers doet het staren naar een smartphone ‘aparte dingen’ met ons loopgedrag. En Australische wetenschappers ontdekten vorig jaar dat lopend met je telefoon in de weer zijn het evenwicht in de war brengt. Een gevaarlijke aandoening lijkt het toch niet te zijn. Deelnemers aan het onderzoek nemen hindernissen zoals een trap of stoeprand zeer zorgvuldig. Zij tilden hun voeten onnodig hoog op om ergens op of overheen te kunnen stappen. Het smartphone-loopje is de volgende eigentijdse aandoening geworden. Doet denken aan die wereldberoemde voorganger uit de vorige eeuw…

Suzanne Stal, junior consultant Check Twice

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Google’s Biggest Competitor is… Google

Google’s Larry Page made a good point when he explained who his company’s biggest competitor was. Well, we should probably say it was a good answer he had prepared earlier, because you don’t simply come up with an improvised response like that on the spot. And what can you possibly say when someone asks you who your biggest competitor is? (One of Apple’s main competitors is Twix, by the way, but you’ll have to keep reading to find out why.)

I would recommend giving an unexpected and possibly evasive answer. Let other people discover who your competitors are. It’s not up to you to give them any clues. Who knows, otherwise you might name a company that people had taken their eyes off, and then they might contact them behind your back to hear what they have to say, or listen to their offer.
So make it as unexpected as you like, but also make sure you give an intelligent and credible answer. “We haven’t got any competitors!” definitely isn’t the right response, unless you work in a planned economy or are the very last company in a sector that hasn’t yet completely vanished. There are a few other possibilities:

Go elsewhere

Give it a try. A competitor for the Apple iPod? That’s Mars confectionery – such as Twix, Mars and Milky Way chocolate bars – or Haribo sweets. Teenagers spend a lot of their pocket money on confectionery, so if they have to save for an iPod themselves, it often goes wrong when they spend too much on sweets. If you don’t really think Mars is a credible competitor for Apple, consider this: the Mars group is half as big as Apple and doesn’t do too badly, with a turnover of 30 billion dollars.

Go elusive

You know the thing, when you reply by being evasive, instead of giving a real answer. For example: “Define competitor”, or explain that you are active in four different market sectors, and that you’re always competing with different companies. Or that you work internationally and have to compete against various companies in other countries. Or that you are the only company in your industry that invests more than 10% of your turnover in research and development, so you are happy to be lonely at the top. And so on.

Go higher up

If you’re extremely ambitious, you can exaggerate. NetApp had only just grown out of nappies when it started to name EMC as its biggest competitor. And they continued to do so until everyone believed them, and NetApp’s market share sometimes even surpassed EMC’s in some sectors. This is also the standard approach that Geoffrey Moore describes in his books. So, a final tip: don’t just read blogs; read a good book sometimes too.

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Getting started with social media in five easy steps

This morning when you woke up, your first idea was: “I’ll get started with social media.” Good, now let the fun begin… What are the first steps you need to take if you want to use social media to communicate about your company effectively and efficiently?

Step 1: Make a plan

“Doing something” with social media isn’t enough. First you have to know exactly what you want to achieve, and be consistent with your choices. You may use social media activities for recruitment or place more emphasis on B2B sales. You need to make a choice for your company: how can social media help you most? Write down your objectives as clearly as possible. You need to do your homework, because have a look at Step 2 ..

Step 2: Talk to your boss

It’s essential that you company’s managers join in, or at least approve, your social media plan before you can get started properly. Only then will social media be fully accepted positively, allowing it to become part of your company’s culture. Just like with other media, it’s important that clear agreements are made with the company’s management about how, who and what. Demonstrate how and why social media can benefit your company. Explain how you see the integration of social media fitting in with the existing communication plan, preferably in as concrete a way as possible. Make it clear that social media is not free: it will take time to develop the network, create content and respond to other people’s relevant discussions. Be honest about this.

Step 3: Talk to your colleagues

Communicating via social media – as the name suggests – is not something that you can do on your own. Without your colleagues’ cooperation, your efforts will die a quick and silent death. You need to at least keep them informed of what you are blogging about, and what is happening on your Facebook page, Twitter feed or LinkedIn discussion forum. They will then feel more involved, and so will be more likely to publicise your activities via their own channels. Don’t forget that most of your colleagues are already using social media for their own purposes, and perhaps know some of the services better than you. They are the leading ambassadors for your company – they help take care of word-of-mouth advertising.
Some of your colleagues might even want to share their specialist experience and expertise on discussion forums, and so provide all sorts of useful tips. Draw up a list of colleagues who can help you, and what their roles could be.

Step 4: Start to listen

As well as getting the green light from your management team and some enthusiastic colleagues, you also need to have a good idea where you already stand. It’s not just your company’s existing presence on social media sites that needs researching; you also need to check out your competitors, possible business partners, your most important products or services, and the name of your CEO. So you need to focus not just on the number of updates, but also the context and so-called sentiment of these updates. Which discussions do you appear in most? What tone do people use to speak about your company? The results of this evaluation will also help you in the next step. Free and commercial monitoring services are available to help you gather this information. Free tools can give you a first impression of how a tool works, but it’s best to use a professional service for collecting exact details. You could work with monitoring specialists such as Radian6 from salesforce.com, Alterian or Engagor.

Step 5: Choose a channel

You can use the previous steps to help you decide what social media is most suitable for your company. Make this choice depending on your objectives, colleagues’ suggestions, results from your monitoring research and often also the sector that your company is active in. In many cases there is not just one, but several channels that can be useful for your company. As we’ve already written elsewhere on this blog: it probably won’t work if you only use Twitter. But please note: don’t be too quick to use all the channels that might seem relevant. In other words: make sure it all stays manageable.

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Improved returns from your testimonials

Your marketing department will soon be using a new concept, because “Testimonial 2.0″ is arriving. The biggest difference from the traditional, written client testimonial? Version 2.0 ensures many more readers. This is yet another way for communication to support your sales.

Word-of-mouth advertising is very affordable and credible. To give this process a helping hand, almost every company is producing text and video about their best clients and projects. And they’re right to do so.

About the blog. In most cases they are very affordable and credible. Furthermore, a blog can serve to promote word-of-mouth advertising and we are happy to give that process a helping hand.

One plus one is two: we are putting all out client testimonials in one blog. And there you have it, Testimonial 2.0 is born. A brief text with a video, a download link to a long text version in PDF format, with a tag cloud, Google optimisation, links to the client’s website and to your own products or services, a share button, some other whistles and bells to gain e-mail addresses and we’re ready for extra visitors and spontaneous leads.

Read more in the whitepaper: “Increasing the ROI of your customer evidence programme”:
Increasing the ROI of Your Customer Evidence Programme

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The Japanese Social Media Perspective

A colleague and I recently visited the Belgian branch of a Japanese company to give a talk about our services. We had an interesting discussion about dealing with the press – which involved our research from 2009 – and we also spoke about social media. But not for long: “The management in Japan don’t allow us to use social media,” was the basic reason, “Not at all.”

I had heard this before from European employees of Japanese multinationals. Unfortunately, at moments like these I forget to ask “Why?” So it’s time to investigate…

The answer doesn’t appear to be a very simple one. It’s not because social media doesn’t exist or isn’t popular in Japan. On the contrary, social networking sites like Mixi and Gree have tens of millions of users, YouTube is extremely popular, and people blog about life all the time. Twitter is also growing rapidly – some 13% of Japanese internet users already have a Twitter account. It’s only Facebook that is really struggling to get off the ground. According to recent figures, the number of users fluctuates, and there are currently around two million – just a tenth of the figure for Mixi, for example.

Facebook’s limited popularity could be related to social habits. Lots of Japanese people are reported to struggle with the openness with which most Facebook users set their preferences, so that other people are then equally open with their comments. That is not done in Japan, where relationships between different individuals are much more complex, and are generally more “reserved”. This isn’t a problem on the other social networking sites mentioned above for the simple reason they can use a pseudonym, so they don’t have to expose their real identity.

According to experts, this shows how stifling the social structure is: give the people a chance to have their say anonymously and you will suddenly hear a very different story. This goes some way to explaining anonymous abuse that appears in comments sections on newspaper sites…

Preferably anonymous

If Japanese people are only active on social media sites when they can be anonymous, it goes without saying that it’s very difficult to be active as a company. Social media relies on personal input from its users, and it’s perhaps quite intimidating to post comments as a company on networks where consumers can have their say anonymously and avidly.

Preferably risk-free

Other people believe there is another reason why Japanese companies have difficulties with social media. In Japanese business culture, a lot of importance is attached to quality assurance, and they try to avoid as many risks as possible. There is a sophisticated process set up for pretty much every action, which is very different from the impulsive nature of most social media activities. If you have to discuss a click on a “like” button with your boss, it becomes a very slow process.

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Social media tips and tricks

The speakers at our social media event for B2B companies, organised by Quadrant Communications in Belgium, generously shared their experiences. The video shows you a summary of what they talked about.

You can also find their slides on Scribd and SlideShare: Social media and brand ambassadors (Thomas Verschueren, RealDolmen), A pragmatic approach towards social media (Gert Diels, Cegeka), Social media: a must for management (Philippe Rogge, Microsoft), Our guidelines for using social media (Pol Vanbiervliet, Cisco).

We have summarized their most important tips for you:

Getting started

  • Social media is an extra means of communication alongside all the other channels; so integrate social media in your global communication mix and strategy
  • Social media on its own cannot make the difference, but it’s very good at making your company and your brand more authentic or for reaching opinion-leaders
  • Select your channels based on relevance for your target groups. LinkedIn is used much more in Belgium than in other countries, for example
  • Make sure that the management also wants to take part, otherwise there is much less chance of communication via social media being successful
  • Write guidelines, mainly so you don’t have to check everything in detail and because your employees dare to communicate more convincingly
  • Social media is not free: sufficient time and resources are needed to succeed and to continue making progress
  • Provide plan of action, set out with a timescale

Create content

  • Enter into the dialogue with your community, keep it interactive, start discussions every now and then in the relevant groups
  • Always be authentic and credible (if you aren’t, people will cut you off)
  • People are looking for opinions and will listen, but if you actually have something to say, make sure you’re not just a sterile spokesperson for your company
  • Work bottom-up and involve your colleagues: find the added value of social media for your company together
  • Look for your brand ambassadors: colleagues who make your company’s expertise concrete
  • Ensure transparency, openness and don’t control things too strictly to benefit your colleagues and your authenticity
  • Make your employees aware and provide training sessions or workshops to get to know certain channels well (and find out what you can say there)
  • Share relevant content to gradually become perceived as an expert in your field

Develop your network

  • Draw up a list of people who are relevant for you and your company; invite them or follow them
  • Sometimes it’s better to make separate networks per target group, such as an online community for technicians and a separate one for business leaders
  • Write a personal message when you invite someone to connect with you
  • It’s not your first-level network that is the most important, but your second and third-level networks (these are the people who don’t know you very well yet, but who can be convinced by your qualities)
  • Positive use of social media ensures word-of-mouth and gives a positive perception to the outside world
  • Use useful apps so that you can also use social media on the road
  • Become a member of groups that are relevant for your company. Look at the other members of the group. These people are perhaps potential clients or partners

Monitor yourself and others

  • Monitor what is being said about your company, CEO, products and services on social media
  • React just as quickly and openly to the positive comments as you do to the negative opinions and remarks
  • Take a note of who is following your company and look up the relevant opinion-leaders or people with expertise in their field; follow them at least, and react to their opinions
  • Follow your most important competitors and what is being said about them
  • Check which networks your clients are present on

Have you still got some energy left? Read our white papers about media relations and social media (in Dutch only, I’m afraid) and about testimonials and social media.

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It won’t work with Twitter alone

Twitter continues to be hot and according to my client, let’s call him Patrick, it’s still the ideal medium for communicating about his company. It doesn’t require much effort to sometimes send 140 characters around the world, and according to some, you don’t even need to think about it too much beforehand. Twitter is interesting if you are following the right people. And Twitter becomes really interesting if the right people are following you. But how do you attract these other bigwigs to your watering hole?

If you are the CEO of a well-known company which comes out with an innovative product every quarter and has profits that bring smiles to shareholders’ faces, then you’ll follow these tweeting journalists. Even if you have just created a Twitter account ‘because everyone’s got one’ and you’ve never tweeted a single tweet, everyone will be there like a flash to welcome you. You are floating on the reputation of your company.

But what should our Patrick – who is not yet one of the leading players in his speciality – do with Twitter? He can’t dazzle journalists with flashy new products or wild profit margins. He occasionally releases a press report, but it isn’t picked up as front page news. But he does have founded opinions, and a lot of satisfied customers who have lovingly supplied him with customer feedback.

I want to advise Patrick to blog first before getting started with Twitter. Only using Twitter as a medium to promote yourself and your company doesn’t make any sense. The online community doesn’t know and doesn’t want to know what he has to say. Why would people want to follow him? He can explain his views on business-related matters and include the necessary nuances in the texts and video better in a blog. This can enable him to gradually build up a reading public and demonstrate that he has an interesting opinion. He can then use the content that he already has in a ‘social’ way. He could promote his customer feedback on Twitter or post a short link to his videos on YouTube.

You can hit the bull’s-eye with the right combination of good content and Twitter, as long as you feed them both the necessary portions.

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Everyone’s a spokesperson

In the lead up to our social media for B2B companies product launch, we spent some time thinking about what the real impact would be if the subject of the hype really took off.

The private impact is patently obvious. My oldest son bought himself an electric guitar this summer but is unfortunately surrounded only by passive music fans. Even so, he taught himself the intro to Sex On Fire thanks to a kind British man who had posted an instructional video on YouTube. (I have since discovered that there are tens of thousands of guitar lessons on YouTube.) I couldn’t have imagined this thirty years ago, and I still find it difficult now. This social media has a fantastic impact on our lives and we will never be without it again.

And for companies? They have to be much more aware that they need to communicate with as broad a market as possible. Every member of staff is an ambassador and potential spokesperson. Some people seem to have forgotten this, though it has always been the case. After all, you’re being an ambassador for your company whenever anyone asks you, at a family gathering or at the bar, “What work do you do?” Whether you like it or not, or are good at it or not. People always talk to each other about work.

In many companies, this can make some people nervous, and for a long time companies have been successful at limiting and centralising communications about the company. But now bars have been replaced by blogs, Facebook and Twitter. The result: people are talking about their work even more. Not just with their acquaintances, friends and family, but also with complete strangers. You could get extremely anxious about this in your boardroom, but you can also look at it positively: supervise your ambassadors well and motivate them to communicate positively about their company. More and more companies are realising this.

Changing things in reality is a different kettle of fish. I am quite happy that I don’t have to work out a comprehensive communication policy for a large company listed on the stock exchange in this new context of openness, but I think they will find their own ways of opening up their channels of communication.

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An army of PR managers twittering

There are three types of companies: companies without a PR manager; companies with a single PR manager; and companies where 80% of employees think they’re PR managers too. It used to be hard enough for the real PR managers in this last category, and now it’s become even more difficult.

It’s important that every policy is followed up consistently. That’s why PR managers need to keep strategies for communicating with the press as strict as possible. Keeping publicity-loving colleagues on an equally short leash is also very important. The media don’t sit and wait to release reports about your company every day, so if they publish anything, make sure they do it right. That way you can highlight the core themes about your company, not just the latest news bit. PR managers concentrate on these core themes; hyperactive colleagues don’t – they prefer the hypes and the news bits.

Recently, something new has emerged to help advance these news bits. It’s called Twitter and it’s very good at it. So all the would-be PR managers have found something that can help them. They are now bypassing their PR manager and simply tweet straight to the journalists. Here Dave, write something about this. Alright Steve, do something with that. To the detriment of journalists. To the detriment of PR managers. To the detriment of everyone.

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Let’s organise a flashmob

We don’t talk about it very much because we specialise in communication for technology companies, but we have quite a few clients in the government. These are nice people who are looking for a more professional manner of communicating, but some of them are suffering from a dangerous disease: the spectacular stunt disease.

This “spectacular stunt disease” is an illness which makes people lose sight of good communication policy’s basic activities, because they keep on wanting to do something special: the website is quite hard to find, texts are almost unreadable, contact databases haven’t been centralised and planning is either non-existent or objectives much too vague, but let’s put all our energy into organising a flashmob, so we can pull off another spectacle at the end of the month.

Some days I get this disease too, but in a different form. I get my illness from organisations that spend almost all their time and budget on stunts without ultimately achieving very much (except for a nice, warm feeling during the actual performance). These are the same organisations that become very disappointed if their stunts go a little bit wrong, and then go and tell everyone their communication isn’t working.

But in fact exactly the opposite is true. There is a better chance of stunts succeeding when you work on your communication in a well-organised way, because they become part of a larger framework. So it’s like a circus: stunts are only for professionals; other people won’t survive the trapeze.

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Infographics, how nice

Every now and then, so-called innovations in social media need a ‘reality-check’ in the form of a hefty kick up the backside. Hyped infographics are a good example of such an innovation – especially because they don’t work as a replacement for press releases. Press releases are good at distributing news efficiently to a large group of journalists. And at present there is no alternative method equally good at serving this purpose.

I’m not saying that good infographics are not very welcome. I have seen them appearing in all sorts of newspapers and magazines since last century. They can display information clearly and attractively in a very inspired way. So long live the infographic. But let’s not pretend they were invented on Facebook. And let’s be very clear: infographics cannot replace all other forms of communication.

So why do some people -who should know better- lose their common sense when a new social media innovation emerges? This includes Todd, manager at an American PR agency, who likes replacing press releases with infographics. The infographic should actually kill the press release. Kill, kill, destroy! Only very naive questions can be asked under such conditions: if it’s such a fantastic idea, why aren’t we all reading about the fantastic results?

Is there a place for infographics when communicating with the press? Of course there is; it can complement a press release every now and then. To be a real help to journalists, it’s best to give them a spreadsheet with all the data, so their colleagues in the graphics department can work their magic producing an infographic that fits in with the publication’s styleguide.

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Simply paying more doesn’t make sense

I have to a go to a difficult meeting on Monday. A potential client wants lots of press attention. They think simply calling in a PR agency and paying them a lot of money, if necessary, will be sufficient. But I don’t need all that money; first I need something else.

The company in question doesn’t currently have any new announcements. They also don’t want to tell too much, because they mainly want governments and very large organisations as clients, and “such customers can be quite sensitive”. Basically, they haven’t got much to say, and they don’t want to say much. What should a journalist do with that?

What should we do with that? We can hardly invite journalists to a “quite shallow and long-winded interview with a director who keeps it general and presents trends, which everybody already knows, and which have already been written about in detail”?

We could of course tell the journalists that it will be an unbelievable, trail-blazing interview and then give them something that’s as good as useless. But we’re definitely not going to do that. It would ruin everyone’s reputation: our client’s, the journalists’ in the eyes of their bosses, and our own.

I hope I will be able to convince them. It’s only with good stories that you can appear in the press relatively easily. Give us material that can interest a broad public. Then we can try to make things a bit more controversial, make links to topical issues or at least ensure there is a good human-interest angle. Finally we will bring all the facts together to make it credible. I need all of this before I can get any press attention. And only then I am happy to send an invoice.

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One press release per week

We have been negotiating with a potential new client since the beginning of the year. It’s a French-American company that is asking us to send out thirty press releases in the coming year, and also possibly try and set up two press interviews. They want to pay us handsomely for this. We don’t want anything to do with it.

Perhaps this isn’t very sensible of us and we should be a bit more opportunistic. Should we take the money and run? No, because this client would be gone again in a year anyway, dissatisfied and looking for a new PR agency. So we’re trying to convince them to have a different approach.

This is a company with a couple of thousand employees that had twenty press releases in Belgium last year, which unfortunately didn’t result in any articles. By changing to a new PR agency, and sending out even more press releases, they are counting on improvement. Smells like therapeutic persistence?

Specialists versus generalists
Any relatively unknown B2B company does indeed need a different approach. On one hand you have companies which want to keep specialising further and further. On the other hand you have journalists who are becoming generalists more and more. So everything starts with closing this knowledge gap. Only then can you start to suggest why your company is interesting, economically necessary and socially relevant. It goes without saying that you can’t do this with weekly press releases. You need a more organic approach.

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To communicate is to undertake

In a blind round of cuts, a company sets its communication budget as zero. Why doesn’t this happen with production, R&D, logistics or in the sales team? They can usually just carry on at full speed so that the soul of the company is not affected. But it’s this soul that you have to communicate with the outside world about.

Too many business leaders still don’t know how. Stop a hundred of them on the street and ask them about a sensible communication benchmark, or about two criteria for evaluating their communication employees. It will be a pretty lukewarm response.

So what’s the solution? I can’t answer that very specifically, but in general: make communication a part of your business strategy, because it’s a risk-investment like every other business investment. With a mix of your own experience, other people’s proven experience, advice, vision and gut-feeling, you’ll get there. Just like always in business.

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Proving ROI is really tough

Springtime, finally. The sun is shining, the birds are singing. Time for a good grumble about sales managers who claim they can prove their return on investment, because in fact they cannot. The context of the story? Communication, of course.

Our customers know that communication works (otherwise they probably wouldn’t be customers). Quite a few prospects think differently, however. Because they have doubts for many reasons, they often ask us to prove the return on investment for communications in advance. The questioner is often the sales manager who believes that his sales team’s return on investment is very easy to prove.

On paper, this is indeed very easy. Take the total sales cost, compare it with the proceeds and that’s that. Unless we ask some more difficult questions. Could the same yield be achieved with a 20% lower sales cost? And what is the proven performance of expanding the sales team? Which investments in sales are necessary to increase turnover by 15%? Or to increase the profit rate?

In short, it is impossible to prove the future results of any investment. What will be the return of a communication campaign costing 30,000 euros? No idea. What will be the proven efficiency of two additional sales people costing 200,000 euros? No idea. What is the pre-determined return of a new department that will cost 3.4 million euros? Again, no idea.

What is then proven in communication? That brand recognition, a correct image and an increased brand preference result in higher sales. That a good mix of communication and sales results in more sales leads. Slightly disappointing, maybe: these proof points are general and not specific. They apply to companies in general, but not necessarily to your company (because not only Promotion, but also the three other P’s from the marketing mix will influence the results).

In this sense, communication and sales are in the same boat. The sales director is trying to put his best team together, to train and closely monitor them, to aim at clear objectives and measure them, to segment customers and prospects, to monitor competition and so on. In communication we do nothing different.

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My privacy

Just before the WikiLeaks story broke, I was interviewed about online privacy for the Pros and Cons article in Digital Life Magazine. I stated that you can look at it from three different perspectives: as an individual; in a relationship between two or more people; and as a government. In the interview I spoke mainly about online privacy for individuals. Afterwards, I got several responses.

“You certainly have more faith in the government than I do,” was one response to me saying that if the government is looking at my e-mail, there must be a good reason for it. Security is generally good, but this response correctly indicates that it can also have many other pretexts. One example of such an excuse is camera surveillance on our highways. The images are stored for several years. This is for security in the Netherlands, so they say. But the question is how storing these images for years contributes to the general security. I can only see that camera surveillance is necessary for tracing defaulters in the short-term, for example, and traffic offences.

“Security sometimes comes before privacy,” explains somebody in an e-mail to me. He had been receiving telephone calls and e-mails from this same anonymous person every day. Those intimidating texts and threats led to stress and anxiety. Because who was behind it? What do they want from you? How serious is it? After an official complaint, the telephone number was legally traced and these incidents stopped. Simply getting the number from the right provider was sufficient.

Online privacy is partly your responsibility too; you have to be aware of who you are and what you’re sharing with the rest of the digital world. In social media you can protect what you want to protect, on Facebook even at an individual level, for example deciding friend-by-friend who can see your profile. This gives you a feeling of control and security. People who don’t think, and put things on the Internet blindly, should stop and consider this very carefully.

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Those negative journalists from Reuters!

People who can read between the lines will notice that the top man at VBO (Federation of Enterprises in Belgium), Rudi Thomaes, is being reprimanded today. Yesterday, in an interview with the news agency Reuters, he aired some bad news about Belgium and its economic prospects. According to De Standaard, Thomaes claims the opposite: “I gave Reuters a very balanced answer.” This is not something that you do if you want to give really strategic press interviews.

Thomaes should have known that journalists do not look to him for a carefully considered, semi-scientific analysis of the current economic situation. They expect a clear and substantiated point of view. You could also say that it’s in VBO’s best interests to appear in the press giving clear points of view. And this isn’t something you can do by giving balanced answers.

You can only do this by choosing beforehand what you want to say, and more importantly what you don’t want to say. By taking into account what your interested parties expected from you (stakeholder is an ugly word, and interested parties is not much better).

But back to the strategic press interview: by above all selecting a strong core message, then substantiating it sufficiently and repeating it regularly, you can increase the chance of what you want to explain being published.

If you want to wash your dirty laundry in public, no problem, get it off your chest. If you want to avoid even more negative comments upsetting the markets, tell a positive story. And if you want to tell a very balanced story, don’t do any interviews with the press.

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Has Watson found the Grail?

Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a hot topic again thanks to Watson from IBM. Automatic translation has often been considered the Holy Grail of AI. Countless knights from the world of AI have been searching for it. But literary text translation and poetry in particular have so far only made computers look foolish. The Grail of AI has remained elusive as it can only be found by a “hero who must prove himself worthy to be in its presence. He must grow spiritually and mentally before he can locate it”.

But things are changing. IBM’s Watson supercomputer has won a difficult quiz show. It is not the first computer from IBM to achieve a spectacular victory over man; 14 years ago Deep Blue defeated former world champion Gary Kasparov at chess. For those familiar with Jeopardy, it is clear that this is an outstanding feat. Most artificial intelligence systems experience difficulties with their “knowledge of the world”, proving that they’re unworldly. Another major problem is the correct interpretation of ambiguous questions. Both problems have now been tackled successfully by Watson.

So, has Watson found the Grail? Maybe. Even though it’s only a quiz show, it’s one that requires a lot of interpretation, perhaps comprehension, and “knowledge of the world”. All of this is essential for good translations. So it seems that the AI Grail is now within reach. Watson has shown himself worthy to be in its presence. And now for the final stage: can it grow spiritually and mentally?

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Quick Response journalism

More and more people are using smartphones, e-books, iPads and so also QR codes. These codes are part of the future of journalism, really.

QR codes were actually developed to better identify and catalogue spare parts for cars, but now, as I stand by the tram-stop at the Leidseplein in Amsterdam, I can see a QR code on a billboard which I can use to get information about sports shoes on my smartphone, and even design and order my own personalised shoes on the website. In the mornings I get a copy of Spits from Station Zuid and this newspaper uses these codes too. I am reading an article about the Amsterdam canals. If I scan in the QR code I can visit the Spits website, where I can read extra background information that isn’t found in the newspaper itself. I can book flights online and take my smartphone with me to the airport, where I can use the QR code as a digital ticket for checking in.

And what about the future of journalism? Daily newspapers and magazines desperately need their digital platforms and social media to reinforce cross-media links to target audiences. More and more people are using multiple channels that cross-reference each other. They all have different roles, but together they provide a complete package of information. From print to web and back, making more use of QR codes.

Extensive and high-quality pieces of journalism have disappeared as a result of there being a shortage of return on investment, because readers didn’t have enough interest or, moreover, time. Readers wanted short messages that get straight to the point. With mobile devices such as our smartphones, e-books and iPads, it can be different. We can take time- and place-independent information and rediscover depths of curiosity. Indeed, more than that, by publishing articles with QR codes, you as a reader can decide if you want to read the short or long version. If you are interested in a certain subject or section, you can scan or photograph the QR code and be linked to a website with more background information, links, similar articles or simply the long version of the report.

Storytelling used to be a central part of journalism, because reports were valued, understood and remembered more. And as readers we actually still want this. Dutch journalism: use this possibility and do more with QR codes than is currently being done. Use QR technology to produce quality items. We’re ready for it.

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Is Facebook a good strategy?

The Belgian Marc Bresseel, the new vice-president of Advertising at Microsoft, explained it simply in De Morgen newspaper.

He hits the nail on the head: “There’s no silver bullet in marketing anymore. Our media behaviour is so diversified that you need a good mix: from radio and TV, across social media, to online video.” It’s good to hear this with the right nuance from someone who should only care about online advertising.

If I’d read the article two days earlier, I could have used it in my course for communicating with the media. On this course a participant asked if it was ‘a good strategy to be on Facebook’. I had to disappoint him. Using Facebook is often a good idea, but it is not a good strategy. Running one type of campaign can never be a strategy. Or as Bresseel would perhaps put it: for a good strategy, you need a good mix.

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Another slow revolution

A quiz question: which of the following means of communication have disappeared since computers started replacing everything: fax, telegram, telex, written letter, direct mail, telegraph, telephone, printed press, analogue radio, black-and-white television or typewriters? Here’s a clue: at least ten of them still exist.

Okay, perhaps the telegraph has disappeared, but even that might still be used occasionally for reporting international cash-transfers. All the others are still used and bought every day. A new electronic typewriter costs about 100 dollars on Amazon, and you can get a new black-and-white television for 40 dollars.

When the car emerged as a mode of transport, the train was going to disappear; when television arrived on the scene, cinemas were going to disappear; when the Internet arrived, newspapers were going to disappear; when social media got here, traditional websites were going to disappear (by the way, nowadays you can use WordPress to very conveniently make a traditional website). And so on. Why do these hip trend-watchers always get it wrong?

Perhaps they aren’t looking very closely at the reality. Google.com was registered in 1997 and the company was founded shortly thereafter. Four years later in 2001, for example, the first article about the emergence of Google appeared in De Gazet van Antwerpen. According to Alexa, Google.com only caught up with Yahoo.com last year as the most visited website in the world, only to then be caught up by Facebook for a while and Twitter is making a strong appearance on the scene now. If one of the strongest brands in the world needs twelve years to completely break through, what does that say about other innovations?

Perhaps the trend-watchers don’t know their classics. Years of research all over the world has shown over and over again that more than 98% of people don’t care much for rapid innovation. It has to be a very attractive offer to buy something completely new, and it has to be a very serious issue to completely get rid of something old. This is why there are only slow revolutions.

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