MySpace gives in to Facebook by redesigning for a second chance

One of the biggest knocks against MySpace — especially from me — was that the design of the profile pages was just too busy. Too much color, flashing boxes, music and spam.

I never even made a profile on MySpace because I never saw the need to enter that public online chaos. Technically, Facebook tricked me into joining by offering me a walled social sanctuary of fellow college students first…before snapping it away and throwing applications all over the place.

Accessing a friend’s profile took too long to load, and finding any info about the person on the page was like playing Mindsweeper if every box in the game flashed: DESIGN BY RaNdOmTxTLinX FLASH FLASH FLASH!

Now that MySpace is launching a redesign of the site to better organize it for function and advertising, are they admitting to Facebook that “the book” had the right idea all along?

Yup.

In changing up the look of the site, MySpace is saying: “We give up. You did better.”

To its credit, MySpace was first, the pioneer of modern social networking — well, besides Friendster. Facebook benefited from watching MySpace grow. Mark Zuckerberg saw where they encountered problems and where users desired more privacy and closed systems. When Facebook finally went up, they expanded slowly, college by college. This timed expansion gave them a chance to test and adapt. Of course, Facebook looked and navigated better when it hit the mainstream, and privacy features were there from the start.

While Facebook launched new advertising programs — even if they weren’t all successful — and brought businesses into its network by opening doors with applications and pages and allowing others outside of college to join, MySpace never really saw the advertising boom they expected.

Why?

Well, everything on MySpace looks like an ad, and I don’t want to click any of it. Why would a business want to throw their logo into the middle of a sea of logos, plagued with problems of privacy and illicit behavior?

The end result of Facebook’s hightened buzz and Microsoft deal was that MySpace has had to go on the hunt as the underdog. They have revised their strategy, and they are going after the application developers that Facebook loves so much.

With a redesign, they admit their biggest flaw and make Facebook look like a champ, but MySpace also finally grows up.

It was time for MySpace to get more organized, end the chaos and admit that they could do some things that Facebook showed users wanted. Otherwise, Facebook was going to keep snatching everyone up and not giving their data back.

In admitting defeat, MySpace has another chance to get back on top of the popular social networking buzz, but they will have to do more than just catch up to Facebook to come out on top.

Time to work: Public Relations pitching in a social media world

Pitching bloggers, just like traditional media outlets, takes research and significant effort. To be effective, you really have to know your audience and what will interest them.

Off-topic pitches are a bad first impression, and they can stick with you if you are unlucky enough.

With the growing number of social media communication tools and the rampant abuse of journalists’ email addresses, more and more journalists opt to require that public relations practitioners reach out to them through their social network of choice. Bloggers and the stars of online media are leading this movement.

Brian Solis highlighted several preferred contact methods of the big names of the blogosphere today.

Some like Facebook while others are incredibly turned off when you bring business to their wall.

Several ask that all pitches be twittered to them and add a little bonus pressure to PR reps to cram their message into just 140 characters — if the message is really that good, you should not need all 140.

ReadWriteWeb‘s Marshall Kirkpatrick prompted Brian Solis’ post after he shared that his favorite method of receiving pitches was through RSS feeds. Bloggers have started to post this sort of information online to help us all out.

Brian highlighted Kirkpatrick’s opinion on getting something outside of the (in)box:

He summarizes what you should do this way, “PR people, please send us the RSS feeds of your clients’ blogs and news release. The full fire-hose of company news and updates for us to pick out what’s interesting, someplace outside of our email inboxes, free of dreadful press release rhetoric (skip to the second paragraph where details usually are, then skip past any executive quotes and hope there are readable details somewhere) – that sounds like a dream come true. I know that’s where I get most of the stories I write about, not from email pitches. Send both, but company feeds are likely to be looked at more closely.”

RSS feed pitching encourages the growing trend of corporate blogging, and in the process of demanding just a feed, Kirkpatrick is also taking away the control, the choice, that PR reps have in what they choose to send out about their clients. Is that such a bad thing? Giving the journalists more info about you on a regular basis and letting them highlight what they will?

Kirkpatrick’s post points out one particular tech-savvy PR practitioner who used Yahoo Pipes to create one massive feed of all his clients. Very clever. I’m jealous.

Read Brian’s complete post for several detailed looks at what prominent bloggers and journalists desire from their PR friends.

As each journalist better defines their pitch acceptance process, it’s on all public relations professionals to do the research.

Almost every blogger that has made up their mind has a contact page or post detailing how they like for PR people to reach them, and off-line journalists are speaking out to inform PR people what they like to see as well.

Find it and follow it or reach out to journalists and ask them what they like before you shoot off an email.

As Brian put it: “Yes, it’s time consuming. But this is about relationships and not about broadcasting spam.” Well said, Brian. Well said.

Public Relations 101: Don’t be lazy

Not to offend anyone who was caught in the crossfire of Wired’s Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson’s backlash recently, but one of the most important rules of media relations is knowing your target journalist and tailoring your message to their outlet/beat.

Anderson recently posted the email addresses of anyone who had emailed him as editor-in-chief rather than trying to find the correct beat writer or editor at Wired to contact. Many of the offenders had, unfortunately, purchased his email address from a list service of people to contact for their industry or freelance service–which is unfortunate considering his email is publicly available. It is horrible that list services charge just to compile a list for you.

It’s part of a growing problem in the industry that journalists are getting more and more mail since they don’t have what Godin describes as the “friction” of adding a stamp. An email is free to send and requires no commitment other than one click of the Send button, so spammers and ill-advised public relations professionals can send hundreds of emails and find themselves on the naughty list of many an editor.

The moral of the story: Don’t be lazy!

While Chris Anderson certainly went a little extreme by posting the email addresses and may have puzzled many PR professionals while being championed by journalists, the easiest way to avoid getting on anyone’s bad side is to do your homework and develop your own mailing lists from scratch.

Having a personal relationship is the best way to have any sort of profitable connection with a journalist. Even if your first email message is just an introduction about your company/business and a request to keep them in the loop, that is a better email to send their way than including them in a blanket pitch that may or may not be directed to the right person. Irresponsibility damages the relationship journalists have with public relations professionals–and hurts public relations as an industry.

If you can avoid it, try not to send out anything besides a press release update to a mass mailing list. Personal emails make a much better impression and can be tailored for each individual outlet and journalist based on your relationship. The most successful PR professionals are able to use their relationships and connection with journalists to keep them informed–no spin required.

Keep that in mind when you are starting up a new business or developing a new media list for a client. Doing your homework pays off far greater than trying to contact as many journalists as possible with little personal touch.