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TODD SMITH: NBC’s Brian Williams begins ‘apology tour’

TODD SMITH

TODD SMITH

For the first time in four months, suspended NBC News anchor Brian Williams is meeting with groups of colleagues and apologizing for misstatements that embarrassed the news division and gave the veteran news man – and the NBC brand – a black eye.

It’s already being dubbed an “apology tour.”

Williams spent time with staffers of his former program, the “NBC Nightly News,” last week, shortly after the network made it official that he will not return to the newscast.

It was “incredibly emotional,” and some people choked back tears, said an attendee, one of two people familiar with the meetings who described them on condition of anonymity to CNN .

Williams then traveled to Washington to meet with staffers at the NBC bureau there on Thursday evening.

That meeting was also emotional, but for different reasons. Some well-known NBC journalists in the Washington bureau are wary of Williams; others are downright hostile.

On a recent visit to the bureau, NBC News Chairman Andy Lack faced resistance to the idea of bringing Williams back, and only one correspondent, Jim Miklaszewski, spoke up in support of Williams. The Washington Post has previously described what one article called “strong opposition” to Williams’ potential return.

But one of the people familiar with the meetings said Williams was “deeply apologetic” during his conversations with the Washington staffers.

The decision to visit the bureau suggests that Williams and Lack are aware of the uphill battle they face. In both New York and D.C., Williams was joined by Lack and NBC News President Deborah Turness.

NBC announced recently that Williams would be staying in the corporate family in a reduced role, mainly by anchoring breaking news coverage and special reports on the cable news channel MSNBC.

Williams’ image rehabilitation involved a sit-down interview with “Today” show co-host Matt Lauer, which was televised last Friday morning.

The comeback effort apparently also entails the meetings with staffers.

Williams broke his silence in a statement that was included in an NBC press release.

“I’m sorry,” it said, unequivocally. “I said things that weren’t true. I let down my NBC colleagues and our viewers, and I’m determined to earn back their trust.”

Google launches news lab to help journalists with stories

Platforms these days have a touch of publisher-envy. Every day it seems there is a new overture by platform – from Snapchat to Facebook – to encourage publishers to distribute their content directly on their apps. Now they want a hand in shaping that content, too.

Google recently launched News Lab, a new portal to help reporters sift through its suite of tools and apps to help better their shape their stories.

The idea of News Lab is to show journalists how Google products can be used in all stages of their reporting, from research to promotion. For example, there are online tutorials ranging from how to verifying the authenticity of photos on Google Images to adding metadata on YouTube so videos are more easily discovered.

The site also shows off its partnerships it has developed with startups like Medium-owned Matter and Hacks/Hackers. Google-owned YouTube’s Newswire, a new tool that verifies user uploaded video of breaking news, and the recently re-launched Google Trends are also featured prominently.

In a blog post explaining it, Google says it created News Lab to “collaborate with journalists and entrepreneurs to help build the future of media.” Perhaps what’s most beneficial to journalists is that it serves as a one-stop destination for Google’s suite of tools.

Google isn’t alone in developing splashy services to boost its publishing credibility. Earlier this month Apple announced a new mobile news-reading product, News, with dozens of big media partners including The New York Times, Condé Nast and ESPN. And last month, Facebook launched a similar product, Instant Articles, with nine news publishers including the Times, BuzzFeed and National Geographic.

Last week Twitter announced that its forthcoming Project Lightning feature will curate the best news on the social network. Twitter also launched a tool in March called Curator that filters tweets and houses them on a dashboard. Last year, Facebook debuted Newswire powered by user generated verification service Storyful to help newsrooms “find, share and embed newsworthy content” from the social network.

In short, platforms don’t want to just be in the news – they want a bigger hand in publishing it, too.

90 percent of retail brands use 2 or more social media channels

As social media becomes more integrated into daily life, people are starting to use more than one network. According to Pew Research Center, more than one-half of adults use more than one social network. New data from email marketing software provider Yesmail indicates that marketers are also using several social media channels.

Yesmail tracked the social media habits of 50 top retail brands in five major categories–beauty, apparel, electronics, big box and home goods. The data was then compared to a 2014 Pew study of U.S. social media use to “see how well the brands were listening to consumers.”

According to the study, more than 90 percent of brands are using two or more social networks. One hundred percent of the brands in the home goods category were using multiple channels. However, the apparel industry is the most connected, with 86 percent using four channels and more than 60 percent represented on all five of the social networks that were analyzed.

Facebook was unsurprisingly the most popular network across categories, with 100 percent saturation of home goods, apparel and big box brands. Twitter came in second with more than 90 percent saturation in four out of five categories, and YouTube came in third. While 82 percent of apparel brands have adopted Instagram, adoption was much slower in other categories.

Golden Mic | Taylor Swift takes on Apple music, wins for artists

Taylor Swift took a bite out of Apple’s plans for Apple Music when she complained about the tech company not paying artists during the three-month free trial period of its new music service.

“Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months,” Swift wrote in an open letter. “I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.”

Quicker than you could say “1989” (the title of her album she threatened to withhold from the company), an Apple executive was tweeting what appeared to be a reversal of that policy.

The star’s eloquent assault brought a quick response from Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services. “Apple will always make sure that artist are paid #iTunes #AppleMusic,” he tweeted in response to Swift’s callout.

Few people can take on giant global brands like Apple, but Swift’s brand is equally as heavyweight, and her action forced immediate change that benefits artists across the world. That’s got The Spin Cycle singing praises for Taylor Swift’s brand – and for that she grabs the Golden Mic, more eloquently and forcefully than most!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.

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