Cutting the Cord: Why Millennials are Proudly Saying ‘No’ to Cable

Our 28-year-old son and his longtime girlfriend have set up their own place: A nice townhome in a trendy area of Dallas. They love the convenience of their neighborhood, how close restaurants and stores are to their home, and even the fact that they have a small, one-car garage is a boon to them. But cable TV has – and will not – be part of their lives anytime soon. They are “cord cutters,” consumers who do not subscribe to mainstream cable services. They wear this distinction like a badge of courage and state is proudly, like veterans when talking about their time of military service. They speak of having no cable as though they are somehow standing up for what is right and true.

“Did you see the news story about ________?” I asked my son a few weeks ago.(Fill in the blank here with a recent TV news story of your choice).

“No, ma. But I did see the Rockets game.”

“How?,” I ask.

I watched a live stream of it,” he says.

I stared at him in stunned silence, wondering how he viewed what my husband and I reluctantly pay good money for – $185 dollars – each month. He explained that he has some sort of system – either Roku (which we also have) or Slingbox – that lets him check such broadcasts out. He watches a lot of sports and movies on his smartphone. The TV on the wall is for football or when he group-watches with friends. One look at the tangled mess of wires surrounding his TV made me end the conversation right there.

He still watches televised content. It’s a little complicated. But he’s happy.


Millennials cord cutters, such as our oldest son and girlfriend, are a growing trend.

Magid Advisors, a media company that conducts its annual survey of TV viewing, found this to be true: “Among Millennials, those between the age of 18 and 34, the number of respondents who said they are “very likely” to stop subscribing to any pay-TV package was 9%. Concurrently, the number of Millennials who say they have never subscribed to a pay-TV service continues to rise” (Cord-Cutting Accelerates, 2016).

In 2011, the same company found the number of respondents who said they were “very likely” to stop subscribing to pay TV was just 1.9%

Why the big jump? Three reasons:

  1. More options for viewing content, such as low-cost subscription services like Hulu
  2. The cost of cable is too high
  3. His generation watches TV differently from members of my generation

The first two reasons are understandable. There are dozens of options for TV viewing – from Netflix, Apple TV, Roku, Hulu and more. Then, of course, cable is not cheap. We furnish it to a full household and pay nearly $200 a month for this convenience.

And finally, yes, millennials are just different breeds of TV-watching cats from Baby Boomers. They don’t leave it on all day and night like we do (Koblin, 2016). They just catch it here and there. TV news – especially local news – isn’t topping the list.

The New York Times article I read quotes the ratings giant Nielsen this way:

“People over the age of 50 watch the most TV, somewhere in the range of 50 hours a week, according to Nielsen. In fact, people over the age of 50 are watching more TV per week this year than last.






Facebook Live: A New Marketing Strategy Your Tool Box Needs

The panic and heartbreak in Diamond Reynolds’ voice could not be more troubling or chilling.

Reynolds and her boyfriend, Philando Castile, were seen in the front seat of a car in Minneapolis in July 2016. Through her smart phone, which was set to Facebook Live, Reynold’s tells her Facebook friends that her boyfriend had just been shot by police. There is video of Castile, who appears next to Reynolds, slumped over, unmoving, with a substantial amount of blood visible on his light-colored T shirt. Reynolds ends the Facebook Live recording by wailing, crying out and pleading that Castile not be dead.


The video received world-wide attention, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who expressed sympathy to the Castile family and the entire Facebook community.


More than 1.65 billion people subscribe to Facebook (Facebook Fast Facts, 2016). Before the tragic shooting death of Philando Castile, how many knew – or even used the social media’s – Live feature? This horrific video may have been a game changer.

According to contributor Tom Ward, the advent of such Live features as Facebook Live, Periscope Pro, Instagram Stories (which allows a person to share pictures and videos of his/her day — all of which disappear in 24 hours) and YouTube Live are just in their infant stages, but they are going to grow in use and scope, and marketers need to be ready.

Writes Ward: According to David Brickley, CEO and cofounder of STN Digital, “You better have a FB Live strategy or you’ll be left behind. If you already have a great following on Instagram, and you don’t have an Instagram Stories strategy, its time to pounce while its hot” (Ward, 2016).

How can marketers get a handle on this new, emerging trend?

One way can be to use these live features to promote breakthrough events and activities. Another use can be to making them a daily or weekly news and information feed, where an institution’s social media followers can expect to get immediate, fresh information at, say, noon on a regular and consistent basis?

Forget about expensive-to-produce videos clips and editing needs. Utilizing these new, live video sharing capabilities can become the 2016 version of a news release that will cost marketers little or nothing to produce.


Facebook Fast Facts – (n.d.). Retrieved from

Ward, T. Forbes Welcome. (2016, November 22). Retrieved from


“The information contained on this blog is based on information gathered from reputable websites and related blogs. Any information found to be inaccurate or considered harmful about a brand or individual is purely unintentional.”  

Black Friday: Online is the Winner

Feeling a little lonely in the stores this holiday season? You are, in fact, more alone.

Online sales for Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the time many retailers earn 30% or more of their annual income, have reached an all-time high of more than $3 billion dollars – an 11.3% increase over last year’s Black Friday, according to Adobe Digital Insights.

That means more people are shopping for sales and deals via their smart phones, tablets and desktops more than they are traveling into brick-and-mortar stores.

In fact, let’s just stick with smart phone usage. If you need proof of their importance in our lives and that of most retailers, here are some interesting facts: “About 60% of website traffic and 40% of purchases are coming from mobile phones so far, Adobe said” (Peterson, 2016).


Some retailing experts are even suggesting that “Black Friday” be renamed “Couch Friday” because of the surge in online commerce taking place among people who never step foot in a store. In fact, in-store traffic is expected to fall: -3.4% (Peterson, 2016). And, with the recent reports of shooting deaths and injuries among Black Friday shoppers in Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey and Texas, perhaps staying and shopping at home is a safer option.

The most popular electronic items continue to be iPads and Samsung 4K televisions.


Amadeo, K. What Is Black Friday: Sales Statistics and Trends. (2016, November 24). Retrieved from

Peterson, H. Black Friday top-selling items – Business Insider. (2016, November 25). Retrieved from


“The information contained on this blog is based on information gathered from reputable websites and related blogs. Any information deemed inaccurate or harmful about a brand or individual is purely unintentional.”

What is a Chatbot and How It Can Help You

Poncho Chatbot.png

Most people like to talk and chat.

Now, you can talk and chat with a chatbot, and use it to better locate information, goods and services online.

According to Chatbot Magazine, a chatbot is defined as:  A service, powered by rules and sometimes artificial intelligence, that you interact with via a chat interface. 

In short, it’s a text message from an service that uses AI (Artificial Intelligence). You text with chatbots on all platforms, particularly mobile, as though you’re talking to someone.

Why is this a big deal? It seems we are growing increasingly fond of our texting and chatting time. In fact, studies show we do more time TEXTING and reading EMAILS than we do on social media  (Schlicht, 2016).

This is a big turn of events. Let’s repeat that: We are spending more time texting and emailing than we are viewing social media sites.

Moreever, experts say messaging platforms are the platforms of the future, and bots will be there to help guide us. This is why chatbots are now getting attention (Schlicht, 2016).

What do you need to know about chatbots? Well, they look simple, but there is a ton of technology behind them. Many companies can help you build a chatbot (Schlicht, 2016):


Tech-savvy businesses can also develop their own. There is a bunch of information out there to guide the work, such as:

The aforementioned site claims to be able to help set up a chatbot in 15 minutes.

Chatbots are, in essence, a nicer way to get a little more friendly-looking help online, via search and especially on mobile devices. They look at sound like actual people. They are courteous. They don’t complain. They do what consumers ask.

So what if they’re not actually human. Could have fooled us.


Schlicht, M. The Complete Beginner’s Guide To Chatbots – Chatbots Magazine. (2016, April 20). Retrieved from

Wang, J. The Secret To Making Your Own Facebook Messenger Bot In Less Than 15 Minutes. (2016, April 12). Retrieved from


“The information contained on this blog is based on information gathered from reputable websites and related blogs. Any information found to be inaccurate or considered harmful about a brand or individual is purely unintentional.”


Fake News on Facebook: Is There an Answer?

The headline certainly merited attention: Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church, had endorsed Donald Trump for President of the United States.

This story appeared on Facebook as a news item.


At first glance (before the later-added “Fake-News” disclaimer in red was added) it looked a bit realistic and incredulous at the same time: Could a man (Trump) who had castigated so many groups of people throughout this 2016 election season earn the support of a religious icon (Pope Francis) who espouses equal treatment of all people? Something about it just didn’t seem right.

And it wasn’t. WTOE 5 News – is the fictitious news outlet said to have “broken” the story or received this major “scoop.” True is, this station does not exist. But the story was still shared a million times on Facebook (Oremus, 2016), along with a follow-up story about how the pope was endorsing Hillary Clinton.

What is going on here?

Fake news is a growing problem on such sites as Facebook and Google. Facebook has 1.8 million followers (Luckerson, 2016) and is a powerful connecting force in the world. Google has 1..2 trillion searches per year (Google, 2016). Both sites are monetized now and are leading businesses on the Internet.

The problem is neither Facebook nor Google are journalistic or news-balanced entities; They are social media (Facebook) and information aggregation sites (Google). Trained, experienced news sites lead by executives steeped in journalism is not their strength or core business. That is why each sites reported plans to remedy this fake news crisis seem vague and unimpressive.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who downplays the significance and existence of fake news, as well as his site’s suspected influence in the 2016 presidential election,  says his site will more carefully check for misinformation on news stories (Otemus, 2016). In lay terms, the company will build an algorithm to seek out such fake stories. It also will ask people to report fake stories as “spam” and say so on its “news feed” area (Luckerson, 2016).

This sounds a bit much to ask of its followers, who seem more than willing to spread fake news because of its shocking or gossipy nature. In fact, that is what Facebook’s “Like” button is designed to do. People are accustomed to spreading what they “Like.”

Google says it will takes steps to try to curb the spread of false news by having internal personnel seek it out. The site recently featured the number-one searched fake story that Donald Trump had won the popular vote, which, like the Pope’s endorsement, is false (Dwoskin, C, 2016).

Both sites do not seem ready and equipped to deal with the onslaught of fictitious news. With the newspapers and print journalism apparently circling the drain and TV news ratings on the wane (Pubasari, 2016) these sites need to get a better journalistic mindset and consider bringing in more true journalists to sift through their “News Feeds” and “Related Stores.”

Mark Zuckerberg may be an algorithm genius, but a Carl Bernstein he is not.


Dwoskin, E., Dewey, C and Timberg, C. Why Facebook and Google are struggling to purge fake news – The Washington Post. (2016, November 15). Retrieved from

Google Search Statistics – Internet Live Stats. (2016). Retrieved from

Lukerson, V. A Closer Look at Facebook’s Fake-News Fixes – The Ringer. (2016, Novebmer 22). Retrieved from

Oremus, W. The problem with Facebook runs much deeper than fake news. (2016, November 15). Retrieved from

Pubasari, A. Even the NFL isn’t immune to declining television viewership – The Verge. (2016, October 3). Retrieved from

“The information contained on this blog is based on information gathered from reputable websites and related blogs. Any information found to be inaccurate or considered harmful about a brand or individual is purely unintentional.”


“Instant Messaging: It’s Going All The Way Up

Fans of text messaging, instant-messaging apps or any kind of messaging: The world is about to open up incredible new possibilities.

Imaging posting a message to a friend in a real-world location? What about being able to speak to someone in another language in real time with immediate translation? Or better still, since nearly all consumers are concerned with mobile device and Internet privacy (Raine, 2016), imagine being able to send a message to a friend directly — without having to go through a server?

All of these things are starting to happen. Along with e-commerce, virtual reality integration and 3D imaging.

Welcome to Instant Messaging 2.0.

The illustration below points out some of the newest, built-in messaging offerings:



With all these new messaging features, will they make basic phone calling and talking on the phone less important or irrelevant? It appears to be having that effect. Here’s a quote from the website attentive:

This may not come as a shock, but about 1 out of every 4 people socializes more online than in person, 32% of people would rather text you than talk to you, and a whopping 51% of teens would rather communicate digitally than in person (even with friends).

You may have heard that millennials don’t care too much for face-to-face communication (Howe, 2015), but about one-third of us mature adults are in the same boat. J. P. Morgan Chase saved $3 million dollars by eliminating voice mail on their company telephones.

Messaging seems to be highly popular and here to stay.


Howe. N. Forbes Welcome. (2015, July 15). Retrieved from

Infographic: The Evolution of Instant Messaging. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Raine, L. The state of privacy in America | Pew Research Center. (2016, September 21). Retrieved from

Russell, D. We just don’t speak anymore. But we’re “talking” more than ever. – Attentiv. (2015, July 14). Retrieved from


“The information contained on this blog is based on information gathered from reputable websites and related blogs. Any information found to be inaccurate or considered harmful about a brand or individual is purely unintentional.”


App vs. Mobile Website? Choosing the Right Option for Your Business

Let’s say you are a small business owner. You’ve deployed a nice, robust website. Your PR and marketing campaign is small, within budget and has been launched. And now, in your effort to stay current, relevant and cutting edge, you’d like to consider developing an app so your clients can reach you faster and easier, rather than using “search” every time.

Sounds excellent.

But before launching any app, here are key questions you must ask yourself:

  1. What is the goal of the app?
  2. What are the technical requirements the must be considered?
  3. What will it take to market the app to reach the target audience?

I know. These considerations do not sound like fun; You’d like to get right to the sizzle and excitement of having an app. But an honest assessment is needed before charging forward (Gunelius, 2013).

You may find out an app won’t help you at all. What you may need is a better mobile website.

Let’s starting with the goal of the app. If you need a very interactive relationship with your customers, you may need an app. In 2014, researchers found that 51% of people spent more time on a mobile app than on any other platform (Comscore, 2014). That is good news. But if you are a business who really just wants to be found via search, and does a lot of e-commerce, a mobile website may be just the ticket.

Here’s what you need to know: Businesses seeking a more interactive and personal experience with its clients and consumers (such as gaming businesses, banking institutions or data-organizing businesses such as Dropbox or Shutterfly) would be well suited to develop apps. These apps can be accessed offline and can access certain features within users’ smartphones that mobile websites cannot.

Businesses should opt for mobile websites if they seek broad audiences, want to be easily found through search engines, are largely marketing driven (sales/e-commerce, branding/image building, and generally want the same functions available to users as the organization’s main website (Devaney, 2015).

If you go with a mobile website, it should be a responsive website – which means the site is intuitively “mobile friendly” and can be viewed well across all platforms, especially mobile devices – or redesign your existing website to be mobile friendly (Pilon, 2013).

To see how “responsive” your site is, go to or Enter your url (uniform resource locator) in your search area and see what score your site receives.

As for the technical requirements, you should know the difference between native apps, HTML apps and Hybrid apps (Native, web or hybrid mobile-app, 2012).

Native apps perform and look the best of three. They are created based on the mobile platform to be used, such as iOS for Apple products and Android for other smartphones. As the Cadillac of apps, they are customized to the organization, use the computer coding language the associated with the platform, such as Objective-C or Java. They are the most secure as well. Native apps cost the most to develop. But their graphics and ease of use to the consumer cannot be beat (Native, 2012).

HTML5 mobile apps – These are basically web pages designed to work on smaller, mobile screens. Users cannot pinch and enlarge things as with native apps, just scroll. But HTML5 apps are searchable, which makes them good for consumers who want to shop for things. But these apps are housed externally. Security can be compromised (Native, 2012).

Hybrid mobile apps – As the name implies, this type of app is a combination of the two aforementioned varieties. In this case, developers use HTML5 code and insert it into a “native container” to get all the features the native platform has. Some mobile experts call hybrid apps the “best of both worlds.” Is it perfect? No. Glitches have been reported between Apple operating systems, but it can be a workable solution to organizations needing an app without having the requisite in-house development staff or finances to implement it. It can be developed to operate across multiple platforms and systems (Native, 2012).

And now for marketing your app. There are more than one million apps available to consumers (Leuva, 2015). With so many apps out there, it is obvious that not all apps will be discovered, or even known, to most consumers. Marketers will have a difficult time cutting through the fray to get their app to the public.

One of the most important ways to market mobile websites and app is through search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. Keywords in describing your site are critically important. Businesses should keep them short and to the point (Mobile App Design Inspiration, 2016).

  1. Ask Google to re-crawl the sites. The “Fetch as Google” tool will do this.
  2. Ask users to give reviews of your mobile app or website. The more reviews a site has, the higher it will appear in a search list.
  3. Facebook has a tool called “Find Apps” on its mobile website that suggests new apps to Facebook users based on their likes and preferences.
  4. App Store Optimization – Just like SEO (search-engine optimization) ASO uses keywords to make finding relevant apps easier and quicker to find.

In summary, go for an app if you think your business needs to have a highly personal and interactive experience with your clients. Go with a mobile website if you want to be searchable and handle a lot of e-commerce.

Check out my chart to see where you and your business may be:



Devaney, E. How to Make a Mobile-Friendly Website – SEO Tips for a Post “Mobilegeddon” World. Retrieved from HubSpot. WVU IMC 629 – w03_hubspot.pdf.

Gunelius, S. How to Building Your First Mobile App in 12 Steps: Part 2 (2013, November 14). Forbes Welcome. Retrieved from

Haselmayr, M. (2013, November 14). 12-Step Guide to Building Your Very First Mobile App: Part 1. Retrieved from

Mobile App Design Inspiration, Ultimate Guide and Resources. (2016, April 27). Retrieved from

Native, web or hybrid mobile-app development. (2012, April) Retrieved from IBM Corporation. WVU IMC 629 – w03_imb.pdf.

Pilon, A. What is Responsive Web Design? (May 8, 2013). Retrieved from


“The information contained on this blog is based on information gathered from reputable websites and related blogs. Any information found to be inaccurate or considered harmful about a brand or individual is purely unintentional.”



Vlogging: Don’t Use It to Intro a New Product

It seems many more people are using “vlogs” – which is short for “video blogging” – to promote themselves and their interests. These YouTube channels are extremely popular. Many have upwards of five million viewers (YouTube, 2016).

With four millennial children in and out of our house, I have seen them watch vlogs on YouTube fairly regularly. Our daughters like the women with cool make up or fashion tips, or funny couples and their adventures. They often call me in to watch them on our smart TVs (especially the British couple who now have a baby – BritpopLife. Or the wildly great Prank vs. Prank, or the good travel vlog – Jack’s Gap).

Our youngest son follows the video game experts. I know he wants to start his own channel, too, and thinks he could be good at it.

Our oldest – now 28 – is not a usual vlog follower because he’s too busy working at two jobs and doing things grown people do.

But what I’ve been told along the way is how lucrative vlogging can be… if you have a swarm of followers like the Swedish video gamer PewDiePie, who records himself playing video games and has 40+ million followers and whose videos have 10 billion views (, 2015).

This 25-year-old earned $7.4 million dollars in 2014.

These hyper-popular vloggers supposedly make tons of money through advertisers who want to get their followers’ eyes on their ads. It seems Google ads are placed on the site, and the vlogger gets a portion of it – about 55 percent. YouTube takes 45 percent. The price that is paid to the vlogger is based on CPM “clicks-per-thousand rates,” which can range from 30 cents to $3.00 (, 2015).

So, as a marketer, is it worth it to align your client or brand with a super vlogger?

Surprisingly — NO, says a British study reported in The Telegraph in 2015.

Why? It seems people use other ways – such as reading stories on newspaper and magazine websites, or by getting a friend’s recommendation – to learn about new products instead of through vloggers.

The chart below outlines where people learn of new products. Vlogging is way down on the list!


Source: The Telegraph –

So it seems a newspaper or magazine website is how people learn of new product about 50 percent of the time. After that, good old-fashioned word of mouth does the trick.

I guess the viewers of vlogs are really focused on the vlogging — and not any accompanying advertising.

That’s food for marketing thought.

Until next time,




A Swedish YouTube star made $7.4 million last year by playing video games | Fusion. (2015, July 6). Retrieved from

Davidson, L. Why vloggers are a waste of time and money for brands – Telegraph. (2015, February 2). Retrieved from

How Much Money Do YouTubers Get Paid? – Vlogger Pro. (2015, October 28). Retrieved from


“The information contained on this blog is based on information gathered from reputable websites and related blogs. Any information found to be inaccurate or considered harmful about a brand or individual is purely unintentional.”

Move over Facebook. Twitter is Tops Among PR Pros

Emerging and social media is becoming increasingly mainstream, institutionalized and utilized by the very industry whose job it is to promote ideas, people, products and events to consumers.

A 2014 study by the Institute for Public Relations found that 75 percent of PR professionals strongly believe it is critical to work across various communications platforms, which include emerging, new and social media, as part of their daily PR and marketing efforts.

And for the first time in 2014, the study showed, Twitter edged out Facebook as “the most frequently accessed new medium for public relations activities.” (, 2014).

LinkedIn and YouTube were third and fourth in terms of use for PR activities. The study also found that Google+ is not a player in this arena and “the influence of traditional mainstream news media continuing to weaken.”

The study – which measured results from online surveys of more than 500 U.S. PR professionals from 2006 to 2014 – also found “considerably more support for the suggestion that blogs, social and other emerging media are enhancing public relations practice and that social and other emerging media continue to influence traditional mainstream media.”

The infographic below illustrates key findings of the study:


How this work and messaging should be handled varies. The study found that a majority of respondents believe social media and emerging media should fall under the purview of the PR and communications department, there also is growing acknowledgement that digital and social media departments should be established and supported by organizations seeking to enhance its sphere of influence and messaging.


Examining How Social and Other Emerging Media Are Being Used in Public Relations | Institute for Public Relations. (n.d.). Retrieved from


“The information contained on this blog is based on information gathered from reputable websites and related blogs. Any information found to be inaccurate or considered harmful about a brand or individual is purely unintentional.”