NEW CNN.com Proposal Letter

Mr. Sharpe,

My name is Andrea Feminella, and I’m a master’s student at the University of Georgia. I have a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and English and am currently working as a graduate assistant at UGA’s New Media Institute.

For this semester, myself and nine other graduate students have been tasked with giving a few prospective companies a marketing edge in the burgeoning field of Big Data. Big Data is the information that people freely contribute online, which tech-savvy companies then compile and quantify to get a better understanding of the constituents they serve. Under the guidance of Dr. Scott Shamp, Director of the New Media Institute, we will research what’s currently being done and create original ideas and plans for the few companies we feel could get the most growth out of using this new technological tool. We will specifically focus on Facebook’s Opengraph as the vehicle to gather Big Data. With its 800 million users worldwide, Facebook is one of the best ways to get the most beneficial information for companies today.

The reason why I chose CNN as my personal area of focus is the potential for Big Data to grow CNN.com exponentially. As one the of the most popular news websites, CNN.com is in a constant battle to stay at the forefront of online news, trying to grow their readership while still retaining the loyalists that already choose CNN.com. In this battle, I propose that Big Data can be a huge asset by way of Facebook applications. Imagine if CNN.com had a Facebook application that would take social readers to the next level, where it would recommend stories based on what your friends are talking about.

This idea is just one of ways Big Data can enhance CNN.com’s relationship with its readers. This semester, I would like to develop this idea into detailed plan that would explain the execution of such a concept and the audience it would benefit the most from it. After reading your email, I’m sure you agree that active support from CNN is crucial in order to achieve the most effective plan for CNN.com’s needs. I would be happy to tour CNN and meet with the social media development staff. Thank you in advance for all of your support. In return for your generosity, I will devote at least eight hours a week to designing the best possible Big Data plan for CNN.com. This is a new technological frontier, one I believe CNN.com deserves to be a part of.

Thank for your time, I look forward to creating something worthy of CNN.com’s attention.

Sincerely,

Andrea Feminella


CNN.com Proposal Letter

To Whom It May Concern,

My name is Andrea Feminella, and I’m a master’s student at the University of Georgia. I have a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and English and am currently working as a graduate assistant at UGA’s New Media Institute.

For this semester, myself and nine other graduate students have been tasked with giving a few prospective companies a marketing edge in the burgeoning field of Big Data. Big Data is the information that people freely contribute online, which tech-savvy companies then compile and quantify to get a better understanding of the constituents they serve. Under the guidance of Dr. Scott Shamp, Director of the New Media Institute, we will research what’s currently being done and create original ideas and plans for the few companies we feel could get the most growth out of using this new technological tool. We will specifically focus on Facebook’s Opengraph as the vehicle to gather Big Data. With its 800 million users worldwide, Facebook is one of the best ways to get the most beneficial information for companies today.

The reason why I chose CNN as my personal area of focus is the potential for Big Data to grow CNN.com exponentially. As one the of the most popular news websites, CNN.com is in a constant battle to stay at the forefront of online news, trying to grow their readership while still retaining the loyalists that already choose CNN.com. In this battle, I propose that Big Data can be a huge asset by way of Facebook applications. Imagine if CNN.com had a Facebook application that its readers could download that would search through their newsfeed in an effort to find relevant news for that reader based on their friend’s newsfeed updates.

For example, on February 8th CNN.com listed Proposition 8 as number two on its “Hot Topics” section of the site. If a reader’s friends are posting about Proposition 8 on Facebook, the CNN.com Facebook application could take that information and post three of the most current Proposition 8 articles from CNN.com on the reader’s Facebook wall. This gives readers more of a reason to go to CNN.com, so they can become more knowledgeable about subjects their friends are talking about. This also allows them to share articles with their friends on subjects their friends are already interested in, which would drive more people to CNN.com. This application would be a win-win for CNN.com and is something no other news site or social reader is doing right now.

This proposal is just one of ways Big Data can enhance CNN.com’s relationship with its readers. This semester, I would like to develop this idea into detailed plan that would explain the execution of such a concept and the audience it would benefit the most. However, I’m sure you agree that without active participation from CNN this concept won’t be as tailored to CNN.com as it could be and therefore won’t be as effective. In order for CNN.com to receive the most benefit from this proposal, I will need to be able to send you a monthly email and have one or two phone conversations with you, so that I may better understand what your goals are for CNN.com. I also would require a CNN.com representative to be present on May 5th for a formal presentation of the proposal. In return, I will devote at least eight hours a week to designing the best possible Big Data plan for CNN.com. This is a new technological frontier, one I believe CNN.com deserves to be a part of.

Thank for your time, I look forward to creating something worthy of CNN.com’s attention.

Sincerely,

Andrea Feminella


CNN.com can know you better. It just doesn’t now.

After careful thought and frequent frustrated sighs, I’ve decided to use this post as a platform for my manic brainstorming for ways Turner could use Big Data. Since Turner is an all encompassing company, I will suggest a multitude of ideas that could be mind-blowingly enlightening or completely laughable, so bear with me.

While I originally thought to make Turner’s global brand more prevalent across its many communities, I decided that I must concentrate on one of Turner’s brands in order to make the prospect of global awareness more feasible. In order order to narrow my focus, I began to think which of Turner’s many companies would benefit the most from a global boost. In these terms, the answer is simple.

CNN. Or more appropriately, CNN.com.

According to the Pew State of the News Media 2011 report, CNN’s viewership fell 37% in 2011, far below that of MSNBC’s which only fell 5%. This is surprising when considering the fact that in 2012, ebiz named CNN.com the 2nd most popular online news site with an average of 74,000,000 unique monthly viewers.

With all those statistics, it becomes a question as to why there is such a disconnect between CNN’s television audience versus the audience it receives online at CNN.com. A possible answer, in my opinion, is that news is better tailored to an online platform over a televised one. News online is as up to date as technology allows. It also lets the news consumers produce information in the form of news tips and commentary on the articles. Third, and what may be most important, is that news consumers have the power to choose what news they consume. There is no waiting for news programs to cover desired subject matters, all the information consumers may require is at the touch of a few keystrokes. This shift in the consumption of news media is the very reason why Big Data is so important, without the latest in personalization, news consumers will simply run over CNN and other news organizations like it.

This is not to say that CNN.com isn’t employing some personalization, they are. Now my mind may be melding my Big Data posts together, but Facebook Connect could be the way to take CNN.com’s personalized news one step further.

In a very small place on the right-side of the CNN.com home page, there is an option to sign in using Facebook Connect. The allow screen is about as innocuous as it gets. It asks for permission to use your basic information and nothing else. If you allow it and continue towards your new CNN.com profile page, the first left-hand bar you see asks if you want to disconnect from Facebook Connect. It’s pretty obvious that CNN.com is taking a neutral position in this burgeoning field of Big Data, but I think that that type of thinking is a mistake.

Here’s what CNN.com’s Facebook Connect option allows you to do:

  • You can look at the Facebook friends’ status updates that reference a CNN article.

And that’s about it. Seriously.

Remember when I told you how CNN.com was named second in ebiz‘s 15 most popular news websites? Guess who was first? Yahoo News. Surprise, surprise. The one news site with the most popular Facebook social reader that attracts 110,000,000 unique monthly viewers wins the top prize. Yahoo News  is an example of how CNN.com can be more personal, but personalization can still be better.

Here’s an idea how.

CNN.com’s Facebook Connect feature is a good first step, but it needs to ask for more information about you, or rather your friends. If the feature asked for your Newsfeed, than it could gather information about the topics that your friends are updating about.

For example, take my boyfriend’s, Ian’s Facebook page. Lately, his two friends Rick and Katie have been posting a lot about Joe Paterno. Sports addict Rick believes that Joe Paterno has been treated unfairly and his legacy should one that’s positive. Not-a-sports-addict Katie believes that Joe Paterno should be remembered as a coach that should have done more, and that any positive memorials and statues to the contrary should be torn down. Now Rick and Katie do not know each other, but as Ian’s friends both their updates appear on his Newsfeed where he has a chance to comment or not. Regardless of his participation in this online discussion, the topic of Joe Paterno is officially popular with his friends. What if CNN.com could capitalize on this by recommending articles based on the popular topics in your friends’ Newsfeeds? By clicking Facebook Connect on CNN.com, the website could look for common subjects in your friends’ status updates and then feed you articles based on those subjects. So in Ian’s case, CNN.com would send him the latest coverage and opinion pieces on Joe Paterno in his Newsfeed that might look something like this:

Your Friends are talking about JOE PATERNO

Here’s what you should know:

Like what you read? Share it with Katie and Rick.

Something like this is more than what Yahoo News has to offer, so it would make CNN.com ahead of the curve. The main benefits of this proposed idea is that while Ian is already connected to CNN.com, Katie and Rick are not. This would make CNN.com’s Facebook Connect gain popularity, unlike its current feature which only updates users on friends that are already reading CNN.com articles. It also shames users into reading the news, because it informs them on topics that their friends are already updating about. I know that I feel stupid when my friends talk about something that I know nothing about. You can’t nod online people. But maybe that’s just me.

Now you may be asking what this has to do with increasing global awareness. The simple answer is it doesn’t. This just my first idea of how to revolutionize CNN.com with Big Data, and honestly, my excessive word count shames me. So thanks for reading this long, and I hope to do a separate post about the possibility of regional news pulses and feeds specifically for news articles.

Exciting!