Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Slip Into Something More Flannel: Open Source Media Regroups Under More Personal Pajamas Media

Well, it took some chutzpah to have their new weblog's coming-out party at the Rainbow Room under a corporate-sounding name and a good amount more humility to say that it was a bad idea. Open Source Media has announced that it is returning to operations under its original Pajamas Media moniker, according to aa weblog entry by founders Charles Johnson and Roger L. Simon who eat a raw chunk of crow and admit that the "time to be grownups" approach requested by their financial backers was not working in the user-generated media marketplace. Presumably the PM branding will be applied to the new OSM infrastructure, and possibly a more personal editorial voice as well, as suggested in our earlier post. Weblogs require brand building on a much more personal level than traditional media outlets, which can be a challenge for suppliers who are trying to mix mainstream content sources and packaging with user-generated media. Media in general is all about generating valuable endorsements, both explicit and implicit: user-generated media takes that concept of endorsement much further into the content itself than other media, but it's the same game on a peer level more than an expert/god/goddess level. Corporate packaging can offset that peer-level endorsement value if it's not done in a way that allows individual voices to express their weight and value effectively.

On the other hand, you can blow both your personal and corporate branding by trying to "play the heavy" in personal content: Jason Calacanis, now in the role of shepherding Weblogs, Inc. through the AOL empire, breathed hot and heavy recently in a recent post on his weblog, threatening to call out the AOL lawyers to deal with a blatant ripoff of the Weblogs, Inc. design. People want to know that you have some power in personal content, but they want to know that it's your personal power and brand that's in play. Somehow I can't imagine Jason's approach playing very well with either corporate parents or your audience. As more mainstream content begins to rub shoulders with personal content these complex branding issues are going to become harder to manage for both individuals and the corporations who would like to leverage one another's talents and brand value. Content packaging is just beginning to bring these somewhat conflicting and contrasting branding issues into focus, with effective resolutions few and far between.
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