Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Interview with Kimberly Palmer - money editor at US News & World Report


Kimberly Palmer is a senior editor in Money & Business at US News & World Report. Kimberly writes the AlphaConsumer blog and personal finance stories Kimberly said, "My goal is to help people make smart money decisions. I especially love writing and learning about how money can affect key life decisions, such as when (and whether) to get married, to have kids, to buy a house, or to switch careers. I hope to provide tools to help people with those decisions."

Q & A

Q: How important to U.S. News & World Report is online social media networking?

Definitely a high priority. Our blogs are all connected to Facebook - friend me and Twitter -follow me. I love that social networking lets me find other people with similar interests -- there are so many great blogs and websites out there.

Q: Certainly not everyone is sold on social networking for your company. What are the concerns of those who are not on board with it?

A: The main concerns are how much time they can take up! Sometimes it feels hard to be a full-time reporter when you also want to blog, twitter, and log onto Facebook. Our priority still has to be reporting and uncovering interesting stories; that's the service we provide to people. My problem is that since twittering and blogging offer more instant gratification, it can be difficult to pull myself away. So I try to set aside chunks of time each day for reporting-only.

Q: Which social network sites do you have a presence in? Which of those are more important to you?

I'm most addicted to
Twitter, and then Facebook. I think Twitter is so great because it's so simple -- you have a thought, and you share it. And you can keep track of what others are doing and thinking, too. With blogs, you have to put a bit more thought into it -- at least I try to.

Q: Please explain the US News situation. Will the company be sending out a print newsletter? Will it take paid subscriptions for the web magazine?

Our magazine will be coming out monthly starting in 2009, so subscribers will continue to get the magazine, just a bit less frequently. Our website has always been free, so no change there. So come visit us at www.usnews.com

Q: What are the demographics of your readers?

My readers are pretty diverse -- I hear from grad students as well as retirees -- but the people who visit most often seem just like me: Interesting in saving money, avoiding debt, and being a smart consumer, which isn't always easy. Marketing and company outreach has gotten so complicated -- even retailers twitter, so it can take some effort to understand what's going on. There's a big push right now among retailers to customize products for example, which can end up costing more, but sometimes it's worth it. That's just not aomething our parents' generation was faced with. All of the enticing offerings can make it easier to spend money and go into debt.

Q: Have you found any case studies that show how social networking improved the bottom line for a large company?

I think Starbucks is a great example of this. They are really plugged in and respond individually to consumers via their twitter feed. So if I had a complaint I could tweet the company directly and would probably get a response -- I don't know how that's affected their bottom line, but I am pretty impressed by it.

Q: If you had to sell your boss to lay out some money for social networking, what would say?

Luckily, I wouldn't need to, because my boss is all for social networking. He writes one of our most popular blogs But if I had a different kind of boss, I would make the point that social networking is really part of the future of journalism -- it helps us stay connected to our audience, which is essential for survival.

Q: How do you use videos in your networking? Do you like the results of videos?

A: I definitely need to do more of this. I have taken a flip camera with me on some assignments, including when I interviewed Sen. Wyden earlier this year; you can see the results here It adds a fun dimension to the reporting experience but I obviously need to improve my filming skills.

Thank you, Kimberly, for taking the time to help us understand how social networking can work for large companies.

Greg Cryns
Scentsy: http://www.scentsy.com/16684
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/calgreg

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