In reading Gigaom’s post on why Newstilt failed, I was struck by the fact that Newstilt’s core mission was trying to “save” the media industry. Perhaps trying to save an industry that’s doing just fine is what led it to fail. You can’t “save” industry that is going through a successful, albeit painful, transition. You can accelerate and smooth out the transition. That’s where companies and products succeed (Apple’s iPad, advertising networks).
What? The media industry is doing fine? I consider the media industry to be everything from content creators and distributors to advertisers and hardware manufacturers. All of these industries are seeing terrific growth. TVs are bigger and more expensive, devices like smartphones and tablets are taking off, there is more content being created than ever before with even “old media” doing quite well by working with newer social media (Glee on the small screen, Avatar on the big screen), and many segments of advertising continue to see very healthy growth (search, branded content etc). Sure, older industry segments like traditional TV ads and old ways of aggregating and managing content (ie, traditional media conglomerate models) may be under attack. However, that is a problem of old models suffering, not the industry.
So the challenge is not saving the industry, it’s helping it evolve. And challenge means opportunity, so where’s the opportunity for communications professionals?
1. Realize our job, when it comes to media relationships, is not simply to help provide a newsworthy story but one that drives traffic. This is not so different from the days of providing one that sells newspapers, but now we can help provide that traffic by providing viral-worthy content and pushing links to the story once published. This can make PR more valuable than ever to media by providing more value than simply a good story idea or information. We can help drive monetizable traffic (good for both media and clients).
2. Increase the value of our tools. The press release is not dead. It’s now a news release and ore valuable than ever. News releases are now read not by journalists, but by the end audience thanks to news aggregators like Google News and wire syndication on sites like Forbes. Do people actually read news releases? Yes – take a look at our latest poll on news releases vs. Twitter – Twitter vs. News Releases – A Tired False Argument Revisited…and Still Wrong.
3. The growth of branded content and custom media means we can help companies turn PR departments into PR and media departments. Audiences want to hear both from influential third parties (traditional PR firm focus) and directly from the company (new focus). We can not only help navigate issues like transparency and disclosure in creating custom media properties, we can bring editorial talent to the table to help manage these properties.