There have been major changes in the Media world in the last year and they have an impact on your work place, how you learn about the world around you and how you communicate to that world.
Let’s start with just SOME of the changes: the economy has impacted everyone, but few industries as critically as the Media. Advertising dollars have gone away in record numbers. Local newspapers, radio and television stations count on car dealers, major retail and big national advertising campaigns for a huge chunk of their income. Anyone want to guess what has happened to the advertising budgets in those sectors in the last year? You’ve seen the bankruptcy announcements from major newspapers and that is just the beginning. (The current issue of Vanity Fair magazine has a great piece on how the Washington Post is trying to change and hang on while some at the New York Times still seem to believe the world hasn’t really changed.)
Changing technology has also been a body blow to traditional Media. Why read the newspaper or watch that newscast or sitcom when you can find it on the Internet later? Readership and viewership numbers have been dropping like a rock at the same time the ad dollars are disappearing. (Do a Media friend a favor and buy them lunch or a beer. It’s not been a fun few months for them.)
The search for relevance is always an on-going topic for the Media, but never so real as it is today. What is it that the audience wants? Is it TMZ or a Ken Burns documentary? In my view, the answer is both! The point is the people who run Media outlets have to know who they are — and “We are everything to all people” is a model that doesn’t work anymore. (See big city general circulation newspapers.)
What does this mean to you? If you deal with the Media people please know they are distracted and scattered. Begin every conversation with how your story/idea/business proposition can HELP them. They know they need help.
If your business is covered by the Media, you will be dealing with less experienced, more hurried multi-tasking people who will be expected to create multiple versions of your story for multiple platforms. They may be tweeting instantly, writing a slightly longer version for the Web page and then another version for broadcast or print.
If you simply count on Media outlets to keep you informed, understand that each outlet is under a tremendous amount of pressure — budget pressure, time pressure and in some cases, political pressure to play to a particular section of the audience. Bottom line? Media outlets can still be a great way to learn about the world and communicate to the world — just know that it is a business that is going through a major earthquake and no one knows what it will look like when the shaking stops.