Surviving The Digital Information Transition

Chuck Zimmerman 2 Comments

I’ve just got to point you to Steve Rubel, Micro Persuasions, once again. He works for Edelman Digital and one of his fellow digerati (Dave Coustan) will be on my breakout session panel at the upcoming NAMA Conference. Steve just did a couple of posts that anyone in communications and marketing ought to read. I’m going to take the liberty of pointing you to a couple of his remarks. I’m also going to include a remark from a recent Jeff Jarvis, BuzzMachine, post that ought to give you pause as well.

In a post titled, “Five Digital Trends to Watch for 2009:”

The Power of Pull – Where push once ruled, it’s now equally important to create digital content that people discover through search

How hard is this for the traditionalist (public relations and journalism) to understand? Very! The objections include things like, “I can’t control it” and “The numbers are small.”

In a post titled “The Newspaper Reporter of the Future is Here Today,” Steve points to the work of Peter Abraham, who is covering the New York Yankees for a local newspaper. Abraham is blogging, including live with CoveritLive, podcasting, posting pictures. Here’s what Steve says about it:

Now imagine for a moment that Abraham wasn’t a Yankees beat writer but instead covering your company or industry for the business section. Or imagine she is the newspaper’s food columnist. This multi-platform method of engaging is right for all of them. If every reporter did this on staff they can build not only a more engaged audience, but also redefine local media since it’s all potentially global.

For PR professionals, this is a boon. More content creates more opportunities for us to tell our stories and to also engage journalists using these same channels. If we’re not there as individuals and companies then we won’t be top of mind.

What Abraham is doing represents not only the future of journalism but also what PR professionals themselves need to do to build connections in the years ahead.

Now, keeping in mind what Steve says above, read this comment from a recent post by Jeff Jarvis. His post is titled, “TV’s Next,” in which he writes about the demise of newspapers and explains why he believes broadcasting is next.

It’s a failure of distribution as a business model. Distribution is a scarcity business: ‘I control the tower/press/wire and you don’t and that’s what makes my business.’ Not long ago, they said that owning these channels was tantamount to owning a mint. No more. The same was said of content. But it’s relationships (read: links) that create value today.

The local TV and radio business, once a privilege to be part of, is next to fall. Timber.

How is your company or media outlet making sure you survive the digital information transition? Do you agree with Steve and Jeff or disagree? Do you still think you can control your customers or subscribers and force them into your “domain?”

Blogging, Media, New Media, Podcasting, Public Relations

Comments 2

  1. Kurt Lawton

    Hey Chuck

    I, too, believe in new media channels. The key is doing it right. The danger we all face is to make sure we don’t get caught up in using the medium without delivering value in the message. Just because we can blog, twitter, youtube, flickr and podcast does not mean the audience will be there for everything. Show me the value and I’ll give you a little time, but not a lot.

    How many times have you watched a video or listened to a podcast and learned nothing of value given the time you invested — it happens a lot! More content can be detrimental, no matter how it is presented. Like Steve Rubel says in your first link, “less is the new more.” Right on. But I’m not sold yet on his description of the newspaper reporter of the future. Who has the time to devote to viewing/reading/listening to five or six mediums presented on one small topic? Hmmm. A bit overkill?

    We live in a society of communication overload already, and the more mediums we choose to monitor, the more time we take away from something else…such as living our daily lives.

    Something to ponder.

    Kurt Lawton

  2. Post

    Thanks Kurt. I think the point of a reporter providing information via multiple channels is that he/she is creating more opportunities to connect with people, not that anyone expects that their audience is going to consume all of them.

    I have AgWired followers who only connect via Twitter or via my podcast or rss feed, Flickr photos, YouTube channel, etc. Some of them probably never visit the website. I don’t expect anyone to read/listen/watch it all! But by employing all of them, the “community” grows exponentially. You can no longer judge reach and results just by how many visitors to my website I have. You’ve got to include all my other channels because of your point! And we’re not even talking about the word of mouth effect and the re-publishing of my content on other websites.

    I fully agree that bad content is worse than no content. We sure see a lot of it, especially when an organization decides they have to create it without any good reason other than, “I have to meet my quota.” How many news releases did you get today that weren’t news?

    Now, as to your point on communication overload . . . We need balance and many people go overboard but it’s their personal choice. No one is forcing them to do it. I would say that if someone is allowing their consumption of media to harm their life and relationships, they’re suffering from an addiction not unlike any other type of substance addiction.

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