Surviving The Digital Information Transition

Chuck Zimmerman

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