Media Isn’t Dying, It’s Changing

28Jan10

There are a lot of strong opinions out there about where traditional media is going, or not going for that matter.  Yesterday I attended the “2010 State of the Media” Vocus webinar and it really opened my eyes to the ways in which the media is changing.  I emphasize the word changing because people are often quick to say that it is dying.

We all know that the recession has paid a huge toll on the magazine, newspaper, television, and radio industries.  But what a lot of us don’t know is what that means for the future of media.  According to the Vocus Media Research Team traditional media is NOT dying, it is changing.  I want to share with you a few key takeaways I got from yesterday’s webinar.  I will break it down the same way they did…by the 4 main traditional media outlets.

MAGAZINES – Rebecca Bredholt, Managing Editor, Magazine Content, Vocus, Inc.

In 2009, about 1,126 magazines shut down and more than 600 editorial staff lost their jobs.  So now that the economy is (supposedly) getting better, does that mean that these job positions will return?  Not according to Vocus.  Bredholt said that “economic revival will not be a savior for print”.  She also predicts that in 2010, “duplicate/competing consumer titles are likely to fold”.  For example, Self vs. Shape or Travel & Leisure vs. Conde Nast Traveler.

So then what?  “Expect new content distribution models”, says Bredholt.  “iPhone apps are HOT”.

What does this mean to PR pros?

  • It means that we must think beyond print when pitching to magazine brands.  This is where social media releases (press releases written for the web) come into play.
  • We must pitch stories that cater to what the readers want to hear about.  Essentially, stories written up in magazines are no longer chosen by the editors, they are chosen by the readers.  So keep trending topics in mind when pitching.
  • According to Coates, this is a Revolution, not an Evolution.  Revolutions have two sides so make sure you know which one your editor or reporter is on.

NEWSPAPERS – David Coates, Managing Editor, Newspaper Content, Vocus, Inc.

Approximately 293 newspapers folded in 2009, and there were 421 layoffs/buyouts in newsrooms at major newspapers.  However, 45 new newspapers launched (are these people crazy?), 9 of which were online.   If all these newspapers are dying, why would only 9 of the 45 new newspapers be web-based?  Perhaps it is because, according to Coates, “newspapers are slow to accept new media”.

What does this mean to PR pros?

  • Be sure to consider a local angle to your stories rather than a national angle.
  • Get the media’s attention by:
    • researching what they write about
    • making information relevant to them
    • personalizing your messages
  • Features written in newspapers are largely the result of freelancers who pitch the stories they’ve written to those papers.  Keep that in mind when deciding who to pitch your story to.

TELEVISION – Julie Holley, Managing Editor, TV/Online/Blog/IRO Content, Vocus, Inc.

More than 100 stations have been affected by bankruptcies, but most continue to broadcast.  They do this without making it obvious to viewers by cutting-costs behind the scenes.  Holley also pointed out that some local station are gravitating away from news-based formats and moving towards talk show formats.

What does this mean to PR pros?

  • More than ever, we must make it easy for journalists to cover our stories.  We should not send out a pitch unless we are completely ready to respond immediately.  For instance, if we send out a pitch in the morning, we might hear back from them by 11:30am saying they want to shoot at 12:00pm that day.  Not being prepared will ruin that relationship.
  • Pitch non-typical formats – i.e., talk shows and the web (there we go with the social media releases again).  Think about what guests you can bring to their show, like a “Go To Guru”, for example.
  • Also, most stations are broadcasting in HD so we should put extra effort into providing high quality, B-roll footage that is edited to professional standards.
    • Make videos available on your site or YouTube for easy viewing and on a DVD to send to the media

RADIO – Kyle Johnson, Managing Editor, Radio Content, Vocus, Inc.

In 2009, about 10,000 people in the radio industry lost their jobs.  Local stations began running nationally syndicated programs and revenue dropped 15% – 20%.  Competition with satellite radio, streaming media, and iPods/MP3 players is causing this struggle for traditional radio.  However, Johnson noted that “radio has always been a survivor” – TV and cable once threatened it but was able to survive on “localism”.

What does this mean for PR pros?

  • Radio continues to be effective.  There are still more than 13,000 licensed over-the-air stations, not to mention the fact that the FCC requires radio to donate time to the community.
  • Basically, Johnson predicts that radio will continue to be a survivor of changes, but we might need to take podcasts, mobile media, and streaming media into consideration when making our pitches.

Here is my interpretation of the presentation: CHANGE = WEB/MOBILE.  By the media “changing” Vocus is saying that it is moving towards the web.  While traditional media still exists, I am seeing a significant amount of the media moving towards the web.

Did you get the same message from the information I shared with you?  If not, how did you interpret their message of “change” in the media?  Let me know your thoughts.

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2 Responses to “Media Isn’t Dying, It’s Changing”

  1. 1 Danny Miller

    Hey Catherine,
    Change can be an amazing thing, but it is sad to think of all the sinking ships in the publishing world! I look forward to reading more on your blog… Goodluck! Danny @ DNACHICAGO

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