What really happened that caused traditional media to shrink so much over the past decade – and why are so many still struggling to come back?
That’s the subject of this presentation, which I’ve given several times over the past few years.
Why do the breathless reports of Prince William’s engagement to Kate Middleton have such a negative impact on me?
I have no ill will toward the couple; they are charming, attractive and – considering the circumstances – appear humble and likeable. In England, where the royal family is some kind of national treasure, I might understand such over-the-top, second-to-second pursuit of each detail as they proceed toward a royal wedding.
But here in America, Will and Kate are not our own; interest in their nuptials strikes me as being borne of respect for our longstanding relationship with England as a friend and ally. Does it require sending squads of journalists to stand outside the gates of Buckingham Palace to get weepy and about the storybook nature of their love?
Simply: No. It doesn’t have the same meaning in England and America. There it’s a fairy tale; here it’s a pleasant news item. The mass media’s effort to transport the fairy tale aspect of it across the ocean and across cultures is not reporting; it’s editorializing.
It’s not journalism; it’s distortion. And it’s part of that problematic blurring between news and entertainment that seems to have infected all for-profit media.
Mary Meeker of Morgan Stanley made the following presentation at a recent meeting of technology wizards and gurus. (Notably she got the name of the event wrong; it’s the CN Summit.)
There’s a breadth of information here, ranging from adoption of mobile technologies to the potential for mobile advertising to the investment outlook for companies in the business.
The big takeaway for me is how it underscores the increasingly reasonable-sounding claims that mobile computing will change how we think about computing; and, no less, how important it is for media companies of all sizes to recapture their audiences on the small screen.
According to B2B magazine, ABM, the trade association for the business-to-business trade press, held a series of panel discussions recently in which participants declared that print isn’t dead.
Wouldn’t we expect them to say that? Of the four pro-print souls mentioned in the article, three of them still make their living by running, editing or selling for print magazines.
I’m not arguing their point either; I believe print is a vitally important communications vehicle and somehow will remain so in the future.
What’s notable in this discussion is the reasoning offered by the fourth panelist, Bob Drake, who runs Drake Creative agency. He said that a recent ad campaign that included a print component succeeded. He’s quoted by B2B as saying, “It goes against everything we’re hearing, but we can engage people for a long period of time (in print) and they stay engaged.”
I don’t know Bob Drake, and I don’t mean to pick on him. But if he’s hearing that print doesn’t work, then he’s talking to other marketers and not to marketees.
Marketers are abandoning print because it’s harder to measure as a marketing vehicle than Internet-based technologies. This is undeniably true. But at some point, that legitimate objection got simplified to the assumption that print is broken, which has been simplified even further to the notion that print is dead.
But if you ask readers, that’s not even close to the truth. The same article cited a poll by Roads & Bridges magazine (conducted by Internet, ironically enough) that indicated a strong preference among its audience for getting information via print. This is consistent with every bit of research and opinion I’ve ever seen. People prefer reading words on paper – especially glossy paper with charts and pictures.
The point? Like everyone else, marketers are susceptible to the echo-chamber effect. Print isn’t in trouble because it doesn’t work; it’s in trouble because shorthand communications of marketers obscure the nuance that is the truth.