So Far, So Good….

I hadn’t checked in on Richard Edelman’s Speak Up blog for an indecently long time. His blog entry I am even more certain that now is our time made some interesting reading, I suspect for different reasons to what Richard would have expected.

Key Take Out Points

  • Deflation in the media industry – the same amount of advertising inventory is being sold, but for less money (two per cent less, I don’t know if this is an absolute number or if it factors in inflation as well)
  • Media companies are experimenting to find ways of increasing the monetisation of content by providing niche content: podcasts, a la carte articles without advertisements. These efforts seem to be focused on the consumer, whereas the run of thumb was that some 70 per cent of the medias revenue came for advertisers
  • Move from push to pull for marketing information: consumers under 30 do not want to be advertised to (who does?), but want to seek out information for themselves.
  • WOM – word-of-mouth marketing is the new nirvana for marketers (has the delicious promise of eyeballs for nothing – music to the ears of a cash-strapped PowerPoint monkey). PR is considered by P&G as the key tool in the armoury for this; Wachovia Bank puts PR second behind internet advertising
  • Consumer is a mis-leading label, let the people make their own content a la Flickr, Digg etc rather than being feed from the media trough
  • Journalistic values giving way to Gonzo approach – There is no single or simple truth–the dialectical tension should be understood. Authority of media brands is no longer a given–convenience and what’s cool may be more important to news brands. Authenticity is at a premium. Note the benefit to CNN and Anderson Cooper from Hurricane Katrina coverage, which was an honest voice reporting, with all of its raw emotion and advocacy. Another first for the counter-culture and the adult entertainment industry which has for years provided content with a participant PoV from Tom Wolfe and Hunter S Thompson to Seymour Butts
  • Traditional media companies cannot survive on the advertising from their new media versions–they must get a piece of the eventual transaction. Pay-per-click or some equivalent mechanism?
  • Europe is 6-18 months behind the US in move toward new environment, with France and the UK ahead of Germany, Italy and Spain.
Richard recognised a number of things that his business needed to do:
  • Answer the question of how PR is relevant to this new environment, PR historically has had a symbiotic relationship with traditional media as a shaper of content and story provider
  • Move the tone from selling to factual: to be honest this is the way I have been doing PR for years
  • Try and tap into prosumers and use client employees as evangelists a la Microsoft and Sun’s blog charm offensive
  • Social networks are important – he admits he doesn’t have the answer on dealing with them.
Some things I felt Richard missed out:
  • How will PR be affected by the downturn in the media?
  • How will the blogosphere handle the downturn of the media? A lot of the content that it links to comes from traditional media companies that happen to use blogs to publish their content.
  • Broadcast media still has an advantage for high interest content: news headlines or big sports events. Much of the UK web took a hammering during the July 7 bombings, but broadcast television and radio kept on trucking.
  • How will PR answer the essential question, why should I invest in PR when I can invest in a more transparent media like Adsense?
  • Is offshoring the best way of bringing PR to bear on the myriad of social networks?
  • How long is it before consumers become blog-savvy and reject this content looking for more authenticity? How invasive is PR prepared to become?
Why the title of this posting?An old joke that seemed strangely appropriate: A banker who lost everything in the Wall Street Crash jumps out of his office window, on his way down he kept saying “So far, so good; so far, so good; so far, so g.”