As old media model dies, new marketing comes alive

You’re a large corporation. Your local newspaper, business publication and TV stations are hemorrhaging revenue. They’ve made multiple staff cuts; they don’t devote the same amount of newshole or air time to covering your business or your market as they did a few years ago.

The reporter who used to cover your company now is picking up the work that used to be done by three people. She has no time to talk, no time to pay attention to your company unless there’s huge news — and even then, probably only if it’s bad news.

The blogosphere has exploded, but there may not be an influential blogger who writes about your business or market sector. You can — and should — reach out to bloggers, but the return on effort may not always be as big as you hope.

You need to find a new way to communicate news and information about your company and its products, along with market trends and consumer tips, to customers and potential customers.

Why not do it yourself?

The time is ripe for businesses to get into Web publishing. Not just a static Web site with bare-bones product information and news releases, but a rich, engaging source of useful content — a place people will want to visit even if they don’t use your products.

You don’t need to wait for a magazine or a newspaper to do a story on your company — you can do it. For the cost of a few glossy magazine ads, your business can operate a full-time, regularly updated Web site that will capture eyeballs and loyalty — while allowing you to control the presentation of your products and services.

There are thousands of talented ex-journalists who are dying for free-lance assignments. Sign up a few of them to provide regular content. Engage credible third-party experts to offer tips and trends. Design and edit the site with an agency or in-house. Become the go-to source for information on your market segment.

Make it exciting, not dry. Have a point of view. Offer video, podcasts, quizzes and calculators. Fill it with beautiful photos and sharp writing. Make it fun and smart, rich and engaging.

The old media model is dying. The new model is being born. The media corporations that have provided our news and information for the last 50 years are out of ideas. Why rely on them to tell people about the business you know better than anyone else?

The opening is there. Charge through it.

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Kevin Brady on 02/09/2009 - 06:57 am.

    Combine a talented writer with a good web designer and you could carve out a neat little business setting up and maintaining weblogs or discussion groups for companies that don’t have the resources or time to do it themselves. Not just large corporations, but any business that wants to continually get their message out there and engage people.

    And if you’re a talented writer WITH web skills, better yet. It could be a very efficient one-person operation.

  2. Submitted by Craig Stellmacher on 02/09/2009 - 08:34 am.

    When there is a need, the environment may change very rapidly.

    Could there end up being a “Facebook” for businesses–where they on a daily basis update their feed?

    Talking directly to consumers–will always be interesting to the consumers.

    Maybe you make a paint with a very limited application, but the consumers of that paint may want to hear from you, on packaging, sales, tests of new products…

    As you point out though, most businesses don’t posses the communication skills, and may have to go shopping…

  3. Submitted by Paul Scott on 02/09/2009 - 08:58 am.

    Does this piece come to the conclusion that the departure of business reporters can be filled by in house marketing? If so, I’m not sure what that says about business reporting. I would appreciate better written marketing and more work for unemployed journalists as much as the next person, but hope we don’t ever tell ourselves that marketing can replace reporting.

  4. Submitted by John Reinan on 02/09/2009 - 09:33 am.

    As a former business reporter, Paul, I certainly appreciate your point.

    I’m not suggesting that in-house marketing could or should replace business reporting.

    But the fact is that traditional media are losing their ability to provide any but the most rudimentary reporting on businesses in their market areas.

    What I’m suggesting is that businesses should aggressively step in to get news and informaiton about their businesses out to consumers.

    It’s not the responsiblity of businesses to fix what’s wrong with the traditional media. I bemoan the loss of the comfortable, traditional media model I grew up with, but it’s gone.

    Businesses who want to communicate with their customers and potential customers have a chance to fill the vacuum. In chaos there is opportunity.

    The media have to discover their own opportunities. Perhaps they will in the long run, but at this point they haven’t.

  5. Submitted by Mark Gisleson on 02/09/2009 - 01:17 pm.

    The scary thing is that I did just that over ten years ago, mostly because the Strib and DEX were then (and still are) in a cage match to see who could bleed small business owners the hardest.

    I question the intelligence and perspicacity of a business community that has kept rapacious newspapers and yellow pages publishers in business long after they stopped delivering customers. This is the price business pays for having ended internal diversification by hiring business and accounting majors pretty much exclusively. Hire freelancers? Twenty years ago most businesses could have done this in house, but those liberal arts major employees were the first out the door each time layoffs came around.

    Any business following up on Reinan’s ideas should think the freelancer idea out pretty closely. If you go outside instead of hiring, be sure to form a long-term relationship with your freelancer. Hired guns will never understand your business like an employee will, but given a long-term relationship, a freelancer may helpful as well.

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