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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Old Media is Dead, Long Live Old Media

Old media is dead. 

Isn't it?

Well, that's what many of the new media folks are saying, so it must be true.  That old media has been completely and utterly usurped by new media -- by all things digital and by what is "social."

If you don't believe me, just take a look at a handful of marketing or PR agency web sites, or take a look at the marketing job boards.  It's new media or die, no exceptions, no excuses.  If you still don't believe me, take a look at reports such as "State of the News Media 2010" as referenced earlier this week in a blog post by my esteemed colleague Bill Bellows.  5,900 newspapers jobs were lost in 2009 alone, Bill reports.  And since 2001, 450 jobs at the local TV level were also lost -- and lost forever more than likely.

So old media just doesn't matter anymore. Please don't waste time building relationships with journalists at the Wall Street Journal or Fortune or eWeek.  THEY SIMPLY DON'T MATTER ANYMORE!   Instead, spend 100 per cent of your time building relationships with and pitching only new media channels -- because old media is dead.

Well ... maybe not so fast.

There's a pertinent and lively discussion on this topic taking place right now on LinkedIn in the "Network of PR Professionals" group, of which I am a proud card carrying member.  Most of the communications professionals who have weighed in on the question, " Are the 'old media' relevant?" -- and they hail from all over the world -- believe that old media are still relevant and still play an important role in integrated public relations. 

Reinforcing this point of view is a report released just today, "2010 Edelman Trust Barometer," which reports that next to a stock or industry analyst report, articles in business magazines are deemed to be the most credible.  Thanks to Mike Holland of Smye Holland Associates for sharing this report.  "So, 'old media' seems to be doing ok," Mike says.

Studies aside, plenty of senior PR pros from around the globe seem to agree with the "Barometer" and with Mike, who adds, "People tend to value information that they pay for. So coverage in paid-for 'old media' is still regarded as having a higher value than coverage in free 'new media.'"

A media advisor at NaoriComm International takes the point a step further.  "Ye Olde media is now going back to be more relevant than ever.  Many people are looking to the good ol' media to get in-depth coverage on a topic that would otherwise get a Tweet of 140 characters or less, missing the actual point," said Sharon Levy-Matzkin.

Yes, new media channels are turning our industry on its head and are playing an ever increasing role in the reputation of companies.  And yes, newspapers and magazines and radio and Cable TV are struggling mightily against the tsunami of new media challengers.

But to declare old media dead before its time?  Well, it's just not right, if for no other reason that coverage in  old media channels just might keep you in your job for a while longer, and that's worth much more than any number of tweets.  "No CEO will want to frame their Twitter stream or blog postings...a CEO values the validation that coverage in a newspaper or magazine provides," says Brian Kennedy of Allen and Caron.

In terms of integrated public relations campaigns, old media can and should co-exist with the plethora of opportunities provided by new media.  I believe the facts and the opinions and experiences of PR practitioners bear this out.

At 3Point, we believe in the intersection of traditional media and new media. Maybe that's why so many tweets include references to traditional media articles.

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