Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kiwi Outs Mainstream Media

New Zealand-based writer and publicist Peter Heath has a compelling opinion piece in the new edition of IABC Communication World. 

Heath argues that "serious-issue journalism" within the British Commonwealth's mainstream media has all but surrendered to "populism."  TV news programs focus exclusively on trivia, while London’s The Times now resembles The Daily Mail.

What happened?  Heath lays the blames on two doorsteps.

The rise of alternate news sources.  "Serious-issue journalism (or at least detailed analysis and interpretation of the issues) is increasingly becoming the preserve of specialist outlets, driving mainstream media (print and broadcast) down the populist route."

The rise of "corporatespeak."  In recent years, there's been "too little real and meaningful (for this, read “two-way”) engagement between organizations and the people important to them," according to Heath.

"We as communication practitioners need to be on top of these developments, not surprised by them," Heath warns.  In fact, these two trends "should inform and shape the integrated communication programs we should be developing and managing for our employers and clients."

From a practical standpoint, what does Heath's advice mean for most marketers?  I think it means:

  • Forget the mainstream media.  Unless you're promoting a luxury, a celebrity, a movie, an amusement ride or a sporting event, you won't earn coverage.  Target your messages at the "specialists."
  • Quit letting lawyers craft your messages.  Unless you do, you'll never be "authentic."  So you'll never be heard.  Much less believed.
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