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Monday, December 30, 2013

Mass Communications Disconnect


Twenty-five years ago Nike launched its “Just Do It” PR campaign slogan.  Four years before that it was Wendy’s “Where’s The Beef?” that filled the public’s brainwaves.  Both were possible due to TV commercials.  I’m not so sure we’ll see too many ads like them again, ones that everyone knows and quotes.

It may be ironic that in the era of expanded communications, the chances of something greatly influencing society have decreased.  But the chances of something getting at least some traction have greatly increased.

We are in a split-screen society, literally and figuratively.  No one source rules all.  Twitter is not in every household, nor is a newspaper or a TV show or a radio show.  People consume information from different sources at different times in different ways.  This dilutes our ability to experience the same content at the same time but it increases our ability to see more content from more choices than ever before.

The Pew Research Center did an interesting study recently, showing where people get their news from.  It shows 69% saying TV is where they go to get most of their news.  But apparently you can choose more than one medium.  50% chose the Internet.  28% choose newspapers and 23% radio.

It makes sense that newspapers drop down.  The other three are more immediate and up to date.  But there’s an overlap here.  When one listens, to say, NBC News, on TV, you may notice they quote AP, NYT or the WSJ as their source.  When you read the news online, do you go to a newspaper Web site or read a blog that quotes a newspaper?  I think newspapers still hold the biggest responsibility in reporting the news that others then follow and report on.

A dozen years ago the numbers were as follows:

·         74% TV
·         45% Newspapers
·         21% Radio
·         13% Internet

TV managed to stay within 10% of where it had been.
Radio increased by about 10%.
Newspapers got cut by about 40%.
Internet nearly quadrupled itself.

Times have changed and they will continue to do so.  Among 18-29-year-olds, 71% picked the Internet as its dominant news source and just 55% said it was TV.

People skim tweets to take in what’s in the news.  30% of US adults say they consume news through what they see on Facebook.  Will people soon make voting decisions based on a Youtube “news bulletin”?

What will happen is that the news industry will fall into the hands of brands—outlets, not mediums—who get their information shared on all platforms.  Someone like the New York Times could still be in a position to lead, provided it positions itself everywhere.  It no longer can be seen as a newspaper.  It’s a source, an influencer and a place where news is reported and debated.  It must be on radio, TV, Web sites, blogs, FB, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Vine, YouTube, and on every portal that transmits messages, images, sounds, and information.  That’s who will lead the news.

Authors should view themselves like media outlets.  You are a brand and that book must be published in all formats and promoted on all platforms.  The days are dwindling when a print-only book can be promoted on outlets that run reviews and conduct interviews.  You need to promote that book with audio, video, print, digital, excerpts, guest posts, byline articles, reviews, interviews, stories, tweets—and every imaginable media.

There’s an overload of information out there.  But the only way to be heard is to add to that overload.  You strive to stick out in whatever medium your message is transmitted.

Look at other industries—

Models compete with each other on all fronts.  If natural looks don’t do it, go see a cosmetic surgeon.  If that doesn’t work, sleep with someone to advance your career.  Or blackmail them.  Or do porn to get someone’s attention.  I’m not advising one to do any of these things, but this is the competitive nature of the business world.

Wall Street competes based on, in theory, building better companies that make money.  But after that fades away, companies compete with payoffs, bribes, and threats.  They steal talent, undercut the competition, dilute their product quality, treat workers poorly, and skirt taxes by doing tax tricks or setting up overseas offices.

Sports competes based on teams getting in to shape, practicing hard, and strategically looking for ways to get an edge and win.  When that doesn’t get you a championship, you look to buy free agents to win.  You turn the other eye when athletes dope up.  You risk a player’s health by throwing them on the field even when you know they are risking injury.

Now, publishing doesn’t have to stoop to lying, breaking laws, cheating, or acting like the above-mentioned, but the analogy here is that people in all industries do whatever it takes to succeed.  Authors must take the same attitude, but channel it in a positive way.

Don’t look to take a competing author’s book and throw it in the garbage or to spread lies about others.  But think about how you can outsmart others to promote your book.

Don’t plagiarize, blackmail the media, or pay Amazon to destroy a competing book, but do muster up your inner Barnum and look to utilize all mediums and tools that are available to you to get a strong message out.

Maybe you’ll pick up some ideas while you watch the Today Show, while skimming your local paper, while reading tweets, and while uploading some podcasts.  We multi-task through our multi-media world.  In a time of mass communications, we lack the big message.  Maybe authors will discover how to have their voices heard and break through the clutter.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013

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