Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Media Landscape May Change, But How To Influence It Has Not

As an author or publisher you care about the news media because you know it is through our media that we have the best chance to sell books. The mass media offers an unmatched influence. However, the media is changing greatly, so the question arises: Who are the influencers and how do we influence them?

Citizen consumers are indeed exposed to a greater choice in media. It’s around them 24/7 and instantaneously. And the media doesn’t just come and go -- it gets shared, replayed, reviewed, and downloaded repeatedly. So much comes at us so fast, from news to entertainment, fact to fiction, and data to misinformation. The lines blur between advertising and journalism. Our gatekeepers are absent or overwhelmed or compromised. There are no filters to what one can access.

To influence the media, you’ll need to understand where it stands today. I like what the new managing editor of TIME just wrote, as she became the publication’s first female managing editor:

“It’s no secret that the media have fragmented in recent years, the audiences have been split into tribes and that more and more people get their news from even narrower outlets. But I believe there is still a national, indeed global, hunger for authoritative voices that speak to the country and the world, ask sharp questions, tell hard truths, go where others can’t turn a light on the people whose influence you feel even if you’ve never heard their names.”

I also agree with what the NY Times wrote recently:

“The digital evolution has democratized information and created two way platforms,” Mr. (Ken) Avletta said. “But news rooms have 30% less reporting on city halls and 40% of the local news is dominated by traffic, weather, and sports.”

"Mr. Avletta also expressed disappointment that “by now, 15, 20 years into the web, there are fewer indigenous news entities online than he had anticipated, saying that the “commentary and aggregation supplied by so many web sites is not sufficient replacement for journalistic reportage.”

So how can we impact those who have an impact?

1.      You still need a good, strong story idea, qualified expert source, luck, and good timing.
2.      You still need to target that pitch to the demographics of the particular media outlet’s followers.
3.      It’ll still take persistence, creativity, and connections to break through the clutter.

So the only thing that’s changed is the number of media outlets. Their needs have diversified, and their individual influence is smaller than it used to be. So you need to do more of the same -- and then some. You’ll need to spend more time researching the key players in the sphere you hope to influence. The details, personalization, and geography attached to a story play an increasingly bigger role in determining coverage.

The media landscape is a connect-the-dots industry. There are so many tiny dots littering the landscape. Follow the 80-20 rule -- 80% of your efforts should go towards influencing the media outlets that hold the most eyeballs and ears; the rest of your time can be spent chasing the smaller outlets that collectively make up a smaller but still significant portion.

Put your best foot forward, even if it means wearing shoes of a different size.

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

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