Flying between London and Vancouver, I slowly consume The Globe and Mail newspaper. A sectioned publication with news, reviews, commentary and opinion. All that we love about content.
It has a seductive feel with high quality stock and a warm colour palette. Whilst this tactile delight filled a couple of hours, darting between the business and the arts section, my mind wandered.
For as long as I can remember, I have worked in media sectors knocking the value of print. For example, in radio we mocked the lack of instant response and the lead times. When working on video content we mocked that a paper couldn’t deliver rich content in native form.
It was odd from my first media outlet as they were owned by a paper essentially.
Maybe I am being romantic, I like holding a newspaper and reading it. Should the world go 100% digital, I will certainly mourn print’s passing. Since 1999 all I heard was don’t bother with print, it is a dying medium with falling revenues, falling circulation and certain doom.
Don’t get me wrong, it has been through the wars, many have fallen by the way, some by their own doing, others through consolidation, closure and in some cases political and moral self-destruction.
BUT, and it’s a big one. They employ some of the most talented journalists on the planet. We are living in a content hungry age, where material is shared globally. Millions of people consider the ink on paper method as essential to their lives as grass is to cows.
Do I have a right to tell you how you consume media, entertainment, sports, the arts? Absolutely not. For me it goes back to when I started in IT. People would ask me what computer they needed to do a job. I would always advise them to invest in suitable technology. Why get the biggest, fastest, latest, if you just don’t need it?
I would argue that print media has had it’s very public growing pains. Even publications that have been around for more than 100 years have understood that digital is a natural extension to their paper based world. Publishers that worked out that zeroes and ones would exist happily alongside black on to white got it right.
Journalism has evolved, creating content that works in print, online, in vision and audibly. The strength of a modern newsroom is that ability to repurpose articles for different medium. Understanding the different emphasis that visual content needs from written can only make publishers stronger.
Who would have thought that publishers like The Guardian in the UK would be a leading audio outlet for programming?
TV and radio will always be what they are, with an extension online and via apps, but the winners in the content distribution are print media - they learned to evolve or die.
This wont apply to all markets and the argument for disposable papers is an ongoing one, but don’t forget the energy used in powering your tablet, phone etc.
I adore reading news content via Google Currents, I get a wide range of publications all in a great user interface. Many newspaper websites are all over the place when it comes to design and flow, so Google took the pain out of it.
There are parallels here between media as an industry and brands that exploit media for awareness. Sticking to traditional advertising may leave you standing, you need to evolve. It’s not a case of simply advertising in more places, it is time to do more than a spot, sponsorship or advertorial. Story telling about you, your brand, your industry or something you are passionate about will get people to listen to you. You can’t just sell at people. Look at the Facebook feed, like others, you probably skip past the adverts. On TV millions of people skip the commercials on their PVRs or use ad-free platforms.
Newspapers evolved because (amongst other things) the revenues dropped…if your advertising is not working for them, how effective is it for you?
Don’t be the company that people reminisce about, be the one engaging with them, telling your story.