Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
June 12, 2009 7:05 AM

The Power Of Traditional Mass Media

It's easy to sit around and complain that "people don't get it" and it's equally easy to dismiss traditional media for what it really is: a huge powerhouse and place where your future customer is right now.

Here are some of the standard questions I get asked on any given day:

  • Why would you write a business column for a newspaper?
  • Why would you bother writing a book - most authors get paid very little and it is such a huge effort?
  • When do you find the time to write that magazine article for enRoute?
  • Why go to a traditional conference, when you can just watch the speakers on YouTube?
  • Isn't traditional media dying? Why put any energy toward it?

Shel Holtz (co-host with Neville Hobson of For Immediate Release - The Hobson and Holtz Report Podcast and co-author with John C. Havens of Tactical Transparency) likes to remind me of a quote I often use: "everything is 'with' not 'instead of'". Yes, it's important to have a strong media mix driven by an overarching strategy, but the idea runs deeper than that...

What is the point is constantly speaking to the same, exact group you always speak to?

There are many businesspeople (and this includes entrepreneurs) who are not giving the new media space the attention it deserves. These are smart people who are interested, but simply have not had the time, feel like they may be lacking the ability, or have not seen the true business ROI. How are we going to convert them?

There are only two ways to do this:

  1. Speak to them in their language.
  2. Find them in the spaces they're currently using.

The sheer volume of traditional mass media demonstrates that people still find it interesting, or - at the very least - they still tolerate it. In looking for clients or new business opportunities, it is still a very viable and powerful channel. Don't dismiss it. Another personal anecdote: I can't tell you how many people approach me daily to let me know how much they enjoy my business column in the Montreal Gazette and Vancouver Sun, and how much they look forward to it every two weeks. When I let them know that they can read me everyday on this Blog or on Twitter, they look at me sideways (the way a dog looks when you speak to it - head slanted slightly to one side with one ear twitching and that curious look in their eyes).

It's the traditional mass media audience that is going to grow the new media audience in the future.

Our jobs - as new media evangelists - is to speak to these people where they are and where they are comfortable. Our jobs is to educate them by speaking in their language and giving them the tools to make the integration of these types of channel easier. Old habits die hard. Traditional business grapples with new media because they are founded on the, "that's the way it has always been" attitude. Our real jobs is to show them - in their words - why it's important to expand and experiment.

How else can we build audience and interest in new media if we don't actively go out and recruit new participants from the traditional mass media channels?

By Mitch Joel