Where does breaking news happen?
I have a Google Alert set-up for the term "Twitter." This way, whenever Twitter in mentioned in the news, blogs, etc… I get a notification (in this instance, I have the alert set-up to only notify me once a day). This morning, the results were littered with the news that Jessica Simpson announced her latest pregnancy on Twitter. There are two things here that are not all that newsworthy:
- That Twitter is a great place for breaking news. We all know this.
- That celebrities like to use Twitter to circumvent traditional media outlets. We all know this.
So, where’s the exclusive in this news?
Do you have any less respect for People Magazine or Entertainment Tonight? Do you think any less of Jessica Simpson for breaking the news through her own, personal, media channel? It’s an interesting media perspective to think about because two, new and somewhat growing media habits are becoming a core part of how we not only consume media, but what media means:
- You need an audience to break news. Jessica Simpson announcing a baby, or Rihanna stupidly getting back together with Chris Brown are only newsmakers because these individuals have both their own fans and – perhaps more importantly – the media following them. The traditional media is now littered with references to what is being said and done in places like Twitter, Facebook and beyond by celebrities, politicians and news people. It’s not so much that these individuals can now have a direct relationship with their fans and followers, it’s that they are able to control their media messages, because this direct relationship now forces traditional media outlets to become active followers as well. Think about Jessica Simpson’s latest situation: she doesn’t need a publicist to draft up a superfluous press release or run around getting her hair and make-up done to answer the television entertainment news programs. In 140 characters or less, she says she’s pregnant and that’s that. Everything that happens after that tweet becomes her own desire to either promote the moment or leave it as 140 characters. That’s pretty profound.
- The media no longer reports. The media no longer reports in an exclusive manner. The media simply reports on what’s happening in another media channel (in this instance, it’s about Twitter). How strange is that? Tonight – if you can bear it – spend thirty minutes watching these salacious celebrity news programs on television, and count how many times the words "exclusive" and "breaking news" are used to describe something that has been reported much earlier in the day and elsewhere. How is that exclusive (which, from my media training, means that they are the only media outlet to have this interview or information) or breaking news (which, from my media training, means that they are one of the first to report an event)?
Just the facts.
There is no doubt that we have entered into a new media landscape, where media channels don’t control our access to information, but that information is freely available and easily distributed. For brands and marketers, this means something completely different and interesting. Go back read those last two points and reframe them in terms of marketing and branding.
- Build an audience. Fast. The people that care about you will follow you (so long as you’re interesting). The media that covers your industry will follow you and cover your stories (so long as you’re interesting). Being interesting isn’t easy, but interesting is everything for brands in this day and age. The brands that build this direct relationship with their audience and the industry trade are the brands that get all of the attention, because they are covering all of their bases.
- Breaking news is up to you. A press release to a list of media outlets and influential bloggers may still seem like the thing to do. But, toss that aside for a moment. Is it possible that you could use online channels like Twitter and Facebook and YouTube and LinkedIn and beyond to tell a very different and personal brand story (especially when it comes to news?) Sadly, most brands are still running their press releases through Twitter, instead of figuring out a way to break news in a compelling way and watch their consumers, the industry media and advocates organically spread that which is interesting.
Jessica Simpson isn’t that interesting.
Not to me. Not to you (maybe). But she is interesting to her fans and the media that covers this sort of stuff. That’s enough for her to be her own media channel and force everyone else to fall into her way of communicating and sharing with an audience. It’s the new exclusive, and as my Google Alert for the word "twitter" was littered with her news, it made me sad because it was news that was now someone embedded in my brain, but what made me sadder is how so few brands understand this already established and powerful way to connect with consumers and media. It’s something that Jessica Simpson has figured out, but that so few Fortune 1000 companies get. What does that tell you?
It all just felt a little bit tragic. Or, is it just me?