Monday, March 22, 2010

Waffling Publishers Strike Up a Spirited Discussion at Strategic

In a room full of vibrant personalities and the somewhat self-absorbed, Sonya Gavankar McKay commanded our attention.

For starters, she’s stunning in appearance. Yet, the physical appeal of this one-time contestant in the Miss America Pageant pales in comparison to her intellect, engaging sense of humor and razor-sharp knowledge of the travails of the newspaper industry.

Sonya paid a visit today to Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) to host a lunch discussion as part of our professional development program. Her topic: can newspapers and broadcast news media survive in a Web 2.0 world?

Her qualifications to lead this analysis and debate are pristine, including:

--Host of educational programming for The Freedom Forum and Newseum in Washington, DC.

--Host of “Close-Up,” a weekly public affairs program on C-SPAN that features conversations between high school students and Washington, DC’s most recognized journalists and politicians.

--Reporting and editing experience at CNN, ABC, and the Home and Garden Network.

Sonya was quick to acknowledge that the “big media” business model dependent upon mainstream brand advertising continues to erode in both significance and profitability.

“When the platform changes, you’ll see changes in the business model,” she said.

By platform Sonya was referring to the how consumers access news. She envisions a future in which content is pushed by the publisher to a user’s GPS-enabled Web device with advertising served up based on location.

Yet, one of my colleagues countered this location-driven view of publishing’s future lacks the relevance delivered by Web search. When a user queries Bing or Google for restaurants it’s typically because they are hungry.

Regardless of the specifics of the yet to be determined publishing model, what is clear to me is that the money will be made by the organization that owns the entry point to the Internet. It has been Google, but that’s now shifting to social networks such as Facebook.

CNN US head Jon Klein recently told an audience at the Bloomberg BusinessWeek 2010 Media Summit, “The competition I’m really afraid of are social networking sites…the people you’re friends with on Facebook or the people you follow on Twitter are trusted sources of information…we want (CNN) to be the must trusted name in news. We don’t want the 1,000 people you follow in Twitter to be the most trusted sources for you.”

The issue of credibility and influence on executive decision-making is a topic that we’ll continue to study and evaluate. It is at the very core of how Strategic represents the interests of its clients.

Sonya summed up the discussion when she explained, “(Publishers) have to put their foot down and make a decision about the business model. Stop waffling.”

1 comment:

eCairn said...

Thanks for the post.

I think CNN should be more afraid of influencers in each and every of its news segments.

Edelman's latest influence study shows that this is getting more important than peer to peer.