During the past few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with the local LA television folks from ABC, NBC, and CBS. And while there will always be something exciting about seeing a television news van pull into your parking lot, the sight reminds me of how much things have changed over the past few years.
Before the advent of New Media, companies required third parties to deliver information to prospects and customers. This reliance on third parties forced companies to budget for the distribution of content as opposed to development of it.
As a result of being subservient to those who own the channels, companies have honed their skills for “messaging” as opposed to “communicating.” And they’ve funded entire armies of professional communicators who can deftly stay “on-message.”
Take the term “media training,” for example. Media training is an example of how companies work within the limitations of those who own the distribution channels. With media training, we’re taught to hammer the same trite messages over and over in hopes that a journalist either capitulates and uses the information, or that the captured audio and video is so contaminated, that it’s impossible for a journalist to edit it out.
But the introduction of New Media channels such as blogging, podcasting, online video, Facebook, Twitter, and even location-based services like FourSquare have changed everything. These technologies have dropped the price of distribution to where it is too small to measure. But instead of seeing this economic shift as something to take advantage of, most execs prefer to look a gift horse in the mouth. Instead of shifting budgets from the distribution of messaging to the creation of relevant content, they continue hiring those same old message mongers.
The end of the year offers a time of reflection. It’s also the time to start planning next year’s budget. If you’re an executive who is responsible for corporate communications, consider looking at the process through a different lens. Should you fund messaging through third parties, or communicating through your own channels? No need to be draconian about it–what if you did both, shifting significant money from messaging to communicating?
Be careful though. Those trained in the art of messaging won’t take too kindly to your taking food out of their mouths.
Photo Credit: anitakhart