Media (Communications) Gazing
Pitfalls exist, of course, to forecasting the future of any industry. Just consider the illustrious prognostications of folks like the late movie producer Darryl Zanuck. In 1946, Zanuck figured television wouldn't hold onto any market it captured after the first six months. "People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night," he prophesied.
No wonder economist Edgar Fiedler once acknowledged, "He who lives by the crystal ball soon learns to eat ground glass."Still, so much is happening so fast in media communications that it seems essential to do some crystal ball gazing. Who would have anticipated when the new millennium began just six years ago that an entire new vocabulary of non-traditional media-communications terms would emerge and catch our interest: blogs, search-engine optimization, podcasting, Wikipedia, among others? Who could have imagined the growing use by public relations practitioners of these new media to help their clients communicate with their target audiences? That's why we asked a knowledgeable mix of public relations and media communicators from around the world to indulge us and tell us what they see ahead for 2006 - and for 2015 - for the rapidly changing world of media communications. Our panelists:
HOOD: Challenges to the credibility of the media will continue to be an issue for PR professionals in 2006 and beyond. That's because PR people rely on the credibility of the media platform or outlet or source to convey messages, but the messaging gets increasingly tangled with the marketing message. ItŐs the old sales pitch, whether selling a war or a new iPod. The problem for PR is that the more I see media credibility issues crop up, the less the general public seems to care. What do PR people do if no one cares about media credibility?The huge appetite for new media, especially podcasting, will continue. I always say if I'm doing it, it has arrived because I'm a late adopter and I'm downloading podcasts. I really value listening in on the media anytime I want to. Blogs won't go away, but corporate blogs still will have a formidable challenge because skepticism toward companies exists. As more companies try to harness blogs as another way of marketing to people, they will lose. I think many companies believe a blog automatically buys you credibility, and that's a fallacy.
MARTIN: We will see a continued emphasis on non-traditional media that targets specific audiences more directly. At ITT, we are focusing on key customer trade events rather than mass-media advertising approaches. We think it is a better use of our advertising and PR dollars to go where our key audiences are and surround them with appropriate messaging. I also see further growth in employee communications, with a recognition that employees are key to delivering customer satisfaction and driving sales growth and business results.
SAMMER: There will only be three topics in Germany in 2006 and they are: soccer, soccer, and soccer. Every communication channel tries to jump onto the soccer fever.CHUNG: In 2006, in China, the media environment will, first, become more diversified and market-oriented.
Why? The Chinese media scene is massive and in 2006 it will get even bigger and more competitive. Currently in China, there are more than 1,600 TV channels, 280 commercial radio stations, two national wires, 9,000 magazines and 2,100 newspapers. China is the world’s largest newspaper market, ahead of India and Japan. In 2005, China had more publications in the world’s top 100 dailies than any other country. More influential international media groups are now entering the market, meaning further competition alongside that being introduced by the burgeoning digital media scene.
Second, it will get more professional. A couple of years or so ago, China made major reforms to its media sector and ended almost all the financial support that the central government long had provided to media outlets. The proliferation of Web sites and wireless technology in China (700,000 Chinese Web sites, 500,000 blogs, and 300 million mobile users) means the media need to be able to respond to a new level of truth and transparency. There are more media professionals in China and they are getting closer to international standards. cont'd