Oct 01 2013

I say disrupt more….

As a dinosaur of the news business I have seen more change than is imaginable to my poor industry. In 20 or so years it’s gone from an upstanding part of democracy to a barely recognisable heap of unprofitable chaos. Sad as this could be, it’s not the point.

News in all forms is information exchange and is key to the general well-being of all people. The disruption brought by the information superhighway on the traditional news business has shaken the fabric of society and pushed many out of jobs. There are lots of examples of new models, many trying to make a square pin fit  through a round hole. But I don’t see any of this as the answer.

I say disrupt more. In our product led world a brand needs consumers to keep buying. So companies spend much money on advertising, PR and hope their social media strategy will be good enough.

To my mind this is a risky, but for lack of a better alternative, it is currently accepted as best practice.

But how about and listen up brands; you have to disrupt the advertising and PR businesses that have you by the short and curlies.

Increasingly people don’t watch ads and neatly crafted press releases are less likely to hit home. This is thanks to social media and the trend will not change, so loose that dream, it’s all change. Of course people in advertising and PR will tell you that’s not the case, as the news industry did in the late 90’s, but history shows how wrong they were.

The vogue in news and many other things is for eyeballs, the more audience the better, but ask anybody who owns a shop and they will say, they need conversion, not browsing, they need people who buy.

Therefore, as rule of thumb, I would say it’s the quality, rather than quantity of eyeballs that’s important.

Look at Twitter for example, desperately scrabbling around for an obvious model to make money out of all it’s users. That said, I see the platform is one of the most exciting developments for news in the last 20 years, for sales and not only a breaking news alert service.

So let me throw an idea out there.

Is there a brand in the world that is comfortable enough in it’s skin to fund and take criticism of it’s own product?

Could a brand be frank and factual, honest and all encompassing like a news publisher should?

For example, is Apple, the world’s most valuable brand, mature enough to say, ‘hey, this product isn’t so good and here’s why’. Rather than just quietly brushing it under the carpet and trying to forget about it? Or would they fund a real comparison, no holes barred, regardless of the outcome, of other products in the market?

I’m arguing they should because going forward that will be the strongest marketing, PR or advertising money can buy. This is how they can further cement their relationship with the buying public. If consumers feel the brand is honest and not just trying to get into their wallets, they be more loyal. I think this will replace classic PR and advertising and is a great opportunity for real practitioners of the ancient trade of storytelling….sometimes known as journalism.

What I’m talking about is throwing it all up in the air and catching it in a more logical order for our new reality of constant information.

So brands, be frank and factual, tell your story, warts and all, and the consumer will be loyal.

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