I read an article in Fast Company today where the topic was whether or not Brand Storytelling will replace the news. A provocative piece that stemmed from a story written by a former USA Today journalist who left the media to move into a content marketing role. A defection that is becoming all too regular an occurrence as traditional media struggles and content marketing takes precedence in marketing departments everywhere.
The article jumped out at me as someone who works everyday with brands who are doing just that; using content to tell their story in a way that brings them closer to their clients and prospects. However, I hadn’t really thought of the bigger implications on media. At least not as much as I should have.
Yes, media is changing, a lot. In fact, I rarely if ever go to traditional media to consume the news anymore. Deep down I had already written off the channel years ago as I already saw through the almost universal bias of every media source.
Why wouldn’t media be biased? I mean they are funded by corporate advertisers who have become their entire means of existence. As businesses you can’t blame the media companies for operating this way, but as consumers you also can’t really trust them because you know who butters their bread, and sadly that butter spreads smoothly throughout an organization that is supposedly bringing you the news.
Brands Are Figuring Out How To Connect As Media Outlets
The rapid emergence of digital marketing and social media has already allowed brands to more aggressively connect directly to its consumers with less requirement for media involvement.
I recently shared how companies like Red Bull and American Express have built sustainable brand media vehicles that rival some of the worlds best traditional media outlets.
The rationale for the brands is why would they continue to pour dollars into declining media outlets when they can shift viewership by building valuable media outlets on the internet.
A great example I came across recently was CMO.com, a property where I visit to read and learn about marketing thought leadership. At first you would think CMO.com would be a media outlet with a niche focus on marketing executives. It is, kind of, if you consider Adobe a media company? As a company that sells technology solutions for marketers the play by Adobe is brilliant.
This is just one way a brand can connect to its ideal consumer without touching traditional media outlets.
Why There May Be More Journalistic Integrity In Certain Other Countries
At the risk of coming off as a proponent for Government run business, there are parts of the world where the news is has been less convoluted by brand initiatives.
In many Western European countries the news stations are run by the state and therefore the stories tend to have less influence by advertisers. Of course this could lead to a certain reversal in reporting where the news goes from highly brand agenda centric to more of a national centric view.
In those Western European nations journalists can still make a strong living because they are still doing the heavy lifting of identifying stories, researching, interviewing and writing. Something that has been diminishing here in the U.S. and has been visible through the rapid decline of opportunities for journalists within traditional media companies.
On the other hand, there are still tremendous opportunities for reporting and the dissemination of information in the U.S which is positive. Sources like social media have opened the flood gates for citizen journalists to divulge their own version of the news along with their personal bias. Nonetheless, making it hard for any story to go completely unreported. In some countries the media is almost entirely censored and the state 100% controls all information channels. Can you imagine that?
Bottom Line: Traditional Media In America Has Long Been Dead
Yes, newspapers are still delivered in the morning and the 10 o’clock news most certainly comes on every night at ten, but don’t for a moment confuse those events with the idea that traditional media is still alive and ticking.
The shift to digital media as the main consumption model exponentially shortened the life of mainstream media, but what actually killed it was the moment that traditional media buddied up with the brands that funded its existence.
In the future the shift from traditional news to brand focused content will not only continue to change the media landscape, but it will redefine it.