Saturday, February 2, 2013

Challenges of Global Media Communications

No matter which side of the information barricades you're on, the following trends are global and thus likely to affect the way you communicate. The three sides considered - ethical, technological, social – are pretty much interrelated.

First, the ethical side. According to Barbara Gibson, ABC, the 21st century model for modern businesses is to become global «within first 1-3 years». Now, unless your initial plan was to get global at such an early stage, it would be quite difficult to accommodate to such a status and suddenly start hearing from foreign clients.

For media the trend is also there. If your language is understood abroad, you're sure to get a share of a foreign audience. Website of The Moscow News, an English language newspaper with expats in mind, has 60% of visitors outside Russia. Quite naturally. At the same time,, the website of a Russian language community portal in Washington, D.C., has 20% audience outside the US. Does that surprise you?

Therefore both the business and media need to communicate their messages clearly and with the foreign reader in mind. Ann Wylie, another great IABC speaker, urges to keep such messages short and simple: 8-word sentences of 5-letter words for 100% comprehension by the Americans.

Because too much information is likely to cause noise. There are at least two ways to fight the information pollution. One is to treat is a a crime, as considered in the Future Global Ethical Issues, 2010-2025, The Millennium Project. The other, less drastic way, is to apply the big data and data journalism techniques to sort out the information and present it in the most appealing manner.

If you would like to be introduced to such techniques and study good cases of their use, please refer to the free online Data Journalism Handbook.

Second, the technological side. “The future of arts, media, and entertainment will be a global, participatory, tele-present, holographic, augmented reality conducted on future versions of mobile smart phones that engage new audiences in the ways they prefer to be reached and involved.” (Future Arts, Media, and Entertainment: Seeds for 2020).

The ubiquitous mobile gadget in the hands of the user is the reason behind media and corporate communications going cross-, trans- and multimedia. All, at your own risk and expense.

Third, the social side. Most top offline brands have found their alter egos in the online world. This, however didn't improve much their visibility. A recent study by GfK revealed that “surprisingly, significant numbers of consumers are not finding the product or brand information that they wanted, anywhere in the web”.

The reason for this could be the new intermediaries. The mostly visited and thus visible websites on the web are aggregators, search portals and social media. This is best illustrated with an infographic like this one from Nmap.

Media and corporate pressrooms are converging due to technology and relaxed ethics. On the media side this convergence results in churnalism, a kind of journalism which is heavily dependent on press releases, as described in this book by Nick Davies.

On the corporate side the convergence leads to to a misperception that a company may be considered a media publisher. Like in this case where a “content” agency of a retail giant boasts its client's magazine has more readers than any traditional media.

This leads us to the big question - what is the future of journalism and PR?

According to Paul Holmes, PR practitioners with journalistic skills should become competent in business practices in order to contribute to the C-Suite discussions. A clear road map, if you drop the discussions whether it should be PR over Marketing or the other way around.

With journalism, however, there is no such clear path. But there are tries, like this one from the European Journalism Centre 20th anniversary conference.

This blog post was based on a presentation originally prepared in Russian.

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