The Medium is Dead, Long Live the Medium
Editorialists and prognosticators of all kinds relish in predicting the demise of one medium or another—the latest I’m hearing on CNBC and other “news” outlets is that “newspaper is dead.”
The channel predictors have been around from the dawn of time: “Speeches are dead, print is dead, radio is dead, retail is dead, broadcast TV is dead, advertising is dead,” and one I just couldn’t believe that I heard recently, “Twitter is dead.”
Yikes, even social outlets are collapsing under the weight of the new, new. It must be because it is easier to understand clear winners and losers rather than explore the gray area. The fact of the matter is that few things are totally replaced by another new idea. There are examples of technological changes eliminating another technology, but in the case of channels, the death sentence is usually premature. Things change, metamorphosis occurs, but “channels” are rarely eliminated or “killed” by another channel. Did newspaper kill speeches, did radio kill newspapers, did broadcast TV kill radio, did cable kill broadcast TV, did satellite kill cable, did live streaming kill satellite? Has text killed email? (Not likely if my inbox is any indication.) Is Instagram or Snapchat killing Facebook? Amazon has not killed retail—ask Apple why it opened more than 500 stores and is opening more in emerging markets. Will ad blockers kill advertising? If you hear yourself say, “I can’t tell if this is an ad or not,” know the ad blockers are not killing anything.
Are newspapers changing? Absolutely, but the newspaper of today looks a lot different from newspapers in the 1900s. The key is to embrace and absorb the change to better your brand and your organization. New technology needs to change your thinking–helping you find innovation and efficiencies not possible in the past.
Your fundamental message should not change, but your messaging should become more integrated and experiential. People will pick their medium of choice and it may be different for different locations, time of day and mood. You need to be there and ready engage.
One of my favorite examples is from a conference I attended. I don’t remember the speaker, but I’ll never forget the story. Did the automobile “kill” horse travel? Let’s see, there are a lot of vehicles out there, but horse travel did not disappear, it transformed:
- There are nearly 7 million horses in the US (about the same amount as in the 1800s)
- 4.6 million people are involved in the industry as horse owners, service providers or employees
- Total taxes paid is nearly $2 billion
- The industry has $112 billion in economic impact
Not bad for a “dead” mode of transportation. (Source: The Equestrian Channel)
A search for record players and turntables yielded 25 million results. Now if I can just find a market for my 8-tracks. Change is constant; look for the ways to embrace the new and transform the old.