December 29, 2009
Consultants Can't Be Media Influencers Can They?
If you generate high quality content or a substantial amount of it, but consult, then you're clearly not a media influencer. If you have an audience and a voice that people listen to, but consult, then you're clearly not a media influencer.
That's how some view the world. After re-reading David Spark's recent post about an incident that prohibits him from generating content, I thought about how many times this has been an issue over the past several years -- for me and for others who wear both hats.
This isn't just about this one CES event; it's about old and new editorial voices and more importantly, it's about how to deal with influencers and manage content creators in a converging world. The landscape has changed so much that conference and event organizers need to throw a policy, any policy that has a black and white rulebook about whether you're an influencer who matters or not, out the window.
He was apparently sent an 11 year old 'rule book.' Rule books are designed for followers and structured entities, not visionaries. Egads, even if it's an 11 month old policy, it likely needs re-visiting. If anyone hasn't noticed, things have changed DRAMATICALLY in 11 years AND in 11 months.
11 years ago, media influencers included smaller vertical market niche publications that had a readership a quarter the size of my blog but oh yeah, I'm a consultant.
11 months ago, the third wave of full time journalists were laid off, more newspapers closed their doors and glossy magazines with once large entertainment budgets and hefty publisher salaries no longer have revenue or a brand. Crikey, Steve Wildstrom was even let go - and it's not because he isn't an amazing writer or thought leader. Know how many other award-winning editorial superstars are out of work?
Of the laundry list of do's and don'ts, I particularly resonated with this one: "don’t negate journalists that wear other hats - your sponsors are looking for quality people that represent media outlets they want to appear in. That should be your deciding factor. Not whether that person makes all their money from journalism and nothing else."
I'd extend this statement even further. Isn't it more interesting if journalists and bloggers ARE doing something else? It means they have another platform in which to tell a story. Who knows, maybe within those walls, a new deal may happen? A new voice unveiled?
Industry analysts have always been 'treated' as press in the context of which he writes, some of which were NOT part of a renown brand that wore Gartner Group or IDC on its door. They consult. They have clients and want to recruit new ones. And, while we're at it, don't publishers and editor-in-chiefs who attend a media event also want to nurture existing advertisers and recruit new ones? I would if I were in their shoes.
A separate agenda? Sure. I hope so - visionaries and leaders -- editorial or advisor, often have multiple agendas. They're thinking about and working on a number of different issues, topics and gigs. If you're a specific beat reporter with a list of who and what you can cover or not, your range is a lot more limited than an independent, freelancer, blogger or columnist who can write whatever they want, whenever they want.
And, a few more things from a consultant who generates a helluva lot of content... I have sometimes spent 90% of my time reporting and covering an event I've attended and paid for and told by some that it was the more interesting content they read of the event. Some of the traditional full time journalists at the same event didn't write a thing.
I'm not suggesting they should or are required to write. My point is that there are lots of important voices out there who are not full time journalists with traditional credentials. Whether they consult or not is irrelevant as long as there's full disclosure.
I've seen hybrid folks on media lists and not others. Who decides who is 'worthy' and has a more valuable audience than another?
Isn't it time we looked at the consultant/content creator/journalist relationship in a different way?
Isn't it time we rewrote the rules?
And she said....."understanding is a two-way street." --Eleanor Roosevelt
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You just continued the story that was on my mind. I was focusing initially on the immediate "How rude" situation of inviting someone to an event and then uninviting them.
But the fact that they don't want to invite hybrid journalists (not full-time journalists) it comes off as elitist and not someone I ever want to do business with. Seriously, how many full-time bloggers are out there? It simply can't be done.
What they've done now is created a brand that I want to tell everyone to stay away from. This decision will cost them a lot of money because there are more people like me that will go out of their way to tell others to stay away from them. As I mentioned to you earlier, I'm just waiting until the list of sponsors comes out and I'm going to send that article and the other two I found out.
The situation drove me to write the article. My post drove you to write your article. Had they just done nothing, they wouldn't have had a problem to deal with. But now they do.
Heck, type "Pepcom" into Google and my blog post is the fourth result.
Your points are right on the money, but my feeling is they're so far from realizing what you point out which is the landscape is changing. Especially from 11 years ago. They need to get over their basic rudeness. Also, if they had a clue they would have responded to my direct emails about my post, but they didn't.
Posted by: David Spark | Dec 29, 2009 8:00:20 PM
Time waits for no one; the rules will be rewritten without "them".
Posted by: Mark Evans | Dec 29, 2009 11:10:42 PM
Interesting post. I'm trying to work my way through exactly that thicket as I figure out my next act. It seems the hybrid model is almost a necessity because it's becoming impossible to make a living any other way. It's certainly different, but increasingly it seems that only journalism professors and a privileged few (among whom, until very recently, I counted myself) can afford the old rules.
Posted by: steve wildstrom | Dec 30, 2009 5:35:24 AM
Well said Steve. To David's point, how many full time bloggers are there? And, how many full time journalists can continue writing without having another source of income, whether that be from consulting, teaching or god forbid, taking on a marketing gig.
The combination approach will be the only way moving forward -- and with it comes a more diverse, rich breed of media influencer......one with their paws in hundreds of buckets, not just one.
Posted by: Renee Blodgett | Dec 31, 2009 11:56:50 AM