On the verge of extinction we change. We may finally open up to what’s new and different, we raise our hands in the air in front of the enemy, we take a U-turn, we cheat, we do whatever it takes to have another go. It’s in our DNA to want to survive.
Why is it then that the average traditional media publisher seems to, even with such obvious threats as the ones faced today, march straight into the grave rather than change direction?
On June 7th GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram wrote the piece “Don’t just liquidate your newspapers – reinvent them” saying that unless traditional publishers are reinvesting, they are liquidating. Whether the owners want to admit it or not. The text is on the brink of being comically cynical but the underlying thesis stands: traditional publishers have repeatedly proved to be unable to provide adequate support, a strategic mindset and courage. They have repeatedly proved to rather let portfolio brands (with existing and constantly declining business models) proceed with whatever they’re doing – and eventually kill them – rather than encourage and demand real change in time. It’s remarkable but not hard to understand.
Goodwill makes up about 80% of a printed magazine’s overall value. Goodwill is the value that allows them to attract orders of magnitude more advertising than would normally be the case given the size of the audience, the amount of time that consumers spend reading them and its overall inability to deliver facts about an ad’s deliverance.
In a digital scope, goodwill is not maintained by a website redesign, daily updates or links to social networks. Goodwill is a much harder thing to maintain online and comes from an organisation’s heart rather than its skin. From individuals, not charts. A media company that doesn’t invest in retaining this goodwill and building upon it will become just another voice in the crowd on the web, possibly not a very important one.
I don’t think a very large percentage of the media executives out there are believing that they’re liquidating by not choosing to invest. Despite appearances (website redesigns, new executive positions and strategy Powerpoint presentations) they aren’t taking the situation seriously. It’s not until we realise that we’re on the verge of extinction that we change; and an entire organisation must actually want to change before it can.