As I write this, the Chicago Sun-Times has just declared bankruptcy. So now, in one of the world's great newspaper cities and the US third largest market, both dailies are in Chapter 11 and could possibly face extinction.
This is another piece of bad news in a tough year for mainstream media (MSM) when such major outlets as The Rocky Mountain News, Seattle Post Intelligencer, Christian Science Monitor and US News & World Report have either ceased operations, moved to the Web exclusively or reduced publication frequency.
In golf, we experienced losses as Golf For Women and Travel & Leisure Golf suspended publication after some positive years of reporting in great niches. Could they be the first of many?
In fact, these cases are the tip of the iceberg in what is becoming an increasingly bleak time for MSM.
In addition to print, local and network television audiences are shrinking. The real concern are the rapidly eroding local TV news staffs, already too small to cover their communities, and being cut even more at unprecedented rates.
Looking for more insight and validation for this disturbing trend?
Read the recently released Pew Report on the State of the News Media. It portrays a very negative outlook for MSM, reporting that most of its audiences shrunk in 2008. Only two platforms clearly grew: the Web and cable, which was more event specific (e.g. Presidential election).
The data also suggest a clear trend in the changing nature of how Americans learn about the world around them. They rely more heavily on platforms that can deliver news when audiences want it rather than at appointed times or publication dates. This is a sign of a growing "on demand" news culture.
The Report's "bleakest" news came in the American weekly news magazine. According to a survey, less than 25% of American adults said they read a magazine of some kind the day before, down from 33% in 1994. Ugh, no wonder Golf For Women and Travel & Leisure closed.
Ok, you get it, what can you do?
1. You need to proactively reevaluate your media, marketing and PR strategy.
2. If you're an equipment company or golf travel destination, you must recognize that mainstream media audiences are shrinking (and maybe disappearing) and that some of your key media partners might be gone sooner rather than later.
3. Now more than ever, you need to avoid redundancy in reach, and focus on mainstream and online media that can efficiently and exclusively reach prime customers and possibly next generation customers.
4. If you're a golf course operator, you need to be understand that your main advertising options, local newspapers and TV (for paid or free media exposure), are not only reaching fewer customers, but have less and less time and space for your ads much less publicity.
5. You need to seriously evaluate and upgrade, increase and enhance your online marketing and PR strategy and presence. This means not only in Internet advertising, but in creating and activating your own online media, including brand blogs, social networks, forums, online PR, etc.
6. You and your sales efforts can't wait afford to wait for for untimely, probably filtered or poorly placed news or ads about your product, service or facility in media that's eroding and disappearing. With an integrated online and MSM marketing and PR strategy, you can create, manage and control your news content and distribution on a timely, urgent and relevant basis.
Hey, I am sad to see this disintegration of mainstream media. I was a print journalism major and have worked in marketing and PR with MSM for 30 years.
But, I am encouraged to know and have experienced proven online marketing and PR options, many of which golf marketers can develop and deploy to their advantage affordably and powerfully with high ROI, the essential strategy in this recession.
So, this decline in MSM and rise in online media might be one of those generational shifts that appears bleak but can be beneficial for marketers and customers.
Kind of like perimeter weighted irons and oversized drivers?
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