One of the effects of emerging media platforms is that every company now needs to learn new ways to tell its story. It needs to think and behave more like a media company than a nuts and bolts company.
Every company is a media company because every company publishes to its customers, its employees, its neighbors, its communities. It doesn’t matter if you make diapers or steel girders, you must now also be a media company and know how to use all the media technologies at your disposal to share your stories, share your values.
While this has always been true to some extent, it’s even more important today. Mainly because our media technologies have become so much more powerful. It’s no longer a one-way street. The ensuing conversation has become part of the story. It keeps the narrative alive in ways you can’t even imagine.
People don’t buy what you do or how you do it. They buy why you do it. They buy your story.
What you’re ultimately selling is your story embodied in this year’s product or service or experience. The products, services and experiences you’re selling now won’t exist in a few years times. They’ll be replaced by something different, something better. If not by you, then by your competitors.
Being a media company doesn’t mean you pay lip service to new platforms. It doesn’t mean you just tick the box on social media. (Well, if you’re incredibly lazy and stupid, it probably does.)
You need to know how to produce compelling content, great videos, podcasts, games, apps. You also needs to learn how to listen, how to get involved in online discussions, how to behave on Facebook and Twitter. Every company needs to master the media technologies of RSS, blogging, forums, and more.
Smart businesses like 37 Signals and Whole Foods are beginning to produce content that’s less about their product and more about topics that their customers gravitate to. 37 Signals is a software company that writes about design and usability. Whole Foods is a supermarket chain that publishes recipes and cooking videos. These companies are producing quality media, just like The New York Times or Discovery Channel.
They’re not producing boring monologues about boring products. They’re not pumping out low-quality marketing drivel. They’re not saying how great they are. (Or how they offer solutions.)
Businesses are beginning to see they have an incentive to produce quality content. Whole Foods knows if its recipes are interesting and light on promotion, people will use them and spread them. 37 Signals knows if its blog was dominated by blather about Backpack, it would lose subscribers.
Making great content is not easy. You’ll need to bring in media professionals to help you become a media company.
Media production is becoming a skill that separates mediocre businesses from great ones. Companies that have the creative skills to attract an audience with quality content are excelling. The others are failing.
By the way, this doesn’t just affect the comms department. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The bit everyone sees.
When you become a media company it changes every aspect of your organization.
It changes how you recruit staff. How you provide customer support. How you develop products and services. How you market products and services.
It changes your IT infrastructure, what type of computers and software you need. Your entire business processes and how they are executed. Your internal skills set and what types of people you needs to employ and train. Your internal team organization.
It changes management and how it runs the company. It changes how you measure progress.
It changes everything.