Digital pebbles

Clarke Mulder Purdie on PR, media and other random topics

Get distributed, or get out

Posted by Graham Hayday on January 18, 2008

An old colleague of mine once spoke to an IT vendor who had this recipe for business success: ‘Get big, get niche or get out.’

It is of course a massive cliché, and one we repeated ad infinitum in the office for some reason. But it still rings true in IT, and also in media.

Or at least it used to. These days, you perhaps need to add another ‘get’ to the equation – ‘get distributed’.

Jeff Jarvis (et al) has been going on about this for the internet equivalent of donkeys’ years. Using Google’s business model for inspiration, he insists that media organisations today have to enable their content to be distributed around the web, just as Google-driven ads appear all over the place. Google doesn’t care if you never visit the homepage; it can still make money.

How many media organisations can say the same of their websites? More and more are moving in this direction, and rightly so. A survey flagged up today by Roy Greenslade on his Media Guardian blog shows why. It reveals some interesting trends about American teenagers’ media consumption.

One of the study’s authors is quoted by Roy as saying:

“We found teens are unlikely to follow serious news online, but that they will click on news stories that appeal to them when they find them on other sites… Teen after teen told researchers that they’ll view news stories ‘if something catches my eye.'”

They may well take that approach into adulthood, so it’s crucial even for B2B sites to optimise their content for a web 2.0 world. I noticed today that the CNET-owned now has a branded Facebook page. It may only have two ‘fans’ right now (both CNET employees…) but it is another example of a media brand distributing itself online. (They should have news headlines appearing there perhaps – or at the very least a link to the site! – but I’m sure that sort of thing will come. The Facebook presence of the consumer-focused site is much busier).

The report also found that teens are “drawn to news stories if they are presented with stimulating video or pictures, or if the topic is humorous or bizarre”. Maybe we need to add another ‘get’ to the equation then – ‘get multimedia’.

So… ‘Get big, get niche, get distributed, get multimedia or get out’. It’s not quite as catchy as the original, but it works for me.


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