Moray Macdonald: Media must adapt or risk being ignored

According to Pew Research, the top 25 news organisations saw a 17 per cent increase in annual site traffic in 2012. Picture: Getty

According to Pew Research, the top 25 news organisations saw a 17 per cent increase in annual site traffic in 2012. Picture: Getty

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THE accelerating makeover of society’s use of digital technology and processes has created an amazing shift in the publishing and news business, creating unlimited opportunities to communicate in new ways.

It is equally disorienting, personally and professionally, given that the lack of limits and recognised standards adds layers of complexity to the way those in the business comfortably operate.

The business of news distribution has always been at the forefront of societal and technical innovation. But the players involved today are of a different size and shape than in the past and this is blurring the rules many of us are accustomed to working by.

According to Pew Research, the top 25 news organisations saw a 17 per cent increase in annual site traffic in 2012 as more eyeballs scoured more digital. Follow the money, and a different picture comes into focus. A Paid Content report listed the 50 most successful digital media companies based on revenue from digital products. Only three incumbent media companies made the top ten (Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters, Reed Elsevier) and only two news publishers made the top 50 (Gannett and DMGT). The rest? A wide array of technology companies, and other organisations that don’t fit established categories.

Any reinvention of the media has a knock-on effect for those who purport to serve it. PR and marketing teams need an immediate understanding of what the changes are and how they impact their organisation’s ability to engage with key stakeholders in a relevant and effective way. The significance of engagement cannot be over-emphasised. As technology has shifted the very notion of media beyond established boundaries, so the media’s form and function must evolve with it. Reporting has morphed to become commenting, writing has fused with producing – the story lifecycle has become ever-more drawn-out and complex. Failure to adapt could result in your organisation being ignored.

• Moray Macdonald is managing director of Weber Shandwick, Scotland, sponsor of The Scotsman Conferences’ event The Future of the Media in Scotland to be held on 9 April.

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