I recently did a guest lecture in the school of communications at Carleton University for an advertising class about the change in the mediascape and its impact on advertising. Thing is, across all of the eras of advertising, media, tactics and tone never go away – they’re just replaced as the front runner.
This morning, a former colleague of mine (and the professor of that class) forwarded me an article from Advertising Age that said that young people aged 12 – 24 will never open a print newspaper, own a landline and think email is for their parents. There’s nothing here that hasn’t been said before, and yet the message really goes against the grain.
We’re married to our media of choice. Just as advertisers are married to the 30-second spot, PR people are married to the press release and journalists are married to the printed page, we as consumers are loathe to give up our media of choice, even for a better alternative.
I have a cell phone, and no landline, and so do most of my friends. My parents each have cell phones, a land line and a fax line, and I don’t see them going completely mobile anytime soon.
I’ve seen a number of magazines “transition to online-only formats” in the past six months. Some of them major, some of them fly-by-night. I have yet to see a newspaper make that transition, even though the Web surpasses print for news in every place that print used to rule. Speed of breaking news, depth of coverage, breadth of coverage and portability are all rendered null by online media that has no limit to column depth, no limit to pages, no limit to circulation and for anyone with a web-enabled cell phone, can be accessed anywhere, anytime. Yet, every journalist I know personally has a romantic notion of the printed page. I probably do too.
The first local newpaper to make that transition will cause a major stir.
I think the reason that we are so hesitant to accept a change in the media is that we are comfortable with what we have, even if it’s inferior. It’s the reason RSS adoption is low, it’s the reason that I still have colleagues who refer to blogs as “just another website,” and it’s the reason that many agencies still only think in terms of the 30-second spot.
As professionals, we can’t just jump on the bandwagon of every media trend that comes along, but it’s important to remember that those who accept change have the biggest successes and the biggest failures. Mediocrity is rarely rewarded either way.