Should Business Produce Its Own Media?

February 10, 2009

This is John Reinan’s weekly marketing column for MinnPost.com. To see the original, go to http://tinyurl.com/ctxzvq.

You’re a large corporation. Your local newspaper, business publication and TV stations are hemorrhaging revenue. They’ve made multiple staff cuts; they don’t devote the same amount of newshole or air time to covering your business or your market as they did a few years ago.

The reporter who used to cover your company now is picking up the work that used to be done by three people. She has no time to talk, no time to pay attention to your company unless there’s huge news– and even then, probably only if it’s bad news.

The blogosphere has exploded, but there may not be an influential blogger who writes about your business or market sector. You can– and should– reach out to bloggers, but the return on effort may not always be as big as you hope.

You need to find a new way to communicate news and information about your company and its products, along with market trends and consumer tips, to customers and potential customers.

Why not do it yourself?

The time is ripe for businesses to get into Web publishing. Not just a static Web site with bare-bones product information and news releases, but a rich, engaging source of useful content– a place people will want to visit even if they don’t use your products.

You don’t need to wait for a magazine or a newspaper to do a story on your company– you can do it. For the cost of a few glossy magazine ads, your business can operate a full-time, regularly updated Web site that will capture eyeballs and loyalty– while allowing you to control the presentation of your products and services.

There are thousands of talented ex-journalists who are dying for free-lance assignments. Sign up a few of them to provide regular content. Engage credible third-party experts to offer tips and trends. Design and edit the site with an agency or in-house. Become the go-to source for information on your market segment.

Make it exciting, not dry. Have a point of view. Offer video, podcasts, quizzes and calculators. Fill it with beautiful photos and sharp writing. Make it fun and smart, rich and engaging.

The old media model is dying. The new model is being born. The media corporations that have provided our news and information for the last 50 years are out of ideas. Why rely on them to tell people about the business you know better than anyone else?

The opening is there. Charge through it.