Navigating a Different Kind of Media

February 5, 2009

I’ve recently been dealing more often with trade publications and have been interested to see how the editorial-business relationship differs from the traditional newspaper world I came out of.

There’s a lot more interaction between the advertising side and the editorial side. Stop the presses, I know — many Peepshow readers learned this years ago. But as NBC once said, touting reruns of its critically acclaimed but low-rated shows: It’s New To You!

I’ve discovered that a call from an ad rep can help get a meeting with an editor. I recently attended a major trade show, and learned that editors and publishers or ad reps typically make the rounds together — the editor looking for stories, the publisher looking for ad sales.

The traditional media are coming around to this model. At newspapers and magazines, the old “Chinese Wall” between editorial and advertising is breaking down. Newspaper editors are consulting with their ad departments on what kind of content they can produce that the ad people can sell against.

Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain, is launching a nationwide multimedia content initiative called ContentOne, which will distribute information across the chain. According to the Gannett Blog, which has an excellent track record on these things, ContentOne will be run not by Gannett’s news department, but by its corporate communications department. If so, I suspect that sponsored content will be prominent among ContentOne’s offerings.

I think we’ll increasingly see editorial content produced by traditional media with an eye toward overtly leveraging ad opportunities associated with it. In fact, given the ease with which online content can be produced, I see no reason why corporations and businesses won’t just begin producing their own news sites, bypassing the traditional media to get their messages out.