Traditional Media vs. Bloggers

    June 27, 2008

OK, so the headline is admittedly a bit sensational, but it got you reading, didn’t it? I’ve been meaning to share some observations and thoughts on the changing media landscape for a while, but just haven’t gotten around to it. Until now.

Over the years, so much has been written about the rise of the blogosphere and what, if any, impact it would have on traditional media. As people in the world of communications, we’ve obviously been watching that trend quite closely. Today, at least for the organizations I work with on a regular basis, it is a given that both traditional media and certain folks in the blogosphere are each important constituencies to be engaged with on a regular basis.

What I find interesting is that many companies who haven’t yet taken the baby-step of engaging with (or in) the blogosphere seem to still be gripped with a fear that they’d be entering the wild west. Loss of control. No editorial principles. Bloggers can’t be trusted. These are things I hear all the time. Those very comments are why I’ve found a couple recent situations I’ve been involved in to be quite interesting.

In the past three months I’ve had, on two separate occasions, a client launching a major product/service/update. In each instance, the strategy was to engage both traditional media and several of the top tech blogs. In each instance there was a clear embargo put in place with everyone required to agree to it in writing (I know, embargoes suck, I agree. But sometimes we’ve just gotta do it, so save me the griping on that one). The kicker? In each instance, a traditional media outlet broke the embargo (which they had agreed to in writing) and ran the story early. Naturally, the bloggers and other outlets were not happy.

When it happened once, I thought OK, isolated instance. Not cool, but we’ll deal with it. After the second time, I can’t help but wonder if the mainstream media is really starting to feel the pressure of being scooped by some of the top blogs.

Perhaps these incidents are their way of reacting to a lessened influence? Maybe the mainstream media cannot be trusted? What do you think?