Why the Mainstream Media’s Still Important

    May 16, 2007

Google is willing to give sites like Forbes a top ranking for keywords like SEO just because they published a recent article mentioning the topic. In a world where Google is closing more holes, them opening up the organic results to news sites is a treat to public relations firms.

Digg is similar, they don’t think it is spam if it comes from ABC. But, if you have access to a media outlet, you can gather up a couple anonymous sources and publish garbage that would easily make Digg’s home page.

You can think of old media as acting like directories for new media. New media is heavily reliant on old media for understanding the structure and importance of ideas. Those who know this are willing to pay a premium for the top channels. That is why Sam Zell bought The Tribune Company, News Corp. wants to buy Dow Jones, and why Thomson is buying Reuters.

I recently spoke at a well known PR firm, and on their walls they hung dozens of newspaper articles written for their clients. It is the equivalent of how an SEO might look at the top rankings they have got for their clients and their own sites.

As time passes, marketing will get more expensive, and larger businesses will continue to be able to abuse the flow of information to knock down smaller and newer competitors and competing business models while smaller players have to tell more authentic, better researched, or more emotional stories to get the same level of exposure.

If you haven’t thought much about how PR is integrated into the news, consider reading Paul Graham’s The Submarine. It will make you realize how much every successful large scale business relies on some form of spam to build their brand, create demand, thicken their margins, and keep newer players out of their business.

I got thinking about that speech I gave at that PR firm. I have no idea if they will use my tips to push good ideas, or if they will use them to push inventions that reduce quality of life or kill people. When you get as much exposure as I have been lucky enough to get you just don’t know what will happen with what you do…you can’t see the outcome, but will probably see more of what you chose to see. I generally have a strong belief in strength of humanity, but also think capitalism is shortsighted, destructive, and sleazy. So which do I chose to see as benefiting more from my existence?

The biggest reason I do not blindly support capitalism is that I think as governments and countries age their law codes and markets get so complex that it is hard to know what is real or true, especially when people are rushed, live in debt, and the leading information agents are focused on profit, personalization, automation, promoting strong biases, and blending ads into content.

The media, like all businesses, operates with some level of collusion. If you are not in their spotlight you are at a distinct disadvantage to those who are. How do we get media coverage? Well that is another post. :)