Thursday, January 15, 2004

Follow the Leader - Part Two of the 2004 Predictions ...

As noted earlier, POP! Public Relations had been interviewed for its views on 2004 predictions for agencies, and for the media.

The first part of the interview was about freelancers. Whilst in my Kodak days, and then my Ofoto days, the reviewers tended to be freelancers. And, I keep in contact with many of them - particularly one that I speak to on a monthly basis. He gives me good industry information, I give him magazine launch information and contact numbers, and we talk about people we know, and what they are up to.

One of the things he brought up was that while all these magazines seem to be launching, they don't actually seem to be hiring. It might be a different scenario in other media cities - he's in the Bay Area, which still hasn't fully recovered - but he pontificated that he and his media friends have not heard of job openings, but a lot more freelancing opportunities.

While this may bode well for work, it is the media companies way to take the cheap route - with freelancers, there's no benefits to worry about, so the companies save money.

Tom over at PR Opinions also discussed the freelancing phenomenon in his 2004 predictions.

And, this loops back into the other discussion of small versus large agencies - it's all about the Rolodexes. When I was at Ofoto, I was at the advantage against my competitors. I knew the freelancers, the pundits, the evangelists because I had their contact information. These are people that tend NOT to be in Bacon's or MediaMap (one and the same now, huh?) but are found through years of contacts and work. Small agencies have those years under their belts, while the turnover at large agencies have those media lists and Rolodexes disappear, along with the built-up knowledge in the executives' heads.

The other media that I spoke about was ... blogging. While I blog, I blog for a small audience - at least, I think it's a small audience. But, blogging has become way too self-congratulatory. The best example I can think of comes from a reporter (yes, he blogs) that bloggers can pat themselves on the back all they want for breaking news stories, but until the New York Times, Wall Street Journal or Washington Post pick up the story, its just blogging on the Web. Yes, Matt Drudge (who is, in essence, another blogger) did break stories on Clinton, but if his news wasn’t picked up by the mainstream press, it would have stayed on his Website.

The best example of the blogging versus print is Trent Lott. While bloggers like to point out that they brought him down, nothing happened during the months of blogging about his comments at Strom Thurmond's birthday party ... until the mainstream print press picked up the story. Did the bloggers help bring it to the attention of the mainstream press? Indubitably. But, it was still the power of the printed newspaper that led to Lott's downfall.

Plus, what is the audience of the blog? Is it mainstream consumers - the people that public relations professionals want to reach with their products and services - or other bloggers? A recent post from Elizabeth Spiers, puts it perfectly with 7 people all posting the same thing about Outkast. It's the same circle of blogging that the Washington Post wrote about, as noted in Spiers piece.

I did compare blogs to influencers / evangelists, though, for public relations. These include Gizmodo, Digital Photography Review, plus other sites. With Digital Photography Review, you know you are hitting the digital camera enthusiasts, and Phil's site is often referred to in mainstream press as a great resource for all things digicams.

I thought a good tongue-in-cheek title would be Eric B and Rakim's Follow the Leader.
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