When I entered the Faculty of Journalism at the University of Bucharest in June 2000, a whole world was just about to begin. The promise of free journalism in a country that was still licking its wounds 10 years after the fall of communism sounded like heavenly music to my teenage ears. Our professors, some of whom were working in the media, took the time to teach us both the craft and the theoretical background of media’s social impact. Little did I realize that I was among the last generations to enjoy such a luxury – learning the craft of making real news from those experienced in the battlefield, for whom nothing was too hard to get in their quest for a solid, truthful and balanced story.
Fast forward to today. The challenges the media world has been facing under the impact of new technologies – the Internet, search engines, web and blog management, mobile and tablet technology – are enormous. In order to adapt, too many media outlets put resources into new distribution channels and forgot about content that is essential to feed these extra channels. With sinking advertising revenues, the money that goes into new platform building is taken from somewhere else, such as payrolls for senior reporters and staff training. Who can afford the luxury of spending a few days – not months, like in the good old times – but a few days on a real investigation? Who can afford to address a busy senior reporter and ask for advice without risking a coffee mug landing on your head? The days when media were a tough school of life are over; the only learning now is how to do more with less, speed up, drink more coffee, and forgive yourself for being superficial here and there, like in checking some names and facts. What is the impact of this state-of-art of the media world on us? Let’s take a look at a few trends that leaders who aim to make their voice heard should pay attention to.
1. Sinking quality of the media content. With advertising revenues drying up and more technologies to integrate in a desperate attempt to adapt and survive, media content’s quality will continue to decrease. As little money is put into market surveys, the connection between reporters and readers will grow even weaker, despite the possibility for the public to comment on articles and blog posts. In short, reporters will continue writing about what they think is relevant and who isn’t happy with the story can swear freely at the end of the story.
2. Advertising pressure. “If you’re willing to put no money into advertising, how do you expect us to go on and be on the market to publish your crap?” Under the pressure of economic uncertainties this question will be more and more heard by PR people and corporate communication advisers. We can expect that content publication will get tied even closer to thoroughly negotiated advertising contracts.
3. Brand Journalism. With no training budgets and no real career growth perspectives, more and more talented journalists will flee the media world. Their talent will find shelter in PR agencies or in internal corporate communications departments. More companies will review the impact of the Brand Journalism strategy as an authentic way of making news and gain engagement in a digital world.
4. Improved websites. With media relations becoming more and more challenging, companies will turn their attention back on themselves to do more with less. Among the biggest missed opportunities on the Czech market are quality websites. A good web should function as an adviser and guide to take the visitor to do the actions you need him to do (read, send inquiries or buy). As Czech companies learn to sell more with clever strategies, we can expect website design, search engine optimization (SEO) and digital communication management to gain in importance.
5. Inspiring blogs. Hand in hand with quality websites come inspiring blogs. More and more leaders will learn the power of the written word on their digital reputation. Writing skills and human storytelling will also become a part of the toolbox of inspiring leaders.
6. Clever apps. Companies can be expected to discover the charm of getting into the pocket of their consumer thanks to smart mobile phone applications. The room for creative solutions is unlimited; it’s only a matter of budget and political will to influence the extent to which Czech companies will add more smart apps into their communication portfolio.
7. Personalized newsletters and customer care.
Genuine customer care is still a large gray area on the Czech market. In an attempt to create unity, consistency and powerful messages we can expect more attention to be paid to integrating marketing, PR, social media and customer care departments into one unit, and more budget to be placed into these people’s training.
On top of these issues, we can also expect more leaders to open up and admit they don’t know. As uncertainty is the only certitude ahead of us, more and more top decision-makers will be open to admit that Excel charts don’t work in business planning anymore, and it is needed to listen more to gut feelings and follow instincts in order to navigate a world few understand. As further changes lie ahead for us, one thing is certain: Our world as we know it is gone, we can only barely see the shape of the world ahead of us, and it’s only into our hands to create both the content and layout of this new world for each of us.
By Cristina Muntean
About the Author (Author Profile)Cristina Muntean is a journalist and media adviser with more than 12 years’ experience in the Czech, Romanian and international media. Between 2005–10 Cristina worked for the English-language economic magazine Czech Business Weekly (CBW) in Prague. During this time she wrote more than 3,000 news articles, features and interviews. Cristina graduated in journalism from the University of Bucharest, Romania. She also holds a master’s degree in project management. Currently, Cristina provides media training, coaching and advisory to managers, communication specialists and public officials across Central and Eastern Europe. Cristina speaks Romanian, French, English and Czech and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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