Media Wars 2011: Winning or Surviving


Winning in the new era is better than simply surviving….I think it’s more about a style of thinking and managing that is in sync with the great  multi front/platform media war we are immersed in. Why can’t old media do this?  Below is simply another day on the Apple site.  Granted, it’s some pretty revolutionary technology, but important to note that they’re all about NEW.  Constantly feeding the A.D.D. American public with NEW. Then you look at American “old” media and it’s an addiction to a decades old playbook with a few new trappings—usually a slogan, or in TV’s case, a slicker version of the same old or in radio’s case, a contest.  OR–of course, a new App. 

Imagine if ‘old’ media had the same forward thinking and forward vision that the tech companies have.  ALWAYS–pushing out new, smarter and better. Feeding ‘mass appeal intelligence.’ ALWAYS evolving.  The answer isn’t in new tech applications.  It’s in the content itself.  Introducing new ideas, new features, new angles to compliment the blueprint. That’s what ‘re-thinking’ is all about.  Even Beer companies and Fast Food is always evolving…always moving forward.

Watch TV News, or listen to a local radio station. Compare to 20 years ago. You will NOT hear much difference. The world has moved forward, the content has not. 

Some thoughts on inhibitors are below this Apple blast:

Apple Revolutionizes Video Editing With Final Cut Pro X

June 21, 2011
Apple today announced Final Cut Pro X, a new version of the world’s most popular pro video editing…
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Apple Introduces iCloud

June 6, 2011

Apple today introduced iCloud, a set of free new cloud services that work seamlessly with applications…

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Apple Previews iOS 5

June 6, 2011

Apple today previewed iOS 5, the latest version of the world’s most advanced mobile operating system…

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Mac OS X Lion Available in July from Mac App Store

June 6, 2011

Apple today announced that Mac OS X Lion — the eighth major release of the world’s most advanced…

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iWork Now Available For iPhone and iPod touch Users

May 31, 2011

Apple today announced that its groundbreaking iWork productivity apps —Keynote

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THE SOLUTION TO LIBERATING RE-THINKING:  It’s all about busting THESE inhibitors that infect media:
Denial. It’s all OK.  Pandora isn’t radio–after all when a Tornado hits, will you listen to Pandora type thinking.

Protection of job. Who’s kidding who? New ideas are scary to those earning a paycheck off the old ones. Financial fear.

What if it fails then what? Well what if it doesn’t?  THEN what? Economic realities are a “duh”…but usually used as an excuse more than a legitimate reason.

Lack of faith in yourself or brand. Saw it a lot in print.  “We are the greatest Newspaper in the world.”  OK–if you are SO great, why not have enough faith in the greatness to be great-ER in this century?  Products that dominate or have great histories are in positions of strength!  They need to USE that strength.  But what’s happening is that upstarts without the historical baggage are the gutsy ones–at the expense of the old guard.

Aptitude. In TV you see General Managers with great sales backgrounds in charge of content.  Huh?  That would be like a hard core Journalist pitching the Target account.  Aptitudes are completely out of whack.

Politics.  Nothing inhibits magic like infighting and political nonsense.  And it’s everywhere….and engrained in cultures.

Logistics. Committees and lack of urgency.  So many companies are crippled by a 50’s style of management.

Leaderless. Bad leaders make bad media. Great leaders make great media. There’s not that much difference between the leadership in politics as there is in media.  Look around–they’re tied at the hip.

Research.  OK to discover and learn. Not OK to create.  Somewhere along the way, research started dictating the creative process.  I say–CREATE—THEN test it to see if you are full of it or on to something.

Bad inspiration.  In video for example there’s more inspiration on YouTube than channel X on cable.  I recall a meeting where a creative director was saying “But NBC does it that what…it must be right.”  THAT is not the pace to look for inspiration.

Unbalanced cultures. Room of MBA’s will skew the direction one way just as a room of creatives will skew it the other way.  Disney seems to get it right.  I was consulting them several years ago and recall a room where one side of the table were imagineers with Mohawks…the other side was MBA’s with winged tips.  It was balanced…and it worked.

The digital excuse. Gotta bring this up again.  Digital is the future, but there is no future unless the good old raw content is magic.  Digital wont save dated content, though it WILL make amazing content soar.

Staying in your universe?  Why–In an era where NEW thinking is needed,  it’ll probably come from outside. iTunes didn’t come from a label mogul and Pandora didn’t come from a radio guy. The solution?  Address these points and AFDI. SO simple, but often made complicated.
STAYING UP ALL NIGHT: My friend John Parikhal reminisced how we used to stay up all night THINKING and creating cool radio that would be executed the next day.  No one does that anymore, though John added–Not in old media, but I’ll bet they are at Google. Nuff said…

–Lee Abrams, former Tribune Chief Innovation Officer