October 25, 2014


Old media is not dead – yet

John Klein

John Klein

We have almost daily exposure to news about the changing media landscape.

While local newspapers are closing and magazine readership is decreasing, consumers are increasingly embracing digital technology to get news, communicate and build communities.

This is a social and industry trend worthy of note, and critics of traditional media have been making this case for ten years or more. 

But before you prepare to read old media's obituary, there is another reality - the staying power of traditional media, how marketers (both for-profit and nonprofit) are using them effectively, and the value of mixing traditional and digital media in communication plans.

Some facts

In AC Nielsen's recent Three Screen Report, the average American watches 153 hours of television a month, a figure that has been increasing steadily over the past two years. 

In addition, Microsoft is launching Bing, a search engine that will compete with Google. The launch is backed by a $100 million advertising campaign, a significant part of which is dedicated to television advertising. 

Further, in a recent Scarborough Research report, three quarters of Americans use their local newspaper's content, either printed or online, on a daily basis.

I recognize this sounds like a longing for the return of the Gilded Age.

But in truth, a focused application of traditional media can support your digital efforts by building overall awareness of your mission, effectively attracting consumers to your website and online community efforts, and differentiating your organization from the competition. 

This is important to arts organizations in particular, who often have a direct-to-consumer appeal. 

The key is focus, or targeting: knowing who your prospects are, recognizing their mix of offline and online media use and connecting with them at the right time with the right message.

Some tips

  • Good ads count. Well crafted creative work - solid copy that informs and entertains, clear linkages to your digital assets, combined with an attractive and uncluttered layout - appeals to consumers. For those who don't have a relationship with an ad agency, there are plenty of talented free-lance art directors and copywriters in the area who can help develop good ads.  


  • Advertising rates are negotiable. Even the venerable local newspaper - the most inflexible of all traditional media from an advertising standpoint - is open to discussions about rates in the current economy. Like any business negotiation, there is a suggested rate of advertising, and where you end up. Find someone with a media-buying background in your network to give you pointers on how to get more value for your investment.

Plan your target's media flow. Think about how one consumes media during the course of a day, moving between digital and traditional, how much attention is being paid and one's state of mind when consuming content and advertising.

Inserting a targeted traditional ad in the mix at the right time and place could motivate your prospect to view your site or look for you on Facebook - building your community and bringing them closer to your mission.

John Klein is president of Trilithon Partners, a marketing consulting agency based in Cary, N.C.


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