Flipping The News And Advertising Relationship

January 7, 2013

Let’s boil this down.

Why do media companies produce news?  To induce readers to look at advertising.

Why do businesses advertise? To building new relationships with paying consumers.

So, news is produced in order to increase advertising and thus increase sales.

Advertising, or any kind of marketing, is essentially leveraging an existing relationship (a trusted news brand) to help a second brand increase its value.

Looked at it this way, news is a step away from the real problem: How does one build relationships with people who want to buy stuff?

This is an old question for media companies. They know that their traditional business, selling eyeballs, has been eroded in favor of dozens of different approaches. And as a sales person for my little group of hyperlocals I hear it every day through sales objections: “I only use PR to promote events in my shop.” “We’ve had a lot of success with daily deals.” “We market ourselves through our email list and events.” “Our sales have been boosted by teaming up with local charities.” “We use Google Ads and search.”

Events, daily deals, personal connections, co-op marketing and Google. With the exception of the last, each marketing approach pares two levels away from the old-fashion news approach.

Large media companies see the change and have been adding services to respond. In 2010 Tribune launched 435 Digital,  a “Digital Marketing Services Group” that could build websites, manage social media campaigns and improve SEO.

But what if media companies were skipped altogether? What if brands build connections with consumers directly? That has been the promise of SEO and social media. But SEO comes into play when consumers are already approaching the point of purchase. Social media is much more hit or miss, and requires a loyal consumer base to promote your brand adequately. News is supposed to reach out to those people in between casually interested and ready to buy.

So what if brands ran their own niche news organizations?