When the Media Changes

Last week, Susan Taylor announced she was leaving Essence. That’s a big blow to the magazine that has been so much to so many Black women, including me. Her announcement got me thinking about the changes in media, particularly in print and radio.

We’ve heard for years how things are changing for dailies. As they become a dying breed, fighting to hold on, the decisions on news content are changing. It’s particularly frustrating as a PR professional because you are constantly wondering…what will make a great story this week? These changes are going to be the focus of the new and last season of HBO’s The Wire (I am a junkie). It will be interesting to tune in to see what the Wire’s writers make of the news situation. Though I have never lived in B’more, I hear the Wire is a really true-to-life depiction of what goes down. It will be interesting to see if they can bring the same thing with the focus on the Baltimore Sun. I will be interested in hearing from you all as the season goes on … and excited to have the discussion with you all on the changes that are happening in the media and what that means for PR pros.

Radio: Wow! That is all I can say. It is definitely a different day when you get radio personalities demanding $10K for appearances. I guess that demonstrates the power of radio, especially in minority communities where radio is favored over other media vehicles. I could list the reasons, but I think we all understand. Where it used to be fairly easy to place stories on radio, they are now looking at every minute as an opportunity to make money. They are putting airtime interviews in promotional packages during the highest billing hours. From a business standpoint, I totally understand that, but what it does it makes it easy for companies with big pockets to suck all the life out of radio…takes away what was so wonderful about radio in the first place…it was real…real life…I guess we have to get that through the music…oh, but wait…they only play artists that have fat pocket labels behind them…so people like JadaKiss, who "be saying the hottest...but be selling the least;" Sunshine Anderson; Tarsha McMillan; Leela James…they just don’t get airtime. Hmmm….what does that mean for us and our clients?

The lesson. We should push our clients to go back to the basics – go back to grassroots programs. I don’t mean pushing fliers at the local 7/11. Social media gives us so much power. It gives us the power to tell our story, our way, to involve and engage, and to build a personal relationship with our audiences. And then, of course, there is face-to-face communication. You can’t reach a great mass, but if you are strategic, you can reach the right people who can reach a lot of people…and be an advocate for you in everyday, general conversation.

BTW, did I tell you I love Chrisette Michele?