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Every Company is a Media Company: April 2010 Archives

April 6, 2010

New Site: Every Company Is A Media Company...

[Introducing a new web site: Every Company Is A Media Company - EC=MC - the transformative equation for business.]

Five years ago, when I first began writing and talking about this idea, that every company is a media company, few people understood what this was about. Today, it's a message that is better understood -- but only among a few leading practioners in media, communications, and marketing -- it still far from being understood by the mainstream.

Yet today, it's a very important concept because the evolution of media, and the powerful media technologies of the Internet, has transformed the entire media industry and is now transforming nearly every business.

Every company is a media company because every company publishes to its customers, its staff, its neighbors, its communities.

It doesn't matter if a company makes diapers or steel girders, it must also be a media company and know how to use all the media technologies at its disposal.

While this has always been true to some extent, it is even more important today, because our media technologies have become so much more powerful.

Our media technologies have become two-way.

In addition to the traditional means of publishing, such as white papers, news releases, etc, companies must now also master the 'social media' technologies that allow anyone, their customers, their competitors, to publish also.

It is no longer a one-way broadcast medium, everyone now has access to an online printing press that can potentially reach tens of millions of people.

The first phase of the Internet made it easy to publish a page of content to any computer screen -- desktop or mainframe.

Now, any computer screen, laptop or pocket, can publish back -- we've wired up the other end of the Internet! It is now a two way medium.

If you thought that Internet 1.0 was amazing -- this next phase will be extraordinary.

In the same way that companies had to change to adjust to doing business online, now they need to adjust to a whole new reality -- how to be noticed in an increasingly noisy world, one that requires new rules of engagement.

Companies must learn how to publish, listen, and converse in a very fragmented media world. There are different rules for participation and behavior, such as in the very different communities of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

The world has suddenly become very complicated.

Our media has also become much more complicated -- more fragmented. We used to have "mass media" where a small set of media companies and channels, in TV, radio, newspapers, trade press -- hosted much of our media communications.

Those days are gone. The reality is we now live in a multi-platform, multi-channel, micro- media world, and the trend is moving towards ever greater media fragmentation -- vidcasts, podcasts, blogs, micro-blogging, Twitter, etc.

It is no longer possible to operate a business the old way -- such as sending out a news release on Businesswire and briefing a handful of journalists, and sitting back.

Today you need to do that ... and more, much more. Every company needs to master these media technologies, and the best media practices, of a rapidly fragmenting media world.

The companies that successfully manage this task will be far ahead of those that sit back and wait.

In media, if you achieve a pole position, it is very difficult to dislodge you. We see this effect all the time. Look at the Drudge Report - it is far from being a slick news site with great reporting, yet it has huge influence.

Sitting back is not an option. If your competitor captures that media pole position of thought leadership in your market, you are in trouble.

Just the tip of a very large iceberg...

When every company is a media company this changes more than just a company's PR/communications department -- it changes nearly every aspect of an organization.

- It changes how you recruit staff, using your own social networks.

- It changes how you provide customer support.

- It changes how you market/advertise your products and services.

- It changes how you develop products and services.

- It changes your IT infrastructure, what type of computers and software you need.

- It changes entire business processes and how they are executed.

- It changes a company's internal skills set and what types of people it needs to employ or train.

- It changes how you measure progress.

- It changes management and how it runs the company.

- It changes internal team organization.

- It unlocks a massive amount of internal and external resources.


Every company is affected...

Every Company is a Media Company (EC=MC) is the most important business transformation of our times because every company is affected.

It is also a massive business opportunity for so many businesses.

Every company is a media company becomes the point of the spear for new business for many companies across many sectors.

- Companies need help in mastering the best practices of being a media company.

- Management needs help in implementing the new business processes and in measuring progress.

- Companies will need new IT equipment, new software, new types of services, and more...

There will be opportunities for vendors of all types, armies of consultants, experts of all stripes, media professionals, teachers, authors...

Everyone is part of this transformation...

Everyone is a potential evangelist for this groundbreaking transformation. Whether as a company insider trying to push through essential changes; or a vendor of products and services; a public relation company working with clients; or management consultants helping companies reorganize specific aspects of their operations...

The job is a huge one and it's going to involve many people.

It will lead to tremendous disruption...

Not every company is going to make it. We are dealing with disruptive technologies...and they key thing about disruptive technologies is that they disrupt.

Even if a company sees the trends, sees the disruption ahead -- there is no guarantee it can avoid the train wreck.

Look at the tremendous amount of disruption that the personal computer created. It was dismissed as a toy yet hundreds of computer companies went out of business. IBM barely survived -- it had to remake itself into a computer services company.

The same will happen to many companies -- they won't be able to change, or adapt in time.

Beyond social media...

Every company is a media company moves beyond the current focus on social media. Social media is just one aspect of a company's media strategy.

Social media is not enough, companies have to focus on their entire media strategy, it becomes integral to their core business strategy.

Leadership is vital...

But to achieve a successful business transformation, this has to be a message that is understood at the very top of a company's leadership. And then it has to be understood by the rank and file.

That's what this web site will attempt to do -- to give the senior leadership, and the rank-and-file of an organization, the tools and the understanding about what's going on -- and the roadmaps for achieving transformation and success.

You have to be involved...

The challenge for a company's leadership is that many of these media trends cannot be fully understood unless you are immersed within them.

You can't 'get it' unless you are in it.

Clearly, that's difficult because senior executives have so many duties, they have to achieve an understanding of EC=MC and have the right staff to help in the transformation.

A key objective of this site will be to convince senior executives that there really is a major business transformation taking place, through examples and other information.

The second objective is to:

- Provide roadmaps and checklists so that senior management know what needs to be done.

- What types of people/skills are needed in-house.

- What can be contracted out.

- What to look for, the metrics that track progress, and what success looks like.

Every company is a media company ... but every company is in a different industry sector, different geography, a different culture.

There are some aspects of this transformation that apply to all but there is so much more that is very specific.

This site will try to collect those things that are held common, and also ones that are specific to an industry, a sector, a geography.

This site will also pull together a directory of resources, of services, and consultants/experts in their fields.

Importantly...

EC=MC has to be a collaboration on a huge scale. It is beyond 'social media.'

This site will seek to publish articles by many authors, seeking to explain what "Every company is a media company" means to them, to their area of expertise, in their sector/industry, and culture. Please send guest posts to [email protected]

I look forward to hearing from you.

- - -

This site's founding authors are:

- Tom Foremski, a former reporter with the Financial Times and publisher of Silicon Valley Watcher. Tom has tracked the changing landscape of the media world and how it impacts companies for more than 25 years. Twitter: TomForemski.

- Don Bulmer, a senior communications executive at SAP, the world's largest business software company. Don brings a deep understanding of how to navigate the internal barriers within large organizations and enable transformation. Twitter: DBulmer.

- Vanessa DiMauro, CEO of Leader Networks, works with enterprise to create business strategy for B2B online communities and social media programs. Considered a pioneer in online community building, she brings a depth of best practice from the many communities she has created. Twitter: VDiMauro.

You can follow this site on Twitter: ECisMC


April 7, 2010

Meeting Cisco's M&A Chief And Realizing Every Company Is A Media Company

After I left the Financial Times in mid-2004 to begin publishing Silicon Valley Watcher, I was worried that I wouldn't have the same access to top executives as I enjoyed at the FT.

I needn't have worried and soon found that I had the same, or even better access, because now I had built some notoriety by becoming the first journalist to leave a major newspaper to become a professional "blogger."

Intel held an emergency meeting by its corporate communications staff based on my leaving the FT, to discuss how they must now have a strategy of working with "bloggers."

I still thought of myself as a journalist, since as far as I was concerned, I was still writing the same type of stories I was writing at the FT. Just because I was using a blogging software platform, Movable Type to publish my stories, didn't make me a "blogger." But "blogger" was a scary word in those days as companies struggled to understand what this meant.

Interestingly, Intel held an emergency meeting when CNet's News.com was launched in the mid 1990s. The corporate communications team wondered if online news reporters should be treated the same as print reporters.

But it wasn't just Intel that struggled with such definitions, of who is or who isn't a journalist, all companies have, and many still do. Intel made the transition very quickly.

One of my first top interviews on Silicon Valley Watcher was visiting Cisco and meeting with Dan Scheinman, who was at the time, head of mergers and acquisitions at Cisco. This was one of the most powerful jobs in Silicon Valley because of the tremendous number of acquisitions Cisco was making -- and continues to make. (Here's the list.)

What was extra interesting about Mr Scheinman was that he was Director of Corporate Communications and head of acquisitions, spending billions of dollars a year.

I found this combination of two very important jobs fascinating. He could use the considerable publishing might of the Cisco corporate communications machine to make sure that startups were working on developing technologies that Cisco needed to fuel its tremendous growth.

(IBM does something similar - its VC group led by Drew Clark let's entrepreneurs know what technologies it needs. It's a VC group that makes no capital investments.)

I had no idea that our meeting would reveal some fascinating insights into the nature of media and the new challenges that companies now had to meet.

[email protected]

Mr Scheinman was particularly proud of the [email protected] team. This is a large editorial team staffed by former journalists and top editors at newspapers and magazines. It produces articles focused on Cisco and its customers.

This is a team that produces high quality media in a variety of formats that meets the highest journalistic standards. It's not a typical corporate comms department pumping out press releases and white papers.

Also, Cisco was already using media technologies such as RSS to syndicate its content. Five years ago it already had more than 200 RSS feeds!

And when Mr Scheinman shared with me the online traffic figures, I was shocked: Cisco was getting more traffic to [email protected] than any of the top IT publications, such as ComputerWorld, InfoWorld, and many other huge computer trade publications! I was amazed.

Cisco is a large media company...

I realized that something truly phenomenal was happening here. Here was an example of a corporation as publisher and publication. Cisco makes network gear but it is also a media company -- one of the largest in the world.

I quickly realized that this was a peek into what was happening now -- not in the future. Every company is now a media company. It doesn't matter if it makes network gear or diapers, every company needs to publish to its various communities, its customers, its staff, it's neighbors.

Every company needs to know how to produce compelling content, great video, podcasts, etc.

And now with this emerging two-way Internet, of which 'social media' is its most visible component, every company also needs to learn how to listen, how to respond in online discussions, how to behave on Facebook and Twitter.

Every company needs to master the media technologies of RSS, blogging, and more.

Cisco was doing it by employing professional journalists, it was acquiring those skills in-house.

But how does a company become a media company?

Companies know how to do what they do, to make diapers, steel girders, provide healthcare. They are experts at doing what they do. But how does a company know what it takes to be a media company? It's not easy being a media company.

Companies need to do what Cisco does. Companies need to bring in media professionals to help them become media companies.

And this is something that I'm expanding as part of my work, advising companies how to be media companies, how to master the many media technologies that are available, help companies develop media/business strategies, and much more.

I'm a member of the Intel Insiders, a small group of online media professionals advising Intel. I am also a founding fellow of the Society of New Communications Research, a Palo Alto based think-tank, which performs research in this important field.

Mr Scheinman is now head of Cisco's Media Solutions Group. He is also helping companies become media companies, by making sure they have the hardware and software they need for this role.

The fact that every company is a media company is extremely important because this is what will drive tremendous amounts of sales of hardware, software, and services of all kinds. This will increasingly become the point of the spear in terms of driving new business for Cisco, IBM, HP, Intel and a host of other tech companies. And it goes beyond tech...

There are many services that companies will need, consultants, experts, etc. This changes how companies recruit, how they develop products, how they offer customer service. It's beyond corporate communications, it goes beyond "social media."

Every Company is a Media Company, or EC=MC - becomes the transformative equation for business in our times.

It will require many people and I have set up a web site with colleagues to publish articles on this topic and we are looking for contributors. You can contact me at [email protected]


April 12, 2010

Some Notes On Why Every Company Needs To Become A Media Company...

With the demise of "mass media" the old rules of having a media presence have changed. Here are some notes on why companies need to develop some of the same skills that media companies have, in generating great media.

- Large companies have had an advantage in hogging the media limelight because of their large teams of corporate comms people and use of large PR agencies. They worked with a relatively small number of journalists in print, TV, and radio.

Over time those journalists were educated on the company/clients and it was possible to establish a large media presence across different platforms and channels.

- This traditional approach is fairly expensive and it takes many well paid professionals to create and maintain media relations. It's not something that was available to smaller companies.

- This traditional approach ensured a high quality media product such as an article in BusinessWeek, or a segment on a national news TV program, because the media was produced by large teams of media professionals.

- With the shrinkage in traditional media and it's ongoing challenges, this approach to building a media presence is much more difficult today. There are fewer media professionals to work with, and the ones that remain are overworked and have to do more with less.

That's why companies need to be able to produce professional looking videos, podcasts, and other media content because the traditional media is shrinking -- it can't do that job for them.

- There is now also a large media channel defined as "social media" which is very fragmented and that cannot easily be reached through traditional media relations. Companies have to do this themselves.

- Smaller companies/competitors now have the ability to gain a large media presence for much less money by producing videos, podcasts, by blogging, by being active in social networks. This also means that those activities can earn notice from traditional media.

- Thus, smaller companies/competitors can quickly build a decent sized media presence for little capital costs. Yes, there are labor costs but there is an opportunity to quickly build a media presence. Large companies aren't agile, they take a long time to make any decision, they don't have the skills inhouse to create media in the appropriate style.

It is similar to the situation faced by large traditional media organizations -- competition from small, agile media companies.

- Every company must become a media company so that it can claim the high ground in its space. Because if it loses that position to a competitor, it is very difficult to dislodge them. Once a company establishes its media leadership in a particular space it has won an important battle.

Look at how Zappos seemed to come from nowhere and become the top site for online shoe purchasing.

- We are facing an onslaught of media. A media tsunami is heading our way. Staying above that onslaught is incredibly important otherwise a company will disappear under all that media noise.

By using the best practices of a media company, it is possible to stay above the noise level and continue to be seen by customers and prospective customers. If you aren't visible you don't exist. Every company, every individual active online, must step up their game to stay visible, to stay relevant.

Please see:

Every Company Is A Media Company

Meeting Cisco's Head Of M&A And Realizing Every Company Is A Media Company

- - -

[Every company is a media company (EC=MC) is one of the most important concepts to understand. It truly is a transformative concept for businesses. That's why I've set up a separate web site with colleagues. It will take the work of many people to help companies become media companies. If you have related posts you'd like to contribute on this topic, please let me know at [email protected] Also, I'm now offering some consulting services around this concept to help support my work here on SVW. You can call me 415 336 7547 to discuss.]


April 15, 2010

The Media Is Dying, Long Live The Media - The Media Tsunami Is Coming....

Did you know that the first printed books in England would leave a blank rectangle at the beginning of a chapter so that an illuminated capital letter could be written in?

It's a great example of a hybrid publishing system, and we can see the same, although in different forms, as publishers transition to an online model.

This example, and other aspects of publishing's evolution over millennia, can be found in an excellent article based on a presentation by Guardian.co.uk Information Architect Martin Beam:

Journalism in the digital age: trends, tools and technologies.

But really it has been the development of the World Wide Web over the last 15 years or so which has utterly transformed the publishing landscape in our era. For mainstream journalism this has meant vastly increased distribution. The UK's major newspapers now have audited global monthly audience figures measured in the tens of millions, at a time when printed circulation continues a long-term decline.

Yes, but there's the rub: readership going through the roof but revenues falling. Usually, when readership rises, so do newspaper revenues, but this is not the case now. Wisely, Mr Beam doesn't tackle the thorny issue, or as I prefer to call it, the Gordian knot of the new media business model.

Mr Beam sticks to describing the wonders of the modern age:

It used to be the case that if I wanted to read the Belfast Telegraph, I pretty much had to be in Belfast, and hand over some cash to the newspaper sellers and newsagents around the city. Now, of course, I can read the website for free from the comfort of my own home, whether that is in London, New York or New Delhi.

This also means that every newspaper, in some ways is in competition with every other newspaper. If I'm a columnist at the Belfast Telegraph, I now have to possibly worry about a possibly better columnist at New Delhi's The Times of India. The world has shrunk faster than a cashmere sweater on the hot wash cycle.

The rest of Mr Beam's excellent article looks at the shrinking news cycle and the demands on news reporting teams.

In years gone by, news of suicide bombers underground in the Russian capital would have meant producing a graphic for the following day's paper — a lead time of several hours. Nowadays, Paddy Allen has to get an interactive map of the bombing locations finished, accurate, and published on the website as quickly as possible.

Interestingly, in his article, Mr Beam says very little about the other side of the media publishing coin: media produced by people who aren't media professionals. That side of the business is growing by leaps and bounds while the professional side is shrinking.

You and I now have a digital printing press in our pockets, capable of reaching potentially tens of millions of people at anytime, through our smartphones. Every screen, desktop or mobile is a potential printing press, you can use it to publish. This is huge. You used to have to be a multi-millionaire to afford a newspaper printing press. It's no wonder Rupert Murdoch is pissed off.

Yes, the media is dying, but long live the media, we now have more media in more forms than at anytime in our history. The Gutenberg press reshaped societies, redrew countries, destroyed old orders. What will this digital press do to us?

We will have even more media being produced... The media tsunami is coming and you will have to sink or swim. Sink in the information overload, swim in the detritus of crap content. That's one scenario. Or you could sink into some amazing content, swim, or rather surf on top of the tsunami, enjoying an elevated view of the world.

There's a media tsunami coming and that also means everyone needs to step up their game. As a media consumer you need to get smarter, you need to know how to use the filters, how to use your network, your friends, to find the great content.

And as a publisher, and we all are publishers in one way or another, how do you get the attention of people, your colleagues, anybody? You need to get better at what you do, what you publish, and how you do it.

If you are a company how will you survive the media tsunami? If you aren't visible you might as well not exist. And as we saw from the 2004 Indian ocean tsunami, it comes in waves, each wave builds up a relentless rush of water, filled with debris. How do you stay visible?

You have to become a media company, you have to acquire the skills of a media company. Every company is a Media Company, EC=MC - the transformative equation for business.


April 30, 2010

Every Company Is A Media Company Podcast

I recently spoke with Bob Walsh from 47 Hats, and Patrick Foley from Microsoft, about Silicon Valley Watcher and Every Company is a Media Company - EC=MC - the transformative equation for business. It is part of the Startup Success Podcast series.

Bob and Pat interview Tom Foremski, one of the foremost journalists covering Silicon Valley, the world of startups and the shifting sands under the feet of traditional media. Tom was one of the first top rank journalists to go solo and leave the sinking mainstream media ship. You’ll find his analysis of the coming media tsunami and why every company – including your startup – is now a media company nourishing food for thought.

Download Show #66 here: Show #66 Or if you prefer, Subscribe to the podcast in Apple iTunes.


About April 2010

This page contains all entries posted to Silicon Valley Watcher - at the intersection of technology and media in April 2010. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Every Company is a Media Company: May 2010 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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