Saturday, April 20, 2013

State of the Media

A Rainy miserable day in April didn’t keep the 100 or so guests for flocking to the following event this week:

April 18, 2013 – Pew State of the Media Moderator Rachel Lippman with Amy Mitchell (PEW Research acting director in from Washington DC) and panelists (Jim Steward, DICOM; Denise Bentele, Common Ground; Jill Gainer, Hughes Leahy Karlovic). The venue, UMSL at Grand Center St. Louis Public Radio facility, on Olive next to channel 9 and around the corner from the Fabulous Fox Theater. Afternoon function was scheduled from 4:30-6:30 p.m. as a special joint presentation of the St. Louis Chapters of the American Marketing Association (AMA) and Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

The program was kicked off with announcements from the chapter presidents of the AMA and PRSA respectively and handed over to the moderator who introduced Amy Mitchell from PEW Research Project for Excellence in Journalism. Newspapers are more focused on content delivered in digital form. News departments continue to struggle with smaller staffs. Cable content is moving to interview and other less expensive formats. Ironically, longer format pieces are growing in popularity. “Declines in television news viewership among younger demographics is noticeable again - Especially surprising in an election year,” says Amy Mitchell.

Jim Steward of DICOM still enjoys reading (every word) of the daily newspaper in the morning. He often reminds clients that they should not project their own media habits onto strategic plans, but this is sometimes unavoidable. “I might have to include CNN just to shut a guy up who always wants to see CNN somewhere in the schedule.” Jim’s company offers at least one national client a platform that monitors negative stories. Jim was well prepared, having appeared earlier in the day on St. Louis Public Radio along with Amy Mitchell.

Denise Bentele added that the smaller staffs in newsrooms have changed the way her public relations firm will coach clients and position stories. She added that clients need to understand that the challenge is still to package stories that will be of interest to viewers/readers/listeners.

Jill Gainer offered a particularly poignant example for St. Louisans of how news is delivered with the proliferation of social media. “I recall hearing of the death of Stan Musial on twitter first, and from a friend even before any news media reported it. Of course, I still sought out media for additional content.”

Rachel Lippman skillfully involved each of the panelists, but as expected the time vanished quickly. The meeting adjourned as the crowd dispersed, some quickly as if to rush to another meeting while a portion of the audience remained to network, mingle and share thoughts on the impact of these trends in news media impact their respective roles in pubic relations and marketing.

The partnership of AMA and PRSA appeared to be a success. Planning and execution of the program was very much a team effort that included coordinated, if a bit fragmented at times, efforts of chapter leaders in programming both professional associations.         

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