Friday, June 2, 2006

Content is King (and Queen and Jack and Duke and…)

Recently, I was conducting a media training session for a local CEO. As I was preparing for the training, I was going over notes from past session and reflecting on one change that has occurred in the curriculum since I started teaching people how to handle media interviews.

In sessions from years ago, I spend a significant amount of time coaching trainees on the differences between the different kinds of media: broadcast and print. The reason for spending time on that material was the fairly common belief that different mediums needed to be approached in different ways.

In the recent session, the amount of time spent on this topic was reduced to a handout containing tips for how to dress for a television interview. The reason for this is an observation that the digitization of content has blurred the differences between the different types of media.

Let me give you a couple of recent examples. Our local newspaper, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, has started posting video interviews alongside their print stories that are reproduced online. Years ago, the newspaper was solely a print medium, but today their stories are posted online along with additional background, relevant links, additional photos and broadcast elements like audio and video interviews…even podcasts and RSS feeds.

In a similar fashion, television news is no longer just a broadcast medium. For years, TV news crews have been posting print versions of their stories on the web. Our local CBS affiliate, KELO, refers to their web site as their seventh broadcast of the day. Although their web sites typically aren’t as robust as TV, almost all radio stations have some kind of news presence on their web site.

In addition to the seismic shifts in mainstream media outlets, new media bring a number of other new considerations to your interview. A DVR can be used to capture your TV interview and post it online for everyone to see. Blogs can interact with the online version of your print interview and provide additional commentary that you hadn’t considered. And, of course, search engines create a permanent record of everything you’ve ever said that can and will be checked to see if it contradicts with your current comments.

Instead of focusing on the blurring distinctions between different types of media, I impress upon my trainees the importance of their content. Because you don’t know exactly how or where your comments are going to appear, focus almost exclusively on the content of your message. If your content is good, the context will matter less, whether that be a newspaper, TV news, a podcast or an online message board.

This coincides with the latest reading I’ve discussed in a recent post. In the third to last paragraph of “Life After the 30 Second Spot,” Joseph Jaffe writes: “Above all, content will remain king—now more than ever.” I couldn’t agree more.

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