Faceoff: Blogs v. Trade Press

In a list of 10 attributes, the trade press is stronger than blogs on most fronts. Yet blogs still have the knock-out punch.  It’s called Relevancy.

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“Blogs are the new trade press,” claims Greg Jarboe in the comments section of his own post  “Caution: Social Media May Be Closer Than They Appear.” He is largely addressing a PR audience coming off the PRSA national conference in San Diego in early November.

Given the audience — the Public Relations Society of America – his analogy is worthwhile if, for nothing else, than to shake public relations people out of their traditional media stupor. No group has been more blindsided by social media than pr pros, who made their living by pitching stories, ideas and profiles to the traditional media, including the trade press.  As media has declined, pr people are faced with the conundrum of how to get their client’s stories out to the world-at-large.

However, after digesting the sound byte, I  don’t think blogs are anything like the trade press. True, they are replacing media as a means for reaching target audiences, but other than that, they are a wholly new medium.  Here are 10 reasons why:

Attribute Blogs Trade Press
1. Topic analysis Cursory In-depth
2. Advertising None or unrelated Google Ads Industry advertising driven
3. Expertise Unknown and established by the author’s own “About me” if revealed at all Writers chosen by editors based on their industry knowledge or expertise
4. Industry trend analysis Tend to report on opinions and ideas based on today. Can be largely reactionary. Reporting on today, but also looking to keep industry abreast of changes. Reactionary but also mandated to be proactive
5. Readership Unknown Audited, or membership or subscription based
6. Focus Can be very narrow, i.e. just one segment or discipline within an industry Niched to an industry, but generally broad within that industry
7.  Writers’ raison d’étres Personal passion Paid position
8.  Format Short paragraphs – abridged reading. Employs multimedia. Magazine or newspaper style. Largely tied to print medium.
9. Online presence Born and bred in the digital environment Still developing and held back by traditional print ideals
10. Relevancy Increasing Decreasing

Blogs, to me, are more like mini-broadcast programs on advocacy TV and radio stations. They have opinions, loyal followings of like-minded individuals, and thrive on information bits rather than deep analysis of a topic.  Believe me, I love blogs, but I’m also a child of the mainstream and trade press, and when I blog, it’s a very different type of writing and reporting than when I write for the trades.  For one small thing – I have to attribute my facts in footnotes in the trades. In other words, I have to prove some credibility to what I’m stating as factual.

All that said, the story is in item number 10 – relevancy.  A dinosaur is still a dinosaur, and will not walk the earth for long unless he or she learns to be more nimble and quick.  Recently, I was at the Newseum in Washington DC. Perhaps it was like seeing the dinosaurs in the Museum of Natural History.  I hope not.  I hope in the future, we’ll have more than dried bones of newspapers and trades to view and consider when discussing topics of the day or industry trends.

Most trades have transitioned to online in some form — sadly, not soon enough or deep enough, with commitment. Most are still withholding information in hopes of drawing the reader to paid content or membership in the traditional trade realm.  Even Humpty Dumpty knows that kingdom is cracked.

Rhona Bronson

Rhona Bronson started down the social media path in 2006 with her blog www.TheParentRap.net and there’s been no turning back. “It opens you up to the world of possibilities,” she notes. She has helped dozens of executives enter into the social media world as part of their marketing growth plans. Her background spans both the B:B and B:C world with experience in publishing, printing, consulting, association, small business and corporate marketing and communications. She came to marketing from the communications side, starting with training in journalism from Syracuse University. With experience in all marketing genres — from Twitter to Transit Advertising — she brings a broad toolkit of skills to any marketing project. Her ability to integrate clear writing with creativity has made her a sought-after expert in developing results-oriented marketing programs for today’s challenging times. Today, she leads the Plaza Consulting Group as its Marketing Strategist specializing in integrating social media into business marketing plans. 

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