No one would ever confuse journalism with marketing. After all, journalism’s goal is to find the truth and report it objectively, while the purpose of marketing is to control perception and sway opinions. But despite these differences, online and economic forces are reshaping both professions in dramatic ways.
The news industry has been in turmoil for some time now, thanks in no small part to advances in technology — including cable and most recently, the web. There are now so many more sources for news, and it can be delivered and updated almost instantly. This has not only made it difficult for print publications to stay relevant, but for the consumer of news, it’s hard to know which sources are presenting accurate information, opinion, or worse —propaganda.
The slumping economy and sites such as Craig’s List have dried up major sources of revenue for news organizations, reducing their ability to investigate and gather news, as well as forcing many to cut corners. Some have even taken to reporting materials supplied to them by PR firms as news. The problem is, when it becomes difficult to distinguish objective news from propaganda, all news loses credibility.
The economic downturn, coupled with merging online capabilities, has also brought about a rethinking of marketing strategies and tactics. The use of advertising (both print and online), direct mail, and participation in trade shows has declined. On the other hand, email marketing has increased. The use of social media has also seen a surge since it is close to free (or so we think). Companies have begun to use it more to help build awareness, even though by doing so, they run the risk of giving up what is most important in marketing—control of what is being said and by whom.
For marketing departments, economic pressures have caused companies to misuse or discard certain mediums in favor of others. Too often, they want everything to singlehandedly create leads and show a verifiable ROI. But in reality, some mediums are more suitable for building awareness or demonstrating expertise than they are at generating leads or providing a direct ROI. But this doesn’t make them less effective or important. Their power likes in their ability to make inroads into a prospect’s awareness and understanding of a company’s product or service, making it easier for lead generation tools to do their job. Successful marketing usually requires using more than one tool in the tool belt, and using it with the right set of expectations.