Here’s the question, who is the mainstream media? Is there even such a thing any more?
I was speaking on a panel at the Sports-Events-Marketing-Experience Conference (SEME) held annually in Washington DC by my friend Matt Winkler. It exposes students from across the eastern seaboard to the careers in sports ranging from public relations, to team held positions and of course media. As we sat there and discussed the alternating landscape of the media, it became even more apparent that media in this day and age can no longer be defined.
On this panel was Pat Wixted from the brand marketing firm Ketchum, a powerhouse in the field of matching brands with athletes.. Tony Wyllie, a lifetime pro as a public relations official and spokesmen for NFL franchises, currently the Washington Redskins. Katie Tang from Octagon, a smart milenial who is helping lead that agencies charge into the social media universe. And Brian Straus who is a tremendous soccer writer for Sports Illustrated.
I’ll focus in on Pat and Tony because they represent how much has changed in my personal landscape in ten years. When I was first covering the Washington Redskins some 16 years ago, Pat Wixted held Tony Wyllie’s position with the Redskins, as the chief head of public and media relations. Every morning, the Redskins, and all the other teams for that matter offer a daily printout of articles written about them. It would include the local major newspapers, any national publication like ESPN.com, SI, etc. If the team was preparing for a playoff game, the packet would be thick, but on a typical regular season Wednesday, the packet would include pieces from the regulars: The Washington Post, the Washington Times, a couple of smaller local publications and maybe a piece that ran in a regional outlet like Richmond or southern Pennsylvania who have Redskins fan base roots. If I were covering the team now, I doubt the packet would look anything like it did then.
At the SEME conference, Pat Wixted was discussing how his athletes are able to brand themselves now by leveraging social media sites like Instrgram and Twitter to their advantage. Why use traditional media to tell their story when the value is keeping it to themselves, and tailoring it to fit the narrative they want? Make it brand friendly, and it has added value. Brian Straus and I were lamenting the changing landscape where major outlets like ESPN and SI, who pay rights fees to leagues for not only footage but essentially access have to fight to maintain the ability to get to those stories first. As for that packet, considering the proliferation of team blogs that in some cases have massive followings, the explosion of blog collector sites like SB Nation and Bleacher Report (not meant to be disparaging at all, just used that language to describe what these sites do.) the mainstream media seemingly can no longer be defined.
TMZ and Deadspin are as likely to break a major story involving the team we cover as the traditional news outlets. And the journalistic standard for vetting stories isn’t not as high. They set their standards and as long as they remain on the right side of the media and libel laws, they are eager to print quicker then the slow moving monoliths who believes in triple checking sources (Again, no disrespect meant. I appreciate and respect the way they produce their content). So what does that daily newspacket look like now? Or for that matter, what does the list for credentialed media for games look like? That is probably changing by the week which made me look at Pat and Tony and wonder how much different the job has been in such a short period of time.
This is not to suggest traditional media are being edged out of the marketplace but the cord cutting, online reading, podcast choosing, mobile consuming world went zero to sixty before the big media monsters realized what happened. And while I assume the ESPN’s of the world are going to catch up because this is what they do, the fact that any start up was able to chew away at their consumer base is extraordinary.
Since my departure from ESPN, I have been crafting my own media destiny. The world is open to broadcasters becoming artists again, to make what you want and build a platform to share it. To then ask your friends, and colleagues and mentors and the universe for that matter to let the world see it and respond to it. What has happened is an amazing breakthrough if only I, or all those I advise about the media world could see it. You Can Do Whatever You Want.
Reel Media Group is committed to guiding our community toward this goal, making yourself flexible, utilizing the resources of our community base to help propel each other. In general, to get the requisite experience and use that to take your career where you want it to go rather then follow the traditional paths.
I want to hear what you’d do if you could create your own media destiny. Write me, I’ll tell you what I’m building and you can share with me what your goals are. Bram@reelmediagroup.tv
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