Is every company now a media company?

Oxfam recently announced that when it comes to fundraising, face-to-face strategies are increasingly being replaced by digital content and social networking strategies.

Taking that idea further is Scott Wallace, vice-president, new media and strategic partnerships at Billabong who recently announced that:

“we’re turning into a media company as well as a clothing company.”

Both organisations clearly see content at the heart of the way they engage audiences. Both are, whether implicitly or explicitly, turning into media companies.

And that’s a pretty radical shift, one that reflects the general shift in power and emphasis as new media moves into the mainstream, as consumers and buyers now become producers as well.

Wallace’s observation reminds me of Adam Smith, who in the Wealth of Nations suggested that in the new age of divided labour, capital and corporation it would be most profitable for every man to conduct himself as if he were a business. Applying a similar principle it seems to me that in the new media age, everyone, including companies, non-profits and individuals should conduct themselves as media companies.

This report from Kingfisher Media takes the argument one step further by suggesting that the significant drop in advertising spend in the first quarter of 2009 is a direct result of brands reallocating budget to create original content.

Now, you may choose to take this assertion at face value, however, it’s worth noting that Kingfisher create branded content, it’s unclear who the respondents to the survey were and that it was conducted online using Surveymonkey. It also seems possible to me, despite my own vested interest in pushing the case for content, that the decrease in budgets over the last year may have something to do with the near collapse of the global financial system and the resultant credit crunch, etc., but then I’m no economist, so I may very well be wrong.

However, despite my reservations about both their methodology and conclusions, like Kingfisher, I am convinced that more and more brands, companies and organisations are realising that content is a much more effective than advertising at engaging audiences, and that to quote the report:

“Although the US economy is poised for a recovery, it is doubtful that advertising expenditures will return to pre-recession levels for print and most broadcast media. Structural and cultural changes are leading companies and brands increasingly toward original content in the form of their own media channels and in custom media and social media networks.”

In other words, it’s probably time to ask yourself if your company is now a media company, too.

(Thanks to Justin for the Billabong link.)

Leave your comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *