It’s simple: media are the means by which your message is transmitted. Nothing more, nothing less. Using all available media in an integrated communications strategy is quite simply your best bet.
Nevertheless, new media most often transform life. In Western culture, it’s plain Gutenberg’s development of the printing press (1440) provided the critical mass necessary for the Reformation. It also allowed for the creation of regularized “national” languages.
Luther’s Bible was a hit because he traveled provinces of Saxony to translate his Bible (from Greek texts rather than the Latin Vulgate) into a language that most German speakers would understand. In the forty years after his 1534 Old and New Testaments’ first publication, over 100,000 copies were published, and they were read by an estimated one million people.*
Fast-forward (a media term) to the Internet, which in June 2012 recorded an estimated 2.4 billion users worldwide, more than one-third of the world’s total population. Words, images, videos, podcasts, shares, tweets are used in various combinations to communicate. Anybody with a communicating “device” can say anything anywhere anyhow. Nevertheless, our huge networked world is more a small town than a big city. Word-of-mouth still sells best. And as in any small town, people talk.
In terms of business and, specifically, marketing communications, we are still in the gold rush years of this revolution. Companies are staking claims, but …. Dot Coms burst in 2000-2001. I personally was gratified to see Yahoo! squander about $9.5 billion buying up soon to be bankrupt GeoCities.com and Broadcast.com. But that didn’t stop Microsoft — seeing gold in them there banner ads — from paying $6.3 billion in cash to buy aQuantive in 2007. In June 2012 Microsoft wrote down $6.2 billion of the purchase.
Social media is already old news. The latest gold field is “content marketing,” which, as the Times Stuart Elloitt rightly notes, “follows the venerable ‘brought to you by’ model of consumer engagement, popularized in the 1930s through 1950s by radio and television.”
The story remains the same: No matter what flavor of media you choose, the fundamentals of good marketing communications will make or break you.
*The Bible is undoubtably the best-selling book of all time, with estimates ranging between five and six billion copies sold/distributed.