MEDIA WARS 2011: Winning or Surviving? (Guest Post from Lee Abrams)
guest post from American Media Mogul Lee Abrams
Below is simply another day on the Apple site. Granted, it’s some pretty revolutionary technology, but important to note that they’re all about NEW. Constantly feeding the A.D.D. American public with NEW. Then you look at American “old” media and it’s an addiction to a decades old playbook with a few new trappings—usually a slogan, or in TV’s case, a slicker version of the same old or in radio’s case, a contest. OR–of course, a new App. Imagine if ‘old’ media had the same forward thinking and forward vision that the tech companies have. ALWAYS–pushing out new, smarter and better. Feeding ‘mass appeal intelligence.’ ALWAYS evolving. The answer isn’t in new tech applications. It’s in the content itself. Introducing new ideas, new features, new angles to compliment the blueprint. That’s what ‘re-thinking’ is all about. Even Beer companies and Fast Food is always evolving…always moving forward. Watch TV News, or listen to a local radio station. Compare to 20 years ago. You will NOT hear much difference. The world has moved forward, the content has not. Some thoughts on inhibitors are below this Apple blast:
June 21, 2011
Apple today announced Final Cut Pro X, a new version of the world’s most popular pro video editing…
June 6, 2011
Apple today introduced iCloud, a set of free new cloud services that work seamlessly with applications…
June 6, 2011
Apple today previewed iOS 5, the latest version of the world’s most advanced mobile operating system…
June 6, 2011
Apple today announced that Mac OS X Lion — the eighth major release of the world’s most advanced…
May 31, 2011
Apple today announced that its groundbreaking iWork productivity apps —Keynote, …
It’s all about busting THESE inhibitors that infect media:
Denial. It’s all OK. Pandora isn’t radio–after all when a Tornado hits, will you listen to Pandora type thinking.
Protection of job. Who’s kidding who. New ideas are scary to those earning a paycheck off the old ones
Financial fear. What if it fails then what. Well what if if doesn’t? THEN what. Economic realities are a “duh”…but usually used as an excuse more than a legitimate reason.
Lack of faith in yourself or brand. Saw it a lot in print. ”We are the greatest Newspaper in the world.” OK—if you are SO great, why not have enough faith in the greatness to be great-ER in this century? Products that dominate or have great histories are in positions of strength! They need to USE that strength. But what’s happening is that upstarts without the historical baggage are the gutsy ones—at the expense of the old guard.
Aptitude. In TV you see General Managers with great sales backgrounds in charge of content. Huh? That would be like a hard core Journalist pitching the Target account. Aptitudes are completely out of whack.
Politics. Nothing inhibits magic like infighting and political nonsense. And it’s everywhere….and engrained in cultures
Logistics. Committees and lack of urgency. So many companies are crippled by a 50′s style of management.
Leaderless. Bad leaders make bad media. great leaders make great media. There’s not that much difference between the leadership in politics as there is in media. Look around–they’re tied at the hip.
Research. OK to discover and learn. Not OK to create. Somewhere along the way, research started dictating the creative process. I say–CREATE—THEN test it to see if you are full of it or on to something
Bad inspiration. In video for example there’s more inspiration on YouTube than channel X on cable. I recall a meeting where a creative director was saying “But NBC does it that what…it must be right.” THAT is not the pace to look for inspiration.
Unbalanced cultures. Room of MBA’s will skew the direction one way just as a room of creatives will skew it the other way. Disney seems to get it right. I was consulting them several years ago and recall a room where one side of the table were imagineers with Mohawks…the other side was MBA’s with winged tips. It was balanced…and it worked.
The digital excuse. Gotta bring this up again. Digital is the future, but there is no future unless the good old raw content is magic. Digital wont save dated content, though it WILL make amazing content soar.
What’s holding you back?
It is an amazing privilege to feature one of the most brilliant minds in broadcasting here on FingerCandyMedia.com. I had the honor of meeting American Media Executive Lee Abrams at the Arbiton Client Conf/Jacobs Media Summit last year. I actually opened for him, true story, or least I spoke right before him. Lee has held a number of posts for large and influential companies, and is generally credited with developing the “Album Oriented Rock” format employed by hundreds of radio stations across the country. Most recently he was the chief innovation officer for the Tribune Company but prior to that founded XM Satellite Radio and ran notable radio consulting company Burkhart/Abrams; served as an internal consultant for ABC Radio, and helped develop nationwide radio formats such as Z-Rock and Radio Disney. Additionally, he has been involved on the recording side of the music industry, producing Ah Via Musicom for guitar virtuoso Eric Johnsonand appearing on several Alan Parsons Project CDs. He has also consulted and even managed notable acts such as Yes, The Moody Blues, Steve Winwood, Iron Maiden, Bob Seger and EMI Records.