Media and Marketing in a Tragedy

A few observations about the events this week at Virginia Tech…

Change of the Guard
Where did all these kids immediately turn to for information? They didn’t huddle around a radio. They didn’t gather around a TV. They didn’t even pick up a phone. It was all internet and Facebook. What medium are you using to reach a 22 year old?

Content not Production Value
Some in the media have looked unfavorably at the cell phone footage of the shots being used on the air. But it has become CNN’s most viewed and downloaded clip of all time.
The truth is that it no longer matters what it looks like. It matters what the content is. Look at most of the stuff on YouTube. If it looks like it was “produced”, it’s not as well viewed while the amateur looking stuff is gangbusters. It’s going to take a major realignment of the thinking of media and marketers (including me) to get to the point that polished delivery is not always what the public wants to consume.

Branding
Why did he send the package to NBC? The only major network address that I can rattle off the top of my head is 30 Rockefeller Plaza, NY, NY. What about you? That’s an example of a long term brand strategy. A peacock is just a logo.

Media
NBC gets a double whammy of good and bad. On one hand, I’m sure they saw it as an exclusive delivered right into their lap. But on the other, it’s a curse. What do you do with it? Holding it makes people mad. Airing it makes people mad. They picked one of the two bad choices they had.

Citizen Journalists
The kid who shot the cell phone footage and the kids who taped the S.W.A.T team through the peephole have provided content that hangs in the realm of battlefield journalists. People and cameras will increasingly become more prevalent and high profile as time goes by. How long before a “scandal” of improper use of citizen journalism? How long until a citizen journalist becomes injured or gets killed while holding up a cell phone camera?

You can’t own information
A colleague and I were discussing the Virginia Tech student newspaper website today. They have stripped it down to bare bones updates (because there really is only one story on campus and to help handle the server stress.) But there is a legal disclaimer at the bottom of the page about having written consent to reprint/republish/etc their intellectual property. He had actually sent them an email suggesting a Creative Commons license.
Trying to hold on to content is now useless. You want people to take what you’re creating and spread it. Your lawyer wants you to place hurdles in people’s way. You need to make it easy as possible.

There are lots more points on media and marketing about all of this – Jeff Jarvis has made some good ones.

Chris Houchens is a marketing raconteur & writer. Connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

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