So last week Market Wire purchased an online news service called “Press Release News Network.” A couple of days later, Brian Solis shared his thoughts on the PRNN purchase and on the Market Wire announcement on his blog. The basic gist of it was that Solis was critical of the excessive ‘social media’ angle that MW took in their announcement, and focused on the distinctions between social media and traditional media. Many of the SMNR posse consequently responded on Solis’ blog in support of his thoughts.
I’m going to boil the entire debate down in this over-simplified dialogue:
Mainstream media: Look! We are participating in social media.
Social media community: No you’re not. You’re just saying that in your marketing spiel. We are participating in social media.
Err…or something like that.
I’m not going to spend too much time providing my insight into the PRNN purchase or Solis’ response. I think that story has already been covered. Basically I agree with Brian that a release is not a social media release simply because it has some tags and links to social media sites on it.
What I am not entirely sure about is the role that news distribution services should play in the social media realm. Brian feels strongly that that Social Media Release does not have any place on the traditional wires.
Think about the situation in terms of scarcity. I think the situation we are facing now is almost a duplicate of that which occurred during the early years of the ‘Net, when the competition was between community and consumption models of the Internet. Corporate interests are always interested in encouraging a model of communications in which scarcity is easy to impose, because when scarcity can be imposed it is easier to use a traditional revenue model and monetize a system.
Unfortunately, online, strict consumption models simply are not effective. What ends up thriving is a synthesis of consumption and community.
So when Brian writes, “When it comes to Social Media, it begets an entirely new way to think about news, requiring the shift from distribution to participation,” he is talking about a shift from a consumption model to a community model of media.
I think the either/or approach neglects option C – which would be a synthesis of community and consumption; of distribution and participation. Besides, can’t distribution and participation be part of the same ecosystem?
Returning quickly to this idea of scarcity.
Scarcity is always a reality whether we like it or not. In a virtual world, the scarcity is not in the infrastructure or the products that are created, it is resides with the eyeballs of audience members.
Imagine you are at a community square. There are people surrounded you, engaged in the machinations of their own daily lives. There is a potential there to engage them because of the proximity that exists but how do you start? Do you just start talking in the hopes that someone will stop and engage in a conversation with you?
What news distribution services do is provide a platform for a communicator to grab people’s attention. They enhance the voice of the speaker in the crowded community square so that people who might be potentially interested in hearing what he/she has to say will be able to hear. Then, once they have heard and decided they are interested, a conversation can ensue.
This is what news distribution services do. They do this by forming agreements and partnerships with eyeball aggregators – to insure that a message can be widely heard. These agreements and partnerships take time and money, but that is wrapped into the core benefit proposition of news distribution services.
And once the message is hear, and then I would say participation can ensue. Distribution and participation are part of a symbiotic relationship.
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