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Advertising Is Dying While Journalism Is Coming Alive

Vanessa Campbell

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If you want people to remember what you say, you must connect with your audience in three ways: telling the truth, conveying your emotions, and telling a story. 

As said by the iconic Don Draper: “Happiness is a billboard on the side of the road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is OK.” Unfortunately, billboard giants are removing public trends to avoid backlash from the public, when in reality the truth should be expressed regardless of the viewer’s emotion. But this should be reinforced in such a way that it does not come off as aggressive or demeaning. The truth may hurt, but that’s just reality; after all, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Advertising nowadays has often become rather controversial and has been designed to play with people’s emotions. But aren’t they supposed to let you know you’re ok? 

Well, in the age of information, what we need is the harsh reality of media exposure to hit us in the face no matter how sensitive we may be – and that’s where real, traditional journalism comes in. 

Reality is harsh. Deal with it.

Money can buy billboards but it cannot buy morality (most of the time, at least). Traditional journalists are often offered lump sums of cash to cover clients on their latest article, even if they have no direct connection with the writer’s content. Those who have always declined these generous offers have landed writing slots with media giants like New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg. For the others, well, the ones who have accepted payments (and were caught) have most likely been blackballed and had their writing privileges revoked…and it shows.

Managing partner of MohrWolfe, Ashton Wolfe claims with certainty that “working with journalists can be problematic” because they are often skeptical and are mindful about who they acquire information from. Being a reliable source of information can help land you and/or your business in these media outlets, resulting in a permanent placeholder in a mainstream media article. Most firms ‘spray and pray’ writers, but it really comes down to building a genuine relationship that counts. Statistically, these placements beat advertising by a long shot and are far more superior than a temporary slot on a billboard or notable website. The process of being published in a renowned media outlet can almost be impossible, depending on your business or persona, which raises the value tenfold.

A Dose of ‘Hopium’

Nonetheless, billboard ad companies have seen signs of hope after being decimated by the COVID-19  pandemic. Even though these advertising giants have taken losses of up to 50% or more, these business models are expecting to see more traffic than ever once everything starts to pick back up again. Being at home for so long, nobody will be sitting around for much longer as they yearn to be outside again. This would culminate in a revival of new, unique ads being displayed everywhere from billboards to bus stops. This is purely speculative, just like everything else in 2020.

Journalism is NOT Dead

Journalists are constantly on the hunt for new and reliable sources of information. They might strike gold once in a blue moon but it often takes a long time to dig through an inbox with hundreds of emails a day from link builders, PR firms, and independent business owners. This isn’t a task most of us want to deal with when there is content to write and audiences to please. Journalism is one of the hardest jobs out there and it pays to stay on top of trends, gather research, and produce well-written content that turns into trending stories. 

To whomever says journalism is dead: get a grip. It is constantly evolving among various platforms with new and excited writers happy to jump on the next trend to voice their opinion. Advertising provides very temporary value, while earned media lasts forever (for as long as their platform exists). Writers and reports can now combine their content with new methods of marketing to boost their digital media through SEO and other forms of distribution.

Vanessa Campbell has been a senior writer for many top tier publications around the world for the last 10 years.

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