Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Changing Landscape

An interesting study today from a firm called Outsell points out that advertising budgets are down in B2B publications in favor of putting ads online.

This makes total sense. For a long time, the only way to reach smaller audiences was through these targeted publications. But as blogging and search continue to gain ground, those same audiences can be reached through other venues.

But what does this mean for PR? When people ask about my clients, I often joke that they haven't heard about them because they're not supposed to hear about them. Why would you want to know about a supply chain software company if you don't have anything to do with the supply chain?

One of the more gratifying moments was when the CTO of a company in a related field was at my house and had heard of just about all of my clients. A director at Novell had the same reaction. We'd reached our audience.

Our primary way of doing this is to keep our clients' names in the tech and trade publications. Big business-press hits like BusinessWeek and Fortune are great, but they don't tend to drive sales. So if the publictions that make up our bread and butter work are going to be hurt, thereby further diminishing editorial pages, our ability to serve our clients in these areas will diminish too.

On the entreprenurial end, we already run into trouble since most publications see Microsoft, IBM and Oracle as being more important and worthy of their attention, so if more of us are fighting for fewer pages, we're in for a tough haul.

The answer is to change what we offer our clients and how we approach "public relations." It's no longer just about the media and getting "hits", but about all the tools we can use to reach the right audience.

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