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Every company is a media company

Several years ago I came across Tom Foremski and his formula EC = MC, a “transformative equation for business.” The acronym stands for Every Company is a Media Company and I’ve mentioned it to countless people since.

The formula looks similar to E = MC2, Einstein’s theory of special relativity, and probably on purpose. However, Foremski’s equation applies to an evolution happening in the lives of all media and subsequently all of us who consume it.

The digital shift and direct PR

The shift to digital delivery of information is clear to all, as the traditional powerhouses of media are being irreversibly challenged and changed by the new emphasis. As it’s happened, the opportunity has emerged for all companies to be their own media company and manage direct public relations to the people they need to reach.

This isn’t a new concept – but now it has heightened relevance.

In the days before the internet’s ubiquity I was involved in developing a focused community around a logistics software product.

Our problem was simple - in a country of 4.5 million people at the time, the number of journalists interested in logistics software was small. As a result, our ability to communicate with our target audience through the media was also limited. So we developed our own media community and called it the Knowledge Exchange.

The bacon and egg strategy

Our flamboyant client described logistics CIOs as “sophisticated truckies who love a good breakfast.”

Based on this one insightful comment we started a quarterly bacon and egg series comprising excellent guest speakers, great food and coffee, and plenty of time to network, first thing in the morning, once a month. We then kept the community engaged using monthly newsletters; yes, printed ones, supported by email copies. Over time it became a must attend for 50-60 sales prospects and a couple of seven figure sales made it all worth it.

What this revealed was the value in going direct to customers, as opposed to going through the media. We kept the media informed and invited them along, but coverage wasn’t the main objective, it was a nice to have, the sprig of parsley on the hollandaise.

This lesson has come to prominence in the last few years, coinciding with me coming across Tom Foremski’s equation and the idea of EC = MC taking hold.

Content creation at the heart of EC = MC

At the heart of EC = MC is content and its creation. While in the past print, video, audio, visual and graphics were produced by third party media, all companies can now, relatively cheaply, produce their own and then publish and distribute it.

The beauty about content is its versatility in:

  • Telling stories about your business, your products, projects and people, just like traditional media but now you have total control.

  • Providing advice, education, answering specific customer questions and helping understanding about complex ideas.

  • Developing a company’s reputation, inspiring and building trust.

  • Changing perceptions, reinforcing beliefs and building communities of support.

  • Informing, managing expectations and delivering clarity in times of issue or crisis.

  • Entertaining and making people smile.

As long as this is achieved without becoming a sales pitch, all well and good.

Above all, content supports a customer’s decision to build a relationship with a company and eventually buy. And with its digital delivery the other big difference now is these relationships can be analysed and measured, so companies can assess exactly what is and isn’t working.

The role of PR is growing

A few years ago the EC = MC concept wasn’t well understood but now it is transforming whole media industries and impacting all businesses. At its heart is communication between an organisation and the people it needs to talk to, which sounds remarkably similar to the role of public relations, and that’s because it is.

A few years ago in New Zealand I heard a lot of discussion about the demise of the media and the subsequent threat to the public relations business. Now, nothing could be further from the truth.

With an ever changing and burgeoning communications landscape the role of PR is growing constantly and moving towards content marketing and inbound public relations. It’s just not quite what it used to be, and that is also probably a good thing.

(Photo by janeb13 - Pixabay)

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