Blogs are the new media, but you already knew that. Unfortunately, you’re a huge minority in the big scheme of things, as most of the population (in the US, at least) still doesn’t even know what a “blog” is, exactly. Old media is hesitant to view us as credible, and only a handful of bloggers actually make headlines in news outlets that don’t make a habit of covering internet-related issues.
To me, it’s clear that bloggers simply haven’t had that breakthrough moment that takes them from local club phenom to international superstar.
Why are we so underrepresented in traditional media?
The blogosphere has a crappy PR department, that’s why.
We’re louder than ever, but we’re still at the wrong lunch table
The news isn’t all bad. Every day, thousands and thousands of new bloggers join the fold and add to the massive conversation that is the blogosphere. In effect, our lunch table is getting huge, and we’re starting to make a lot of noise in the cafeteria. So much so, in fact, that those pompous asses from the A and B tables occasionally glance across the room to see what all the commotion is about.
Their glances, however, are perfunctory at best. They see nothing extraordinary; they look away.
And mainstream media is no different.
We’re loud, but we’re not “it.”
Bridging the gap
Some industries are clearly more marketable than others. The blogosphere, however, represents humanity. What’s more marketable than that?
Over the last few years, bloggers have developed sophisticated internal marketing techniques. People who read blogs know about the Robert Scobles, Steve Rubels, and Seth Godins of the world, but none of these people are media darlings by any stretch of the imagination.
Then again, it’s not the internal marketing that was the reason for this post. It’s the external marketing that I’m worried about.
If blogging is to truly become the next “it” thing, then it’s going to get there because someone (or a group of somebodies) is able to provide cross-platform, mainstream appeal. Old media isn’t going to change what it likes overnight. By the time blogging successfully penetrates mainstream media, celebrity will still be celebrity, and for the most part, newspapers and TV newscasts (ugh) will still be talking about much of the same manufactured crap that they are today. Therefore, if blogging is going to leap from club phenom to international superstar, the blogosphere PR department is going to need to ride the wings of someone who provides both old and new media appeal.
Give ’em what they want
Old media loves Hollywood for its glamour and its sex appeal. It’s image first, content second, and that’s exactly how the kids at the A and B lunch tables like it. The blogosphere, however, represents the diametrical opposite of Hollywood. Out here, it’s content first, image second, and this paradigm shift poses problems for overall mainstream media appeal.
The blogosphere needs to stand behind someone who makes blogging sexy.
If the hot girl in the cafeteria suddenly stops floating about the A and B tables in favor of the boisterous blogosphere table, you can bet that the popular kids will take notice.
And so will the media.
Why it’ll work…eventually
Intrinsically, people desire to connect with one another on a level that transcends superficial details, and blogs are the perfect vehicle for this type of interaction. Let’s face it. Would you rather watch a made-for-TV report on your favorite celeb on Entertainment Tonight, or would you rather read his/her blog and get your info straight from the horse’s mouth?
How about this scenario: let’s say someone is making headlines in your local community, and of course, the old media is right there to “report” on the events and circumstances surrounding the issue. Naturally, there will be coverage on TV and in your local newspaper, and this is how you’ll digest all the “facts” and details that are of interest.
Or you could read the blog of the person involved.
See, the real truth here is that “reporting” never stood a chance against direct communication. Old media is, at the very least, one degree separate from the events upon which it reports, and by definition, that makes old media a middleman.
Of course, nobody likes the middleman.
The bottom line
The blogosphere has yet to champion that person who possesses the pulchritude necessary to make blogging a universally appealing phenomenon. Sure, there are “blogebrities,” but I have yet to see one who successfully bridges the old media/new media gap. Kottke? Ha. Calacanis? Too old, too corporate. Heather Armstrong? If there’s a leader, I’d say she’s it. I’m far from sold on the idea, though.
One thing is certain – all the Scobles and Rubels out there will keep us looking like the same old lunch table if we let them serve as our external marketers. I love what their sites have to offer, but I hate to think that these guys might be the only glimpse that the non-blogging public has of the blogosphere.
Simply put, that’s just not sexy!