Modern Media in the Caribbean

The following excerpts are from Marcia Forbes’ presentation at a recent forum hosted by the Press Association of Jamaica in celebration of Journalism Week. The topic was ‘Modern Media: Competition & Customer Choices’

By Marcia Forbes, PhD
CJ Contributor

Modern Media Means Different Things to Different People

Some see modern media as new digital communication platforms like vlogs, blogs, podcasts and social media networks, like Facebook and Twitter. These new media allow us to express our creativity as content creators and to interact and share with others.

With modern media, interactivity is a big thing. Your customers want to talk with you. Unfortunately one research study showed that traditional media still largely wants to blast information to its customers and not talk with us.

In a 2011 sample of 46 newspapers, 59 Local TV stations, 7 TV Networks and 112 websites for news organizations in the USA, Tracy Collins Standley found that although these entities were frequently using Facebook and Twitter to promote upcoming news, they were still maintaining their tradition of blasting ‘one to many’. Newspapers were found to be especially bad at two way communication.

Others see modern media as a set of digital devices and tools such as smartphones, tablets and mobile apps that liberate us from dying concepts such as ‘hot off the press’ newspapers and allow each of us to become a ‘narrowcaster’; and for those with millions of followers or friends, to even become ‘broadcasters’. The Internet is the great facilitator, allowing any of us to grow and to become ‘Individual Influencers’ – What is Khloe Kardashian with 17 Million Twitter followers?

Modern Media as a Great Liberator

Modern media – all digital in nature – can free us from anything that locks us into the schedule of a news or media organization.  These modern technologies can allow us to zap TV ads and to time shift so that we get what we want, when we want it, where we want it and via whichever device we chose.

News now only breaks via Twitter. Live stream of events as they unfold, in real time, is de rigueur via social networks. The Paris bombing unfolded before our very eyes via various social media sites before traditional media like CNN. And, we all live in fear as modern media keeps us connected and shrinks our world.

We the consumer, the customer, have more choices than ever before and are now powerful beyond our wildest dreams. We want it all and we want it now Mr. and Miss Old Media. So, ‘go live or go home’! When it comes to live sporting or entertainment events, customers do not want delayed broadcasts to suit your programme schedule.

Modern Media as a Nightmare

Some of you, especially those who still operate in the analogue domain, see ‘modern media’ as mostly a nightmare – it wakes you up at night and washes you in cold sweat worrying about how you are going to survive in this rapidly evolving digital world where walls are tumbling and convergence prevails.

With many forms of modern media, barriers to entry hardly exist compared to former times. However, getting to scale is challenging and competition is merciless and coming from all angles. Telecos in Jamaica, former friends of broadcasters, are now gobbling up broadcasters’ audiences as they launch cable systems.

Some Telecos may have even already started to redirect their advertising spend to their own newly minted cable TV platforms. Other Telecos have included Production Services in their mix as they seek to ‘ring-fence’ the Television Industry in a bid toward vertical and horizontal integration. No Teleco wants to seen as merely offering ‘dumb pipes’.

It is not hard to understand why some only see modern media as avenues for fomenting dissent and unrest and allowing these to spread quickly. ISIS has been brilliant at using social media platforms to spread its messages and to recruit.

All Brands are Media Companies

As Tonia Ries, Senior VP & Executive Director of Endelman Square, noted, “Today, all brands are media companies, with their own audience, content and distribution strategies.” Increasingly too, individuals have become media brands.

Vloggers Bella Blair & Dutty Berry are great Jamaican examples. They have their own audiences, their own content and their own distribution strategies. They are real competitors to traditional media since everyone is clamouring for the same ‘eyes & ears’. Modern media allows your customer to become your competitor.

Disruptive Technologies Disrupt Behaviours

And here is a key point – Disruptive Technologies Disrupt Behaviours. Customers with choices develop new expectations, new tastes, and lower levels of tolerance for certain things like technical difficulties and delayed broadcasts. Increasingly, millennials make up the majority of media consumers/customers so it is useful to learn as much as possible about them.

Millennials trust their peers, not advertisers. They want content on demand, will time shift content to suit their own schedules, are new media savvy and understand the languages of text and emojis. They crave interaction and collaboration and value visuals and experience.

Social Listening and Social Targeting are great tools for today’s marketers, as too Media Analytics. Online Modern Media allow us to measure with speed and accuracy. So my call to action – KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS and never take them for granted.