Once upon a time, media were an anointed few — men and women who had attended journalism school and gotten jobs with recognized outlets in the newspaper, magazine, radio or television industries. They started as “cub” reporters or wrote obituaries, read the news or gave a traffic report. They handled the most minor stories and worked their ways up to feature reporting and writing.
There was a clear path and an obvious hierarchy. Only a relative few were given the keys to the kingdom and a chance to tell a story. More importantly, unless they decided to tell a story, the rest of us never got to hear it at all.
Today things are very different. Today most of the country has the keys to the same kingdom and they get to tell the stories they want told. The fact that you are reading this on a computer or “smart” device means that you are empowered, too. There are many more platforms for storytelling than ever before, including lots of digital options.
More and more, I am hearing and reading about manufacturers in the fishing industry who are tapping into these “alternative” media outlets. Recently, I had a conversation with one manufacturer who was thinking about hiring three or four YouTube “stars,” as he put it.
I had to admit that I had never heard of them, but I expect there are plenty of Hollywood stars I’m not familiar with, too. The issue with many of the YouTubers seems to be identifying the ones who will still have a following next year … or next week. Everything’s faster on the information superhighway, including failure.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Spreading the gospel of a new product or a quality retail outlet is too important to play it safe all the time. Sometimes you have to take chances, especially with your digital media efforts.
And your best chance is usually to bet on yourself … or at least someone close to you that you know and can rely on. With success so uncertain and so fleeting I’m not sure I understand why more people in the tackle business aren’t betting on themselves rather than the flavor of the month. To me, it makes sense to bet on yourself and to control the message.
If you’re one of the companies making a big spend to get the latest YouTube sensation, I say more power to you! I truly hope it’s a big success. The industry and its members need a shot in the arm … or wherever else it will do us the most good.
If you’re a company thinking of jumping into the deep end of the pool by creating your own content, I’m rooting for you, too, and I like your play. The barriers to entry for “media” have never been lower. Tools and access are cheap, and talent seems to be in the eye of the beholder.
So whether you’re backing a social media “star” with a dedicated following, or planning to create viral magic on your own, ala the Blendtec “Will It Blend?” series, diving into social media is important these days and can make a real difference in your business.