The public affairs shows — “Meet the Press,” “Face the Nation” and “This Week” — used to set the agenda for the nation’s capital with their news-making interviews and immensely influential audience. Now the buzz around the shows is more likely to center on gossipy criticism about the hosts…
The reason for the decline is social media.
Increasingly, what “Meet the Press” and its competitors represent are still-powerful brands struggling to maintain influence in a radically changed media environment, where news consumption is more fast-paced and fractured than ever and “the news cycle” these shows used to command no longer really exists.
Per one former Democratic White House official:
There was a time when everything would stop on Friday afternoon and Cabinet members and senators would gather around a table and say, ‘Who are we putting out on Sunday?’ Now if you want to make news, you can tweet it, or you can call any number of outlets.
Amazing to think of “institutions” crumbling as a result of empowering everyone with a smartphone to publish, broadcast, and engage the audience they wish to reach.
Let alone the social publishing impact one’s message has when the message is disseminated to “friends” and “followers” who trust the messenger more than a national broadcasting company.
Law firms have always played in the “influencer’s world,” whether locally or nationally.
In rural America in a small law firm I wanted to be on the evening news or in the morning newspaper discussing a case I was involved in or offering insight on a story a reporter was working on.
Large law firms positioned their lawyers as authorities so as to get quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, the New York Times and major periodicals such as Forbes, The Economist, Barrons, and Fortune. They also chased being sources in the major metro daily newspapers and business journals.
In addition to mainstream media, everyone wanted to pen a story or be included in a story in trade media, whether legal or industry related. The Recorder, New York Journal, Lawyers Weekly, and Los Angeles Daily Journal are just a few of them.
Television was also there as well for lawyers. Getting on the national news as an expert was a big deal.
But are these as big a deal as before? Are they essential to your messaging strategy? Does your story or the fact that you were in or on the news break through any more? Would you pay as much to your public relations agency to get your lawyers “in the news?”
I was on a panel recently with social media analyst, Ashwini Anburajan (@anburajan), a former associate producer of the Today Show and national campaign reporter for NBC News. I was pretty jazzed sitting next to someone who worked in network news. Her response was something to the effect of “Please, do you have any idea how old the demographic is for network television? It’s not long for the world.”
Will the media institutions you and I grew up with (I am 58) be relevant for that much longer? Will they even be around? Look at Martindale-Hubbell.
Will everyone be getting their media socially? It’s a real possibility.
Today already younger people (think 18 to 35) are more likely to be influenced by something they see or read via social media than through the mainstream press or trade media.
NBC News Veteran, Tom Brokaw, told Byers, “For political junkies and those who just want to catch up, the Sunday shows still are relevant, but they’re not the signature events they once were.”
For you as a lawyer or law firm, whether large or small, whether in rural America or a major metro, you are going to need to produce your own media and learn how to get that media distributed socially.
The media institutions you used to use are not likely to be signature events for that much longer.