PRs more challenging since profit has become a 4-letter word …

TakeAway:  In an age where company reputation is playing an increasingly important role in sales generation and growth, the decline of traditional business media could cause big problems for marketers.  Companies must now take the laboring oar and find creative ways to ensure that their preferred message makes it to the consumer.

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Excerpted from Strategy & Business, “What a Declining Business Media Means to CEOs” By William Holstein, September 28 2009

The business media is mired in deep economic crisis … the surviving business magazines are much thinner … Newspapers are suspending publication of stand-alone business sections and downgrading their coverage … Even at relatively healthy business news outlets, there is a decline in the quality of business coverage …

One might argue that the weakened state of business media doesn’t matter much … But the consequences for business decision makers are three-fold, and grave.

First, it means that business coverage could become more negative toward profit and enterprise than it is today … Criticism of corporations will be less nuanced, less aware of context, and less insightful. Competent, complacent, and craven companies — or divisions within companies — will all be tarred with the same brush.

Second, the decline in business journalism gives corporate decision makers less of a platform to display and test their own company’s strategy. “It means that there are fewer opportunities for a CEO to get his or her story into the media,” says CNN …

But perhaps the worst effect is the most subtle: Corporate leaders now have fewer opportunities to learn from one another’s experience, or even to know what’s going on in their regions and industries …

What specifically should a corporate leader do differently in this environment? The first priority is to maintain the visible public presence of his or her own company — to build its reputation as a reliable entity, in a time when the integrity of many companies has come under scrutiny …

Meanwhile, it’s more important than ever for CEOs to develop core communications messages that go beyond the issue of profitability and stock price. GE has been very effective with its Ecomagination campaign. Companies must define the way they appear in the world at large …

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