Doug Stokes has been a practicing automotive PR type since “way back when.” His work has taken him from running the IKF (Go-Karts) to promoting Sprint Cars at Perris Auto Speedway, and from an early environmental auto assignment (Geo Tree Program) to NASCAR as the communications director for Toyota Speedway in Irwindale. Along the way he ran an automotive-oriented bookstore, worked the media for Mickey Thompson, and handled corporate communications for Gale Banks Engineering.
Print Isn’t Dead It’s Overpriced
Over the weekend I was in Las Vegas doing PR for the Lucas Oil Off Road Series and needed to buy a Sunday paper to see what kind of coverage we were getting for the show. I put the paper on the counter in the hotel gift shop and the young lady said, “Three dollars, please, do you want a bag?” No, bag thanks. Thinking that I was paying a “normal” kicked-up resort price, I peeled off the three bucks and left.
When I got back to my room I looked at the front page and there found the “street” price – an astonishing $3.00, who’s going to have that many quarters (even in Las Vegas!) to pump a news rack with 12 quarters? Who’s going to pay that much to end up with a 80-20 split of adverts and editorial content?
For that matter, while we’re at it, who’s paying $4.95, 5.95, 6.95 and more for monthly magazines that are rationed out just about as above, when you can get similar material (all capsule-ized and easy to bite off and chew) on your computer (or phone) for “free”.
Of course we all know that free is by no means free, that there’s always a catch somewhere, and that even the best journalism has a price, it’s just that now there’s really no established place to go to get it – regardless of what one is willing to “pay”.
The press, the “MEDIA”, has been Balkanized so widely and so thoroughly that I’m often amazed that my neighbor and I get the same two newspapers delivered on our respective driveways each morning.
In the latter days of this epoch newspapers and magazines have cut staff so severely that getting any sort of attention now seems to require a “friggin’ bombshell” instead of a (I was going to say “bon mot” but I won’t) good story. Solid equates to stolid for desk people and some malcontent’s (or bad actor’s) grousing, carousing, confessing, a sex schmozzel, a murder (or a combination of all of the above) always trumps what’s left of the headlines. Blowing out great straight stories about people, products, things.
My small company specializes in motorsports PR*, mainly because that’s been my interest as well as a source of rent money for about 40 years now. I work personally with a number of clients to try mightily to get media recognition of their work product, be it events, hardware, or services.
In the past few years the ranks of my potential targets have seemed to dwindle pretty drastically. In actuality the string was pulled on the costume and hundreds of tiny targets spilled out all over the place, each proclaiming that they were the equal of the one big guy that was once there. (Website wonders? bloggers? points of light?)
When I’m watching a TV show and I’m directed to effectively shut the TV off (or at least not watch the next offering) go to my computer for “more” of the show that I was watching – I have to wonder how that works. And it’s exactly the same for the news programs: turn us off, go to your computer and see more about this story squib that we teased you with – I start to feel that the media itself is systematically shedding and drinking its own blood, kind of like that snake eating its own tail.
Again, please tell me how that works in real life.
* PR (and automotive PR in particular) is most likely another one of brother (Jack) Baruth’s least favored professions. If he thinks that all automotive writers should be shot, I shudder to think of what kind of a grisly fate he’d have in store for us car and car event PR flacks. . . . And what makes his little, dried-up, cake-white butt so pure and holy anyway?