A sign of the times

By Posted in - Public Relations & Social Media on January 25th, 2010 0 Comments

I just returned home from my fourth trip to Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, a bi-annual get together (translation: trade show) of outdoor-related companies and organizations.  It’s a great group of folks, and I always enjoy getting the chance to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.

One trend I noticed this year, more than ever before, was the proliferation of social media tools used throughout the industry.  Let me tell you, these outdoor folks are one technically-savvy bunch.  The place was abuzz with tweets, videos, blog updates and Flickr posts.  Companies offered deals to booth visitors who mentioned they’d seen their message online.  It definitely seemed like anyone who was anyone was using social media in some way shape or form.

From a PR perspective, I thought it was really interesting how many more outdoor blogs were represented on the show floor this year.  Folks like GearJunkie.com and ActiveGearReview.com have attended and covered the show for years, but it seemed their presence was felt even more.

I was able to sit down and chat with several of these outdoor bloggers and I asked them about the shift to more online media models from traditional print magazines (I hate I missed former National Geographic Adventurer editor Steve Casimiro’s panel discussion “The Media is Dead. Long Live Media” on Saturday, but I followed the conversation along on Twitter while sitting in the airport, natch).  The bloggers I spoke to seemed very optimistic about the direction their sites were taking – most spoke of triple digit growth in traffic.

And since most of the bloggers I spoke to are veteran journalists themselves, or have some experience in the media world, they didn’t seem too annoyed at the onslaught of PR communications prior and during the show.  In fact most said they found the information PR people sent over relevant and helpful to their readers.  For the record, the biggest complaints I heard about PR folks were about those who A) didn’t follow up to a media request for information and/or product or B) waited until the last minute to try and get information out and then expect it to be included.

Don’t think it was all doom and gloom for the magazines, either, though.  The print journalists I met with had a lot of enthusiasm about their product.  Sure their 2009 was tough, but many said they were still seeing stable subscription rates.  As one writer told me, “We operated pretty lean already, so when we did have to make cuts, it didn’t have to be as drastic as some other outlets.”

And honestly, I still love reading a magazine.  Sure I have a RSS feed set up to aggregate my blog feeds, and I monitor those throughout the day.  But when I’m at home winding down from the day, I like to pick up my Shape or Southern Living and catch up on the features. I think there’s still a place for that in our world.  But I digress….

I’m looking forward to reading more of the outdoor blogs I met at the show, and seeing how the media industry will continue to evolve as readers demand more real-time, content rich information.  The media is dead.  Long live the media.

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