The iPad, The Guardian and the “legacy print business”

03 February 2010

Brand Republic recently published an article in which the Guardian’s editor  referred to his paper product as, “…the legacy print business.” This comment, published in the same week as the launch of the iPad, throws out a clear signal on the future of the media in the UK. Given ongoing financial losses within their print divisions, it is almost inevitable that one or more of our national newspapers will follow a host of trade magazines to go fully digital in the next year or two. When that happens, what will be the impact on communication teams?

If you’re really determined, the iPad could be used as a traditional computer. However, its underlying design purpose is to enable consumption of media. We’re going to watch TV and movies, play games, read magazines and news, as well as interact with Facebook friends on the iPad and other slate devices arriving soon.

Like the iPod and the music industry before it, the technology is going to wag the media house dog so hard it will have to change, a change made more acceptable to it by the financial state of the paper-based news industry. Providers will design their content specifically for these devices. The merger of categories such as TV, magazines and social media will accelerate. We won’t even be asked ‘turn the page’ of eZines, as a nod to history.

Throughout this, the fundamentals of media relations will stay the same; know your client, know the media and put the two together.

However, in the all digital era, communications teams will have to greatly expand the number of information resources and individuals they know well and be able to deliver near instant insight, in variety of digital formats, to communicate their business’s point of view.

To do this well, communications professionals will have to be indivisable from the businesses they represent and able to provide images (no longer required at 300dpi, thank goodness), video, soundbites and written commentary at the click of a mouse. If not, the mechanics of digital media means they will be left behind.

These are all changes that have been developing since digitisation began. However, with the digital future of our media all but upon us and the launch of these new consumer technologies, communications practices will need to fully modernise, very quickly to be effective.

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