Does Print Media Still Play a Role?

I have long been an avid believer that digital media would eventually consume traditional media. I believed wholeheartedly that already, as the digital native graduates from high school, generation X and the baby boomers are forever seeing the last days of the power of the print media and the fall of television to YouTube, Hulu and others. I have admonished advertising campaigns spouting the quotations of Social Media Guru Eric Qualman “Only 14% believe advertising”….”word of mouth is now world of mouth”….then reality struck. In the Caribbean, traditional media still plays a major role.

How did reality strike? Less than two months after some volunteer pr strategy work with YUMA to launch their Facebook page (well documented in the blog) led to international recognition of the entity and over 7,000 Facebook fans, a family owned business used a similar Facebook strategy + radio advertising + print media coverage. Surprise! Customers walking into the store CAME through the doors WITH the articles on the store in hand…more people told the store staff (I DON’T work there – I have a full time job that DID sanction my involvement in opening the business) they heard about the business on the radio than on Facebook! People opening their wallets were also GASP – more interested in hearing about future specials by text rather than email! It was an Oprah – esque AH HAH moment…or in more Caribbean terms it was an “Oh Gyad Oy” moment… Could it be the marketing teams who have tightly hugged the low internet penetration statistics in the Caribbean as the reason why they could never enter into anything more than a beach fling with social media….could it be these people, MBAs in hand and supported by research that goes against my gut instinct that the days of the power of press as we once know it be over….could all those folks that frown on my social media training session as frivilous….SIGH are they right? Are we in the Caribbean still hooked on print?

The answer – yes….and not really. Print media used to play the leading role in mechanisms by which the public could be accessed by Communicators/ advertisers….now…the role is important….but a new star has been born. Already, entities like the Guardian Media Group are opening embracing social media and, those with Caribbean roots can read the Advocate, Guardian, Express, Gleaner and others online AND leave comments, tweet and cite the stories on Facebok, Twitter and, for the savvy and adventurous (no examples yet)- Tumblr.

Am I saddened? Nope. I am heartened, should social media already be the star of Caribbean communication with such low penetration rates and use admittedly beyond the immediate means of those below the (as much as I hate stratification) lower middle class, it would mean we as a multiethnic and increasingly literate population are too easily swayed. Possibly our Caribbean need to balance the words of the web with the reality of a human edited and printed report shows that we believe news need come from a multiplicity of sources for, even in the first days of Caribbean produced and created media, it took us quite a few years to trust our own media houses enough to report news that occured just down the street from us. Those of my Grandfather’s generation remember feeling the pride of touching our first newspapers but still waiting anxiously for the paper from England to arrive, SAVING UP to but same as it was considered an indulgence AND THEN comparing the reports (if any) to confirm news reports. Possibly, we take longer to abandon traditions and possibly, our trust levels for accuracy are lower than those that live where corner houses were not the original news editors. I mean not to be disparaging in the least. As avaricious as my appetite is for social media, I too often verify Twitter feeds, Facebook messages about “news” by waiting to read/hear/see same from our official news media channels. For this, I must answer my own communication question today – does print media still play a role with a resounding yes…I will thus, though with a knowing smirk, bow to the Marketing professionals who has asked me to temper my statistically unsound passion for social media as “THE WAY” to get messages out and agree, if only for now, that social media must be balanced with traditional media for true effective Corporate Communication plans….As I sign off, I’ll reach for my morning sorrel  and  read the articles in the Trinidad Express, Guardian and Newsday by getting my moist fingertips dirty as they touch the print in what has become a family Sunday Ritual.

What are your views on social media vs. traditional media?



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3 Responses to “Does Print Media Still Play a Role?”

  1. GerardF Says:

    I think it comes down to technology and platform adoption. While it may seem that everyone and their mother has a bb (I don’t btw), a lot of these people have it just for the sake of free communication with friends and fam (not to mention they prob got their phone for TT$500 during THAT sale). I don’t think this should therefore be indicative of the level of new technology and social media adoption.

    T&T is still pretty(very) traditional(conservative) and quite a lot of people don’t even know how to turn on a computer, let alone log onto the internet, create a fb/twitter/email account and maintain regular usage. As a business in a small, traditional, semi-educated country like T&T, to rely chiefly on social media will probably be shooting oneself in the foot.. or the head. So I’m all for a combination of the two. I am fascinated and very interested in social media but I still have a great appreciation for a well and intelligently created, effective traditional ad/campaign. (which neither White Oak nor Angostura seem to have currently)

    • caribbeancontessa Says:

      Thanks for the comment. I agree that Trinidad still does need traditional media and advertising campaigns however, that is going to change and change quickly. On the blackberry addiction – oh yes, I drink that blackberry cool aid but I know my island is not dominated by addicts like myself…yet. What I do know is that as technology costs continue to decrease and access increases, you will find less reliance on advertising campaigns.

      Traditional ad campaigns have also changed and are evolving not really to include social media (locally) but instead, a 180 turn back to “in ur face” marketing. Sampling and face to face interaction are on the increase but you are seeing social media creep in too and it IS working for a niche group right now locally.

      We will continue to get our toes wet..until the pull associated with the global upsurge in social media use/reliance gets sweet T&T neck deep into the “conversation”.

      As for the ad campaigns you mentioned…you touched a nerve there for me…but those views will live off line but do inspire a question in me as to whether and why only certain people use certain brands – as portrayed in our ads. That is not unique to us though…but possibly I have been skewed by my years at Howard…so I restrain myself from commenting further…if only because I think it prudent!

      HUGS and thank you!

  2. Gerard Ferreira (@epilepticfootie) Says:

    Was going through your blog again and decided to revisit this discussion;

    I’ve definitely started seeing the shift. I am now employed by a distribution (and marketing) (but not M&D, mind) company and have seen the proliferation of general smart phone usage to segments that were previously either smart phone-less or only used them for specific purposes (bbm). I’ve been forced to confront the lingering traces of traditional view that I’ve held for too long and now definitely agree that things are changing very quickly.

    The seeds are being (have been?) planted for the mobile ‘revolution’ in sweet T&T and yup! – it’s only a matter of time before enough ‘script kiddies’ here become versed enough in social media advertising creation/mobile apps etc. to offer their services to those ‘early adopter’ companies. Designing mobile apps/advertising will be akin to designing websites 5 – 10 years ago.

    I think many(most) Trinidadians are too afraid to take a risk in advertising and branding. Thus you continue to see the same sort of faces and the same themes advertising the same brands. It is also the heyday of the age of promo girls and I’m just waiting to see/influence a company to try something different instead. Yes sex sells, but you don’t HAVE to be so blatant about it… but that’s another topic.

    You raise the question though; locally, which came first? the targeted advertising or the *specific consumer demographic* usage?

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