Every company is a media company because it has to be, because the traditional media outlets no longer have the means, or pageviews to help tell the stories of companies, and their communities.
The explosion of content marketing is proof that the concept of "every company is a media company" is becoming understood by the mainstream. It is resulting in a tidal wave of media content about companies, commissioned by the companies themselves.
However, this is nothing to do with being a media company. Media companies don't write or produce media about themselves. What do media companies do?
Media companies provide a service.
The Financial Times, my former employer, provides a financial news service. Look around at all the media services media companies provide, from stamp collecting to the latest developments in Washington, DC
24-hour corporate newsrooms
Companies need to move beyond content marketing and produce a media service. No one, including the executives of a large company, want a company newsroom that just produces media about itself.
I was on a panel with David Matahai, Director of Marketing Communications at Hyundai, (above) earlier this year at The Holmes Report's Innovation Summit. He said there was a lot of pressure for Hyundai to operate a 24/7 newsroom, but that even he would be hard pressed to be interested in Hyundai every hour of every day.
Imagine the level of interest from the public? Imagine having to produce media content constantly about your company. It won't work. People have a sparrow's appetite for reading or watching self-serving media.
But companies need to keep their names in front of the public constantly because if they aren't seen they don't exist.
So, if content marketing in its current autobiographical form can't carry the weight of being noticeable and notable, what's the answer?
Companies need to find a media service that they can provide on top of their "about this company" content in their newsroom.
It could be something that local media outlets no longer can afford to provide, maybe it is reporting from City Hall, since many towns no longer have local newspapers; or the local Little League scores; or a media service for their industry; or a media service for a totally different industry to their own, to avoid possible conflicts of interest.
First mover media advantage
There are many types of media services companies could provide to their communities. However, there is not an infinite supply.
Those companies that can establish their media service as the de facto source will be able to retain that position for a long time. Because there is an unwritten rule in the media industry, if you become the go-to publication for your community, people will come back again and again, even if the quality of the service has slipped — it is very hard to dislodge.
But media brands take time to build. Upworthy and Buzzfeed think they have won the battle for top slots in the media industry but let's wait and see. Such laurels are only won after many years of consistent, high quality media services.
The Wall Street Journal today celebrates 125 years. The Financial Times was founded one year earlier in 1888; the New York Times was founded in 1851.
It can take decades to establish a media brand. If a company decides it wants to provide a media service, it needs to know that it is a lifetime commitment.
Media as a service is an incredibly powerful proposition. What media service will your company provide?