Morbid fascination, that’s what it is. Anyway, there I am flicking through November 20th’s offering, doing my best to suck what little value I can from the less-than-compelling mix of not-news, hagiography and terrifying light-weightedness (tell me it’s not so) and my eye is grabbed by the ‘From The Editor Column’.
“Striking a Balance Between Print and Web” is its title. It goes on to inform me that I will be noticing a few changes to the ‘Week – cutting news pages and and adding extra space for analysis. (Of what, exactly, pray?) They’re also going to dedicate a page in the magazine to content featured online – which has to imply that there’s not that much news or analysis to fill the pages that they have.
In fairness – it all makes sense. The website is rapid reaction, more easily updated and attracts far more viewers. The print version is out-of-date by the time it’s published and has never really contained the sort of thought-provoking, enduring, educational and value-providing content that would justify its existence.
What all this is clearly leading to – especially given Haymarket’s current title rationalisation – is the closure of the print version of PRWeek, although the editorial team are doing their utmost to hide it behind the smoke and mirrors of increased analysis and assertions that the ‘industry’s bible’, which has ‘enjoyed a major redesign’ is and ‘remains the mainstay of our offering’.
Well, no it won’t, beyond, I’d say, January 2010 – unless it genuinely can reinvent itself and become the ‘industry’s bible’ – and by this I mean something that sets standards, leads the way and provides the industry (at all levels) with stuff we can use.
For example, recently it was reported that very few European businesses had crisis management plans in place. In this very issue of PRWeek, there’s four pages dedicated to ‘crisis comms’ -case histories and commentary from industry pundits. Good start. But.
Wouldn’t it have been a better idea to create a guide to creating a crisis plan? Outline the basics, so that everyone knows where to start? Show the differences between plans for global organisations and local organisations? Demonstrate the potential consequences, the signs to look out for and how to counter them? Suggest a process for employing a crisis consultant? Provide examples of best practice desk-top exercises and full-blown crisis plan trials?
Wouldn’t this be significantly more useful? More useful than yet another Thought Leader supplement, but probably attracting a similar amount of advertising? Useful enough to merit a print version, and useful enough to motivate people to keep it on file and share it with others? Hmmmm?
I don’t want to see any print media disappear as a consequence of the rise of the internet and online content. I do understand, however – and PRWeek almost certainly does as well – that unless print media offers something that t’internet can’t (and I’m guessing that this includes in-depth consideration of topics and issues) then disappear it will.
Luckily, the communications industry has a myriad topics and issues that are ripe for this sort of treatment.