With Volume II of The Clip Report: Insights on the Future of Media, published earlier this month, public relations executive Steve Rubel has once again sought to take the media’s pulse, and harness the zitegeist’s currents into a digital flipboard.
It borrows its title from a fossil of press trends past: the original “clip report” was a tool that Rubel, who is now Executive Vice President of Global Strategy and Insights for Edelman (the world’s largest independent PR firm), used at the beginning of his PR career in the early 1990s to acquaint himself with the media’s ins and outs.
In those days, it took the shape of a physical tome brimming with press clippings that had been assembled with the help of scissors, glue and a Xerox machine; the August 2012 incarnation, on the other hand, is a smoothly designed, 11-page e-book that Rubel has made available for free, as both a downloadable PDF and as an online slideshow.
The second instalment is titled “The Continental Content Divide,” and presents the idea that a gulf has opened up between media companies that capture audiences with shallow, internet culture-infused, hyper-social news and those that construct immersive news experiences that you, the reader, are expected to go out and trap for yourself, and perhaps even digg into your pocket to pay for.
Few media companies, the report’s introduction asserts, can successfully straddle the gap by mastering both the kind of digital snack-food that tastes better shared (like the BuzzFeed “listcle” titled “84 Things That Aren’t On An Everything Bagel”) and the “rolling in the deep” kind of content that features analysis, depth and context (like Politico's Playbooks). As a result, it argues, they must pick a camp and pitch a tent.
After describing this dichotomy, the report delves into how five major technology companies – Twitter, Facebook, Apple, Google, and Amazon – are increasingly instrumental in the diffusion and discovery of news content, and that the media companies that “understand, adapt to and partner with these five players will be in the best position to succeed going forward.”
The insights Rubel offers are bolstered by “briefings with dozens of leading media industry innovators and observers” from both sides of the Continental Content Divide, including, from the looks of things, experts at BuzzFeed, Mashable, Slate Group, Pulse, Pocket, Forbes, CNN, CBS/CNET, The Financian Times and Fairfax Media.
The first Clip Report, released in January 2012, put its foot down on "death of the media" proclamations, asserting instead that “the fourth estate is arguably stronger than ever."
In an attempt to boost our sharability, we shall summarize its wisdom in a listcle:
5 Lessons Learned from Clip Report Volume One:
- “Curate to dominate” – journalists should learn how to “separate art from junk in the vast sea of digital content”
- Dig the data – drill into numbers, not only for the purposes of data journalism, but also to provide insights that can “influence (but don’t dictate) editorial decisions” such as when to publish certain stories
- Plug your stories into social life support – “social networks are a media engagement elixir” that help stories live longer, healthier lives on the web
- Go deep sea diving – there has been a “resurgence in long-form content” as the chasm between “spreadable” and “drillable” content widens (Note: here, the seed of Volume Two was planted.)
- Brand yourself – journalists benefit from strong personal brands