Every subculture needs its holy scriptures. Business executives feel more like business executives when they read The Harvard Business Review. Marketers replenish their chops with Brandweek, start-ups with Entrepreneur. And so on. From The Mining Journal (founded in 1835) to Fish Farming International, name a specialty, and there’s a specialty publication that confers at least wannabe-insider status on its readers.
Like all enterprises that sell something that you can now get for free online, trade publications have to come up with new ways to maintain relevance and generate advertising.
For example, a site called GIS Lounge consolidates links to just about every publication the professional geospatialist could ever dream of consulting, and no doubt similar sites exist for every vocation. But trade publications just don’t wield the mighty clout that once made marketing and PR departments tremble; social networking and blogging have become the main focus for reaching targeted audiences.
Variety, the entertainment industry’s venerable trade paper, was once my tribal talisman. I haven’t read it in years, but that racy swoosh of an iconic banner logo is enough to conjure up a bittersweet Proustian nostalgia for a show biz period of life when Variety mattered to me. Oh to be young, employed no matter how tenuously, and riding the subway to work from not-yet-chic Brooklyn to Midtown Manhattan while ostentatiously crackling the pages of the weekly edition of Variety!
How my bosom swelled with pride when Variety reported that a French movie I repped broke foreign-film box-office records by grossing a million (that’s gross, mind you). Reading Variety for the gossip, the hired-fired merry-go-round (“You’re kidding! HE made VP??!!”), the fundraiser/big-donor leads, and of course, the movie reviews, was essential even in an esoteric corner of the entertainment industry that generated so little money it barely registered on balance sheets (culturally, however, it was a different story—we mattered to the Style pages for sure).
Across town on the East Side, close attention to Advertising Age was de rigueur among the magazine, publishing, and creative agency whiz kids. And just as Variety still conjured up ghosts of the Polo Lounge and Sardi’s, Ad Age still exuded the snappy smarts of those “men in the grey flannel suits” lunching at 21 or The Four Seasons (now glamorously immortalized on “Mad Men”) decades after their big moment.
But a recent dust-up at Variety illustrates how times have changed for all the trades. Longtime senior film critic (and prestige brand name) Todd McCarthy was recently laid off, along with other film and theater review staff. Lamentation has ensued. One L.A. Times piece was headlined “Hollywood reacts to Variety’s axing of Todd McCarthy: ‘What were they thinking?’” The piece notes that “People don’t read Variety for news anymore. That’s now available free of charge, at any time of the day, from any number of websites on the Internet. People in the business read Variety for its analysis and opinion. And especially now that the paper is behind a pay wall, if you want people to pay for a subscription, you have to offer them something unique—which is what McCarthy was able to offer with his knowledgeable reviews.”
The Trades may no longer maintain their bygone mystique—somehow I can’t picture young go-getters of the 21st century as avid followers—but every in-group likes to have its own secret codes, so surely something serves that purpose. Online.
Sometimes I’m alarmed by how much business terminology, particularly in sales and marketing, borrows from the brutal lexicon of warfare: words such as strategy, tactics, campaign, and force (as in sales force) each hearken back to Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. The field refers to a battleground, where troops use tactics to attack the […]
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Absolutely! I agree with our earlier post, Ideas Without Words—or Pie Charts. Information is beautiful in charts like Caffeine and Calories. I would use this or a similar treatment each and every time the client says: “Designer, go forth with this here unlimited budget and a whenever deadline, and just… CREATE!” Alas, the world of […]
At the height of the dotcom era, a few high-tech journalists created “Buzz Saw,” an email filter that would bounce messages from PR and marketing people who larded their pitches with overused buzzwords. If you laid it on too thick with catchphrases like “bleeding-edge,” and “strategic paradigm,” not only did your email get bounced, but […]
Sometimes we copywriter people need to be put in our place. INFORMATION IS BEAUTIFUL does it.
Newspaper obits describe the fabulous lives of uncelebrated people.
The ocean captivates, its countenance fickle. Now darkness. Cold, frothy giants pound in unrelenting rhythm, giving no purchase to board or fin. Now light. A twinkling surface throwing back the glow of sun, a glassy caress of warm water—then a clean line easily discovered after a smooth drop in. Surfing that roiling, infinitely faceted sea […]
From The New York Times, December 24, 2009: “A picture caption with an article in some editions on Tuesday about continuing transportation problems after the weekend snowstorm misidentified the location of a pile of slush in the Bronx. It was on Fordham Road, not Fordham Avenue.” Anyone else share my love of journalism corrections—especially fabulously […]
Have you been watching 30 Rock lately? Or The Office? CSI:NY? Heroes? If so, you probably know about Cisco TelePresence, a high-end videoconferencing system that makes it seem as if everyone participating in a virtual meeting is actually in the same room. Cisco TelePresence is a B2B brand—at least, it started out as one when […]