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September 13, 2010

What We Want, What We Need and What’s Best for the Bottom Line

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Quick poll! What’s the most played out genre on TV? Question two: What shows have you been watching this summer?

classic family watching tv

Ah ha! If you’re like most Americans, the answers to the questions above are the same. Reality TV was reported as both the most overdone and most watched offering on the small screen this summer, according to respondents of a TiVo survey. I’m guilty myself.

Ask me and I’ll tell you that reality TV is cheap junk proliferating because it’s easy to make and consume, yet making people dumber by the episode. But what were my go to shows for the season? Why, the very refined America’s Got Talent and Wipeout. (I’ll just be over here turning red.) [I was watching Leverage, Psych, White Collar and [cough] Ice Road Truckers. —Susan]

In unpacking the reality TV contradiction, it’s worth remembering that people often say they want one thing while their behavior proves otherwise. As humans, we’re commonly out of touch with our needs or an awareness of what would make us happy. As a business, it’s imperative to recognize that sometimes the customer is just plain wrong before you go chasing after their requests.

But at the same time, there are missed opportunities in playing it safe. In the Times report of the reality TV duality, one network exec said, “There has been a little tendency, because we all have things that are working in the summer, for people to play the hand they have […] to just maintain the audience flow we have, rather than risk losing it altogether.”

So we get more sub-par programming that appeals to the lowest common denominator. If quality programming, progressive entertainment and increasingly sophisticated audiences were really the end game, there’d be a very different selection beaming into boxes today. The irony is that life proves time and again that avoiding risk is the bigger risk. If networks continue to be satisfied with the status quo, they’ll never capture critical acclaim, grab that Emmy or land the next big hit.

In our world of PR professionals and marketers, this translates to jumping on board the new media wave. The industry is comfortable with and adept at leveraging traditional media channels. However, holding on to the old ways is only holding people back. Consider:

  • RIP the Press Release explains, in short: the press release has been rendered obsolete as public figures and businesses use social media to broadcast announcements and news (via AdvertisingAge).
  • Who Has the Power in the PR Industry illuminates a professional shortcoming: of the 25 most influential public relations specialists, less than half are on Twitter, and only two use the microblogging platform effectively (via PR 20/20).

It’s human nature to resist change, but staying in your comfort zone only serves to hindering long-term success. Change is the rule, not the exception and since we’re firmly entrenched in the technology age, a fast-moving pace is a given. So rather than steering clear of progress in hopes that it’s just a passing fad, embrace the new wave and discover where your passion fits within it. The craft you’ve worked so hard to perfect and which has served you so well in the old world has its equivalent in the new. And funny enough, it usually happens that when something is done out of passion rather than interest in making a buck, you end up happier and more successful. Crazy how that works out, huh?

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One response to “What We Want, What We Need and What’s Best for the Bottom Line”

  1. Laurel Miltner writes:

    Virginia,

    I’m a sucker for pop culture evaluation, so I love how you’ve tied the reality TV dichotomy to a similar situation you’ve noticed in PR.

    And, I think you hit the nail on the head when you mention that passion is they key to finding personal and professional success. At PR 20/20, we truly believe in the saying that “nothing great has ever been achieved without passion.”

    Thanks for including my post on power in the PR industry here. Cheers!

    @laurelmackenzie



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