The meaning of the term 'media' has changed dramatically. Where it once meant the physical vehicle, the medium, by which information was conveyed - it now represents mediation between people and the world. How we view and understand the world is mediated by the media.
It might seem like a convoluted semantic argument but, the more I think about it, the more it makes sense to me and suggests some strategies for the future.
One of the fundamental planks of media has always been that of access. I can't know what is happening in the halls of power, because I am but a plebeian schlub. But Woodward and Bernstein do have access and they become my avatars under the great domes of democracy.
Now that media has become social and we plebs now have direct access to audiences, unmediated, disintermediated, wholus bolus and it means a tectonic shift in power has taken place. We the peeps…
Or has it?
Here's the thing. I may be a blogger…here, on Posterous, on Twitter, Idealog…but that doesn't necessarily give me access to influential people (maybe Idealog does, a little).
There has always been a grudging accord between journalists and the powerful. It goes along the lines of: 'if a tree falls in the forest…but no one is there to hear…does it make a sound?. So politicians and business people, movie stars and artists grant access in return for fame and the triumphant glory of an airbrushed spread in Hello! magazine, …vanity fare.
In an era where advertising no longer interrupts the content but is the content the currency of advertising needs to change. In the era of branded content we must offer people access to ideas and people who are relevant, interesting, sexy, fun…insert adjective…but to do that we need to have access. For our clients we have to be able to broker access to the right audiences for their messages.
It is an entirely new and different skill set from the historical approach to advertising where I 'create' and you pay attention. It is entirely more participatory and the winners will be those who understand by doing, not by theorising about a market's motivations based on vagaries and abstractions like 'household shoppers'. Forget about 'target markets' and the message. Synthesising messages down to 30 second fantasies will be as a quaint as pamphleteering seems now. Telling stories and documenting interesting lives will replace the crude spectacle that advertising became. The spectacle will become a lens. Access will be crucial. Make sure you have a back stage pass.