5.07.2009

The great Outdoor Retailer bailout?

Congress, most likely at the behest of the newspaper industry, is debating ways to keep newspapers alive.

There are some excellent conversations on the topic ... going on right now (YAHOO, FORBES, HUFFPO, HUFFPO). But the short story is that they're considering tax breaks for papers, considering allowing non-profit status for papers, and considering subsidies for papers.

Newspaper journalism is an essential part of a functioning democracy, say the men in the blue suits and red ties, and because it's so essential, the Government should consider stepping in to keep it alive.

It's an interesting notion ... macro-community support to keep independently owned media alive ... and it made me wonder: should the outdoor industry be considering the same thing?

Should OIA be looking at an emergency ad buy this summer? Something that would throw a lifeline to the media that is hard hit during the downturn?

What if Outdoor Retailer reached deep and bought a few ad pages in some of our "essential" media outlets -- possibly bridging the difference between survival of a key promoter of outdoor activities and their permanent disappearance?

Should AFFTA be doing the same thing in fly fishing? Would an SIA ad buy have helped Powder owners from going bankrupt last month? What about Interbike dropping a few back covers in the rapidly disappearing bike rags?

Or should we stay the laissez-faire course? Should we take a more conservative, a more Republican position, and let the chips fall as the may, let our media outlets fail, and let the market decide what we need?

5 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:49 AM

    interesting thought, manufacturers don't seem to be offering up much of a mercy spend....sort of a lot of hand sitting in the advertising realm. The "we together" buy could also prevent a deeper and more frequent spend by the industry...how would you fairly decide what to buy?

    A few ads would NOT have helped Source it seems, (and it seems they will come out stronger by just shedding debt thru chapter 11, such glee about bankruptcy seems shameful??) but I am sure Dirt Rag or Paddler could use a few ads..

    Also interesting coming from a PR guy. PR folks at times have persuaded manufacturers that they "don't need to advertise" because of all the "free" press a PR firm can get them.

    Most magazines are bloated blow hards and a waste of trees....Let the market decide on this one...the good strong ones will survive....I hope.

    Cheers Drew! SJ

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  2. For me, the question is whether or not a short-term stimulus will save old media. A larger issue is how old media got in this predicament in the first place: Are they suffering because of a short-term economic hit because companies are taking out fewer ads, or is it because there's been a sea-change in how people approach their media interactions? I'd argue that it's the latter that's driving this, with the current economic climate simply providing the coup-de-grace.

    Personally, I think that there are better ways to reach influencers in the outdoor community than through magazines. The spread and reach of social media and alternative media outlets (closely related, they are) is all but negating the impact of magazines. Our research (still preliminary) is showing us that more of our shop kids interact with YouTube than any other form of media, and hardly anybody in mainstream outdoors is playing in this space.

    This is just one example of an unexploited online resource to help get people psyched to go outdoors. Rather than putting more money into something that may in fact be dying of its own accord, it seems better that we invest into something that will grow into the future.

    Thanks for the post. Interesting stuff.

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  3. Anonymous10:05 PM

    From Reflections of a Newsosaur:
    http://tiny.cc/i9HQX

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  4. I'm no Republican but I do believe business should succeed because they have adapted effectively to changing markets instead of being propped up because they "can't" fail. Media needs to learn how to monetize better. Content is valuable. I know I'm going to get flamed for this, but instead of encouraging pity ad buys, I would suggest that magazines move to become retailers in a way, selling or receiving commission for selling the gear they write about and retailers become magazines, providing quality content on the gear they sell. Competition like that would be healthy for both entities, no?

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  5. Agreed, SJ.

    Let the market decide.

    And re-localizing news, like food, is in the cards for the 21st century.

    Count on it.

    Rob

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