‘PR is the home of New Media’ / The Deal Online interviews Midas PR
Apple’s iPad shows that publishers have learned some tough lessons from other creative industries over the past 10 years, according to Danuta Kean.
Without doubt the success of book apps prepared the ground for publishers involvement in the launch of the iPad – not only did it show publishers how readers would engage with digital book content, but it showed a giant like Apple that, despite failure of ebooks to take off significantly, that was not because readers rejected the concept of electronically delivered content. More importantly, it showed that delivered in the right format, people will pay for digital books.
Where publishers have been less successful in adapting to the creative opportunities offered by digital technologies is social networking, especially microblogging sites like Twitter. In part this is because the corporate culture of large publishing does not adapt well to the personal ethos of these sites. It is not about selling, it is about building authentic relationships with contacts, which is why the most successful book industry Tweeters and Facebook users are literary agents, led by Carole Blake, small operators like Salt Publishing and authors, all of whom have no obligation to hold the party line dictated by a remote central office.
This is changing however, and publishers are starting to recognise the ability of social networking sites to reach millions of people for a fraction of the price of an above the line marketing campaign. According to Alexander Martin, Senior New Media Manager at Midas PR, social networking has blurred the line between advertising and publicity. “It’s about having conversations with your customers rather than just talking to them,” he says.
For those who really get it, social networking has enabled publishers to be playful with their marketing. It means they can create campaigns that far better reflect the creative content
they are pushing than an ad on the side of a bus or Tube platform ever could. For once, the medium really is the message.
“Where posters and branding used to be the job of advertising, and video or website creation was the job of marketing, it’s now all the realm of PR,” adds Midas’s Martin, whose agency reflects this merging of function. In the past year Midas has created iPhone apps, street stunts using graffiti and even Twitter campaigns using characters from Maverick Books children’s titles. He believed this change is of benefit because it means publishers’ marketing can be more focused and targeted.
This pro-active mentality reflects the cultural shift that powered publishers’ support of the iPad. It is a cultural shift as significant in its own way as any iPod moment for ebooks. Because it means that at last, the book industry is shaking off its fixation with the past and learning to embrace the future.
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