A consumer’s responsibility to the media: Fans must be Fans!

It seems that not a day goes by that I don’t read about another once highly-regarded magazine or newspaper filing Chapter 11 or closing up shop. I feel sad, yet somewhat responsible, for its demise like so many other well-known and long standing periodicals. While I’ve enjoyed many of the now-defunct periodicals, I may have mentioned an article to someone only from time to time.

I now realize that I never advocated for the products, and may be partially responsible for their demise.

There is a new obligation for the consumers and entrepreneurs now that social media has transferred ownership of brands to the masses, and that means companies and brands can no longer be expected or capable of promoting their value all by themselves.  In short, we as consumers and partners need to speak up, and no longer take for granted that magazines – or any media program for that matter – will go on in perpetuity as we passively enjoy their product.

Now here’s the good news - the now popular social media feedback movement gives magazines the opportunity to listen and publicly respond to customers, to being transparent and to being consistent. Like all good companies, some forward-thinking publishers have made this initiative an integral part of their corporate culture and a key component of their marketing, sales and customer service functions.

But that’s not good enough. Readers must become raving fans, and be ready to tell others how much they love the magazine. What’s more, when a consumer doesn’t like something or disagrees with a media outlet’s approach, they should also embrace the democracy of social media and communicate their displeasure, though not in a vengeful way as it will damage its long-term viability just as some of the heavy-handed practices of corporations damaged theirs.

So moving forward, I’m calling for a new approach – to not sit on the sidelines as we witness the loss of our dearly-departed magazines, but do something to make sure they survive and thrive. It’s in our interest and power. While I’m on the subject, let me formally make a plea here -- please don’t take away my Mental Floss magazine (www.mentalfloss.com). It feeds my need for useless trivia answers and fills obscure corners of my memory with interesting facts, figures, irony and history. Try it and tell everyone what you think.

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