Streaming Media East '07: Non-Media Companies Get Media

I thought I'd coined the term "every company is a media company," meaning that the accessibility of the tools and the imperative to touch customers directly makes every company -- whether Wal-Mart or HP or Sun Microsystems or GM or Caldwell Banker or the local New York ice cream shop with a website – a company that produces media for its customers, or "constituents," if you prefer.

Then I found out at Streaming Media East that The FeedRoom CEO Bart Feder has been going around saying the same thing. And he tells me Streaming Media honcho Dan Rayburn's been saying it, too. FeedRoom handles video in one form or another for all the companies mentioned above, and a bevy of others. FeedRoom's revenues from Enterprise clients has gone up 80% this year, compared to last, while their business from media clients is essentially flat, Feder said. And those companies are embracing many of the practices that some traditional media companies have been slow to adopt: encouraging consumer-generated content, trying viral video, reaching out directly to people over the heads of any mediators, creating communities of excited brand-loyal consumers, and using customers' input as marketing intelligence.

Feder also, in an interview, talked about "direct to constituent" video, meaning that companies reach out to their dealer networks, managers, consumers, the press, and so on, and target each of them separately, having either open or closed networks, with various levels of control. When someone on a panel Feder was on said companies were having trouble creating enough content, Feder suggested that every company should give its 250 smartest and most loyal employees video cameras, and get them each to produce one video. Voila, enough content to run one video a day for a year of business days. Cheap, too. (And, of course, more for The FeedRoom to run through its system, and charge for.)

Jeff Jarvis, who moderated a panel today, likes that there's no arguing at this conference about whether the way things are is right or wrong, that the way media is now is treated as a given. So does Steve Safran of LostRemote. (I was a fly on the wall -- well, a guy standing in the aisle - -when Safran was speaking to Jarvis.) Jarvis argued earlier th at media companies should encourage consumers to distribute their media, stop worrying about how to control it and instead start worrying how to get it into consumers' eyes and ears.

He pointed out in a conversation a the conference today that perhaps the reason corporate America is so happy to use media in all its flexible ways is that for them, it's a cost. Or, as I would put it, it's not what they make – it's just what they do, that they're happy to give away, or take a short-term "loss" on producing the media to get people to pay for whatever it is that they really do. And the better the cost-effectiveness, the better for them. They're certainly not worried about making people pay for subscriptions, or making ad revenue on whatever media they produce. And in that they have a luxury that the traditional media companies don't.

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