Localization and Media Targeting Prove Right for Washington

Jim VandeHei, editor of Politico, took a big gamble leaving the Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com) to start a new print publication. In fact, to go up against the venerable Roll Call and the upstart The Hill seemed a fool's game three years ago.

This week in Washington, at the Public Relations Society of America's International Conference, Jim was a keynoter. He talked about how the rules of media and media relations have changed. And coined a new phrase: "The Age of the Niche" in media.

Readers and audience are "extremely fickle," said VandeHei. "The Media landscape has been demolished." Who would have thought the Daily Beast merges with Newsweek?

On The Obama Administration, VandeHei commented: "This has been an extremely activist government," noted at the PRSA meeting. "He'll have to compromise now." VandeHei said the public demands less goverment spending now (See blog posts at www.prsa.org)

Politico (www.politico.com) is a new model for journalism and thus for PR people. Joel Albritton owns our ABC affiliated station WJLA and other media properties. So here's what happened as Albritton Communications snuck up on everyone and now dominates this media market.

Albritton Communications grabbed up Jim VandeHei from the Washington Post where he was a political reporter with a strong following. Jim was Sunday's PRSA keynoter. Slowly but surely, broadcasting, print, and online were fully integrated. Politico reporters are seen on the Good Morning Washington program and the evening news. TBD News, a local news cable channel, feeds more political talk shows and news content.

Politico.com is a "must read" in this town as it teases out the latest news. Reporters are now quoted by other mainstream media as sources! Politico breaks news. The newsroom is completely without walls. There is no physical division between ABC-TV workers and Politico reporters in their cubes. I think somebody hung a banner?

Is this a model for future of reporting and journalism? Politico is driving home the point that there's a great place for print, online, tv, and great reportage. Yes, they have kicked the hell out of traditional Hill pubs and given Washington new venues for localization. New options.

Mike Smith is a Washington PR executive now at Gibraltar Associates, LLC (www.gibraltar-llc.com). He is also a member of the PRSA.