A Wake-Up Call for Old-Media Professionals

A couple of blog commentaries today by B2B icons highlight two industry transformations that just aren’t happening fast enough.

In one post, reflecting on today’s bankruptcy filing of Penton Media,  Paul Conley laments that traditional publishers have been too slow to die off.

In the other, Joe Pulizzi worries that media professionals have been too slow to build their personal brands.

Taken together, these posts offer a much-needed wake-up call to those “lucky” people who still hold down old-media jobs.

For Conley, the likelihood that Chapter 11 will keep Penton going for at least a while longer isn’t good news, but bad. The complete demise of companies like Penton would be the best outcome, he suggests.

But instead, “these print-legacy, bond-selling dinosaurs get back on their feet and just lumber on . . . holding on to valuable properties that could actually grow if they were owned by people with more vision and less debt.”

The too-slow death of these behemoths is bad for the industry and worse for the people they employ. Conley notes that “Penton, like many of its peers, employs some talented people who produce some valuable material.” But talent alone is not enough. As ex-Pentonite Pulizzi observes, it has not saved many of his former colleagues from long periods of unemployment.

Yet they may be better off than those who have so far kept their jobs with the old-media dinosaurs. Far from being the lucky few, these are the people who, when their employers eventually collapse for good, are most at risk of falling behind in the new-media age.

It’s those employees that Pulizzi most urgently addresses in his post, offering them “Seven Ways to Position Yourself for Unlimited Work.”  If anyone is paying particular attention to his excellent advice,  it is surely the unemployed among us. It may be later than they like, but at least many of them are getting the message.

By contrast, the employed are not paying much attention, and so risk coming last to the new-media party. It’s for those people that Pulizzi reserves his most impassioned words:

“I’m urging you, especially if you have a full-time job that you feel is secure, to start doing this NOW. I can share hundreds (yes, hundreds) of examples of people who thought they were secure, didn’t do the work above, and are now taking unemployment.”

Between them, Conley and Pulizzi make it clear. The days of traditional B2B media jobs are numbered. The only job security you can count on now is what you build through your personal brand. If you aren’t doing that already, you need to catch up—and quick.