The Old is Not New Again

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I would like us to retire two phrases soon. Phrase one: old media. Phrase two: new media.

Media. One word. We have worked the old and new media differentiators to death. For media and marketing veterans, it often felt like there were two camps operating for the same purpose. Maybe new media was cooler and younger. Maybe old media stood for TV, print, and radio. I don’t know really. I do know that it never made sense to me.

Before I make the case for finally putting a fork in both, let me take a shot at three major differentiators:

Old media was not accountable. Media is accountable, measurable, and can be prepared for execution with scientific testing.

Old media existed for the creative spark of its creators. Media exists for the purpose of selling product, exposing brands to the proper audience, and creating leads.

Old media did not work across channels. Media accepts new sales and marketing channels without ignoring the channels that customers use most, and without prejudice that favors new technology. Media does not favor the bright shiny object.

Old media saw the customer as a large or even mass group. Media addresses customer segments and adds value to them through customized sales and marketing approaches.

Now, I haven’t once mentioned direct response TV. And we don’t talk about “new DRTV” as if the old model were useless. Everything in media and marketing in today’s world is a new evolution. Everyone that sells, buys, or manages media has come to this point through the hard work, intelligence and mistakes of others.

When I see the phrases “new media” or “old media” attached to conference panels or trade articles, I don’t attach much emotion or usefulness to it anymore. I’m in the media business.

Ronald C. Pruett, Jr. is Chief Executive Officer of Mercury Media.  Prior to joining Mercury Media, Pruett was the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Polymedica/Liberty Medical, the largest publicly traded diabetic supply company and one of the largest multichannel direct response marketers in the country. The company was sold to Medco Health Solutions.  Pruett has extensive experience in the creation, acquisition, and management of direct to consumer marketing companies in the US and abroad.

Contact him at


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