primary & secondary mumbo-jumbo

August 11, 2010 · 2 comments

a communication plan is a whole. the comprising channels shouldn't be viewed in isolation. they shouldn't be dissected and itemized with appellations such as primary, secondary, lead, support or whatever.

i hear quite often channels referred to in such ways and it shows lack of understanding. in this heavily fragmented media world, with attention at such a premium and ad scrutiny by consumers soaring, there is no silver bullet to reach anyone. a primary medium for one is not for others. each individual's selection is not as homogeneous as it once was.

at the heart of the fallacy is a number of misunderstandings
1) multi-media approaches are always best and in this world, it's how these media compliment each other not take priority of one another. you lead with the whole plan, not any one component. how you might lead with one or use them playing off each other is a tactic of the plan not a reflection of the media.
2) terming anything as primary or lead implies that it can stand alone. this is fraught with potential for not reaching your target.
3) it can put an overimportance on any channel (most often TV) that does a disservice or denigrates other media that they aren't sufficient, capable or otherwise as valuable as they could be.
4) it also implies that the other media is there to prop of the deemed to be primary channel. while that might imply a deficiency it is also a misnomer in what is being supported. the other channels are not there to make up for the shortcomings of one channel, but rather support the entire plan in affecting the target.
5) the new digitization of the media landscape opens up the possibilities for reaching different parts of the target, in different ways, with different messages. the blanketing of a primary medium doesn't have to be the case anymore.
6) a primary medium begs more attention in executing and analyzing fully. this mentality leads to sub-standard execution of everything else. instead, everything should be executed to the right level depending on the channel.

the other aspect of the thinking is that there are traditional channels like TV, Radio, Print and OOH. digital continues to be an afterthought. it can't be a lead medium in the minds of most. my quick snipe to that charge is some agencies not seeing their profit centers of TV production being lost if they don't protect the medium of TV by elevating it to 'primary' status.

so let's all rid ourselves of these pointless adjectives when we talk about our channels. it's inconsequential to apply them and does more harm then intended.

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