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Everybody (at Bloomberg and Reuters) Wants to Rule the World

One of the trends we spy among major media is their rising interest in talking and meeting with chief executive officers.  In fact, this is expressed more often as a plea to us for such access.

Certainly beat reporters always are interested in chatting with CEOs. But this is different. What we see as we deal with journalists whose beats transcend sectors, for example economics and management matters, is increasing requests for access to many more chief executive officers.

What chief executive officers have to say may be interesting, but that is not why they are suddenly in season. The reason is that major media are rapidly expanding news coverage in exquisitely specific ways. They are focusing on topics of the greatest interest, which can attract paid subscribers and paying advertisers. These include energy, health, politics and economics.

And all of this is being driven by a fierce and escalating rivalry between Bloomberg and Reuters. Bloomberg and Reuters dominate in the delivery of breaking financial news as well as breaking international news. But that isn’t enough.

In a speech to an international audience last year, I talked about four reasons that I am excited about the future of journalism. One of these, I explained, was the incursion by these two wire services into increased analysis and opinion beyond simple reporting of breaking events.

Bloomberg and Reuters are expanding their coverage especially of those sectors cited above – energy, health, politics and economics – as well as many others including aviation, industry etc. This deeper reporting and analysis is what is driving the demand for access to chief executives.

One result is that Bloomberg started recruiting some of the best national and financial journalists in the world and Reuters now has joined that battle with similar hiring coups.

And they are forcing others – particularly the other major wire services, Associated Press and Dow Jones, but also every other major media that sees both the opportunity and the challenge here – to reinforce their reporting teams. Top journalists who a year ago were often being seen as liabilities because of high salaries now find themselves with even better job opportunities.

Bloomberg and Reuters are battling to become, and be recognized as, the most influential news organization in the world because that is an even more lucrative franchise than each occupies right now. So everybody at Bloomberg and Reuters wants to rule the world. And every other major news organization now is forced to deal with this arms race or be left behind.

This war is really about the business model that will work best in the future of journalism. It is, as always, about money. What does all of this mean for you? Here are two suggestions.

You don’t have to take “no” for an answer. If you don’t get what you want from conversations with the “beat reporter” who follows your company, you have other options. One challenge in dealing with beat reporters is that they may think they know the company better than they actually do – and so may dismiss a story you think is worth telling because “everybody already knows that about you.” With expanding coverage from Bloomberg and Reuters via the attendant stockpiling of reporting talent, you don’t have to start with or settle for the beat reporter. All those new and talented reporters covering energy, health, politics, economics and other topics with broad interest, are looking for stories. Is there a specific message you want to convey on your success in sustainability, innovation, policy? 

You can reach more global markets via local bureaus. Bloomberg and Reuters are not just building armies here in the United States. Both also are expanding their empires with more reporting talent in key markets around the world. When your chief executive visits operations or customers in Brazil, China, India, Russia and other emerging or developed markets, there will be interest among these global media as well as others in talking with your executives. Do you need to brand yourself more strongly with your customers there? Do you need to differentiate yourself more ferociously from competitors? Do have a perspective on an issue of importance in that market that you want to make known?

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