In my new book, Selling to the Government, I quote my friend and long-time business development professional Bob Davis, PhD. In one of our interviews for a CD set we recorded on BD, he said, "Marketshare is rented, never owned." This is one of those classic 'I wished I'd said it' statements. This statement is true not simply for contractors, but for government media as well, where the landscape is changing rapidly.
Among the changes you should be aware of, these seem to be of some significance. They appear in no particular order.
FierceMarkets: Late last year veteran reporter Dave Perara joined the staff of FierceMarkets to edit the government facing enewsletter FierceGovernmentIT. Dave helped make it a more interesting publication. FierceMarkets is an enews operation that has nearly 1,000,000 subscribers worldwide for the many tech enewsletters it puts out. Fierce is doing a good job of growing marketshare and influence. They are making a strong push to grow mindshare in the government market. FierceGovernmentIT is a good read and the readership is growing. The associated web portal is a robust source for government IT information and there is a commitment to become bigger in this market.
BGov: Allan Holmes, former online editor of National Journal/Government Executive, moved to Bloomberg Government (BGov) late last year. He is only one of several editors and reporters to move to BGov. BGov is a paid content source for contractors, not a traditional media source. It almost does not belong in this post, but because I don't think the business model BGov envisions will work, it bears watching as it evolves. It will be interesting to see if Bloomberg's BusinessWeek starts covering more government contracting issues.
Washington Business Journal: Jill Aitoro, also formerly with National Journal/Government Executive, has moved to the Washington Business Journal. Washington Business Journal obviously has had a weak spot for years in the government contracting arena, and they are making up for lost time. Aitoro started in the government arena as editor of Government VAR in the early 2000s, then moved to Government Executive. WBJ also now has a new monthly column from industry veteran Larry Allen, former president of the Coalition for Government Procurement. Will this be enough to attract more ad dollars and readers? I don't think WBJ will ever be a primary B2G source, but with Jill and Larry there, it will be interesting to read.
AOL: Wyatt Kash, former editor in chief of Government Computer News and most recently content director of FOSE (both part of 1105 Government Media), is moving to AOL. Wyatt Kash is not going to AOL to ignore the government market. AOL is hungry for niche content and Wyatt is a great editor so this bears watching as it evolves. I look for AOL to add a few more solid editors and reporters and go after this market with a vengeance.
FedScoop: David Stegon of FedTech Bisnow is moving to FedScoop. Goldy Kamali has carved out an interesting niche with http://www.fedscoop.com/, and I am not certain exactly what it is: part networking event producer, part advertising arm for her perpetual advertisers (Intel and Microsoft, and now HP and Symantec), part news source (no original news, but links to top stories from media and blogs). Whatever it is, it is interesting. The edgy style of David Stegon will certainly help get more visitors if Goldy and Dave can get people to sign up for the newsletter. FedScoop bears watching.
Bisnow (Almost Never Boring - gotta love that line!), http://www.bisnow.com/, an extraordinary enewsletter publisher and producer of numerous networking events, also continues to grow and expand the Bisnow brand and influence in DC and thirteen other cities, all of which are federal hub cities. Mark Bisnow is one of the more interesting people I know and it is always fun to have coffee with him and brainstorm. Dave Stegon going to FedScoop opens the door to changes at Bisnow. I have known Mark Bisonw by reputation since the late 1990s, when he was the main face and voice of MicroStrategy. He did a live radio show from the dining room at the Tower Club, which planted the seed for me wanting a talk show. Bisnow has three national newsletters: Fed Tech Bisnow, Real Estate Bisnow, and Association and Non-Profit Bisnow. Each city has a real estate newsletter, and Bisnow events occur in each city served. From his townhouse offices off Connecticut Avenue in NorthWest DC, Bisnow is always someone to watch because he is never boring and always innovative.
WFED and http://www.federalnewsradio.com/: Chris Dorobek has moved on to places yet to be named and Francis ("the voice") Rose will move into the afternoon drive-time slot. I refer to Francis as "the voice" because he has one of those voices that just oozes depth and authority. He is fun to listen to and you always learn something. With the departure of Chris Dorobek after two and one half years, there will be other changes coming to WFED. The only weakness of Dorobek in the PM drive time was he did his show live from 3-5 PM, then the show was repeated from 5-7 PM, unless pre-empted by a sports event. Francis Rose will do a 4 hour show, and he has become a top talent in our market. While I am not privy to what is happening, I expect some new shows and hosts. WFED also has a robust web presence, one of the best overall active news source for all things Federal, and the listening audience for WFED (1500 AM) continues to grow. The combination of broadcast and a robust web site is powerful. My show (Amtower Off Center, Monday at noon) is in year 5 and I have to say, while I hate the drive into DC, I always enjoy myself when I get there.
GovLoop: We also have the rise of Steve Ressler's www.GovLoop.com as an online social network, news and opinion source. The network is around 40,000 strong. Steve Ressler started http://www.govloop.com/ in June, 2008 as the first social network "by, for and about Feds", and in two and one half years it has grown to 40,000. While this is not huge by social networking standards, it is significant. Steve is no longer a Fed, but he remains a force. Some rumors put Dorobek here later this year. Will it be the blogging or broadcast Dorobek, or both? Ressler also does Gov 2.0 Radio with Adriel Hampton and Steve Lunceford on Blog Talk Radio.
GovWin: Jeff White's GovWin, now part of Deltek (along with Input), has become a great information source for small businesses seeking government contracts. It has several large businesses that use GovWin to identify the sub-contractors they require for bids. GovWin started out as a portal to help small companies partner and sub-contract and it is still that, but much more. It has become a news and education portal for the 27,000 plus members it serves. The site is free for small businesses to join, so there is every reason to do so. With a parent like Deltek and with Input as a sister company, I am looking for much more from http://www.govwin.com/.
TFCN- The Federal Contractor Network: Further, we have Alex George's TFCN network that started on LinkedIn and evolved into yet another social networking platform, http://www.tfcn.us/ with news and opinions. Alex George has been relentless in expanding the TFCN brand through deploying groups on LinkedIn and driving traffic to http://www.tfcn.us/ portal.
Final thoughts, comments and detritus:
Targeted content delivered by enews platforms is not going away and content delivered in mutliple ways is growing. Interactive content, where visitors or members can comment directly will be an important feature. Opinions and analysis, as well as news, will be part of the mix of the successful portals. The ability of members and visitors to share the content will assist in the viral spread. I am looking for an audio component from some of the more innovative players in the market. Web radio, podcasting and traditional broadcasting are key to delivering content in the ways that people digest information. Portals that offer a robust combination of news, opinions, blog(s), audio and video content will emerge stronger than those that have mutiple ways to disseminate appropriate content.
Audio has always been at best a sideline in our market, as had video.
As government contracting C-levels, sales, business development and marketing professionals, it is critical to understand where our target audience(s) get the information that is critical to them. The market is evolving in ways we could not imagine a few short years back. At my August,2008 session of Government Marketing Best Practices, I said traditional B2G media that did not adopt and adapt to social networking platforms would fall behind and lose marketshare. Those that were slow suffered.
I am not ignoring 1105 (Federal Computer Week, Washington Technology, FOSE, etc), Government Executive, or Federal Times but will address print media separately soon. I am also not implying they are not changing and adapting, as they remain vital information sources to the government community.
I also did not address the blogging community at all in this, as it deserves a separate detailed analysis. I am currently seeking some input on this from some key bloggers in the community.
I will point out that though I am a member of GovLoop, GovWin and TFCN, LinkedIn is my social network of choice and it just hit 100,000,000 members. I am member # 222,445, having joined over seven years ago (February 11, 2004). LinkedIn is an important part of the information and content sharing platforms for the business of government.