Do those in the media really compete with solution providers for practioner attention?

Posted on May 10, 2016

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“The procurement media… now there is an interesting group . . . In some ways, we’re competing with solution providers for practitioner attention . . .” Kelly Barner, Buyers Meeting Point

The above is an excerpt of a comment that Kelly Barner made regarding my last post Theranos and procurement continued . . ..

As I had indicated in my response, Kelly provided what I described as being “a thoughtfully balanced commentary that emphasizes both the importance and need for these kinds of discussions.”

While I do not think that she necessarily answers the question of how familiarity can potentially undermine the objectivity of the media, Kelly does raise an interesting and somewhat indirectly related point. Specifically, the existence of a competitive element between the same two parties relating to grabbing the hearts and minds of the practioners.

Referring to them as the “silent majority,” Kelly highlights the fact that practioners have “VERY little time for reading and other non-essential activities.” Based on my discussions with a diverse range of practioners, this is absolutely true. But this shouldn’t surprise anyone, because in this hyper-connected Internet world through which we are literally bombarded with information, the same statement holds true for most professionals across all industries.

In this regard, Kelly’s admonishment that “helping them do their work so they could go home 15 minutes sooner rather than giving them the privilege to attend another webinar,” is a reminder that relevancy on a real and practical level is likely going to resonate more with the practioner.

Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. – from Amusing Ourselves to Death:Public Discourse In The Age of Show Business

Given the above, does the information and insights we in the media provide, have any real impact?

Are we returning any real value for the time being invested on the part of the practioner? When I talk about time invested, I am talking about reading posts or attending webinars.

Before you can answer that question, you first have to ask (and answer) if said activity will be monetized by practioners to the point that it can sustain the media’s business model? After all, practioner funding is the only way to truly ensure the independence of media coverage. It is also the only way to guarantee that the focus of said coverage will be centered on the topics that are of the greatest interest and importance to practioners i.e. how to go home 15 minutes earlier.

Based on the fact that providers are for the most part the primary source of income for the majority who cover our industry, the answer would be no. Practioners rarely if ever subsidize the media. By the way, the same financial apathy extends beyond the procurement world, which is why newspapers are going out of business and local television stations are dying.

This brings us back full circle to the larger question regarding the possibilities of Theranos-type conflicts, and the old axiom of getting what you pay for. Or in the case of the practioner, getting what you don’t pay for.

Based on the above, the relationship between the media and providers is not competitive, but is really one of co-dependency.

Codependent relationships are a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement. – Wikipedia

As Kelly stated in her comment, if providers believed that “the best way to reach procurement decision makers was to run blood drives or host buffet breakfasts,” they would being doing that. In other words, providers are using the media because they feel that this is the best way to sell their product. Selling their product as opposed to enriching the profession is their bottom line objective.

Conversely, the industry’s media has to somehow pay the bills. Unless someone hits it big in the lottery and can self-fund in perpetuity, there will remain a dependence on provider money. As a result, the majority of outlets covering our industry will not likely bite the hand that literally feeds them.

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Like the rich kid who is under the thumb of a demanding parent will not likely turn their back on the family fortune, even though they may hate being part of an oppressive and compromising relationship, when push comes to shove the real stories, the ones that will have the most impact on the practioner, will slip through the cracks.

And thus continues the cycle of selective coverage and puff pastry pieces . . .

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Posted in: Commentary