Where traditional media fear to tread, there is opportunity

Where traditional media fears to tread, there is opportunity: Susan Mernit points to Glam.com‘s development of a fashion blogging network as an example of a start-up company going where a big-media company’s risk aversion keeps them from going.


As a frequent consultant in magazineland, Glam.com’s development of a fashion blogging network pulling in popular shopping and style blogs BagCrazy, Coquette, SheFinds, PopGadget, InMyBag, FashionTribes and Tia Williams seems like something some bigger media entity might have started 10 months ago, but that hasn’t been the case–this Silicon Valley start-up is the first to get that exposing and promoting fashion bloggers can be lucrative and –yes–fun.

I believe their aversion is not merely related to “risk” or the reluctance to invest, but is tied also to the phenomenon I blogged Monday: Success comes from a company’s leadership’s ability to recognize and tap into (to “get it”) what’s taking place in the world around them (the zeitgeist) and to respond accordingly.

In other words, I don’t think it’s a reluctance to “invest in” or an unwillingness to “risk” that keeps old media companies from doing what Glam.com (and Weblogs, Inc., Gawker and others) are doing.

It’s just a “get it” thing. I should know. For almost 20 years, I’ve been bumping around a niche in the magazine business (custom publishing) that has journeyed from misunderstood outcast to hot, trendy “everyone’s doing it” status. Indeed, it’s taken over a century for big media companies to understand the custom publishing business model — and to covet it.

But that’s okay. That’s the way this should work. Let the folks behind Glam.com prove the concept, gain an audience and then be acquired and take a long vacation in the South Pacific or Italy or wherever.

Frankly, when big media try to take the lead in these things, they almost always attempt to impose their view of the world as it should be, rather than tap into the world as it is. No one should want them taking the lead on determining the shape of participatory media. Believe me. Let it grow from the ground up.