The Power of the Media – Economic Downturn Fact or Fiction?

Anybody apart from me who is already bored with hearing/watching stories of economic doom and gloom, everywhere you turn??
My worry is that only part of the story is fact (all those …

18th April 2008 at 3:37 pm

Anybody apart from me who is already bored with hearing/watching stories of economic doom and gloom, everywhere you turn??

My worry is that only part of the story is fact (all those economic indicators that city boffins use are probably showing lower growth), but a lot of the story is down to a self fulfilling prophesy – and the responsibility for this falls firmly at the feet of the world’s media in my mind.

Ultimately the symptoms associated with downturn are mostly to do with confidence – not just the big boys with the big bonuses in the City, but whether regular Joes like you or me feel comfortable splashing out on shopping, whether its houses, cars, clothes and luxuries or food and drink.  So if what we read, see or hear , makes us anxious (regardless of whether our bank statements are telling us the same thing), we are going to behave more cautiously. . .spend less.  Hey presto, more headlines. . .house market on the verge of crashing, the high streets are hitting the doldrums etc etc.

So what about the small business?  Is anyone out there feeling the pinch??  I’m told that marketing budgets are one of the first to be cut when times are tough. . .so my work might hit a rocky patch.  But no signs as yet.  But I’m sure if I was running a small and recently formed Estate Agency, I’d be feeling a bit less positive – I know this because I’m selling my house and guess what. . .it’s taking forever.

What are your experiences is the downturn fact or fiction for your business – leave me a comment and let’s see if we can whip up our own storm in a tea-cup!!

Sara Scott

Sara is a marketing specialist with a wealth of on-line and traditional experience. With award winning credentials as an advertising writer, her career also spans the disciplines of planning and strategy for both B2B and consumer clients. Having worked for one of the the UK's biggest non-London agencies, Sara now works on a consultancy basis for clients large and small.

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  1. Donna Maria says:

    Today’s New York Times’ lead story is all about the poor economy, including how it’s affecting small businesses. In fact, two self employed people featured in the article were a musician and a computer repairman. Neither of them have a website or a myspace page. We can’t blame the economy for everything.

  2. Nigel Morgan says:

    Sara you are so right. One of the contracts my PR agency has involves writing features on different companies and the impact of the relentless stories is having a direct impact with clear evidence of caution coming before any indication it is required.

    Equally the companies we see thriving are often the ones who simply dismiss any mention of the ‘R’ word.

    What I would say, is that we have picked up a couple of clients who have opted to outsource and shave a few salaries and they claim a downturn in business.

  3. Bill Dueease says:


    Someone other than the media is questioning the true facts about the media supposed recession. The editors and owners of the media are not interested in reporting the truth. They follow the herd (of other editors) fulfill their own narrow minded and self serving agendas, and are driven to sell more papers, air time etc. by publishing whatever will get people to read, watch, or listen. The herd is now fulfilling it’s own prophecy of an economic downturn. I have personally witnessed the media creating very dramatic economic changes by purposefully publishing very isolated situations or people who fit (and unfortunately many times fabricate to suit) the predetermined story and conclusions the editors reported. Your examples exemplify their methods.

    Thank goodness for the unrestricted, open and editor free Internet. The corporate controlled media (look closely at who owns the media outlets and you will be shocked then concerned) is being consolidated into fewer and fewer powerful hands, and is providing less and less factual information and more and more glitz and puff. Just look at the sensational media attention given to Paris Hilton for so long. Now that was a classic example of the media creating the sensations then reporting it as legitimate. There was nothing there.

    Small business owners must operate on the real facts and not political spin. Relying on the media for the facts would not be wise. The Internet is much more real.

  4. Sara Scott Sara Scott says:

    What great comments!

    Having taken the career path of marketing I often look at what I do (as a paid story teller) and wonder about the line between a truth well told and a manipulative fiction. It’s a hard path to navigate, when integrity appears to be in such short supply in the world these days! But for anyone working in or with the media, the power of the published word (whether printed or digital) is a key consideration.

    On the same topic, but a lighter note, for anyone wanting to explore the power of the writer to manipulate perception, I would highly recommend a recent novel by Sebastian Faulks, called Engleby. Some really thought provoking ideas laid within a really well told story, with loads of current media parallels. . .enjoy!

  5. Richard Boyd says:

    Good post Sara. The mass media effect creates the problem and the lack of reporting of substance is partially to blame for that.

    BTW tell Alex sorry to do this to him but yer tagged.

  6. Clive Birnie says:

    Raw material inflation running at 20% p.a. showing no signs of slowing. And that is before the Euro exchange rate bites. Have seen one of my suppliers exit a market and lay off half their work force. See others struggling elsewhere. We could be in the phony war months. Everyone still reporting last year’s numbers and all looks ok but if the spring 2009 round is less good jobs will be shed to pay for the shortfall. Its a long game. 2009 is the one to worry about.

  7. Sara Scott Sara Scott says:

    Just the last couple of days awareness of global food shortages have repeatedly entered my headspace – which was a new one to me. Not sure exactly where that piece fits in the global jigsaw of doom. Is there ever any honest-to-goodness good news??! And does that mean that all supermarkets will soon be looking as empty shelved as my local Co-op??

  8. Sara, thanks for the great post and for prompting a very interesting thread of discussion. The media do have a lot to answer for and regularly whip up a storm in the proverbial teacup. But … I think there are some worrying economic fundamentals.
    Every business owner has to strike that difficult balance of staying positive and pragmatic. Moreover however the economic dice end up rolling, the best businesses will survive and reap the rewards. With a bit of luck “That which does not kill us makes us stronger. ” P.S. Thanks Richard for the tag (aaaarrrhhgggh!)

  9. Oliver Cromwell says:

    I agree 100% – the media needs to be held to account just as much as the politicians. Invest in rope manufacture/supply 😉

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