While in New York earlier this week Todd and I attended LinkedIN’s Connect09, which was essentially a sales pitch on their advertising products. Though, I must say, it was one of the most useful sales pitches I’d been to in a while.
Besides the new features they were showing off around LinkedIN Groups as well as some of the advertising opportunities, what struck me most was who Steve Patrizi, vice president of advertising sales and operations, identified as LinkedIN’s competition.
He focused on BusinessWeek, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, pointing out how the LinkedIN audience is younger, wealthier and more engaged than audiences at any of the publications mentioned. It should be noted that Patrizi himself joined LinkedIN from the Wall Street Journal.
In fact, Facebook garnered barely a mention by the main presenters other than an amusing reference to LinkedIN interactions not being as fun as “Mafia Wars” but certainly more interesting. The only reference to the f-word by name came later during a panel on community management when one of the panelists joked that he just didn’t understand Facebook but was a LinkedIN “fanatic.”
This becomes even more fascinating when you consider that BusinessWeek let go some wonderful reporters yesterday. While journalism organizations have only their content to sell,
LinkedIN has people. Or, as Director of Operations David Hahn joked, while showing a picture of Bill Gates, “We have a lot of rich people on LinkedIN and we’re bigger than Twitter. Our sales reps are around the room.”
From a PR perspective there is a lot to consider here. Afterall, we go where the people are, and if the people aren’t reading the main publications then we need to move on too.
But I also wonder if there is an opportunity for a LinkedIN (or any of its smaller business-focused competitors) to pick up the journalism mantle. While publications struggle to find ways to make money on journalism, wouldn’t it be interesting for LinkedIN to hire, say, Stephen Baker or Steve Wildstrom to do some original business reporting, only to add to the site’s appeal?