Consumers power next media era

Reflecting back to the last decade, the emergence of the Internet forever transformed the way many of us work, communicate, and play.

Reflecting back to the last decade, the emergence of the Internet forever transformed the way many of us work, communicate, and play.

Today, widespread broadband connectivity, inexpensive media authoring tools, and consumer-as-executive-producer experiences afforded by such technologies as TiVo, RSS feeds, blogs, and iPods are beginning to shift the balance of power from mass media outlets to the consumer. Through our work with hundreds of leading PR agencies and corporations, we have identified some of the emerging trends and tips for embracing this next era of media evolution.

The "mass audience" has fragmented to become "a mass of audiences." And, the "one-size-fits-all" approach is evolving toward tailored messages to increasingly targeted communities. As this change progresses, attention will shift toward measuring the quality of the viewer as opposed to the sheer number of viewers.

The trend of "citizen journalism" and "social media networks" appears to be here to stay owing to the underlying premise of consumers having a voice in their communities. To embrace the trend of facilitating dialogue versus one-way communications, companies are starting to provide tools on their Web sites that enable a public forum for dialogue with other customers and the company itself.

This "citizen newsroom" is an increasingly important resource for other online editorial Web sites and blogs, and for links to various media elements, such as b-roll, sound bites, presentations, and audio clips. At the end of the day, it all boils down to identifying the communities that have the power to help grow your business and then engaging them on the basis of sharing information and resources they find of value.

We have identified a list of 10 tips to help you take action:

Start small. Extend traditional PR video tactics with simple, low-risk add-ons.

Measure everything. Look for early quick wins that create value for your target audiences and your end client on the basis of audience quality and calls to action.

Target. Identify audiences and intersect points within daily routines where interactions are likely to occur.

Make it relevant and easy to interact. Make sure the message is appropriate to the medium, and it is simple to take action or send a link to a friend.

Think short, episodic segments. Use one- to three-minute, content-rich, high-impact episodes.

Think integrated. Use online PR, search engine optimization, text messaging, blogs, and other techniques to target message delivery, referrals, and calls to action.

Leverage assets. Produce once; use across many media channels.

Make it visual. Use video, graphics, and animations to engage audiences.

Embrace citizen journalists. Create online resources for them to easily publish and link to content.

Tell the truth. Disclose, and fact-check.

Paul Torrey is president of business and product development at On The Scene Productions.

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