Peter Holt: Communicating with the Trip Advisor generation

The media picture in Bristol is typical of many areas - a proud and established local paper with a historically declining readership, radio stations coming and going, and a shrinking regional TV presence.

Peter Holt: spend more energy on new media
Peter Holt: spend more energy on new media

It would be a stretch to deny that local people here are not still well served by traditional print and broadcast (and their online spin-offs). And we're lucky our established outlets are supplemented with new media start ups like providing good quality local coverage online.

The trends though are clear for big public sector service providers like city councils, the police and health authorities - more and more people choose to find their news directly, and to trust in the opinions of their fellow citizens more than those of pundits.  The ‘tripadvisor’ generation has come of age - people who are influenced by the experiences of people they have never met when making their hotel bookings are also users of local services (not to mention voters).

The smart public services organisations are the ones who are prepared to engage sensibly with the thought leaders, who are shaping an increasing numbers of people’s views.  Yes, they might be self-appointed - but then, who ever voted in the editor of the local paper?

Yes, they might be random, quirky, irreverent, and sometimes inconsistent. Yes, they might not always demonstrate the high standards of professionalism of trained journalists. But they exist, they are read, and they have a growing influence.

A couple of months ago, when 5,507 people watched a live webcast of a development control committee in Bristol, the blogosphere added their own live commentary, along with local news outlets.  In a city of 400,000, that's part of a trend we're embracing - it'd be too big to ignore even if we wanted to.

So - time to relegate print and broadcast media to a mere afterthought?  Hardly.

But it is time to spend more energy on new media news and social media outlets - and to focus more on enabling and influencing citizen to citizen communications.  We'd best all get used to it.

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