A Happy Medium for Politics?

October 19, 2008 at 2:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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For those of you who have been visiting this blog as one of the last few places not talking about the U.S. presidential election, I thank you for visiting and gently announce that this entry will be discussing the campaigns’ media choices. Don’t worry – I promise not to embed any sound bites!

 

Think. Care. VOTE!

Think. Care. VOTE!

 

 

 

A recent BusinessWeek article quotes a campaign advisor from the 2004 race talking about the ways things were changing four years ago, when tracking the evening news “turned out to be a fundamentally wrong choice. What was happening underneath us was this enormous swell of the grassroots” that didn’t show up at all in those newscasts. In the four years since then, YouTube and Facebook have been born, and a variety of new media possibilities now complicate or enhance campaign possibilities, depending on a planner’s point of view.

 

Plenty has been written about the Republican and Democratic campaigns, so this post will highlight some of the less covered parties’ forays into the world of new media. The Constitution Party has a video and downloadable literature available on its Web site, although its blog seems to be inactive; the CP of Texas is more adventurous, even podcasting on Net Party. The Green Party is on MySpace and Facebook, has a channel on YouTube, and has formed a Yahoo Group. The Libertarian Party updates its blog several times a week and is on MySpace, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Perhaps the parties that can’t seem to capture the attention of the major television networks can reach out to people where they live in new, more personal media.

 

What medium do you think has been the most influential in this year’s election? See the poll in the sidebar and vote!

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Media Forecast

August 28, 2008 at 11:19 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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As I type this, Tropical Storms Gustav and Hanna are doing the two-step across the Caribbean and Western Atlantic. People in the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, Louisiana, and Texas are paying very close attention to the projected paths of the storms. 

In the marketing communications world, the technological storm continues to gather strength. New media develop constantly, and any company, person, or organization that has a message must get some bearings and choose a direction carefully. To do so, we need a forecast. How can we know what evaluation methods will become available and whether social networking sites will have lasting impact? What media will fade into irrelevance? Let’s look at some of the main drivers of the changing media climate to draw a projected path.

1. Mobility

The ever-shrinking chip continues to drive us from desktops to laptops to PDAs and beyond. We’ve come a long way since Desk Set and if Moore’s Law holds, the future undoubtedly promises even more marvelously portable communications gadgets. If holographic projection becomes feasible for personal communications devices, then screen size will no longer be an issue, and we might wear an iRing or a Broochberry. 

2. Environmental Consciousness

We are far from a paperless society, but how many of your bills do you receive online rather than through the mail now? Did the last camera you purchased come with a printed manual or a url leading to an online manual? Catalogs still fill many mailboxes, but if you check the back cover, many of them proudly declare either recycled content or origin in a certified managed forest. Most communities have recycling drives for used telephone directories, but think of the fuel used to deliver these heavy books. Even though 61% of consumers report turning to the Yellow Pages when they are ready to buy, will the online version eventually put an end to the printed edition? There is a great tug of war going on here that is likely to find one direction’s pull stronger in the next couple of decades. The outcome may forcibly introduce vast numbers of small businesses and independent contractors to podcasting, social networking sites, and blogs as marketing tools.

3. Money, Money, Money

As much as some advertisers spend on lavish television advertising, every marketing communicator eventually has to take a close look at the budget. With the recent economic situation, many marketers are eagerly looking for new options that can get the brand out there, establish relationships with customers, investors, regulators, etc., and help the brand survive without breaking the budget. While there is a cost to developing a widget and a time investment to maintaining a MySpace site, it is little compared to a Super Bowl ad, and for some marketers these will be attractive media to try.

What media do you think will be on the endangered list in 25 or 50 years? What would you hate to see go?

Defining Some Parameters

August 23, 2008 at 8:36 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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What are “new media,” anyway? And how do we choose which ones will accomplish our marketing communications goals?

 

New media, or emerging media, as they are also known, cover a vast range of media options that developing technologies have given us. There are blogs (like this one!) and vlogs (video blogs), social networking sites (like Facebook and LinkedIn), podcasts (they’re not just for iPods!), chat rooms, widgets (not the ones from your Econ 101 class), advergames, Web sites (of course), and more.

 

Which one is best? Ah, that depends on what our goals are. What are we marketing? Who is our audience? Let’s go back to that Econ 101 version of the widget for a minute. Imagine that we’re charged with launching Wilkins’ Wonder Widget into the marketplace. It is designed to help college students get more sleep, eat less pizza, and ace all their tests. Now we know our target audience, and we can begin to examine our media choices. One promising possibility is social networking sites. Facebook, for example, boasts over 90 million active users and an 85 percent market share of four-year U.S. universities. It sounds like our target audience spends lots of those hours that they’re not sleeping there, so we might want to join them there with our marketing message!

 

On the other hand, what if Wilkins’ Wonder Widget was designed for active singles aged 21 to 34, who commute to work? Then we might consider podcasts as a way to get the word out; this age group is podcast-savvy and often wired while exercising and commuting. If the Widget has a feature best demonstrated with sound, we can take advantage of the podcast’s audio capabilities to wow the target audience as they listen. Podcasting can include video as well, but that may limit the viewing audience slightly to those watching on computer or with devices that play video as well as audio. 

 

Now, what if Wilkins’ Wonder Widget launches with phenomenal success – after all, how could it not, with our great media choices? – and now wants to launch the Wilkins’ Wizard Widget Extraordinaire, designed for people aged 8 to 88? To demonstrate the Wizard Widget in all its spinning, singing, sautéing, lawn-mowing and crocheting glory to the entire age range of potential consumers, along with a directory of retail locations, usage instructions, and legal disclaimers, our best choice may well be a Web site. Text, images, audio, video, and complex, searchable data can all be conveyed through a Web site, and a wider age range of people uses Web sites than many of our other new media choices.

 

So there you have it. The question of “which is better” is best answered with another question: what are we trying to communicate to whom? Answering that question will help us successfully communicate.

Introducing… The Communicatorium!

August 19, 2008 at 12:37 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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Greetings, blogosphere! I am DB, and I’d like to welcome you to my blog. I’ll be blogging about marketing communications, messages, senders, receivers, and especially the new media that are getting the messages across. Please feel free to read, subscribe, comment, agree, disagree, and link. After all, this is The Communicatorium, and communication requires more than one person!

 

My perspectives on messages and media are shaped by a decade and a half of marketing communications experience in agency, corporate, and not-for-profit settings. Communication has always fascinated me, from the way people and organizations form their messages, to the methods they use to send and receive them. Even among people who speak the same language, a phrase or an image can mean different things to different people. The medium by which a message is sent also adds to or subtracts from the meaning. Would you rather find out that your local coffee shop is offering Free Latte Fridays by postal mail, email, or text message? Do you expect your investment firm to communicate with you by heavy confidential envelope through the mail or by a live online chat? Making it more personal, do you think your mother would rather receive her Happy Birthday message from you by fax, by a multimedia message on her cell phone, or by a traditional phone call?

 

But enough of the hypothetical questions for now. In upcoming posts, I’ll explore the potential of some new media, noteworthy successes and failures in their use, and how we can establish meaningful relationships with customers, vendors, colleagues, donors, and investors using different types of media. I plan to post at least twice a week, so check back in often. Or just subscribe. (Go ahead, you know you want to!)

 

Thanks for reading! Til the next time,

 

DB

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