- Mon, November 10 2008
- Filed under: Social networking and web 2.0
I’m blogging from the session at Independent Sector, “Community Empowerment through New Media and Innovative Journalism,” moderated by Ben Binswanger of the Case Foundation. The panelists are Linda Fantin of Minnesota Public Radio and the Center for Innovative Journalism, Ramya Raghavan of YouTube Nonprofits and Alyce Myatt of Grantmakers in Film and Electronic Media.
Here’s my take on the panel. Just as marketing is no longer a monologue but rather a conversation with an audience, so is new media. It is two-way communication. As Linda pointed out, public insight journalism is predicated on the idea that everyone has expertise, and people know what matters to them. The audience isn’t just an audience – they are a participant that takes part in creating the content – either by interacting with those covering the story or suggesting angles to a story, or by creating the story themselves.
If you’re still doubting this idea, or don’t know how it relates to you, consider two principles of persuasion: relevance and trust. These are two old-school, good old bread and butter ideas. First, we only tune into what is personally relevant to us. Second, we trust ourselves (and people like us) more than traditional authorities. That’s why word of mouth is so desirable. What’s great about new media is it allows us to establish personal relevance and trust on unprecedented levels. Because the audience is the messenger! That’s where old school meets new media.
Take the example from Ramya of voters filming their experience at the polls at Video Your Vote at YouTube vs. CNN talking about long lines on air. There’s nothing quite like watching a first-time voter in Georgia filming herself talking about waiting in line for seven hours to vote – with her baby. It has a level of immediacy and credibility that traditional media doesn’t achieve.
As Linda put it, this ideally changes the nature of how stories are reported via traditional media as well. She said, “If you want to find a left-handed baker who can make pineapple upside down cake while making a YouTube video, you could. But this is not about finding the right example to plug into a set story. It’s about what is happening among real people, and that information shaping the story.”
So what does this mean to you, even if you’re not in the business of media? The bottom line is these tools can make every interaction with your constituency more powerful. Put video in the hands of your donors or people you help. Engage your supporters in a conversation about how they spread the word about your issue. Give them the tools to do it. And then if they give you input, be sure to acknowledge it, use it and celebrate it.
When you lose control of the story, it’s a little scary, but the alternative is having an audience of only one: yourself.