Last week, Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet Project, presented to a group of executive management students at the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Pew was gracious enough to post the PowerPoint to their website.
It’s a real treasure trove for PR and marketing people and I hope it doesn’t go overlooked. For me, the gem was slide four, a representation of “Media Ecology” in the information age. It’s a much more elegant representation of something I’ve communicated before on whiteboards and cocktail napkins, which always ends up being a deliberately confusing set of squiggles.
The point: compelling information now reaches the end user via a host of avenues. And the original source of the content only has control over a handful of them. What’s more, end users now provide feedback to the source, only adding new squiggles to the equation.
But in the confusion of squiggles, there is freedom — the freedom to focus on the target audience.
I always use Nike Plus as an example (not just because I’m a fan of the product) of alternative ways to reach the target audience in the new media ecology. Nike used its audience’s passion for running and use of iPods as a way to engage and solidify a fan base. That base now keeps coming back to the site and engaging others in the process.
“Taming the squiggle” means working backwards from your audience, not just what they’re looking for, but how they’re looking for it.