Monthly Archives: February 2009

Old media is dying, what do organizers do now?

Within the past few weeks, I’ve had two very different types of conversations.

With activists (especially activists over 40 years old), I’ve been talking about traditional media outreach. Can we get letters to the editors placed? How about Op-Ed pieces? Maybe the radio will pick up our story.

The other type of conversation has been about how traditional media sources are weakening (some would say dying).

I have heard people complain that our local paper is dying, that there’s “no news in the News.”

I’ve told people about how I listen to more podcasts and less radio, and I’ve heard friends tell me that they don’t watch TV as much anymore because they get everything online (so of course they don’t watch the 6:00 News).

The traditional methods of media outreach are no longer sufficient

It used to be there was a script for “media relations.” Send out a press release, try to get radio, TV, and paper. The more press outlets covered your event, the better off you were. If the mainstream ones covered you, then you could assume that you were reaching the people you needed to reach.

If you got on the 6:00 News, or in the local paper, you “won” and you could move on, and if you got picked up on radio, TV, and print, you could feel like you saturated your message and pretty much everyone would see it.

Now, our media landscape is fragmenting. Instead of just local TV, radio, and print media, you have the YouTube, Blogs, social media, podcasting, 100 channels of cable TV, and the ability to TiVo and skip things that bore you.

Younger generations are abandoning print news altogether, and they aren’t necessarily tuning into local coverage on blogs to fill that gap.

Now that saturation effect is almost impossible.

How things work now–the good news

I don’t want to come off like a cranky old man about all this. The same tools that increase the competition to get your message out also open doors to get your message out. While it used to be that you were hostage to the political or business biases of local media, now there are ways to side-step this roadblock.

As with most things, there is both good and bad.

And I’m still confused

I knew the old script for getting a message out, and I was decent at it. I’m still not sure how to play in this new reality.

Part of the problem is there is still no script. Six years ago Friendster was big. Four years ago it was Myspace. Now it’s Facebook, and Twitter is getting bigger yet.

So I’m still learning how to get the word out amongst all the noise and competition that’s out there.

I’ll be honest, I’ve been hearing about this for a while, but I’ve ignored it.

Now that I see how few people I actually reach with traditional methods anymore. Now I can’t ignore the need to deal with the new information landscape.

And if you’re a savvy organizer, you will too.