Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Art of Conversation

I am reading Garrett Graff's "The First Campaign", an interesting look at the history of American leadership and politics, and a thought occurred to me. The media strategist as we have known them are dead; the art of conversation is now paramount, not the 30-second sound-bite. Campaigns have relied on the media strategist since the days of JFK - smart, savvy people that understand the television medium. Sure, resources have gone in to other communication channels in recent years, but television continues to reign supreme. No other channel has proven as effective at moving voter behavior as the tv commercial. As such, the art of one-to-many communication through short, 30-second bites has been the root of any successful campaign.

The rise of the internet, coupled with the recent social media phenomena, is changing that dynamic. Traditional advertising does not work in an online world. Users are impatient. They no longer "have" to sit through the 30-second rifts. They simply click on to the next. The traditional media's attempts at advertising (banner ads, even Google ads) are better, especially given the opportunity to target like never before. However, they are not nearly as effective as tv advertising, nor do they reach such a wide audience. Traditional online advertising will never become what tv has been - a single, powerful channel with which to communicate a message.

Assuming existing trends continue, people are spending more and more time online (and less and less in front of a tv). Of course, there is and will continue to be a population steadfast in their tv viewing, but that population is in decline. Unfortunately, however, those in the driver's seat (i.e. the media strategists) are still beholden to the tried and true of tv advertising. Their knowledge base rests within this one-to-many medium. Converting to the tactics that this new age requires breeds opportunity for new strategists, savvy in the art of conversation.

Instead of focusing on one-to-many opportunities such as tv and traditional online advertising, campaigns must shift focus towards community building. Tap the existing networks of people where they already live online - within blogs, social networks, etc. And therefore, the media strategist must evolve as well. The art moves from creating short, 30-second bytes to engaging in the conversation.

No comments: