Don’t overlook the importance of being able to communicate directly with your audience


When explaining why online communications is worthwhile to clients operating in the Brussels bubble or anywhere else, it’s easy to overdo the sell. Bloggers, engagement, social networks, the value of two-way communications and so on sounds great, and most will acknowledge that it’ll matter at some point in the future, but for now, it often puts people off: “we’ve got a small team, Directive X is now in its second reading, I just need to get an article in the right paper now, I’ll think about the web next.”

What I tend to do is to start off highlighting the diagram above. It outlines that which most people tend to overlook: that the web is more than an entirely new and separate medium. Sure, making the most of the web does require a mind-shift and a new way of working. But it also allows organisations to communicate directly to their target audiences. That’s a phenomenal opportunity:

  • It allows them to publish more good quality content
  • The content is available instantly, not however long it takes to get something published and distributed
  • It reduces reliance on journalists who then might skew the story anyway
  • It can improve media relations by providing journalists with more, better and easily accessible content

6 thoughts on “Don’t overlook the importance of being able to communicate directly with your audience”

  1. Interesting stuff!

    It’s a simple point, but a powerful one: new communication technologies are qualitatively different from old technologies.

    I would perhaps change one thing about your diagram. You have the direction of communication flowing from the organisation to the audience. It might be more accurate to represent communication flowing both ways; from organisation to audience but also from audience to organisation.

    Yes, this was also the case with traditional media (letters to the editor, interviews with the public, etc.) but this trend is now not only enhanced, but also operating in a less controlled environment. Nowadays, I can add comments to your website or set up my own blog commenting on your story.

    I’d be interested to see if you think that, given all this, traditional media still has a role to play over the coming decades. I’m sure that it does, but I’ve no doubt it will be greatly transformed.

  2. Thanks for your comment Josef.

    Yes I agree on the arrow back: that’s very important. Although I’d say for the people who I’m targeting with this post (those who are not quite sure about the whole online thing yet) I’d add the arrow back at phase 2 of their social media “conversion”.

    As for the future of traditional media (looking at newspapers only), I’m not an expert, but off the top of my head I’d predict the following:
    1) Only the really big-name publications with top-tier brand recognition will survive
    2) No print versions anymore
    3) Online versions of papers will be more like communities than purveyors of news i.e. fans/readers will have profiles and will interact a lot more with each other and journalists
    4) On this front too, papers will act as aggregators of news as well as purveyors of it, meaning they bring together content provided by people within their communities i.e. citizen journalism will play a bigger role (vetted for quality though of course)

    In terms of quality or papers’ standing on the left-right divide, I don’t think this will be compromised. If done well, it might even be strengthened.

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