Thursday, May 29, 2008

It's About The Conversation

Last week in Columbus, the Resource Interactive Client Symposium brought some of the most innovative and creative thinkers in the Live Web community together for a two-day discussion about the future of organizations in the social web.

Among the speakers were Doc Searls, Joseph Jaffe, and Duncan Watts. Jaffe's presentation is now posted on Slideshare and it's worth sharing.

While there may not be anything all that new for most geeks that follow the Cluetrain, the presentation reinforces some terrific points - among these is detailing when a "Conversation Isn't A Conversation At All."
  1. Faking
  2. Manipulating
  3. Controlling
  4. Dominating
  5. Avoiding
When I look at this list, unfortunately I immediately think of traditional media (print and broadcast). I really don't watch much local news on television in large part because they really cover so little news. But also because of the manipulation that so often takes place.

The worst example of this are the short teases that may occur during a station break to promote the late news. I fully believe that an effective promo will keep an audience tuned in, but too many times the teasers used by local stations are used to manipulate (perhaps frighten) the viewer into staying tuned.

The same is true in many instances as to how commercial radio markets itself to its listeners. And I think public radio and television at times falls into this same trap through our on-air pledge drives.

We can all find examples of the other four non-conversations in traditional media:
  • From reality shows and showbiz news that are as far from reality on one can get (Faking)
  • The continued belief that journalism and content rights are still a one-way street (Controlling)
  • the unwillingness to accept the fact that the influence of bloggers and social media is reducing the impact that traditional media is having on our culture -- particularly youth culture (Dominating/Avoiding)
On Slide 44, Jaffe envisions that in 2012 Organizations will have conversation departments:
  • Level 1: Customers to Corporation
  • Level 2: Employees to Customers
  • Level 3: Customers to Customers
  • Companies will have a Chief Conversation Officer
  • Customer service will be the differentiator
  • All campaigns will have “commitment to conversation”
While Jaffe's focus is around marketing, this concept is fitting to how Public Media can evolve when you think about the loyalty that we already have for our product on our broadcast channels.

The opportunity is here but we have to open the door up to our audience and our employees to have the freedom to engage in conversations at all levels.

We have the content -- and its our charge now to take the community that love us in the broadcast space and connect with them on the Live Web. We need to give them the choice to easily find our content, to contribute to what we've created, to distribute what we've created, and to connect seamlessly with the worldwide community of individuals that share the belief in our mission.

We can no longer control the keys to the vehicle and keep our audience in the backseat. We're in an age that we can only take the commute together in a car pool with a shared responsibility to navigate and drive us to make our communities stronger. By giving up the keys, we empower our audience to share the ride together -- both in the content created and in paying for the ride.

I appreciate RI's willingness to blog about its meeting and provide these materials at no charge. They've gained by respect and loyalty by doing so offering a meaningful lesson to us all.

1 comment:

JJ said...

It looks as if the presentation and dialogue at this event was (and should continue to be) spot on. Thanks for the post.