This is a brief post I wrote for the Media Writers Association, a new start-up I’m involved in which is focusing on connecting events with writers for increased awareness and traction.
If I had a euro for everytime I’ve heard someone lambast a buyer, a producer, a commissioner or a head of programming for ”not getting it”, I would have … well, quite a few euros. The ”It” that the aforementioned people are apparently not getting, at least in the minds of their detractors, is most often an idea, a piece of content or a product that aims at using new ways of distributing, connecting with the audience, telling stories or racking up revenue.
While it’s totally understandable that people who are being pitched new concepts constantly must be hard-pressed to bother about ideas and concepts they either do not have the time or the incentive to care about or simply do not fully grasp, this is where the ”getting it” would come in handy. There is no need to know everything about all aspects of an idea, or be well versed in all the implications adopting an idea would bring… but there are some ”its” that need to have been gotten before making those judgments. Here are three of the most important ”its” you need to get – right now.
It1: The audience does not need activation, it needs direction and purpose. The sooner everyone acknowledges this, the better. Earlier the talk was about turning the audience from a sit-back audience to a lean-forward audience. Well, the audience stopped sitting back quite a while ago. And if you and your content don’t give them stuff to do with clear instructions on how to do it, they’ll engage with other content instead. If someone approaches with a concept that bypasses the ”activate the audience” step and instead directly and logically goes to a stage where what you need to do is capture an active audience’s attention, that’s a concept to take a closer look at.
It2: Since the world is changing, that means revenue is also changing. There is not all that much less money sloshing around. But there is a whole lot more content and a lot more content creators that want to share that money. In television, we’ve long been accustomed to getting brands onboard to pay for production, with broadcasters simply offering a slot in a more or less desirable position for the content to be broadcast in. But we’re not far off the breaking point where brands will start to want something more than exposure for their involvement as well. I would suggest looking into transmedia storytelling methods to find ways to tie content in with brand needs. This could give opportunities to infuse the brand with the content, by creating a story world that encompasses the main story as well as the minor story archs, some of which could be directly tied to the brand, and stand on their own legs.
It3: There is no ”us” and ”them” anymore. In a sense, we’re all competitors. At the same time, we’re all possibly collaborators. The Norwegian comedy outfit Ylvis is closing in on 250 million views for their ”The Fox” video. Which TV show did you last get in touch with that had a quarter of a billion viewers? There is no magic formula for creating a viral hit, but it’s a lot like fishing – the more you have the lure in the waters, the more you throw, the better chance you have of catching something. Traditional producers should immediately partner with online producers in fruitful partnerships, where Internet savviness meets business know-how, where lean and quick production meets the high-end, high-quality variety. There’s so much to learn from each other, it’s simply time to get to it.
Here’s hoping everyone will get IT soon!