Engaging Culture

Connecting with the New Media Audience

Television was once called a vast wasteland, and it’s hard to argue with that description.   Even today, with multiple cable and satellite channels, religious and family channels, and other positive signs, there are still a lot of deserts out there in the media landscape. But recently, the mass media has changed in a way no one expected.  In fact, I predict our lifetime will be remembered as the era mass media died.  The truth is,
it’s been murdered.  The suspects include digital music and video players, broadband internet connections, blogging, and online entertainment.

Today – media is about personalization.  The “mass audience” isn’t interested in the same thing anymore, and we want our media customized.  On my digital music player, I have classic rock and roll music, bluegrass, praise and worship, Frank Sinatra, southern gospel, and even opera.  I’m not interested in what radio stations think I need – now I can customize my own playlist.

So what does this mean for those of us interested in sharing our faith or selling products through the media?

It’s means it’s time to wake up to the change.

In the church, pastors, Christian leaders and broadcasters always thought we had the answers to what our audience wanted, and more importantly, they would listen.  But today, the audience is in charge.  In a virtually unlimited channel universe, the audience has more choices than ever, and for us to justify their attention, we need to get on their wavelength.

After all, it doesn’t matter if you have a great message, if no one is listening.

The 21st century is changing everything about how to get your message to an  audience.   Yesterday it was about dumping the same message on the mass audience because they didn’t have much choice.  But today, it’s about making a “connection” – the kind of connection that not only makes them want to hear what you have to say, but makes them respond.

Understanding that connection is a critical step in finding your audience.

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  1. Phil, the same issues pastors face at church, teachers face in the classroom. With so much choice it is hard for students to see relevance in what we have to say to them. With so much technology, students can learn from so many more sources. Technology is a lever that is prying apart the old education model. 

    Students don't have to sit in one room, with one teacher, learning about one thing, at one location, during a set time. They can learn from anyone, anywhere, and at anytime.  The same could be said for someone attending church. 

    The problem that education and the church both have is the focus has always been on the teaching. Media, technology, etc. will have to force us to focus on the learning. Learning is no longer limited to one place, one time, one person. It's everywhere and our students or members have a choice. 

     Personally, I am excited to see how God will direct both education and the church as we grapple with the change. 

  2. So, here's my question… who's doing this well? And how did they figure out how to do it well?

     I have not found a viable model, aside from the industry "standard' of a podcast. We are working on a social networking application for our website which will be more private and secure than Facebook, but feel a lot like a Facebook group for our small group Bible studies. 


    But what is out there? What is working? 

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