Engaging Culture

The Media Revolution Is Happening

Stay tuned to this blog, because some major changes are going to happen. I’m taking the focus to a new level and it will be built about the revolution that’s happening in the media. Television was once called a vast wasteland, and it’s hard to argue with that description. Even today, with multiple cable and satellite channels, innovative programming, 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 this era in history will be remembered as the year mass media died. The truth is, it was 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. We want our media customized.

For those of you who slept through the revolution, today eBay has 168 million users worldwide, MySpace.com has 60 million users, there are 50 million blogs, and 15 million people use CraigsList to search for classifieds. What’s the connection? Each of these web related media can be customized for the individual user. On my iPod, 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 Christians interested in sharing their faith through the media?

It means it’s time to wake up to the change. 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 500 cable channel universe, the audience has more choices than ever before, 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.

But if you want to get their attention – here’s some ideas that will help:

  1. Be Yourself. Stop trying to be the current media star. God has called you to a unique calling and purpose. The culture isn’t looking for a copy of a famous leader – they’re looking for you.
  2. Be honest. Let’s face it. Not every book and teaching tape you produce is going to shake the nations. We make a lot of promises when it comes to our products, but the cry of this generation is authenticity. Be proud of what you do, and pitch your stuff – but stop going over the top. Be real, and your audience will respond.
  3. Understand the power of ideas. Most churches and ministries pay enormous money for media airtime, equipment, or facilities. But very few spend enough time on strategy. Ideas are bigger than programs. Ideas are bigger than sermons. Ideas can change the world, so value their power.
  4. Find Your Audience. Sometimes, success isn’t about being all things to all people. It’s about being everything to some people. Jesus didn’t win the world, and you can’t either, so find the audience you can reach. What do your gifts, talents, and passion say about the particular audience that will respond to your message?
  5. Understand the impact of an effective personal brand. A brand is your promise. A trusted brand influences culture, is innovative, has a distinct point of view, and delivers an experience. To discover your brand, we ask 3 important questions: Who are you? In other words, what makes you, you? Second, what are your gifts and talents? In other words, what drives you? Third, what makes you unique? In other words, what separates you from the pack?

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 creates a response.

Stay tuned. Changes are happening. Stop giving your audience what you think they want. Give them what they never dreamed possible.

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5 Comments

  1. That's right on Phil! It's about connecting to those people that you can connect to and finding your audience! We are implementing a ton of the stuff you preach about..

  2. Just to drop another related statistical bomb…

    On 8/10/06 the top 100 YouTube videos had been seen over 385 Million times. 8 months later on 4/10/07, the top 100 YouTube Videos had be seen over 740 Million times.

    The top video has over 45 million views and the 100th most popular video had been seen 3.5 million times.

    I wonder if there are 100 television programs with over 3.5 million viewers in the last year?

  3. I know, youtube is killing it. I don't know about stats, but you see college kids watching youtube on their laptops in lecture halls..it's huge, I'm personally on youtube more than TV or movies.

  4. Phil,

    This is a powerful piece. It is so easy to be caught up that we don’t see which way the tide is turning and how the landscape is changing. I had no idea about those statistics nor about mass media being “wiped out” by the digital age. Actually I had more knowledge about it than I realized, once I read what you had to say and then thought back – things started making more sense. This is definitely the age of customization and I’m like you, I don’t even listen to the radio anymore. It’s all IPod and I like the idea of being able to make my own soundtrack for my life. I’ve got Christian rock, Christian rap, praise and worship as well as movie soundtracks, preaching messages and a few television shows.

    However, I try not to listen to my IPod all the time. Personally, I find it rather “scary” when I leave my apartment to go to work or anyplace else and see SO MANY people listening to their IPods. The majority of the people I see have them (probably 85-90%). I just think, as much as I love my IPod and am grateful that my wife got it for me for Christmas, and now I’m kind of hooked on the ITunes store – once again because of customization (I can listen to an album and only buy the songs I like! as well as download tv and movies) – I just can’t shake the feeling that somehow we are shutting ourselves off from the world. So I like to turn the music off every once and a while and think… and listen to the wind, birds, sounds of other people and traffic and etc… Besides, you can’t hear an emergency if your music is up loud all the time.

    Anyway, that’s enough of that for the moment. The Branding section is right on the money. I’m working on that myself. I meet so many people on a weekly basis who want authenticity and I pray and seek for authenticity. I’ve spent too many years trying to be someone else instead of me. So I am determined to be who God has created me to be – as i continue to discover who that is.

    Thanks for the practical steps as well and I will continue to keep my eye on your site.

    See you at Biola.

    Allen Paul Weaver III
    author, Transition: Breaking Through the Barriers
    http://www.allenpaulweaveriii.com

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