Monday, November 15, 2010

Shifting to the anytime audience: Are you where (and when) they want to be?

They used to call it "appointment television" -- that is, a standing appointment and you couldn't miss it. Then, the slightly vaguer "must-see TV." And now, as the New York Times has noticed, NBC Nightly News is acknowledging in its ads that the audience should record the news to watch when it's convenient to them.  While 8 million viewers still get to the television in time for the broadcast, a growing number (about 370,000) record it on DVRs.  Anchor Brian Williams told the Times in an email, “A growing number of viewers tell me they time-shift the news....Loyal viewers used to say ‘we watch you every night.’ These days, an increasing number make a point of saying ‘We RECORD you every night.’

Williams takes it as a sign that his audience is more engaged and committed if it's willing to take steps to save the program.  Are you making sure your audiences can participate--even with many competing agendas?  Today, it's even more important to consider these ways to extend your reach to those who couldn't show up for that appointment you set:
  1. RSS:  Still the easiest technology for sharing and publishing, RSS takes your blog, website or feeds from something I have to hunt down every time to something that winds up in my feed reader--which in turn makes it easy for me to file, share, and comment on. If you don't have it, get it. Your audience will skyrocket.  Here's how one CEO uses RSS to follow hundreds of blogs.
  2. Options for favorites and bookmarks:  Similarly, if you can at least let me mark your article, video or post, I'll be able to find it when I need it (and share it, just as I can with RSS).  If you're incorporating Facebook "like" buttons on your site, publishing with RSS, and tweeting, those features will be built in for you.
  3. Audio and video:  Let your audience see (and hear) for itself. Post audio and video from your news conferences, conference sessions, interviews and more, particularly for events many won't be able to see.  The German Marshall Fund, a major convener of foreign policy confabs, offers this "virtual forum" of podcasts and an "audio annual report" that compiles the highlights from its podcasts.
  4. Transcripts and slides:  Can't manage audio? At least try publishing transcripts and sharing slides; you can add audio to the latter for more context.
  5. Live-tweeting and blogging or pre- and post-event tweets and blogs: If you're convening a meeting, you'll nearly always have potential attendees who can't be there in person.  Got a sold-out event? Make sure sessions are covered with advance background information and follow-up posts pointing people to slides, handouts and other resources. During the sessions, assign folks to share what's said in real time, and publish the Twitter streams to make them easy to find.
  6. Publish somewhere other than your website.  Put your audio on iTunes, your video on YouTube, your publications on Amazon (and get them into Kindle formats, while you're at it, which offers readers the choice of e-reader, desktop computer, and mobile formats all in one step).  Keeping your video to yourself and your website doesn't ensure that that's where I'll see fact, the opposite is more likely. But put a video on YouTube, and I can share it on Facebook or Twitter, embed it in my blog or subscribe to it in a channel I've set up. It's worth the small extra effort.
What are you doing to help the anytime audience? Leave your successes in the comments.

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