One of my favorite radio bits used to be a promo for the latest way to read books: “Now introducing Books-On-Tape-On-Paper.” That always made me laugh since it seemed so ridiculous that we had gone so far that the reintroduction of the printed word seemed “new.”
However, recently, as I’m in the midst of wrapping up my first e-book, Tom Verducci’s The Yankee Years, I have been thinking about the fact that the printed word really has been re-invented and is symbolic of the overall media shift and fragmentation of audience habits. It seems so simple but there are actually quite a few different options these days for how you can read the latest novel or biography. Reading used to be such a simple task; you went to the library or local bookstore, browsed around, and if you chose well, went home with, and enjoyed a page-turner. It was pretty much a choice between hardcover or paperback; which was often a decision that was made for you based on what was “in-print.”
However, in 2009 depending on your preference there are quite a few ways in which you may experience that latest thriller or biography: Are you more of a buy it in hardcover as soon as it’s published type of person? Or do you wait for the paperback version? Do you download and listen to audio books? If so, do you go with abridged or unabridged versions? Or do you download an e-book to some device, such as the Kindle?
Really, who ever thought simply reading a book could be such a complicated endeavor? That said, there is an important lesson here for communications professionals; we have to communicate in a variety of ways to reach today’s diverse and segmented audiences. Books have adapted and become available in a multitude of formats because audiences have changed and everyone’s preferences vary…so shouldn’t we be applying the same logic to how we communicate and showcase experts, opinions, products and events?
Clearly, you may not be dealing in the arena of books, but when it comes time to tell your stories (or those of your clients) this shift is real and people are getting their news and information in a variety of ways; the result is we have to think strategically about offering the same information in any number of different channels. When it comes to thinking about campaigns we have to move beyond just those traditional methodologies (think hard and soft cover books) and leverage new opportunities to communicate and reach today’s audiences. So while the press release, and the media outreach will always play a role in communicating let’s take a page out of the e-book and start thinking about how we can utilize new methods for telling the same old story.