Guest Post: Mitch Hurst
In what’s been referred to by The New York Times as a “saucy” new marketing campaign, Chicago’s venerable NPR affiliate is pushing procreative sex. Advertisements plastered around the area, including on the sides of buses, are asking Chicagoans to “do it for the city” and “make babies today” in an effort to create a new generation of WBEZ listeners.
Like much of old media public radio knows it desperately needs to appeal to a new generation of potential listeners who have a smorgasbord of options that were unavailable to their parents and grandparent. If you believe WBEZ’s marketing department, the campaign is satire, designed to be provocative and grab attention. That it did, in a “what the hell were they thinking” sort of way.
Today, there are a lot of communications people wringing their hands about the dearth of traditional media outlets and trying to find new ways to reach out to journalists who are interested in their organizations’ work and mission. Tried-and-true distribution channels are being replaced by a bewildering multiplicity of Internet outlets. Editors and press contacts are now bloggers and Twitter feeds. Press releases can seem like ticker tape floating over a digital parade. The challenge of placing well-edited, well-researched, in-depth material in front of the right audience can feel like trying to outpace an iPad with a manual typewriter.
These changes also provide opportunities for new approaches. Take The Commonwealth Fund, which is investing in several new — what might be called — “media relations 2.0″ strategies. In one case, it is piloting a program to provide content for small-town newspapers. In another effort, it is complementing pitching new journalists with educating them. As a third way, the Fund is partnering with a venerable journalism institution to provide cutting-edge health care reporting online. In each case, the focus is on cultivating and maintaining cadres of professional, trained health care journalists and relationships with traditional, trusted publications. As part of The Commonwealth Fund’s mission to promote a high-performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency for all, these programs are designed to put well-researched information about health care issues in front of a broad audience.