ADAPT or die. How often have we heard that, and how often does it get forgotten as we go about our day-to-day business?
The restructure announced this week at the ABC highlights the need to constantly rethink the way we communicate, with managing director Mark Scott’s email to staff noting that “change is now a media industry constant”.
According to Mr Scott, the new Regional Division will recognise that “with new digital technologies and better organisation, we can be smarter and more focused in our approach to rural and regional audiences”.
This is a challenge facing all of us that want to communicate with people in country Australia – and who want to communicate the issues facing country Australia to an urban population.
Despite the oft-repeated cry that broadband speeds and a ‘traditional’ mindset are keeping farmers and others in regional Australia behind the shift to doing everything online, change is already taking place throughout rural and regional communities.
Wherever you live, whatever your occupation, there’s likely been a change to the way you get information.
Even my father, who at 70 is proud that he “doesn’t know how to turn on a computer”, is now looking up Bathurst’s temperature and rainfall figures every day on the tablet that he originally thought was a bad idea.
Like millions of others, Dad’s also discovered that YouTube can occasionally be a source of information and entertainment, and often records his favourite television program if he’s out to watch later at a time that suits him.
People, no matter their location, want to access content when and where it suits them.
Live streaming over the internet, services like iView, personal video recorders and podcasts have all developed because communicators can no longer simply broadcast material at a set time and expect people to be watching or listening.
Digital technology has also changed the way we think about audiences.
One of the key points we make when delivering media training to clients is to know who is going to be reading/listening/watching the results of your interview – but it’s getting more difficult to segregate in these days of online publishing.
A great example is the loss of Radio National’s regional focused radio program Bush Telegraph, which had both city dwellers and those in the country tweeting sadly about its impending demise.
Like the ABC, as professional communicators we have to be smarter and more focused, and we can’t afford to get stuck in stereotypes about where and how rural and regional audiences access information.
Cox Inall staff are constantly on the lookout for new technology and thinking about ways it might be used by our clients.
Long gone are the days of faxing media releases, as we did when the company was first formed; these days the communications currency includes e-newsletters, webinars, video production and social media management.
Like everyone, we have to remember the old adage: Change is like breathing – stop and you die.
Kaaren Latham is a Cox Inall senior consultant.