Learn how to push, pull and mix
From top-down control to creative anarchy—that’s how you could describe the contrast in communication based on key messages and one-way content, the push, to new media such as blogs and wikis, mostly pull.
Although there’s lots of debate about push versus pull, there’s no need to fight. They both have a place.
After all, communication started with conversation, talking and listening, push and pull. The need to communicate in both directions is usually more important than whether the container is a conversation, a brochure or a wiki.
The right mix
As communicators, our biggest challenge is to come up with the most appropriate mix of push and pull for our objectives and audiences. So how do we decide?
The first question to ask is: do I have a message that’s pretty much nailed down, for example a new corporate vision that some senior honchos have been polishing for weeks. Or do I want input on what that vision should be?
Geared to your audience
The next question is: what age is my main audience?
Obviously, new media are effective with younger people, who spend so much of their time on social media sites like FaceBook and sending instant messages back and forth. Then there are the influential baby boomers who love e-mail.
Of course, it’s rarely a question of picking one media, but of deciding on the right balance of push-pull and media mesh.
Learn from each other
We also need to understand how the strengths of different media can be used to reinforce each other.
For example, with push media, the objective is to use very well-defined, thought-out messages. Grammar, punctuation and writing skill matter.
On the other hand, blogs can be spontaneous outpourings, often with little regard for proven writing conventions.
However, as Mark Twain once said: “The best writing is rewriting.” And re-thinking, I would add. That’s why so many gurus advise bloggers to think, rewrite and be clear. They’re borrowing a page from the old media book.
Similarly, tedious push media, whether it’s a scholarly article or a PowerPoint presentation, can benefit from the energy and openness of new media.
It’s a big job to keep up with the ever-expanding array of choices and become adept at choosing and mixing old and new media. So let’s not waste energy pitting them against each other, as we seem to hear every time a new media is born.
After all, our goal is to help people keep up with our busy, information-saturated world through communication that sticks.