The Darwinian theory of evolution is probably the most famous evolution theory the world has ever known. It’s the most controversial as well – one of its more popular theses, that humans evolved from monkeys isn’t that easy to take in. But the core of the evolution theory is this: for species to survive, they have to evolve and develop traits that are to suit the unstable environment back then. Species that did not evolve become extinct in the process, or were left out in their primitive, underdeveloped states.
It’s not exactly the same for communication though.
To understand the evolution of communication in a business perspective, we tackled in class the BIS (broadcast-interactive-social) model. In a nutshell, it looks at how businesses communicated and tried to reach and/or reached their audiences via different channels and/or instances through time. It does not mention a time frame when each of the B, I, and S was at its peak, but I’d like to look at it as overlapping phases – phases emerged from the one it preceded out of need and technology available, but not necesarrily making the precedent underdevelop.
Evolution not in the sense of the word
Broadcast has been the mode of business communication I am much exposed to since childhood until present. Technology adds up continuously – we now have the netbook, iPod and iPad, and the Internet – but we still come back to the TV, the magazine, and sometimes, the radio, as proven by Sir Barry’s mini-survey. From a broadcast baby’s point of view, here are the reasons why I do not see the BIS communication evolution model as with the same theses as the Darwinian evolution.
1. Broadcast is unlikely to be extinct in the coming years.
Print is dead? No. Not yet. Maybe never. As well as the TV and the radio. In the Philippines, while access to the Internet is continuously increasing through cheap broadband and Internet cafes, online activity is mainly driven by the upper middle socioeconomic classes. This makes the Internet an elite mode of communication still. Lots of businesses would still cater to the CDE brackets because of their big purchasing power in collective. As the Internet continues to be seen as a luxury by the CDEs, businesses will continue to tap mass media outlets and fund their programs through ad placements.
2. Broadcast continuously improves itself.
Unlike species that were left out in their underdeveloped stages because of not evolving, broadcast and the people who make a living out of it find a way to continuously improve the craft. Enter ad agencies.
Agencies usually implement strategic planning* to generalize their audience – their demographics, purchasing power, likes and dislikes, media frequently exposed to. There are also agencies which are tasked to do media placements in print, TV, and radio – what time, how often, and where in the picture – these are media services agencies*. With these two structures, businesses have a better knowledge of who is getting their messages, making these as targeted as they can be. To add to that, layers of messages in advertisements through creative execution make sure that secondary, even tertiary targets get the message as well.
Now that they have given an antidote to the untargeted advertisements, B also now has a solution to the passive audience – by directing them to I and to S.
Active Alternative: From TV Patrol to iPatrol Mo
I’d like to think that broadcast modes, especially TV, can be credited for pushing the new social media to the masses. Since they established their social media presence, media outlets have been picking up news online, promoting their social networking accounts in public, and urging audiences to follow, to be a fan, and to react to issues, and to contribute their own ideas.
Filipinos want to be in the loop all the time. And they want to be the first to know, thus the preference for online firsts and exclusives on Inquirer.net (2.5 million unique visitors per month in 2009) and Pep.ph (1 million unique visitors per month), which are actively promoted by their broadcast counterparts.
Online firsts? Get it from DZMM Teleradyo on Twitter. With AM radio being the first almost all the time in breaking news, you cannot fail with following it on Twitter, which they broadcast every after 30 mins (following their news bites).
ABS-CBN and GMA7 had their own efforts to promote citizen journalism through Facebook and Twitter, most especially during the election period. Contributions of Boto Patrollers and YouScoopers are broadcasted and answered on national TV and radio.
Bringing back communication to communication
Now that their audiences are online, thanks to broadcast efforts, businesses are also entering the Internet hulabaloo. They are not only around via banner ads, but they are setting up their websites, adding us up on Facebook, following us on Twitter. Slowly, they are making us join a dialogue with them, rather than disrupting our routines. I said slowly, because a lot of companies with SNS accounts still do monologues.
I remember our sharing during our first 152 meeting: one of my classmates interned for an engineering firm, and he found his niche in such a math world through his OrCom skills. Likewise, it is the task if the OrCom kiddo to (1) be well-versed in B-I-S modes of business communication; (2) cross the thresholds and limitations offered by a single mode through utilizing different modes; and (3) persuade companies to stop doing monologues and to bring back communication to what it is really – engaging and empowering.
* Three of my classmates interned at a stratplan department in an ad agency, while one went to a media buying agency. Their full experiences are unknown to me, but their nature of work was discussed during our advertising classes. 🙂