Reputational roulette | Media viability | DW | 20.01.2016
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Media viability

Reputational roulette

Media organizations around the world are searching for new revenue sources. Since often the best lessons are in miscalculations, #mediadev collected real-life stories of times when things didn’t go to plan.

Can you imagine how boring life would be if we succeeded at everything we did, if we never had to respond to dynamic situations or unanticipated interruptions? We are socially programmed to think that failure is a bad thing. However, sometimes the best lessons are in those precise mistakes or miscalculations that don’t bring about the expected results. Against the background of emerging global trends, new technologies, and rapidly changing communication environments, media organizations around the world are constantly searching for sustainable revenue sources. For all of us it is vital to exchange mutual challenges and learn from each other.

Here is a real-life story from a media outlet in the field that could easily happen to any of us as we try to pursue new ways for media viability:

We have all been there. Someone or a company approaches us with an idea for collaboration that sounds great. It appears foolproof, a win-win proposition that would be silly to decline, but it is vital that these agreements are critically examined and formalized.

Imagine that you are a community radio station with over 20 years on air and a comparably large and devoted listenership. You have partnered with an events company to be part of a thrilling new music festival predicted to be the biggest event in years. The event company has managed to sign up the top 20 artists in the country representing gospel, rap, pop and jazz genres. You confirm with the company that they do indeed have the said artists signed up and they promise you that deposits have even been paid. Everything seems above board and extremely exciting – how could you not be involved in the biggest event of the year? It is also your duty to your listeners to be involved in covering and promoting entertainment and cultural events, is it not?

So you build momentum and start promoting the music festival. You invite the artists in for interviews and run adverts for the ticket sales. A buzz is created. But as the weekend of the festival draws near, social media start going crazy about the venue not being prepared. People start questioning if the event is for real. The football stadium where it is meant to be held is empty and there are no signs of any activity. Then the organizers cancel the event citing unforeseen problems. People are angry and frustrated with your station for promoting the event. It is a marketing nightmare that breaks the trust of your listeners. Your station is associated with this festival and yet you have no control over what is occurring because you are not the organizer, but just the media partner. Fortunately, in this real-life example the listeners could be refunded and the radio station could separate itself from the event company and clarify that it didn’t have control or responsibility for the festival.

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