Time was, media producers put all their effort into completing media. They spent months and years producing TV shows and movies and photographs and paintings and CDs, and when they finally released their work and it was seen (or heard) by an audience that was considered the end of the cycle. The work was complete.
That’s no longer how things work. Even though most people – including most professional media producers – still think that way. But if you want an edge, here’s a tip: think of your media not as an end but as a beginning.
Specifically, every individual story – regardless of what media it happens to be told in – should be understood as the opening gambit in a multi-directional conversation. Reality TV is where this has been most clearly understood. The people who make shows like American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance understand that the TV show itself, the one that people sit down and watch on Tuesday night, is primarily a catalyst for all kinds of other activities, and not just voting, texting, following and sharing/posting, but also rehearsing, auditioning, going to live performances (all those TV shows tour hugely successful live shows featuring their performers), buying merch and much more.
So the lesson is: your media will be far more powerful if you think of ways to use it as a tool to start conversations, connect people and create communities, rather than considering it as an end point, as a terminus. On the contrary, it is a point of departure…
This is because until recently we lived in a monological media culture, so it was normal that media talked, we listened, and that was it. Whereas we are entering a dialogical era, as a result of digital tools, so media is no longer an end point, but is always a beginning.
This knowledge should help you to make the most of your media.