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They dont really communitain here

They don't really "communitain" here

I was fortunate to participate in a PR Daily webinar last week on the usage of Flip cams in external and internal communications.

Mark Ragan, CEO of Ragan Communications, made an incredibly interesting point in his presentation. He talked about “Communitainment” as one of the keys to success in online marketing and social media.

The firm must, according to Ragan, communicate as well as entertain in these spaces. Success in new media is contingent upon doing this effectively.

I like this idea. It is a much more specific and nuanced way of saying “be remarkable” – an oft-used term in marketing that is so nebulous and general that any fool can (and does) throw it around.

Ragan was careful to point out that communitainment did not necessarily mean being funny, cracking jokes etc.

Al Gore’s foray into the world of documentary films is a great example of non-humourous communitainment. He powerfully bridged entertainment with a strong message about the perils of global warming. There was no humour in “An Inconvenient Truth” – but it was entertaining enough to make a sometimes inaccessible, scientific topic hit home for millions of people.

If you look at successful social media campaigns communitainment is the constant. The recent Old Spice campaign is a superb example of a firm producing entertaining content that communicated the brand’s message in an off beat way.

While there is no formula for designing creative, winning campaigns like Old Spice, there are questions you can ask during the design phase to see if your idea will communitain.

Here are a few I came up with. (If you can add more, please do so in the comments so that this might be a resource others can use):

1) Has the proposed idea been presented to our community before by anyone in our industry? Have players in other industries presented ideas similar to this to their/our community before?

2) What elements of the idea will seem off beat to our community? Are these elements easy to understand

3) Will this “off beat-ness” insult of hurt the community in any way?

4) How does the idea in question balance communication objectives (the business goals) with entertainment (the need to produce content people will consume)? Does communication outweigh entertainment or vice versa?

5) Do elements of the idea have a shot at appealing to communities that are not our own?

Your answers will dictate whether and how you execute a proposed idea.

What other questions do we need to ask to see if we will communitain?

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