It’s Getting Personal

Last year at this time, the media was buzzing about President Obama’s groundbreaking decision to grant two highly untraditional Presidential interviews to Vox and BuzzFeed within days of one another. Only weeks earlier, the White House made an equally unexpected move: releasing the President’s entire State of the Union speech online via Medium in advance of the live address.

If these early 2015 moves by the White House signaled the start of a year focused on digital innovation, the President’s 2016 media strategy – with a focus on deeply personal communication – appears to signal a more intentional focus on connections and conversation in the year ahead.

From changes in how we engage on issues, to how we listen, to how we give, communications is indeed getting more personal, and more personalized.

  • Social media savvy means more effective advocacy. According to analytics from Twitter, 90 percent of House members now tweet regularly, along with the entire Senate—and their staffs. In a nod to the power of personalized, digital advocacy, a recent survey of congressional aides found that 80 percent said just 30 single social media posts advocating for a cause or bill would be enough to make their office pay attention.
  • What was old is new again: the renaissance of radio. While radio was once deemed to be on its way out, the medium has found new life in digital radio and podcasts (thanks in no small part to Serial), with friends and family “gathering around” to listen to the latest podcast. According to The Pew Research Center’s 2015 Report on the State of the News Media, monthly online radio listeners have doubled since 2010, and more Americans than ever are streaming audio podcasts and digital radio, which allow for the easy digestion of news and stories while multi-tasking. (And for those who think traditional radio is dead, it’s quite the contrary. According to Pew, 91% percent of Americans ages 12 and up say they listen to traditional AM/FM radio.)
  • Employee giving and volunteer engagement is on the rise. 2015 saw a noticeable rise in employee-centered giving and corporate volunteerism, according to the just-released Snapshot 2015 Report by America’s Charities. Employees increasingly demand opportunities to connect with causes they care about, and they want to share how they’re giving in real time via digital platforms and social media sharing (up to 53% in 2015 from 30% in 2013).
  • Interest and engagement in online philanthropy is growing. Young professionals all over the world are redefining the face of philanthropy, and with the rise of new technologies like CauseTap, philanthropy is becoming an easy everyday activity. Millennials, America’s biggest consumers, are using their personal purchasing power for good, and nonprofits shouldn’t miss new opportunities to get their causes in front of potential donors looking to give.

As we head into 2016, it is clear that how and where we communicate will continue to evolve. But if these early indicators are a sign of what’s to come, and not just our wishful thinking, perhaps the year ahead might allow for deeper, more personal connections to be formed, online and off.

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