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Christian Media

Do or Die for Christian Broadcasting

An interview with Clark Kokich, chairman of Razorfish, the well-known international digital agency and author of a new book called Do or Die was called “one of the most important interviews broadcasters will watch, read, or listen to this year.”

Do or die for traditional advertising and broadcasting is not an overstatement.

Here is a rundown of the interview and my adaptation for Christian Media.

The thesis

Christian TV and Radio stations and ministries should think less about what we can say to our listeners and viewers and more about what we can do for them.

For 50 years, marketing has been used as a tool to SAY THINGS, to creatively present the gospel; to channel money into enough places so that the truth message gets through to the intended audience.

Today, New Media tools add the opportunity to DO THINGS that matter.

Doing things is a building process

The move from saying things that matter to doing things that matter is a function of building.

Building experiences around Scripture that can help us make connections with people that might not be ready for “big church.”

Building applications that let us create new formats and content types for presenting the gospel.

Building websites, interactive media hubs, that facilitate spiritual exploration.

Building mobile applications with translation tools that make it ridiculously efficient for Christians to flood into digital spaces and foreign locales.

Doing things is audience focused

Doing things that matter requires understanding the needs of the audience. Driven by biblical mandates, we explore new ways for creating relationships with listeners and viewers even if they are outside the church.

To do that we have to move beyond the known world of Christian radio and advertising. Taking what we do on our TV and Radio stations and putting it online is not enough anymore.

So, we ask questions.

What can we learn from Internet radio companies like Pandora, Slacker, and Spotify that are creating novel experiences driven by cross-media opportunities: Text, audio, video, all integrated with some knowledge about who that person is at the other end of the communication?

How can we and our ministry partners work together for the audience in a way that’s unique; that would involve the integration of radio, television, applications and websites?

How can we be original and have conversations about living faith principles with unchurched millions?

How can we build things to meet spiritual realities as they are, not as we wish them to be?

What’s never been done before? What can we do that’s better than Pandora?

We don’t need to call Pandora or iHeartRadio to see if we can do a partnership. We can figure out the flaws in those models and determine what we can do better. There is no reason innovation has to come exclusively from secular companies.

We find ideas from our younger team members, from churches doing digital missions, from digital storytellers energized by a gnawing sense that this is their time. We break down our organizational silos with cross-functional brainstorming and problem solving.

Doing things requires change

Why should we change? We’re doing OK.

Newspapers said the same thing and managed to survive and thrive right through the Internet revolution until about two years ago, and their revenue has fallen off a cliff. Now the newspaper publishing industry is on a list of dying industries. “Many traditional industries fail to embrace new technologies to meet changing consumer preferences and ultimately fall under new waves of competition,” according to a report from Los Angeles-based publisher and analyst of financial information.

“Now the only ones doing well at all are the ones that have been able to integrate both online and offline experiences,” says Kokich.

When will this massive shift of advertising dollars from traditional media buying to more of a “do”-based, idea-based model happen? No one can predict transformative moments. And after they happen, for the unprepared, it’s too late.

We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Colossians 1:9

Doing things God’s way

We have to admit that we don’t know what we’re doing; what the future is; everything is uncertain; we have to take risks; make mistakes, start over.

That is truly exciting!

Building digital things for the gospel matters because media habits change but peoples’ need to know Christ and how to live for Him does not.

Christian broadcasters can make a difference in the digital world. The early Christian broadcasters designed new ways to do their work and “turned the world upside down.” We can do it again.