Beth and I had a fun discussion at Fenton Communications about The Networked Nonprofit last week. Over and again the notion of integration came up, integration of old media and new, online and on land efforts. On the media side, Geoff Livingston calls this the “ping pong match” between old and new media.
There were a number of times during the conversation at Fenton when someone said something to the effect of, “The effort started to go viral online, and then really took off when (insert mainstream media outlet) reported on it.” For instance, Sean Stannard-Stockton blogged about FORGE’s struggle to stay afloat which is then picked up by the San Francisco Chronicle - and then picked up by more bloggers.
My gut feel is that recently, particular as budgets have been slashed at newspapers, some of the pong has been lost in this equation. I mean that it feels as though there are far more instances of mainstream media picking up stories from social media, and then it rebounding back and forth, than the other way around. But, I could be wrong about that. I’ve been known to be wrong about other things, like the whole metric system taking off here!
What is important is to help senior staff and boards of nonprofits overcome what I call the nonprofit zero-sum game. The knee jerk, defensive posture, that working online precludes working on land, or using social media is at the expense of traditional forms of outreach. The future of nonprofit is not going to be one channel, one tool, one medium ever, but a blend of many different types of tools and channels. The real challenge for organizations is figuring out the right combination of tools and channels that will be unique to their efforts and organizations.