I used to wonder what “DIY” meant. Same with “LOL.” Now I’m laughing out loud at myself for not knowing it’s all about doing it yourself.
Think about it. America is a country that increasingly “hands on,” we want to handle everything ourselves, from pumping our own gas (I think that’s what started it all) or growing our own vegetables and fruit (seen those commercials for the upside down tomato plants and blueberry vines?) or handling our own medical care (seen the bazillion TV commercials for everything from home electrolysis to scooters, chair lifts and foldable walking canes?).
Lots of reasons for this. We’re all descendants of hardy pioneers who dared pick up roots and head out to a new country on their own. We’ve got doityerselfers-DNA. And then there’s the money.
Having people pump your own gas costs money. Buying organic veggies at the market? More money. And if you can save yourself a trip to the doctor? That’s even more kah-ching in your bank account.
All this came to mind during a recent December holiday trip to the Maryland Science Center.
While there are certainly a number of just-sit-and-stare displays at the Center, the vast majority of exhibits are interactive. That is, they require YOU to do something to “see the science,” as it were.
Turn this crank to see the effect of sound waves on water. Put your fingers on these pads to determine your stress levels. Push this lever to hear the different sounds your digestive system makes (a particularly popular exhibit among the youngsters). Whisper into this device and see if people standing behind you can hear. Even the IMAX, where myself and my fiancee saw the 3-D film, "Flight of the Butterflies," features a "hands on" element as the film, with its three-dimensional spin, had our audience (myself included) thrusting hands forward to capture what appeared to be fully-formed, tangible Monarch butterflies dancing before us. Of course, you still have to have the cook make your burger in the Beaker Café, but who knows, we may see SEINFELD’s Kramer’s idea of “make your own pizza” shortly come to light (note the current popularity of the self-serve frozen yogurt shops that are turning up!)
The Maryland Science Center (www.mdsci.org) has the right idea. If you’re going to connect with people nowadays, you have to INVOLVE them.
We see this happening now in the world of media and promotion. The days of people just sitting on a couch and allowing TV to wash over them haven’t completely gone, but are definitely waning. People expect to be involved, whether it’s virtual town meetings or voting on DANCING WITH THE STARS, people want to PARTICIPATE.
I’m reminded of my agency days back in the late 1980s when I represented, among other clients, an independent TV station. I had this idea that I called “Pick the Flick.” The station would announce several choices for a movie to be shown that evening and viewers would call a toll-free number (no public accessible internet just then!) and vote. Yes, once again, I was ahead of the trend!
Seriously though, we in PR have to be more mindful of ways to communicate our clients’ messages in ways that allow our target audiences to be involved…hence, one of the reasons so many companies are into social media, encouraging people to give their two-cents about their products and services via FACEBOOK pages, Tweets, websites, etc.
In my arena, the medical field, I expect we’ll soon see hospitals en masse launching their own mobile smartphone apps where people can make their own doctors’ appointments, get physician referrals, perhaps download prescriptions directly from their physician.
People like the idea of having this power in their own hands, which is why we see folks lining up like it’s the 1960s and the Beatles are playing, whenever Apple introduces a new Iphone or Ipad or Iwhatever.
It’s a trend we in PR must be aware of and be thinking ahead as to how to best utilize the tools we currently have…and the tools we soon WILL have…to best advocate for our clients.
Bad girl Bynes
Amanda Bynes was arrested after throwing a bong out a window.More crazy antics