"Don't Go Chasing Audiences"

Written by Paul Sutter on Sunday, 20 May 2018. Posted in From The Desk of...The Chief Scientist

The most generous word I could use to describe the current state of media is "fractured". It's not that all audiences have turned solely to social media and that traditional media is dead, but it's that everybody has an almost dizzying array of options available to consume entertainment. And while some demographics may prefer certain channels (you won't find a lot of teenagers on Facebook or watching the local evening news, for example), if we want to reach audiences we have to go where they are.

What compounds this is the challenge to create meaningful, impactful educational and inspirational opportunities. It's relatively easy to, say, pour tens of thousands of dollars down the drain of a social media campaign, and that campaign will generate clicks and likes and shares and "engagement" in the narrow sense that advertisers care about.

But it may not be the kind of engagement that we care about.

We can't discount the power of personal interactions. That precious moment when you have someone's full attention, can look them straight in the eye, and get to share something wonderful about the way the world works. Seeing those eyes light up with awareness and true understanding for the first time is the best form of storytelling and education. Social and traditional media are powerful too, yes, and we must use them to push to new and broad audiences - often because there's only a slim chance they'll come to us without encouragement. But in our yearning for clicks and shares, we shouldn't forget the human moments that make our mission possible...and fun.

About the Author

Paul Sutter

Paul Sutter

Paul Sutter is COSI's Chief Scientist. He is an astrophysicist and offers a wealth of knowledge about our universe. In addition to his COSI position, Paul Sutter is a Cosmological Researcher and Community Outreach Coordinator at The Ohio State University's Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics (CCAPP).