FedEx Blog

FedEx Blog

Quarterbacks, Receivers and Best Practices in an Evolving Media Landscape

November 22, 2010

I grew up playing sports and although I specialized in track and field, most major league sports were met with flattery and amateur imitation in my house.  I recall growing up in a small suburb in St. Louis, Missouri and enjoying Monday night football games after grade school with my big brother over a hot bowl of chili.  It was then I begin to develop an admiration for my big brother’s skill for calling and reading plays.

Aside from watching Monday night football, we would spend many days after school folding a sheet of notebook paper torn from a worn spiral notebook into perfectly dense and triangular shaped flattened football.  We would then  immediately begin the shuffle back and forth at the kitchen table with the edge as the end zone and a carefully constructed two L-shaped fingers (left and right hand) connected to illustrate a goal post.  But it didn’t stop there.

We would often rally a team of playmates from the neighborhood and stress test the spongiest of nerf footballs.  This is where I learned some valuable lessons about strategy and carefully planning how to execute a play for a game-winning touchdown.  One of the most valuable lessons my brother taught me was about the important relationship between the quarterback and the receiver.  And that lesson was to always throw the ball to where the receiver is going and not where they already were standing.

Now as a student of social media and leader of programming for one of the industry’s largest corporate business broadcast networks now inclusive of digital and social media engagement, I am reminded of this valuable lesson.  As much as this seems like just another sports analogy, it is as relevant to the evolution of communications media as it is to football.  While the media landscape has shown a dramatic shift in how and what channels media is consumed, we as communicators, marketers, advertisers and the like must also evolve to continuously gain access to and engage our target audiences.  Whether a customer, employee, investor, analyst or philanthropist, the trends are consistent.  Whether it’s the evolution of the paperback phone book to the internet directory or the global discourse on any niche topic, there’s a continuous online chatter that sits at the intersection of the consumer and brands.

As communicators we have to continue to be forward thinking and meet our audiences with messages and engage in dialogue where they prefer to be met.  Whether that’s on a social network, or on a favorite social bookmark site, we have to be able to engage in an authentic dialogue based on topics they are interested in places where they choose to consume their preferred media.  This means the message and the medium we use to deliver those messages need to be connected.  And just like the quarterback throws the ball to where the receiver is headed, our communications models and methods must also adapt to new media in order to sustain engagement and relevancy with our audiences or become obsolete.

This is just one of many examples of how social media is changing the game and requiring new competencies, structures and more collaborative approaches between business functions in how they go-to market.  To gain a more in-depth review of how more than 60 global corporations are adapting, please visit the multimedia release @ to read the full study.

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