3 Steps to Selecting the Right Multimedia Tool

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When considering your communication options, know your audience's preferences and balance that with the best technology for the content.

By Josephine Christian

Multimedia technologies are tools to help associations increase their influence to a specific group. However, the assumption that any association can produce effective multimedia content or use any social media platform to expand its brand’s reach is not true. Not every multimedia option is perfect for every association communications initiative. Success is dependent on your audience’s level of confidence with video, slideshows, text, and graphics. The same thing applies to social media.At this year’s Association Media & Publishing Annual Meeting, June 15-17, 2015 at the Ronald Regan Building in Washington, DC, professional photographer and award-winning magazine editor Patrick Mirza advised associations and business-to-business publishers to picture multimedia as a toolbox. In his presentation titled "Multimedia: What’s Holding You Back,” Mirza outlined three steps for using multimedia productively. To pick the right tool, Mirza says associations must consider (1) their multimedia options, (2) the intended audience, and (3) the best way each type of content can be presented.1. Specialize: Collect your tools.

Your vast multimedia tool selection includes graphics, motion graphics, text, video, slideshows, audio, and photos. Using a combination of these is the best approach. Whether your chosen tool belongs on Facebook, in a magazine, or on Instagram is based on your audience’s preferred media outlet. Do not be afraid to analyze each multimedia’s pros and cons. Remember that money and time are always precious factors. Because each media varies in cost, the more options the better. Justifying your investment is a strategy to finding the right answer.

2. Analyze: Know your audience.

Mirza highlighted Howard Gardner’s nine forms of intelligence theory when explaining why it is important to know your audience. In Gardner’s book, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, he explains that one person’s intellectual disposition and strength differentiate from another person’s. Whether they are existential, interpersonal, intrapersonal, musical, verbal, visual, mathematical, kinesthetic, or naturalistic, only one category expresses how they best think. Knowing your members’ thought process and how they prefer to receive information helps determine which multimedia is will make the best communication tool. Taking into consideration how your audience thinks can help frame how the information should be presented.

3. Produce: Generate content.

Creativity is an important factor in communicating information, and a multimedia approach is crucial to keeping the brand fresh. Creating a team of innovative association publishing professionals will result in a variety of ideas to improve your association’s storytelling. It’s important to secure a constructive environment and to remember that ideas that are first dismissed can be proposed again in the future.

Finally, Mirza reminded Annual Meeting attendees that they should never be afraid to refrain from using social media. Sometimes, he says, you need enough courage to not use it for every piece of content your association produces.

Josie Christian attended Association Media & Publishing’s Annual Meeting as an intern. She is a recent graduate of Principia College and majored in mass communication and dance.

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