The ACE Media Relations Made Easy conference kicked off yesterday with a behind the scenes tour of the CNN world headquarters here in Atlanta. It was very impressive to see the various newsrooms and the hundreds of staffers on duty around the clock – and around the globe – to make sure no one misses even a second of a breaking story.
Many of the hallways are covered with images depicting news stories CNN has covered since they started broadcasting as the world’s first all news channel back in the early 1980s. It was a bit like a trip back through my childhood as I walked those halls – I was in elementary school when Challenger exploded and when baby Jessica McClure was dramatically rescued from a well in Texas. The fall of the Berlin Wall, the first Gulf War…all these events helped shape CNN and also helped shape how all of us today receive our news.
It has also influenced how those of us in communications work with media – extremely short deadlines, reporters covering a multitude of beats with no time to really gain an indepth understanding of any of them and a viewing public with an extremely short attention span who is constantly craving the next sensational story.
These things make it hard for us to get agriculture’s voice heard and even harder to convince the non-farming public that it’s a voice that actually needs to be heard. Our challenge is to give the media what they’re after so they in turn can give their audiences what they’re after. Easier said than done – but to get there, I think it’s time for us to adapt our communications the way Ted Turner did when he first launched CNN almost 30 years ago and changed our worlds forever.