You should prepare now for the multimedia future

Children up and down the country had to be cuddled to sleep last Wednesday night as they learned that their local cinema would not be showing Alice in Wonderland, the new Disney movie directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp. The Odeon chain of cinemas had thrown its toys out of the pram because Disney had decided to release the DVD just 12 weeks after the movie started its run in cinemas, instead of the usual 17 weeks. So, the Odeon banned the movie saying they couldn’t afford to show it.

Within 24 hours, they appeared to realise the couldn’t afford NOT to show it and so relented, agreeing to a “deal” which is rumoured to have the DVD out just 13 weeks after the film’s release. Meanwhile, as the Odeon was locked in talks with Disney, hundreds of Tweets appeared on Twitter and over 20 “boycott” groups appeared on Facebook with over 3,000 members. People were not happy.

Yet, it seemed the Odeon chain was oblivious. How do I know? Well I teased them on Twitter. I wrote a couple of Tweets, mentioning the word “Odeon” – an easy one for them to pick up. As yet, they haven’t been in touch. But Cineworld, their rival, has, wishing me a nice time when I go to see the movie. What Cineworld seem to realise, which the Odeon hasn’t yet made apparent, is the fact that we all live in a multimedia world these days. We don’t just go to the cinema to watch a movie; we discuss it on Twitter, on Facebook. We blog about it and we criticise it, openly.

In the past, that all happened behind closed doors as we trashed a movie over dinner with our friends, for instance. Nowadays, it’s all open and in public. And so is your business. You might not know it if you’re not on Twitter, but people could be talking about you online. They might even be saying nice things about you on Facebook, but if you never go there you’ll never know. But what if they are saying nasty things about your business, your products or your services? Then what?

Gone are the days when everything was in “straight lines”. In the past you could, for instance, run a local newspaper campaign to promote your business. That was great, because the people in your area only ever read your local newspaper for local information. Now, they go online, they chat to their friends and the have local searches set up in Twitter. If you run an “old fashioned” local paper campaign, you could be missing out on the impact of the online component – or you could also find your money is wasted as everyone online is telling each other how dreadful your company is.

New research published today shows how integral the Internet now is in our lives. According to this study, 59% of people get their news from multiple sources – a mix of online, TV, radio and print. In fact, online news has now taken over print as a delivery mechanism for news. It is a further indiciation of the pervasive nature of the web and how we all live in a multimedia world.

That’s something that appears to have eluded the Odeon group, as they seem to have ignored the Twitter discussions about them. Thousands of people probably now think negatively about them, when, perhaps, they could be the best cinema experience in the land. However, Cineworld, has demonstrated a clear understanding of the multiple media worlds in which we now exist. Their response to my Tweet about Alice in Wonderland, could well have won them many fans. In other words, with a single Tweet, Cineworld has won on points as far as online reputation is concerned.

But that in itself is a surprise. Cinemas – and this may be why the Odeon is slow on the Twitter uptake – appear not have realised we have lived in a multimedia world for years before the Internet. Why is it you can’t buy “the book of the film” in the foyer of your local cinema? Why is it that I can’t buy the DVD as I leave the cinema? They have a captive, positive audience who would buy books, DVDs, T-shirts and all sorts of memorabilia and merchandise. So why don’t cinemas have a “film shop”, instead of pic ‘n mix and popcorn? Is it because they haven’t realised that film goers also like reading, for instance? Or what about selling CDs of the soundtrack? Why on earth do cinemas make us walk down the High Street to get the soundtrack? They are effectively saying: “yes, it’s OK, we’re happy for you take your money elsewhere – we love HMV as well.”

Cinemas haven’t changed since I was a film reviewer back in 1979. They still think in old ways – in spite of the world having changed around them. Luckily, at least, Cineworld appears to be aware of the multimedia world we now inhabit. But are you? Is your business still stuck  – or is it living in the new multiple media world? If you are not using social media AND other channels, you are certain to be missing out. And that means your business could suffer – and then it could then be your own children you have to cuddle to sleep as they worry you won’t be able to afford a cinema ticket, even if they are showing the latest movie.

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