Ideas for this talk have been circulating since Andrew asked me to sum up the conference in 3 minutes, but really only had the last hour to put together 48 hours of an awesome conference!

Last time on this stage, was part of the Academy webstream…

Themes that are coming out of this conference, several of which I’ve heard in previous years, summarised well on Twitter “fear of dialogue with your audience, fear of new technology, demise of the local…”, and the one that echoed most with me, was that everything has sped up except the Christian response.

Last year I could feel a lot of resistance to the idea of having to engage with social media, but this year, digital literacy is very much on the agenda, and people have been asking for help in engaging in social media. A theme echoing across several talks was that our responses to need to be genuine, authentic, honest, apologetic where appropriate, and that we can’t control what the outcomes of that will be.

I’ve kept hearing that ‘the media offers an unbalanced view’. Before, it was hard to get a response out there, but with social media there is a right to reply there, but only if you are prepared to ENGAGE on an ongoing basis (not just when there is a crisis). Always remember, there’s not a guaranteed ROI, there’s no guaranteed outcome, but you need to be in the discussions… we need to be where the people are, and I think we know, for many (not all), that’s Facebook!

We need to understand our audience so we can ENGAGE with them… as with teaching – not necessarily about giving them what they want – but what they need… but if you don’t understand them, how can you talk to them?! Listen to them, and be part of their communities. We’ve heard that the media is both the reflector and creator of culture, if we’re not in it, how can we be one of the creators?

Those of us who are in social media, need to enable others to make those working in religion visible, so you are the person that the media approach. We’ve heard several times people saying the media choose their go-to people and the sensationalism – can you make yourself this go to person? As a former Guide: “Be Prepared”! People are not necessarily going to come to us, so we need to be prepared to go to them!!

Some of the characteristics we need to be involved in modern day media: be authentic, be passionate, see it as a relationship, be accessible, be flexible, immediacy (you may have noticed Tweets & blogs are speeding out of this room mid-talk), be open (avoid labelling), be transparent, listen, appreciate access to ‘information’ and expect convergence.. and be persistent – very chuffed to see more of Twitter this time (handful of us last year, around 40 this year + some from outside) – doesn’t just happen, pre-promote the hashtag, next year Twitterfall!

As a historian, we emphasise the idea of continuity and change, and at the end of the day people are still people, they like the familiar, and social media needs to draw on the expertise that we already have – e.g. blogs, we need quality journalism for balance! The tools they keep changing, but if we always bear in mind that they can provide solutions to specific needs, rather than prioritising the tools, we can make the most of them.

We need to be different, we need to see the opportunities first, approach with positivity, not negativity and see things change.. A great tweet earlier: “Are we prepared to change, or are we going to carry on whinging?” We need to learn how to, and I’m keen to see more practical workshops and sessions in which we can share expertise … and on that note, it’s not too late to sign up for MediaLit in Durham, 21st-26th June, tutors include Andrew & I …

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