Thoughts on new media in the Dominican Republic

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DrflagI've enjoyed an incredible four days in the Dominican Republic, learning a great deal about new media in this quickly developing economy.

In this blog post, I provide some ideas for government, politics and industry and some thoughts for the future based on my discussions with dozens of people.

On Thursday I spoke at FUNGLODE, an NGO think tank in Santo Domingo, to a packed house of business and government leaders, but it was the enthusiasm of the young people in the audience, especially marketing and PR students that made the event a pleasure.

After my speech, I had the honor of meeting Dr. Leonel Fernandez, President of the Dominican Republic, for a private executive dinner in the Presidential Palace. I was impressed by the knowledge President Fernandez had of social media and his eagerness to adopt new tools.

But first some background.

In this video, I ask Frederic Emam-Zade, Director General of FUNGLODE, about the intersection of new media and government. FUNGLODE was founded President Fernandez during a period between terms as President.
Direct link to YouTube here.

Here are some of the things going through my mind as I reflect on my visit:

For President Fernandez
I would like to see you establish a weekly or bi-weekly video address that you distribute through YouTube and other social media channels. The video address can be casual (you do not need extensive preparation) and should be short (between 4 and 8 minutes).

I would also suggest that the subject of each address be partly chosen by the public through a submission process. You could use a social media tool such as Twitter to announce the new videos and receive suggestions for future topics.

For the government of the Dominican Republic
One word: Infrastructure. A vital task will be bringing Internet access to the entire country. It would seem that wireless should be a priority, but I would like to see a goal for having the country networked at some date in the future.

Governments have always been about infrastructure. A hundred years ago roads, railways, and ports were a high priority. Fifty years ago it was airports. Now internet and wireless connectivity should be a high priority.

No less important for the government is to foster transparency and accessibility of government leaders via the Web. In a country that has gone through periods of corruption in the past, the current leaders need to be as open and honest as possible, and the Web is a great way to accomplish this.

For the media

Newspaper, television, radio, and magazine journalism has potential to be much more interactive and real-time with the adoption of Web content delivery and social media. Members of the public now have direct access to journalists and can comment on anything they say in the media.

For example, I had a conversation with Alexei Tellerias, who writes for the daily newspaper Listin Diario. Alexei is the model of a journalist who makes extensive use of social media. After our interview, we connected via Twitter and I checked out his popular blog Catarsis Diaria (although I do not read Spanish).

For tourism and industry to reach your international audience
One word: Segmentation. There are some good sites in the English language promoting tourism. However, most are generic and focused on everything the country has to offer. You need to create micro-sites that appeal to different buyer personas.

For example, I love to surf. When I chose a beach location I want it to be near great waves. The Dominican Republic has some epic surf spots, but it is difficult to find appropriate information in English. A quick Google search for Caribbean surfing delivers information leading to Puerto Rico and Barbados as the top hits.

While I love to surf, my friend Larry is a scuba diver so he is another buyer persona. Another friend travels with small children and needs kid friendly resorts. Eco-tourism is popular now. And couples in Japan frequently get married in resort locations. Each of these buyer personas should have a separate site leading them to the wonders of the Dominican Republic as a tourist destination.

For everyone
Your greatest national resource is young people. Tap into the knowledge and social media savvy of smart people like Raul Delgado. Understand the international success of people made popular through social media like singing sensation Cristal Marie. Hire the services of social media experts such as Juan Carlos Pena, a Santo Domingo Web 2.0 advocate who runs a boutique ad agency.

Thanks for reading this far.

What do you have to add?