Sunday, May 31, 2009

Shoot and Share

I've read in various places the ideas that 'anyone with a handheld device and an internet connection can produce and distribute content' or 'PR and journalist roles are changing' or 'anyone with a grudge can create a crisis for your firm online'. We've been warned about tech-savvy individuals with a creative mind potentially doing serious damage to opinion and reputation. PRBlogger posts a great example of these concerns, titled Those bitter Aussies. Take a look!

A Practitioner's View

Sorry folks, I don't work in PR. So to answer a question I've been pondering I've turned to someone who does. Attila Schillinger is a founding partner of the Avantgarde Group, a communications consultancy based in Europe. He has previously been voted one of the Top 40 most influencial young international PR professionals by PR Week. Below is his answer to the question: "How has the Internet influenced your work in public relations?".

"The internet has had a profound influence on our work in PR. First, it has become a regular research tool. Secondly, it has eliminated borders when it comes to news. There is no such thing today as "local" news. Anything can become global within minutes depending on the significance of the information. Finally, it has been changing the name of the game completely with the appearance of Web 2.0 applications.

Today we strive to add digital elements to each and every PR campaign we are running. We began to use Flickr to upload real time event photos and make them available to editors. We use Youtube to create content and upload visuals. We use Facebook for creating profiles for our clients. We are on Twitter to bring attention to news items and events. One by one, we are integrating new social networking tools into our work.

At a company level, we made a conscious decision not to create a separate digital unit, but to integrate digital PR into the job requirement of all staff. We have included digital PR into staff evaluations and tie part of annual bonuses to this specific kind of performance. This has been driven by the belief that in 5-10 years, those who are left behind without digital skills will simply be out of the job market and likely out of our company! The timeframe may even be shorter, we don't yet know, but we remain alert, curious and hungry for knowledge as it develops."

Thank you, Attila.

Monday, May 18, 2009

How Much Is Enough?

I’m putting pen to paper (so to speak) to write about how new technology is affecting crisis communications and – like good boy scouts – being prepared obviously requires an online facet: constant monitoring, pro-active responses and a dedicated contingency webpage, for example. And I’m sure in a lot of cases this – as part of an integrated crisis response – will be enough to weather the storm.

But online access and usage are increasing and networks are evolving, especially through social media. News travels faster and is shared among ever larger online groups. So, if Shirky’s book title ‘Here Comes Everybody’ is an accurate forecast, the potential surely exists for far more destructive crisis events. Prevention will always be better than cure but for PR practitioners, the evolving concept of online crisis management begs the question: How much (preparation and reaction) is enough?

Friday, May 15, 2009

J'aime La Blackpool?

Another great example of social media being used for promotional campaigns. In fact, I think social media is ideally suited for tourist promotion. I don't know if the French will fall for it, but I like it! Hotpot anyone?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What Do You Want?

What do the following have in common: the receiver in Westley-McLean’s model, Grunig’s excellence theory, the medium in Maletzke’s model, media effects theory and motives in the uses and gratification model? The answer: content.

Content is obviously a crucial component in any model of communication and it becomes even more important for communication online.
  • In Westley-McLean’s model the receiver will increasingly ‘pull’ desired content through online and handheld channels (also see my earlier post: I, Gatekeeper?).
  • To gain mutual understanding in excellence theory, the receiver will only enter into interactive, online dialogue if the content compels them to do so.
  • In Maletzke’s model, the message must be appropriately crafted, designed and delivered effectively for online access and consumption.
  • And meeting the various motives of online consumers (information, advice, insight, news, education, socialization, titillation and so on) means content should be designed for their ‘gratification’.
(On the last point, it struck me that Bookmark analysis (mine include BBC's football , a movie website, Reuters News and a healthfood website) would help our understanding of content use and receivers).

The Internet offers a unique set of characteristics which transcend traditional media constraints such as reach, time, censorship and interactivity. Theory is being rethought. Communication can no longer be thought of as simply ‘push and persuade’. And most importantly, communicators online need to ask, ‘What do you want?’

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Something to Look Forward To

Every blog should include at least one post where the imagination runs wild and free. So, here’s one of mine. Extrapolating recent trends, I foresee a greatly improved world in the future because of the Internet. Increasingly, it is affording minorities a voice, emancipating the oppressed and equalizing the disadvantaged. It is shaming the errant and exposing the corrupt. For decades big business and politics have served their own self-interest with the support of powerful media agenda, but the Internet is cutting down this veil. It is giving power back to the people and becoming a tool of true democracy. It is forcing transparency, accountability and responsibility onto those that rule and operate the planet. It is becoming an effective deterrent to immoral, unethical and anti-social behavior, thereby forcing us to be better people. And that, ladies and gentlemen, can only be good for the world.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Best (PR) Job in the World?

If you need a textbook example of how PR should leverage new technology, look no further. Put the theory books and guru diagrams down for a moment and look at a real-world example from the clever, creative lot down-under.

The Queensland Tourism Board just generated A$110m of worldwide publicity at a cost of A$1.7m, and new technology played a significant part in its success. And in the most traditional definition, that’s exactly what PR is all about! Good on yer, mate!