Thursday, April 30, 2009

Contact me...

I spend a fair amount of time each day responding to office emails (including blackberry), personal emails, phone calls and phone text messages. So many of my personal and professional contacts joined Facebook that I also felt obliged to join, so I can be (reluctantly) contacted there too. And now I have a blog page. 

I've been reading other blogs which often carry a comment like, 'Also connect with me on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Tumblr and LinkedIn'. I have to wonder where people find the time to monitor all these channels of communication. As well as answering emails etc. I have to do my work, spend time with my family and squeeze some exercise (and the occasional beer) into my schedule. Personally, I wouldn't have the time to surf so many websites unless they were part of my job description. And if PR practice increasingly moves online and seeks to engage directly with publics in a many-to-many framework, how much interaction (and time) would be involved? If you want to connect with me, ask for my email address and phone number please!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Paradox of Social Media

Several years ago I wrote a paper on how new technology influenced relationships. One of the findings was that isolation and anonymity in a virtual world are actively encouraged by new technology. Sure, connectivity and interaction have improved without boundaries, but what about traditional forms of social behaviour? Even my older son has to be shepherded outside to play in the fresh air; if not he would play his DS Nintendo until his eyes crossed.

Social Media is the name tech gurus have given to online websites such as Facebook. In some respects I accept they are social (they allow people to gather, share, communicate and discover, for example). Definitions aside though, a person sitting alone in a chair in front of a screen is still isolated, in my opinion. I therefore stand by my previous conclusion: that new technology should not deny people real, physical contact (this may be relevant for PR/client relationships too). I'm going back to the pub for some good, old-fashioned socialising! Anyone else coming...?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I, Gatekeeper?

My employer has had to communicate a lot of difficult news recently (layoffs, losses etc) due to the financial crisis. And such sensitive news has to be carefully crafted and delivered through the media, of course. It was in this context that I wondered whether my employer would ever be comfortable communicating such content online.

Theorists claim a new model of communication (and a new variety of PR practice) is required due to the internet. The level of interactivity and participation online, they argue, means the traditional role of the journalist (and corporate media relations effort) as gatekeeper to audiences, is made redundant.

But that’s a big jump to make, despite the ever-increasing power of the internet. Credibility is a key issue (as authors like Tom Kelleher point out) and according to my corporate communication buddies, the various stakeholder groups are more likely to trust the Financial Times or Asian Wall Street Journal for corporate news compared to a (more bias?) post made on the corporate website. And on the idea of direct online dialogue, another PR friend told me ‘I might send a press release through the internet, but I don’t want a time-consuming and possible abusive interactive dialogue with [stakeholders] afterwards’.

From a corporate perspective, current communication practice can sometimes prove difficult to police due to the ever-present human element. Online interaction only adds to this ‘risk’ and makes content control – and therefore the ability to earn credibility – even more difficult. Ultimately and inevitably some PR work will move online, but it seems to me that media gatekeepers can still sleep peacefully, at least for now.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

An Ironic Introduction

Welcome! PRINT is a blog that seeks discussion on how new technology influences the professional practice of public relations (PR). As such - and with intentional irony - it has very little to do with traditional PRINT media and much more to do with the online environment. 

What sort of issues should this blog be covering in the future? Some relevant questions might include (but are certainly not limited to):

- Does traditional PR theory stay relevant as the media environment evolves under new technology?
- How does PR practice deliver information over new technology platforms?
- How does PR cope with media convergence and the public 'demand' for specific information over specific channels, ie, public empowerment?
- How are public and stakeholder relations managed in the online environment?
- How are issues and crisis management handled under new technology landscapes?
- Does new technology require new approaches to professional PR practice?  

And, while new technology obviously has many benefits it also makes us busier people increasingly short on time. Therefore, thank you for taking the time to visit this blog. I look forward to sharing and receiving opinions, arguments and insights!