My last piece got me thinking about how much has changed in so little time and particularly about how much the world of PR has been impacted by the Internet and social media. I did a whole research on this topic when I was writing my first dissertation two years ago.
However, a lot has happened since then and I wonder how relevant my research findings still are...
You might think, two years is not enough for that much to change, but actually, it's plenty.
Speaking about social media for PR, many practitioners believe that social media has simply offered additional tools and channels, but the nature of the practice has remained the same. I partly agree with that. Yes, PR is about building meaningful relationships with people and organisations and about establishing a positive reputation. And yes, social media has given us many more tools to do our daily jobs.
But the bigger picture in my opinion is not just about how social media has impacted PR, but about how it has influenced human nature and behaviour: about how we as individuals now connect, interact, make decisions, believe or disbelieve, communicate and present ourselves to the rest of the world.
Why is that important for our industry?
Because PR is all about dealing with real people, it's about establishing relationships with other human beings. And so understanding human nature and behaviour is key.
We live in an era of Digital Darwinism, where technology advances faster than our ability to adapt.
We don't have the time to think about what's happening, we just go on the bandwagon as quickly as possible.
We can't lack behind, the pressure is too much.
You could say that's exactly how PR businesses feel too. They can't lack behind and not adopt social, because fellow advertising, content marketing and SEO disciplines are moving fast.
But how do you stay relevant?
The very first step in my opinion is acknowledging how much has changed.
Only so can we understand the forces of communications around us and act upon them the right way.
After reading my dissertation findings again and reflecting upon what I have observed and experienced in the industry over the last two years, I've listed all implications that social media has had on PR (and our world, and the media, and our personal interactions, and those with businesses) that came to my mind.
If you have more, please do add them in the comment box below. I'll be more than happy to include your observations to the list.
Social media's implications on PR and the modern world:
- Everything is global, public and very vocal.
- Data is becoming very BIG.
- Information finds us.
- Everything is interconnected.
- Location doesn’t matter.
- The time factor is now.
- 24/7 media and demand for content.
- Everyone can be a publisher (UGC).
- Double-checking information and sources is an absolute necessity.
- Two-way conversations (top-down and bottom-up dialogues) with various publics.
- More tools and channels for content creation and sharing.
- Direct, real-time, instantaneous communication.
- No need for an intermediary (the media) to carry the message.
- Contact is easy, quick response is possible and needed.
- Better relationship–building and engagement opportunities.
- Listening is key, but so is acknowledging others and reacting in meaningful ways.
- Participation is cherished, control is detested.
- Better target audience reach.
- Enhanced opportunities to achieve global prominence with very local campaigns.
- Audience/Customer feedback is everywhere, if you listen.
- Enhanced market intelligence and research opportunities.
- Informed decisions based on relevant data are more possible than ever.
- There’s almost no control over what is said in social media.
- Brand image is in the hands of ordinary people.
- You can’t hide behind closed doors.
- Everything spreads in a matter of seconds (often unexpectedly).
- Crisis situations are more complex to deal with.
- The requirement for full transparency is here to stay.
- People are more demanding and unforgiving; make a mistake and they will hold you accountable in front of everyone.
- Values-based, ethically-driven business is on the rise.
- The boundaries between the disciplines of the Marketing Mix are blurring.
- “Everyone is doing social” is a myth. Or is it really?
- There’s definitely no one-size-fits-all solution.
- Personality is the cornerstone of honest relationships based on trust and loyalty.
- Being proactive and showing genuine interest is crucial to build a positive brand reputation.
- Media is richer and more distributed.
- Multiscreening is the brutal reality.
- Storytelling is no longer text-based, it is video, image, audio, 3D, 4D – it’s transmedia.
- Attention is the main currency.
- Emotion is viral.
What else would you add?