Not Your Grandad’s PR: 4 Ways Technology Is Revolutionizing Communications
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You’re probably getting sick of hearing about technology’s power to transform this and disrupt that. It’s exciting to imagine the possibilities of a high-tech future, sure, but the implications of an increasingly efficient, automated world are far from reassuring. One has only to look to the current political landscape to appreciate the undesirable byproducts of our technological society.
Ways Technology Is Revolutionizing Communications
The communications industry isn’t often thought of as a vanguard of technological change. After all, the fundamental relationship at the heart of strategic communications — between the organizations positioning themselves for the public, and the public itself — remains unaltered. Organizations still talk, and people still listen.
But the conversations themselves look very different today than even 10 or 20 years ago. As new modes of communication and organization arise in the years to come, they’ll continue to evolve. Whether your company is looking to invest in strategic communications for the first time or you’re shopping for a new communications partner that (you hope) can provide a fresh perspective on branding and broadcasting in an always-connected world, you need to understand four trends that will undoubtedly affect your experience.
1. Channels Are Multiplying
This is a blessing and curse. On the one hand, the proliferation of communications channels — some quite narrowly tailored to consumer personas — makes it easier to identify and reach receptive audience groups. A comprehensive, fully utilized communications portfolio theoretically leads to a more robust, lively conversation — and allows communicators to make deeper inroads with the demos they need most.
On the other hand: to overmatched observers, it can appear that communications channels are proliferating like so many weeds in an untended garden. That’s overwhelming to people who don’t do this stuff for a living. It’s tougher to manage, even for competent communicators. Without an expert (or team of experts) at the helm, it can lead to oversights, self-inflicted wounds, and outright crises.
2. Conversants Are Smarter, More Informed & Better Equipped to Call B.S.
No use sugar-coating it. With so much information (and spin) at their fingertips, audiences are smarter and better informed than ever before. That means they’re more adept at — and, unfortunately, often relish — calling B.S. on less-than-plausible information.
“Your audience is smarter than you think,” says Rosemary Plorin, president and CEO of Nashville-based Lovell Communications. “They’ll forgive a lot, but not being made a fool.”
3. Response Times Are Shrinking
“In a crisis, you must measure your response window in minutes, not hours or days,” says Sandy Muller, a crisis communications consultant in the public safety field. “Every moment that goes by without an effective response is a moment that your opponents — or the gods of pure chance — can use to frame the situation’s terms. The longer you wait, the thicker the cast around those terms becomes.”
According to Muller, effective crisis management starts with proactive monitoring. How is your organization perceived? What are others saying about it? Where and when are your employees and associates discussing, promoting or badmouthing it? The moment your team identifies a potential flashpoint, that proactive monitoring hum needs to become an active crisis response roar.
3. Social Media Rules the Roost
In the span of little more than a decade, social media has transformed from an amateur curiosity into a multibillion-dollar industry. It’s now among the most important communications channels, both in strategic framing conversations and crisis responses. And that status actually undersells its importance somewhat, given the incredible (and ever-increasing) variety of social channels available to tech-savvy communicators. If your organization isn’t social, it’s got some serious catching up to do.
Is your company keeping up with the pace of change?
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