A few years ago, my clients thought I was out on the bleeding edge with my blog. They thought it was cool to be sure, but they also reasoned that it just wasn't for them. Too dangerous.
Today all of my clients are interested in being involved in social media in some way or another, if just from the self-educational viewpoint.
Most of my clients tend to be senior corporate communicators, so they, more than others, are becoming acutely aware of the need to have some fluency in this more intense two-way communication channel that I have taken to calling the Social Web.
And more often, they are finding themselves having no choice but to “deal with it” when one constituency or another demands that they pay attention — and pay attention they must.
The Institute of Public Relations released a study (pdf) last week by John V. Pavlik, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at the School of Communication, Information and Library Studies, Rutgers, New Jersey, that examines the changes that new media have wrought on the practice of public relations. The study was sponsored by Wieck Media.
Web 2.0 is breaking down barriers. Much of the change is about control, adds Peter Debreceny. “Although conceptually the 2-way symmetric model of public relations is the ideal, it's not usually the practice. PR people like to be in control and get
messages out and see the messages resonate and the audience respond accordingly.” Web 1.0 permitted this. Web 2.0 is breaking this down.
Here are the five takeaway points that I got from the paper about how Web 2.0 is changing the business of communication and public relations:
5 Ways Social Networking is Changing PR
Flattened Hierarchy: Communication with both internal and external communities has been democratized (internal CEO blogs, changes in corporate policy based on input/outcry)
Time Shifting: There has been a transcendence of time and distance in the communication process (geography no longer matters, the world is indeed flat)
Virtual Connections: Organizational structure is becoming more virtual with technology (WebEx, Facebook, Second Life)
Digital Tools: Digital communications make possible the cost-effective advent of two-way symmetrical communications. (Many free and almost free services, such as blogs, forums, Skype)
Convergence: There is a convergence between the expectation for immediate communication and information and the tools to deliver on such expectations
None of this is ground breaking for those who have followed the advent of the social media and networking revolution closely; however, it does a good job of summing up where it brings the practice of public relations in 2007. I recommend it for corporate communicators that are just starting to investigate these things and also as an excellent reference that ties together many of the studies that show the sea change is occurring all around us.