Posted At: October 10, 2011 12:11 PM
by Megan Reichenbach
Mobile consumer technology, ranging from the innovative tablets to the invention of the smartphone and emerging social networking sites, has created a new communication method for companies. Because so many people have become dependent on these new media platforms, companies are beginning to change the way they are getting in touch with both clients and potential clients. According to the YouTube video “Social media is changing the way we communicate,” “in the near future, we [consumers] will no longer search for our products and services. They will find us via social networks.”
Some may even say that the emergence of social media and the development of tablets and smartphones could potentially threaten the relationships journalists and public relations practitioners develop with clients. There are also those companies that believe the preservation of traditional media is just as important to the success of their services.
According to Bill Todd, chief operating officer of o2ideas, a full-service interactive marketing agency, refusing to adjust to new communication methods is one of the greatest challenges PR agencies and other companies face. Todd believes companies need to think about their target markets and staying up to speed with technology. Even though social media and the advancements in media platforms are becoming more popular, there are still those companies that trust traditional outlets over new ones.
O2ideas has taken a strong position in communicating via the social media and tablet platforms. The company works from advanced platforms, including the iPhone and iPad, and has joined the popular trend of Facebook and Twitter. These new communication outlets seem to be causing a change in the style of writing and communication for public relations professionals.
“People used to want to have conversations, but now people will log onto one of their many accounts, say one or two things, and then sign off,” Todd said. Communication is becoming so easily accessible, the convenience is making some people lazy.
“These advanced media outlets and the development of social media are not a very holistic way of communicating. It definitely has its advantages, but also many pitfalls,” Todd said.
Todd believes that the revolution of email serves as the catalyst for new communication methods. Through the media outlets of Facebook, Twitter and email, it is nearly impossible for PR professionals to read the emotions of their clients, making it difficult to serve them to the best of their ability.
Edelman, one of the world’s most innovative global PR firms, utilizes both traditional platforms as well as the new social media outlets via iPads and smartphones. “Even though we have been introduced to the new media channels, such as smartphone communication, texting, Facebook and Twitter, there is still heavy reliance on traditional media, such as newspapers, and they are still just as important,” Rich Meyers, general manager at Edelman, said. “Every PR professional needs to have a story to tell regarding their clients, no matter what the channel,” Meyers said.
One of the main goals of PR is to get the merits of the products and services available to a target audience. Is the 140-character space on Twitter enough to effectively communicate and create strong relationships? Todd from o2ideas is a bit skeptical.
In a blog published by Patrick Smith, under the MediaBriefingExperts’ Blog, “Why it’s dangerous to over-estimate how digital our audience is,” Todd’s perspective on social media is defended. According to Smith, those companies who are becoming reliant on clientele communication via email, social media and the new tablets are excluding the international audiences that do not have access to the Internet.
There are millions of people in the UK who are still not up to date with the new media outlets. “It’s dangerous to assume that the migration away from analogue to digital platforms will be a simple task of persuading readers and viewers to use new technology. It’s going to be a lot harder than that,” Smith said.
The fact that populations around the world have yet to become familiar with the Internet portrays the risk that public relations professionals are taking by communicating so much of their marketing strategies via social media outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter. However, “social media is becoming an important strategic weapon in company arsenals and has proven to be a valuable tool in acquiring and engaging customers,” Christine Moorman, a professor at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, said.
Even though the prediction for the future of marketing leans toward a predominantly social media community and business environment, public relations practitioners should consider the emotional connection they are losing with clients. Communication between consumers and businesses are becoming short-handed because of the limitations on these social networking sites, according to Todd.
The development of social media in the business industry has introduced new writing and communication techniques. The conciseness of the new language used on these sites can potentially hurt client relationships, but then again, these sites are introducing a technologically advanced method for practitioners to get to know clients at a fast pace. Do we see our future of communication ultimately taking the place of our traditional media outlets?
“Social media isn’t a fad; it’s the fundamental shift in the way we communicate.”