New Media has changed the way we live our lives. The invention of the web has altered the way every business carries out its operations. Every business now has a social media presence that is very important to their survival. The web is now in charge of everyone. New Technologies such as social media has left individuals and companies with less power than ever before. They have no control about what has been said about them on all of these various platforms. It is now a PR persons job to try to keep track of what is been said about his company across the web.
I will write this blog post from an organizations point of view. And show how the “control” of an organisation is now in different hands. For example, Public Relations people’s jobs have changed drastically over the last number of years. PR people have to understand all the new technology or risk getting left behind. 20 years ago this was not the case.
Organisations now have to be a lot more careful about what they do and how they treat their customers and suppliers. The web is a very powerful tool. Nowadays thanks to social media the customer has more power than ever before. With one simple click they can either tarnish a company’s reputation or enhance it. The old phrase “the customer is always right” has always been evident in most businesses but now it is obeyed like the gospel. Social Media is that powerful. It can be used like a weapon if a customer feels like he/she has been wronged. However this is not the only way that organizations are effected by new technology. They now need to change their advertising models to meet the needs of everyone. I’ve already talked about how these new technologies can be dangerous for an organisation, now let’s concentrate on how they can help an organisation to excel in the current climate. If organisations are to be profitable in the current day, social media is a primary element to them. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter let companies reach a wider international audience in a cost efficient way. For example I have already said how “the web is now in charge” that does not mean organisations today are to be afraid of it. Far from it in fact. Some organisations have now used new technologies to further their organisations. Organisations such as Start Fitness, Apple and Amazon have gained massively in popularity since they began to use social media the right way. The blueprint is there, now for more people to follow it and therefore gain from it. Organisations could learn a lot if they looked at their competitors before making a plan.
Old Media vs New Media
How exactly does New Media differ from Old Media you might ask? They have similarities but also a lot of differences. These differences outline why new media is so important for organisations today and how the web is now in charge. Firstly the fact that pretty much all of new media is done on computers. This is a big change in itself and indirectly affects the old media. People now get news and advertisements in real time so the days of waiting for the newspapers to print are a thing of the past. Newspapers such as The Times and The Irish Examiner now do a lot of their business online. They have evolved in a time when others have not. Thus why their popularity is still intact and they are still moving forwards as organisations. New Media has injected new vitality and competition into news. Basically you can now get your news faster and in more places than ever before. If an organisation has an offer that they want their audience to know about, thanks to the creation of new media they know longer have to wait till the next day’s print. Another positive of new media is that there is now a greater diversity of ideas and viewpoints. Due to social media sites and blogs/forums especially there are now many places online for people to voice their opinion on certain topics. Everything is now done in real time. New media has taken over a lot of the social responsibilities that old media once had. However let’s not get to ahead of ourselves here , this does not mean that journalism is dying. In fact it is just as strong as ever. A lot of journalism has just moved online (with everyone else).
New Media and The PR Person
Now how exactly does this new technology affect the role of a Public Relations person? The social media boom has affected the PR community in many ways. The PR person now needs to be faster and more efficient at getting the news. And then obviously reacting to it. The PR practitioner now needs to be online all day everyday. This is to ensure he/she is representing his/her organisation in the right way. They can then react to compliments or criticisms in the most efficient way possible. It is a known fact that if a complaint is made against an organization on social media that organisation must react ASAP! The longer we wait to reply the less likely that the outcome will be a positive one.
Obviously in the times of “old media” this was not the case. Operations were basically a lot slower so in times of crisis you had a lot more time to think about your next move. This is obviously no longer the case but a lot of PR people have excelled in recent years due to their understanding and knowledge of all the new technologies. New media is not only a weapon for people outside of organisations. It is also a useful tool for people in organisations across the world. Now let’s look at a few of the ways that New Media has changed the way a PR person operates.
- Speeches are becoming a thing of the past and conversation is gaining a lot in popularity. Two way communication is a tremendous opportunity for organisations to interact with their consumers. This allows the PR person to have deeper connection with the target audience and therefore learn more from it. Social Media allows us to do this in real time with anyone across the world. Platforms like Skype are used everyday for this.
- The speed of information gathering is fasting than ever before. PR professionals have access to a wealth of content that can be shared with consumers seeking solutions to a problem. By creating a simple keyword search the PR person can use Twitter to link up with the right person at the right time. By engaging pro-actively, PR teams can create new opportunities to create a favourable brand impression that can lead to the beginning of a social media relationship and a potential business relationship.
- With all the advances in social media there is an expectation from the consumers that they will no longer be subjected to mass, non targeted information and any concerns/complaints will be addressed both quickly and personally. As I have already mentioned above this can be challenging for public relations people. One negative comment on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter can send most companies into crisis mode. A PR team is basically on call 24/7. And due to all the advances in social media they need to be able to respond positively at all times.
Now to link all of this back to the title. “Forget Control – The Web is Now in Charge”. The web pretty much has full control over organisations today. You either follow the guidelines or get left behind. If an organisation decided to keep only advertising on newspapers and billboards etc.. Their competitors using social media to advertise would almost definitely gain more profits from it. It is very important for all organisations to use all of the new technology available to them. In my opinion I think it’s great how social media has forced audiences to only tolerate relevant content which is slowly weeding out the shotgun approach. It makes room for more creative PR which will make the web a better experience for everyone. There are hundreds of articles wrote every day on how to use all of this new technology properly in business. An interesting online article that I have found tells us seven ways in which social media has changed the world of public relations. This article also gives its takes on how to combat all the changes that a PR person has to make.
Citizen Journalism is getting more and more popular. It’s not a secret anymore people now know that can produce their own content and also publish it. This can be anything from taking photos at a local car accident to seeing someone famous in the local grocery store. This has had a major impact on the PR business.
One article that I found very interesting describes Citizen Journalism as a “Brave New World for PR“. This article goes through a number of important PR aspects including promotion, protection and how people now want to play a more active role in journalism. (Rather than the traditional wait until the next day to read a newspaper).
The biggest example that we have ever seen is the tragic Tsunami that hit Asia in December 2004. The event destroyed many people lives and also left a lasting impression on the world of journalism/PR. As the event unfolded people began to record videos and also allegations of helicopter journalism were made. There was no local news media to report on the Tsunami. So news channels had to look for amateur footage. Some people may say citizen journalism was born here. Most experts also say that this was the day when a lot of people realized that the web could be used as a source of news. Big change in public relations.
Transparency in Organisations
Transparency is now used in organisations. It is an important part of all PR campaigns that we respond and monitor or clients. This needs to be done to ensure no negative feedback is wrote on online forums about our organisations. There are 3 main reasons why I think organisations should use transparency. The ability to act on information is what often separates successful companies to those less successful. This is obviously hard to do. Sometimes information that you need to act on might not be accurate. A good PR person needs to be able to find good information and respond to it immediately.
In organisations transparency helps us avoid unnecessary risk taking. Basically when there is no transparency in a large company people tend to take more risks then they would normally take. In a transparent organisation all the work is open to everyone within in the organisation. This usually makes it a more moral place to work. It is very hard to be unethical if everyone knows what you are doing.
The final and arguably most important reason for using transparency is that it enables people to share and collaborate. This also builds up the trust factor within an organisation. From working in organisations for a few years myself I think that trust is one of the single most important elements of a business.
With all of the new technologies it is very hard for any organisation to keep all of their endeavours private. Privacy is still very important in today’s working world but it is getting harder to keep everything in control.
This is why I fully believe that the web is now in charge and for the foreseeable future there is nothing anyone can do about it. No matter how powerful somebody thinks they are the web will always have control. New Media has now become more popular and powerful than anyone could have foreseen.
Smyth, J. (2014). Transparency in PR and Media. Available: http://www.stantonprm.com/transparency-in-pr/. Last accessed 21st Mar 2015.
Berg, O. (2011). 3 Reasons Why Organizations Need to Increase Transparency. Available: http://www.cmswire.com/cms/enterprise-collaboration/3-reasons-why-organizations-need-to-increase-transparency-011886.php. Last accessed 21st Mar 2015.
Edelman, R. (2005). Citizen Journalism – A Brave New World for PR. Available: http://www.edelman.com/p/6-a-m/citizen-journalism-a-brave-new-world-for-pr/. Last accessed 22nd Mar 2015.
Johnson, T. (2014). New Media vs Old Media. Available: http://www.randmediagroup.com/new-media-vs-old-media. Last accessed 22nd Mar 2015.
Manovich, L (2011). The Language of New Media. New York: MIT Press. p34-37.
Wikipedia. (2011). New media. Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_media. Last accessed 23rd Mar 2015.
Wikipedia. (2015). Old media. Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_media. Last accessed 22nd Mar 2015.
Business Directory. (2012). Shotgun Approach. Available: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/shotgun-approach.html. Last accessed 22nd Mar 2015.
Royse, M. (2011). Seven Ways Social Media is Changing PR. Available: http://spinsucks.com/social-media/seven-ways-social-media-is-changing-pr/. Last accessed 23rd Mar 2015.
Wikipedia. (2011). Citizen journalism. Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizen_journalism. Last accessed 21st Mar 2015.