I believe if in the XXst century the new form of illiteracy was not knowing how to operate a computer, in the XXIst century the new form of illiteracy is not knowing how to use new media. There are two forms of thinking about communication:
The classic marketing & PR vs the new media marketing & PR.
I mean that in the deepest most practical way. It’s not online as a component, back old times, 10 years ago, when it was just a component of the marketing mix, it new media that’s structuring the way to communicate. It’s simpler.
For more and more products and brands, you don’t just have to be online, you have to do social presence in web 2.0. It’s not the marketer who does the planning and structures the communication any more, it’ s the social networks, the communities that design the way the message will be communicated and the strategist has less power to control that which ends up at the receiver (audience, public), unless, of course, they (start to) understand the way it’s working.
The most even stunning thing is that new media is not an environment, it’s social dynamics. It’s not static. It’s changing, and the rules cannot be predetermined. If entrepreneurs have to learn to control systems in order to administrate their business, what they have to learn about the promotion in the digital era is to let go of control.
I strongly recommend to any entrepreneur and strategist in the communication field to take a deep look at Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. The classic one in 1993. There are two discussions around which the film idea revolves.And I use this metaphor as what I consider to be an extremely strong example of what I mean.
The Jurassic Park metaphor
John Hammond is a brave entrepreneur who builds a whole new world on an island, to entertain people. He hopes he will be able to control what people haven’t controlled ever: a dinosaur zoo. He relies on setting up a system that works like a clockwork.
Errare humanum est, therefore John is willing to learn from his mistake and eventually make it better (which, as a daring entrepreneur, he does), not understanding that the real lesson is not in the “How?” section, but in the “why?” section: all control is an illusion.
And, to illustrate this further, after you’ve watched the official trailer of Jurassic Park, please watch these fan-made trailers.
Which advertises you the best, this movie?The community-generated ones or the official corporate trailer?
New media illustrates the power of democracy.
In a true democracy, as a difference to capitalism, the leaders don’t control the masses, the masses vote for the representation of their needs and desires in the upper ground. In social networking era, he who has the higher ground is not the winner but is the most stuck. That’s why corporations’ systems are not their strongest point in communicating through web PR. This has never been achievable, in known history, at such a large scale, due to limitations of technology. But now, technology offers no more limitations, but a lot of freedom.
He who is most flexible has the most control, they say in NLP. Control is a form of power. What power do you have left, if not control? An answer might be responsible. And I do not mean corporate social responsibility like in that channel for organizational PR. I mean responsibility as a value of each individual communicator, of each organization which chooses to communicate through new media.
Marketing and PR become integrated
Values may seem too abstract, to out from concrete, but each value, may it be conscious or less conscious, determines a set of choices and actions. More people taking the same choices is a micro-trend. Many people taking the same choices is a trend. A trend determines a niche.
In classical communication, everybody knows that you have to have a marketing approach (to the market) and a PR approach (to the audience). In new media communication, it’s difficult to separate the two.
To illustrate this: in talking about a niche, are you referring to a market, or a public (audience)? You will find out it’s easier to find communities (audiences) in web 2.0 if you think about a niche than it is to find a market. And you can measure that through online media buying vs. affiliate marketing. Which will you pick, if you don’t have enough money? Will you choose advertising or PR? How will the strategists justify their recommendations made to their clients, based on the new dynamics of the markets… ups, audiences… or was it the other way around?
We are used to the market being dynamic and the most vivid players being the suppliers. The “Audiences” framing only inspire “listening”. But new media proves that audiences can be very dynamic and not only that, but they can also outspeak a supplier. Especially in affiliate marketing, audiences determine markets, the opposite to the classical advertising approach, where markets determined audiences.
I read about a year ago an article [ro, php] that reflected the delay between new media and PR, in Romania. I believe that this gap will increase until either the communication consultancy providers will segment only to the big players, using classical approaches, either more and more of them will disappear. That might happen because even if the many clients for niched marketing & PR services (the small businesses) will not drive the communication consulting market, the audiences will. Because the consumer behavior has ultimately and irreversibly changed in the new media era. And the only direction it’s going is more flexibility.
In the end, some food for your thoughts:
Are you ready enough to take the power without the control?
Do you consider the communities as audiences or as markets?
Do you consider your external communication static or dynamic?
Do you have enough community and market awareness to communicate with responsibility?
Do you want your business to still exist in the next 5 years?