The Hurricane Hunters of Communication Change

September 28, 2007

I was reading this blog entry titled The Communication Revolution, by Duncan Wardle on the Public Relations Society of American conference blog. As a speaker at this event coming up in October, I was interested in what other speakers might be saying re the theme PR Evolution. Wardle’s thoughts are valuable, prompting me to try again to get above the clouds and get more of a 30,000 foot view of what is going on.

I do believe that we are in a revolution, or evolution, or explosion. Or maybe a hurricane. Those who study hurricanes do so by flying airplanes into the middle of them and also looking at them from above from satellites–far more than 30,000 feet. That must be how many of us feel who are experiencing and deeply involved in the day to day activities of this hurricane. As a hunter, it can be a bumpy ride. We are constantly talking about those who “get it” and those who don’t.  “Getting it” means understanding that the expectations and demands of audiences are rapidly changing and that means changing the strategies, plans, policies and technologies used to meet those expectations.

But what are the real changes?  Wardle does a good job of identifying some of the keys. They include audience control. The consumers of information are demanding an ever increasing level of control over how they receive it, when they receive it and the forms they receive it. But another change includes the very term audience. Audience is probably an outdated concept because it conveys the concept of speaker and listener. Someone talking, someone or a group taking it in. Message and recipient. Seems so 90s. Today, it is all about individuals, not groups. Mass customization. It is also about interactivity.

All the hoo haw about social media simply means that internet users never saw this a publication vehicle, as many content producers did, but as a means of carrying on their lives which includes engaging in conversation, shopping, buying, selling, praying, laughing, meeting new people, staying in touch with family, etc., etc. The internet is just another platform for living, moving and having our beings.

From a communication standpoint, what makes this so astounding is that there is unprecedented opportunities to participate in the lives, thoughts, activities and conversations of individuals as never before.

Now, I have to get back into the airplane and enter that hurricane.

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