Quality communication, in all formats

posted by Brendan Hodgson

The title of this post comes from a recent Globe & Mail article examining the importance of face-to-face communication in this age of emerging social networking technology. 

It’s important. Particularly to those of us who counsel clients on the merits of social media within the broader communications context.

Not only do we, as practitioners, require appropropriate protocols for engaging audiences via social media vehicles such as blogs or social networking sites – ie. the need for personalization and transparency (or “try not to hide who you are and what you are doing” as one prominent Canadian blogger recently indicated to me when I asked him about his expectations). We must also be strategic on counselling the appropriateness of when to avoid social media (or any digital technology, for that matter), in certain situations.

This does not need to imply that we are either for or against these technologies, or the various channels that they support. Rather, it simply implies a clear understanding of where technology fits. For example, some may say that media relations is in the decline. And I tend to agree. But traditional media will still be around for a long time – perhaps smaller and/or more concentrated, or alternatively, much more fragmented - and it will continue to exert a significant influence. To ignore that fact, is folly. Likewise, we must not give in to the easy assumption that social media, albeit an enabler of “conversations” and “transparency” and “relationships” (which it is, unquestionably), is an adequate or appropriate replacement for face-to-face dialog in all instances. 

For example, does McDonald’s CSR blog absolve it of any responsibility to engage individual communities or other stakeholders at the local level? Absolutely not. But it does provide the means to communicate broad-stroke commitments and provide clarity on potentially systemic issues. Does Southwest’s blog absolve the airline of ensuring a high-quality customer experience for its passengers once they’ve entered the airport environment. No, but it does help the airline communicate it’s brand values from the mouths of its most important brand ambassadors: it’s employees. 

RadioShack’s use of email to announce layoff’s was initially panned. However, when examined within the context of their overall “downsizing” strategy – it might seem less inappropriate given that technology was utilized within the context of a broader communications strategy that included advance notice, and post-notification face-to-face meetings with managers.

PR’s alleged claim to the “social media” space will be dictated as much by the nature of our counsel as it will be by the nature of the technology itself.  Agencies that have positioned themselves to provide a holistic and integrated communications approach that transects all channels will, in my view, emerge the winner.

1 Comment


this is very good

good related article

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