My Brain Hurts… and I blame social media

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Lesson learned #17: Don’t sit on a panel with smart people, as they will either make you look bad, or make your brain hurt because you will actually have to think.

Yesterday, I was a panelist alongside Mitch Joel, blogger, podcaster, speaker and Twist Imager (a title I want as well) and Leigh Himel of super-secret Oponia (and no amount of arm-twisting would wrench the secret from her) at the apt but wordy New Media in Communications Conference.

The discussion, from this biased writer’s perspective, offered some flavourful discourse – given the fact we were all opinionated scabbards - that, at a minimum, seemed sufficient to keep the audience in a state of REM sleep… In addition to the usual discussions around “what It is, and who is doing It?” (It being social media), perhaps the most interesting question was around what new skillsets will be required by comms departments, PR agencies and others in order to effectively adapt to this new communications landscape.

In my view, the answer was less around the hard skills - meaning those which are hardwired into you in the halls of academia, or any kind of ‘technical’ expertise  - and more around the appropriate soft skills, meaning the ability to challenge conventional wisdom, to connect the dots, to be flexible and embrace change, and to think – dare I say it – outside of the ‘box’.

I absolutely believe that people still require a clear understanding of the principles of effective communications and marketing – as I don’t think these core principles will ever fundamentally change. What has changed, however, are the expectations of consumers and stakeholders based on this new landscape, the tools that we (and they) use to communicate, the very nature of the messages that we communicate, the relationships that we hope to foster between organization and stakeholder, the frequency of our dialog, and the way we measure and define “success”.

And this requires strategic thinking of a whole new order. It requires immersion and active participation in these media and in the conversations themselves. It requires panoramic awareness of what is going on around you – in the media, on the web, and in the minds of our audiences. It means looking at social media from the point of view of, not only, a marketer and communicator but also as a sociologist… because, sappy music aside, and in the immortal words of Buffalo Springfield… something’s happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear.

(thanks to Craphammer for the YouTube link)



Mitch Joel

Hi Brendan,

It was great to meet you and I totally agree with your review. I can’t remember the last time I was on a panel AND took as many notes as I did. I hope the audience got as much out of it as I did.

Let’s make it a point to keep the conversation going.



Donna Papacosta

Your insights are right on, Brendan. Wish I had been there.

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