Social media beats super-injunction, again

03 February 2010

It’s not for us to judge England and Chelsea footballer, John Terry, or that French lady or anyone else involved. We’re more concerned, here, with what the latest failed super-injunction means for communications teams and corporate reputations.

We don’t know what we don’t know, so it may be that super-injunctions are very successful in preventing the publication of a story, at the same time as preventing a story being published about the aforementioned story that is being prevented from being published – if you follow. However, first Trafigura and now John Terry have found they did not work and perhaps regret spending the money on one.

Two things have come together to foil these two super-injunctions. Firstly, people love to share information. If it’s secret and bad (Trafigura) or has gossip value (John Terry), well, that’s even better. Secondly, in the past it would have been all but impossible to insert information into the national consciousness without involving the media. Now it’s the work of seconds for anyone to write 140 characters on Twitter, press go and have the news trending within the hour. Social media was the reason behind our two super-injunctions failing so spectacularly.

With that in mind, corporations (and footballers on which England’s World Cup hopes hang) need to consider well all their actions and not do something they would be uncomfortable defending sometime in the future. Refreshed that CSR policy recently? The moment you feel the need to call in the lawyers to defend your reputation in relation to something that you almost certainly did, in light of these events, you might consider yourself skating on thin ice.

The iPad, The Guardian and the “legacy print business”

03 February 2010

Brand Republic recently published an article in which the Guardian’s editor  referred to his paper product as, “…the legacy print business.” This comment, published in the same week as the launch of the iPad, throws out a clear signal on the future of the media in the UK. Given ongoing financial losses within their print divisions, it is almost inevitable that one or more of our national newspapers will follow a host of trade magazines to go fully digital in the next year or two. When that happens, what will be the impact on communication teams?

If you’re really determined, the iPad could be used as a traditional computer. However, its underlying design purpose is to enable consumption of media. We’re going to watch TV and movies, play games, read magazines and news, as well as interact with Facebook friends on the iPad and other slate devices arriving soon.

Like the iPod and the music industry before it, the technology is going to wag the media house dog so hard it will have to change, a change made more acceptable to it by the financial state of the paper-based news industry. Providers will design their content specifically for these devices. The merger of categories such as TV, magazines and social media will accelerate. We won’t even be asked ‘turn the page’ of eZines, as a nod to history.

Throughout this, the fundamentals of media relations will stay the same; know your client, know the media and put the two together.

However, in the all digital era, communications teams will have to greatly expand the number of information resources and individuals they know well and be able to deliver near instant insight, in variety of digital formats, to communicate their business’s point of view.

To do this well, communications professionals will have to be indivisable from the businesses they represent and able to provide images (no longer required at 300dpi, thank goodness), video, soundbites and written commentary at the click of a mouse. If not, the mechanics of digital media means they will be left behind.

These are all changes that have been developing since digitisation began. However, with the digital future of our media all but upon us and the launch of these new consumer technologies, communications practices will need to fully modernise, very quickly to be effective.