Time to uncover the communications dinosaurs

Posted on 25/01/2012

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People looking at a dinosaurBack in the day, my football team won, it always snowed at Christmas, the news was serious and PRs used fax machines to send out press releases.

For some, even these new fangled fax machines were too much. So PRs employed teams of admins to do the work while they wined and dined clients.

Of course, ‘back in the day’ was and is a myth. The world is always changing and, in communications terms, this change comes fast.

In ten years, the Internet, email, mobiles, 24 hour news cycles, social media and community management have become the dominant forces of communications.

And for marketeers passionate about communicating, these new developments bring new opportunities to learn, communicate and engage with audiences.

But, according to the Business Leaders in Communications Study (BLCS), almost one in ten senior communicators at FTSE and  leading not for profit organisations DON’T see social media as a key challenge.

So I asked, at the BLCS launch, do people say this because social media is just a bubble, is it through ignorance or due to complacency?

The reaction – from reactionaries -was amazing.

‘A flash in the pan.’ ‘Not used by the shop floor.’ ‘A waste of time.’ All phrases used to rubbish social media.

Yet, as agency bosses from Grayling, Hotwire and Speed, senior comms people from BBC, BP and GlaxoSmithKline – even John Lewis’ Charlie Mayfield – responded, social media is here to stay and those who don’t embrace it fully will be left behind.

In fact, David Bickerton from BP admitted his organisation was left reeling from the social media impact of recent events. And, he added, as a result the company was now ensuring ALL staff have a role to play in the reputation management of the company on social media.

Now, given this is a blog, I don’t expect the dinosaurs who hope social media will pass them by will actually read this.

But if you work for a communications dinosaur, I’d urge you to uncover them and shop them to your chief exec.

And if you’re on a PR degree and a lecturer displays fossil like tendencies, report them to the PRCA.

There is no excuse. Social media training courses proliferate and using social media should be as commonplace as watching the news to communicators.

But, left unchecked, these dinosaurs are dangerous. And the mistakes they make might just destroy the organisation you work for.

And, further, your communications leader shouldn’t just be embracing new communications channels, they should also be looking to the future.

A more campaigning communications style, true 24 hour Comms teams, fresh diverse talent, PR Apprenticeships and further interactivity with audiences.

Bring all those things on!

Thanks to VMA Group and Black Letter PR for inviting me to last night’s lively discussion.