Do you know who you’re talking to?

Sitting in a room today full of people enthusiastic about social media and the future it has in the world of media and communication raised a lot of questions in my mind about new vs. traditional media. The colliding worlds of social media and traditional media can’t (and shouldn’t) be ignored. It’s a sign of the times, technology, and the way the public are not only consumers of information and news, but also providers.

After a couple of interesting presentations by UNIS Geneva, the World Health Organization, and the spokesperson for UNHCR, with all very different approaches to social media, it made me think about the future of news and the role of social media in organizations. UNIS Geneva was at the end of the spectrum where they’re testing the waters and starting off slow, UNHCR was about communicating life in the ‘field’, and the WHO was very much about reputation management and risk communications. A variety of approaches with very different purposes. One point that stuck in my mind from Melissa Fleming, UNHCR’s spokeperson, was the fact that social media are just tools that support a communication strategy.

My own experience working in a communication role really brings this point to light as we have regular discussions on the purpose of a corporate website, what social media should be used for, and what makes a strong communication strategy. In the past, the main way to “communicate” was the use of a press release, but with more relevant channels and flexibility to send out messages and to have your audience communicate back to you, things are changing. Did you know that Google uses a blog to announce their news? Check out “4 Ways to Rethink the Press Release” on Mashable written earlier this year.

Also, I did a quick Google search and found a few very interesting nuggets of information on the crossroads between news and social media:

“The question is no longer just a hypothetical one. With increasing convergence between social media and traditional content, what is known as a traditional news website might not exist in the coming years.” – The end of news websites.

“Knowing where your audience gathers and how they want to engage with your content will dictate how you create, publish and share your information.” – What does the future hold for press releases?

“The syllogism that helped journalism prosper in the 20th century was simple: Produce the journalism (or content) that people want, and you will succeed. But that may no longer be enough. The key to media in the 21st century may be who has the most knowledge of audience behavior, not who produces the most popular content. ” – Five myths about the future of journalism

Like the Toblerone Trail near Geneva, will we innovate in the way we communicate or remain a historic monument?

At the same time, when we talk about “communications”, what are we talking about? Media (i.e. journalism), marketing (i.e. brand value, targeting, segmentation), public relations (i.e. reputation management)… ?

And finally, speaking of the changing nature of news and journalism, who (or what) are journalists and what do they do? It cant be reduced to just one thing

Update: I just came across this interesting article about how Content is No Longer King and that there needs to be a radical shift in how we see news and communication – Content isn’t the goal. Audience is. Digital media is as much about distribution as it is about content.

One thought on “Do you know who you’re talking to?”

  1. Interesting article! Besides those practice-oriented theories, commmunications can be also interpreted as a cultural sense of collective belongings, considering the fact that people’s presence on social media is always in a form of interest-based virtual groups.

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