By Drew Kramer
Director of Strategic Communications
InterMountain Corporate Affairs
Sorry, creationist crowd, but the last two years provided ample evidence that Darwinism is alive and well in the PR market – natural selection weeded out those who couldn’t compete and strengthened for the long run those who adapted and made it through the Ice Age. What will 2010 offer beyond more evolution? Here are my barely-educated guesses:
First, the latest in gadgetry and new media applications – e.g., using the cell phone implanted in your keychain to post a tweet that promotes the podcast you just recorded on your waffle iron and linked to from the blog on your Facebook page – will only get sillier before it reaches its full strategic potential. The marketplace of companies that invent this stuff will begin to settle much as the dot.com industry did so many years ago, with a wave of mergers and acquisitions and, yes, more culling of the weak to protect the overall health of the herd. PR practitioners will have to: (a) stay on top of this constantly changing landscape; (b) not over-commit to any one particular tool – you’d hate to put all your faith in the rock as your primary pounding implement just as others are discovering the hammer; and (c) have as their foundation a smart and viable communications philosophy that can endure and drive the program regardless of the tactics and technologies at their disposal.
Second, even as the available wizardry evolves many organizations will rediscover some of the more quaint (but effective) methods of communicating. Particularly in a retail public relations and public affairs market like Colorado, we will see a renewed emphasis on bypassing both old and new media channels and speaking directly to audiences through more “old school” tactics such as public meetings (the original social media), neighborhood and small group forums, presentations to the Elks Lodge and even one-on-one dialogues with critical stakeholders. In theory anyway, you never control the message as well as when you’re delivering it live and unfiltered out of your very own mouth.
Third, crisis management will be the next area of focus as the PR industry continues its life-long struggle with how to calculate the ROI of good communications. As credibility and reputations get destroyed with a few keystrokes in this hypersensitive media environment, those visionaries capable of thinking and looking beyond the next news cycle will figure out how best to measure the value of crisis avoidance – counting the ships that missed the rocks thanks to the lighthouse instead of counting the ones that ran aground.
Finally, I predict – as I have every year since 1967 – a World Series title for the Boston Red Sox. (Hey, I’ve been right twice…)
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