Posted by Media Relations on Monday, April 7th, 2008 - 1 Comment »
“The Future of PR: How New Technologies Will Transform the Way We Communicate
Duncan Wardle, VP of Global Pr for Disney Parks begins with a classic “Googlezon” 7 minute video (EPIC 2014) laying the groundwork for the death of “the fourth estate”. In the news (Google-run) future, media has ceased to be about reporting or news, and has become simply a collection of information. It’s an interesting (albeit histrionic) warning, and one that is all the more relevant in light of Charlie Rose’s admonition about ethics and authenticity. The video concludes with a world in which all news has been reduced to mere trivia.
As we engage social media, media relations folks are taking a larger role in crafting the message. The very credibility that makes earned media so valuable is potentially, as Ms. Shapiro would say, “up for grabs”. At a meetup of social media experts last night, one noted the trend of companies outsourcing social media efforts to India. Talk about defeating the purpose.
Mr. Wardle sees a present that is almost equally bleak. Media snacking (intaking media in small portions) has become normative. “The internet has taught us to be impatient readers,” notes Wardle. We consume news in bullet points. As such, the ability for brands to reach us has been dramatically diminished.
So does this mean the end for traditional media? Absolutely not. Companies are adapting, and they are desperate for creative content.
Duncan notes that companies have brand advocates who are more than happy to supply that content. His case study is Disney’s Dream Job competition, which allowed people to submit video auditions for their desired theme park job. The best submissions were subject to an online vote that generating millions of votes.
The easy explanation for the success is to look to the expert use of tactics, and it is similarly easy to dismiss great ideas like this on the grounds that Disney has huge budgets. Duncan notes that the contest cost virtually nothing to execute, and the campaign does leverage park employees to recruit submissions.
I thought this was interesting. Using online media, Disney simply let their employees and loyal fans produce the content. Of course, this is the linchpin of social networking and earned media at large. When people talk, people listen. If you can get them talking about your brand, people will listen to your brand. I’ll say this until my face is blue, but even the most creative, cutting edge campaigns utilize the fundamental best practices. If it’s interesting and relevant, it’s interesting and relevant. If it isn’t, it sucks on any platform.
In what might be considered a Freudian slip, Duncan conflated “platforms” with “brands”. But the distinction is incredibly important. How many companies are content simply to “have a blog” or “be on Facebook”. Your brand is not a blog. Your brand, to the extent it has any value, resides in the consciousness of your target. In fairness, Duncan goes on to make precisely this point, and offers a compelling case study (the Disney Moms Panel) to prove it. So it appears we’re in agreement. Good to know.
Duncan’s session conclude with a question about roles. In other words, do social media campaigns reside in online marketing or PR? Surprisingly, Duncan takes a (soft) stand that Disney chooses to house this in the PR department. This makes the most sense (at least to this PR guy). The basic practice seem to flow out of the PR wheelhouse, though I’m sure I could find plenty of folks to disagree.