When was the last time you went out for lunch or dinner with a friend and
didn’t use your phone? You most probably inadvertently had a quick peek and then left it on the table just to keep an eye on it encase you received a call, text message or email. Smart phones, iPhones and androids have changed the way we live our lives dramatically, we’re social creatures and we crave communication even when there’s someone sat opposite us that we can talk to. We need to be communicating with as many people as possible across as many channels as possible at all times.
I’ve been lucky enough to grown up in a generation where there have been so many technological advances that you don’t know when the next best thing will be released and what impact it will have on society and inevitably the world. Some of the changes I’ve witnessed are:
Tape-CD-MP3-iPod-Headphones that play music
Analogue-digital-internet enabled TV
Finally a house without internet to a house that can’t live without it!!
Not all of these platforms were communication device years ago but they are now, they’re internet enabled platforms that are with you 24/7 no matter where you are and what you’re doing. But these platforms are nothing without their channels. Channels are the communications tools you use to communicate, they are the websites you visit, emails you send, blogs you write and social networks you use.
These channels and platforms together have changed the way we communicate, consumers are able to have conversations, give opinions and speak directly to the organisation, receiving feedback instantly – you can thank Twitter for that. With the internet moving so fast and changing the way we communicate on a daily basis PR professionals must be sure to take notice of the five specific elements that are said to be the driving force behind online PR. The elements are transparency, porosity, agency, richness and reach.
Transparency – it’s now essential for organisations to appear transparent, open and honest. In a time where consumers can discover pretty much anything on the internet, organisations need not hide anything as they will be ousted sooner or later. If an organisation is honest consumers can trust them and will be loyal to their brands, but the moment they lie or act unethically they will lose their following and the news will be across the internet in no time.
Porosity – is the leaking of information on the internet or to another communication source, this can be on purpose or by accident, either way it can damage the organisations reputation. Organisations use a number of communication channels and there is no way of controlling what is shared through them at all time, eventually an irresponsible or dishonest person will share confidential information with the wider public hurting the organisation greatly. In cases such as these organisations need to act quickly and honestly with the public to ensure they uphold their reputation and remain open with their consumers.
Agency – emphasises the publics’ role in producing user generated content, they’re producers and sharers as well as consumers. This is a great development for consumers as they can now rely on one another for honest reporting on organisations and brands, they are creating the conversation. However this can have an unfortunate effect on organisations as they have no control over what is written about them – reiterating the idea of transparency in organisations and the pressing need for it.
Richness and Reach – richness refers to the content on the internet and how it’s always improving and updating, reach is the amount of people you communicate with across a variety of channels. For organisations the internet is a beneficial tool when communicating with their consumers, however it is also a tool consumers can use to discuss, therefore organisations need to make sure the information they provide on the internet is the truth and isn’t damaging to their reputation – linking back to transparency.
Platforms and channels have changed the way we communicate and will continue to do so as they evolve into more creative and innovative products and as we ourselves evolve as a participatory audience. It’s imperative for PR professionals in this digitally enhanced age to adopt these elements into daily PR practice in order for them themselves and their clients to be successful.