Social media, mainstream media, Britain’s reputation. Why not drop the term COMMUNICATION from our professional lexicon? Being serious in London

As promised in a recent post in which I begged you for some insights, here please find both the full text (The Perception of Country Identity in Social Media.doc) and the power points (Toni Muzi Falconi country reputations v2_revkf.ppt) I will be using Monday February 26 in London… I do hope that, both here, in London and elsewhere, others will want to pick up and discuss, comment, criticise to take the issue one step further. Thank you Judy, Catherine, Sandra, Nigel, Eric, Italo and Nicola for your inputs. As you may see they have been very useful, which doesn’t in any way imply that you agree with me. But….do you? 

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6 Replies to “Social media, mainstream media, Britain’s reputation. Why not drop the term COMMUNICATION from our professional lexicon? Being serious in London

  1. I continue to believe there are semantic slants to the same words when used in various English speaking countries, and then more differences when used by people where English is a second, third… language.

    For instance, “relators” is a new word to me.

    And the other day we were talking with a Canadian with a French accent and a daughter interestid in publicity. Which to us, for a while, meant a subset of PR, until I started to wonder if the daughter, French background too, was thinking of publicite (with an accent), meaning advertising, except in French. Turns out the mother did not know, either.

    So maybe “communication” means something slightly different in Europe than in Canada.

    But I don’t think there’s anything worng with “communications” or “communication” (without the S at the end.

    I’m part of one organization called First Principles Communication (no s) and a tag line on my own business says “Communications-Based Management Counsel” and my web site mentions “Public Relations and Corporate Communications.”

    In this last case (PR&CC) I actually think pr and corporate communicaitons are very close to being the same thing, but I believe that thanks to the failures of every PR association to acutally do any PR, many people think PR is either just media publicity or party organization. So I add “corporte communications” to elevate the impression of what I do.

    The International Association of Business Communicators, I am oft-times reminded by one of Toni’s suppliers of info, is full of “organizational communicators” as distincct from PR people, and while I agree she’s right, IABC’s web site has charts of member categories, and “organizational communicator” isn’t on the list.

    My biggest worry (or, at least, a serious concern) is the growing diminishing (is that proper English?) of the PR function within managment ranks, with internal communications shipped off to the personnel department — where it will be done badly — and the marketing department, where reputation management and integrity will most likely no longer be a priority.

  2. Jean,
    by ‘trend towards convergence’ I imply that mainstream media, worried of the intermediation process that social media has contributed to accelerate, is more and more opening up their on line presence to citizen dialogue (word, still and moving image) on one side, and that successful social media environments are more and more being integrated into mainstream media conglomerates (you tube etc..). Difficult to say where all this will lead up to, but certainly it will contribute to dilute that stereotype that everything in social is ‘sincere’ and sort of ‘from the heart’… while often banal or many times not supported by fully reliable sources. It will inevitably also ‘commercialise’ social media particularly thanks to the support from marketing, advertising, promotional and public relations communities….
    But I was surprised by your comment on the ‘name game’ I was suggesting in the latter part of my London presentation. Of course I am not simply suggesting to drop a specific term..this would be simply ridiculous and if that is the impression an attentive and concerned person like you received, then I really must be much more careful of what I write and how I write it.
    The issue is: relationship with publics (also thanks to social media) is undobtedly the name of our professional game. Many of us over the years have gone through great pain to enter under the ‘communication’ or the ‘public affairs’ function because we thought the term public relations embarassing, as it implied, at best protocol and events, at worst other less acceptable activities.
    The explosion of the Internet and, now,of social media has clearly demonstrated that ‘relationships’ is today the real name of the game, to the point that also other disciplines (including advertising, marketing and promotion) are occupying our turf (nothing wrong with this, of course…but it isn’t it curious that our profession, which contains the term relations in its very definition, prefers communication while -after having substantially contributed to stereotyping the term as a persuasive, one way, asymmetric approach- our sister disciplines begin to prefer relationship for the same very reason???
    Although our common (and…complacent..) friend Colin Farrington doesn’t seem to think so (like that japanese soldier discovered on a deserted Pacific island still looking for the enemy ten years after the end of the war..), our reputation is in shambles and the very recent Dilbert comic strips do not seem to have helped… I mentioned other times that in my view a crisis team of global professional leaders should urgently develop a crisis plan…but sofar I have found death (this is obviuosly a spelling mistake..but integrates deaf with dead..) ears. Another way to confront the same situation would be to convene a summit to discuss if and how serious this situation is. As much as I believe that 2008 is far too late, it is better than nothing. The dropping of the term communication is only a provoKation (with the K)…the objective is to raise the awareness and look for the answers… I hope my thinking is now somewhat clearer…

  3. Toni,
    A few thoughts. I don’t see the convergence that you speak of. Not in the true sense of the word anyway. I see an interdependency at the moment between social media and traditional media. Many journalists during an election or major event for example will blog and journalists form other outlets read that and comment on it. The same blogger journalist also files stories that are far more traditional usulaly with a marketing spin form the media to visit this blog. Is that is convergence? I don’t think so. The characteristics of social media are as you point out based on dialogue. There is no dialogue in this example. Of course there are many blogs out there- soema re monitored by journalists but they are generally set up by various pundits who have an agenda and journalists know that. Where are the truly open blogs or chat rooms?
    Your London presentation asks that we consider abandonnign communication as term that you consider detrimental because of the ‘one-way’ abuse we have inflicted on it if I understand correctly. I think Public relations also has the same problem.I think we are wasting our time trying to change the label as a way to stimulate real change. In my opinion social media will level the playing field quite a bit and open up the road to two-way communications but we have a long way to go.

  4. Well, I can base my view only on the italian situation. And I see that the classic media actually don’t go in the direction of dialogue. Because I think that the “digital tv” for example, or the sites of many italian famous magazines don’t chase the objectives of dialogue and relationship.

    Nowadays I see a lack of care about this aspects, in a lot of medias. A different vision exists, in my humble opinion, in other organisations like enterprises.

    I agree with you when you say that it isn’t impossibile, in a theoric way, for the classic media to understand the new social context, the correct way to relate with publics. But in the italian context, nowadays there aren’t great news…

    Maybe I’m pessimistic! 🙂

  5. I wonder… I see no reason to assume that mainstream media pulishers nor journalists fail to understand the social media context. Also, they seem to be doing everything they can -short of going bankrupt which would certainly be a dissipation not only of jobs and financial equity, but also of social capital and ..democracy- to keep up the pace.
    However, I would be interested in your views on how this convergence process is going, and most importantly what operative steps we should be expecting in the short medium term, and specifically which indicators we might adopt to evaluate the process.
    Finally, I will express my fear that the normalization (commercialization) of social media will be much more the role of advertising, marketing, promotional and (helas!) public relations agencies rather than that of mainstream media and journalists. Your views?

  6. Goodmorning Toni. After reading “Enhancing Britan’s global reputation” I ask you: Can mainstream media chase the advantages of social media, in the next future? I think that mainstream media has got an old structure and they can’t change too much. They can only take some of the characteristics of social media and have a window in the web, for example, but they don’t reach the results in terms of dialogue obtained by social media…

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