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PR ethics for competition and communication

In this final edition in a short series of blogs on how the Public Relations Society of America’s Code of Ethics relates to online-based PR today, the concepts of furthering communication and competition are looked at. On the face of it, the nature of digital realities today make ‘competition’ and ‘communication’ rather synonymous and symbiotic, seemingly forever feeding each other in an endless round of healthy if at times barbed exchanges online, with no communication-inhibiting monopolization in sight thanks to the competitive nature of posts and counter-posts on Facebook, Trip Advisor and the like…

 

Beyond tit for tat

 

…Only that these social media platforms can become self-serving pedestals and alter the nature and purpose of communication carried out on them. The PRSA’s stated commitment to a free flow of information, are checked by societal forces that have always worked to crush competitive forces, for better or worse, which often links with the idea of limited or at least dramatically curtailed communication. Worse, the go-to biggies of the digital age like Google, Facebook and Mircosoft, while officially espousing free expression, have all come up into trouble for hindering the freedoms they claim they stand for. These three titans have faced, and fought, for example, enormous fines from the European Union, and have become accustomed to operating with few to no rivals. The democratizing forces of the Internet have come up against firewalls protecting multinational institutions, which are often the ones setting the new standards.

 

Is there still room for privacy?

 

While Facebook’s CEO famously derided the idea of privacy in the future, and censorship, facial recognition technology and other digital forces coalesce to serve the consolidation of power, signs of counterbalance are found in new messy norms which champion the peer reviews of the little guy and the growth of the next big-time Gen Z influencer. But as long the Information Age police are the information providers themselves, the whole point of digitalupgrades’ are called into question.

 

The Human & Digital Communications Agency

Our award-winning communications team blends human interactions & digital engagement seamlessly to produce results for brands.

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Determining why and how social media matters

New studies this year are telling us what we all know like never before: the impact of social media is significant and growing in many aspects of human life, including buying and marketing of, well, just about everything, now that you ask.

 

Everybody’s doing it

 

Despite a small but significant group of conscientious objectors and an increasingly smaller segment for whom IT is still beyond reach for economic or cultural reasons, social media usage continues growing unabated. Just under half of respondents in a new study reported that they have upped their online portfolios over the last half a year. Businesses know this, and are all the reminded by the potential digitally generated windfall each time a new statistic like this comes out. Ninety percent of these firms are convinced of the significant benefits of maintaining a strong social media presence. Yet they remain unsure of what this means exactly and how best to exploit this new market.

 

Not everyone’s benefitting

 

Seven out of 10 social media marketers believe they are sharing essential information and tips on how in-house teams can develop beneficial strategies. Yet almost 5 out of 10 struggle to meaningfully contribute to the developing pans that help meet their company’s goals and key needs, including positively impacting profits. While the technology and communications norms of everyday social media usage are just beginning to seem understandable, verifying their net impact on various economic aspects of life remains difficult to track.

 

Give the buyers what they want

 

One study of similar demographics produced two years apart delivered results indicating just how challenging it is to reach out meaningfully to audiences and potential buyers. The first study indicated interest in posts making overt reference to sales and discounts, but the response for this same topic this year was much lower. That part of the PR business never changes: trends are just that, and the truly successful messages and campaigns need to highlight something timeless and beyond the interests of the day.

 

The Human & Digital Communications Agency

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The AI in PR

Public relations professionals are at a loss when it comes to detailing their long-term plans for Artificial Intelligence (AI), which will be a game changer across the industry. Although much of the talk on AI is just that, regarding the impending gutting of people-loaded departments so machines can get down to work, or how AI stands to solve just about every problem and almost automate profits, there are some companies actually diving headfirst into this brave new world.

 

It’s already here

 

AI is happening. It’s not just hype. Several companies are taking advantage of AI’s rich potential for doing, well, exactly what it’s meant for, actually. So far, the fear that it will start getting out of control to the detriment of human employees so far seems largely just hype. One major social media site has been using AI to enhance user experiences for more than 10 years. Its users have grown accustomed to the spot-on suggestions for connections and preferences, and largely without knowing about the AI-aided forces behind their positive experiences. Thanks to AI, the website also boasts enhanced privacy features.

 

AI service to the max

 

Another company successfully making use of AI is ServiceMax, which, appropriately enough, provides software for (human) technicians tasked with maintaining and upgrading computers and coding for a wide variety of clients with vastly differing IT needs. A single website that could be accessed to bring together all these variants, which the company now uses, was created from a model using the same AI methodologies that bested a human in the mind-testing game of Go.

 

The Human & Digital Communications Agency

Our award-winning communications team blends human interactions & digital engagement seamlessly to produce results for brands.

 

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When tech giants make adjustments

In an info-loaded age when the nature of content changes, what was once paid for is now free, and products once simply just advertised are now described in detail in articles and advertorials to buyers who demand to be fully informed before making a decision, the ability to be flexible and have good customer relations is more needed than ever. Especially, it seems, among tech giants who may think at times that they have all the solutions.

 

When Snapchat announced that it is considering allowing for its famously disappearing photos stick around, many ardent fans of the online platform for shots with a short shelf-life were aghast, saying that this went against the whole point of the social media site. But it may end up being more of a tactical adjustment, and offer an alternative to its big cousin Facebook, which has been losing subscribers over much more significant issues related to privacy concerns.

 

Indeed, more of a concern is the planned merger of the communications services of WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram, particularly considering Facebook’s mixed legacy with handling issues related to privacy and user preferences. While market forces eventually sort things out, more initial consultation with users will pay off in the long-run. The notorious difficulty in deleting a Facebook account and the social media’s giant once insisting on using @facebook.com for e-mail addresses, before such insistence backfired, goes to show that allowing for customer preferences and maintain a flexible approach remain essential, no matter who you are.

 

The Human & Digital Communications Agency

Our award-winning communications team blends human interactions & digital engagement seamlessly to produce results for brands.

 

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The only constant is change

Today’s hi-tech marketing world brings deep, renewed meaning to this timeless expression.

 

Innovation and its nemesis, disruption, have found dramatic new ways to change so much of our increasingly IT-infused world. This is a symbiotic dance of new systems with the new realties that can rapidly render these systems obsolete. This relentless pace of technological change is particularly acute when it comes to the need to make sense of and market these very products and services that may end up having rather short shelf lives. But effectively addressing such challenges is possible with timeless values like integrity, balance, flexibility and the eagerness to learn.

 

Marketers need to stay in constant touch with their inner techie in order to effectively decipher the details of countless products and services regularly coming out and appealingly describe them to consumers, whom themselves are increasingly segmented into smaller subgroups with varying interests and incomes. Creative sorts in PR firms can no longer just outsource the dissemination of the content they create to others.

 

It’s no longer enough for businesses and those who promote their key messages, to simply create the next big thing. Great new products and services, if they are to be effectively dispersed, now more than ever need an adaptive, multifaceted PR team willing to go digital native, and find the right blend of social media posts, effective use of influencers and ability to stay up-to-date on a world awash with chatbots and algorithms.

 

The more the way products are made and marketed, the more these new systems themselves are also likely to end up evolving. And yet there’s never a replacement for an intrinsically human attachment to a good story – and the ability to tell one.

 

Staying state-of-the-art is essential. So is spinning an epic tale like a storyteller enthralling an audience gathered around a campfire.

 

A blog like this that begins with a truism can end with another when it comes to the need to the essence of grabbing and sustaining attention: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

 

The Human & Digital Communications Agency

Our award-winning communications team blends human interactions & digital engagement seamlessly to produce results for brands.

 

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