Monday, January 05, 2009

The value of hyperlinks

It seems odd to imagine a Hyperlink as being the basis of relationship ... but then, on second thoughts, it seems pretty obvious. But, it would be mere spin to make the claim without proper grounded research.

Bruno Amaral is examining how relationships are formed in some very interesting research for his Masters thesis.

We have been using some powerful new software designed for purpose by my friend Girish in Delhi involving word clustering, latent sematic analysis and web site network analysis and visualisation and it was the latter approach that prompted thinking about the nature of the hyperlink in the development of relationships.

The theoretical precept is that relationships are formed by exchange of tokens which have common values explicated by the participants.

My analogy is that of a rose and I use it a lot in lectures.

Being a man of certain years I take a full red rose to the lecture and after a preamble take the rose, admire its deep red colour and beautiful perfume and then walk to a pretty young student high in the auditorium and present it to her with a broad smile.

Mostly the students blush. No one has yet refused it.

You see, a rose has a number of values that are associated with it. Regard, romance, love, passion and a mutual exchange.

I can then explain that we all attribute values to a rose. Not everyone associates a rose with exactly the same values but where there are common values them the message is the basis for creating a relationship.

In PR that is what we do all the time. We interpret tokens such as products and services in such a way that their values will build relationships with publics.

Of course, people observe the exchange of tokens and interpret such actions from their own  perspective and their own set of 'rose values'. 

In a lecture, one can make such a point with a not much more than a raised eyebrow but make it clear that the audience' observation of the present is also part of relationship building.....

And then comes the let down.

Reaching into my pocket I produce a £20 note and offer it to another girl. No one has ever accepted it!

So the values of a rose is higher than the value of a £20 note?

The point is made.

We give different values to different tokens at different times......... after all a rose is only a dead stick.

Now, if we translate this to a hyperlink, we begin to get a view of how important a hyperlink really is.

It can be of great value because of the values expressed once the link is clicked on. Sometimes this is a great way of building relationships and sometimes its a disappointment and sometimes we just don't go there.

Even more important, we might click on a link one day and on another will think it is inappropriate.

Using hyperlinks in PR is a skill.