Friday, April 09, 2010

What is the right balance between using a pen and a keyboard - a CIPR breakfast meeting

Yeasterday, I received an invitation to a CIPR breakfast meeting proffering advice on 'Digital & traditional: The right balance"

I am amazed that anyone in communication can even think such a thought in 2010. Perhaps I am missing something. Is it just me?

This is the full description of the event:

Digital & traditional: The right balance – book now
Tuesday 25 May
Digital communications must be aligned alongside traditional channels for maximum results. Engaging with audiences via social platforms is an essential part of communications and is no longer the responsibility of another person or team. During this session you will look at the current digital media landscape, why some of the more traditional channels are here to stay and how best to combine both new and old channels to connect with your stakeholders.

To be sure everyone understands where I come from. I am a Fellow of the Institute and co-author of its PR in practice book 'Online Public Relations'.

Now for the subject matter in hand.

To my mind, there can be no balance between digital and traditional. Everything that is 'traditional' is mediated by the internet. Can there be a divide? Is media not media regardless of its description?

Is today's issue not about the the role of media in discourse and how an organisation might be involved in the values and with values that are relevant and affective in the in such exchanges?

I am not sure that I can think of anything that is done in the realm of Public Relations that is not mediated by the Internet.  Every face to face meeting has an internet trail and that means this most basic tactic of 'traditional PR' is mediated by the internet. Remembering that everything you do online is there for ever, that trail surrounding the one-on-one meeting is now part of the values and reputation of the organisation. Perhaps part of the breakfast session will be about the durability of the printed media. The answer is, of course, a long time. Equally, today the media is mediated by Twitter and the PR needs skills needed have to be good at transformative interactions in such an environment. This is post 'degree' skills training. Surely not for practitioners of more than five years standing.

Can one now ask, what the meeting should really be about?  Should it really be:

How does the profession deals with members who believe that it is possible to implement PR strategies and tactics without a range of internet elements? 
For senior practitioners, that is a real problem.

There are all sorts of things that make me cringe. For example, I watched a team planning a conference recently. It took an hour to realise that it needed a web site to offer (more) information and the means to sign-up and pay online. Look at how many press conferences do not have a such facilities. It is quite bizarre.

I think, however, I will go. If only to find out the answer to my question.