Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The CIPR Presidential Election Debate

Is this the CIPR's view of the internet? 
Perhaps the nature of the change wrought by the internet requires deeper consideration by the CIPR.

There are two points, I would make following the debate on LinkedIn.

I am uncomfortable with the expression 'social media' because it hides the wider issue of Cloud computing. Cloud computing, I was reliably informed by a marketing academic, is not much more than moving what you have in the corporate network to AWS. He was abashed when I suggested that Cloud computing has allowed a new form of relationship to evolve and suggested Facebook as an example. 'Social Media' in many respects is a subset of Cloud computing.

But it is more. As more apps deliver more via a mobile phone, tablet, Google glasses, motor car etc. the nature of relationships change. It was only when I found it helpful that my tablet automatically showed the weather forecast in Cheltenham (a place to teach) as opposed to Swindon (home and office), that I fully realised the power of mobile. The information changed my behaviour (and relationship with students) as the snow forecast a couple of months ago became serious and class was dismissed early. But, it took an
Cloud computing - Wikipedia
example of neuroplasticity to prompt me to, 'quite naturally' check my tablet. The Cloud is doing much more than just host Social Media, there are direct subliminal and actual behavioural issues. These evolving developments are more significant to PR practice because they demand a practitioner who can contribute the sense of the evolving nature of relationships as they affect organisations. In my example the tablet changed the way the university worked as a result of my unilateral action. We have to  think such changes through.

The other area of change is the one remarked on by Ardi Kolah today. He made the point "It’s a big mistake to make assumptions that people like ‘John’ will think, act and behave in a certain way. That’s crap marketing, isn’t it? So why do we have a blank spot when it comes to the over-55s??"

This is part of a change we see and an effect of the open and 'democratic' web envisioned by Sir Tim Berners Lee.

Once, it was common to think in terms of a vertically structured society (god at the top, peasant at the bottom - to borrow from the Greatful Dead) or organisationally defined segments. The socio-economic, demographic, consumer segmented person was always a compromise. It served its purpose for marketers and 'opinion formers' for a very long time. Today such techniques are less valuable.

The internet (mostly the Web) now allows anyone to opt into many forms of relationships. We now have segments that can only be describes as being of the value perspectives of a person as from time to time they are relevant. This, Lisbon Theory, idea of segmentation is very different and it is of the internet. It is only practical when we have a capability to identify people's values and we have studies to help us use the Semantic Web to do these things.

The Grateful Dead
Here is how it works: from the perspective of the values of Stephen Waddington/Dr Jon White, to what extent is a debate like this one valuable/important/relevant? What we see is a way of assessing this debate from the perspective of a Public of one (yes, the Grunigian excellence theory fits in this instance).

Once again, this calls for a practitioner with the knowledge and skills to be able to identify values systems that are affective for organisations to guide policy and activity.

This is a problem for me when very experienced and highly qualified members of the profession who I respect see only social media and only communication (indeed requiring craft skill, though necessary, at best).

This means that there is more to this debate. It goes to the heart of what the CIPR has to do now. We do need a strategy and we do need to know when we achieve our strategic aims. This means that the CIPR has to progress from courses in Facebook Likes to encouraging much deeper research to aid practice beyond the craft because the internet is changing our social, economic, political and cultural norms quite quickly. Indeed, many would say that governmental censorship round the world will create different forms of neuroplasticity with its implications for culture trade and even peace.

What the CIPR has to do will be in some depth and it will be uncomfortable; will be much more than Communication', 'Reputation'  '+Management' and much more about how PR represents the effects of the internet on social, economic, political and cultural norms in the development and evolution of organisational relationships.