Communicating at the speed of culture


Written by Neil Kleiner, Head of Social Media and Content, Golin London   This year Golin celebrates its 60th anniversary and the celebrations of the huge achievements of our founder Al Golin are front of mind for us all.  He is truly an inspiration, especially as he still comes to work every day to our Chicago office, despite being 86 years old. In amongst all Al’s successes, I’ve been also thinking about how the world of PR has changed over the last 60 years. From a world of type writers and hand delivered press releases when Al began, to a world of Facebook, Snapchat mobile and interactions at an unprecedented scale.  A world where, as noted psychiatrist RD Laing said “…change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing.” How do we keep up with the speed of culture? How can we make our brands relevant to the conversations of the day? Every day we post 500 million tweets and upload nearly 900,000 hours of video to YouTube… how do we manage information at such unprecedented scale? The world has become an incredibly noisy place and in social media sites marketers are more part of the problem than the solution.  For over a decade social media professionals (myself included) have turned brands into always-on publishers and in a lot of cases we’ve struggled to have something interesting to say or maintain a compelling way to say it. We’ve just added to the noise. Let’s be honest, there are very few people who actually look forward to seeing a promoted post on their News Feed when all they really care about is what their friends or family are up to. This is the hegemony of advertising.  Interruption.  Taking something we care about and cutting it in half or putting up barriers.  No wonder it pisses us off. It’s why we’ve had to wrap our messages in a creative wrapper for the last 100 years…..to buffer the blow of interruption. But in a world transformed by infinite choice, interruption is something that audiences don’t have to tolerate any more…they just go somewhere else that doesn’t make it annoying to engage with the things they care about. Simply put, marketers need to develop a better relationship with the noise…discovering new ways to analyse it and cut through it, rather than try and beat it.  It’s our biggest challenge but also our biggest opportunity. If we can use technology to analyse conversations across the internet in real time, we can understand what audiences want to talk about and the things they care about.  We don’t have to interrupt. We can listen and join in. Add value. Have an opinion. Help solve problems. Or just make people laugh. It’s a way or pairing technology and creative specialists to ultimately create more welcome communications. Golin developed our own technologies to answer this challenge and launched The Bridge in 2011. We’ve seen this type of strategy grow in recent years.  The social newsroom / command centre.  Social media marketing has always been about reactivity.  Real time marketing has us all looking for our “dunk in the dark” moments. But data driven communications are not just the sole preserve of social or digital marketing.  Data should be the fuel that drives all public relations activity, because there has never been a better time to do what we do.  It’s certainly got more complex over the last 60 years but rather than fear “the noise”, we should be investing in technology and the smart people who help us understand it. Anything else is just guessing.  

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