A new language for PR 2.0?

I’ve been at the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) conference in Brisbane for a couple of days and getting a lot of ideas and inspiration. A few main themes have been running through many of the presentations. To my delight, one of them was the trend towards using direct, simple language in PR.

Christian Schultz from Mattel in Europe summed it up as “would my mother understand this?” He claimed that social media and information overload will lead to a move from long, polished language to short, authentic messages. I hope he’s right!

Deirdre Breakenridge was talking about ‘putting the public back in public relations’, which is the topic of her latest book. She mentioned that aside from the increasing need to keep communication simple, social networks tend to develop a kind of ‘language’ of their own shared by members, that can include or exclude people. You only need to listen to conversations on Twitter to see that happening.

Another theme running through the conference was the loss of “control” that corporate communicators are experiencing and often concerned about. Companies tend to want to manage or control messages and communications. Once you unleash information into social networks, this is no longer possible (if it ever was – for example, at the ‘water cooler’). However a paper presented by Prof. Jim Macnamara from UTS at the PRIA Academic Forum that I attended on Sunday looked at media training programs provided by PR folk and found that the majority still claim that you can manage or control the interview and the result. “Really??” Jim asked with raised eyebrows. “Try asking a journalist.”


3 responses to “A new language for PR 2.0?

  1. Susan – I think you captured it well! My key takeaway was the profession is waking up in a world where everyone has the ability to call “bulls***” on what they see as transparent PR. We’re back to having conversations with people who have equal ability to seize the talking stick and have a view counter to ours or those we represent. It’s actually quite refreshing and the Old PR style is going to be extinct very quickly. The air was thick with the sound of popping lightbulbs from people having “a-ha moments”. The best spin is no spin at all. Who’da thunk it?

  2. justanotherprblog

    Thanks for the summary Susan – seems I missed a fantastic conference!

    Couldn’t agree more with these points, and it is interesting that Jim has found people are still training the old framework around control of message and interview. It’s not just the journalist that would argue against that, but also consumers who can now read an article or listen to a radio interview and before they decide for themselves if they believe it or not, log onto Facebook or even Twitter and see what others are thinking or what their opinion is. This is both confronting and exciting.. I think you’ve just got to decide to look at it positively and as an opportunity!

  3. Frank Duff, Northmead NSW

    A water cooler is the civilian equivalent of a Furphy (water cart), which word, uncapitalised) now relates to the (reliability of) news gathered there.

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