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.”