Pulse of the Profession

Friday Five: Suffixgate

The end is near. The end of the world is upon us. Isn’t that what “mobile-geddon” means?

Friday Five LogoRANT ALERT: Can someone explain to me the fascination with adding “-geddon” to the end of words? Or any suffix, for that matter? Just this winter we had “snowmageddon”, “snowpocalypse” and “frankenstorm” to terrify us. We also had “bridge-gate”, “email-gate” and “deflategate” during the course of this past year. This “suffixgate” trend is out of control. As Jon Stewart once noted, “If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.” Rant over.

In this week’s Friday Five — PRSA’s take on the week’s biggest news stories — we will discuss “mobilegeddon”, Twitter’s latest feature and email’s future. We’ll also discuss professionals who are leaving journalism for public relations.

Here’s what we learned this week:

1) Mobile-geddon is Upon Us.

Beginning this week, all Google searches performed on a smartphone or tablet are favoring websites that have a mobile-friendly design. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, what does this mean for you? While this doesn’t literally mean the end of the world for your brand, your website may drop in search rankings on mobile devices.

Are you unsure whether Google thinks your website is mobile-friendly? Google will analyze your website when you enter your URL into its mobile-friendly test. While this change won’t have an impact on those searching for your site on a computer, The Washington Post reminds us that (according to a 2014 comScore report) mobile traffic now makes up an estimated 60 percent of all Web traffic.

2) Email is Never Really Private…

“Finding Your Roots”, a PBS documentary series which follows celebrities as they discover their family ancestry, aired an episode featuring Ben Affleck in 2014. During the course of the show, Affleck discovered that one of his ancestors owned slaves and privately asked the show to omit this news. In a private email from executive producer Henry Louis Gates Jr. to Sony Entertainment’s CEO Michael Lynton, Gates asked for advice on the matter.

The information about Affleck’s ancestor was omitted from the show. However, instead of this remaining a secret, the email from Gates to Lynton was published by WikiLeaks. In a statement to CBS News, PBS said, “Gates said the program chose to highlight other ancestors who had more interesting stories.”

What’s the moral of this story? You should never put anything in writing that would embarrass you if publicly released.

3) …But it May Be Obsolete in Five Years.

Worried about your email going public? This may only be a concern until the year 2020. John Brandon, contributing editor at Inc.com, is predicting that “a new communication channel will replace email by 2020.”

What does Brandon believe email be replaced with? He surmises that we may see a digital messaging hybrid that could possibly combine texts, chats and social nets into one communication tool. This wouldn’t be possible today given that all of our communication channels are fragmented.

What do you think about Brandon’s prediction?

4) Twitter is Debuting a New Feature.

Have you ever been on Twitter and read a Tweet from a customer that prompted you to send them a response in a private message? You carefully compose your message to stay within the character limitations. When you click send, you find out that the customer doesn’t follow you, and therefore, you cannot send them a Direct Message.

Twitter announced this week that users can opt into a setting that allows you to receive Direct Messages from anyone, even if you don’t follow them. While this can be an intriguing concept for brands and companies, Adweek suggests treading lightly and not abusing this privilege.

5) Journalists are Jumping Ship.

Just this week we found out that two Pulitzer Prize winners were leaving journalism for a career in public relations. Kevin Allen of Ragan’s PR Daily reported that Rob Kuznia, formerly of The Daily Breeze, has left the publication for a career in public relations because “It was too difficult to make ends meet on his newspaper salary while renting in the LA area.” In addition, 2015 Pulitzer winner Natalie Caula Hauff of The Post and Courier left journalism for PR because she wants to start a family.

While this trend may mean that the public relations profession is seeing healthy growth, Allen believes this isn’t necessary good for the industry. He stated, “If Pulitzer Prize winners are defecting, that doesn’t bode well. It’s not good for journalism to be losing its top practitioners. If something’s not good for journalism, it’s not good for PR.” Well said, Kevin.

 

Rosanne Mottola is public relations manager at the Public Relations Society of America.

3 Comments

  • I have my doubts that Allen and Kuznia will survive since being a journalist and being a PR practitioner are two different thing except for the requisite writing skill. I would love to know how they fared a year or two from now.

    • Agree, Don. It would be great to follow them in this journey. While we work together, PR professionals and journalists often disregard all the hard work the other side does. It would be a very interesting case study.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.

  • John Brandon may well be right about a new digital messaging hybrid. I would venture to say, though, that if the concern is about emails going to public, this new hybrid would potentially have the same issue as well…this from a self-admitted IT novice.

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