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Why Media Rules! and What You Are Doing Isn’t Working Anymore

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Communications, and especially public relations, is changing.

Technology (and the Internet) has become an essential part of everyday life and changed the way we relate to information, and each other. Audiences are more connected, diverse, and sophisticated than ever before. We now have greater interest in, and control over, our information consumption and experience. And these changes drive adoption and usage of new media — resulting in different newspaper reading, television watching and radio listening habits, as well as new communications models.

Of course, these dramatic shifts in our society are not just happening to media — how people shop and engage brands, support charitable organizations, volunteer their time, and the expectations they hold for how organizations will act (read: transparency) also are changing.

The challenge today is for organizations, including many of those in the public relations space, to respond. How is it going so far? Not well. When it comes to communicating with an ever-evolving audience, today’s organization has more than enough tools to get the job done — blogs, podcasts, social networks, search, advertising, mobile, and much more. Yet many organizations, from the largest corporation to the smallest nonprofit, from the global agency to the one-person shop are still struggling to stay focused and execute their ideas.

Too much time is spent focusing on gadgets and gizmos, and not enough time is spent providing good information, creating quality experiences, or offering high quality stuff to the audience.  There are too many people suffering from ‘shiny object syndrome’ — deciding they need to be on Facebook or launch a blog because it seems like the popular thing to do, and not enough people asking “what does my audience expect, and how can I help to meet those expectations online.”

My book, Media Rules! provides a framework for understanding this dynamic world and overcoming its many challenges. I talk about how the world is fragmented and blurred, small things can become huge, and the fact that we are all connected. And during my time at the upcoming PRSA International Conference, I hope to dig deeper, help folks solve problems, and do my part to move the public relations space forward in the right ways.

NOTE: I am looking for stories — people who are willing to share their challenges and successes online, so I can analyze them in the context of this discussion at PRSA. Please let me know what you want to talk about, what is causing your stress online, and how you are experimenting with new media. If you are selected as a case study for my presentation, you will also receive a free copy of my book, Media Rules!

By Brian Reich, principal, Echoditto, was previously the director of New Media at Cone, Inc., and a senior strategic consultant for Mindshare Interactive Campaigns (now Virilion). From 2000–2004, Brian ran his own consulting business, Mouse Communications, which helped political and non-profit organizations use new technology to improve communications, drive action, and support fund-raising. Brian launched Mouse Communications after serving two years as Vice President Gore’s briefing director in the White House, handling both official and political activities during his 2000 presidential campaign. During the 1996 cycle, Brian was the youngest campaign manager in the nation, leading a U.S. Congress challenger race in Connecticut. Brian is a regular writer and speaker on the issues involving the impact of the Internet and technology on politics, society, and the media. He is the editor of Thinking About Media, a blog examining media consumption habits around the world (among other things). His book, Media Rules!, was published by Wiley & Sons in December 2007. Brian attended the University of Michigan and is a graduate of Columbia University.

Join Reich for How Not-For-Profits Can Maximize Relationships to Drive Social Marketing, at the PRSA 2008 International Conference: The Point of Connection, on Sunday, October 27, in Detroit, MI!

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Brian Reich


  • Right on target, Brian. As I said in a related post on our blog Taking Aim today, it isn’t about the device or the technology but the message. By the way, I originally read your post on my 3G phone to begin with — which is cool — but it doesn’t mean Marshall McLuhan was right.

  • Roger – thanks for your comment. Marshall McCluhan wasn’t right about everything, that is for sure, but there are some key elements of what he talked about that we can use to form some good thinking around today’s media. I take some of his thoughts up in my book – I hope you’ll take a look, and let me know if you think I tackled it the right way. Book is Media Rules!

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