Tuesday, March 13

Thinking Out Loud: AgencyNext

Sterling Hager sees the world differently than most public relations firms or marcom agencies in Boston, or anywhere for that matter. He tends to be a bit more aggressive on the merits of social media, falling just shy of boycotting traditional media relations all together (or maybe he has, it's hard to tell from a couple posts). However, we both see tremendous potential where most people in our industry (or any industry for that matter) do not.

Recently, Hager posted his take on what he calls "CR," which includes constituency relations; customer relations; client relations; consumer relations. It's another way to say direct-to-consumer communication or one-on-one communication, which social media seems to mirror for those who use it wisely.

Where I depart a bit from Hager is I tend to see traditional media and social media as different tools to achieve the same strategic objective, without one necessarily replacing the other. However, every day, I see more evidence that suggests social media might not be just about talking to the wingnuts of the public: the 10 percent on either side of a bell curve with 80 percent of the mainstream public sitting somewhere in the middle. It might be today, but it won't be tomorrow.

What difference does that make? Traditional advertising and public relations prowess tells us not to waste our time on wingnuts, people who love you or hate you. It's best to target the 80 percent because if you can move it even 5 percent, you've changed the landscape forever. Until recently, I suspected that similar to the Revised Technology Adoption Life Cycle that Harry Joiner was nice enough to link at Recruting Bloggers.com, active social media represented a small segment of wingnuts, about 10 percent of our population, overall. You know, not-ready-for-prime-time players.

What Joiner did by posting that graph and accompanying report was remind me that the wingnuts of today (innovators and early adopters) are the shapers of the mainstream public tomorrow. Sure, sometimes they don't get things off the ground: hovercrafts and electric cars among them. But sometimes they do: cable TV companies and cell phones. He also reminded me that sometimes you have to look outside your industry to find the answers (duh! I learned customer service from concierges not designers).

So that's what I did in between deadlines today. I didn't have to look far. Last August, I posted about how AT&T U-Verse provides all-digital television on your TV and home computer at the same time. Sure, that's only one example. Until you consider Apple's iPhone or Verizon's "Personalize Life" concept. Or, well, take your pick. Everybody from the makers of iPods to PlayStations are pushing for the next communication revolution to be all about the total integration of the broadcast/gaming/cable/celluar/Internet.

Why is that significant? Totally integrated entertainment/communication means traditional media and social media will be on a reasonably level playing field with the only differential being their ability to capitalize on brand and consumer product delivery.

So no, Hager is probably not right that traditional media can somewhat be discounted today. However, this is hardly a criticism as I think he is just a few years of ahead of what will one day be inevitable. Anybody with a blog or vlog will be able to compete with mainstream media because the distribution method is only a few short years away from being permanently level.

Provide the right content mix and Recruting Animal's radio show might compete with Howard Stern or Aaron Krane could be the next Dan Rather. Of course, that all assumes some of our clients don't launch the "fill-in-the-blank" company channel and newsblog, with anything and everything you can think of. Hmmmm... this seems to be much more exciting than moving from typesetting and paste up to camera ready computer art. And, you know, I think the transition might be even faster.



Rich on 3/15/07, 10:59 AM said...

Famous First Words:

"Rich at Copywrite, Ink attempts to fathom what to him seems like my ambiguity on the matter. He's right. There are lots of reasons, but I'm really trying hard to stay on message lately, as in one message at a time and in something less than 6,000 words." — Sterling Hager on the AgencyNext blog.

I really like these guys: check it out.


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