Public, which means “of or concerning people as a whole,” is a vague word, but the book “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations” tries to unravel the mysteries of the public by honing in on Web 2.0 strategies that will focus the communicator. In Public Relations in the Digital Age class (JHU Summer 09) we learned that there is no “public” only an infinite number of audiences that each have specific interests. Unless you define the audience or publics that you are trying to reach, you will be an unsuccessful communicator/brander/ relationship builder.
The Scolis/Breakenridge book, Putting the Public Back in Public Relations, explores the new ways public relations can be ineffective as well as effective. As Robert Scoble, master blogger points out, if you don’t communicate with him in a form that he likes (i.e. twitter v. email) you may as well not even try. In much the same way, Scolis urges people to do their homework when contacting him–mass emails are headed straight to the trash.
This book is also an excellent primer on the value of blogs, social media release and my favorite, the video news release. But again, targeting and honing the message is crucial in a world of 24/7 news cycles and constant message bombardment. Bloggers are becoming more influential and trusted. Media snacking is the norm and tools like Twitter are replacing email.
While it’s truly unfortunate that traditional media is contracting and withering away during this perfect storm of digital dominance and global economic crises, in some ways this is a necessary wakeup call. Media needs to become efficient and alert. Google has personalized YouTube now, with localization of citizen journalism.
The Long Tail discusses audience segmentation, and provides many real-life examples that show how targeting a niche market can lead to profits otherwise unfound. And Here Comes Everybody discusses the power of crowds–but crowds that are built around specific urgencies (a lost cell phone) or building a new online information source like Wikipedia. And Groundswell discusses real strategies for putting the power of the new social media to work
Comcast is on the verge of taking over NBC. The Associated Press is losing customers and the Huffington Post, a blog aggregator, is one of the most popular sites on the U.S. internet.
The Scolis/Breakenridge tome doesn’t provide the same valuable insights as The Long Tail, which discusses audience segmentation and provides many real-life examples that show how targeting a niche market can lead to profits otherwise unfounded. Nor does it discuss the power of the crowds as does Here Comes Everybody, which illustrates the power of crowds that are built around specific urgencies (a lost cell phone) or building a new online information source like Wikipedia. And while Groundswell discusses real strategies for putting the power of the new social media to work, Scolis and Breakenridge take all these strategies and more, and put them to work in our 2.0 world.
I saw an amazing documentary on ARTE (in Paris) the other night. It was about the astrophysicists in Chile, China, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the good old USA, who are working together to solve the mysteries of the universe. One Chinese scientist explained that if you can take images from two radio telescopes at the same time and pool the results, its the same as having a telescope whose lens diameter equal the distance that spans the distance between them. This is a truly amazing cooperative power of the crowd. If only the “public” could cooperate, might we solve the social problems of our own world.