When was the last time you received a personal letter in the mail?
For most people, years have gone by since a loved one saw fit to mail them a letter. And for this upcoming generation, many never receive anything other than junk mail and Amazon packages. Yet, once the main way of communicating for hundreds of years was through personal mail. During this time, people waited days and weeks for a response. Today, communication happens instantly. People make phone calls and send text messages with the click of a button.
The 24/7 News Cycle
These habits created the pattern of all-day communication, mainly through social media platforms. This led to the emergence of the 24/7 news cycle. Not too long ago, PR and marketing specialists needed to write press releases and compete for media placements. Today, PR and marketing professionals can share anything at any time with almost anyone.
Simplified and Diversified
While news releases and the use of media placement did not entirely die out, social media platforms simplified the process of sharing content. It also provides a wide range of mediums to reach consumers. Post videos on YouTube. Share pictures on Instagram. Create lengthy content features on Google Plus. Gain likes on Facebook. The possibilities are endless.
Negative Effects for Businesses
While these advancements in communication have their ups, businesses also experience downs as a result. In the past, when crisis hit, organizations had an overnight shift to prepare for the onslaught in the morning. If it happened over the weekend, the business might have had even more time to prepare. The company could then do a proper investigation, decide the stance it would take, and word a well thought out response.
Not so today. Now, consumers and critics expect businesses to respond immediately to all threats, accusations and blunders almost as soon as it happens. This increases the likelihood of taking the wrong approach, choosing the wrong side, and saying the wrong thing to the wrong person.
Positive Effects for Businesses
Even so, the quick sharing of information gives businesses the ability to reach consumers instantly. If the company has deals or sales coming up, they can let customers know right away. Likewise, if the company receives awards or other commendations and wants to share, it can do that immediately as well.
Quick sharing and the 24/7 news cycle also works well for journalists and PR experts. Both parties must always consider that, “If you snooze, you lose”. For organizations, it pays to get to the market first so they can tell their side of the story before it is warped and sensationalized for the media, especially if there is a crisis.
Finding their Inner Youth
The 24/7 news cycle also compels businesses and their representatives to create a more personal image. Consumers do not want to connect with businesses, they want to connect with people.
While companies in the areas of fashion, food and entertainment can do this easily, other fields struggle. Organizations in health, finance and government must balance a friendly personality with maintaining a serious business front, based on the industries they operate.
The Change Continues
As social media changes and new platforms emerge, PR also undergoes continual change. What remains certain is that businesses now need to match their response cycles to the 24/7 news cycle in order to reach consumers and preserve brand image.
Additionally, as social media marketing and campaigning falls under PR portfolios, the profession can expect to become more blurred with marketing and advertising fields. This has many growth opportunities for PR, but may see the decreased importance of stand-alone marketing agencies over time.