Has the way you communicate changed in the last 20 years? Whether you’re a writer who uses blogging to get your work out, an artist who uses Instagram to share your art with the public, or a content expert who releases podcasts to educate listeners, you’re probably navigating the shift from the old ways of messaging. Printed brochures, mailbox fliers, and newspaper ads have given way to Facebook native advertising, Tweets, and TikTok videos.
Author Janet Kolodzy uses the fable of Chicken Little as a metaphor for much of the conversation around mediated communication, its current practice, and the ways that technology and digital mobile media have changed it, writing, “Some journalists and those who study the news and how it is communicated often provide a Chicken Little scenario about the future of news. The sky, or really the audience for traditional news presentation, is falling” (2012, p.1). Though there are clearly significant changes underway, all is not doom and gloom! We need to look not only at what has been/is being lost, but also to be open to what is being gained.
- Communication has primarily become a social media game, necessitating constant monitoring and interaction with the public. The days of just sending out a story to be consumed in a newspaper, magazine, or TV spot are long over. While those things still happen, you’ll work on a more diverse platform now.
- Professionals are no longer the sole gatekeepers; communication is now a two-way conversation that’s held in the public sphere. PR pro Kristina Victor says that changes in PR include the rising prevalence of the influencer, the convergence of social media and advertising within traditional journalism, and the importance of a story’s life after print. You’ll want to be ready for a story to need updating or to respond to reader comments and questions (2018).
- Training for the communication profession must now include social media skills, and that training must be evergreen. Platforms come and go (remember MySpace or Vine?); even the Big Ones adapt and change. SEO strategies evolve. If you’re going to be a communications pro, you need to commit to life-long learning.
That shift is absolutely changing the way communications professionals do their work, too. Without a doubt, those who are tasked with getting an organization’s message out to the public will need to evolve to stay relevant.
There is no question that technology has had an incalculable impact on every facet of our lives; this is particularly true for those whose vocation lies in the world of communication. Authors Andrew Wood and Matthew Smith write, “Today, we are surrounded by devices designed to capture, compose, and alter our words and, by extension, ourselves” (2005, p.7).
The sky is not falling after all!
Kolodzy, J. (2012). Practicing Convergence Journalism. Taylor & Francis. https://mbsdirect.vitalsource.com/books/9781136222825
Samuels, R. (2021, March 26). 9 skills every social media manager must have. Sprout Social. https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-skills/
Victor, K. (2018, March 14). How has the PR industry evolved? We-Worldwide.Com. https://www.we-worldwide.com/blog/posts/how-has-the-pr-industry-evolved#:~:text=It’s%20evident%20that%20over%20the,is%20now%20driven%20by%20digital
Wood, A.F. & Smith, M.J. (2005). Online Communication: Linking Technology, Identity, & Culture: Vol.2nd ed. Routledge.