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Can PR Keep Up With The Future?

“The future has a way of arriving unannounced.” — George Will

Over the past few weeks my friends and colleagues have made a mad dash to a new social network, checking its pulse, kicking its tires and trading opinions on its potential value. The social media pundits are starting to weigh in on its functionality.

Can PR Keep Up With the Future?

Life as we know it has changed…again.

I remember when Pinterest was introduced and my heart sank at the thought of having to learn another set of rules and tricks for yet another social network. “Oh no,” I groaned. “Do we really need to learn about Pinterest?” My friends answered with a resounding chorus of “YES!!!”

And they were right. Pinterest continues to grow and to prove its value in the marketplace, both as an entertainment tool and a powerful communications vehicle.

Ugh.

As PR’s we’re challenged to:

  • Develop and implement winning professional strategies
  • Perform our daily tasks on behalf of employers or clients
  • Update our own social networks and monitor mentions and conversations
  • Create and curate content
  • Stay abreast of the news
  • Keep up with industry news and events
  • Stay on top of the rapidly changing technology we’ve come to depend on
  • Eat and drink in moderation
  • Excercise daily

AND get the dishes done.

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. Part of me wishes that the geniuses who keep inventing new tools and networks for us would just slow down. Take a day off. Give me a chance to catch up?

While another (larger) part of me is as guilty as anyone in the fascination with each new tool, social network, gadget and toy. Seduced by the next big thing.

Future of PR - What's Next?

And therein lies the problem for public relations. We can’t slow down. We can’t take a day off and we do have to test and try much of what’s new, in order to know whether it might make a difference—for ourselves or for our clients.

As an industry, we’re still catching up when it comes to solid acceptance of the reality and functionality of digital tools and how they work with our traditional methods. But are we prepared for what’s waiting for us right around the corner?

Richard Becker, president at Copywrite, Ink, senses a sea change coming our way. Writing about marketing, he predicts an impending technological shakeup when, as he says, “…technology provides a portable processor strong enough to allow a participant access to all of their applications and data (desktop or mobile) and then project any number of them onto relevant screens or display panels with the wave of a hand or voice command.”

Richard’s post focuses on the challenges in marketing and in creating content for this brave new world, but his concerns extend to the public relations industry. Are we ready for this? Imagine the challenges inherent in crisis communications and reputation management in a world gone totally multi-media and interactive.

And that day is right around the corner.

In an Op-Ed post on PRConversations.com, Catherine Arrow asks, “What are public relations and communication management professionals doing to educate their organisations (and/or governments and leaders) as to the ethical and moral implications of the social shifts ahead?” She references the “Internet of Everything,” the increasing numbers of interactive wearable technologies, and wonders how the data gathered will be used.

As examples, Catherine points to life-logging technologies, refrigerators that transmit data, clothing that soon will and the more familiar Google glasses and smartwatches.

Google Glass - Future of PR

This resonates for me. As we collect data from all of this technology, “…we will be mapping knowledge, skills, behaviours and attributes that were relevant in the past but face redundancy in the future,” she states.

How will we avoid redundancy? What skills will we need to develop with this next wave of technology and the social changes it will force?

It’s on us to be thinking forward and considering, as an industry, how we may best prepare to navigate the next wave of technology and its implications for our lives and work. And how to stay relevant in a world bursting at the seams with new ways to do everything.

So circling back to the beginning.

Yes. We do have to (somehow, some way) make the time to stay on top of technological changes. And not only that, start thinking ahead to the future and how PR will handle the changes almost upon us. “There are seismic social, economic and political shifts ahead; ones that will make the changes of the last few years seem incidental. As a PR profession, we must understand the implications of this shift and be ready to help navigate the next ocean of change,” says Catherine Arrow.

I couldn’t agree more, even as I whine about learning how to use this new social network and that “shiny new thing.”

Want to see Brian Solis’ vision of PR and technology? Get his free e-book “What if PR Stood for People and Relationships?” now! No sign up necessary!

Image: Panos Photographia, Luke Jones, Royal Opera House Covent Garden (Creative Commons)

About Allen Mireles

Allen Mireles is a strategist and wordsmith with an affinity for technology. She lives at the intersection of social media and traditional marketing and public relations and never gets enough time in the garden. Find her on Twitter @allenmireles.

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