By Peter Prodromou
It’s been nearly 80 years since Edward Bernays changed the face of PR by marching a bunch of women down Madison Avenue smoking cigarettes. Yet even with the passage of time, you could argue nothing’s changed. Companies and governments still use the same tired approaches to publicize their agendas:
1 Part Wall Street Journal + 1 Part Charitable Act = Successful Reputation Management
The problem with that formula is that the world has passed it by.
The Wall Street Journal is still important and, let’s face it, who can argue with the righteousness of charitable acts? But the reality is, today’s audiences are more fragmented, sophisticated and connected than ever. The power of the internet and digital media has given everyone and anyone the power to drive perception. At the same time, the public is more issues driven than ever. Just think about how many of your friends and neighbors talk about the environment… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The companies and countries that are going to define this century are going to need more than economic might and an audience with print and broadcast media. They’re going to be tapped into those issues and, equally important, they’re going to have to understand the value of new technology and web media for not only communicating a story, but creating conversations and on-on-one constituent relationships.
They’ll do it through digital media, blogs, forums and other discussion sites. They’ll do it visually, using the web to spread their message far and wide. Most important, they’ll do it credibly with true commitment to the issues that concern the public today and through true relationship building.
So who’s getting it right? Think One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) – empowering people all over the globe to gain access to knowledge and talking about it on the web, as well as through traditional media. Think British Petroleum, moving to transform from an old oil company, to a next generation energy resource – and is proud – and daring enough — to talk about it.
These are the organizations that give you hope for a better tomorrow and a view into real leadership. These are the model organizations that work now or will work with World 2.0.