Marius on Strategy and Communication

What it says on the tin

The Will to Empower

The communication industry is in the middle of a climate change to which brands must adapt or die.

will to empower

While social media seems to be both overestimated and underestimated I will leave it out of the discussion and focus instead on the essence of the changes and ask: what is the most important thing to remember if one is stay in control of one’s brand?

Well, first of all one must let go of it.

It is important to remember that the change is mainly a technological one. People and principles of human interaction remain the same; it is the interactive nature of the internet that has created new possibilities for marketers, and thus new expectations in the marketplace.

Technology is but a tool, but one which has magnified certain ideas and accelerated the development of them. While companies  once were able to hide behind the rigid one-way nature of mass-media, there is no longer any excuse not to empower one’s consumers and provide them with incentives to participate in the development of the brand.

There’s nowhere to hide.

For some reason, the concept of symmetrical communication was conceived within the sphere of public relations. For years it was a utopian ideal, destined to end up collecting digital dust in academic journals. Indeed, there were many critics who doubted if one could realistically expect organisations to practice it. While definitions and interpretations of the concept differ, the core ideas have suddenly become minimum requirements for any brand that is serious about communicating effectively with its public.

People haven’t changed; their demands have. And rightly so.

People have always been sceptical of brands, but having been next to powerless against a mass-media dominated hegemony which placed them at the bottom of the communication hierarchy – and thus at the business end of corporate propaganda – technology has provided for consumer emancipation. Professionally developed rhetoric from a company will not make consumers part with their hard-earned cash; they must earn it, too.

Consumers can now sit back and wait for brands to act, and give them a reason to listen to them. The brands know that consumers know that if one brand doesn’t deliver on the goods, then another will. Technology has made it possible.

And if it is possible, why should anyone accept anything less?

Organisations must adapt to this new reality and those who don’t will end up fighting for survival. The best agencies have chosen to welcome the challenges that have emerged in this new age, and embrace the plethora of new communication strategies which the internet has created. I will get back to what these are, but the key, I believe, to effective communication, is to utilise the energy and passion that already exists among people to create something which is positive for both them and the brand.

Companies must empower the consumer and allow for interaction on a level playing field. Then they can collaborate to reach a sustainable win-win situation. Public relations practitioners know that this is in the long-term interests of an organisation, but they rarely have the leverage needed to convince the board, whose idea of long-term is the quarterly report, of this.

A long-term solution has become the only solution.

Public communication finds itself at the dawn of a more positive and less cynical age, and society will become a slightly better place as a consequence.

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This entry was posted on May 24, 2013 by in Uncategorized.

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