6 digital media and PR lessons from 2013

As opportunities and avenues for communication broaden, PR pros are going to have to come to terms with the fact they can’t do everything all at once.

I thought I’d kick off the annual roundup season by reflecting on six things I’ve learned in the past 11 months about digital media, social media, and PR, from both personal and business perspectives. 1. Mobile-first is harder than you think. Yes, we know it’s important and soon mobile is going to be the primary platform for work, discovery, and communications, but many business people are acting like Hollywood moguls in the ’50s. Like TV, mobile is not simply an add-on. To truly embrace it we need to shift our mindset, the way we conceive and share stories, and how we interact with our communities. Our idea-generation process requires a total makeover so we can dream big by imagining small. 2. Your website is like a classic car. I redesigned my blog this year; when it was all done, I wanted to sit back and admire it, but I couldn’t. There were immediately a ton of adjustments I wanted to make: some tightening here, a new image there, a fresh category, changing the content flow. It didn’t stop. That’s a different attitude from a few years ago when you got a new website design and that was that. Instead, let’s adopt a car buff’s mentality and realize the tinkering is never going to be done. 3. Social amplification has given publicity a new life. Media relations, not so much. If we think about publicity as the act of making something public, it has a real resonance with social networks. Social channels are tailor-made for distribution, conversations, and relationships. That’s what publicity is all about, too. It’s why social media is so powerful when you integrate it with a publishing strategy. 4. Transmedia storytelling is coming to business. You hear entertainment people talk about this a lot. Transmedia storytelling is all about bringing a story to life across and through a variety of digital platforms. That’s different from simply repurposing content. It means understanding which parts of a narrative are best suited to which medium and then bringing them all together in a single, seamless experience. That’s a challenge and opportunity for PR, and another reason we can no longer just rely on words. (Note: This may be more of a prediction.) 5. We must learn to live with feeling perpetually behind. The pace of social media hasn’t slowed at all, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. (I sure do.) Instead of feeling lost, let’s agree that in our new world, we’ll never be able to completely catch up. Rather than feeling snowed under by that realization, we can accept that not catching up is the new way of life. That’s OK, because we’re trading complacency for lifelong learning. 6. It’s really time to retire news releases. I’ve said this for a while, and so have a lot of other people, but maybe this is the year to take the PR mainstay out of our tool kits. How do journalists and bloggers feel about them? I think we have a pretty good idea, but has the industry as a whole bothered to ask influencers how they like to receive information? It’s time to do that and adapt.

What have you learned this year that’s changed the way you look at the profession and storytelling? Martin Waxman has his own consultancy and is a senior counselor for Canadian firm Thornley Fallis. A version of this story originally appeared on Spin Sucks.


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