If there are two areas of cross-disciplinary study I would recommend for every Web PR and Marketing professional it would be linguistics and postmodernism. The reason is that Internet marketing (and branding/marketing in general) is driven by forces described by these disciplines…and the ideas have been around for 50 years, so there is no need to reinvent the wheel by figuring it out for yourself. I’ve seen a number of blog posts triumphantly delcaring that The Medium is the Message, and while true, I personally didn’t learn much from them that I didn’t already know from postmodern theory.
I’d like to try and clarify an idea that I think is creating great turmoil for most PR firms and media outlets in general, from blogs to wikipedia to cnet. The difference in Web 2.0 is not that the medium has suddenly become the message, the medium and the message have and always will be fundamentally inseparable, the difference now is that a) anybody can create a message and b) anybody can modify the media. This change is blurring the lines between PR and marketing, and IMHO to be successful in PR 2.0 and Marketing 2.0 you have to get these two fundamental shifts.
Old school PR adhered to a certain set of ethical rules designed around a certain media structure. News was FILTERED by experts in the form of reporters and editors who controlled access to FIXED media channels, e.g., a magazine, a newspaper, a TV show, etc. This was the world of broadcast media. The ethical PR person followed this model by making sure the message being offered was newsworthy and by pitching this newsworthy story to these ordained few. While this paradigm still exists, it is being rapidly eroded by user generated content and the Web’s inherent fungibility. Now there is a spectrum of credibility caused by variable filtering that extends from MySpace to Wikipedia to the New York Times. And, the medium itself changes every nanosecond with each new link that is created.
Depending on your product or service, your news credibility requirements take on different flavors. Read more »