Generation Unto Generation
November 30, 2010
Justin McKeown, now Regional Director of the global public relations consultancy Grayling, graduated with a first class degree in Public Relations in 1997.
It was fascinating to listen to his view on the changes in the PR industry over the last 13 years.
He started with an icebreaker activity, his own version of ‘The Generation Game,’ asking students to identify pictures, nostalgic and current. The message was to point out how cultures change over generations and to demonstrate the need to keep up-to-date and well-informed or be left behind.
Speaking more specifically of the changing world of communication, Justin said ‘YouTube is a mere five years old and is the most watched media channel in the world.’ He then discussed the demise of traditional print media with the example of how Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper The Times runs at a loss and may be scrapped by his likely successor James.
Justin then reminisced about the age of the fax machine and the inevitable end of the day queues to use it, outlining the constantly changing world (and the need to keep pace with it). In contrast, in the quiet early days of Twitter, Justin convinced Jonathan Ross to make a donation for a charity auction by simply suggesting so in a tweet.
Evaluation methods are changing too, with Justin describing the decline of AVE (advertising value equivalency) in favour the number of ‘retweets’ or ‘likes’ an article or blog post has received. Measuring online consumption is much more quantifiable than consumption of print media. He also commented on the growth in platforms of ‘mass coverage’ consisting of thousands of online outlets, the key point being you cannot stop information flowing.
PR today is much more about engaging in dialogue with customers and key influencers than the old style of: ‘I have something to say, you listen.’
“How engaged would you feel with someone who only spoke in press release format?”
Justin concluded by pointing out the transformation of media and the way it is distributed, noting that information flows in every direction (a far cry from Shannon & Weaver’s model) as well as advocating that the opportunities have never been greater for the PR profession.