There’s always a tendency, among those attracted to shiny new things, to believe that new things have new rules which have no link to old things with their old rules. It’s a persistent theme with proponents of social media. And it’s not true.
The common element that any new media shares with old media is content. In fact new (or social) media is more desperate for content than anything we have ever seen. Every day bloggers and tweeters scour the Internet for material.
Where newspapers used to re-invent themselves every 24 hours, the new media re-invents itself every few seconds. That means it’s constantly starving for content. The good news is that good stories can spread very quickly. The bad news is that rumour and innuendo spread just as fast.
Dealing with the new media demands a tight well-crafted story and the ability to respond quickly. Yes, you may need a 20-something computer geek monitoring 10-thousand maniacs on keyboards around the world but make sure you are in control of what your geek is saying to the other geeks.
You need a clear message, stripped of any of your industry’s jargon. It should be compelling and easily understood. It must be genuine and not a sales pitch. It should be as honest as it can be and crafted to appeal first to the heart and then to the head.
A good communications consultant can be helpful here because most people are too close to what they do to be able to see the big picture. Many of the so-called new media experts, however, don’t have a proper grounding in the basics of corporate communications.
When I hear new media pundits criticizing the so-called old media, it sounds a lot like the early TV journalists who predicted the death of radio and newspapers. As people pile on to the newest media bandwagon, I’m reminded of the lyrics of The Who’s song; “We won’t get fooled again.” And then, as everyone rushes to praise the merits of the shiny new thing, I think of another line from the song;
“Here’s to the new boss, same as the old boss.”